This article was Originally published by on the 19 July 2017.

In celebration of the 127th Birthday of Emperor Haile Selassie I which has just past on the 23rd July 2019 please enjoy my reblogging of this excellent and interesting article by Mulugeta Haile.

Emperor Haile Selassie’s, 225th descendant of Queen Makeda and King Solomon, 125th birthday will be celebrated on July 23, 2017 at his birth place, Ejersa Goro.

The highlight of activities for this celebration will include disclosure of the intended construction of the library, museum and social center. In the attachment below are three preliminary designs by Mr. Mohammed Ahemed and his associates.

We are grateful to Mr. Mohammed and his associates and other contributors from at home and abroad for their praiseworthy contribution. In this occasion, we would like to invite other designers to join in this historical venture, by presenting their alternative designs. It is expected that these designs will reflect the resemblance of Guennette Lul (the first palace of the Emperor) and Jubilee palace.

Very special thanks to Tehran University for promising to present their alternative designs and also for sending the family tree of Empress Menen, wife of the Emperor, for use in this future museum.

The Objective of the project is to:

1. Create a worthy memorial for the Great Emperor – the first leader who challenged the western leaders’ moral in the 1930s– , advised the UN not to be an organization of individual nations interest, but of humanity at large, named the father of Africa and the defender of the faith and Small Nations.

2. Collect and preserve artifacts and materials that demonstrate the Emperor’s life and works

3. Provide the above information to researchers, students and tourists.

The Project will be constructed on 23,000 sq. meters of ground. It will include pavilions for each country the Emperor has visited. In these pavilions photos, films, newspapers, and magazines which will be
reflected the moments of his visits. For instance, viewers will find statements such as what the Japan news paper, Asahi Shimbun stated during the Emperor’s visit to Japan in 1955: “What a dignify soul has
arrived on this part of the world!”

The Museum and Library interior and exterior walls will be decorated with symbols, relics, and the monograms of the Emperor. The perimeter of the center will be enclosed by a wall and on both sides of the wall different historical and prophetic speeches of the Emperor, including the 1936 and 1963 will be engraved.

In 1936 at the League of Nations, the Emperor challenged the big powers’ moral and said, “Apart from the kingdom of the Lord there is not on this earth any nation that is superior to any other.”

In 1963, he advised the UN to be the functional organization and said, “We have to become members of a new race, overcoming petty prejudice, owing our ultimate allegiance not to nation but to our fellow men within the human community.”

There will be a fountain in the center of the courtyard. At the front, the customary posture of the Emperor of holding two forefingers each pointed downwards and thumb held upwards will be depicted in a very large gold plated size.

On a park upon a hill adjacent to the compound, a statue of the Emperor will be erected. At the foot of the statue, images of a lion, cow, cheetah, horse, donkey, dog, bird, and rooster will be carved. These animals clustered altogether will testify the moral characters of the Emperor.

It has been said that the greatness of any person’s moral progress can be judged by the way he or she treats animals.


Throughout his life, the Emperor has been referred as a friend of animals and birds. “In the 1950s, the nation didn’t know the meaning of animal rights – and it still does not – and 20 years before the animal rights movement was established in England, the Emperor ordered the outlaw of traditionally carrying roosters, hanging them upside down on a stick,” Ato Amede Wondeafrash, Vice Minister of the Ministry
of Agriculture stated. “The Emperor proclaimed that the roosters should be carried in an open container to market,” Ato Amede added.

The Emperor strictly opposed beating and mistreating domestic animals. According to General resenbet, “On his way to Bishoftu, now called Debre Zeit, the Emperor noticed a peasant cruelly beating his wounded donkey which hardly can walk, and ordered the animal to be carried by lorry to his near palace, Fairfield, for recovering. When he paid the cost of the donkey, he advised the peasant that although the donkey doesn’t speak, it does suffer pain.”


Ato Kerose Yohanes, a former officer of ministry of agriculture in department of Animal husbandry said, “The Emperor made it law that the maximum number of passengers on a Gare ( horse drawn cart) must not exceed three, including the driver. In addition to that, he ordered that Gares should not be driven on steep slopes”.

As the Emperor loved animals, unconditional love reciprocated back to him. Such love from two dogs named Paul and Lulu were among them. “Every throne court day, while the Emperor is in his office, Paul will get up from the Emperor’s feet and go to the court chamber and lie down next to the chair of the Emperor and wait for him. When the Emperor gets up from his office, Paul would sense that and woof and the attendants signal to the audience so that they would rise up from their seats to welcome the Emperor. This story is taken from the unreleased documentary film of “Why Selassie loves animals”?

