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Imperial Ethiopia - Haile Selassie

Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974 who sought to modernize his country and who steered it into the mainstream of post-World War II African politics. He brought Ethiopia into the League of Nations and the United Nations and made Addis Ababa the major centre for the Organization of African Unity.

The facts of his life are well known. Haile Selassie's influence on the world is his most enduring legacy. Born Tafari Makonnen in 1891, Haile Selassie came to be identified inextricably with Ethiopia. Only rarely in the modern world does the story of a man become so closely linked to the story of a nation. It is said that great events beget great men, but they beget failures as well, and the boundary between the two is often defined by singular acts of courage. These the Ethiopian Emperor did not lack.
Not surprisingly, the fortitude of the man sometimes referred to as "The Lion" inspired Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and even Malcom X, each of whom corresponded with Haile Selassie who advocated civil disobedience when it was necessary to remedy fundamental social injustice or restore freedom to the oppressed. The Emperor's presence at President Kennedy's funeral is still remembered. It seems somehow appropriate that the motion picture Born Free was filmed in Ethiopia during Haile Selassie's reign.
One speaks of leaders of men as though their public lives were completely divorced from their private ones. For a hereditary monarch, this should not be the case. What his children think of him is as important as what everybody else thinks. Haile Selassie was a devoted husband and father. His wife, Empress Menen, died in 1962. His sons, Sahle Selassie, Makonnen, and Asfa Wossen, had a great sense of duty to their father and to their people. Of his daughters, Princess Tenagne, in particular, excercised various official duties.
Haile Selassie ascended the throne in the era of polar exploration and slow communication. Africa's oldest nation was little more than a footnote to the great stories of the day --something that Americans and Brits read about in the pages of the National Geographic. Some people still called the country Abyssinia. In certain countries far beyond Ethiopia's borders, segregation and apartheid were long established and little questioned. Most other African "nations" were colonies. Even at home, slavery was technically still legal.
In such an era, words like "pan-Africanism" and "civil rights" were little more than esoteric philosophical notions entertained by an enlightened few. That a country as backward as Italy, whose widespread poverty prompted the emigration of millions, would seek to devour a nation like Ethiopia, was an irony too subtle to raise eyebrows outside the most sophisticated intellectual circles. With British backing, Haile Selassie returned to defeat the Italian army which, in the event, the Allies never viewed as much more than a nuisance. The British themselves considered the Ethiopian campaign in its strategic context --as a way to free the Red Sea from possible Axis control-- as much as the liberation of a sovereign nation. To the Ethiopians, it was as much a moral victory as a military one.
The Emperor's speech to the League of Nations denouncing the Italian invasion is remembered more than the aggression itself. It prompted essentially ineffectual international trade sanctions against a European nation but, like the Battle of Adwa four decades earlier, represented in a tangible way one of the few occasions in the modern era that an African nation defied the arrogance of a European one.
There were very few world leaders of the post-war era who had actually led troops in combat. Haile Selassie and Dwight Eisenhower were exceptional in this respect, which partially accounts for their close friendship.
Even when the foe is truly formidable, courage has a psychological side that has little to do with combat or physical victory. One may seem defeated materially without being defeated morally. Perhaps it's a question of confidence, values or knowledge. Haile Selassie's greatest strength was as a builder of bridges --across rivers but also between cultures. His travels took him to many countries, and he became one of the most popular heads of state, and one of the most decorated men in the world.
It was during one such voyage, in 1960, that he had to rush home to confront an attempted overthrow of the existing order. This perhaps served as a reminder that the most dangerous revolutions are found in one's own house. The sovereign who was once known as a reformer now found himself resented by many members of the very social class his economic and educational policies had helped to create. Internationally, however, his prestige did not suffer. The Emperor established the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1963, with a headquarters in Addis Ababa.
The revolution of 1974 was supported by outside forces, and while its roots were domestic, its covert objectives cannot be said to have been supported by more than a small fraction of Ethiopians. Truth be told, administrative practices which worked well in 1950 were terribly inefficient by the 1970s, and a series of problems were cited as a pretext for a full scale coup d'etat. Ethiopia's pre-industrial economy was no better prepared for Marxism than Russia's had been in 1917. Communism's ultimate social and economic failure, in Ethiopia as well as in Russia, certainly indicates democracy's superiority, whether that democracy is embodied by a republic or a constitutional monarchy. The Derg's alliance with the Soviet Union made Ethiopia the instrument of a foreign power, precisely the thing Haile Selassie resisted.
He had a Solomonic pedigree, but Haile Selassie was a man of the people. Perhaps that's how he should be remembered.

