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On October 4, 1963, following the founding of the Organization of African Unity in Addis Ababa a few weeks earlier in the presence of almost every African head of state, His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie the First spoke at the United Nations' General Assembly in New York City. In the fast changing world of the sixties, as many African nations were struggling for independence, Selassie's historic utterance carried the full weight of the OAU he had just founded in a masterful diplomatic operation, of panafricanism on the rise and, more generally, of all the oppressed people throughout the world, in the name of whom everyone felt he spoke.

Baptized Tafari Makonen, then given the rank of a Ras (equivalent of a Duke), he belonged to the oldest dynasty in the world, which, according to the ancient and sacred Ethiopian book the Kebra Nagast (The Glory of Kings), was in power at least as far back as Menelik the First, son of Solomon, King of Israel, and Makeda, Queen of Sheba. The Ras Tafari's coronation/sacrament in 1930 as Haile Selassie I ("Power of the Trinity") was seen by a small community of Jamaican Christians as the fullfilment of a Biblical prophecy that Marcus Garvey, who was struggling for Black emancipation, used frequently in his speeches.

These Christians recognized Selassie as the Divine leader refered to in the prophecy and henceforth later began calling themselves Rastafarians, as in Jah (one of many Hebrew names for God) Rastafari. This syncretic faith has since grown to millions of followers, from Blacks to half-castes, like Bob Marley, to people of all colours. As Selassie himself said at the United Nations, "until the colour of a man's skin is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes", righteous Rastafarians will be struggling for equal rights and justice throughout the world. In his 45 years of reign, the mighty Lord of Lords sought to pull Ethiopia out of its feudal past and towards democracy. Many think of Selassie as the Nelson Mandela of his time. The Negus was also a key figure in the founding of the United Nations, where the utterance heard on this record was spoken in Amharic, the Ethiopian language.

Part of this legendary peace speech by Selassie, then at the zenith of his reign, was turned into the song War by Bob Marley who recorded it for his fine 1976 Rastaman Vibration album. Thus Rastafarians, and above all Bob Marley, are showing the way for mankind to finally recognize one of the most overlooked civilizations in history -that of Ethiopia. It is in this spirit that Bruno Blum produced this new version of War with surviving members of Marley's extraordinary band, the Wailers, who can also be heard on the original recording of the song. Haile Selassie's voice was then overdubbed on it, as if he was posthumously "singing" this Bob Marley song. For the first time, the sound of Jah's own voice can be heard on a reggae record, and Bob Marley's voice was also added in the mix.

English translation as published in the 1972 book Important Utterances Of H.I.M. by the Imperial Ethiopian Ministry Of Information, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia:

"On the question of racial discrimination, the Addis Ababa summit conference taught, to those who will learn, this further lesson :

that until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently dicredited and abandoned;
that until there are no longer first class and second class citizens of any nation;
that until the colour of a man's skin is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes;
that until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all, without regard to race;
that until that day, the dream of lasting peace and world citizenship and the rule of international morality will remain but fleeting illusions, to be pursued but never attained.

And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes that hold our brothers in Angola, in Mozambique and in South Africa in sub-human bondage have been toppled and destroyed; until bigotry and prejudice and malicious and inhuman self-interest have been replaced by understanding and tolerance and good-will; until all Africans stand and speak as free beings, equal in the eyes of all men, as they are in the eyes of Heaven; until that day, the African continent will not know peace.

We Africans will fight, if necessary, and we know that we shall win, as we are confident in the victory of good over evil.

The basis of racial discrimination and colonialism has been economic, and it is with economic weapons that these evils have been and can be overcome. In pursuance of resolutions adopted at the Addis Ababa summit conference, African states have undertaken certain measures in the economic field which, if adopted by all member states of the United Nations, would soon reduce intransigeance to reason.

I ask, today, for adherence to these measures by every nation represented here which is truly devoted to the principles enunciated in the charter.
We must act while we can, while the occasion exists to exert those legitimate pressures available to us lest time run out and resort be had to less happy means.
The great nations of the world would do well to remember that in the modern age even their own fates are not wholely in their hands.
Peace demands the united efforts of us all. Who can foresee what spark might ignite the fuse?
The stake of each one of us is identical-life or death.

We all wish to live. We all seek a world in which men are freed of the burdens of ignorance, poverty, hunger and disease. And we shall all be hard-pressed to escape the deadly rain of nuclear fall-out should catastrophe overtake us.
The problems which confront us today are, equally, unprecedented. They have no counterparts in human experience. Men search the pages of history for solutions, for precedents, but there are none.

This then, is the ultimate challenge. Where are we to look for our survival, for the answers to the questions which have never before been posed? We must look, first, to the Almighty God, Who has raised man above the animals and endowed him with intelligence and reason. We must put our faith in Him, that He will not desert us or permit us to destroy humanity which He created in His image.

And we must look into ourselves, into the depth of our souls. We must become something we have never been and for which our education and experience and environment have ill-prepared us.
We must become bigger than we have been : more courageous, greater in spirit, larger in outlook. We must become members of a new race, overcoming petty prejudice, owing our ultimate allegiance not to nations but to our fellow men within the human community."

Haile Selassie I
4 October 1963
United Nations, New York.

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