Ethiopia: Emperor Haile Selassie 1963
Emperor Haile Selassie I worked to modernize Ethiopia for several decades before famine and political opposition forced him from office in 1974.
Born in Ethiopia in 1892, Haile Selassie was crowned emperor in 1930 but exiled during World War II after leading the resistance to the Italian invasion. He was reinstated in 1941 and sought to modernize the country over the next few decades through social, economic and educational reforms. He ruled until 1974, when famine, unemployment and political opposition forced him from office.
Haile Selassie I was Ethiopia’s 225th and last emperor, serving from 1930 until his overthrow by the Marxist dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1974. The longtime ruler traced his line back to Menelik I, who was credited with being the child of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.
He was born in a mud hut in Ejersa Gora on July 23, 1892. Originally named Lij Tafari Makonnen, he was the only surviving and legitimate son of Ras Makonnen, the governor of Harar.
Among his father’s important allies was his cousin, Emperor Menelik II, who did not have a male heir to succeed him. Tafari seemed like a possible candidate when, following his father’s death in 1906, he was taken under the wing of Menelik.