Haile Selassie: Lion of Judah, the last emperor of Ethiopia

The biography of Haile Selassie, the last emperor of Ethiopia and a prominent figure in the Rastafari movement.

Early Life and Rise to Power:

Ras Tafari Makonnen, who would later become Emperor Haile Selassie, was born on July 23, 1892, in Ejersa Goro, Ethiopia. He belonged to the Solomonic dynasty, claiming lineage from the biblical King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Selassie rose to power as regent in 1916 and later became Emperor of Ethiopia in 1930.

Resisting Italian Invasion:

In 1935, Italy, led by dictator Benito Mussolini, invaded Ethiopia in an attempt to expand its colonial empire. Emperor Haile Selassie’s passionate appeal for assistance at the League of Nations fell on deaf ears, and Ethiopia faced occupation. However, Selassie continued to resist, becoming a symbol of African resistance against colonial aggression.

Exile and Return:

In 1936, as Italian forces occupied Ethiopia, Haile Selassie went into exile. He spent several years in various locations, including England, rallying international support for Ethiopia’s liberation. In 1941, with the help of Allied forces, Ethiopia was liberated, and Selassie returned to his throne.

Modernization Efforts:

Emperor Haile Selassie implemented various reforms aimed at modernizing Ethiopia. He introduced a written constitution, established the first Ethiopian parliament, and initiated infrastructure projects. However, challenges persisted, including issues related to land distribution and resistance to change.

Rastafari Movement:

In the early 20th century, a religious movement known as Rastafari emerged in Jamaica. Its followers, known as Rastafarians, saw Emperor Haile Selassie as the messianic figure mentioned in the Bible, particularly in the Book of Revelation—referred to as the “Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah” and the “Elect of God.”

Symbol of African Unity:

Emperor Haile Selassie became a prominent figure in the Pan-African movement, advocating for unity among African nations. He played a key role in the establishment of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1963, aimed at fostering cooperation and solidarity among African nations.

Downfall and Legacy:

In 1974, amid internal unrest and a coup d’état, Haile Selassie was deposed from power. He spent the remaining years of his life under house arrest and passed away on August 27, 1975, under unclear circumstances. His legacy endures as a symbol of resistance, African unity, and spiritual inspiration for the Rastafari movement.


Emperor Haile Selassie’s life reflects a complex interplay of political leadership, resistance against colonialism, and spiritual significance. His enduring impact on Ethiopia and the Rastafari movement attests to the multifaceted legacy of this enigmatic figure in African history.

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