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February 27, 2024 56 mins

If you grew up outside of Africa, you might know Haile Selassie’s name from reggae music - the man who ruled Ethiopia is considered a god in Jamaica. In Ethiopia opinions are more varied. 

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
All right, everybody, it's time for the coronet.

Speaker 2 (00:02):
Do do do? Oh man, you do that? So good,
you guys. We have gotten on the ball and have
all of our tour dates locked for the rest of
the year, which makes us very happy because we've never
been able to get it together all at once like
this this early.

Speaker 1 (00:19):
Yeah, we can see the future, and the future is
going to kind of play out like this. On May
twenty ninth, we're going to be at the Chevalier again
in Boston. The next night we'll be back at the
Warner Theater in DC. And then the night after that
May thirty, first, we're going to be at Town Hall
again in Manhattan, New York City.

Speaker 2 (00:39):
Town That's right, it's a great return to New York.
Then we're going to hit the Midwest for a jaunt
and what is that August? August seventh, we're going to
be at the Auditorium Theater in Chicago. Then we're heading
over the next night eight to eight to the State
Theater in Minneapolis. Can't wait for that one. Yeah, And
then we're adding a new city this year. Finally, we're
going to Indianapolis to the Egyptian Room on the night

(01:00):
and I'm not going to give away the topic, but
you Midwest people might want to come, is all I'm saying.

Speaker 1 (01:05):
Right, And then we're gonna knock the year out of
the park by finishing it up in Durham at the
Carolina Theater on September fifth, two nights later, will be
the last show of the tour at our beloved Atlanta's
Symphony Hall and our beloved Atlanta, Beloved Georgia, beloved USA.

Speaker 2 (01:22):
That's right, So listen up everyone. There as an artist
presale that's us Tuesday the twenty seventh, that's today from
ten am Eastern to Thursday to twenty ninth at ten
pm using r code, s YSK live yep.

Speaker 1 (01:36):
And then the venues and promoters want to get on
the pre sale action, so on Thursday the twenty ninth,
from ten am to ten pm local time, they'll be
selling pre sale tickets too, and then public sale happens
right chuck on Friday, March first at ten am local time.

Speaker 2 (01:51):
That's right local to whatever venue you're going to. Public
on sale Friday March first, So.

Speaker 1 (01:56):
Head on over to stuffushouldo dot com and press the
tour button, or else you can go to link tree
slash s YSK and get all the info and ticket
links you need there too.

Speaker 2 (02:06):
And we can't wait to see everybody all the rest
of this year. Welcome to Stuff you should know, a
production of iHeartRadio.

Speaker 1 (02:21):
Hey, and welcome to the podcast. I'm Josh and there's
Chuck and it's just the two of us, and we
are here to just wrap it up. Rap rap rap,
I have a little chat, a little talk, and just rap,
just the two of us. We do that every time
Jerry's not here. That song every time we reference it

(02:43):
some way, shape or form. It's not that great of
a song.

Speaker 2 (02:47):
Oh God, please tell me you're joking.

Speaker 1 (02:51):
No, I'm actually not. I think it's one of those
ones I've just heard too many times. Sorry, it's all right.
I can't listen to Journey any longer either, If that
makes you feel any better.

Speaker 2 (03:03):
Well, this is Bill Withers, all right.

Speaker 1 (03:06):
But I'm sick of that song.

Speaker 2 (03:09):
Okay.

Speaker 1 (03:10):
I think Austin Powers was the one that put it
over the top.

Speaker 2 (03:16):
Was it in that movie? Yeah?

Speaker 1 (03:17):
He turned it into like a rap what yeah? With
him and Mini Me?

Speaker 2 (03:22):
Oh god?

Speaker 1 (03:22):
No, wonder who thought Mini Me was going to show
up in the Hyle Selassie I did not until just now.

Speaker 2 (03:30):
Yeah, same here. This is a complicated episode about a
complicated story.

Speaker 1 (03:36):
Yeah, And the reason why we should just come out
of the gate and explain why this is so complicated.
Number one, we're talking about a human being who ruled
a nation, one of the most powerful nations on the
continent of Africa, for virtually his entire lifetime. Right, There's
a lot that can happen during that time. You can
make a lot of enemies, you can become revered, and

(03:56):
so as a consequence, the guy did a lot of stuff,
a lot of good stuff, a lot of shady stuff,
a lot of downright evil stuff. And over the course
of the time that he was ruling and then beyond,
some people came to venerate him as a god, like
a god on earth. Other people came to loathe them
as a murderous colonizer. Other people saw him as a

(04:18):
modernizer of a nation. There's so many different opinions about
this guy that it's really gonna be tough to cram
it all in into this one episode. But we're gonna,
we're gonna try. We're gonna make it if we try.

Speaker 2 (04:29):
Yeah, And I think aside from the god thing, which
you know, we'll get to. I think he kind of
was a lot of those things. He did modernize Ethiopia
and he was a progressive voice for Africans, but he
also did a lot of bad things, and it seemed like,
I don't know, for my it seemed like the last

(04:50):
twenty years of his life he did a lot more
bad than the first like forty years of his rule.

Speaker 1 (04:56):
That's what I got to. He started to phone it in,
I think, and be awful. Well that's a consequence of
phoning it.

Speaker 2 (05:04):
In, you know. Yeah, but when you if you do
a little research on Highly Selassie, you'll see a lot
of articles like praising him, like really strongly, and then
a lot of articles that are like, why are we
rewriting this the history of this person to not include
any of the bad stuff.

Speaker 1 (05:20):
Well, what's amazing is you can actually there's an answer
to that question. The reason why is because of reggae.
You can thank reggae for reforming the image of Highly
Selassie across the world. It's amazing, it's astounding, it's it's
been really effective. Yeah, So Chuck, we're going to talk
about Highly Selassie, who is the Ruler of Ethiopia, the
Emperor of Ethiopia. In fact, he had one of the

(05:44):
most amazing titles of any ruler anywhere. When he became emperor,
his official title was His Imperial Majesty, the Conquering Lion
of the Tribe of Judah, highly Selassie, the First elect
of God, Emperor of Ethiopia. That was his full time,
which is just straight up impressive.

