Row in Ethiopia over Nkrumah’s statue in front of $200m China-funded new AU building

New AU building with Dr Kwame Nkrumah's statue. Photo credit: AU

Some Ethiopian citizens are unhappy about the presence of the statue of Ghana’s first President Dr Kwame Nkrumah in front of the China-funded new $200 million African Union (AU) headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

President John Evans Atta Mills assisted by Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, Dr Jean Ping, Chairman of the African Union Commission unveiled the statue moments after the building was inaugurated.

The Reuters news agency reports February 10, 2012 that a row has broken out in Ethiopia over why the country’s late emperor Haile Selassie I was not accorded the same tribute, with opposition officials expressing dismay over the snub.

“No one deserves more recognition than Haile Selasse when it comes to fighting for the African cause. Not Nkrumah, not anybody else,” former opposition party chairman Gizachew Shiferaw told Reuters.

Some Ethiopians living abroad are said to have added their voices over the absence of Haile Selasse’s statue.

“He (Haile Selassie) has the legal, moral, historical and diplomatic legitimacy to have his statue erected next to Kwame Nkrumah, we believe,” Reuters quotes a letter written by a group of Ethiopian expatriates to the AU’s deputy chairman Erastus Mwencha.

Opposition members are suspecting a political motive for snubbing the emperor as Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is widely known for criticizing him as a dictator.

But addressing the Ethiopian parliament on Wednesday, Prime Minister Meles defended the Nkrumah statue as the news wire quoted him saying “There is nothing political about the statue.”

Nkrumah was an automatic choice when it came down to picking one statesman as an African symbol, he noted.

“I think it is even crass and disrespectful to question why a statue has been erected in Kwame Nkrumah’s honor,” he said.

Officials at the AU are yet to comment on the matter.

By Ekow Quandzie

  1. Selam says

    The issue is not why Nkrumah statue was erected at the AU rather Haileselassie deserve to have his statue as well,let us not confuse the issue and send the wrong message the gives the imprecation on what Ethiopian were not happy about.

  2. Enter your name... says

    This is historical mistake. What does the generation learn from this?

  3. mohammed says

    yes this is yet another bad thing about us as Africans. Some people donated money for the building .And all that we can do is to fight over who should be symbolized. Now answer this question.what if the building was situated in Nigeria then should the Nigerians demand for the inclusion of a past Nigerian leader? Shame to the concern Ethiopians and their opposition. There are better things we can do for ourselves rather than always fighting.

  4. zak says

    I am glad Nkrumah statue was erected. Why? Because he treated all Ghanian equally and with justice without discrimination unlike Haileselassie. Haileselassie oppressed the majority population of the Ethiopian because of their religion. They are not coptic like him so he called them moslem who live in Ethiopia. Imagine somali land, Afar, Horomo land, Harar, etc I can say two third of the country land belongs to moslems just a century ago. Haile even chose to be a middle eastern origin rather than Ethiopian. He believed in legendary history. He committed division based on religion. The oppressor religion used to say we lived in peace with the oppressed religon which is delusional.
    Haile Selassie got what he deserved. He hurt the majority people and ruin the unity of the country because of wrong feudal mentality based on one religion, one country, one culture, one tribe languge. Nkrumah did the opposite. He was a true and heroic leader of not only Ghana but the whole Africa.
    I am sorry Amhara tribe will be offended for this comment. I advise them to erect his statue in their state (northern part of Ethiopia) in the coptic church. That’s where he deserve the respect from his only tribe he worked for. He was not a leader for majority Ethiopia and they don’t accept him as their king rather as a colonizer after Menelik.

  5. Kwame B says

    Once you add the Emperor, you’d be forced to add Toure and other Pan-African champions. In every struggle, there’s a recognizable leader and face. Nkrumah provided the intellectual and moral foundation for Africa’s liberation –writing books, making speeches, forging alliances in Africa and beyond. In every struggle, there are many contributors but once you begin to make every contributor a hero, you dilute the essence of the recognition. I don’t want to discount the Emperor’s contributions, but I don’t see why two people have to share one throne and not three or four.

  6. yosief says

    Come on Ethiopia, It is very shameful. we need to respect the choice of Africa… shall we put Mandela,col gadaffi..etc a lot we can say because all of them they have done so Many things to Africa ….It is better to be quit……let other nation respect us …It is very shame to tell others to respect us.Thank you I love you all.

