King Sahela Selassie of Ethiopia
(formerly Abyssinia)
Haile Selassie I (1891-1975)

He was the great-great grandson of Sahela Selassie.

Was born as Lij Tafari Makonnen. Was given the religious name, Haile Selassie. He was the son of Ras Makonnen a Shoa Amharan noble, general and the governor of Harar in Ethiopia. Haile's mother was Yashimabet Ali an Oromo. She died two years after his birth.

His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie was emperor of Ethiopia from 1930-1974. The emperor was surrounded by ceremony and protocol intended to enhance his status as a descendant of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.

He attended the coronation of King Edward VII in England. He received the following decorations: Badge & Star of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (Knight Commander), Star of the Russian Order of St. Anne, Star of the French Legion d'Honneur (Third Republic), Star of the Order of the Crown of Italy, Star of the Ottoman Order of Osmania. [Photos]

He effected a number of reforms during his reign including the abolition of slavery, creating schools and universities, and generally began the development of a modern national infrastructure. The emperor took nonmilitary measures to promote loyalty to the throne and to the state. Some 150 university-age students studied abroad. The government enacted a penal code in 1930, imported printing presses to provide nationally oriented newspapers, increased the availability of electricity and telephone services, and promoted public health. The Bank of Ethiopia, founded in 1931, commenced issuing Ethiopian currency.

Haile was the last emperor of Ethiopia. Some people still called the country Abyssinia.

Source: U.S. Library of Congress, USA

Sahela Selassie King of Shoa, Efat and the Oromo, 1831
Early Populations and Neighboring States

Source: Library of Congress, USA

Details on the origins of all the peoples that make up the population of highland Ethiopia were still matters for research and debate in the early 1990s. Anthropologists believe that East Africa's Great Rift Valley is the site of humankind's origins. (The valley traverses Ethiopia from southwest to northeast.) In 1974 archaeologists excavating sites in the Awash River valley discovered 3.5-million-year- old fossil skeletons, which they named Australopithecus afarensis. These earliest known hominids stood upright, lived in groups, and had adapted to living in open areas rather than in forests.

Coming forward to the late Stone Age, recent research in historical linguistics--and increasingly in archaeology as well--has begun to clarify the broad outlines of the prehistoric populations of present-day Ethiopia. These populations spoke languages that belong to the Afro-Asiatic super-language family, a group of related languages that includes Omotic, Cushitic, and Semitic, all of which are found in Ethiopia today. Linguists postulate that the original home of the Afro-Asiatic cluster of languages was somewhere in northeastern Africa, possibly in the area between the Nile River and the Red Sea in modern Sudan. From here the major languages of the family gradually dispersed at different times and in different directions--these languages being ancestral to those spoken today in northern and northeastern Africa and far southwestern Asia.

The first language to separate seems to have been Omotic, at a date sometime after 13,000 B.C. Omotic speakers moved southward into the central and southwestern highlands of Ethiopia, followed at some subsequent time by Cushitic speakers, who settled in territories in the northern Horn of Africa, including the northern highlands of Ethiopia. The last language to separate was Semitic, which split from Berber and ancient Egyptian, two other Afro-Asiatic languages, and migrated eastward into far southwestern Asia.

By about 7000 B.C. at the latest, linguistic evidence indicates that both Cushitic speakers and Omotic speakers were present in Ethiopia. Linguistic diversification within each group thereafter gave rise to a large number of new languages. In the case of Cushitic, these include Agew in the central and northern highlands and, in regions to the east and southeast, Saho, Afar, Somali, Sidamo, and Oromo, all spoken by peoples who would play major roles in the subsequent history of the region. Omotic also spawned a large number of languages, Welamo (often called Wolayta) and Gemu-Gofa being among the most widely spoken of them, but Omotic speakers would remain outside the main zone of ethnic interaction in Ethiopia until the late nineteenth century.