“While Paul accompanied the Emperor at the office and library, the famous small Lulu lead where the Emperor moves and checks the safety of the path. Lulu’s reputation was not only in the streets of Ethiopia, but abroad as well. In 1968, he accompanied the Emperor on several state visits. Unfortunately, it was discovered that due to the law of the country, Lulu couldn’t enter Australia. Hence it was arranged for him to stay in Seoul, South Korea which was the Emperor’s next destination. Five days later when the Ethiopian Airplane landed at Seoul airport, Lulu was among the dignitaries to welcome the Emperor. As soon as Lulu saw his master, he dashed out of the crowd and ascended to the stairs and rolled over the Emperor’s feet. The next day, the Korean Herald flashed the news of the unique welcoming on its cover page. The circulation of the paper rose up so much so that it was necessary to print three times within a day.” (Source is taken from unpublished book, “Why Ethiopia joined in the Korea war” by Teshom Derbe).

The museum & liberary
Lulu was the first Ethiopian dog to have a statue constructed on its burial ground inside the palace. “The work of the statue has been made by Japanese, who was employed as the palace botanist. He did it to be remembered as the first maker of a dog statue in Ethiopia. However, the anti- Haile Selassie critics have used it for propaganda business, saying that the Emperor cared a lot more for a dog than his people,” Ato Wondoson, the court attendant said.

The Emperor was probably the only person in the world at that time that when the concept of the pet therapy was not introduced to science and who knew a dog could be a reliable stress-healer in the middle of difficulty. During the battle of Maychew, a dog named Rosa marched with him. After the battle, she also went to England into exile. Rosa provided a life time service, comfort, love, and devotion both at war and in exile.

haile-selassie-1892-1975-etheopian-regent-with-his-family-about-1941-EKY68T (2)

The British author, Keith Bowers, introduced Rosa to history in his book, Imperial Exile, stated, “The Captain of the ship who sailed the Emperor during his exile from Djibouti to England in 1935 noticed that
Rosa looked like she had lost sight in her left eye after she was injured when she refused to leave the Emperor’s side in the heat of the Battle of Maychew.”

Ato Teku Adane, a member of the Emperor’s special cabinet, during an interview recently said, “The Emperor was relaxing at his palace when he returned from visiting schools, factories, prisons, and hospitals through means of throwing food to birds in which they would immediately come to eat. Then, he would pause and smile watching them eat”.

The Emperor’s intimacy was not only with birds and domestic animals, but also with cheetahs and lions. “A lion from Ogaden was sent to the Emperor by Colonel Tadese Gebre (later General) as a gift. Three days later the Emperor wanted to get acquainted with the new lion. When the trainer, Sergeant Gebre Abebe, brought the lion in chains the Emperor was standing on the stairs with some attendants, who carried meat on trays. When the lion saw the meat it became aggressive, hurriedly the attendants dropped the trays and ran away in all directions. When they realized that the lion was not after them they came back to find the Emperor and the lion in a friendly manner. To their surprise, the Emperor was touching the lion softly and calling him repeatedly, ‘Tojo! Tojo!’ .When Ato Ayalew, one of the tray holders, narrated this story his eyes filled with tears and said, “Getoch [His Majesty] was not born like us, he is something different!”

The meaning of Tojo is still not known; however, Tojo was later named Mekureya by the Emperor – meaning ‘my pride’ – and to keep his name alive, the Imperial body guard named its soccer team Mekureya. After Mekureya’s death, his body was mummified and can be seen now at the Military Officers Academy near Janmeda in Addis Ababa.

The 1966 Born Free film written by Hollywood acclaimed writer, Lester Cole, and the producers, Sam Jaffe and Paul Radin who acknowledged the help received from the Emperor. This film received a Grammy award which was a story about an orphaned lion cub. The main character in the movie, the orphaned lion cub, Elsa, was the daughter of Mekureya.

The four attendants of the Emperor further testified that the Emperor’s most favorite animal in the palace were cows. They said that he always took some time from his busy schedule to visit their barns.
Ato Ayalew who served in the palace for 45 years said, “Cows are very intelligent and tender animals and whenever they see the Emperor they rush towards him. Although to us they are simply cows, to him each has a name: Ayelche(She out-shined), Chaltu (Beautiful in Ormofiya language), Tegabowa (Pompous), etc. He named them after their looks and characters. When they peacefully lick the salt from his hand, he happily smiles. One day, he claimed that keeping them in the barn all the time is another form of captivity”.

