Haile Selassie I - Laws and Government

A Short Biography of Hapte Selassie Tafesse

A Biography written and printed by SEED (Society of Ethiopians Established in Diaspora) in 2013.


Lij Hapte-Selassie Tafesse was born in the 1930 in Addis Ababa. Because of the Italian attempt of colonization in Ethiopia, Hapte-Selassie’s father left Ethiopia and fled to France and Hapte Selassie had to be separated from his family when he was only two years old, and was taken to Greece by a refugee Russian family. In Greece, he completed his elementary and pursued secondary education at Athens college. In 1947, Lij Hapte-Selassie came back to Ethiopia and rejoined with his family. Able to speak only Greek and Russian, he attended Teferi Mekonnen School for a year mainly to learn Amharic language.

After Italy left Ethiopia, Hapte-Selassie’s father became Ethiopia’s ambassador to Egypt which gave Hapte-Selassie an opportunity to travel to Alexandria and reunite with his father. There he attended Victoria College in 1950, where he also learnt French. In 1954, however, Hapte-Selassie left for the United States and entered Carlton College in Northfield, Minnesota, and graduated with B.A. degree in International Relations and Government.

The then Emperor of Ethiopia, His Majesty Haile Selassie I, considering Hapte-Selassie’s gift of language, offered him a job as Assistant Director in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Hapte-Selassie reached the limit of what can be done within his Department and he proposed that a special organ be set up to handle the little developed sector of tourism.

Soon he was transferred from the ministry of foreign affairs to an office under the prime minister’s office with no budget and staff to start his new assignment of establishing and running Ethiopian Tourist & Trading Organization. However, ETTO was formally decreed and with Hapte-Selassie’s sole effort, minimal budget was secured, appropriate office acquired and the necessary staff hired. Consequently, Hapte-Selassie was charged with inventing and organizing all aspects of the tourism industry in Ethiopia from the scratch.

In an effort to raise funds for the sector, Hapte-Selassie then introduced Duty Free Shops and with a personal borrowed money of 25,000 USD he went to Aden for shopping. Luck was with Hapte-Selassie, and all items were sold instantly and within short period of time the Duty Free Shop expanded and became one of the world’s leading duty free businesses and the international weekly magazine – Newsweek, featured it in a full page article as one of the world’s largest duty free enterprises.

Lij Hapte-Selassie’s innovative work continued in introducing the modern concept of tourism to Ethiopia and for creating an image of the country under the slogan ‘Land of 13 Months of Sunshine’. Similarly, he created operational mechanism, services, practices and institutions in the tourism industry such as Ethiopian Tourism Trading Corporation (ETTC), Tour and Travel Operation which created the present pioneer state owned (just privatized recently) tour operator, the present National Tour Operator (NTO), the first tourist class and tourist oriented hotels, the Catering and Tourist Training Institution (CTTI), and many more.

Not only this but Hapte-Selassie produced a range of international standard tourist literature covering all parts of all aspects of the country from taking pictures for posters, to organizing tours operated personally by himself.

In association with Ethiopian Airlines and Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce, Lij Hapte-Selassie took part and played significant role in many national expos and exhibitions held in Addis Ababa, Asmara, Jimma, and elsewhere. Working as travel consultant, Lij Hapte-Selassie took part in the constant modernization and expansion of Ethiopian Airlines. He was also part of the inception and subsequently a member of the organizing commitee for the establishment of both ECA (Economic Commission of Africa) and OAU (Organization of African Unity, the present African Union, AU) in Addis Ababa.

Moreover, he also took Ethiopia and Ethiopian products to international expos in Canada (1967), Japan (1970), and Nairobi (1972) where he conceptualized, designed, constructed ideas and even financed expenses.

Working under the then Ethiopian Tourism Commission, he also played a role in the organization of the Gold Mercury Trade Fair Center and attended and participated in annual tourist trade fairs and conferences held in major cities around the world, such a Miami, Las Vegas, Tokyo, Sydney, France, Athens, Hong Kong, Spain, and others.

