The Emperor : Downfall of an Autocrat

Kapuscinski, Ryszard, trans. William R. Brand and Katarzyna Mroczkowska-Brand

Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1983

pp. 33 - 34

In the totally corrupt empire of Haile Selassie, even the slightest and least effective reform (and that is the only kind there were) had to have his imprimatur. “ . . . His majesty did not oppose reform. He always sympathized with progress and improvement . But he could not stand it when someone undertook reform on his own, first because that created a threat of anarchy and free choice, and second because it might create the impression of there being other charitable ones in the Empire besides His Magnanimous Highness. So, if a clever and astute minister wanted to carry out even the smallest reform in his own backyard, he would have to direct it in such a way and so present it to His Majesty that it would . . . seem that the gracious, concerned innovator and advocate of the reform was His Imperial Highness, even if in reality the Emperor did not quite know what the reform was all about.”