Recently scientific studies have found that those who have a companion animal, whether it be a fish, horse, bird, cow, goat, cat, or dog are highly emotional and have a strong spiritual intelligence. They are
also extremely kind and fair to their fellow human beings.


Today the Emperor’s reign is sighted by many as የደጉ ዘመን (Yedegu Zemen), meaning the era of kindheartedness. So much so, the nation’s nationalism has reached to an unusual high peak. “Every day when the flag is raised and lowered at 6:00 AM and 6:00 PM people out of tribute, whether they are on streets, or in cars, or in houses automatically stop what they are doing and stand straight until the ceremony is over.
The majority of people swear in the name of the flag or the Emperor to express nothing but the truth. Students from different religion and ethnic background studying abroad feel so homesick that they can’t even wait for a graduation ceremony. They rush home as soon as they finished their course. They request their degrees and other relevant documents to be sent to them through the post office. The driving force behind their action is eagerness to serve Ethiopia and the Emperor, to up lifts the welfare of their family, and lastly of themselves,” Colonel Dr Mekonnen Muluneh, the first Ethiopian recipient of the Hennery Dunant’s award, said.

The Emperor’s treatment of the nation was like compared to the modern day parents’ to their children. Dejazmach Terfe Asres, a student of the 1950s at Negest Saba(Queen Sheba) at Makele, said, “While the
students in Addis Ababa called the Emperor Ababa Jhanhoye (meaning My Father Emperor), and in Eritrea and Tigrai, they called him, ወዲ ላሕመን ,Wde-Laheman, (Meaning Source of our wealth in Tigraigna language).

The Emperor’s kindness, especially towards those who were rejected, unwanted and despised people, began from his early public services. He built the first elderly home at Debre Libanos when he was Ras Tafari at the time when an elderly home as such was not known. This shelter house is still serving, and on its wall is engraved, “Rastafari built this house for elders.”

Seventeen years later, upon his returning from exile, Bath, UK, he donated his house, Fairfield house to the British’s poor elderly citizens. Now elders are using it and every month the first Sabbath Rastafarians gather
around to chant their famed song: “The Lion of Judah shall break every chain, and give us a victory again and again!” In 1945, he donated his palace to be the University of Addis Ababa.

The four Muslim female relatives of the Emperor named Monta Yimer, Fatima Ali, Hawa Endre, and Lubama Ali were given during an interview which conducted for the study of Islam & Haile Selassie gave
testimonies that the Emperor distributed 90 Gasha land or 360 hectares( Eighth times bigger than the Vatican city) in Wello province to his Muslim female cousins that he inherited from his mother, Yeshe-Embet Ali, who in turn received from her father, Fetawrari Ali Ferede, governor of Wer-ilu district.

In 1952, the Emperor decreed, “Religion is personal, but Country is for all”. He facilitated mosques to be built in several places, including the Somali region of Ethiopia, Jijiga, which still has the symbol of Kehas (Haile Selassie the First).

“If anybody says there is a division between the Ethiopian Muslims and Christians that person is not only wrong, but he also an enemy of Ethiopia,” the Emperor addressed from Eritrea Mosque. Muslims who
benefited from his education policy joined him later in his administration and were appointed as ministers and ambassadors. Muslims entering the government services were the first in the history
of Ethiopia.


“During my youth in the 1950s, the mass people of Muslims were chanting ‘Feda Yehun Nebse le Haile Selassie’, meaning may the soul of Haile Selassie enter heaven” said Hajji Omar Hussein, age 85, who grew up chanting this song in Addis Ababa.

In Fetawrari Amede’s recent published book, his friend and he prayed for the soul of Haile Selassie in order to inherit the kingdom of heaven when they made Hajj at Mecca, Saudi Arabia. They knew that
their prayer was against the dogma, but they believe exception was necessary for Haile Selassie to be made.

The first Amharic translation of the Holy Quran, originally from the Arabic language, was published by the Emperor in 1959. This helps to give more independence for the Ethiopian Muslims from Arab’s over
rule. Similarly, the following year, he succeeded in breaking the Egyptian Coptic rule over the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

Agordat Mosque, the second largest in Eritrea was built by Haile Selassie the first of Ethiopia in 1963.

Abuna Yeshaque, who was sent by the Emperor to the western hemisphere and considered by Afro-Caribbean Orthodox followers as the Pan-African archbishop said: “For 1600 years, 110 Egyptian bishops have ruled the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. The Egyptian bishops were paid in gold for their services and annually Ethiopia had paid a large sum of gold to Egyptian Coptic. It is believed that this wealth was to build and develop monasteries all over Egypt.”
The Emperor not only changed the history of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, but also that of Egypt in which it was stated in the Coptic (Greek language) that bishop should not be appointed from Ethiopia.