Both Cushitic- and Omotic-speaking peoples collected wild grasses and other plants for thousands of years before they eventually domesticated those they most preferred. According to linguistic and limited archaeological analyses, plough agriculture based on grain cultivation was established in the drier, grassier parts of the northern highlands by at least several millennia before the Christian era. Indigenous grasses such as teff  and eleusine were the initial domesticates; considerably later, barley and wheat were introduced from Southwest Asia. The corresponding domesticate in the better watered and heavily forested southern highlands was ensete, a root crop known locally as false banana. All of these early peoples also kept domesticated animals, including cattle, sheep, goats, and donkeys. Thus, from the late prehistoric period, agricultural patterns of livelihood were established that were to be characteristic of the region through modern times. It was the descendants of these peoples and cultures of the Ethiopian region who at various times and places interacted with successive waves of migrants from across the Red Sea. This interaction began well before the modern era and has continued through contemporary times.

During the first millennium B.C. and possibly even earlier, various Semitic-speaking groups from Southwest Arabia began to cross the Red Sea and settle along the coast and in the nearby highlands. These migrants brought with them their Semitic speech (Sabaean and perhaps others) and script (Old Epigraphic South Arabic) and monumental stone architecture. A fusion of the newcomers with the indigenous inhabitants produced a culture known as pre-Aksumite. The factors that motivated this settlement in the area are not known, but to judge from subsequent history, commercial activity must have figured strongly. The port city of Adulis, near modern-day Mitsiwa, was a major regional entrepôt and probably the main gateway to the interior for new arrivals from Southwest Arabia. Archaeological evidence indicates that by the beginning of the Christian era this pre-Aksumite culture had developed western and eastern regional variants. The former, which included the region of Aksum, was probably the polity or series of polities that became the Aksumite state.
"Now the Ethiopians, as historians relate, were the first of all men and the proofs of this statement, they say, are manifest."
Diodorus of Sicily (60 BC.)
(Universal History, Book III: 2)
"The Imperial dignity shall be perpetually attached to the line of Haile Selassie I, descendant of King Sahela Selassie, whose line descends without interruption from the dynasty of Menelik I, son of the Queen of Sheba, and King Solomon of Jerusalem."

Revised Constitution of Ethiopia - Article II
4th November, 1955
Haile Selassie I
Additional Research:
History of Ethiopia According to Herodotus, Diodorus Siculus and Strabo
The "Ethiopians" According to Diodorus Siculus
In Search of My Grandfather's Roots
Postage Stamps
Emperor Serse Dengel and view of Gondar
(1562-1597)

Emperor Serse Dingel tried to keep the Cushite/Sidama southwest, including Kaffa, under his authority, despite the Oromo invasions which tended to cut all connections, because of its value as a luxury-export producing area. (Abir, 1975:561-562)  He was able by "massive  campaigns" to force Kaffa and neighboring kindred states to "become more closely linked" to Abyssinian Christianity; he also treated them as tributaries. (Haberland, 1992:727). But by 1600, Ajayi and Crowder show the Cushite states more or less cut off from both Abyssinia and the Muslim states by the Oromo expansion.

Spatio-Temporal Boundaries of African Civilizations Reconsidered, by David Wilkinson, University of California, Los Angeles, 1993
Ajayi, J.F.A., and Michael Crowder. Historical Atlas of Africa.
Cambridge University Press, 1985.
Empress Taitu and Emperor Menelik II

Menelik II born in 1844 in Ankober, Shoa and heir to the Shewan branch of the Solomonic Dynasty which claimed descent from King Solomon of ancient Israel, and the Queen of Sheba.

The campaign of Adwa had enlisted thousands of women camp-followers. At the top of these women, however, comes Empress Taitu, who command her own contingent of about 5,000 infantry and 600 cavalry men and accompanied her husband to the Battle of Adwa. Though she was not the first to have accompanied her husband to war, Taitu remained to be the last Ethiopian empress to lead her army to war. Moreover, Taitu fought a war that she had paved the way for from the very beginning (Zewde, 1991, p. 117).

Zewde, Bahru. A History of Modern Ethiopia 1855-1974. London:
James Currey, 1991.
His Imperial Highness, Ras Makonnen (1852-1906)

Ethiopian General & Governor of Harar

Father of the Emperor Haile Selassie (1892-1975).
Empress Waizero Menen and Emperor Haile Selassie
Rulers and heads of state of Ethiopia

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