Homage To A King

Homage To A King

majestic 8 --hselassie

HOMAGE TO A KING

 

Conflicts between nations will continue to arise. The real issue is whether they are to be resolved by force, or by resort to peaceful methods and procedures, administered by impartial institutions. This very Organization itself is the greatest such institution, and it is in a more powerful United Nations that we seek, and it is here that we shall find, the assurance of a peaceful future.”

H.I.M. Emperor Haile Selassie I, October 4, 1963 United Nations Address.

 

Early Days: Haile Selassie, born Tafari Makonnen in 1892. was named regent and heir to Ethiopia’s throne in 1917 but was too young to assume such an awesome responsibility.  During 1917 through 1928, he traveled aboard, the first Ethiopian leader to do so, visiting cities like Rome, London and Paris.  In 1930 when Empress Zauditu died, he assumed his role as ruler of Ethiopia, the 111th emperor in the succession of King Solomon. At his coronation on November 2nd 1930, he took his baptismal name, Haile Selassie “Might of the Trinity” given to him at his christening as an infant. His full title was His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, Elect of God.

Emperor: As Emperor he established Ethiopia’s first written constitution.  By 1931 the Bank of Ethiopia was established and the Ethiopian currency was introduced. Despite numerous internal uprisings from factions who opposed his administration, Selassie was able to foster loyalty among his subjects by building schools and universities, establishing newspapers, and increasing the availability of electricity, telephone and public health services.  His focus was to modernize Ethiopia to rival that which he saw during his travels in Europe.

War: Juxtaposed to Ethiopia’s thriving growth and accomplishments was the threat of Benito Mussolini who mounted a campaign to strategically attack Ethiopia.  Sometime in December 1934, the Italians provoked an incident which involved an Ethiopian escort to the city of Wal Wal. When the League of Nations exonerated both parties in 1935, Mussolini embarked on hostilities, invading Ethiopia without declaring war and though the League of Nations condemned Italy, no action was taken.

Exile: In an effort to protect the monarchy, the Emperor went into exile in Palestine on May 2nd 1936 where he prepared to present a case before the League of Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. He travelled to England, settled in the town of Bath at the “Fairfield House” which he donated to the town of Bath as a

residence for the aged which remains so to this day.

The League of Nations: On June 30th 1936, when the Emperor entered the hall to address the League of Nations assembled in Geneva, a large group of Italian journalists in the galleries erupted in a loud outburst which was revealed to be orchestrated by the Italian Foreign Minister. When he finally spoke, he eloquently relayed the need to protect weak nations against the strong, detailing the death and destruction delivered by the Italians and asking the League to live up to its promise of collective security. His eloquent address prophesying “today for Ethiopia, tomorrow for you…” moved all who heard it and catapulted him into international fame.

Toast of the town: He was named Time Magazine’s “Man of the Year” and the toast of the anti-fascists around the world for his efforts towards humanitarianism and Ethiopian sovereignty.  Nonetheless, he failed to get the assistance he needed to help his people. It was patriot forces from Ethiopia and the United Kingdom that defeated the Italians, allowing the Emperor to return home in 1941.

The Statesman: In 1963 the Emperor presided over the establishment of the Organization of African Unity with headquarters in Addis Ababa. He continued to enjoy enormous prestige and respect as an elder statesman at international events, such as the celebration of the 2500 years of the Persian Empire, summits of the non-aligned movement and the state funerals of John F. Kennedy and Charles de Gaulle.  His travels around the world helped to raise Ethiopia’s international image.

The BBC: In an orchestrated effort to undermine the Emperor, a BBC documentary revealed a devastating drought in the Province of Wollo during 1972 to 1973 seriously undermining the government and the Emperor’s popularity. At the same time, economic hardship caused by rising oil prices and widespread military mutinies in the country further weakened his rule.

The Coup: Eventually, the military took advantage of the government’s disarray and deposed Emperor Haile Selassie on September 12th 1974. He was placed under house arrest and declared to have died on August 27th 1975 following complications from prostate cancer, a story his doctors deny. Some believed he was suffocated in his sleep.  Others believe he never died.  However, witnesses came forward after the fall of the Marxist government in 1991 to reveal that the Emperor’s remains had been buried beneath the president’s personal office. On November 5th 2000 Emperor Haile Selassie was given an Imperial funeral by the Ethiopian Orthodox church.

IMPORTANT TIMELINE:

1906 – Makonnen’s father dies; Tafari becomes advisor.

1911 – Marries Wayzaro Menen.

1913 – Menelik II dies; Tafari does not become Emperor.

1917 – Ras Tafari is name Regent, heir to the throne.

1922 – Benito Mussolini and his fascist army march into Rome. Mussolini is named Prime Minister. He builds up army over next 13 years to become world power.

1923 – Makennon brings many modernizations to Ethiopia. Ethiopia admitted into the League of Nations.

1930 – Makennon becomes Emperor of Ethiopia; takes the name Haile Selassie (Might of the Trinity)

1934 – Border incident at city of Wal Wal give Italy excuse to attack Ethiopia.

1935 – Italy attacks and invades Ethiopia without declaration of war.

1935 – League of Nations declares Italy an aggressor but takes no action.

1936 – Selassie forced into five year exile; settles in Bath, London, at times in Jerusalem.

1936 – Italian army enters capital city of Addis Ababa. Italy annexes Ethiopia, ending seven month war.

1936 – Selassie makes eloquent, yet emotional speech to League of Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, forewarning of Italian aggression throughout the world. “It is us today. It will be you tomorrow.” League of Nations takes no action.

1941- Selassie returns to Ethiopia at end of second Italian-Ethiopian war.

1955 – Selassie introduced revised constitution during Silver Jubilee celebration.

1963 – Selassie presided over the establishment of the Organization of African Unity (OAU)

1963 – Selassie addresses United Nations on October 4th.

1966 – Selassie visits Jamaica. Over two hundred thousands Rastafarians greet him at the airport.

1966 – Selassie commissions Archbishop Abuna Yesehaq to set up Ethiopian Orthodox Church in the West.

1966- Selassie offers Rastafarians land in Shashamane.

1967 – Selassie denied being an emanation from divinity during interview with Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Bill McNeil.

1972 – Selassie celebrates 80th birthday in grand style.

1972 – BBC documentary reveals famine in Province of Wollo, undermines Selassie’s government.

1974 – Selassie deposed by the Derg in a coup on September 12th.

1975 – Allegedly dies on August 28th.

2000 – Given Imperial funeral by Orthodox Church on November 5th.

2005 – CPR celebrates the 75th anniversary celebration of Emperor’s coronation at New York’s World Famous Roxy.

2006 – CPR Celebrates the 76th anniversary celebration of Emperor’s coronation at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom.

2007 – September 11th Ethiopia observes the advent of the 3rd millennium with year long celebrations.

2007 – CPR celebrates the 77th anniversary celebration of Emperor’s coronation at New York’s Webster Hall.

2008 – CPR celebrates the 78th anniversary celebration of Emperor’s coronation at Brooklyn’s Cultural Performing Arts Center.

2009 – CPR celebrates the 79th anniversary celebration of Emperor’s coronation at Nazareth Regional High School Performance Center.

2010 – CPR celebrates the 80th anniversary celebration of Emperor’s coronation at Nazareth Regional High School Performance Center.

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