Addis Ababa, February 16, 2017 (Fana Broadcasting Corporation) – The doyen of historians and scholars of Ethiopia, Dr. Richard Pankhurst has passed away at the age of 90.
Dr. Pankhurst was one of Ethiopia’s greatest friends during his long and productive life, and his scholarship and understanding for Ethiopia will be sorely missed.
He was the founding Director of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies and a leading figure in the Friends of Ethiopia.
The son of Sylvia Pankhurst, a staunch supporter of Ethiopia’s struggle against Italy in the 1930s, Dr. Pankhurst came to Ethiopia in 1956 and devoted his life to Ethiopian studies, writing over 20 books and editing many more on aspects of Ethiopia’s history, culture and economics.
He was also instrumental in the successful campaign to get the Axum Stelae re-erected in 2008, back from Italy to Ethiopia, for which he was given an award of recognition by President Dr. Mulatu Teshome.
He was also awarded Order of the British Empire (OBE) by the British government for his services to Ethiopian studies.
Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu, Minister of Foreign Affairs, offered his profound sympathy to Mrs. Rita Pankhurst, to his children, Helen and Alula, and to all his family, friends and colleagues.
Background from Wikipedia
Richard Keir Pethick Pankhurst OBE (born 3 December 1927) is a British academic, a founding member of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, and a former professor at the University of Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. His books have been reviewed in scholarly journals, with Edward Ullendorff calling his The Ethiopians as another testimony to his “remarkable diligence and industry in the service of Ethiopian studies”. He is known for his research on economic history and socio-cultural studies on Ethiopia.
Early life and education
Pankhurst was born in 1927 in Woodford Green to left communist and former suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst (aged 45) and Italian anarchist Silvio Corio (aged 52). His maternal grandparents were Emmeline and Richard Pankhurst.
Pankhurst studied at Bancroft’s School in Woodford, then at the London School of Economics, from which he received a doctorate in economic history, on which Harold Laski acted as an advisor.
Scholar of Ethiopia
Sylvia Pankhurst had been an active supporter of Ethiopian culture and independence since the Italian invasion in 1935, and Richard grew up knowing many Ethiopian refugees. Sylvia was a friend of Haile Selassie and published Ethiopia, a Cultural History in 1955. In 1956, she and Richard moved to Ethiopia.He began working at the University College of Addis Ababa, and in 1962 was the founding director of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies. He also edited the Journal of Ethiopian Studies and the Ethiopia Observer.
Pankhurst left the Institute and his professorship at what had become the University of Addis Ababa in 1976 after the death of Haile Selassie and the start of the Ethiopian Civil War. He returned to England, where he became a research fellow with the School of Oriental and African Studies and the London School of Economics, before working as librarian at the Royal Asiatic Society. He returned to Ethiopia in 1986, where he resumed research with the Institute. He has published numerous books and articles on a wide variety of topics related to Ethiopian history.
Pankhurst led the campaign for the return of the Obelisk of Axum to Ethiopia. It was re-erected in Axum in 2008. For his efforts in this, he was given the honorary title “Dejazmach Benkirew” by the Union of Tigraians of North America. He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Diplomatic Service and Overseas section of the 2004 Queen’s Birthday Honours “for services to Ethiopian studies”.