Emperor Haile Selassie, 1892 – 1975

November 2, 1930 – Haile Selassie is crowned emperor of Ethiopia.

Among the Rastafari movement (popularized by Bob Marley & The Wailers) whose followers are estimated at between two and four million, Haile Selassie is revered as the returned messiah of the Bible, God incarnate. Beginning in Jamaica in the 1930s, the Rastafari movement perceives Haile Selassie as a messianic figure who will lead a future golden age of eternal peace, righteousness, and prosperity.  Haile Selassie was an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian throughout his life. Haile Selassie is a defining figure in both Ethiopian and African history.

His internationalist views led to Ethiopia’s becoming a charter member of the United Nations, and his political thought and experience in promoting multilateralism and collective security have proved seminal and enduring.  His suppression of rebellions among the landed aristocracy (the mesafint), which consistently opposed his reforms, as well as what some critics perceived to be Ethiopia’s failure to modernize rapidly enough, earned him criticism among some contemporaries and historians.  His regime was also criticized by human rights groups, such as Human Rights Watch, as autocratic and illiberal.

The postage stamp pictured here, honoring Selassie, was issued by Ethiopia in 1942, six years after the end of the 2nd Italo-Ethiopian War.

haile selassie - 1942

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