83th Anniversary of the Crowning of Haile Selassie – November 2, 2013

 

 

A Celebration of Women honors this day…

 

 

83th Anniversary

of the

Crowning of Haile Selassie

 

 

 

November 2, 2013

 

To Ethiopians Haile Selassie has been known by many names, including Janhoy, Talaqu Meri, and Abba Tekel. The Rastafari employ many of these appellations, also referring to him as HIM, Jah, and Jah Rastafari. 

Haile Selassie was born Tafari Makonnen (Ge’ez ልጅ፡ ተፈሪ፡ መኮንን; Amharic pronunciation lij teferī mekōnnin). “Lij” translates literally to “child”, and serves to indicate that a youth is of noble blood. He would later become Ras Tafari Makonnen; “Ras” translates literally to “head”and is the equivalent of “duke”, though it is often rendered in translation as “prince”. In 1928, he was elevated to Negus, “King”.

Upon his ascension to Emperor in 1930, he took the name Haile Selassie, meaning “Power of the Trinity”. Haile Selassie’s full title in office was “His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and Elect of God” (Ge’ez ግርማዊ፡ ቀዳማዊ፡ አፄ፡ ኃይለ፡ ሥላሴ፡ ሞዓ፡ አንበሳ፡ ዘእምነገደ፡ ይሁዳ፡ ንጉሠ፡ ነገሥት፡ ዘኢትዮጵያ፡ ሰዩመ፡ እግዚአብሔር; girmāwī ḳadāmāwī ‘aṣē ḫaile śelassie, mō’ā ‘ambassā ze’imneggede yehūda negus negast ze’ītyōṗṗyā, tsehume ‘igzī’a’bihēr). This title reflects Ethiopian dynastic traditions, which hold that all monarchs must trace their lineage back to Menelik I, who in the Ethiopian tradition was the offspring of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.

 

 

 Crowning Celebration

One of the most important events in the RasTafarian calendar is the

Anniversary of the Coronation of Emperor Haile Selassie I.  

 

 

 

 

The Coronation of  H.I.M. Emperor Haile Selassie I
I Timothy, 1983 Children of Judah Pub. Co. 

“The invited foreign envoys begin to arrive around October18, from such places as England, Italy, Belgium, Sweden, the Netherlands, Japan, Egypt, France, U.S.A., Germany, Greece, Turkey, and Poland. Following ancient tradition, 49 bishops and priests in groups of seven, in seven corners of the cathedral, chant continually nine Psalms of David for seven days and nights prior to the coronation.

“On November 1, the eve of the coronation, the Emperor inaugurates a statue of the great Menelik II. The honor of unveiling goes to the Duke of Gloucester, the envoy of the King of England. The same evening, the imperial vestments and ornaments are taken in a great parade to the royal church of St George and consigned to the Archbishop who prays over them all night. The cathedral of St. George is a magnificent structure built during the reign of Menelik II and was the scene of the crowning of Empress Zawditu in 1916. His imperial Majesty and His family enter the church at midnight for a night of prayer. 

“More the 700 guests and officials are in attendance on November 2, 1930, to witness this ancient Hebraic-Christian coronation ceremony. Lion-maned chieftains are interspersed among the foreign guests and dignitaries, each according to rank and station. Hundreds of priests join the original group, resplendent in their colorful ceremonial robes, bearing crosses and censers. Before the royal ritual begins, His Majesty is approached by the Archbishop, His Holiness Abuna Kyrillos, with a Holy Bible bound in gold, and is asked to pledge the following four-part oath: 

“To strengthen and defend the orthodox faith, and to keep, without disturbance, the laws and ordinances which the Orthodox Church has laid down
“To act with consideration for the interests of the people according to law as well as with kindness and patience
“To safeguard the entire Ethiopian realm and people in accordance with the established law and the ordinances of the Council
“To assist with the establishment of schools in Ethiopia where secular  and spiritual education would be developed and the gospels would be preached”
The Emperor then affirms verbally and in writing that He is willing to fulfill His duties as ruler.”

