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Low key celebration for Selassie anniversary

ADDIS ABABA (AFP) – The magnificent coronation ceremony for Ethiopia’s last emperor Haile Selassie had a global impact, but 80 years on fewer than 100 people gathered on Sunday to mark its anniversary.

No official celebrations have been organised in Ethiopia — just a few dozenRastafarians and some of Selassie’s former aides and officers met in a cultural centre inAddis Ababa to commemorate the coronation on November 2, 1930.

Selassie was deposed in a military coup in 1974, ending his 44-year reign.

“This anniversary is very important for rastas because Haile Selassie is considered to be like a god,” the event organiser Ras Aby Tilahun told AFP.

“But it’s important for Ethiopians to commemmorate this event as well, because it is our history.”

The walls of the centre were hung with pictures of Selassie and the old Ethiopian flag: red, yellow and green with the emperor’s seal, the Lion of Judah, in the middle.

Drums beat and a children’s choir sang hymns to the glory of “Living god, Jah Rastafari”, a title for Selassie, who is seen by Rastafarians as a prophet who rescued black victims of slavery.

General Wasihun Negato, a former tank commander, was presented with Ethiopia’s highest military honour by Selassie himself.

“I respect His Majesty very much. I love him like a father,” he said.

“I’m very proud that the Rastas love him so much. For them he is a living God. It is their right to believe that. But for me he’s not a living God. Only God can live for ever. Haile Selassie was a great man, but not a God.”

Also present was Prince Zarah Yakob, one of Selassie’s great-nephews.

“It is a great honor to have this party in memory of the emperor’s coronation,” he told AFP before being interrupted sharply by his wife.

“The princess is not in favour of me talking to a journalist… Do you want me to sign my name for you?” he asked and then slipped out.

The participants gave their memories of Selassie to a background of reggae music, while outside some children watched the ceremony with curiosity.

Source: AFP

Mission Statement

The mission of EHF is to empower the Ethiopian American community through education, advocacy, service and the development of community-based resources; to build a new social, economic and political community in North America; and to promote the culture and history of Ethiopia.

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