13 SEPTEMBER 1975, Page 5

Ethiopia and South Africa

From Professor C. A. W. Manning

Sir: This week's press tributes to the former Emperor of Ethiopia have duly highlighted that historic occasion when the venerable African statesman, then a fugitive from his invaded dominions, appealed in person to the League of Nations Assembly not to renege upon its undeniable obligation to sustain him. Not recalled by everyone has been the solitary voice, that of the South Africa of Generals Hertzog and Smuts, raised then in shocked dissent at what was being done. _

Historic, too, was the special audience to which her spokesman then was summoned, to receive for transmission to Pretoria His Majesty's unstinted thanks. Years later it was with the help in part of South Africa's forces that Lion of Judah was to be restored to his throne — only to become presently a founder of the Organisation for African Unity, sworn to the cleansing of the entire African continent of the last traces of white domination.

South Africa did not misunderstand. She knew what life was like. Had she not in the meantime listened with stoic composure while a British Prime Minister, her guest in Cape Town, discoursed upon the 'wind of change'? Now that that selfsame wind has for the second and last time swept the old monarch from his pedestal, it is as seen and heard in his finest moment, at Geneva in 1936, that she may well prefer to remember him.

C. A. W. Manning 34 Newton Road, London W2