Sunday, March 21, 2010

Pop History Moment: The Overthrow Of Haile Selassie

On this day in 1974 Ethiopia's Emperor Haile Selassie was deposed, ending nearly 3000 years of monarchy in that country...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketSelassie had previously been in exile between 1936 and 1941, of course, during the occupation of his country by Italy following the invasion of Emilio De Bono which precipitated the Second Italo-Abyssinian War; then he and his family had settled at Fairfield House, in the English resort town of Bath. He later donated it to the city for use as a residence for the aged, for which it is still being used today.

Although he was returned to Ethiopia a hero, by the early 1970s a famine in Ethiopia's Wollo region and a shortage of oil worldwide had destabilized Ethiopia enough to allow for the rise of a madman named Mengistu Haile Mariam, whose Derg would succeed in systematically dismantling the longstanding tradition of democracy in the country.

Haile Selassie died in exile in August 1975 in mysterious circumstances; bones said to be His Majesty's were discovered beneath a plain concrete slab on the grounds of the Imperial Palace in 1992, in the year after the fall of the Soviet-backed Derg. He was succeeded as de jure Emperor of Ethiopia by his son, Amha Selassie I, who had briefly served as Emperor previously during a brief period of unrest in 1960.
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lcdseattle said...

What a sad time. While in Ethiopia, in the mid 80s, I don't think I came across one person that felt the communist revolution had made the lives of average citizens better. While certainly not a saint Emperor Haile Selassie's time was one of relative peace that the country hasn't seen since and there is little change of seeing anytime soon.

michael sean morris said...

Of course, communism is its own kind of elitism.

In Europe after WWII as monarchies there were swept aside, the people did not benefit from the 'redistribution of wealth' promised. But the Party members certainly did.

The Emperor seemed as ill-served by his advisers as kings often are; had he known about the famine and such he no doubt would have visited the region and done something to help. Instead, they got agitators.

Hungry people are very gullible; agitators are in your face and kings are aloof. It all seems so easily avoided. said...

Michael, My brother Tom was in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia in the early 70s and because he had a degree in water engineering, Selassi made him practically a head of state-gave him palatial digs etc.

michael sean morris said...

That is almost to a person the book on Selassie... Yet I'm sure most of the food and money raised at Live Aid for famine in Ethiopia went straight into the pockets of Mariam and his goons.

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