“Next, the Abuna recites the prayer of the covenant, after which the choir with the drum and harp accompaniment chants the 48th Psalm. During this Interval, abbots from various monasteries bring the royal articles one by one, hand them to the six bishops, who were assigned by the Archbishop to the coronation service, and the bishops in turn pass the articles to the Abuna to be blessed. The objects are returned to the respective bishops who then present them to His Imperial Majesty, reciting appropriate lines. With each of the seven ornaments, His Imperial Majesty is anointed on the head, brow, and shoulders with seven differently scented ointments of ancient prescription. He is first vested with a gold sword along with this exhortation: “May you be enabled with this sword to punish the wicked and protect the righteous.”

“This is followed with the bestowal of the Imperial scepter of ivory and gold, and the golden orb (globe), a diamond incrusted ring, two traditional lances (spears) filigreed in gold, the imperial vestments, and finally,  anointing His head with oil, the Abuna places upon H.I.M. the triple crown. The Archbishop concludes the regal anointing with the words: “That God may make this crown a crown of sanctity and glory. That, by the grace and the blessings which we have given, you may have an unshaken faith and a pure heart, in order that you may inherit the crown eternal. So be it.” The Crown Prince, Asfa Wossen, removes his coronet and on bended knee pledges his allegiance, service, and support.

“The Empress and her ladies of honor then enter the sanctuary from the right side and she takes her throne to the right of His Majesty for her coronation. It has been determined that the Abuna is to place the crown and ring upon Her Majesty, without the regal anointing, on the same day of the Emperor’s coronation. This not only breaks tradition, but sets a historical precedent as the earlier practice was for her to be crowned on the third day after the coronation of the Emperor, in the palace and not in the church.

“The final part of the ceremony is a tour of the cathedral by their Imperial Majesties, escorted by the bishops and priests, the princes and dignitaries, assistants and others, carrying palm branches and chanting, “Blessed be the King of Israel” The procession continues onto the Addis Ababa streets, where throngs of well wishers wildly cheer the Royal Family. The event draws to a close with Their Majesties visiting the other churches in the city to give thanks and praise.”
(from Reggae & African Beat 12/1983)

Excerpt:  http://www.rastaites.com/HIM/coronation.html 

This event took place on the 2nd November 1930.

 

His Imperial Majesty broke with tradition by delaying the ceremony for some time after the death of the previous ruler, Queen Zawditu.

The reasons for this are described by His Majesty in His autobiography:

“On the 17th Maskaram 1909 (27th September 1916) I was chosen heir to throne and regent, with Queen Zawditu occupying the throne; and when I had patiently carried out the work of government, for fourteen years, in my office of regent plenipotentiary, Queen Zawditu died on 24th Magabit 1922 ( 2nd April 1930) and, consequently, on the morrow I was proclaimed Emperor and assumed the throne.  
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

“As regards the succession to throne and crown, we have read in history that, at a time when Ethiopia lived in isolation and before she had established relations with foreign countries, the prevailing custom had been, at the demise of the Emperor, for his death often to remain carefully unannounced. They would then place his son and heir on the throne and crown him immediately that very day. Only after the son’s reign and coronation had been announced by proclamation, would they give a ceremonial burial to the dead King.

“At other times, at the demise of the Emperor, the officers of the royal household would take him clandestinely and bury him, before anyone could hear about it, and on the morrow they would place his son and heir on the throne; after they had conducted the royal installation service and crowned him, the death of the father and the new reign of the son would be announced by proclamation at the same time.

But now that Ithiopia had concluded treaties of commerce and friendship with twelve foreign governments, had entered the League of Nations, and had established firm friendly relations, We were convinced that it was proper – in accordance with the practice of the most civilized governments in the case of their coronations – to invite to Our coronation the countries which had set up legations and consulates in Ithiopia. But as it would require a long time to dispatch the letters of invitation and to await the arrival of the delegates, as well as to make all the necessary preparations for the coronation, We arranged for the ceremony to be postponed for seven months.”

 

“My Life and Ethiopia’s Progress, Autobiography of Haile Selassie I ” – Page 171-3 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

 

Rastafari Messiah

Today, Haile Selassie is worshipped as Jesus incarnate among followers of the Rastafari movement (taken from Haile Selassie’s pre-imperial name Ras — meaning Head – a title equivalent to Duke — Tafari Makonnen), which emerged in Jamaica during the 1930s under the influence of Marcus Garvey’s “Pan Africanism” movement, and as the Messiah who will lead the peoples of Africa and the African diaspora to freedom. His official titles, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, King of Kings and Elect of God, and his traditional lineage from Solomon and Sheba, are perceived by Rastafarians as confirmation of the return of the Messiah in the prophetic Book of Revelation in the New Testament: King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah and Root of David. Rastafari faith in the incarnate divinity of Haile Selassie began after news reports of his coronation reached Jamaica, particularly via the two Time magazine articles on the coronation the week before and the week after the event. Haile Selassie’s own perspectives permeate the philosophy of the movement.Not all rastafarian mansions consider Haile Selassie as Jesus Christ incarnate. One example is The Twelve Tribes of Israel who consider him a divinely annointed king, thus Christ in his kingly character and defender of the christian faith.

