Too many foreigners have studied and loved Ethiopia but none like the British historian Richard Pankhurst. News of his death at the age of 90 shocked Ethiopians. He passed way this morning in his residence,Addis Ababa, reported Voice of America Amharic Service.
He served as professor of history at Addis Ababa University and was a founding member of Institute of Ethiopian Studies – housed at former Emperor Haile Selassie Palace at the main campus of Addis Aabab University, an institution with great reputation which was engaged in the creation of knowledge base on Ethiopia through research and organized annual conferences that attracted researchers from other parts of Africa, Europe and North America -among others.
His mother ,Sylvia Pankhurst of Manchester, was a patron of Ethiopia and a passionate activist against the invasion of by Fascist Italy. She went to the extent of founding a newspaper as a voice for the freedom of Ethiopia. Richard Pankhurst was clearly influenced by his mother’s activism on Ethiopia. He came to Ethiopia in the mid 1950’s and spent the rest of his life studying and writing about Ethiopia. He has produced about 17 books on the history of Ethiopia and co-authored well over 20 books. In his research, he covered a range of historical periods in Ethiopia, including ancient time. As well, he wrote more than 400 articles on the history,culture and traditions of Ethiopia.
Just like Richard was influenced by his mother, his son,Alula,who is named after a notable figure in Ethiopian history, was raised in Ethiopia and speaks Amharic like native, was influenced by his father, studied and taught anthropology at Addis Ababa University for many many years.
The Pankhurst famliy service to Ethiopia is second to none. When TPLF entrenched ethnic politics in Ethiopia after taking power in 1991 and asserted that the history of Ethiopia is only 100 years old,ironically the British are said to be advisers to TPLF on a range of issues, it was Richard Pankhurst who reacted to it in an interview with local magazine in Ethiopia. “If we only see Lucy [3.2 million years old fossil that was discovered by scientists in Ethiopia in 1974], Ethiopia is millions of years old,” he answered.
Richard Pankhurst is survived by his daughter Helen Pankhurst and his son Alula Pankhurst. VOA Amharic cited family sources that his funeral will take place at Menbere Tsebaot Trinity Church on Monday.
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