Born Ras Lij Tafari Makonnen on July 23 1892 in Ejarsagoro, Harar, Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia, though an autocratic ruler is remembered for modernizing Ethiopia and leading the resistance against Italian invasion in 1935. He ascended to the throne of Shoa in 1928, before ascending even higher to the imperial throne two years later on 2 November 1930. However, he became not only emperor of Ethiopia, but also a god to the fledgling Rastafarian movement in Jamaica.
Selassie was one of the founding fathers of the defunct Organization of African Union (OAU), now African Union. He wore the Ethiopian royal throne for 45 years before he was overthrown by the Marxist dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1974. At 81 years of age at the time, he was detained in his palace by Mengistu’s soldiers. He died a year later on 27 August 1975 under mysterious circumstances as his body was found buried under a toilet in the Imperial Palace. During his reign, Haile Sellasie did not only claim to be a direct descendant of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, but he also held titles such as the “The Lion of Judah”, “King of Kings” and the “Lord of Lords”. The man had 30 lions roaming his palace grounds, freely, as his personal bodyguards. Though he died in 1975, Selassie was only buried 25 years later in November 2000 at Addis Ababa’s Trinity Cathedral, where other members of the Ethiopian Imperial family had been laid to rest. His burial was attended by priests in lavish robes, warriors with lions’ manes on their heads and dread-locked Rastafarians, led by Reggae singer Bob Marley’s wife Rita. Even now, Haile Selassie, alias Ras Tafari is revered by the million-strong Rastafarian community who believe that he either remains alive and well, or ascended bodily into heaven. Rastas claim that he was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ and therefore an incarnation of Jah onto the Earth. They also claim that he will lead the righteous into creating a perfect world, called “Zion”, which would be the ultimate paradise for Rastas. He was laid to rest on November 5, 2000, 25 years after his mysterious death.
Below are images of Haile Selasie available for licensing.
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