Speaker 2 (06:03):
Yeah, there were a lot of different titles that he
had over the years, and a lot of different names
for the different titles. He gets kind of can get
in the weeds with that stuff. I just did not well.
But he also had another title at the same time,
which I can't even find right now, but we'll get to.

Speaker 1 (06:19):
So let's talk a little bit about Ethiopia, the country
that he ruled. You know, those of us off the
continent considered Ethiopia is like a cohesive whole nation, But
like most nations across the world, on any continent, it's
actually an assemblage of different smaller units that were eventually
brought together and unified into a nation like we recognize today.

Speaker 2 (06:42):
Yeah, and unified as sort of a should be in quotes.

Speaker 1 (06:46):
Sure, Yeah, that's a good point.

Speaker 2 (06:49):
Yeah, so it is in the Horn of Africa, and
like you said, it was home to lots of civilizations
over the course of you know, ancient history and then
you know, over through time, and it was it was
a pretty big power. It is unique for that area.
And then it was one of the first Christian nations

(07:11):
and remained a Christian nation despite being completely cut off
from the rest of the Christian world on all sides basically.

Speaker 1 (07:19):
Yeah, and it was one of the oldest around. It's
state religion is Christianity, I think Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, that
branch of the Christian Church. And since like I think
the fourth century see at least, so for a very
long time, it's been a Christian nation and that meant

(07:41):
that it had like pretty good relations with other Christian
nations around the world. But also it traded with the
tribes in Arabia, it traded with others in the Middle East.
Like it was a really important power for a really
long time.

Speaker 2 (07:55):
Yeah, for sure. And we should probably talk about the
Slomonic dynasty. Yeah, while is in King Solomon, the Coronation
of Yakuno, and you know, we're doing our best with
a lot of these names I tried to look most
of these up.

Speaker 1 (08:08):
By the way, Well how's this one go?

Speaker 2 (08:12):
Well, this one goes Yakuno Amlac in twelve seventy. And
this is important because, like I said, is in King Solomon.
This dynasty basically says, we are the direct descendants of
King Solomon and Queen of Sheba from the Bible, and
the line of Judah is our symbol. And you know,

(08:34):
this is the sort of solemn line that as we'll see,
would you know eventually d Halli Selassie.

Speaker 1 (08:43):
Yeah. And it's found among the Amhara people, which are
one of the groups of people living in the Ethiopian
region at the time. And some people say that this dynasty,
this lineage of rulers is the oldest in the world.
If you credit that as factual or even roughly factual,
that King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba produced Menelik

(09:04):
the First as a son who became the first ruler
of this Solomonic dynasty, then that's we're talking like three
thousand years essentially of rule by this one group in
this one area. Historians say that's a great story. Also,
Menelik the First is said to have brought the arc
of the Covenant to Ethiopia where it's supposedly being hidden

(09:26):
or kept, but really we can date it as far
back as twelve seventy, which is nothing to sneeze at,
when Yakuno Ambloc was definitely coronated. Since twelve seventy there's
been nothing but solomonic rulers ever since then. That's a
pretty pretty good track record.

Speaker 2 (09:42):
Frankly, yeah, for sure. But again that's not to say
that there was like complete unity under that rule throughout
the years. In the eighteenth then early into the nineteenth century,
Ethiopia was very fractured. There were a lot of feudal kingdoms,
a lot of different like you mentioned, really religions and
ethnicities are sort of you know, co mingling with one another.

(10:04):
And eventually, as far as our story goes, unification around
the eighteen fifties is when things really sort of get
well more unified.

Speaker 1 (10:16):
Right, And I was wondering what the answer is, like
if there is a definitive answer. Is unification a good
thing because it keeps formerly warring neighboring groups from warring,
or is it a bad thing because these groups were
warring for a reason and now they're kind of smushed together,
whether they like it or not. Yeah, you know, I
wonder if it's a case by case basis, or if

(10:36):
there's a right way to do it or a wrong
way to do it, or that you shouldn't do it
at all. I don't know.

Speaker 2 (10:40):
It's a good question.

Speaker 1 (10:42):
So by the nineteenth century, Emperor Menelik the Second, who
took the throne six or so hundred years after his
namesake did, who found the Solomonic dynasty, became the ruler
of a unified Ethiopia. And that's really where the story
kind of begins as far as where our protagonist, Liej

(11:06):
Tafari Makonan is concerned.

Speaker 2 (11:09):
That's right, because he was born July twenty third, eighteen
ninety two, just what three years after Menelik the Second
was crowned, right yep, So you know we're talking about
highly Selassie. But as you said, born Lidge Tafari. Lidge
means child of Tafari is one who is respected or feared.

(11:30):
So Lidge Tafari Maconin is child of Maconin who is
respected and feared.

Speaker 1 (11:38):
Yeah, and his dad was raz which means Prince Macanin,
So his dad was a prince already it's pretty good birthright,
you know, especially in a feudal society that I was
born into. But even more than that, his great grandfather,
Sahale Selasse had been emperor of the Kingdom of Shuwa
before Ethiopia was unified. So this guy had like literal

(12:03):
royal blood and was part of that Solomonic dynasty just
by birth.

Speaker 2 (12:08):
Yeah, and you said his dad was prince. The word
there would be ross, And that's important to just put
a pin in that because if you put Ross and
Tafari together, you will eventually get Rastafari.

Speaker 1 (12:22):
Which sounds vaguely familiar. I can't put a finger on you.

