Tekle Hawariat Tekle Mariyam - Life


Bahru Zewde includes Tekle Hawariat in the first generation of Ethiopians sent abroad for his education. Born in Shewa, after the initial stages of a traditional Ethiopian education at a local church Tekle Hawariat moved to Harar at the age of nine to live with a relative who was a retainer of Ras Makonnen Woldemikael. He accompanied the Ras against the Italians in 1895-6. It was during the First Italo-Ethiopian War that his mentor Ras Makonnen entrusted him to a head of the Russian military mission, Count Abai Nikolay Leontiev, to take him back to Russia and have him educated. But historian Bahru Zewde has other version by naming him the member of the mission of red cross, but to the Leontiev is not mentioned as member of mission because is mentioned as military expert, in the book of member of mission of the Russian red cross, the Alexander Bulatovich. He arrived to Saint Petersburg in 1901, where he studied artillery at the Saint Petersburg military academy, so Ivan Grave, also known as father of Katyusha, became professor for the Tekle Hawariat. He was befriended by a number of prominent Russian liberals of the day, including Princess Volkonsky, daughter of the famous Decembrist revolutionary Sergei Volkonsky, and spent altogether 17 years in Russia. Once he returned to Ethiopia, however, Tekle Hawariat became famous as provincial governor, agronomist, and for his part in writing Ethiopia's first constitution. Tekle Hawariat was an important government official during the reign of Iyasu V, although he played a part in Iyasu's depostion of 27 September 1916. Despite his support for the new ruler, Empress Zauditu, during her reign he wrote and produced a play, "Fabula: Yawreoch Commedia", which used animal characters to criticize the corruption and backwardness of the Ethiopian court. As a result the Empress banned all further theatre in Ethiopia, an order that was later lifted by Emperor Haile Selassie in 1930.

Under the patronage of Haile Selassie (then the regent Ras Tafari), Tekle Hawariat first was made governor of Jijiga in 1917, and his efforts at this post gave him "a reputation for enlightened administration," according to Bahru Zewde, who goes on to note that "much of the credit for the transformation of Jijjiga from a garrison town to a modern urban centre goes to Takla-Hawaryat". Despite this good work, Tekle Hawariat either quit or was removed from this post: Tekle Hawariat in his unpublished autobiography claims Ras Tafari kept reappointing people he had dismissed for inefficiency. After a few years of idleness, Tekle Hawariat was appointed to another governorship, to the province of Charchar, one of the provinces Tafari was developing as a model of progressive or modern government; however, although he displayed enterprise and a dedication to duty, Tekle Hawariat had an independent character that led him to conflict with the Regent, and despite the demonstration of his skill at governor of Chercher province, because of his early Russian connections due to a Bolshevik panic that had gripped the capital, in 1928 Tekle Hawariat, was arrested and kept in jail for some time.

After becoming Emperor, Haile Selassie found another use for Tekle Hawariat: he was given the duty of drafting the first Constitution of Ethiopia. Bahru Zewde comments that Tekle Hawariat "could be said to have been waiting almost all his life for just an occasion"; however, his draft was subjected to close scrutiny by the Emperor and his associates Ras Kasa and Heruy Welde Sellase, who modified Tekle Hawariat's text "to meet imperial needs." Changes included the legislative powers granted to the parliament were reduced, and instead of Tekle Hawariat's proposal that the deputies be elected the final draft made them appointed.

Three months after the promulgation of the constitution, Tekle Hawariat was made Minister of Finance, but he lasted in that office barely more than a year. Bahru Zewde believes the reason for this brief tenure was due to his efforts to make the office efficient and responsible, which led to inevitable conflicts not only with traditional-minded ministers, but with the Emperor himself who did not care to make a distinction between the public purse and the private accounts of the emperor. "Given the acrimonious relations with the palace," notes Bahru Zewde, "it is not much of a surprise that Takla-Hawaryat next found himself posted as Ethiopian minister to London, Paris, and Geneva."

Tekle Hawariat had been part of the group who accompanied Haile Selassie to Europe in 1924, so although he could have been chosen for these duties because of his qualifications, Bahru Zewde insists "the evidence is too strong for this being more a case of removing from centre stage a character who was too independent and self-willed for the emperor's taste." His most important posting was representing Ethiopia at the League of Nations for many years, most notably at the sessions during the Walwal Incident. However, the uncooperative attitudes of not only the British and French delegates frustrated him so much he asked Emperor Haile Selassie to be relieved so he could return to Ethiopia where he could be of better use using his military training to organize his country's defenses against the unavoidable conflict.

Tekle Hawariat crossed paths with his Emperor one last time, while the other was leaving Ethiopia to make a personal appeal to the League of Nations. When Haile Selassie and his entourage reached Mieso, he was there with his troops; Tekle Hawariat boarded the train. As John Spencer tersely states, "The encounter must have been a bitter one." Spencer happened to be aboard the train five days later which stopped at Afdem, where Tekle Hawariat boarded train and entered Spencer's compartment. "Although I must have been for him an almost complete stranger, he lost no time unburdening himself to me of his thoughts about Haile Selassie, whom he denounced as a traitor to Ethiopia, a coward, and one unworthy to bear the title of Emperor after his flight into exile."

Once he reached Djibouti, he sought an agricultural concession, but the local authorities politely refused him. Tekle Hawariat then moved to Aden, where in September 1937 he petitioned the colonial government in Kenya to resettle there. The authorities refused his request, concerned that his presence would encourage unrest against the Italians. According to Bahru Zewde, Haile Selassie's victorious return to Ethiopia found his one-time ambassador in Madagascar where he prolonged his exile until 1955/56, and upon returning to Ethiopia Tekle Hawariat "retired to the obscurity of a gentleman-farmer's life in Hirna, Hararge." Tekle Hawariat and the Emperor were late in the former's life.

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