Working all this for his country however, Lij Hapte-Selassie was imprisoned in 1974 on 50 false criticisms and was released in 1982 only to continue the job he started.

Lij Hapte-Selassie started tourism industry when tourism was perceived by people as selling the country’s pride and name, and when there were no adequate tourist class hotels and service providers. With the massive improvements of infrastructure, roads, airports, hotels, resorts, communications in the country, which are very encouraging for the development of the industry, Lij Hapte Selassie, now age 81, wonders why tourism in Ethiopia hasn’t achieved at least one million tourists every year.

And that’s the reason why he doesn’t rest from immerging new innovative ideas, even in his pension. And this great man has plenty projects in mind to bring up his country’s reputation, and most recently he started designing quality neckties and scarves with features the country’s beauty paintings and alphabet to promote Ethiopian art in international level.

He is also trying to make Ethiopia host coffee carnival as a country which introduced coffee to the rest of the world which also will generate many tourist numbers.

This never resting man has the hobby of travelling, photographing, playing tennis and swimming and have been awarded on several occasions with medals, decorations, certificates from both past and present Ethiopian governments, and foreign governments for personal service, merit, and participation in major events.

In February 2011, Lij Hapte-Selassie is recognized as ‘the Father of Ethiopian Tourism’ by the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Ministry of Culture and Tourism. True, Lij Hapte-Selassie will always be remembered and respected by generations for his invaluable contributions to where the Ethiopian tourism sector is today.”

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Haile Selassie I - Laws and Government

Ethiopia: 13 Months of Sunshine

Ethiopia: 13 Months of Sunshine” was an official motto of the Imperial Government to powerfully summarize the unique climate of the country, ideal for man as it is the original Paradise of Adam.

At the same time, the sentence would show an intelligent reference to the special cultural antiquity and vitality of the nation, having a peculiar system of calendar made of 13 months (12 months of 30 days + Pagumiè short month of 5/6 days).

Prophetically, it recalled to I&I the words of Saint John about the Kingdom of Christ:

“And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.” (Revelation 21, 23-25)

Few people know that behind that intense motto, spiritual and temporal alike, there was a great ethiopian genius, minister of His Majesty Haile Selassie in building up the foundations of modern Ethiopia, Hapte-Selassie Tafesse, Founder of Ethiopian Tourism.

His legacy represents an essential cultural, artistic and technical wealth for Ethiopia and mankind, that his descendant is now striving to keep alive in these times, speaking about his deeds and carrying on his projects. They are coming soon with very interesting and useful educational works that deserve to be supported, you can find further information here:

Haile Selassie I - Laws and Government

The Seal of the Ethiopian Ministry of Education

The Seal of the Imperial Ministry of Education of Haile Selassie I.
The Torch of Knowledge Enlightenment: fire was the first element created, beginning of the creation of Egziabhier, and similarly, control over fire is the first scientific and technological resource of man in his own creations.
Around the Torch, here the word of the Gospel in Ge’ez, an adaption from John 8,22:
A(e)m(e)r(e)wa WeAtz(e)n’(e)wa le T(e)beb WeT(e)bebni Tag(e)(e)’zek(e)mu ::
Know and Retain Wisdom and Wisdom also will free you.
The word “Tageezekemu” (will free you) has the same root of the word “Ge’ez“, as the language which is “free” from Babylon curse.
Haile Selassie I - Laws and Government

