In 1916 he became Prince Ras Tafari Makonnen and heir to the throne after leading a revolution against the ruler Lij Eysu.
In 1928 he was crowned King and in 1930 Emperor. His constitution limited the power of parliament. However, the constitution failed and Haile Selassie fled to Britain.
From 1935 till 1941 were the Abyssinian War and the occupation by the Italian troops.
In 1941 Haile Selassie regained power with the support of Britain.
In 1974 he was deposed by a committee of left-wing army officers because of social problems in the country which Haile Selassie lost control over.
The Rastafarian religion's belief is that Haile Selassie was the Messiah. Rastafarians are found in Black Africa, Jamaica, USA, Canada and Britain.
Rasta means pride and 'Lion of Judah' was one of Haile Selassie's titles. The lion is part of the emblem for Rastafarians and is symbolic for pride and courage. The thick dreadlocks represent the lion's mane therefore the lion is mentioned many times in songs and poems.
The Rastafarian came from Jamaica from illiterate, dispossessed lower classes in 1930. These people were very poor and had no hope to improve their living standard for themselves and their children. Marcus Garvey started preaching that black people should return to their native Africa. He is regarded as the founder of the Rastafarian's movement.
A major reason for the acceptance of the teaching, amongst other stricken groups, is the concentration on spiritual contentment, hope and deliverance from oppression. However, their belief has no set congregation, no paid clergy and no single clear doctrine of all their beliefs. Therefore, there are variations in beliefs and practice.
Nevertheless, there are six fundamental beliefs:
1) Haile Selassie is the returning Messiah and the living god. -- He was adopted by the Rastafarians as a god and they called him Jah. It is Selassie's name Ras (Prince) and Tafari where Selassie came from, the house of Tafari which gave the religion the name.
2) They also believe that black people are the reincarnation of the ancient Israelites who were exiled to Jamaica. -- To them the word 'Israelite' means the same an Ethiopian. They follow the ways of the Israelites. No cutting, or shaving and have mainly a vegetarian diet. They believe that they were punished by God for their sins into slavery and exiled to Jamaica. Now they believe that God has forgiven them and they should return to Ethiopia but are held back by treachery.
3) White people are inferior to black people. -- The is a teaching from Garvey and refers to his work 'African Fundamentalism'. The idea originated from the days of slaves and slaves trade. However, it meant that not all white people are evil and have to be judge individual.
4) Ethiopia is the land of their destiny, while Jamaica is an inferno of exploitation and repression. -- They believe that they belong to Ethiopia. Since the vast majority come from the deprived areas, they feel that Jamaica has nothing for them. Therefore, they don't want anything to do with Jamaica and only waiting for repatriation to their promised land.
5) The divine Emperor is making arrangements for all Rastafarians to return to Ethiopia. -- They spent their life waiting and hoping for the call to return. In 1966 when Selassi came to Jamaica it was believed that he came to finalize the repatriation. After nothing happened the younger Rastafarians realizing that it will not be and the new independent Jamaica is developing as the land of the Rastafarians.
6) Blacks shall one day rule the world. -- This idea comes from Daniel 2:31-42. They look back to ancient history to support their faith. They also looking back to the time before the European arrive in Africa, as a golden age. Rastafarians believe that whites destroy themselves through war.
Music was always part of the African culture and the Rastafarian movement. They could express their feelings and the dream of returning to Africa. A very famous singer Robert Nesta Marley born in 6 February 1945 brought to the world reggae music. He sang for about 10 years before he became world famous with his album 'Natty Dream' in 1975. His songs were about social injustice but also sang songs about the Rasta god Jah Rastafari. Unfortunately, he was only 36 years old when he died of cancer in 1981. Nowadays, he is regarded as a prophet by his followers.