This Happened—November 2: A Modern Emperor
Do you know the man who fought Mussolini and is still an icon for rastafari around the world?
The emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974, Haile Selassie sought to modernize the country, most notably by introducing its first constitution and abolishing slavery. But he also became a modern Messiah for the likes of Bob Marley.
Why did Mussolini invade Ethiopia?
Italy's fascist dictator Benito Mussolini sought to build a new empire, in an attempt to restore the power of the ancient Roman empire. The invasion of Ethiopia in 1936 was central to this ambition.
Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie appealed to the League of Nations. While the majority of the league recognized Italy’s occupation, China, New Zealand, the Soviet Union, Spain, Mexico and the United States did not.
In 1941, with help from the British forces, Ethiopia was liberated from Italian rule, paving the way for the country to join the UN after the war.
Who attended the coronation of Haile Selassie?
Crowned at Addis Ababa's Cathedral of St. George on Nov. 2, 1930, Salassie welcomed guests of royals and political leaders from all around the world: King George V's son, The Duke of Gloucester, France’s Marshal Louis Franchet d'Espèrey, and a representative of King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy.
Dignitaries were also sent from the United States, Egypt, Turkey, Sweden, Belgium, and Japan. British author Evelyn Waugh was also there to write a piece about the ceremony. One report said the celebration cost more than $3,000,000.
When was the African Union founded?
Selassie was one of the rare African leaders who also had a popular following in the West, and maintained personal relationships with many Western leaders including President John F. Kennedy.
While he understood and took part in the alliances which united Western countries, Selassie also had experienced the exclusivity firsthand in 1936. So, in 1963, Selassie presided over the formation of the Organization of African Unity, which has now become called the African Union (AU), creating a forum for African leaders to build the same sort of alliances that bind the west.
Why do Rastafarians worship Haile Selassie?
Perhaps more than anywhere else outside of Ethiopia, Selassie became an icon in Jamaica, where the Rastafari movement was born. In 1966, he made a visit to the country, where members of the Rastafari movement believed that he would be the one to lead Africa and the African diaspora to freedom.
Legendary reggae singer Bob Marley dedicated several songs to Selassie. To this day, some Rastafarians consider the late Ethiopian leader to be the Messiah, and worship him as such.