After the Ethiopia church’s independence from Egypt in 1959, the Emperor advised the first five Ethiopian Archbishops, who were consecrated in Egypt, that the color of the Devil’s image inherited
from Coptic be changed into green, instead of being black. “It was His Majesty’s version of the Devil’s that was painted in green on the wall of the St Trinity College in Addis Ababa, and at the St Tekl-Haymanot Church in Deber Lebanos”, Aba Habte Mariam said (later Abuna Melksadiq), the first Dean of the St Trinity College who now lives in California.

Traditional Ethiopian orthodox depiction of St George slaying the (Green) Dragon.

It is unfortunate most of the Ethiopian churches are still using the version copy of Michaela Angelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Raphael Sanzio on which a black man appeared as a devil and a white man as an angel.
On the same subject, the Emperor articulated in 1963 at the UN, in which he said, “Until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned…, the African continent will not know peace.”

As he was the defender of the defenseless, he also defended the women rights. In 1951, without violating the age old tradition that prohibited women to enter the St Mary church, Axum, where the Arc of the Covenant is placed, he built in the same area a new St Mary Church and allowed women to enter. On the wall of this church, his message is excerpted: “Let this church be a place of worship for women and men.”

November 2, 1930, during his coronation, he revealed his belief to the world in the equality of gender by allowing his beloved wife, Empress Menen, to be crowned on the same day. He revolutionized the 3, 300 year history of Ethiopia, in which no other Kings or Queens, perhaps in the world, had been crowned together as husband and wife. In 1946, the Empress Menen High School, which he built for women only is affirmed his unwavering belief to the equality of gender.

Emperor Haile Selassie I and Empress Menen Asfaw

“In addition to his own and adopted children, he was the father of the fatherless such as those who were abandoned, disabled and blinded”, Dr Yesaque Haile Selassie said. Having benefited from the Emperor’s kindness as an orphan, he is now writing a book about his childhood memories, in which he said, “As a street kid when I did not know who my father was, the Emperor’s powerful name, Haile Selassie was available for me and for many other orphans. The school, Yewtatoche Menche (The Fountain of Youth), Tesfa Kokobe (Hope of emancipation),Tensaye Birhan (The resurrection light) were built for orphan and poor children. Out of these schools many great people graduated and became doctors, engineers, lawyers, ministers, and generals”.


In his part, Ato Demese Abebe said, “As blind people, street children and beggars roam the center of Addis Ababa, one day we were rounded up by the Emperor’s retinues and were taken to a special boarding school, which is built for blind children. I graduated in 1973 from Law school, which changed my identity from a street drifter to court house lawyer”.

Ethiopia was lucky to have the Emperor at a time when education was a forbidden fruit – the followers of the Orthodox faith thought modern education would convert their children into the Catholic’s faith while the Ethiopian Muslims considered their children would become Christian. In the middle of this, the Emperor held the portfolio of minister of education himself.


To encourage families the Emperor said, “Having a child and not sending to school is as equal as murdering.” In his message to poor students, he said, “Being born from an established family is not an
achievement; the audacity of aspiring to improve yourself is the most precious success.” In order to reassure that Ethiopia-wenet(Ethiopianism- the sum total of culture, history, literature, astronomy, geography, art, mathematics, sports, agriculture, and religions since time immemorial) would not be in vain and said, “ ሁሉን መርምሩ የሚበጀውን ያዙ” meaning, “examine all but choose and follow the good one.”
This quote is engraved on Sidest Kilo University wall which later defined the destiny of the anti Haile Selassie’s generation which examined only communism and became communist.

The Emperor’s kindness has no boundary and it goes beyond his empire. He gave scholarships to African students who were then under colonial rule. Education to him was the tool to abolish colonialism in Africa. He welcomes refuges such as Armenians, Russians, Yugoslavians, and Palatines. It is to be noted that large numbers of Palatines were to be seen on the street of Addis Ababa in the 1950s.

40 Armenian Orphans adopted by Ras Tafari. they became known as Arba Lijoch and formed the royal imperial brass band of Ethiopia

His cousin, Lij Araya Abebe, who was the second person next to Dr Malaku Bayan in establishing EWF (Ethiopian World Federation), said that the Emperor sent him to England in 1945 to give financial and material support to Pan African activities. He remembered during winter that he donated heavy Jackets also to a number of individuals, including Jomo Kenyatta, who later became the first president of the
independent Kenya.

