Ethiopians Call for State Funeral as Richard Pankhurst, Champion of Ethiopian Culture, Dies Aged 89


Officials, writers, academics and scores of ordinary Ethiopians issued sorrowful tributes to a man whose legacy was so significant and so varied many struggled to encapsulate it.

By Adrian Blomfield (The Telegraph) |

Grieving Ethiopians yesterday called for a state funeral to be bestowed on Richard Pankhurst, scion of Britain’s celebrated suffragette family and for many decades Ethiopia’s most stalwart Western champion.

Describing him as “one of Ethiopia’s greatest friends”, the country’s foreign ministry announced that Pankhurst had died at his home in the capital Addis Ababa on Thursday. He was 89.

Officials, writers, academics and scores of ordinary Ethiopians issued sorrowful tributes to a man whose legacy was so significant and so varied many struggled to encapsulate it.

There was the academic: More than 20 books on Ethiopia, including its first ever economic history. There was the cultural, most notably with the establishment of Ethiopia’s first proper archive.

And, perhaps most significantly, there was the diplomatic, in the form of a dogged crusade for the return of Ethiopian cultural artefacts taken to Europe as war plunder. Although the campaign was only partially successful, it brought international attention to Ethiopia’s storied past, a history that Ethiopians maintain began with the Queen of Sheba.

“He was our history archive,” read one post on twitter, “Ethiopia’s foremost chronicler,” another. Others called attention to his service, calling him “a patriot of Ethiopia”, “a son of Ethiopia” or simply “a hero”.

“His death is devastating to many of us,” Maaza Mengiste, an Ethiopian-American author, told the BBC’s Africa Service. “We feel like we have lost a significant champion of Ethiopia. This is a real loss for the country.”

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