Ethiopia: Funeral of Professor Pankhurst Held at Trinity Cathedral


Dr Richard Pankhurst, the prominent historian and researcher on Ethiopia, was laid to rest at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa on Tuesday (Feb 21).

President Mulatu Teshome and other senior government officials as well as grieving family members and relatives of the scholar were present at the funeral.

Professor Richard Pankhurst was born in Woodford, suburban town of North East London, in 1927. He was educated at Bancroft’s School, Woodford, and at the London School of Economics where he received a doctorate in economic history.

He was involved with his mother, Sylvia Pankhurst, in the campaign against the fascist occupation of Ethiopia and participated with her in demonstrations, fundraising and campaigns, and assisted her with the editing of the newspaper “New Times and Ethiopian News” for over 20 years, according to a brief biography distributed at the funeral.

Professor Richard Pankhurst taught for many years at the University College of Addis Ababa, which later became Addis Ababa University, it was indicated.

He was also the founder and the first Director of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies (IES), and promoted the development of library, museum, and art gallery.

The scholar was awarded Haile Sellaise I Prize for Ethiopian Studies in 1973 and was among the founding group who campaigned for the return of the Aksum Obelisk which had been looted on Mussolini’s orders in 1937, the biography stated. 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 Honors “for services to Ethiopian studies”

Leaving Ethiopia in 1976, he was appointed Researcher Fellow at the London School of Economics and at the School of Oriental and African studies. He later became the Librarian of the Royal Asiatic Society.

Dr Richard Pankhurst had published over 25 books and several articles and essays majority of them about Ethiopia and its history. In addition to his numerous books on Ethiopia, Pankhurst has written works (focusingon her paintings) on his mother, including Sylvia Pankhurst: Artist and Crusader and Sylvia Pankhurst: Counsel for Ethiopia

Professor Richard Pankhurst died at the age of 89 and is survived by his wife, Rita Pankhurst, a son (Alula Pankhurst), a daughter (Helen Pankhurst), and four grandchildren.