Birth of the Redeemer: Emperor Haile Selassie I
To fully overstand the birth of His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Haile Selassie I, it is important to take note of the state of world affairs in the years leading up to July 23, 1892. It was a time of great trials and tribulations. Not only was there famine throughout Africa, but there was tragedy within His Majesty’s family as well. The eight children that preceded HIM had all died.
“After eight stillbirths, Lady Yeshimebet is now pregnant for the ninth time. As the pregnancy of the wife of Ras Makonnen, ruler of Harar was heard, religious figures prophesied the pregnancy was different. They told that (the child) will survive…” - Man of the Millennium
In an age when the surrounding countries of Africa were falling victim to colonialism and warfare, Ethiopia’s most deadly enemy presented itself in a smaller physical form, by way of the Rinderpest disease. This disease had up to a 100% death rate in the animals that were affected. The fields which had been bountiful for generations were empty. People who were at one time enjoying a wide range of healthy foods and traded in a robust variety of crops were reduced to eating rotting animals and leaves from trees.
In the blink of an eye, an estimated one third of the Ethiopian population was dead. To put this into perspective, if this situation was applied to modern day America, this famine would have killed every last man woman and child from California, Texas, Florida, and New York combined. (Combined US Population= 30%). This is a tragedy that is beyond human comprehension.
Nations Shall Rise Against Nation
"Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and great earthquakes shall be in diverse places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven." - Luke 21:10-11
The late 19th Century was also a period of intense warfare, worldwide. Nations rose against nations. The Americans against the Spanish. The Greeks against the Turks. Hundreds of Native Americans were massacred by the United States government at Wounded Knee.
The famine, which lasted from 1887-1892, did in fact also accompany earthquakes in diverse places. New Zealand, Japan and California, among others, all experienced significant quakes during this time. The fearful sight that is referred to here is the age of the New Imperialism, born at the Berlin Conference in 1890, where the tactics and methodology for the “Scramble for Africa” were decided.
“And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” - Luke 21:25-28
Man of the Millennium
There were many signs, like these, which signaled to the world what was coming. There is an interesting legend regarding the birth of His Majesty. The details are scarce, as it is one of the lesser known miracles surrounding the birth of Lij Tafari Makonnen.
In the documentary Man of the Millennium, Tikher Teferra Kidane recalls his life growing up as an Ethiopian robbed of his history, not knowing of His Majesty’s great works, or being taught about Him in the modern schools of Ethiopia. During the course of the film, Kidane goes to Ejersa Goro, a village just outside Harar, about 350 miles from Ethiopia’s capital city, Addis Ababa. There, in the compound of St Mary’s Church, is a Koso tree under which the umbilical cord of His Imperial Majesty is buried.
The priest escorting Kidane tells him:
"People see His Majesty not only as a human being, but also an angel. He was the light of Ethiopia… It is also told that His Majesty was born according to a prophecy."
Showing him the tree, the priest continues:
"They prophesied that the child born will get rid of the sour and unpleasant and he will judge for the poor. Koso is a bitter tasting tree, but it is also a cure for the stomach. And they said, as Koso is cure for the stomach, this new born is the cure for human suffering. So they planted a Koso tree on his birthplace. [The planter was] a well known Muslim. It is told that he planted the tree upon the birth, and the people asked him what is this? He said the child born today will be a great man. He will rule over Ethiopia and be the pride of Africa. He will give solutions to our problems and give fair judgment." - Man of the Millennium
Celebration of His Majesty’s Birth
Let’s allow the occasion of the birth of Qedamawi Haile Selassie to remind us that even in the darkest of times, in the most dire of situations, when the world seems to be falling apart and there seems to be no hope in sight, that there is a Redeemer. The King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah - His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie the First.
Ethiopia lost one third of her population, there was no rain, and there was no end in sight. When Qedamawi Haile Selassie was born, the rain resumed, the population grew, and Ethiopia stretched forth her hands unto JAH, Rastafari!