Emperor Haile Sellassie 1st, born Tafari Makonnen


Picture of His Majesty-BBCH.I.M. Haile Sellassie1st (Ge'ez:, "Power of the Trinity") was born Lij Tafari Makonnen  (Amharic pronunciation lij teferī mekōnnin) 23 July, 1892 in Harah, Ethiopia. "Lij" translates literally to "child", and serves to indicate that a youth is of noble blood. He was Ethiopia's regent from 1916 to 1930 and Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974. He is the heir to a dynasty that traced its origins to Kings from Ori, of 4478 B.C. His coronation was the 334th from the Solomonic Dynastic (Queen of Sheba and King Solomon’s union) line of Kings, and the 134th of the Christian Kings. Queen Makeda, was the Empress of Axum, known in the Abrahamic tradition as the Queen of Sheba. Emperor Haile Sellassie is a defining figure in both Ethiopian and African history.

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". Tafari, his given name, in Amharic means "one who is respected", while Haile literally means in Ge'ez "Power of" and Sellassie means trinity (i.e. Haile Sellassie "Power of the Trinity") his coronation name in 1930 (Haile Sellassie was also his Christian baptismal name as an infant). names, including Janhoy, Talaqu Meri, Arko and Abba Tekel.

H.I.M. Haile Sellassie 1st  royal line (through his father's mother) originated from the Amhara people, but he also had Oromo, and Gurage roots. He was born on 23 July 1892, in the village of Ejersa Goro, in the Harar province of Ethiopia. His mother was Woizero ("Lady") Yeshimebet Ali Abajifar, daughter of the renowned Oromo ruler of Wollo province Dejazmach Ali Abajifar. His maternal grandmother was of Gurage heritage. Haile Sellassie father was Ras Makonnen Woldemikael Gudessa, the governor of Harar. Ras Makonnen served as a general in the First Italy–Ethiopian War, playing a key role at the Battle of Adwa; he too was paternally Oromo but maternally Amhara. Haile Selassie was thus able to ascend to the imperial throne through his paternal grandmother, Woizero Tenagnework Sahle Selassie, who was an aunt of Emperor Menelik II and daughter of Negus Sahle Selassie of Shewa. As such, Haile Sellassie claimed direct descent from Makeda, the Queen of Sheba, and King Solomon of ancient Israel.

Ras Tafari Makonnen married Woizero Menen in 1911.  Menen was an Oromo from Welo province and a deeply religious Coptic Christian.  The marriage between Ras Tafari and Menen was arranged by Lij Iyasu, Menen's uncle and the grandson of Menelik II, in an unsuccessful effort to diffuse Ras Tafari's opposition to his succession to the throne.  The politically induced marriage lasted until Menen's death in 1962 and produced three sons and three daughters (Schwab, Haile Selassie I: pp. 34, 39; see also Haile Selassie's eulogy to Menen in Selected Speeches of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie 1, 1918-1967 [Addis Ababa: Ministry of Information, 1967], p. 650).