The Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935 inspired hundreds of black Americans--and some white Americans--to volunteer to serve in Haile Selassie's army.

Here's a report from the Getty archive, showing volunteers queuing up in Harlem. 1/3
Recruiters hoped that thousands of men would be enlisted for service in Ethiopia.

Here's Eldridge Eastman, New Bruswick-born descendant of black loyalists, pleading with black Canadians to join Haile Selassie's army. Eastman had been the world sprint champion in 1906.
Support for Ethiopia was not universal in the United States. Here's an interviewer talking with New Yorkers about the Italian invasion, October 1935.
Below: Appeal for volunteers to serve in Ethiopia from Haile Selassie, 1935.

Published in the Pittsburgh Courier, the most important African-American newspaper of its day.
Coda II
Very few volunteers actually made it to Ethiopia. And--as these 1935 press reports show--some people thought the whole 'help Ethiopia' cause was a sham.

Nonetheless the enthusiasm in Harlem was real. It highlights the global reach of black American politics in the '30s.

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Derek R Peterson

Derek R Peterson Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @Unseen_Archive

27 Aug
I recently read @MaazaMengiste's excellent Beneath the Lion's Gaze, about the terror-filled aftermath of the Ethiopian revolution.

Here are some @Reuters clips that amplify the story. Below: the emperor celebrating the 33rd anniversary of the end of Italian occupation, May 1974.
As the book shows, 1974 was a year of ferment. The army mutinied in February; & thereafter political dissidents, trade unions & mutinous soldiers formed a common front.

Below: students at Haile Selassie Univ on a hunger strike, demanding release of imrpisoned mutineers.
More on the political ferment of the time: army veterans march to demand higher pensions, April 1974.
Read 8 tweets
11 Aug
After Tom Mboya's assassination (on 5 July 1969) his body was taken to his Nairobi home.

Kikuyu people who came there to pay their respects were beaten by the crowd; & VP Moi had to make a hasty retreat while his car was pelted with stones.

Clip from @Reuters. 1/4
Mboya's assassination sparked off a major crisis for the Kenyatta govt.

3 days after Mboya's death a requiem was said in the basilica in Nairobi. There were 50,000 mourners. Kenyatta's car was stoned; & a riot took shape. There was tear gas in the air as Kenyatta departed.
A day later Mboya's body was taken to Nyanza. Thousands of Kenyans lined the road to pay their respects as the motorcade passed.

Mboya was buried on 11 July at his ancestral home on Rusinga Island. Oginga Odinga--his leading adversary--was there, dressed in traditional garb.
Read 5 tweets
24 Jul
I'm sorry to hear of the passing of Benjamin Mkapa, former president of Tanzania.

As Foreign Minister between 1977 and 80 he played a key role in encouraging UN sanctions against apartheid South Africa, as a punishment for its occupation of Namibia. Here he is in Sept. 1979. 1/2
Mkapa also helped to broker Zimbabwe's independence, advocating for the nationalists at a time when the Americans and the Brits wanted a negotiated settlement with Ian Smith's Rhodesians.

Here he is in October 1977, on the floor of the UN.

May he rest in peace.
Mkapa did his first degree at Makerere University, where he read English. In 1960 he spent four weeks in Hawaii with a group of Afro-Asian students, studying 'the role of universities in developing societies'.

Here's a report from a Hawaiian newspaper on their visit.
Read 4 tweets
13 Jul
The Republic of Katanga seceded from Lumumba's Congo on 11 July 1960, sixty years ago. The dissident state was backed by the Union Minière du Haut Katanga & supported by Belgium.

Here's Katanga leader Moise Thombe raising the flag in Elizabethville. Clip from @Reuters. 1/3
The army of Tshombe's Katanga relied on Belgian officers and South Africa & Rhodesian mercenaries. Hundreds of Africans enlisted too.

Here's a clip from early August 1960, showing young men from Elizabethville marching into the army camp as volunteers.
Patrice Lumumba was ousted from Congo's presidency by Joseph Mobutu in Sept. 1960.

In Jan. 1961 Mobutu--wishing to be rid of Lumumba--sent him to Katanga, where he was executed by a firing squad. Moise Tshombe was there when he died.
Read 4 tweets
1 Jun
Monday 1 June is Madaraka Day, when Kenyans mark the anniversary of self-gov't.

Here's a Reuters clip of Kenyatta with Mau Mau Gen. Mwariama, 2 weeks before independence. Kenyatta was deeply worried about the challenge that he & other Mau Mau 'hard core' posed to his gov't. 1/4
In the early 1960s Mau Mau had set up a provisional gov't in parts of central Kenya, challenging colonial officials' control.

Kenyatta--keen to centralise power--offered an amnesty to Mau Mau. Here he is with 'General China' and other Mau Mau leaders, discussing the amnesty.
Mau Mau partisans were obliged to come down from the mountains and hand in their weapons to Kenyatta's gov't.

Here is a remarkable clip from Feb. 1964 showing Bildad Kaggia--formerly a Mau Mau partisan, the most progressive member of cabinet--inspecting Mau Mau weapons.
Read 4 tweets
28 May
Mau Mau leader Dedan Kimathi was captured by 2 Gikuyu policemen on 21 Oct 1956. A lot of still photos were taken that day, but I'd not known that there was cinema film, too. Here's an @AP clip.

The clip shows that Kimathi--shot in the leg, possibly in shock--was laid out 1/4
and put on display for the cameras. The pictures were printed around the world.

A few years ago @Drjuliemac found the transcript for the trial that ensued. Among the evidence introduced to the court was a 1954 letter from Kimathi's 'Kenya Parliament' to the Kenya govt.
The letter is full of proverbs calling for an honourable end to war. 'Truth and fairness is not a product of the gun. Justice breaks a tied bow, as a snake's line is severed by anything that intersects it'. 'He who chases tires equally as he who is chased', wrote Kimathi.
Read 5 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!