Emperor Haile Selassie: The "Ethiopian Lion of Judea" | African history | -

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Haile Selassie was born Tafari Makonnen on July 23, 1892, near Harar, Ethiopia. His father being a cousin and a close ally of Emperor Menelik II, he was summoned to the court of Addis Ababa on the death of his father in 1906.

In 1916 he became Ras Tafari, heir apparent and ruler of the Empress Zauditu, daughter of Menelik II, and in 1928, the Empress crown King. In 1930, on the death of Empress Zauditu, Tafari was crowned Emperor Haile Selassie, "Power of the Trinity".

He was finally deposed by a communist regime coup in 1974 and died less than a year later, on August 26, 1975, in Addis Ababa.

Haile Selassie (Comic Republic)

What foundations did Haile Selassie pose for his country?

It was at the origin of Ethiopia's first written constitution in 1931. It provided for a bicameral parliament (with two chambers), a legal code, and proclaimed all Ethiopians equal.

But this first constitution, and the second promulgated in 1955, were criticized for granting too much power to the emperor himself. He retained the right to overturn any parliamentary decision, and the political parties did not have their own statutes.

Was Haile Selassie above criticism?

Since its inception, Tafari Makonnen is considered a good strategist. He participated in the dismissal of the power of the appointed emperor Lij Iyasu, predecessor of Zauditu, who ruled only three years. As Emperor, Haile Selassie has given thousands of students a chance to study abroad.

It was these same students who later asked for his departure, denouncing a lack of reforms. Disenchantment with his monarchy culminated in a coup attempt in 1960, the biggest threat to his rule until he was finally overthrown by the Derg regime.

Haile Selassie's aspirations for international cooperation

As regent, Ras Tafari brought Ethiopia into the League of Nations in 1923, one of the few independent African nations at the time and the only one to seek membership. In 1963, the emperor convened the first meeting of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), which later became the African Union. He helped design his first charter and became his first president. The headquarters was established in Addis Ababa.

Haile Selassie (Comic Republic)

What was Haile Selassie's image in Germany?

Advocating more international cooperation, Haile Selassie traveled a lot. In 1954, he became the first foreign head of state to visit the newly created Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), receiving what would be reported as "the most royal and ceremonial welcome given to any visitor since the end of the war ".

He was welcomed as an equal and was primarily interested in the technical, medical, agricultural and industrial progress he could bring back to Ethiopia with him. Ethiopia will remain an important partner of Germany and Haile Selassie will also be received with great fanfare in Bonn (capital of the FRG) in 1973, one year before his dismissal.

Quotes from Haile Selassie?

"Apart from the Kingdom of the Lord, there is no nation on this earth that is superior to another … It is us today, it will be you tomorrowSpeech to the League of Nations in 1936, asking for help to oust the Italian occupation forces.

"History teaches us that unity is strength, and warns us to overcome our differences in the pursuit of common goals, to struggle, with all our combined forces, for the path of true brotherhood and African unity."Speech of thanks during his election as first leader of the Organization for African Unity in 1963.

Haile Selassie (Comic Republic)

What is Haile Selassie's legacy?

Haile Selassie gave Ethiopia its first university, schools, hospitals and centralized government. The reforms he put in place also aimed at portraying an image of Ethiopia as open to the outside world, and the Emperor was internationally recognized as an intelligent and charismatic leader.

A position he used for the good of all Africa, promoting pan-African efforts. Successive African post-independence leaders saw him as a defender of African values ​​and independence, European leaders hailed him as an anti-fascist, and in Jamaica the Rastafarians worshiped him as a Messiah.

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Jackie Wilson and Yilma Haile Michael contributed to this story that is part of the series "Roots of Africa". A series launched in early 2018 by Deutsche Welle, in cooperation with the Gerda Henkel Foundation.

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