Birthday: July 23, 1892
Quotes By Haile Selassie
Died At Age: 83
Sun Sign: Cancer
Also Known As: Tafari Makonnen Woldemikael
Born in: Ejersa Goro
Famous as: Former Emperor of Ethiopia
political ideology: Regent Plenipotentiary of Ethiopia - 27 September 1916 – 2 April 19301st & 5th Chairman of the Organization of African Unity - 25 May 1963 – 17 July 1964Emperor of Ethiopia - 2 April 1930 – 12 September 1974
Spouse/Ex-: Menen Asfaw, Woizero Altayech
father: Makonnen Wolde Mikael
mother: Yeshimebet Ali
children: Amha Selassie, Prince Makonnen, Prince Sahle Selassie, Princess Romanework, Princess Tenagnework, Princess Tsehai, Princess Zenebework
Died on: August 27, 1975
place of death: Addis Ababa
Cause of Death: Assassination
Founder/Co-Founder: Organisation of African Unity
Haile Selassie is the name taken by TafariMakonnen, the last emperor of Ethiopia and the messiah figure of the Rastafarian religion. He was the son of a chief adviser to Emperor Menilek II of Ethiopia and the ruler became his mentor, putting Tafari in positions of power from a very early age. After Menilek II's death, Tafari became a prominent political figure and began shaping Ethiopian government. He rapidly became known for his progressive policies, and soon became emperor himself. He was the first Ethiopian ruler to travel outside of the country, and became an international celebrity known for his flamboyant world tours. In his own country, his progressive rulings put himself in complete power and enforced dramatic reform within Ethiopia. During the fascist regime under Mussolini in Italy, Ethiopia was invaded and Tafari was forced to spend several years in exile. He appealed to the ‘League of Nations’ for support in regaining control of his own country. After regaining his crown, he bestowed even more power on his own position, while unrest grew in Ethiopia. During the final years of his life, his rule came under fire of rebellion and he was deposed in a coup. Tafari spent his last years under house arrest in his own palace, but is still remembered by the Rastafarian religion as a god incarnate
Childhood & Early Life
Haile Selassie was born TafariMakonnen on July 23, 1892, in Ethiopia. He was a son of Ras (Prince) Makonnen, a chief adviser to the emperor of Ethiopia, and royal blood on his father's and mother's side.
Tafari received a private education and his intellect soon caught the attention of Emperor Menilek II. He was singled out for early promotion, receiving the noble title of Dejazmach at the age of 13. Shortly thereafter, his father died.
In 1906, at the age of 14, Tafari became governor of a minor province in Ethiopia. Under the protective wing of Emperor Menilek II, he became governor of several other small provinces over the next few years and continued his studies.
Continue Reading Below
You May Like
Accession & Reign
When Tafari's mentor Emperor Menilek II died, the emperor's grandson LijIyasu took over the throne and was emperor from 1913 to 1916. Despite his claim to the throne, Iyasu was an unpopular ruler and criticized for his embrace of Islam in a largely Christian country.
He headed the opposition against the unloved king and deposed him in 1916, placing Menelek II's daughter on the throne as the new Empress Zewditu.
Empress Zewditu was crowned on February 11, 1917, and named Tafari her Prince Regent. Although he had responsibilities in the daily running of the government, the empress still had the last word in all matters.
Even under the conservative reign of Empress Zewditu, his progressive policies gained national attention. He quickly came to be seen by the Ethiopian people as a younger and fresher face that was more globally minded, especially after he secured Ethiopia's entry into the League of Nations in 1923 with a promise to halt slavery.
In 1924 Tafari and his entourage embarked on a world tour, becoming the first Ethiopian ruler to ever travel abroad. His vibrant and unique appearance made him something of a celebrity, and his travels were sensationalized in the media.
In 1928, he took on the title and responsibilities of king, and when Empress Zewditu died two years later he became emperor and took on the title of Haile Selassie, which translates to 'Might of the Trinity'. Shortly thereafter he cemented his authority beganreforming the constitution to strengthen his own power while also benefiting his country by expanding education and the police force.
During the 1930s, Ethiopia became the target of attacks from Mussolini's fascist regime in Italy. From 1936 until 1941, Selassiewas forced into exile when Italy invaded his country, and spent the intervening time in Bath, England. He went before the ‘League of Nations’ to condemn the invasion, and won the support of England in his mission to liberate Ethiopia and reinstate himself as emperor.
After reclaiming his position as emperor, Selassieset about restoring his power by enforcing social, economic and educational reform. In 1955, he granted a new constitution that reestablished his ultimate power over the Ethiopian government.
By the early 1970s, and extended famine brought about soaring unemployment and crime rates, weakening his reign. In 1974 mutinies broke out among his own forces, he was ousted in a coup and spent the rest of his life under house arrest.
In 1963, he was instrumental in the founding of the ‘Organization of African Unity’. This now defunct organization of 32 governments was established to promote African solidarity, and was headquartered in Addis Ababa.
At the end of his reign in the '70s, Tafari was the longest-serving head of state in power. He continued to enjoy international celebrity and popularity because of his relatively high global profile.
Personal Life & Legacy
Tafari is considered to be a god made incarnate messiah of the African race by the Rastafarian religion as the one who can unify the African races. The name of religion comes from ‘Ras’‘Tafari’, a combination of his name and the noble title ‘Ras’, which translates to 'prince'.
He died under house arrest in 1975 as the last emperor of Ethiopia. Although his death was ruled at the time to be of natural causes, later investigation revealed that he may have been strangled. His remains were found long after his death and posthumously given a burial in Addis Ababa
Bob Marley's wife Rita Marley converted to the Rastafarian religion after meeting Tafari personally on his trip to Jamaica