THE ETHIOPIAN WORLD FEDERATION, INCORPORATED built on the efforts of African Americans who, in 1936, sent a delegation consisting of three prominent Harlem figures, all leaders of the black organization known as United Aid for Ethiopia. Reverend William Lloyd Imes, Pastor of the prestigious St. James Presbyterian Church, Philip M. Savory of the Victory Insurance Company and co-owner of the New York Amsterdam News, and Cyril M. Philp, secretary of United Aid, sailed to England in the summer of 1936 to speak with Emperor Haile Selassie concerning financial matters.
THE ETHIOPIAN WORLD FEDERATION, INCORPORATED was established in the United States in 1937. Its aims were to mobilize support for the Ethiopians during the Italian invasion of 1935-41 and to embody the unity of Ethiopians (Black people) home and abroad. Sections were established in other parts of the Americas. Later, the TEWF,INC. was given charge of an area of land in Ethiopia for housing returning emigrants.
In response, the Emperor empowered his personal physician Dr. Malaku E. Bayen as his special emissary. Bayen at first worked with United Aid for Ethiopia, but the next year he dissolved that body and founded the TEWF, INC. to take its place. TEWF,INC. was formally established on August 25, 1937, in New York City as THE ETHIOPIAN WORLD FEDERATION, INCORPORATED. It's preamble is "We, the Black People of the World, in order to effect Unity, Solidarity, Liberty, Freedom and self-determination, to secure Justice and maintain the Integrity of Ethiopia, which is our divine heritage, do hereby establish and ordain this Constitution for The Ethiopian World Federation, Incorporated.
THE ETHIOPIAN WORLD FEDERATION, INCORPORATED was at first made up primarily of Ethiopian students who came to America to study abroad, after the official coronation of Emperor Haile Selassie. It gained support from the Black community of Harlem and deprecated the term "Negro" from Negroland, in favour of African and Ethiopian identity, the lost Hebrew tribes of Yisra'el scattered throughout the shores of North America and abroad. Dr. Bayen set up the TEWF's newspaper, The Voice of Ethiopia, and led the project of federating the EWF. The first branch of the TEWF,INC. outside the United States was set up in Kingston, Jamaica, and is heavily supported by the Rasta communities up until today. And by 1940 there were TEWF,INC. chapters in various parts of Latin America and the Caribbean. Bayen died in 1940 and was succeeded as leader by Lij Araya Abebe, then in 1943 by Elks Exalted Ruler Finley Wilson, by which time it had become a Black American organization rather than an Ethiopian-led one.
As a direct result of the support Ethiopia received from black people in the West, mainly at that time African-Americans, during the Italian invasion of 1935-1941, the Emperor in 1948 granted five Gashas (approximately 200 hectares) of land near Shashamane to the EWF for Ethiopian people in the Diaspora who desired to return to the motherland.