Haile Selassie I - Anecdotes

The Chosen One (1955)

“The title ‘Elect of God’ carried by the Ethiopian emperor was much more than simply an expression of godliness. In any event, right up to the very end, Haile Selassie was steadfast in his belief that he really had been chosed by God to be king. Accordingly, this title was affirmed in the two Ethiopian constitutions that Haile Selassie enacted in 1931 and 1955. The consultations on the renewed constitution of 1955 saw lively debate on this passage among members of the constitutional commission. In particular, the American advisor John H. Spencer, who had been called in to help draft the new constitution, saw it as an anachronism. He spoke to the secretary of the constituent assembly, Lij Imru Zelleke, and asked him to prevail upon the emperor to have this clause dropped. But when Lij Imru approached the emperor with this request, Haile Selassie reacted furiously: ‘How can you presume to doubt it ?’ he shouted at Imru Zelleke, ‘Where would We be if We weren’t elected by God’. And not just the emperor himself, also his retainers and the majority of Ethiopians believed he was the Chosen One; this fact also went a long way towards explaining the unconditional loyalty that many people showed him right up to the end – while a new generation of Ethiopian intellectuals bridled at the very idea.”
(Taken from “King of Kings”, Asfa-Wossen Asserate, Haus Publishing, 2015 p. 93)