The Radical and the Emperor
Sylvia Pankhurst was a deeply committed feminist, anti-racist and anti-fascist. What is less well known is the fact that these anti-fascist views led her in later life to campaign on behalf of one of Africa's most conservative and autocratic monarchs, the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie.
Sylvia's relentless campaign for the restoration of Ethiopian independence after the Italian invasion of 1935 led her to launch a weekly newspaper, The New Times and Ethiopia News. Later she also campaigned against British involvement in Ethiopia, and her efforts were warmly appreciated by the Emperor.
In 1956, aged 74, she accepted Haile Selassie's invitation to live in Addis Ababa. When she died there in 1960 at the age of 78, she was given a state funeral and buried in front of the cathedral - the only foreigner buried in an area reserved for patriots of the Italian war.
Her son, Dr Richard Pankhurst, accompanied his mother to Ethiopia in 1956 and has continued to live there for almost 50 years. He recounts the story of his mother's involvement with Haile Selassie, and talks about how her passion influenced his own life-long commitment to Ethiopia.