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Pupils Explore Haile Selassie's Legacy In Bath During Assembly

Published Monday 2nd of November 2020 01:24:45 PM

In celebration of Black History Month, pupils welcomed William from Fairfield House for a virtual Whole School Assembly this morning.

William spoke with tremendous insight about the history and legacy of HIM Haile Selassie, one of the most distinguished residents in Bath’s history and Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930-1974.

Within his own country, Haile Selassie sought to modernize the laws and constitution, steering it into the mainstream of post-WWII African politics and brought Ethiopia into the League of Nations and the United Nations. He also played a critical role in establishing the African Union (then Organisation of African Unity) and famously addressed the League of Nations (UN) in 1936 claiming justice for his people and instilling a vision for world justice, equality and peace.

Following an armed conflict that resulted in Ethiopia’s subjection to Italian military occupation, Haile spent four year in exile (1936-1940) in the city of Bath during which he resided in Fairfield House along with his family and pet lions!

Haile always felt very welcomed and at home in Bath, so much so that on his departure, he gifted Fairfield House to the City. The house is now used as a residency for the elderly as well as a place of celebration and worship for African communities, the Rastafari and refugees from around the world. Interestingly, Fairfield House was designed and built by the same local architect that was in charge of Kingswood School’s construction, James Wilson!

Unfortunately, the historical building is not maintained to the highest of standards and has seen much deterioration in the last couple of years. We urge the Kingswood community to recognise the importance of this establishment as a symbol of peace, justice and equality and vouch for its continuous up-keep. Fairfield House supporters are currently lobbying the Council to work with them and help maintain the building and continue educating the community about the history behind this historical site.

Haile Selassie’s family also has many links with our School. Former teacher, Mr Gardner, befriended Haile and became a personal tutor to his grandchildren who later on attended Kingswood for many years. Many Old Kingswoodians can recall fond memories of attending Kingswood with Haile’s grandchildren.

Students found the talk very interesting and we were pleased to see them engage throughout the live Assembly, asking questions via the chat feature on Microsoft Teams.

Mrs Gardner will be holding a follow-up discussion where local Rastafarian Ras Benji will provide further insight on the history of Fairfield House and answering pupils’ questions.

We look forward to continuing our exploration and celebration of black history, culture and achievements throughout the year with our students.

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