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A Brief History of the Anglo-Ethiopian Society

The meeting held to discuss the formation of the Anglo-Ethiopian Society took place at 41 Grosvenor Square, London SW1 on 15th November 1948 under the chairmanship of Professor Norman Bentwich.

The Abyssinia Association, which had been formed as a politically motivated group at the time of the Italian Fascist invasion of Ethiopia in 1936, remained in existence until December 1951 and so the Officers of the new Society could attempt only to organise ‘the framework of a society with the aim of furthering friendship between members of the British Commonwealth and members of the Ethiopian empire’. At that time there were few Ethiopians then living in the United Kingdom and one of the unwritten objectives was to ‘befriend’ Ethiopian students arriving in the country. The Society held its first Annual General Meeting on 2nd February 1952 and these have continued annually ever since.

Membership in the early days tended to be either academics whose subjects embraced Ethiopia or expatriates who looked nostalgically on their time living in Ethiopia. While these two groups remain they are joined by increasing numbers of tourists who have been fascinated by what they found in Ethiopia and by Ethiopians who have settled or who, for the time being, are living in the United Kingdom. There is a substantial number of members who do not live in the UK but who support the objects of the Society.

The term ‘Anglo’ in the title of the Society has gradually come to indicate that the business and affairs of the Society are conducted in English. The Society maintains links with other organisations and individuals with an interest in Ethiopia and it welcomes an expansion of those links and an addition to its membership by all who support its objective of friendship with the Ethiopian peoples.