Haile Selassie I - Testimonies

The Kansak City Star, January 13 1963

The first faint stirrings of modern democracy are coming to Ethiopia. In the strange highlands of the African horn, it is no longer quite true to call his imperial majesty Haile Selassie I one of the last of the absolute monarchs.
The constitutional government he created in name 32 years ago is emerging at last as an infant fact. Recently the Ethiopian lower house of 251 members debated for two days a change in the penal code. The soil is fertile, its tradition proud, its people quick and its climate fine. Sitting on a plateau 8,000 feet above the torrid Red sea coast, Addis lives in continual springtime. (…)
Faced with these handicaps, the emperor in years past has run Ethiopia alone. He has worked day and night, looking personally into almost every plan and contract, appointing the most minor officials, receiving humble petitioners. (…)
Whatever happens, even the restless young men of Addis admit that Haile Selassie I, the king of kings, the conquering lion of Judah, by a superb personal effort has pulled his country into the modern age. There could hardly be another like him.
Haile Selassie I - Teachings

To Die in Freedom

“BeBar(e)net KeMennor BeNetzanet Memot Yshalal”
“To die in freedom is better than living in slavery.”

BeBerennet / In Slavery
KeMennor / than living
BeNetzanet / In Freedom
Memot / To die
Yshalal / It’s better

I&I Rasta

Remember the Ethiopian Martyrs

Peter Tosh: “Serious t’ing. Well I got a book the other day, is called ‘History of the Italian Massacres’ something like that, in Ethiopia. I learn that, when I read that book it brings tears to my eyes.”
Interviewer: “Is that Menelek? Or Selassie?”
Peter Tosh: “Selassie I.”
Interviewer: “So it’s the 30’s.”
Peter Tosh: “Yes mon, ’34-’37, around in there. Terrible, terrible. Any man was found with the picture of His Imperial Majesty, head off! Any you can see soldiers, Italian soldiers, and all different kind of soldiers with the head of Rasta in their hands, boasting, posing – send heads, a dozen heads in baskets, to show their family, of the Rastaman’s head. Seen? Plenty people don’t know these things. I see pictures of that.”
Ancient Peter Tosh,
Interview with R.Steffens and H.Holmes, 1980
Haile Selassie I - Life and Works

From the Official Introduction to the Selected Speeches of H.I.M. – 1967

“The history of modern Ethiopia is being compiled by the activities and events that take place each day in the nation’s supreme and sustained drive for progress in all fields. As Head of State, the prime mover and the driving force in this drama, the public utterances of His Imperial Majesty are, in many respects, a mirror of these activities and or the events that determine the course and tempo of Ethiopia’s development.
On the 75th Anniversary of his birth, it seems proper and fitting to record some of the most important of these utterances made on the many occasions that merited public statements from His Majesty the Emperor during his lengthy, brilliant and devoted service to his country and people.
It is impossible to include all of the Emperor’s pronouncements in one volume. It is hoped, however, that through those reproduced herein, the reader will get a fair picture of His Majesty’s thoughts and ideas that have provided the centrifugal force of his thirty-seven years as Head of State and of the preceding years of, his early appearance on the scene as national leader of Ethiopia.
These speeches, some of them excerpted, in the variety of occasions for which they were intended, as well as in the many subjects on which they deal, portray the breadth of the Emperor’s vision. They detail the persistence, the determination and the unflagging drive with which he pursued the application of “modern Ethiopianism” to which history cannot fail to testify.
The Emperor’s idealism, coupled with his insistence on transforming his country, both on the domestic and international fronts, his courage in the face of adversity, his unchallenged perspicacity, his keen sense in evaluating world events, his unfailing respect for principles, and his abiding faith in humanity – aspects of all of which are found in his public utterances – should make this volume a ready-reference to certain phases of the history of modern Ethiopia.
As the central figure in the renaissance of the nation after its five years of trials in the late I930s, His Imperial Majesty’s vital and indispensable leadership has played a distinctive and decisive role. His appearance before the League of Nations and his impassioned plea for justice for Ethiopia and all small nations and for international morality still remain a classic example both of the breadth of his vision and of a profound comprehension of the foibles of international life. Subsequently, despite the failure of the League of Nations to live up to its covenant and the gruelling distress that both the Emperor and his country suffered as a result, Ethiopia, under his leadership, was among the first nations which, at San Francisco in 1945, built the United Nations on the ashes of its predecessor, the defunct League of Nations.
In these pages will be found expressions of the spirit and the faith that animated the Emperor in this lofty role in international politics.
His primary motivation – that of raising the standard of living of the Ethiopian people and restoring the ancient stature and glory of his nation – runs through the theme of the majority of his public utterances. In them can be clearly seen the inseparable impulse of his whole career. This dedication was amply exposed as he spoke to his people and the world in the speeches contained in this book.
Although an ardent reformer, Emperor Haile Selassie is no iconoclast. Thus, he has advanced the policy of ‘modern Ethiopianism’ a philosophy which he has put into practice from the earliest years of his public career. The Emperor, addressing the nation on the 24th Anniversary of Ethiopia’s victory over aggression, said: ‘Ethiopia is an ancient land and her civilization is the result of the harmonious alchemy of the past and the present and upon which we confidently build for the future. This heritage is the bed-rock of modern Ethiopia. In it the people have chosen to distil from the past that which is useful and enduring, to adapt those worth-while attributes of our present-day world and to fashion this modern Ethiopianism – the foundation of our social order that has served so admirably the purpose of the nation’s steady advance’.
An absorbing interest in youth has characterized the Emperor’s entire public career; and is infinitely more than just a formal, enlightened paternalism. It is grounded in the fact, so frequently expressed by him, that his Ethiopia is built around the future. Haile Selassie I will go down in history as a leader whose concern for posterity has been both avid and constant. He has always kept close to the people and in particular to the nation’s youth in whom, as the speeches herein illustrate, he places immeasurable faith and confidence.
His Imperial Majesty’s constructive influence has been particularly effective in Africa’s political emancipation. Recalling the days when Africa was a sea of colonialism to the emergence of the Organization of African Unity, Haile Selassie I has been both a symbol and a pillar of strength to Africa as its people fought progressively for their ultimate liberation from colonialism. Today he still stands four-square behind the cause of the complete freedom of the continent in which Ethiopia is the oldest sovereign state.
His Imperial Majesty’s faith in divine providence is a built-in factor in his personal armory. Institutionally, he is ‘Defender of the Faith’, and history will most certainly assess his era as the one in which the Ethiopian Church succeeded in, winning its independence and autonomy after centuries of tutelage under the Alexandrian Patriachate. In times, good or bad, the Emperor’s abiding faith in the Almighty seems to have been both harbinger and fortress, it being rare for him to make any public utterance without calling on divine guidance and acknowledging publicly his thanks for God’s beneficence.”
Haile Selassie I - Testimonies

