Thursday, 12 December 2013

Menelik II

100 years ago, December 12, Menelik II died. He was the most unusual Emperor of Ethiopia and one of the strangest head of state in history.

Future Emperor of Ethiopia was born August 17, 1844 in Angolala, Shewa. He was baptized as Sahle Maryam.

He became Negus of Shewa in 1866 and was proclaimed a descendant of the legendary Queen of Sheba and King Solomon.

On 10 March 1889, Emperor Yohannes was killed in a war near Gallabat. Sahle Maryam was crowned as Negusa Nagast (Negus of Neguses) Menelik II.

Menelik II and his retainers

He was criticized in Europe for his victory over the Italian colonizers. He was first African king in modern history to engage in slavery of white European war captives held as slaves inside Ethiopia.

Monument of Menelik II

But he gained notoriety in Africa. Also Menelik II became the first Pan-Africanist. Born as future negus of small Shewa he converted a group of independent kingdoms into United States of Abyssinia, today known as Ethiopia.

Monument today

Probably Menelik II is one of the most powerful black persons in history until Mandela and Obama. He died December 12, 1913, aged 69, and was buried in Baeta Le Mariam Monastery. Iyasu V became his successor which was designated but uncrowned Negus.

It is interesting to note that a young man who in 1911 married Menelik's daughter Wayzaro Menen was Tafari Makonnen Woldemikael would later become last emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie.

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