Courtesy Reuters

The Organization of Italy's East African Empire

ADDIS ABABA was entered by the Italian Army on May 9, 1936, thus putting an effective end to the government of the Negus, who had fled abroad. Since that date Italian occupation has gradually been extended to the rest of Ethiopian territory. The time has therefore come when we can sketch at least the broad lines of the political, administrative and economic organization which Italy is giving her new East African Empire.

First of all, let us take the designation "empire." It was not chosen accidentally or arbitrarily. A country that for thirty centuries had been governed in one way or another as an independent state could not be considered as of the usual type of colonial territory inhabited by primitive tribes in a semi-savage state. Rather it had to be regarded, like the vast British domain in India, as a geographic, historical and political unity of which the sovereignty had been transferred by right of conquest, a right re-enforced by the conqueror's superior civilization. Hence it was logical that the term "empire" should be applied and that the King of Italy should assume the title, "Emperor of Ethiopia."

The basic lines to be followed in the political organization of the new Empire were laid down by Mussolini in his speech of May 5, 1936: "With the population of Ethiopia peace is already an established fact. The defeated and fugitive chiefs and rasses no longer count and no force in the world can ever make them count again." This statement was a solemn promise to the peoples of Ethiopia whom the Italian victory had liberated not only from slavery but from all sorts of servitudes and barbarous tyrannies. In making it, Mussolini reaffirmed the ethical reasons for Italy's African enterprise. A year later, Signor Lessona, Minister for Italian Africa, restated the concept in a speech before the Senate: "No continuation and no resurrection, either open or covert, of what was Ethiopian feudalism."

From these declarations it was plain that the Empire would be organized under

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