GRANDSON of the late Emperor Haile Selassie, Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie, was welcomed into the Senate's chambers during its sitting on Friday, as part of official engagements for his week-long visit to Jamaica.
The prince, who is president of the Crown Council of Ethiopia, arrived in the island Thursday night as Jamaica's special guest for National Heritage Week, being observed from October 9 to 17.
He was accompanied to the Upper House by Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange; Speaker of the House of Representatives Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert; and members of his delegation.
Just before Government Senator Dr Saphire Longmore gave her contribution to the state of the nation debate, the Senate's sitting was suspended and the prince invited to address the House.
The prince said it was a special privilege to be in the House, noting that it is a room he only witnessed on video during his grandfather's address to the nation in 1966.
"I feel so a part of that history, and I'm especially delighted that I have been invited to Jamaica by the Government. I want to thank Minister Grange and all who worked hard to make my visit possible," he said.
"Jamaica is a vibrant democracy. Democracies evolve, and the Jamaican experiment of different people, one nation is something that will resonate in any nation — and this is a challenge that Africa can learn from," he said.
Deputy President of the Senate Aubyn Hill said he was also pleased to be in the Senate "to see our visiting guest, the prince, addressing us in Parliament as his grandfather did so amazingly historically well…We welcome you and your delegation. We are pleased to have you in Jamaica. We have a very long and strong tie with Ethiopia and we wish your country well as you wished ours well," he said.
Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate Peter Bunting said the Opposition also welcomed the Ethiopian prince to Jamaica.
"We recognise the powerful historical and cultural ties that we have with your country and indeed, of course, more broadly with the continent of Africa. We hope that you will… continue to have good relations with the Government and people of Jamaica," he said.
Grange had announced the prince's visit last month. At the time she said he was scheduled to meet with the nation's leaders — including the governor general, the prime minister and leader of the Opposition — as well as members of the Ethiopian and Rastafari communities and the National Council on Reparations.
The prince's other official engagements include Monday's National Honours and Awards Ceremony at King's House and the interfaith National Heritage Day Church Service.
He is also scheduled to visit the National Gallery, the African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica, and Liberty Hall and is due to attend a reception hosted by Honorary Consul of Ethiopia in Jamaica Yodit Hylton. In addition, he will receive the Keys to the City of Montego Bay during a civic ceremony. Following this, he will visit Seville Heritage Park in St Ann and lay flowers. He will also visit National Heroes' Park for the shrine-lighting display.
Prince Selassie's previous visit to Jamaica was in 2016.
This year's Heritage Week is being observed under the theme 'Re-igniting Greatness through our Heritage'.