Categories
Haile Selassie I - Anecdotes

The Broken Wrist

“He knew how to wait – and he showed no sign of anger when he was thwarted. Towards pain, as towards disappointment, he had a stoic implacability. Once, when out riding with the Emperor on the plains outside the city, Tafari’s horse had stumbled in a rabbit hole and flung him into a blackberry bush, from which he emerged scratched and dishevelled. The ten-year-old grandson of the Emperor, Lij Yasu, already an arrogant boy with a cutting tongue, laughed at Tafari’s discomfiture and rode away to persuade the Court minstrel to make up a song to mark his cousin’s ‘clumsy horsemanship’. As the minstrel’s mocking verses started the royal retinue tittering, Tafari (who had remounted) urged his pony ahead and was immediatelly challenged to a race by Lij Yasu. Tafari not only easily outrode the boy but treated the entourage to a dazzling display of horsemanship, jumping streams, stopping short, wheeling round and rearing up his mount on its hind legs before the Emperor – and doing it all with one hand. It was not until the cortège reached the palace that it was discovered Tafari had broken a wrist in his fall and must for some time have been in considerable pain. The less observant members of the Court nick-named Tafari ‘The Shy One’ and jeered at his lack of words, but Menelik was one of the few who realised that he had all the qualities of a hawk, and sighed at the thought that he would never see him pounce and on whom it would be.”
(Taken from “Haile Selassie. The Conquering Lion”, L.Mosley, 1964)
Categories
Haile Selassie I - Anecdotes

Imperial Shooting

“Possibly you have read that when the Emperor goes out shooting the official who accompanies him always shoots first and misses while the Emperor then brings off the winning shot. This sort of anecdote though true enough in uninterpreted fact gives a very wrong impression. To begin with a second shot is often a good deal more difficult than a first – and Haile Selassie is admitted by all who know him to be a very fine shot indeed; while it is incorrect that the ceremonial – a very ancient prescription – is carried out whenever the Emperor shoots. A young Frenchman of my acquaintance, an almost miraculous shot, told me how some years ago he had the pleasure of a few hours informal shooting with the Emperor whom he paid the compliment of treating simply as a fellow sportsman and beating at the game – though by a very small margin.

‘When it was all over’, he said, ‘I watched for signs of sulkiness, or alternatively that glassy politeness which is even more indicative of the bad loser with whom the fault is inborn. I will swear that I saw no such sign. The Emperor was genuinely glad to have found an antagonist willing to meet him on equal terms and being beaten in a fair trial of skill perturbed him not in the least.’ “

(Taken from “”Haile Selassie Emperor of Ethiopia”, Princess Asfa Yilma, London 1936).
Categories
Haile Selassie I - Anecdotes

The Wild Horse

“Once when a wild horse had been brought in from the hill pastures and only partly tamed, Lidj Yassu went so far as to place Tafari Makonnen on its back and send it galloping off madly with a sharp slash of his hide whip. The horse careered wildly down the slope, young Tafari clinging for dear life to the shaggy mane. His eyes showed terror, but he clung on. With drawn face and set teeth he stuck to the mount until it tired. Yassu took great delight in this joke of his and repeated it on several occasions. He was courted by everyone in Addis Ababa since it was guessed that he would one day be Emperor. There was thus no one to interfere.
Tafari learned to take a beating, to be desperately afraid and yet to hang on. That lesson was to mould his whole character. In after years he never showed reckless bravery, but once he had set his hand to anything he never let go.”
(Taken from “”Haile Selassie Emperor of Ethiopia”, Princess Asfa Yilma, London 1936).
Categories
Haile Selassie I - Anecdotes

The Cartridges

“Tafari soon showed that his hand was steady and his eye keen. By constant practice he became a first class shot, far better than Lidj Yassu, whose steadiness of hand had already been lessened by the dissipations in which he indulged despite Tessama’s efforts to prevent him. This was a source of great mortification to Yassu, who one day stole some cartridges which Tafari had been saving for a special occasion. Ammunition is always short in Ethiopia and to steal a man’s cartridges is a very heinous offence under the law, which regards it much as horse stealing was thought of in the Wild West, where a man’s horse was a matter of life and death to him. Lidj Yassu found himself faced by a furiously angry Tafari who levelled a gun at him and demanded the return of his cartridges. At first he laughed out loud at this sign of determination on the part of one of whom he thought so little. Then as he saw the look in the eyes behind the gun, he threw down the stolen ammunition saying that he had only been joking.
That was the first triumph of Tafari over the man who bullied him. It taught the timid lad that the best way to deal with some sorts of people is always to call their bluff.”
(Taken from “Haile Selassie Emperor of Ethiopia”, Princess Asfa Yilma, London 1936)