STILLWATER — The second installment of “Point Four,” the documentary that highlights the agricultural link between Stillwater and Ethiopia, premieres at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Wes Watkins Center Auditorium at Oklahoma State University.
Part one of the series is available for streaming at www.abaymovies.com.
The series focuses on Oklahoma A&M University (now OSU) agriculture students' and professors' mission to share their knowledge of agriculture.
“It's about what happens when two countries and two leaders get together for the common good,” said director Mel Tewahade.
His father, Fitwarari Tewahad Woldyes, was governor of Harer in Ethiopia in the 1960s.
“It's an amazing story,” Tewahade said. “I mean, my dad used to tell me how beautiful these people are. They came from Oklahoma; they're Christian. I didn't know what Oklahoma was.”
The unlikely relationship was first conceived in 1949, as the world still reeled from World War II.
In his inaugural speech, President Harry Truman said he wanted a bold new program to share America's innovative technology with underdeveloped nations. The idea was called Truman's “Point Four” project.
Truman appointed former Oklahoma State President Henry Bennett as assistant secretary of state to head up the program.
Bennett had formed a positive relationship with Haile Selassie, the emperor of Ethiopia at the time. Among other tasks, Bennett was charged with bringing modern farming and ranching techniques to the struggling country.
The agricultural expertise shared by the OSU professors and students eventually allowed farmers to hone their techniques for growing coffee beans, the country's cash crop.
The results were the cultivation of a rich coffee industry, the formation of Jimma Agricultural Technical School, which fed into a new agricultural university, Alemaya College of Agriculture (now called Haramaya University), and a link between Oklahoma and Ethiopia that will bind the history of the two places.
The movie features interviews with Americans who were involved with the program in Ethiopia, as well as Ethiopian graduates from the school.
If you go
“The Point Four Documentary — Part Two” premieres at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Wes Watkins Center Auditorium at Oklahoma State University. Other showings will take place at 10 a.m. and 2 and 4 p.m. on Friday at the same location. The screenings are free and open to the public. For more information, call (405) 744-2507 or email Katie.
It's an amazing story. I mean, my dad used to tell me how beautiful these people are. They came from Oklahoma; they're Christian. I didn't know what Oklahoma was.”