The Official Logo of Haile Selassie I University in Addis Ababa

The Official Logo of Haile Selassie I University.
“YeQedamawi Hayle Sellasie Yuniversti”
This is the first original name of that Institution, that was changed after the comunist rebellion and turned by the following governments into the modern day “Addis Ababa University”.
Indeed, His Majesty was the first to introduce the academic level of education in Ethiopia – the third educational stage – although He has never personally attended any course of that kind. Nevertheless, He was the Chancellor and spiritual guide of the University until 1975, earning a guinness score of honoris causa degrees from all the most important universities of the world, from all the continents of the earth and in all the main subjects of study. He said about:
“With the help of the Almighty Who guides the destiny of mankind, the educational system has moved from the elementary level through the secondary and has now reached higher education given in our colleges.” (Speeches on Various Occasions, p. 11)
On both sides, Star of David (Mosaic Law – Elementary) and Cross (Christianity – Secondary) are the Cultural Foundation for this modern-time Rasta knowledge, the Fruit that is linked with the Roots through the Trunk in perfect troditional continuity. In fact, as His Majesty has said:
“Nor can we ignore the importance of the spiritual in this academic life. Learning and technical training must be nurtured by faith in God, reverence for the human soul, and respect for the reasoning mind. There is no safer anchorage for our learning, our lives, and our public actions than that provided by Divine teachings coupled with the best in human understanding. Leadership developed here should be guided by the fundamental values and the moral power which have for centuries constituted the essence of our religious teachings.” (Selected Speeches p.22)
On the background, the Gennete Leul Palace, the building that the King has inherited from His Father Ras Makonnen, and that has been His personal residence until 1955, when He moved to the “Jubilee Palace“, built on occasion of the 25th year of His Kingdom.
In 1961, the date written in the logo both in ethiopic and western numbers, He has given His Own Family House to the people as a free gift, so that it could guest the headquarters of the University. A shining example of generosity and devotion to the welfare of the nation, reminding that knowledge is not an end in itself, but a principle that should make flesh and be translated in actual service for humanity. His Majesty said about:
“….In the field of education, We take great pleasure in the fact that the opening of Ethiopia’s first University is near at hand. Henceforth, students who have demonstrated their capacity and ability will no longer leave their homeland to pursue higher education. The University’s faculty is being recruited and its physical plant is being established. We Ourself have presented Our Guennete Leul Palace and its grounds, inherited from Our beloved father, as a free gift to the nation, to serve as the nucleus of the University’s physical facilities…” (Selected Speeches p. 1)
2 Torches of Wisdom burning on both the sides, allegory of Ganjah Fyah and powers of mental enlightenment. Fire is the first element that has been created by Egziabhier, the beginning of His creation as it is for human life and creations, the first scientific and technical knowledge of man. It is also associated to the Eye of Mind and His Focus: through it we can understand the past and foresee the future. That’s why the King said:
“…will be able to call for assistance upon the training he has received in this institution, which, like a torch shedding light both forward and behind, will guide him in his work.” (Selected Speeches p. 53)
The motto of the University is written in the central part of the logo. It is a Ge’ez biblical quotation from the Apostle Paul, 1 Thessalonians 5:21, emphasizing the scientific value of Ge’ez and biblical knowledge. It is from Paul, that constitutes the most accultured and theoretically complex speech of the Bible, reflecting the spiritual state of higher education.
ኵሎ አመክሩ ወዘሠናየ አጽንዑ
Kw(e)lo Ammek(e)ru WeZeShenay Atz(e)n’u.
“Examine all and hold that which is good.”
The King said to this University:
“Your guide should therefore be the apostolic saying: study and examine all but choose and follow the good. Our forefathers have succeeded in passing down a free and independent people determined to safeguard its liberty by shedding its blood. Ethiopia is the country in Africa which has kept Ge’ez and Amharic with an alphabet of its own.” (Selected Speeches p. 80)
This should be the accepted standard of any form of higher education among I&I.
Haile Selassie I - Laws and Government

Direct Petitions to the Emperor

By constitutional law (Art. 63 Revised Constitution) each ethiopian citizen had the right to present personal petitions directly to the Emperor.
The custom at that time was to personally hand a written document to the Emperor, as he was always visibile and reachable in his work throughout the Empire, and also willing to hear contributions or complains from His people, even from the lowest of His subjects, and to have personal physical contact with them.
A striking difference appears in comparison with Babylon politicians, well covered in dark impenetrable cars, fearing the people and the experience of poverty, without any connection with the world of human struggle they pretend to represent and defend.