The Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Honourable Olivia Grange, says she accepted an award from the Crown Council of Ethiopia on behalf of Jamaica, particularly the Rastafarian community.
Minister Grange became a Dame Grand Cross of the Imperial Order of the Star of Honour of Ethiopia — the highest possible award of the Order — by the head of the Crown Council of Ethiopia, His Imperial Highness The Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie, at a ceremony in Washington, DC on Saturday.
Minister Grange said, “Today is truly a very special day for me. I’ve always dreamt of the day when I would feel very much a part of the continent of Africa. In addition to recognising that my ancestry is predominantly African, the fact that I have been recognised by a nation in Africa, the continent of Africa, and particularly Ethiopia, the Crown Council of Ethiopia is something that has made me so overjoyed and so overwhelmed.”
The Minister added, “I’m pent up with emotion because I grew up hearing about Ethiopia if no other country. I grew up hearing about Ethiopia because of the Rastafarian faith; because Haile Selassie has been that symbol of black royalty. And for me, today to be recognised by the Crown Counsel and to be bestowed with the Dame of the Grand Cross by His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie’s grandson, Prince Ermias, is something that I would not have ever dreamt would happen.”
Rasta Leader also Honoured
At the same ceremony, Prince Ermias also made the Cultural Liaison and Head of the Rastafari Secretariat in the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Barbara Blake Hannah, an Officer of the Imperial Order of the Star.
Prince Ermias said: “We are celebrating this evening the 127th anniversary of the Battle of Adwa, which took place in 1896. And we can’t think of a more honourable person to reward on this occasion, such as Minister Grange [and] Barbara Blake Hannah from Jamaica, who worked so hard to make our visit in Jamaica possible. The importance of the battle of Adwa was the victory that, yes, we can do. And it was the first time an African army was able to defeat a European army and thereby preserve our nation’s sovereignty, which became an inspiration to people of African descent and oppressed people the world over.”
Mrs Hannah said the awards mean a lot.
“It’s quite an honour because this award represents three persons. First, Emperor Haile Selassie, who it honours through his grandson, Prince Ermias. It represents Priest Abuna Yesaq, who the emperor sent to Jamaica to introduce the Ethiopian Orthodox Church to those who looked on him as divine. And through him, I’ve been blessed with a superior knowledge of Ethiopian Christianity. And that is the link that has brought me here today. Those are the links, those three persons, the emperor, the archbishop and the prince that have inspired me to continue working for Ethiopia. To continue making Ethiopia as great as it was when Menilek won the battle of Adwa.”