Speaker 2 (12:25):
Already mentioned reggae music, so that's where this is all eading.
But Ross means prince. His father was a governor of
the Harar province advisor to the emperor, which at this point,
I believe you already said was Menelik the second ye
and the first During the Menelik the second years, and
when Tafari was young, this is when Italy had its

(12:47):
sort of first first push into trying to basically you know,
this is a period of rapid colonization from the Europeans
all over Africa, think it was called the Scramble for Africa,
and this was Italy's first push because they had land
on both sides of Ethiopia and Eritrea and Italian Somaliland,

(13:12):
and Ethiopia was kind of right there in the middle.
But they were defeated that first time when fifteen thousand
Italians were beaten back by about seventy five thousand Ethiopians
in the Battle of Adwa.

Speaker 1 (13:24):
Yeah, and so Menelik the second became just revered for that,
like this African country beat back in a colonial power
from Europe, and it was a huge national black eye
on Italy that they carried a soreness for for decades afterward,
as we'll see. But it was an enormous feather in

(13:47):
the cap of Ethiopia because at the time this Scramble
for Africa, one group after another was falling prey to
these colonial powers who were just moving in, moving their people,
in taking over, forcing a lot of these people in slavery,
extracting their resources. In Ethiopia said no, nice, try Italy,
We're going to remain self sufficient and self determined.

Speaker 2 (14:08):
Yeah, that's a good point. His mother, Yeshimabet, died when
he was about two years old, and he went on
to get a really sort of unusual and vast education
under the teachings of French missionaries, other teachers and scholars.
He learned which was unusual at the time for where
he was a lot of European history and languages, and

(14:32):
that education would set him up for his later life
on the international stage.

Speaker 1 (14:37):
Yeah for sure. I mean, his familiarity with Europe would
be extraordinarily helpful because Europe, even though some of the
former Age of Exploration powers like lost their clout, Europe
still remained super important in Africa because they were colonizers.
So to have a rapport with European powers was very

(15:00):
helpful keeping them at bay and also making Ethiopia a
really treasured asset or ally to those European powers too.

Speaker 2 (15:10):
Yeah, for sure.

Speaker 1 (15:10):
It was just a good position for him to be in.

Speaker 2 (15:13):
Oh absolutely, and he ingratiated himself. He was very much
loved on the international stage for most of his life,
which you know, was kind of at odds with how
he was viewed at home for the last couple of decades.

Speaker 1 (15:24):
Yeah. So, because he was born into that royal lineage,
he kind of made moves throughout the court in at
age thirteen, he was made a de Jasmach, yeah, which
is essentially like a count. And from that point on
he just kept rising and rising further and further up

(15:46):
in importance in the aristocracy. Right, because we should say,
at the time, and for a very long time, Ethiopia
was a feudal agrarian society and economy where peasants worked
the land and had to give a lot of the
fruits of their labor over to land owners who didn't
do anything except extract labor and goods from the peasantry.

(16:09):
And then it went up and up and up, and
then you had an aristocracy that was sitting at the
top that was also tiered, and at the very top
of this where the rulers of Ethiopia, of which ros
Tafari was rising in rank and influence.

Speaker 2 (16:24):
Yeah, for sure. And slavery played a big part in
that and a big part in this story, as you'll see.
So just sort of setting that up. Over the next
few years, he was, like you said, kind of rising
through these different positions. He got married in nineteen eleven
to a noble woman named men in Asphalt and had
six kids, and they stayed married until she died in

(16:45):
nineteen sixty two, and then in nineteen thirteen, Menelect the
second died, and there was a very sort of interesting
power struggle that went on because his literal successor was
his grandson Iyazu the fifth, and he was not good

(17:06):
enough for the job. Evidently he was not a good
manager of people, didn't show a lot of promise as
a ruler, and even more importantly, he was I mean,
the rumor was that he actually converted to Islam. He
was not friendly to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and because
of these rumors and he was deposed as emperor. He

(17:27):
was arrested and spent the rest of his life in
detention wherein his I believe, in nineteen sixteen, his aunt
Zuditu was crowned empress.

Speaker 1 (17:39):
Yeah, and then so I don't I didn't get this.
I didn't understand why I couldn't find what maybe you know.
Simultaneously or shortly after Zuditu was crowned, Empress, Tafari became
Ras Tafari and the de facto ruler of Ethiopia as
the Supreme region an heir apparent? Was it because he

(18:02):
was young still? I guess he was twenty five at
the time. Was it because he was a man and
she was a woman and a woman that always have okay, gotcha? Okay,
So they were basically power sharing, even though because he
was a man, I'm guessing he was just deferred to
over her in a society that requires an empress to
have like a male regent with her right.

Speaker 2 (18:25):
Yeah, I mean, that's basically I saw that in two
or three different places that if he I'm sorry, if
Zuditwo was was a man, he may have still had
that position, but he would not have nearly the power
that he had as a man because she was a woman.

Speaker 1 (18:40):
Gotcha. So as this de facto ruler of Ethiopi, he
started making moves on the world stage, and there was
a difference between his and Zudituo's politics from the outset.
She was more conservative than he was. He was much
more being younger, I think was a big part of it,
much more progressive minded, much more interested in modernizing, much

(19:02):
more interested in opening the country to internationalism. And so
in nineteen twenty three, Ethiopia became a member of the
League of Nations, just the third African country to do so,
and that was after South Africa and Liberia and that
was like one hundred percent Tafari's doing from what I understand.

Speaker 2 (19:20):
Yeah, totally. Part of that required the pledge to you know,
abolish slavery. As we'll see, that was in nineteen twenty three,
and the abolition of slavery in Ethiopia did not happen
in full for many, many decades, So it was you know,
that's another you know, sort of a thread that goes

(19:42):
to this story of just how long it took to
get slavery abolished there because it was such a part
of their tiered system in Ethiopia.

Speaker 1 (19:51):
And it's worth saying too, I think, Chuck, that African
continental style slavery was much different from the kind of
slavery that was developed through the Transatlantic trade that was
established here in the United States in the Americas.

