Black Lives Matter: when fascism abolished slavery in Ethiopia


Rome, Jun 12 – “Waving flags Hailé Selassié, Coptic Christian emperor King of Kings, great protector of Jamaican reggae, he passes a cane from hand to hand “. The orgasmic exaltation of certain leftist environments for the figure of Tafarì Maconnèn, negus neghesti from Ethiopia and a member of the great international anti-fascist party, can be summarized with this quote taken from “Sunset of Africa”, evocative as imaginative piece of the PGR, a group by Giovanni Lindo Ferretti born from the ashes of the CSI. To be generous, we could add a few sentences extrapolated from Del Boca’s essays on the gases used by Graziani and we would have photographed the wealth of knowledge on the history of the former Italian colony, the preserve of those who today screams “Black lives matter” and asks to bring down the statue of Montanelli because he “bought and married a twelve year old Eritrean girl to make him a slave”. But ignorance often generates confusion, erroneous conclusions and tremendous short circuits. Caught by a snap of generosity, we try to avoid that the anti-fascist anti-racism tarantolate of those who take to the streets for George Floyd, stumbles too badly.

The abolition of slavery in Ethiopia: 1935

The first official act carried out by fascist Italy once conquered the Tigrè region in Ethiopia was to abolish slavery in force under the feudal rule of the “protector of Jamaican reggae” Hailé Selassié. Yes, the “fascist racists” the October 14, 1935 promulgated a ban that outlawed a social economic system based on slavery of which “the African anti-racist and anti-fascist” blessed the undisputed idol of western anti-racists. Note well: we wrote “once the Tigrè region has been conquered”, because history is not known to the sound of songs but keeping in mind the dates and developments determined by specific events. Fascist Italy had in fact started the war against Ethiopia very recently, on October 3, 1935. Just ten days later and long before the total and definitive conquest of the empire of Selassié (which took place de facto on May 5, 1936 with the entry of Italian troops into Addis Ababa), fascism swept away the secular slavery that gripped the populations that inhabited those areas of East Africa in one fell swoop. He did it with a notice published in both Italian and Amharic, just to make everyone understand that the air had changed.

Ethiopia under the slaver Selassié

Until then, as he wrote Evelyn Waugh in her sublime reportage In Abyssinia, “Slavery and slave raids were a universal practice; justice, though applied, was accompanied by torture and mutilation to an unknown extent elsewhere in the world; diseases were rampant “. In all this, the Abyssinians, Waugh always writes, “boasted of their audacity and the inferiority of all the other breeds, white, black, yellow and brown”. And instead the Italians, those “racist” bad guys, had another idea: “Treating an empire as a place that had to be fertilized, cultivated and made more beautiful, instead of a place from which things could be taken away, a place to be plundered and depopulated “. In his slavery, Katleen Simon he wrote in 1929: “Ethiopia is the most backward region in the world and there the problem of slavery is urgent: they are human beings who become a simple property, a property that can be tortured and sold on the market to the highest bidder; these are wives sold, separated from husbands and vice versa; of mothers torn away from their children who become the property of another. In short, slavery does not even recognize motherhood or fatherhood and sanctions the right to break families for market reasons “. Then came the Italians, and as explained by Raffaele Ciasca in his monumental Colonial history of contemporary Italy: “The slave populations and subject to lucrative trafficking by the chiefs and the emperor were returned freely. Italy, mistress of those lands, defeated that last African stronghold from slavery. “

The abolition of racial segregation in the United States: 1964

Let’s remember the date again: October 14, 1935, fascism abolishes slavery in Eritrea. So what was the situation in the democratic United States of America? There racial segregation it was still in force, due to the laws in force Read Jim Crow. To arrive at its abolition one had to wait until 1964 with the Civil Rights Act which sanctioned the illegality of registration disparities in the elections and racial segregation in schools, public facilities and in the workplace. Thirty years after Del Bono’s act therefore. But racism was still present in the US, to the point that several federated states of the United States of America banned interracial marriage. IS in 1967 a black woman and a white man were sentenced to one year in prison in Virginia for being married. Then things slowly improved, but not entirely. And even today some racist problems seem to remain in the States. To put it in Fante’s minimalism: ask the dusk. The Black Lives Matter grape brotherhood should ask some questions about American dust, before throwing mud elsewhere. Except that the answers could generate in them ontological reflections, useful to put down the fiasco and unravel the political skein that generates clockwork the decomposed movement of anti-racist anti-fascism.

Eugenio Palazzini

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