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Richard Pankhurst

Emperor of Ethiopia, 1930–74, and exile in Britain, 1936–40. Born in Harar province, eastern Ethiopia, in 1892, he was the son of Ras Makonnen, Emperor Menelik's governor of the region, and until his accession to the imperial throne was called Tafari Makonnen. Educated by French Catholic missionaries, and at Ethiopia's first modern school, the Menelik, he succeeded his father as Harar's governor in 1910.

Menelik's young grandson and successor Lij Iyasu adopted a pro‐Muslim attitude, and favoured the Germans and Turks in the First World War. This alienated the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the nobility, and the local representatives of the Allied Powers, Britain, France, and Italy. Iyasu was overthrown by a coup d'état in 1916, whereupon Menelik's daughter Zawditu was appointed Empress, while Tafari became heir to the throne and regent. He was responsible for foreign affairs, while Zawditu presided over court cermonial.

Tafari emerged ...


Robert Fay

Haile Selassie was born Lij Tafari Makonnen in Ejarsa Goro, Ethiopia. His father was Ras (Prince) Makonnen—the governor of Harer Province and a cousin, close friend, and adviser to Emperor Menelik II—and his mother was Yishimabet Ali. Young Tafari received a traditional religious education from Ethiopian Orthodox priests, who also taught him French.

Tafari proved his ability and responsibility in 1905 at the age of thirteen when his father appointed him governor of one of the regions of Harer Province. Upon his father's death the following year, Tafari was summoned to the court of Emperor Menelik, who appointed him the governor of a small province. Tafari set out to modernize the government by instituting a paid civil service, lowering taxes, and creating a court system that recognized the rights of peasants. Menelik rewarded Tafari's success by giving him a larger province to govern in 1908.

Upon Menelik s death ...


Christopher Clapham

emperor of Ethiopia, was born Tafari Makonnen; his father was Ras Makonnen, first cousin of Emperor Menilek II and governor of Harar in southeast Ethiopia. Educated by Jesuit missionaries and at secondary school in Addis Ababa, he was appointed governor of Harar at the age of 17. In September 1916 Menilek’s grandson and successor Yasu was ousted in a palace coup, and his daughter Zawditu installed as empress, with Tafari (whose role in the coup has remained obscure) as regent and heir to the throne with the title of ras, thus gaining the name by which he was to be known to the Rastarafians.

Over the next fourteen years, Tafari gradually built up his power through a capacity for skillful political maneuver that he never lost, steadily reducing the power of formerly quasi-independent regional governors. He was instrumental in securing Ethiopia’s admission to the League of Nations in 1923 ...