Speaker 2 (20:09):
But yeah, I think literal human ownership was not the case.

Speaker 1 (20:13):
Yeah, I mean, there was still like a curtailment of liberty,
but at the same time, you lived in the same
house and ate the same food that you're you know,
putative owner ate. It was just you were just treated
much differently, and you don't want to sanitize it because
you're still you still didn't have freedom like an individual
human being should have. But just compared to just the

(20:36):
horrors of the transatlantic chattel slavery practices like the African
slave trade was, it was just not like it at
all in a lot of ways.

Speaker 2 (20:46):
Yeah, for sure. So in nineteen twenty eight he was
named Nebus, which is a title equivalent to king, but
it's not the same as, you know, the king, as
we would think, because it's still below emperor. And he
started traveling the world basically and every single way, basically
becoming the face of Ethiopia despite the fact that he

(21:07):
was not emperor, you know, going to Jerusalem, going to Rome,
going to Paris, meeting with King George, to the Fifth
in London, and it was sort of a world tour
where he placed himself expressly, sort of in the limelight.
As you said that, you know, he had different politics
than the Empress herself, and that combined with him sort

(21:30):
of putting himself on the world stage in front of
her essentially did not sit well to the point where
her husband led a rebellion goog Saulle where he wanted
to install himself as emperor, but he was defeated by
Tafari was killed and then within a couple of days later,

(21:50):
Zuditu died of unclear circumstances, and I think we all
know what that means.

Speaker 1 (21:55):
Well, yeah, there's a rumor that she died of shock
at the news of her husband's death. But more likely
there's just kind of this idea that Holly Selassie was
not above poisoning opponents and rivals, and that's entirely possible
that's how she went away.

Speaker 2 (22:14):
Yeah, for sure. And we should also point out prior
to this, prior to nineteen thirty through the nineteen like
late nineteen twenties, he was really doing a lot of
that progressive work, building roads. He established a national bank,
He redid the judicial system that kind of said, you know,
we need a more you know, modern Western based judicial

(22:35):
system and not this, you know, you steal love for
bread and we cut off your hand Biblical style.

Speaker 1 (22:41):
And yeah, he continued that on when he became ruler
after Zudido was gone November Tewod nineteen thirty, which is
the holiest day of days for the Rasta religion. As
we'll see, Tafari became highly Selassie again. His imperial majesty,
the conquering line of the tribe of Judah. Highly Celassie

(23:02):
the first elect of God Emperor of Ethiopia, and one
of the first things he did was to write the
first written constitution that Ethiopia ever had, and it was
extremely progressive, especially considering again this is a feudal agrarian
society we're talking about.

Speaker 2 (23:22):
Yeah, for sure, for them, it was very very much
a step forward. He did create their first parliament, but
it was pretty clear with this, and even when they
made further changes I think in the nineteen fifties to
the constitution that it was still you know, the emperor
had the last say over everything.

Speaker 1 (23:42):
Right, So I think that kind of goes to show
the kind of governing he did, Like he was well
aware of if you, you know, agree to something but
figure out a way to not do it or to
keep it from taking any power away from you, it
can really placate people a lot. He was kind of
asterful with that, and that's a good example of that.

Speaker 2 (24:03):
All Right, Is that a good long intro?

Speaker 1 (24:06):
Yeah?

Speaker 2 (24:07):
Forgot, we haven't taken a break yet, So we'll take
a break, we'll come back and we'll pick up with
Italy's second push into Ethiopia in the nineteen thirties. Right
after this.

Speaker 1 (24:43):
Okay, so about five years after Holly Selassie or i
should say Tafari McConnon became Holly Selassie, Italy came a
call in again. Remember you said that Italy had Eric
to kind of the north and the east and Somaliland

(25:03):
to the south in the east. Is that correct? Still?

Speaker 2 (25:06):
Yeah, and they wanted to build a railroad through Ethiopia
to connect those.

Speaker 1 (25:10):
Okay, So again, by this time, Mussolini has come to
power in Italy and he has revived national pride. That's
a big thing that you'll see in history. Fascism tends
to follow a major humiliation of a country on a
world stage, like Germany was humiliated in the Treaty after

(25:32):
World War One and just really punished, and fascism developed
out of that. Italy lost a lot of standing as
a colonial European power after it was beaten back by
Ethiopia in the nineteenth century. Fascism followed after that. You
really want to be careful about stuff like that, not
addressing the fascism that can follow, and this is another

(25:54):
example of that. So Mussolini came along and he's like, hey,
you remember the time that Ethiopia defeated US, Well, we're
going to make that up. We're going to go invade
Ethiopia again, and this time we're going to do it
with industrial warfare.

Speaker 2 (26:08):
Yeah, it was a much different deal. This time. They
had far better equipment and weaponry and ammunition. I believe
they were still maybe technically outnumbered, but the way Ethiopians
were fighting was sort of outdated to the war machine
of Italy at this point. So it was it was
a real David versus Goliath kind of situation. So this

(26:33):
is when Selassie has a real chance to kind of
take center stage internationally, even more so by you know,
started you know, sort of rattling the chains of the
League of Nations, which Italy was a member of as well. Yeah,
saying like, hey, what's going on here? Is it right?
We need some help. It was called the Obscenia crisis,

(26:57):
Obscenia being the exonym for Ethiopia that US all used
basically more than Ethiopia and my research. And it was
a dark time in this war. They were getting beaten
down really badly. He was exiled because the Italians were
literally encroaching to the capital. So he went to French

(27:19):
Somaliland in May of nineteen thirty six, which effectively ended
the war, like least as far as Italy's concerned. They
were like, the war is over and we won.

Speaker 1 (27:31):
Yeah, and now we're occupying Ethiopia. Like you said, we won.
The way that they won was through mustard gas. It
was essentially a huge campaign of muster gas. There were massacres,
they set up concentration camps. It was a horrible occupation,
just exactly the kind you would expect from like a
first half of the twentieth century colonizing power. And yet

(27:56):
they historians still say that Ethiopian never was colonized. It
was occupied by Italy, but they didn't get a chance
to colonize, which is often follows occupation. They just remained
in the occupation stage for about five years. And over
the course of that five years, Selassie was in exile.

