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Haile Selassie: The Life and Legacy of the Ethiopian Emperor Revered as the Messiah by Rastafarians

Narrated by: Colin Fluxman
Length: 1 hr and 49 mins
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Publisher's Summary

“By virtue of His Imperial Blood, as well as by anointing He has received, the person of the Emperor is sacred. His dignity is inviolable and His power indisputable.” - Article 4 of the revised Constitution of Ethiopia (1955)

The modern history of Africa was, until very recently, written on behalf of the indigenous races by the white man, who had forcefully entered the continent during a particularly hubristic and dynamic phase of European history. In 1884, Prince Otto von Bismarck, the German chancellor, brought the plenipotentiaries of all major powers of Europe together, to deal with Africa's colonization in such a manner as to avoid provocation of war. This event - known as the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885 - galvanized a phenomenon that came to be known as the Scramble for Africa. The conference established two fundamental rules for European seizure of Africa. The first of these was that no recognition of annexation would granted without evidence of a practical occupation, and the second, that a practical occupation would be deemed unlawful without a formal appeal for protection made on behalf of a territory by its leader, a plea that must be committed to paper in the form of a legal treaty.

Before World War II, few in the West had ever heard of Abyssinia, and fewer still could point to a map and tell precisely where it was. On the eve of that war, in the autumn of 1935, as the forces of imperial Italy prepared to invade the sovereign territory of Ethiopia, the leaders of the Allies brimmed with sympathy for the imperiled African kingdom but offered nothing in the way of practical assistance. Rallying his subjects against the invaders was Negus Negusti, the “King of Kings”, Emperor Haile Selassie, the last ruler of the great Solomonic Dynasty of Ethiopia. The Italians, led by Benito Mussolini, were practically unassailable at that point, and while a bold resistance was mounted to hold back their invasion, the effort was ultimately futile. On May 2, 1936, as the Italian army bore down on the capital at Addis Ababa, Emperor Haile Selassie boarded a train and fled east to the French territory of Djibouti. From there, he was granted asylum in Britain.

The Allies’ conquest of Ethiopia formed a cornerstone of the early phases of the North Africa Campaign during World War II, and the dramatic advance of Allied forces on Addis Ababa in the spring of 1941 placed Ethiopia very much at the forefront of Western affairs. In May of that year, Emperor Haile Selassie returned in triumph to the capital of his kingdom, the fanfare and hubris of which tended to project his personality to the forefront of the global political stage. 

©2019 Charles River Editors (P)2019 Charles River Editors

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