Who Was Haile Selassie?

Haile Selassie was named emperor of Ethiopia in 1930 and ruled until the second world war when he was expelled during the Italian conquest. He demanded the condemnation of Italy, which he accused of using chemical weapons against the people of Ethiopia during the war. After a decade in exile, Selassie returned and took over the emperor again in 1941 with the aim of modernizing the country socially, economically and educationally. He remained in power until 1974 when political instability and the unemployed forced him to leave his post.

Early life

On July 23, 1892, Haile Selassie was born in a place called Ejersa Gora. He was initially called Lij Tafari Makonne (the governor of Harar) and was the only son of Makonnen who lived to adulthood. Selassie traced its origin to the son of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon, Menelik I. Emperor Menelik II, who was the cousin of the Tafari, did not have a male child who would take over, and after the death of his father’s Tafari, took his son (Tafari) as heir.

However, following the death of Menelik II in 1913, Lij Yasu, nephew of the emperor, was appointed emperor. Because of Yasu’s ties with Islam, he failed to win the favor of the mostly Christian population; consequently, it was deposed in 1916 and succeeded Tafari. Tafari was considered by the new generations in Ethiopia to be the symbol of hope and a better future. He represented Ethiopia in the League of Nations in 1923 and became the first ruler of Ethiopia to fly abroad. In 1928 he proclaimed himself king and, after the death of Zauditu, Tafari became the emperor and officially used the name Haile Selassie which means “Power of the Trinity”.

His direction

Haile Selassie ran the government driven by his ambitions, promulgating a new constitution, building schools, strengthening the police and centralizing power. He left the country in 1926 following the Italian invasion and led the resistance against the Italian, first seeking the help of the League of Nations. Selassie managed to reclaim her country with the help of the British and again assumed the position of emperor. While the anti-colonial wave was crossing Africa, it inaugurated a new constitution in 1955 that outlined equality under the law; however, Selassie kept her powers.

His last years

A large number of unemployed young people, the famine of the 1970s and the inability of the Selassie government to solve the country’s problems have undermined its government. In February 1974, government forces staged a mutiny due to an insufficient payment, which worsened Selassie’s problems. He was eventually removed from power and forced to remain in his residence until his death in 1975.

False claims came out attributing his death to natural causes; however, the evidence indicated that Selassie had been strangled, probably by order of the government. A burial was conducted in November 2000 and his body buried in the Trinity Cathedral of Addis Ababa.


Haile Selassie was a devout Christian and his frequent mention of the Bible led to his incarnation from the Rastafari movement. The different homes of the Rastafari religion believe that he is a messenger of God, the messiah or the human incarnation of Jah (God). Although its importance differs from house to villa, everyone agrees that Haile Selassie is intrinsically linked to the Rastafari religion.

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