Ever since We were entrusted with the responsibility of leading Ethiopia, one of the several wishes We cherished for Our people has been to witness the arrival of a time when Our people will be able to realize their problems as well as potentialities and through mutual discussions come out with solutions for improvement.
In order to bring about the fulfilment of Our idea, We established the Ministry of National Community Development eight years ago. Our first directive to the Ministry was in short to go down to village level and give instructions by which the people can improve living conditions and solve social problems.
This project has been remarkably expanded since then. Many people who received proper training at training centres set up by the Ministry at Jajite, Awassa and other places are currently engaged throughout the Empire in drilling wells, cleaning pools, maintaining village sanitation, starting schools and other activities designed to assist the community at large.
It gives Us great satisfaction to note the enthusiasm shown by the many young men wherever they have been assigned in carrying out this programme, as it has become apparent from the undertaking of the 10 places in the District of Ada.
Although great effort is being exerted by Our government by way of planning and formulating ways and means of eradicating community problems, it is not sufficient for the people to rely on government support alone. As has already been manifested by your endeavours the people themselves must come to realize their own difficulties in the development of their community and try to solve them by collective participation, following an order of priority and taking their potentiality into account.
It is well known to you all that recognizing one’s problems and striving hard to challenge them is a mark of an attempt at self-sufficiency.
A country belongs to both leaders and people. The mutual co-operation between them is testimony to this fact. Unless the people help Us, Our attempt to help them will be fruitless. Why did We become a leader? Is it not for the benefit and welfare of the people? This year, more than ever before, the people of Ethiopia motivated by their own will and diligence, have awakened to the task of raising their standard of living.
You hear every day that people are engaged in raising funds to either construct roads or to use them for whatever projects they have in mind. How noble and great a deed is the act of sacrificing one’s wealth, land and money, to one’s needy community instead of for selfish purposes! The gratitude remains for ever.
If the programme of “self-help” is pushed forward with this same degree of motivation, you will undoubtedly leave a tradition worthy of remembrance by your children. It is believed that having seen your children lined up in front of the schools, you have realized that your efforts in taking the initiative to compete in the programme of self-help undertaken by all to build these four schools We just visited were altogether rewarding.
One who does not contribute to his community and the coming generation remains to be a burden to his society and an object of ridicule to outside observers.
By building the schools near your village, you have spared the time and energy of your children from travelling to too far away places for their education and moreover you have secured the opportunity of seeing them grow up under your close care. And similarly if you continue to consult one another and strive to get rid of the other handicaps, say problems of obtaining clean water, better roads and sanitation for your community, you will find that the accomplishment is within your capacity.
It is both the responsibility of the governor as well as elders to create harmony among the people in initiating them to discuss their common problems and work towards the betterment of their standard of living.
There has not been a single Ethiopian who has not been filled with pride and rejoicing in hearing of the great efforts and co-operation manifested by the people of Guragie in the fund-raising scheme to finance the construction of the roads linking the peoples of Bale, Addis Ababa and the provinces. These efforts being made by the people of Our country towards progress has also served as a means to influence Ethiopia’s overseas friends.
We also pledge, therefore, those elders and community leaders to study and formulate methods on problems affecting their respective communities such as schooling, water supply, community and home sanitation, roads and agriculture in addition to their long – practised profession.
The co-operation and, what is more, the active participation in working along with the people played by you, the members of the IEAF, the Airborne Division and the Farm Experiment Station in helping the people living in your area achieve a better standard of living has highly pleased Us.
The principal idea towards this motive of assisting your fellow neighbours lay in the fact that some of you have been fortunate to evidence the progress made in other countries while most of you collected experiences from reading books at home; and it has been this spirit of enthusiasm of witnessing the same trends of progress being enjoyed by your brothers at home that led towards this objective. There is no single soul who would not cherish and hail the introduction of progress to Ethiopia and partake of the benefits thereof.
It is but through cooperation in working side by side with the people by way of setting up schools, drilling water-wells and the construction of roads, and it is through the realization and devotion in solving these problems that wishes could be interpreted in terms of tangible forms. As We have been informed you have, in constructing these schools, equally shared the work with the people: that of quarrying stones, fixing the frames and in mixing the mud, which no doubt will earn you the love of your neighbours.
Jan. 10, 1963
Selected Speeches of H.I.M