(28:17):
I think he was in bath, England, where he ran
a government in absentia and still kind of tried to
keep his rule going, but from outside the country which
was occupied by the Italians, which is tougher than it
even sounds.

Speaker 2 (28:32):
Yeah, totally, So he is sort of rattling the saber
to the League of Nations, so much so that Time
magazine named him Man of the Year in nineteen thirty five.
But the problem was is that Europe was still courting
Italy at this point. They weren't They hadn't fully jumped
over to Germany side, and so they were sort of

(28:53):
on a sort of a high wire there trying to
court Italy. And even though they're a member of the
League of Nations and they were attacking another member of
the League of Nations, they didn't want to do anything
to tick off Italy too much. So the new British
Foreign Secretary guy named Samuel Horr got into private talks

(29:13):
with the French Prime Minister Pierre Laval, and they came
up with the Horror Laval Pact, which essentially said, Ethiopia,
if you give up basically half of your land to Italy,
we can make the fighting stop. They never released it,
but it was leaked to the press and there was outrage,
of course, and it essentially was sort of the first

(29:37):
blow to what would be the death of the League
of Nations.

Speaker 1 (29:40):
Yeah, I think another thing that Holly Selassie's speech did
to contribute to the League of Nations was to basically
point out like, hey, you guys aren't doing anything that
you agreed to do, Like all of you condemned Italy's
invasion as a straight up invasion. And here I am
to ask you to help me buy arms. Don't even
give me, just give me money so I can go

(30:00):
buy arms, and you still won't do it. What's the
use of this thing? So that was another blow to it.
And then subsequently Highly Selassie became even more I guess,
kind of respected on the world stage. That speech was
a huge watershed moment in his rule, in his lifetime,

(30:21):
even he became essentially celebrity, like you said, Time magazine
named a Man of the Year. Apparently there was an
expression in America around that time that developed that was, well,
if that's so, then I'm highly Selassie. And then there
was a song too. Olivia helps us with this. She
turned up a mention of him in a shanty and

(30:42):
old shantytown. I'd be just as sassy as highly Selassie
if I were a king.

Speaker 2 (30:49):
So things are not going well. He is, like you said.
He went from Prince Somaliland in exile to England and
then finally in nineteen forty one, World War two as
well underway. And this is well after Italy had joined
up with the Germans and England, you know, finally helps

(31:09):
out mainly because Italy and Germany had threatened British territory
in Africa. England finally steps up in nineteen forty one
and says, all right, well you're going to help you
out here because we're sort of threatened as well. We
have some area here in the Sudan, and so we're
going to help you assemble an army here and take

(31:31):
back your capital.

Speaker 1 (31:32):
Yes, so that was a huge deal. It was not
just the British Army, but the British Army working in
conjunction with these fighters that were assembled in Somaliland. And
there was a guy who doesn't get his due, Lorenzo
teaz Oz, who on behalf of Selassie, organized this basically

(31:53):
guerrilla army that fought against the Italians and ended up winning,
pushing the Italians out of Ethiopium back into Eritrea.

Speaker 2 (32:05):
That's right, and so he came back May fifth, nineteen
forty one, returned to the capitol, gave a big speech saying,
you know, we need to get the Italians out of here.
But we need to do it in a way that's
not like they were doing things, because you know, we're
above that kind of thing. And so he's finally back
on his throne. He begins in the early nineteen forties

(32:29):
to abolish slavery. I think in nineteen forty two is
when they say he officially abolished it, but it took
a long time for it to completely, you know, get
removed from the system. But you know, like I said,
in nineteen twenty three is when they said, hey, get
rid of slavery. So that was a couple of decades.

Speaker 1 (32:49):
Yeah. And Marcus Garvey, who as we'll see, played a
huge role in the development of the cult of personality
for Higley Selassie, was turned out to be pretty critical
of him, and for one reason was because Selassie allowed
slavery to continue for decades after he became the ruler
of Ethiopia and Garvey. That didn't sit well with Garvey.

(33:11):
He also called him a coward for leaving Ethiopia to
go run the government in Absentia. You can definitely see
both points of view for him staying or going. And
it worked out because he sat back on his throne
again five years to the day after the Italians invaded.
But regardless of how that happened, when he came back

(33:32):
to rule again in nineteen forty one, he was more
well thought of by Ethiopians and the rest of the
world alike than he was even before the Italian invasion.
So he got back to modernizing again, and he put
his foot on the gas I think a little harder

(33:53):
than he should. I think he was really trying to
make up for the enormous setback that the Italian occupation
had created.

Speaker 2 (33:59):
Yeah, also a lot of internal strife within Ethiopia after
the United States actually stepped up and helped unite Eritrea
with Ethiopia again in nineteen fifty two. One thing it
did was it gave Ethiopia access to the Red Sea,
which was a big deal, but it wasn't a true

(34:19):
like unification. Eritrea remained had like an independent government in
a lot of ways, still highly Selassie did not like this.
He wanted more control, and in nineteen sixty two he
dissolved their parliament and basically sort of annexed them, which
led to the creation of the Eritrean Liberation Front the

(34:42):
ELF and basically three decade internal civil war of you know,
kind of constant uprisings within Ethiopia from the Eritreans.

Speaker 1 (34:53):
Yeah, Eritrea finally regained its independence and I think nineteen
ninety four years and years of essentially civil war. Because
again we were talking at the outset of this that
these were groups of different people. These were different ethnic
groups that had lived in the same area but had
now been put under unification. They were all now considered Ethiopians,

(35:16):
but they had their own ethnic consciousness and they did not.
A lot of them did not like being considered Ethiopians.
I think the Ormo people in particular bristled at the
idea the most because they had the largest population in Ethiopia.
And yet the Amhara people of which Hiley Selassie was

(35:37):
one and the whole Solomonic dynasty was from the Amhara people.
They were the ones who were ruling things. So imagine that.
Imagine that this other group that you've been kind of
rivals with for centuries now is telling your group exactly
what to do, where to live, which taxing you, is
saying you're with us now, whether you like it or not.