U.S. President Harry Truman (1945-1953) – Message to His Majesty

Haile Selassie I - Testimonies

Nelson Mandela, Conversation with Richard Stengel

Nelson Mandela, Conversation with Richard Stengel about meeting Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia
“That was an impressive fellow man, very impressive. It was my first time to watch…a head of state going through the formalities… the motions of formality. This chap came wearing a uniform and he then came and bowed. But it was a bow which was not a bow – he stood erect, you see, but just brought down his head…then…took his seat and addressed us, but he spoke in Amharic…Then, at the end of the conference, he saw every, each delegation…and Comrade Oliver Tambo asked me to speak for our delegation, to speak to Him And I explained to Him very briefly what was happening in South Africa…He was seated on his chair, listening like a log…not nodding, just immovable, you know, like a statue…The next time I saw Him was when we attended a military parade, and that was very impressive, absolutely impressive. And he was then giving awards…to the soldiers; everyone who had graduated got a certificate… A very fine ceremony – a very dignified chap – and he also gave medals. There were American military advisors and groups of military advisers from various countries…And so he gave medals to these chaps too. But to see whites going to a Black Monarch Emperor and bowing was also very interesting.”
Haile Selassie I - Testimonies

Sri Aurobindo – Important Indian Mystic

Poetical Work of Sri Aurobindo, important Indian mystic, inspirator of “Auroville”. Probably written during the Italo-Ethiopian War.

Haile Selassie I - Teachings

The Wicked is just a Copy

“The rebels claimed to be promising reform. But I only ask you to look at their published declarations and program. They are only copies of what we are already doing for the development of the country”.

– H.I.M. Haile Selassie I –

(“Daily Colonist” Newspaper, 15th January 1961)


Haile Selassie I - Testimonies

Uk Evening Express, 17th of January 1941


It was a lovely night, the skies were blue and the moon shone with rare brilliance. I had the unique honour of listening to the Emperor Haile Selassie in his modestly furnished reception room in the ancient city of Bath.

How prophetic of the Black Emperor that he should choose Bath for his residence in Britain – a city made famous by the Romans for their baths.

It was in June of the last year, before Benito Mussolini, the destroyer of Abyssinia’s freedom, declared war on Britain.

The world knew nothing about the plans and intentions of the Emperor when he told me that:

‘The hour of my country’s liberation is coming and you will see me soon leaving this country.

Don’t think that I was wasting my time here pushing my bicycle on the streets of Bath all these days. My faithful rasses all over the country were carefully knitting a net of revolutionary activity, keeping the people informed about my doings here and their duty to their motherland.

I have received definitive news from Ras Kassa that my people are awaiting my arrival in the country with expectancy.

I will not rest until the last Italian is driven away from my country. I live and I die for the liberation of Ethiopia. I am confident that in less than a year I will ride on my snow-white charger at the head of my people and enter Addis Ababa.’ “

Haile Selassie I - Testimonies

Indro Montanelli – Italian Journalist and Fascist Soldier – 1982

Interview with Enzo Biagi, taken from “1935 e dintorni”, E.Biagi, Mondadori 1982.

I feel a great admiration for the negus, a real man without doubts, and the abyssinians were very lovable people, they had never been our enemies, even during the conflict, everywhere we were welcomed with feasts“. (…)

I remember Haile Selassie as a man full of dignity, I knew him when I returned there: suspicious, smart, very shrewd, surely a head fitting for his country, that never accepted our offers. As you know, we wanted to give him a huge appanage, to make him king of Rhodes or one island in the Aegean Sea, that was surely easier than going to London in exile, poor, for he didn’t own exported money. Instead, he was able to keep his rank, his style, and above all he had this high merit: once returned in Addis Abeba, he started to protect the Italian people, he never felt any rancour.