Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia

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Today marks the Anniversary of the birth of Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, who was born on this day in 1892. The son of Ras Makonnen Woldemikael Gudessa, the governor of Harar and Woizero Yeshimebet Ali Abba Jifar, the then Lij Tafari Makonnen Woldemikael claimed descent from King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba of Abrahamic Antiquity, and claimed the Imperial Throne through his paternal grandmother, Woizero Tenagnework Sahle Selassi. After serving as the Governor of Selale and Harar, he became the Regent and Heir of Empress Zewditu, known for his reforms, modernization, and extensive foreign travel. In 1911, he married Menen Asfaw, with whom he had six children. After Empress Zewditu’s death in 1930, he was crowned Neguse Negest ze-‘Ityopp’ya ‘King of Kings of Ethiopia, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, Elect of God’, and introduced Ethiopia’s first written constitution before, before feeling Ethiopia in exile after the Italian Invasion in 1936, giving a historic speech to the League of Nations. Emperor Haile Selassie remained in exile in the United Kingdom until his restoration in 1941, when he embarked on another period of reform and modernization, abolishing slavery and introducing a new constitution, and while he was immensely popular internationally, as the longest-serving head of state and as God incarnate among followers of the Rastafari movement, there was strong opposition among the conservative aristocrats, the marxist students, and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. The Emperor was deposed following a Soviet-backed military coup d’etat in 1974, replaced by his eldest son, while the former Emperor and the rest of the Imperial Family were imprisoned. The monarchy was abolished in 1975, and later that year, Emperor Haile Selassie was strangled to death under the orders of the military socialist Derg regime and remaining buried in the grounds of the former Royal Palace until his imperial-style funeral by the Ethiopian Orthodox church in 2000.

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