(36:00):
That was the kind of like internal strife that was
just kind of rubbing Ethiopia at the edges throughout the
entire the entirety of the highly selassies rule.

Speaker 2 (36:12):
Yeah for sure, And like you said, he's got his
foot on the gas. In the nineteen fifties, in particular,
in fifty five, they passed a new, a brand new,
brand spanking new, very shiny constitution, further modernizing the judiciary
for one. This time, parliament was elected by the people,

(36:32):
more human rights were guaranteed, but it was still not
like a Western style democracy. Highly Selassi was still very
much in charge and more popular than ever on the
international stage. He's all of a sudden visiting the United States.
I believe FDR invited him after World War Two, but

(36:52):
he never went. So he finally came at Eisenhower's behest,
had a ticker tape parade in Manhattan. Highly Selassie went
to a Yankees game, went to Yosemite National Park, just
does this big, like kind of pr tour through America.
It's really interesting, Yeah for sure.

Speaker 1 (37:12):
And again like this guy was like Americans couldn't believe
what they were seeing. Like this is a time where
there was still like segregation in America and here's this
black African leader's who just revered in the United States.
It's just like cognitive dissonance. But they were just thrilled
by this guy, right, so highly Selassie ate that stuff up.

(37:32):
He loved that. One of the big criticisms of him
in retrospect, and I think even at the time, was
that his preferred company were Europeans and Americans and other
people of wealthy countries. That's who he liked to rub
elbows with. That's who was invited to the parties that
he threw in the royal palaces. He didn't he didn't

(37:54):
seem to think that much about the people he ruled
and who essentially gave him all the power that he had,
that he went and used to basically enrich himself in
his own image.

Speaker 2 (38:08):
I think that's a great setup for a break.

Speaker 1 (38:11):
Yeah, oh sure, yeah, I don't like to toot my
own horn, So you just put me on the spot,
all right.

Speaker 2 (38:18):
We'll be right back after this, all right. So when

(38:44):
we left off, you were talking about the fact that
Hayley Selassie was very popular internationally, not so much or
not as much at home at least like with everybody.
He had factions of people who loved him in Ethiopia,
but it was complicated and.

Speaker 1 (39:00):
They were probably mostly from the Amhara ethnic group too, remember.

Speaker 2 (39:03):
Yeah, for sure. So he's got a situation sort of
where he's getting older, he's trying to push progressive ideals
that are popular with the young people, not as popular
with the older guard, of course, and that creates a
lot of internal strife. And he's also got this sort

(39:24):
of ongoing problem with the Elf. All these ethnicities mixed together,
there's going to be some strife. And finally, in December
nineteen sixty, he was in Brazil and members of his
imperial bodyguard staged a coup and they proclaimed that his
son Selassie son Crown Prince Asphal Wolsen, was the new emperor.

(39:48):
There were about four days of violence in about three
hundred deaths, but it was suppressed and those leaders the
formal imperial bodyguards were killed. And this really change things
as far as sort of setting up the last couple
of decades of Selassie's rule and reign as as basically

(40:09):
a police state.

Speaker 1 (40:11):
Yeah, and yet he still was a shrewd ruler, internal
ruler that the coup had set up shop in the
Royal Palace while he was away, and he donated that
royal palace to establish the university, the first university in Ethiopia,
which became a Disa Baba University, which is a highly

(40:33):
respected university today. And so like it was a it
was a really shrewd move on his part, basically placate
the young intelligensia, who were definitely part of that coup,
if not you know, in physically, at least in spirit.
So they were they were like, Okay, we're getting a university.

(40:54):
And at the same time, he knows he's taking his
foot off the modernizing gas and he needs to basically
consult his power even further, probably take them back and
remind everybody that he's still emperor.

Speaker 2 (41:06):
Yeah, for sure. One of the truly seems like great
things he did was in nineteen sixty three when he
led the movement to establish the Organization of African Unity THEAU,
which was basically thirty two African nations that had won
independence at that time getting together establishing this union, I

(41:28):
believe it's now called the African Union. And you know,
they had bold, you know, pretty great objectives. They wanted
to improve life for Africans, they wanted to protect the
sovereignty of the countries that had won their independence, and
he was of course chosen as the first president of
the OAU, And he was in his seventies at this point,

(41:49):
like he was getting on up there in age. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (41:52):
And it's ironic because he was like an elder statesman
compared to the much younger, generally democratic leaders that were
the other that made up the rest of the African
Union countries, right, And they were there, all those younger
rulers were there, or leaders, I should say, they weren't
rulers because this wave of decolonization had been kicked off

(42:14):
by Ghana and I think the early sixties, and so
that was one of the purposes of the African Union,
or at first the OAU, was to basically say, okay,
we need to like level set again. This is a
new continent. We're taking it back, we're setting up new
governments and all that. So it's kind of ironic that
Higley Selassie was the first president of the Organization of

(42:35):
African Unity because he was exactly the kind of person
who was being toppled elsewhere around Africa, except he was
not toppled because he had never been colonized. Although other
groups in Ethiopia considered him a colonizer. He managed to
survive that wave and strangely was made the president of

(42:57):
the OAU.

Speaker 2 (42:58):
Yeah. I think it was just because he was such
a popular worldwide popular figure, is what I can figure.
So it almost seemed like it was like it was
just sort of destined to be that he would be
their first president, even though if they really thought about it,
and I don't even know if they held a vote,

(43:18):
actually I meant to look that up, yeah, or if
he was basically just like, I'll be president, right.