  7. Dorch says

    With due respect to the views of the concerned Ethiopians, I adamantly reject accepting what seems to be an illusionistic view they carry around. This is not an Ethiopian politics, this a wider African matter. The campaigners of this smear discourse are those who failed to unify against their currently oppressing dictator Meles. What a hypocrisy we may feel out of this! Most of us can understand Meles may not possibly recommend his ex-arch enemy to be rewarded with such a great respect; however, it is wrong to justify that Meles blocked any attempt to raise statue to hailesselassie. Had the other African intellectuals had believed Haile must be honoured, Meles would not have the chance and he could not have prevented it.

    The issue here is that this is an honour proposed for a single progressive and unifying African leader for the inception and birth of OAU. That leader in my personal view must have been K.Nkuruma! We all have to honour those who fought for OAU/AU, we must pay tribute, write books, teach our children of the unimaginable achievement the top figurative leaders including Nkuruma, Hailesselassie, Kenyata, Kuanda, Ghadafi, Mandela, etc have done to their generation. This is no politics.

  8. Abenezer Negussie says

    Hello Everybody,
    First of all I want to tell you that I am proud Ethiopian and I am very happy as well with the erection of Kwame Nkrumah’s statue at the headquarter. Thank you all for respecting the Emperor for his contribution to the formation of united Africa but we don’t want to put him selfishly besides Nkrumah. I would like to assure everyone reading this post that there is no as such recognizable protest against the statue except very few political parties who wants to use the event for their political purpose. Love you all.

  9. Ras Mitat says

    Emperor Haileselassie has no statue because he killed his own people.


  10. ramba says

    Hey all!
    what is happening is what our Emperor Haileselassie proposed. African Union countries union without assymilation. respecting countries independence. this is the idea of Emperior Haileselassie. Not the idea of Dr. Nukrmah. if Africa united like US states, I wanna see the statue of Doctor Nukurmah. and also, where was doctor Nurmah when Haileselassie defend ed to African liberation against colonialism in League of Nation?????Who give shelter and Training to those good African leaders?Do you think the vision of Dr. Nkrumah is realized???? This will happen ever never. Even the number of African countries increased from 52 to 54. so is it Pan Africanism what doctor Nkrumah proposed????

    Did the African Leader miss it really???
    To those offensive Ethiopian commemorators, you believe it or not , Emperor Haileselassie I is your emperor unless you change your citizenship. African Leaders always want to shift the site of African Union to their own country with no history, coz they open their eyes today.why PM Meles fight against Colonial Maamar Gadahaffi in African union hall when colonial proposed to shift the seat for AU to Libya???? finally he convinced them by mentioning what Ethiopian leaders do to AU. Why he don’t convince to erect the statue of Haileselassie today? what is new for him?????
    Do you think it was fair to allow them to take the seat for AU out of Ethiopia????
    To all African readers, Do you think Dr. Nkrumah will be happy if he arisen and see the statue of his????Did his Idea is realized in the way what he proposed??? Even He was convinced by the idea of Emperor Haileselasse I and finally agreed to form organization of African unity. thank you !!!
    even though am not happy,love you all!!!

  11. Almaz Mequanint says

    I hope people sign this petition is about the Statue of Emperor Haile Selassie (HIM) to erect his statue on the AU building. I’m not monarchist or supporter but I believe in our factual history that we inherit as Ethiopians. I know there were others that contributed to League of Nations & African Union Organization but among them was HIM. Thanks for your cooperation in advance 🙂

    Best Regards,

  12. Anonymous says

    I think the African Union has made the right decision to have erected statute for Nikrumah. The Ethiopian king Halesselasie was the worst leader Ethiopia has ever produced. His initial effort for African unity and diplomatic role at world stage was solely for his own personal glory. It was superficial. There was no cost for him to display such gesture. A king that is cruel for his people can’t be kind for Africans. He doesn’t deserve the status of Nkrumah. Don’t forget that HALELESSELASIE WAS THE ONE WHO EVENTUALLY BLOCKED THE IMMEDIATE CREATION OF UNITED STATES OF AFRICA!!!!!
    Internally, Halilesselasie was the weakest and most coward Ethiopian king by all measures. No Ethiopian king has ever sought refugee in foreign country. Menelik defeated the Italians while Theodoros and Yohaness heroically died in the battle field.

    I think we Ethiopians should be honest. I am ashamed of what superficial identity we want the world to see for us.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.