Hailed as God incarnate by the Rastafarian movement, Haile Selassie was a prominent figure in modern Ethiopian history. In fact, it was his initiative and ideology which led Ethiopia to become a charter member of the United Nations (UN).
Born on July 23, 1892, Ras Tafari Makonnen was a crowned Prince and Regent of the Empire of Ethiopia. As a member of the Solomonic dynasty, his lineage is traced back to Emperor Menelik I. Apparently, When Ras Tafari Makonnen was a crowned emperor of Ethiopia, he adopted the name Haile Selassie I. Today, he is still considered by the Rastafarians as their spiritual leader – a divine figure.
Indeed, Haile Selassie I has played an important role in our history. To learn more about him, check these interesting facts below.
Haile Selassie Fun Facts
1. The real name of Selassie is Lij Tafari Makonnen
Apparently, Haile Selassie was first given during his infant baptism. But, he only started using the same after he was crowned Emperor of Ethiopia in 1930. As a child, he was known as Lij Tafari Makonnen, a fun fact about Selassie I.
“LIj” indicates that Selassi is of nobility. “Tafari”, his given name, means to “one who is feared”. Indeed, throughout history, Selassie was able to live up to that name.
On the other hand, when he became the Governor of Harar, Haile Selassi was called as “Ras Tafari Makonnen, whereas “Ras” signifies a title equivalent to Duke.
2. Selassie is also known by many names
Aside from the above names, Haile Selassie was also known in other names in Ethiopia. To his people, he is also referred as including Janhoy, Talaqu Meri, and Abba Tekel. Further, the Rastafari movement also calls him as Jah, Jah Jah, and Jah Rastafari – all means “His Imperial Majesty”
Further, some of Selassie’s official titles are King of Kings of Ethiopia, Elect of God, and the Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah.
3. Selassie is the last emperor of Ethiopia
Ending the over 3,000-year-old Ethiopian monarchy, Haile Selassie was the Empire’s last emperor, an interesting fact about Haile Selassie. Apparently, his reign ended due to a military coup. Nonetheless, the last emperor was able to rule Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974 as an emperor, and previously as a regent from 1916 and 1930.
4. Ethiopia’s 1st written constitution was introduced by Selassie
On July 16, 1931, Haile Selassie Ethiopia’s first printed constitution which provides for a bicameral legislature. Although it was laid down in the hands of the upper class, the constitution nonetheless contains democratic clauses – a mark of the country’s transition to democracy.
Nonetheless, this 1931 Ethiopian Constitution was considered Selassie’s greatest work as it contains provisions that are directed towards the Re-Africanization of Ethiopia.
5. Selassie is worshipped as God incarnate
Apparently, certain followers of the Rastafari movement worship Selassie as God incarnate. Under the perspective of Christianity, Selassie is likening the messiah which will set the peoples of Africa free!
Such belief started when his 1930 coronation reached Jamaica. Following the Bible’s Book of Revelation, these followers have faith that Selassie was the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and Root of David. After all, he is believed to come from the lineage of King Solomon.
6. Selassie held several military ranks
Throughout his active participation as nobility in Ethiopia, Haile Selassie has occupied numerous military ranks, such as the Field Marshal under the Imperial Ethiopian Army, the Admiral of the Fleet under the Imperial Ethiopian Navy, the Marshal of the Imperial Ethiopian Air Force and the Field Marshal under the British Army.
7. Selassie was an ideal student
Despite hailing from the lineage of nobility, Haile Selassie has demonstrated intelligence and hard work throughout his studies. As a student, one of his most striking assets is his keen observation. He was said to notice details often ignored by others.
Such skill was perceived by his father as a potential. Thus, at age 13 in 1905, Selassie was already made a commander of Ethiopia’s local militia. A year later, he became the governor of a province of Harar – Gara Maleta.
Indeed, even as a kid, Haile Selassie has exhibited promise that we would be a great leader of Ethiopia.
8. Selassie was voted Time magazine’s Man of the Year
Basically, Man of the Year was an annual issue of the news magazine Time of the United States. It features the person who has done the most to influence the events of the year. A fun fact about Haile Selassie is that he was chosen in 1936 as the Time’s Man of the Year Award.
Coincidentally, it was articles from this US news magazine that started the Rastafarians movement in Jamaica. Apparently, two Time magazine articles about the coronation of Haile Selassie reached the said country. Thereafter, the Rastafari faith that Selassie was God-incarnate spread throughout Jamaica.
9. Selassie directed Ethiopia into the League of Nations
In 1923, Selassie led Ethiopia to be admitted to the League of Nations. He did this by swearing to eradicate slavery in the country.
However, despite such promise, slavery continued to be practiced in Ethiopia. In fact, during the early 1930s, there about 2 million slaves in Ethiopia. After all, even before Selassie, previous emperors from Tewodros II had attempted to put an end to slavery. However, despite efforts and proclamations, slavery still persisted.
A year after Ethiopia became a part of the League of Nations, Selassie traveled around Europe. Thus, Selassie was the first Ethiopian leader to actually go beyond the borders of Ethiopia, a fun fact about Haile Selassie.
10. Selassie led Ethiopia to become a part of the UN
After the 2nd World War, Ethiopia became a charter member of the United Nations. Such participation is attributed to the internationalist ideology of Haile Selassie. After all, Ethiopia is among the few African countries that were not colonized.
Venerated as a great leader by the Africans and the Elect of God by the Rastafarians, Haile Selassie was an amazing Emperor who led the social, economic, and political advancement of Ethiopia!
He ruled as the Emperor of the Ethiopian Empire from 1930 to 1974. Thus, he was the last emperor of the over 3,000-year-old Ethiopian monarchy.
I hope that this article on Selassie facts was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Historical People Page!