Though the Emperor was the King of a very poor country, this had not stopped him to do good to big or small nations. He donated small amounts of money to UK, Germany, Greece, Japan, China, Nigeria,Madagascar, and so on when they were struck by natural disasters. The grant of 500 hectares of fertile land in Shashemene to those Africans origin who wanted to emigrate from the racist western
nations is a living testimony for his moral fiber.

Malaku Bayen, the only doctor at the battle of Maychew, in his letter to his wife, Dorothy Bayan, wrote in 1936, “The Emperor was advised to take the one million pound asset of the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia during our departure in exile. However, he refused and said that the asset is a property for many people. However, on our way to Djibouti, every station, Besha(Beshaword Habtold) enabled to collect some money from people who were generous to us.”

In the preceding paragraph, the Emperor’s innumerable benevolence is sprinkled, but what is more of an amazing behavior is that of stopping his car whenever he sees a bride and bridegroom on their way, cheering them and giving generous financial donation. “During our wedding ceremony on the Bole road, we stopped our car when we saw the Emperor’s car approaching. He also stopped his car and beckoned us to come near and then blessed our marriage and gave us some money and passed on,” Weyzero Aida Hussein said.

The role of the Emperor like his predecessors is to maintain the continuity of Ethiopiawent. To advance the core values of Ethiopiawent through modernization, he envisioned Japan as a model because Japan
adopted the western education without losing its values and cultures.
Japan has no desire also to have a colony in Africa and both have defeated the European aggressions: Ethiopia at the battle of Adwa and Japan at the battle of Tsushima.


Right after the Emperor’s coronation, the two nations signed an economic and military cooperation. In 1931, the Japanese constitution was adopted for Ethiopia’s first written constitution. A book: ማኀደረ
ብርሃን ሀገረ ጃፓን, Mahader Berhan Hager Japan, meaning, Source of light-The Nation of Japan, by the all rounded intellectual, His Excellency Hiruy Wold Selassie, seems to advocate the Emperor’s approach for
development of Ethiopia.

In 1932, three years before the Italy invasion, Japanese ships came at Djibouti’s and Kenya’s ports to unload military supplies, including fighter planes and gas masks; however, the European powers which
colonized the neighboring countries denied them the access of their ports.

On the eve of the Italian invasion, President F. Roosevelt wrote the following to his Middle East correspondent, “Ethiopia may defend herself from her enemy, but can she be saved from her friends?” (He is referring to Italy as the enemy, and France and England as friends.) Roosevelt’s predication came true when England then became the de facto ruler of Ethiopia for three years after it helped to drive the
fascists out of Ethiopia.

Emperor Haile Selassie and F.D.R hold a meeting onboard USS Quincy in 1945

After liberating Ethiopia from the British indirect rule with his diplomatic skill, the Emperor continued his progressive policy towards modernization which was aborted by fascist raid. His second attempt was also destroyed by the Ethiopian students who studied at home and abroad but struggled to become communist. Though the students called their movement “Ethiopian Students Movement”, in fact it was a movement of adopting the East- European values and cultures in the land where the ancestors fought and died for the value of Ethiopiawente.

When the Emperor was sending students for higher education abroad he said, “Adopting the European culture and history is similar to choose a name after one’s step father”. Twenty years later, the students
adopted Stalinism, Maoism, Hoxhaism, and so on, as their role models. Thirty years later, when communism collapsed all over the world they turned their coats and adopted new “step fathers” from the western nations. In this “middle passages” of the east-west ideologies, they fell prey to the prophetic statements of the Emperor who constantly advised them of the danger of mental slavery.

Unlike the Ethiopian students, the Japanese students who studied the western education at home and abroad were not compelled to change the values of their unique culture and traditions. Virtually they rebuild Japan while the Ethiopians ruined the 3,300 years old social fabrics and social contracts.

The Emperor’s foresight did not only define his anti generation but also served as an autopsy on how the connecting tissues of the nation was uprooted, displaced and dislocated.

Five years ago, during the first celebration of the Emperor’s birthday at Ejersa Goro, Solomon Wasihun, a high priest, chanted in Geez, “ If the river of the Nile is ink and Ethiopia is parchment, one still can’t finish writing the story of the Lion of Judah.” Although we cannot finish the Emperor’s stories, the future museum and library will go some way to begin to tell it to the new generation.


Happy 125th (127th) Birthday Abba Janhoy, Emperor Haile Selassie I

Article by Mulugeta Haile

Media selection by Ras Benji 2019

All original photos belong to their respective owners

Note : New Fairfield house website is rather than

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