Haile Selassie

Haile Selassie

[hahy-lee suh-las-ee, -lah-see]
Selassie, Haile: see Haile Selassie.
Haile Selassie, [Amharic,=power of the Trinity], 1892-1975, emperor of Ethiopia (1930-74). He was born Tafari Makonnen, the son of a noted general and the grandnephew of Emperor Menelik II. A brilliant student, he became a favorite of Menelik, who made him a provincial governor at 14. As a Coptic Christian, Tafari opposed Menelik's grandson and successor, Lij Yasu, who became a Muslim convert, and in 1916 compelled his deposition and established Menelik's daughter Zauditu as empress with himself as regent. In 1928, Tafari was crowned king of Ethiopia, and in 1930, after the empress's mysterious death, he became emperor as Haile Selassie, claiming to be a direct descendant of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. He attempted internal reforms and took great pride in the suppression of slavery. When Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935, he personally led defending troops in the field, but in 1936 he was forced to flee to British protection. Twice (1936, 1938) he vainly appealed to the League of Nations for effective action against Italy. In 1940, after Italy entered World War II, he returned to Africa with British aid, and in 1941 he reentered Ethiopia and regained his throne. In the postwar period he instituted social and political reforms, such as establishing (1955) a national assembly. In the 1960s and 70s he worked for pan-African aims, particularly through the Organization of African Unity. In 1960 he crushed a revolt by a group of young intellectuals and army officers demanding an end to oppression and poverty. In 1974, however, the army was successful in seizing control. Haile Selassie was progressively stripped of his powers and finally, on Sept. 12, 1974, deposed. He was murdered in prison at the orders of the coup leaders in 1975.

See P. Schwab, ed., Ethiopia and Haile Selassie (1972); E. Ullendorf, ed. and tr., The Autobiography of Haile Selassie I (1976); H. G. Marcus, Haile Selassie I: The Formative Years (1987).

orig. Tafari Makonnen

Haile Selassie, 1967.

(born July 23, 1892, near Harer, Eth.—died Aug. 27, 1975, Addis Ababa) Emperor of Ethiopia (1930–74). Tafari was a son of Ras (Prince) Makonnen, a chief adviser to Emperor Menilek II. After Menilek's daughter, Zauditu, became empress (1917), Ras Tafari (who had married Menilek's great-granddaughter) was named regent and heir apparent to the throne. When Zauditu died in 1930, Tafari took the name of Haile Selassie (“Might of the Trinity”) to mark his imperial status. As emperor he sought to modernize his country and steer it into the mainstream of African politics. He brought Ethiopia into the League of Nations and the UN and made Addis Ababa the centre for the Organization of African Unity (now the African Union). Through most of his reign he remained popular among the majority Christian population. He was deposed in 1974 in a military coup by Mengistu Haile Mariam and kept under house arrest. He was apparently killed by his captors. Haile Selassie was regarded as the messiah of the African race by the Rastafarian movement.

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Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selassie (b. Adigrat, Ethiopia, February 23, 1961) is an Ethiopian paleoanthropologist. An authority on pre-Homo sapiens hominids, he particularly focuses his attention on the Rift and Middle Awash Valleys of East Africa.

He began his education at Addis Ababa University in Addis Ababa, graduating in the summer of 1982 with a B.A. degree in history. His first job was at the National Museum of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa.

His graduate education began at The University of California, Berkeley, where he was mentored by Tim White and earned an M.A. in Anthropology in 1995 and a Ph.D. in Integrative Biology in 2001. In 2002, he became the Curator and Head of Physical Anthropology Department at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History in Cleveland, Ohio, where he works currently. He also serves as an Adjunct Professor of Anthropology and Anatomy at Case Western Reserve University.

Haile-Selassie is well known in the field of paleoanthropology for having a gift for fossil spotting, with his first fossil hunting expedition (White's Middle Awash Project) taking place in 1990. He has been instrumental in the discoveries of the type specimen (principal reference fossil) for Australopithecus garhi and Ardipithecus kadabba (both discovered in 1997), and has also found fossil specimens of Ardipithecus ramidus, Australopithecus afarensis, and species of Homo including Homo erectus, and Homo sapiens. From 2004 through 2007, he has led digs in the Mille woreda of the Afar Region of Ethiopia (the Woranso-Mille Project).

The research conducted by Haile-Selassie has been primarily funded by the Leakey Foundation

He has published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

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