Richard Pankhurst, British academic who researched and wrote extensively about Ethiopian history, is laid to rest at the Holy Trinity Menbere Tsebaot – where dignitaries and patriotic Ethiopians are laid to rest. His mother Sylvia Pankhurst is also laid to rest there.
According to sources close to the church, Richard was baptized as a follower of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church in 1997 and his baptism name is Gebrehana.
Richard passed away last week in Addis Ababa at the age of 90. The news made headlines nearly in all Ethiopian media outlets in addition to coverage by foreign media outlets.
Funeral was attended by patriarch of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church, Abune Mathias, current president of Ethiopia,Mulatu Tesome,other Ethiopian government officials, notable Ethiopians like Professor Mesfin Woldemariam, British Ambassador to Ethiopia and Djibouti,Susanna Moorehead,dignitaries and members of the diplomatic community in Addis Ababa and residents of Addis Ababa.
Hirut Woldemariam, tourism and culture minister, read out letter sent by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegne who didn’t attend the funeral.
Richard Pankhurst lived in Ethiopia with his wife Rita for well over four decades. His contribution to the study of Ethiopian history is unrivaled. He was the founding member of Institute of Ethiopian Study (IES) and has taught history at Addis Ababa university for a long time.
Furthermore, he was was a key player in the struggle for the return of Aksum Oblisk from Rome, which was taken away from Ethiopia with a personal order of Benito Mussolini during the periods of Italian Occupation in the early 1940’s.
As well, Pankhurst was part of the struggle to recover British loot, artifacts and manuscripts -among other things, from Maqdala, where emperor Tewodros committed suicide after losing the battle with well armed British expeditionary force under Robert Napier in the second half of the 19th century.
Pankhurst is survived by his wife Rita Pankhurst and his children Alula and Helen Pankhurst. Ethiopians both in and outside of the country were paying tribute to Richard Pankhurst in recognition of his life long service and his great respect to the history of Ethiopia.
In a speech in Amharic during the funeral ceremony at Selassie, Alula , son of Richard Pankhurst, expressed his ‘s gratitude to the people of Ethiopia for recognition of his father’s service and commitment to Ethiopia. “As my grandmother Sylvia Pankhurst passed to her son her great love and admiration to Ethiopia,” said Alula,” my father, on his part, passed on to me and my sister Helen his respect to Ethiopian history and culture.” Alula himself is an academic in Ethiopian social anthropology but he currently lives in the UK.
Ethiopians fondly remember Richard Pankhurst and he will be missed.
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Cover Photo: Screenshot from Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation Video on YouTube Channel