Saturday, 25 June 2016

Sources of Inspiration for His Majesty Haile Sellassie I

The Emperor at Debre Zeit

The first and greatest source of inspiration for Tafari Makonnen throughout His life was undoubtedly His deep devotion to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and His love for the Ethiopian Ible and documents related to Christian history.

On the other side He throughout His life, also had a profound penchant for Western Philosophy and the rise of European civilization. He had a library of books written primarily in Latin; hidden away in the Debre Zeit palace just outside the capital. Only the Emperor and His servants were allowed to enter this space. There He would spend many hours reading.

He had a list of seven men that inspired him. The first two were most important because of their roles as kings or leaders of new empires, men who wanted to do things differently from the norm – like He HIMself. They were Frederick the Great of Prussia and Napoleon Bonaparte of France. Voltaire and Goethe, Machiavelli, Augustine of Hippo, Thomas á Kempis, make up the other five.

Frederick the Great was the model of the enlightened ruler and liberal philosopher. It was him that inspired the Emperor to adapt an attitude of religious tolerance. The Emperor adopted Prussian values such as hiring “independent judges, incorruptible civil servants and a disciplined army.” Like Frederick the Great, the Emperor loved animals and detested hunting.

His Majesty saw Napoleon Bonaparte as a great legislator and used Napoleon’s rule and his Code Napoléon for inspiration in establishing Ethiopian legal codes. Napoleon was a combination of the modern man with the person of the emperor, someone loved by the whole population.

Source: The Mission by Hans Wilhelm Lockot 1993, pg 2-3

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