Haile Selassie I (Ge’ez: ቀዳማዊ ኃይለ ሥላሴ, romanized: qädamawi haylä səllasé, Amharic pronunciation: [ˈhaɪlə sɨlˈlase] (listen); born Lij Tafari Makonnen Woldemikael; 23 July 1892 – 27 August 1975) was Crown Prince and Regent of the Ethiopian Empire from 1916 to 1928, and then King and Regent from 1928 to 1930, and finally Emperor from 1930 to 1974. He is a defining figure in modern Ethiopian history. He was a member of the Solomonic dynasty who traced his lineage to Emperor Menelik I.
Selassie’s internationalist views led to Ethiopia becoming a charter member of the United Nations. At the League of Nations in 1936, he condemned Italy’s use of chemical weapons against its people during the Second Italo-Ethiopian War. He has been criticized by some historians for his suppression of rebellions among the landed aristocracy (the mesafint), which consistently opposed his reforms; some critics have also criticized Ethiopia’s failure to modernize rapidly enough. During his rule the Harari people were persecuted and many left the Harari Region. His regime was also criticized by human rights groups, such as Human Rights Watch, as autocratic and illiberal.Among the Rastafari movement, whose followers are estimated to number between 700,000 and one million, Haile Selassie is revered as the returned messiah of the Bible, God incarnate. Beginning in Jamaica in the 1930s, the Rastafari movement perceives Haile Selassie as a messianic figure who will lead a future golden age of eternal peace, righteousness, and prosperity. He was an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian throughout his life.
The 1973 famine in Ethiopia led to Selassie’s removal from the throne. He was strangled to death on 27 August 1975 at age 83 following a coup d’état.