Over 30,000 people braved the rain in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, on Saturday (17 July) to watch a parade by students, teachers and farmers.
Over 30,000 people braved the rain in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, on Saturday (17 July) to watch a parade by students, teachers and farmers. It marked the end of the first stage of a campaign to send 50,000 people out to work in rural areas of Ethiopia.
SYNOPSIS: The parade in Revolution Square was attended by the Ethiopian Head of State, Brigadier-General Teferi Bante - in glasses. The rural campaign was launched after a military coup overthrew the former Emperor, Haile Selassie, in September 1974. Parliament and the constitution were suspended and the Provisional Military Government (PMG) formed to rule the country. The PMG was replaced by the Provisional Military Council (PMC) in November, 1974. General Banti is chairman of the PMC and as such is Head of State.
Much of the work in rural areas has been led by students and teachers. Speeches recalled their help in building roads, bridges, schools and clinics throughout the country. The crowds also heard General Banti praise the campaigners for taking what he called the Ethiopian revolution to the masses.
The land reform programme set out to stimulate agricultural development by breaking down the feudal system that existed in Ethiopia under Haile Selassie. Land was nationalised and farms are now run on a communal basis. The Ethiopian economy is based mainly on agricultural and pastoral produce, which accounts for almost all the country's exports.
However, the ruling PMS's plans for economic development have been hampered by the lack of adequate transport and communications, trained manpower and financial investment. That is why the work done under the first stage of the land reform campaign has been so important. But no mention has yet been made of the second stage of the campaign or what will happen to the people who completed the first part. The university in Addis Ababa and many high schools were closed at the start of the 1974 coup.
But a booklet issued by the campaign headquarters said the achievements so far would be remembered for many generations to come. The booklet said 155 schools and 206 clinics had been completed, and a literacy campaign had registered close to one million people. But future stages of the land reform programme must be equally successful if Ethiopia is to fully exploit its agricultural potential.