Speaker 1 (43:23):
Right, he called president first, I call it.

Speaker 2 (43:27):
So toward the end of his run, more criticism coming
him way from within Ethiopia. Their inflation is really high,
there are people living in poverty. Any descent was squash squashed,
Leaders of descent disappeared. He still had a positive view

(43:48):
internationally through all of this somehow, but that was not
the truth of the matter back home.

Speaker 1 (43:54):
No, and that kind of stuff was making people bristle
further and further, not just the other ethnic groups like
the Oromo or the Somalis, but like even people in
his own you know, his own group. They were they
there was a huge problem. No matter how good a ruler.

(44:15):
He was viewed as there was always going to be
a people who were saying, it's the nineteen sixties and
we still have an emperor. Can we look any more backwards?
Just that alone, yeah, kind of put a time limit
on how much longer he was going to rule. But
then that whole kind of crackdown phase of his rule
also really really had a huge hit on his popularity

(44:37):
too among other quarters.

Speaker 2 (44:39):
Yeah, he was like when I was thirteen, man, emperors
were all the rage.

Speaker 1 (44:44):
Yeah, that's a great point that when he came into power,
that was that was normal. But he stayed in power
for so long that he outlived the age of emperors.

Speaker 2 (44:53):
Weirdly sixty something years. The other problem, or another problem,
was the fact that he as emperor had a very lavish, luxurious,
some say wasteful lifestyle, which was not a popular thing
to do when your country is struggling in a lot

(45:13):
of ways, certainly when they were hit by their second
really huge famine at the beginning of nineteen seventy two.
This was a famine in the Wallow Province where eventually,
over the course of three years, by nineteen seventy five,
more than I saw up to two hundred and fifty thousand,
maybe two hundred thousand people died. And he's how much

(45:36):
did he was his birthday party? Thirty something million dollars.

Speaker 1 (45:39):
I spent thirty five million dollars on his eightieth birthday
party in nineteen seventy two while this famine was going on.

Speaker 2 (45:46):
Yeah, right in the middle of this thing, there was
actual food being I'm not sure what, but there was
food being produced and Walla and he was exporting it
elsewhere at the time.

Speaker 1 (45:57):
Yeah, somebody pointed out I can't remember which article it was,
maybe one from London School of Economics that said, like
the areas that experienced famine and Ethiopia were the ones
that were the most restless against his rule.

Speaker 2 (46:11):
Oh. Interesting, Like there was one.

Speaker 1 (46:13):
Region that he asked the Brits the bomb in nineteen
forty two while they were there, like, hey, before you go,
do you mind bombing this restless region up to the north.
I think it might have been the Waller region. Yeah, Like,
if you messed with him, there was a good chance
that you were going to suffer some sort of famine
and exporting the food that you were producing. Again, feudal society,

(46:37):
you could do that kind of thing that would be
a great way to guarantee you famine. And then even
without meddling in it directly, whether he did or not,
he definitely tried to downplay it internally and externally because
he didn't want it to tarnish his reputation. Apparently he
was mad at the people in the famine stricken areas
for starving because it looked it reflected badly in him.

Speaker 2 (47:00):
Yeah, it's not a good look. So things are unraveling,
and it's pretty clear that it's unraveling a lot of
protesters happening. All of a sudden, the union, the labor
force has gone on strike. This is in nineteen seventy four.
And finally, in the summer of nineteen seventy four, a
group called the DIRG, the Provisional Military Administrative Council, which

(47:25):
were this wasn't upper military brass. They were relatively low
ranking officers and officials. They seize power in nineteen seventy four.
It was a coup and in September of nineteen seventy
four they deposed him, placed him under house arrest and said,
your son, who previously was named emperor, even though that

(47:47):
never happened, was named emperor once again for a very
short time, from the summer of seventy four to March
of seventy five, when the DIRG abolished the Ethiopian monarchy altogether.

Speaker 1 (48:01):
Yes, so highly. Selassie is still living in the Royal Palace,
but now he's under house arrest essentially, and the DIG
this new government is led by a guy named Mangiestu
hall Mariam, and they created what was known as a
Red Terror like they essentially said we're no, no, committed

(48:23):
tons and tons of war crimes like killed thousands of people,
tortured tens of thousands of more, and basically said we're
not We're not with the US any longer. We're now
with the Soviet Union and we're just redoing everything in
the most bloody way possible. Unfortunately, they held power for
the next twenty years. It wasn't until they were deposed

(48:43):
in nineteen ninety four and replaced by a more democratic
government that they were charged with all the horrible atrocities
that they had. But long before that happened, while the
DIRG was just brand new, Holly Selassie was reported as dead,
I think in August of nineteen seventy five. He was
found dead in his little apartment in the Royal Palace,

(49:06):
and the leaders were like, yeah, he had a prostate
operation a couple of months ago and probably was a
complication from that, but anyway, it's Ethiopian tradition to bury
people within twenty four hours, so we're going to do
it in twelve.

Speaker 2 (49:19):
Yeah, it was. I think that the inside story was
that he was strangled by Dirk soldiers. It seems pretty
obvious he was gotten rid of. I think there were
some people that said that he was in the Crown Prince.
Actually his son said, you know, he was in pretty
good help as far as I knew before he died,

(49:40):
So I know he was eighty three, but he was
not dying. No.

Speaker 1 (49:45):
There was another long standing rumor that he had been
smothered with a pillow. But yes, in just the way
that he had dispatched the Empress before him. It seems
he had been dispatched as well by the Dirk. And
then in probably the most insulting way your remains can
be handled. They found that after Mariam was deposed in

(50:08):
nineteen ninety two, that he had been buried under the
laboratory in the Royal Palace.

Speaker 2 (50:15):
Yeah, with a v laboratory.

Speaker 1 (50:18):
Yeah, that's what it sounds like.

Speaker 2 (50:20):
You said, laboratory.

Speaker 1 (50:21):
No.