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His Imperial Majesty, with Queen Elizabeth II, waving to the crowds that welcomed him on his state visit to the United Kingdom in 1958.

His Imperial Majesty with Vice President (later President) Richard M. Nixon of the United States of America

From Left to Right, H.H. Princess Sophia Desta, granddaughter of the Emperor of Ethiopia, H.M. The Queen of Malaysia, H.I.M. The Emperor of Ethiopia, and H.M. The King of Malaysia

The Emperor of Ethiopia in a friendly moment with Her Imperial Majesty, Empress Farah Pahlavi of Iran, during the State visit of the Shah and Empress of Iran to Ethiopia in 1968

His Imperial Majesty escorts Her Imperial Majesty Empress Farah of Iran during the 2,500 year aniversary of the Pesian Empire at Persepolis in 1967. Walking with them are Their Majesties King Bouduin and Queen Fabiola of the Belgians

His Imperial Majesty with Chairman Mao Tse Tung of the People's Republic of China. Lt. General Abiye Abebe can be seen in the background
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thank you for making this. there is alot of history that people outside Ethiopia dont know about
Those were the good old days. Haile Sellasie was the best leader we had. Since then we've had the evil derg and woyane(current) regimes who have done nothing but kill many of our people.

Reverse of 1966 Ethiopian Gold Two Hundred Dollar Coin

Ethiopia Empire Haile Selassie 20 Dollar GOLD coin 1966

Ethiopia Gold 25th Anniversary of Haile Selassie Coronation
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monarchies always give a lot of stability! look at Marocco or small sheidoms in the Gulf!...but they need institutional chcecks and balances.
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monarchies always give a lot of stability! look at Marocco or small sheidoms in the Gulf!...but they need institutional chcecks and balances.

The Lion of Judah Monument stands in the square in front of Addis Ababa’s train station. The golden colored statue of the Lion of Judah in it’s complete glory stands on a black granite pedestal which is decorated with relief portraits of Emperors Menelik II and Haile Selassie I, and Empress Zewditu, as well as Ras Makonnen. It marks the foot of the city’s widest and avenue, Churchill Road which has the impressive Addis Ababa City Hall at it’s other end. The Lion of Judah statue has a very interesting history. Erected in 1930 just before Emperor Haile Selassie’s coronation, it was looted by the Italian occupiers in 1935 and taken to Rome, where it was erected next to the Vittorio Emanuelle Monument. During the 4th anniversary celebrations of the proclomation of the Itlian Empire, Adolf Hitler chose to visit Rome, and attended the celebratory parades along side the Fascist Dictator Musollini and King Victor Emanuelle III. In the parade were numerous subjects of Italy’s African Empire, including a young Eritrean named Zerai Deres. Zerai Deres was marching with other parade members carrying a ceremonial sword with which to salute the King, the Fuhrer, and el Duce, at the grandstand. As the parade marched past the Vittorio Emauelle monument, Zerai looked up and saw to his shock, the golden Lion of Judah, the symbol of the ancient monarchy to which his ancestors had long owed allegiance, erected as war booty in the heart of Rome. It was too much for him to bear, and he promptly drew his sword and with tears of anger running down his face he fell on the first Italian officer he could find. He killed and wounded numerous Italian military officers before he was killed. Zerai Deres is lionized to this day as a brave Ethiopian patriot. The monument remained in Rome for several decades, and was finally returned to Addis Ababa after long negotiations in the 1960’s. When it was re-erected in it’s square the day it arrived, the Emperor was present in military uniform to salute, and to pay tribute to Zerai Deres. Following the revolution in 1974, the Dergue regime decided to remove the statue once more as it was a monarchist symbol. However, the elderly war veterans association members appealed to the Dergue to consider the memory of Zerai Deres and his sacrifice that was inspired by this very symbol. This act saved the statue and it stood it all it’s Imperial glory right through the Dergue era, and continues to stand today.
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Other than the fact that he was a colonialist, he was OK in my opinion. Better than any leadership since then in Ethiopia. Can't even compare them to him. I know very little about the monarchy, but he had some stature to leaders in the West. They took him seriously.

