Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Parentage: The Mother

Woyzero (Lady) Yeshimebet Ali Gonshar was the mother of Tafari Makonnen/Emperor Haile Sellassie I. Yeshimebet means “Lady of a thousand.”

She was the daughter of an Oromo nobleman from Woreilu Wollo, Dejazmatch Ali Abba Jiffar.

This Wollo princess was widely renowned for her charm and beauty.

In 1876 Ras Makonnen Wolde Mikael left his first wife and married princess Yeshimebet because he became totally smitten with her. They were wed in a Christian ceremony

Not much else is published about Woyzero Yeshimebet. Her life was noted however, to have been shadowed by her inability to provide a family for the Ras of Harar. She suffered through nine unsuccessful pregnancies, where the babies were either stillborn or died shortly after birth. It wasn’t until her tenth pregnancy that she presented a healthy heir to Ras Makonnen, their only child together Tafari Makonnen.

It is said that (like the Mothers of Nazarites in the Scripture, who gave birth to great leaders of Israel), Yeshimebet was told in a dream to name the son she was carrying, “Tafari” “one to be feared.” For this pregnancy she was closely watched by the priesthood, and sent to Ras Makonnen’s country house at Ejersa Goro to give birth there. It was to protect her from catching typhoid during the rainy season.

When her son was still a toddler, at twenty months old, Yeshimebet died in child birth on the 14th March in 1894. She was in her thirties. In the film “Man of the Millenium” it is shown that her grave currently rests under a house. This is of course a sad and unsuitable end for the mother of the greatest King of this millennium.

Sources: King of Kings by Asfa-Wossen Asserate, A Glimpse of Greatness by Abebe Ambatchew, Haile Sellassie I the Formative Years by Harold G. Marcus and Makonnen Wolde Mikael on Wikipedia.

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