In 1961, the Jamaican government sent a delegation composed of both Rastafari and non-Rastafari leaders to Ethiopia to discuss the matter of repatriation, among other issues, with the Emperor. He reportedly told the Rastafarian delegation, which included Mortimer Planno, “Tell the Brethren to be not dismayed, I personally will give my assistance in the matter of repatriation.”

When Haile Selassie visited Jamaica on the 21st April 1966, somewhere around one hundred thousand Rastafari from all over Jamaica descended on Palisadoes Airport in Kingston, having heard that the man whom they considered to be their Messiah was coming to visit them. Spliffs and chalices were openly smoked, causing “a haze of ganja smoke” to drift through the air.

When Haile Selassie arrived at the airport, he was unable to come down the mobile steps of the airplane, as the crowd rushed the tarmac. He then returned into the plane, disappearing for several more minutes. Finally Jamaican authorities were obliged to request Ras Mortimer Planno, a well-known Rasta leader, to climb the steps, enter the plane, and negotiate the Emperor’s descent.

When Planno reemerged, he announced to the crowd:

 “The Emperor has instructed me to tell you to be calm.

Step back and let the Emperor land“.

 

 

This day, widely held by scholars to be a major turning point for the movement, is still commemorated by Rastafarians as Grounation Day, the anniversary of which is celebrated as the second holiest holiday after 2 November, the Emperor’s Coronation Day.

From then on, as a result of Planno’s actions, the Jamaican authorities were asked to ensure that Rastafarian representatives were present at all state functions attended by His Majesty, and Rastafarian elders also ensured that they obtained a private audience with the Emperor, where he reportedly told them that they should not emigrate to Ethiopia until they had first liberated the people of Jamaica.

 This dictum came to be known as “liberation before repatriation“.

Defying expectations of the Jamaican authorities, Haile Selassie never rebuked the Rastafari for their belief in him as the returned Jesus. Instead, he presented the movement’s faithful elders with gold medallions – the only recipients of such an honor on this visit. During PNP leader (later Jamaican Prime Minister) Michael Manley’s visit to Ethiopia in October 1969, the Emperor allegedly still recalled his 1966 reception with amazement, and stated that he felt he had to be respectful of their beliefs. This was the visit when Manley received as a present from the Emperor, the Rod of Correction or Rod of Joshua that is thought to have helped him to win the 1972 election in Jamaica.

Rita Marley, Bob Marley’s wife, converted to the Rastafari faith after seeing Haile Selassie on his Jamaican trip. She claimed, in interviews and in her book No Woman, No Cry that she saw a stigmata print on the palm of Haile Selassie’s hand (as he waved to the crowd) that resembled the envisioned markings on Christ’s hands from being nailed to the cross—a claim that was not supported by other sources, but was used as evidence for her and other Rastafarians to suggest that Haile Selassie I was indeed their messiah.She was also influential in the conversion of Bob Marley, who then became internationally recognized, and as a result Rastafari became much better known throughout much of the world.Bob Marley’s posthumously released song Iron Lion Zion refers to Haile Selassie.

 

 

Haile Selassie’s attitude to the Rastafari

Haile Selassie I was the titular head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and, until his visit to Jamaica in 1966, he had never confirmed nor denied that he was divine, during his visit he specifically declined to contradict the Rastafari belief that he was Jesus.After his return to Ethiopia, he dispatched Archbishop Abuna Yesehaq Mandefro to the Caribbean to help draw Rastafarians and other West Indians to the Ethiopian church and, according to some sources, denied his divinity.

In 1948, Haile Selassie donated a piece of land at Shashamane, 250 km south of Addis Ababa, for the use of people of African descent from the West Indies. Numerous Rastafari families settled there and still live as a community to this day.

