The boy child Tafari Makonnen was born on 16th Hamle 1884 (July 23rd 1892
time), in the year of John, at Ejarsa Goro near Harar. His father was Ras
Makonnen and his mother, Wayzaro Yashimabet.
His birth had been foretold by astrologers and chaplains. They
reasoned that the planets of Neptune and Pluto, would intersect
in July 1892 having started moving towards each other 493 years
earlier in 1399. This would in turn influence the constellation
Leo, that is the house of Judah. They also foretold the great
drought that started in 1889 and was broken at the moment of the
child's birth thus confirming his identity and destiny.
On the fortieth day of His life He was baptised according to custom
and given the name HAILE SELASSIE which means POWER OF THE TRINITY. At
the moment of baptism He became totally aware and although this
knowledge faded at the time, it returned as He grew. His
teachers were astounded at the depth of his knowledge and standing
(understanding) of Incient religious texts. He could also converse
with animals; and savage beasts became docile in His presence.
He was the only one of ten siblings to
survive childhood and his mother died before he reached his 2nd
birthday. Tafari was raised by his father's cousin Wayzaro Ehta Maryam
and her husband Dejazmatch Hayla Selasse Abaynah who had a child just 4
months younger than him.
At the age of seven Tafari and his cousin Emru began
their education learning to read and write in both Amharic and Ge'ez. He
also learnt French, firstly from a Dr Vitalien and also from Abba Samuel
for whom he had much love and respect.
At the age of 13, on the 21st Teqemt 1898 (1st November
1905) his father, Ras Makonnen, made him Dejazmatch in the region called Gara
Mullata. The following year Ras Makonnen died on the 13th Magabit 1898
(21st March 1906).
"Whatever may befall a man in this world, there
is no-one who concludes his days entirely in joy or in grief, but
pleasure and sadness occur alternately in their turn; hence all my
thoughts were floating in a sea of distress as my father, who loved me
dearly and was so fond of me, fell gravely ill."
from the Autobiography of H.I.M. 'My
Life and Ethiopia's Progress 1892-1937' translated and annotated by
Emperor Menelik gave the governorship of
Harar to Dejazmatch Yelma, Makonnen's son from a previous relationship
and Tafari was given the Governorate of Sallale. During this time he
resided in the palace at Addis Abeba and continued his education in a
school set up by the Emperor Menelik. Later Tafari became Governor of
Sidamo a large southern province. He left for Sidamo on April 4th 1908
only to return to Addis eight months later when Menelik suffered a
stroke. During the political intrigues that followed, Dejazmatch Tafari
remained neutral and on March 3rd 1910 the Empress Taitu granted him the
governorship of Harar.
On July 31st
1911 Tafari married Menen Asfaw, the 22 year old granddaugher of Ras
Mikael. The marriage would last 50 years until the death of
Empress Menen in 1961. Together they had six children.