His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I, original name Tafari Makonnen was born  125 years ago today in Ejarsa Goro, near Harar, Ethiopia and he died on August 27, 1975, in Addis Ababa.

He was emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974 who sought to modernize his country and who steered it into the mainstream of post-World War II African politics. He brought Ethiopia into the League of Nations and the United Nations and made Addis Ababa the major centre for the Organization of African Unity, which is now called African Union.

When Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935, Haile Selassie led the resistance, but in May 1936 he was forced into exile. He appealed for help from the League of Nations in a memorable speech that he delivered to that body in Geneva on June 30, 1936. With the advent of World War II, he secured British assistance in forming an army of Ethiopian exiles in the Sudan. British and Ethiopian forces invaded Ethiopia in January 1941 and recaptured Addis Ababa several months later. Although he was reinstated as emperor, Haile Selassie had to recreate the authority he had previously exercised. He again implemented social, economic, and educational reforms in an attempt to modernize Ethiopian government and society on a slow and gradual basis.

After a two year famine in north-eastern Ethiopia that is estimated to have killed 200,000 people he was disposed in a military coup in 1974 and died in internment under suspicious circumstances a year later.

Famous quotes by his majesty:

“Do not worship me, I am not God. I’m only a man. I worship Jesus Christ.”

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Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.”

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“Outside the kingdom of the Lord thee is no nation which is greater than any other. God and history will remember your judgment.”

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“Until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned, everywhere is war and until there are no longer first-class and second-class citizens of any nation, until the color of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes. And until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race, there is war. And until that day, the dream of lasting peace, world citizenship, rule of international morality, will remain but a fleeting illusion to be pursued, but never attained… now everywhere is war.”

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“Observe that anyone who dies for his country is a fortunate man, but death takes what it wants, indiscriminately, in peace-time as well as in war. It is better to die with freedom than without it.”

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“It is us today. It will be you tomorrow.” 
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