Don't see why the rastas worship him so much though. :lol:
Haile Sellasie is not a colonialist. ALL of ethiopias royalty had the title "Emperor" going back thousands of years. Haile Sellasie fought against colonialism.
Haile Sellasie is not a colonialist. ALL of ethiopias royalty had the title "Emperor" going back thousands of years. Haile Sellasie fought against colonialism.
What makes you think that he was a colonianist?
Previous Ethiopian monarchs conquered and colonialized former Somali lands (Ogaden) and solidified the claims by signing treaties with the Europeans who took over other parts of the Somali lands. This was around the time when Ethiopia defeated Italy, so they were allowed to do anything they pleased, and the Europeans would not contest the claims.

After WWII, when there were plans to put the Ogaden into the present-day Somalia, but the Emperor made sure that this would not happen by making the UN grant Ethiopia the Ogaden.

A lot of people believe that, if they had the chance, the Emperor and the Ethiopian Kingdom would take over all of Somalia, like they did with Eritrea. They wanted the sea.

Sorry if this is nationalistic idiocy, but he was not perfect in my eyes and wanted to point that out. I have no beef with anyone's opinion with him...he was better than the leaders later. But in my opinion, if there were any African nations (not talking about way in the past) with a colonial history, it was the Ethiopian Empire.
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I'm not against the Somali people or even greater Somalia but "colonial borders" are as is. Ogaden has "never" been a part of Somalia. Ethiopia's borders were also drawn by the colonialists and it included the Ogaden. We were surrounded by them we cant help make "deals" with them. Eritrea is another case altogether. In any case I would much prefer Ogaden to be a part of Somalia then to have the brutal crackdown thats going on right now.
Here is a picture of the royal family.


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I'm not against the Somali people or even greater Somalia but "colonial borders" are as is. Ogaden has "never" been a part of Somalia. Ethiopia's borders were also drawn by the colonialists and it included the Ogaden. We were surrounded by them we cant help make "deals" with them. Eritrea is another case altogether. In any case I would much prefer Ogaden to be a part of Somalia then to have the brutal crackdown thats going on right now.
Somalia did not exist before imperialism, the entire country is a colonial construct.

It's too late for the Ogaden to be part of Somalia, and to be honest, that country is better off without it. The land, except for some natural resources, is a big bunch of nothing, IMO. Greater Somalia, amidst all the civil disruptions between the Somalis, is a dead ideology and is not coming back.

But the population there is over 95% Somali and almost entirely Muslim. Almost 5 million Somalis live there. The people there don't feel Ethiopian, and especially don't with a current regime that makes them feel miserable. Maybe when Somalia fixes it's problems, a large percentage could be allowed to immigrate there. We could create a Greater Somalia without annoying our neighboring countries, by within.

That's probably waaaay into the far future though.

BTW, I didn't mean to get this thread off topic, and I'm not disagreeing with you. :)
I'm not a fan of Haile Selassie. If he was not greedy for power, he could have transitioned the country towards a constitutional monarchy and kept the imperial family as the heads of state. Instead he clung to power and ended up stuffed behind a toilet :eek:hno:
If he had done the right thing, Ethiopia would have easily been among the top 5 most developed states on the continent by now. It would have also been a stable state. The population in 1975 was 25 million, there was a wealthy upper class that could have jump started industrialization (think of the bourgeois who started the Industrial Revolution in UK and France).
His attitude to dissent and refusal to change is what fed the popular revolution in 1974.

As for colonialism:

Ethiopia is more or less the only country in the African continent (at least sub-Sahara) that has had a "normal" evolution in its state creation. He and other leaders conquered neighboring lands to add to the Empire. This is how a state is created: look at ANY European nation.
The difference is, since Ethiopia is the only nation to do this in Africa, and since it happened at the same time as colonialism, Ethiopia is erroneously labeled as a "colonizing" African nation.
If Europeans had not intervened and created artificial boundaries, this is exactly how other African nations would have formed.
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I guess looking at it from a modern perspective was wrong since most African countries, when I look at it, were pretty much fabricated creations in the first place. What Ethiopia did isn't really much different than what many African kingdoms and states did centuries ago.
Exactly 10ROT, Ethiopia did nothing different than other countries who had a natural progression towards state creation. That natural evolution was abruptly ended in colonized African states.
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