“Yet Lij Tafari, the way those who remember him then tell it, ‘knew’ at the age of seven that he would one day be king, and began to study for the job. He badgered his tutor for all the books of Ethiopian history that he could find and listened avidly to tales of the Solomonic dynasty of which he was an offshoot; he believed implicitly in the legend of Solomon and Sheba. At the age of five he had been a shy little shrimp of a fellow, clinging to the robes of the women in the kitchen; but with learning and knowledge came a composure that astonished the household and his friends.
Pictures of him at this period show a face that is touchingly good-looking, but the chin is held high and the eyes are aloof and the quiet confidence is evident. There is a regal look about him already.
By the time he was eleven years old he had learned enough French to converse in it with his young tutor, Aba Samuel, who had been recommended to his father by the monks of the French Mission in Harar. Ras Makonnen came back from a journey to England to find him so fluent that he mentioned his son’s accomplishment to the Emperor, and was told to bring him to Court. He made the journey in 1903. It was the first time the boy had been on a long journey away from home – though he had shot his first lion in Ogaden and helped to capture his own pony on Mount Kondudo (…)
Tafari’s appearance at Court a month later is still remembered. He was not much taller than a mannikin. He wore a rakish velvet hat, an embroidered cloak of black and gold silk pinned at the neck, white breeches and a ruffed shirt beneath. He recited a story from La Fontaine, and the Emperor, who did not understand a word, shouted: ‘He has learned it off by heart !’. But when Tafari proceeded to exchange polite words with M. Ilg, Menelik was convinced and the whole court applauded.”
(Taken from “Haile Selassie. The Conquering Lion”, L.Mosley, 1964)
“Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. (…) And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.” (Luke 2, 41-47)