Not all rastafarian mansions consider Haile Selassie as Jesus Christ incarnate. One example is The Twelve Tribes of Israel who consider him a divinely annointed king, thus Christ in his kingly character and defender of the christian faith.

 

Famous quotations

 

“A house built on granite and strong foundations, not even the onslaught of pouring rain, gushing torrents and strong winds will be able to pull down. Some people have written the story of my life representing as truth what in fact derives from ignorance, error or envy; but they cannot shake the truth from its place, even if they attempt to make others believe it.”
 
—Preface to My Life and Ethiopia’s Progress, Autobiography of H.M. Haile Selassie I (English translation)
 
“That until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned: That until there are no longer first-class and second-class citizens of any nation; That until the color of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes; That until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race; That until that day, the dream of lasting peace and world citizenship and the rule of international morality will remain but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained and until the ignoble but unhappy regimes that hold our brothers in Angola, in Mozambique, and in South Africa in subhuman bondage have been toppled and destroyed; until bigotry and prejudice and malicious and inhuman self-interest have been replaced by understanding and tolerance and goodwill; until all Africans stand and speak as free human beings, equal in the eyes of the Almighty; until that day, the African continent shall not know peace. We Africans will fight if necessary and we know that we shall win as we are confident in the victory of good over evil.”
 
English translation of 1963 Speech delivered to the United Nations and popularized in a song called War by Bob Marley.
“Apart from the Kingdom of the Lord there is not on this earth any nation that is superior to any other. Should it happen that a strong Government finds it may with impunity destroy a weak people, then the hour strikes for that weak people to appeal to the League of Nations to give its judgment in all freedom. God and history will remember your judgment.”
 
—Address to the League of Nations, 1936.
 
“We have finished the job. What shall we do with the tools?”
 
— Telegram to Winston Churchill, 1941.
“Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph. “
 
Today I stand before the world organization which has succeeded to the mantle discarded by its discredited predecessor. —In a speech to the United Nations.
Misguided people sometimes create misguided ideas. Some of my ancestors were Oromo. How can I colonize myself?”
 
— in response to accusations by dissidents
 
I have heard of that idea [i.e., of Haile Selassie being the reincarnation of Jesus Christ]. I also met certain Rastafarians. I told them clearly that I am a man, that I am mortal, and that I would be replaced by the oncoming generation, and that they should never make a mistake in assuming or pretending that the human being is emanated from a deity.”
 
— Interview with Bill Mc Neil).
 
“A qualified man with vision, unmoved by daily selfish interests, will be led to right decisions by his conscience. In general, a man who knows from whence he comes and where he is going will co-operate with his fellow human beings. He will not be satisfied with merely doing his ordinary duties but will inspire others by his good example. You are being watched by the nation and you should realize that you will satisfy it if you do good; but if, on the contrary, you do evil, it will lose its hope and its confidence in you.”
 
— 2 July 1963 – University Graduation
 

 

Children

By Menen Asfaw, Haile Selassie had six children:

Princess Tenagnework, Crown Prince Asfaw Wossen, Princess Tsehai, Princess Zenebework, Prince Makonnen, and Prince Sahle Selassie.

There is some controversy as to Haile Selassie’s eldest daughter, Princess Romanework Haile Selassie. While the living members of the royal family state that Romanework is the eldest daughter of Empress Menen, it has been asserted that Princess Romanework is actually the daughter of a previous union of the emperor with Woizero Altayech.The emperor’s own autobiography makes no mention of a previous marriage or having fathered children with anyone other than Empress Menen.

Prince Asfaw Wossen was first married to Princess Wolete Israel Seyoum and then following their divorce to Princess Medferiashwork Abebe. Prince Makonnen was married to Princess Sara Gizaw. Prince Sahle Selassie was married to Princess Mahisente Habte Mariam. Princess Romanework married Dejazmatch Beyene Merid. Princess Tenagnework first married Ras Desta Damtew, and after she was widowed later married Ras Andargachew Messai. Princess Zenebework married Dejazmatch Haile Selassie Gugsa. Princess Tsehai married Lt. General Abiye Abebe.

 

Asfaw Wossen, eldest son of Haile Selassie I, on a voyage to Jerusalem in 1923

Contributor: http://www.rastaites.com/HIM/coronation.html

A Celebration of Women

sends our blessings and best wishes to all the Women of our World celebrating this day.

 

 

Celebrate this 80th Anniversary!

 

 

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