Haile Selassie was Ethiopia’s regent from 1916 to 1930 and emperor from 1930 to 1974. He is a defining figure in Ethiopian history.
His internationalist views led to Ethiopia becoming a charter member of the United Nations, and his political thought and experience in promoting multilateralism and collective security have proved seminal and enduring.
Haile Selassie was born on 23 July 1892, in the village of Ejersa Goro, in the Harar province of Ethiopia.
On 2 November 1930, after the death of Empress Zewditu, Tafari was crowned Negusa Nagast, literally King of Kings, rendered in English as “Emperor“.
Upon his ascension, he took as his regnal name Haile Selassie I. Haile means in Ge’ez “Power of” and Selassie means trinity—therefore Haile Selassie roughly translates to “Power of the Trinity“.
Among the Rastafari movement, whose followers are estimated to number between 700,000 and one million, Haile Selassie is revered as the returned messiah of the Bible, God incarnate.
Beginning in Jamaica in the 1930s, the Rastafari movement perceives Haile Selassie as a messianic figure who will lead a future golden age of eternal peace, righteousness, and prosperity.
In 1948, Haile Selassie donated a piece of land at Shashamane, 250 km south of Addis Ababa, for the use of people of African descent from the West Indies. Numerous Rastafari families settled there and still live as a community to this day.
On 28 August 1975, the state media reported that the “ex-monarch” Haile Selassie had died on 27 August of “respiratory failure” following complications from a prostate examination followed up by a prostate operation.
Haile Selassie Quotes:
1. “Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.”
2. “Until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned, everywhere is war. And until there are no longer first-class and second-class citizens of any nation, until the color of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes. And until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race, there is war. And until that day, the dream of lasting peace, world citizenship, the rule of international morality, will remain but a fleeting illusion to be pursued, but never attained… now everywhere is war.”
3. “The temple of the highest begins with the body which houses our life, the essence of our existence. Africans are in bondage today because they approach spirituality through religion provided by foreign invaders and conquerors. We must stop confusing religion and spirituality. Religion is a set of rules, regulations, and rituals created by humans, which was supposed to help people grow spiritually.”
4. “History teaches us that unity is a strength and cautions us to submerge and overcome our differences in the quest for common goals, to strive, with all our combined strength, for the path to true African brotherhood and unity.”
5. “Above all, we must avoid the pitfalls of tribalism. If we are divided among ourselves into tribal lines, we open our doors to foreign intervention and its potentially harmful consequences.”
6. “Peace demands the united efforts of us all. Who can foresee what spark might ignite the fuse?”
7. “We must become bigger than we have been: more courageous, greater in spirit, larger in outlook. We must become members of a new race, overcoming petty prejudice, owing our ultimate allegiance not to nations but to our fellow men within the human community.”
8. “Do not worship me, I am not God. I’m only a man. I worship Jesus Christ.”
9. “Outside the kingdom of the Lord there is no nation which is greater than any other. God and history will remember your judgment.”
10. “We have finished the job. What shall we do with the tools?”