Speaker 2 (50:21):
No, So that is highly Silassie. But we of course
have to close by talking about reggae, right.

Speaker 1 (50:29):
Yeah, because there's a lot of people out there, especially
in Jamaica, who said he didn't really die and those
weren't his bones that they found and reburied.

Speaker 2 (50:37):
Yeah. If you you know, we mentioned early in the
thing Rastafari. Rastafarian theology is basically a reference to his
identity as God as the Messiah. African descended people in
Jamaica had combined elements of Christianity other different religions in Africa.

(51:00):
And this is also during the Back to Africa movement
when there were you know, potentially some people in Jamaica
that were like, no, we need to go back to
the homeland.

Speaker 1 (51:08):
Yeah, and I said, Marcus Garvey figures big into the
cold of personality around Holly Selassie. That's largely because in
the nineteen twenties, Marcus Garvey predicted that when a black
king shall be crowned in Africa, the day of deliverance
is at hand and that basically black people would be free,
and that Ethiopia was that whole location that you wanted
to go to if you were going back to Africa.

(51:30):
And it just had a huge impact on Jamaica in
part because on Coronation Day the rains came that ended
a long standing drought in Jamaica, and they were like, man,
this Garvey cat knows what he's talking about. And they
became hyper focused on Holly Selassie. So his Coronation Day
was the holiest day or is the holiest day November

(51:52):
second in the Rastafarian religion. And we keep saying religion
and theology. That's because Rastafarians believed that Holly Selassee was
God incarnate and still is if you believe that he
didn't actually die and that he followed in a line
of I can't remember an ancient priest, Jesus and then

(52:16):
Holly Selassie were the incarnations of God here on earth.

Speaker 2 (52:20):
Yeah, and he never claimed to be that. I think
I've seen that he didn't expressly deny it either. I
think he only went to Jamaica one time though, so
it wasn't like I don't know, it's a very interesting
thing that I don't fully understand, to be honest.

Speaker 1 (52:39):
Well, that time that he went to Jamaica in nineteen
sixty three. That's the second holiest day in the Rastafarian religion.
They call it ground Nation Day. And one hundred thousand
Rastafarians showed up, and we're just like trying to tear
the plane apart to get him out of there, because
they wanted to see him so badly, like it was
a big deal. And because so the Rasafarians had generally

(53:01):
been mocked and made fun of by other Jamaicans for
the last few decades, like they've been following Highy Selassie
as their savior for thirty years by then, And after
he came and Jamaica got to see, like, oh, this
guy's actually pretty cool. A lot more people became Rastafarians,
including one woman named Rita Anderson who converted after Holly

(53:25):
Selassie's visit and she became Rita Marley.

Speaker 2 (53:28):
Yeah, oh man, this one was a lot.

Speaker 1 (53:32):
It was a lot. Yeah, And he lives on in reggae.
If you want to learn more about Holly Selassie, you
can listen to a bunch of reggae. You can go
read historical accounts, you can read all sorts of stuff
about him, and you'll get just this hugely complex, complicated picture.

Speaker 2 (53:48):
Yeah, for sure, I hope he did a good job.
You know what this one did is it as I
was researching it, it laid bare just how little African
history you're taught in an American school.

Speaker 1 (54:03):
Yeah. I mean that's one of the reason we wanted
to do this, is just to kind of shake that
up a little bit at least.

Speaker 2 (54:08):
Oh no, for sure. But usually when we're researching other
types of history, it's like, yeah, I've sort of heard
this here and there. I don't fully remember, but like,
this was a ground up learning experience for me. I
knew nothing about the history of Ethiopia, so really interesting
stuff it is.

Speaker 1 (54:25):
Is also kind of exciting too, because that means that
there's a whole continent with the rich history that we
haven't even begun to tap into. You know, yeah, totally
look out for more in twenty twenty four. That's right,
if you want to know more about Highley Selassie. I
think I just explained how you could do that, which
means that we've already I guess begun.

Speaker 2 (54:44):
Listener mail, that's right. This is on ap classes from
our episode on What was that specifically about?

Speaker 1 (54:56):
I think that was the pig Malian Effect episode.

Speaker 2 (54:58):
Yeah, yeah, yeah, that's right. Hey, guys, I'm a high
school teacher at a public school in suburban Cincinnata. I
currently teach AP human geography and AP World History. I've
also taught APUs history, AP government, and AP psychology in
the past. Just so you know, the big trend and
AP across the country the last decade plus has been
to open it up to as many students as possible.

(55:20):
We still have a teacher, we still have teacher recommendations
for AP class at our school, but if any kid
wants to take a certain AP class, they can. For
the most part, classes like AP human geography are certainly
more accessible for a lot of students in a class
that requires a lot of prerequisite knowledge like apchemistry. In general, though,
AP classes have changed a lot since the nineties and

(55:43):
are far less exclusive than they once were. And of course,
I'm sure it was like this and you were there.
You had a test to get into an AP class, right.

Speaker 1 (55:51):
Oh yeah, yeah, they just thought they didn't stink at
at all.

Speaker 2 (55:56):
That's right. Thanks for all you do, guys. Listen to
all the episodes and I include what I learned from
you into my classes. Whenever I can. And that is
from Connor teacher in Cincinnati.

Speaker 1 (56:09):
That's awesome. I really hope that some of those AP
teachers who thwarted me time and time again are alive
to see that our work is being used in AP classes.
That's right, man, what a turn of events.

Speaker 2 (56:21):
Huh you showed them.

Speaker 1 (56:23):
If you want to be like Connor and give us
some great information that will just make our day. We
love to hear that kind of stuff. You can wrap
it up, spank it on the bottom, and send it
off to stuff podcast at iHeartRadio dot com.

Speaker 2 (56:39):
Stuff you Should Know is a production of iHeartRadio. For
more podcasts my heart Radio, visit the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts,
or wherever you listen to your favorite shows.

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