King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah and Elect of God, His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I. These were the titles bestowed on Ras Tafari Makonnen when he was crowned Emperor of the Ethiopian Empire on the 2nd of November 1930.
As leader of a civilisation that had lasted for over, the new Emperor would now be seen by millions around the world as a universal symbol of African pride and sovereignty, at a time where virtually all indegenous African kingdoms had fallen under European subjugation.
Over the course of his 44 year reign as leader of a civilisation that had lasted for over 3,000 years, Selassie would be many things to many people: to some an imperialist and brutal despot, to others a symbol of anti-imperialism and freedom, to some a pompous and self-serving monarch, but to others a literal messiah and God incarnate.
Paradoxes and contradictions may be common to all great historical figures, but not many mixed oil and water quite like the last Emperor of the Ethiopian Empire.
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Written by: K.B. Taiwo
Research support by Wame Gabaake.
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