What Do Ronald Reagan and Haile Selassie Have in Common?

Above: The men governed two different worlds in separate era, but their mark on global politics have stood the test of time.

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, Febraury 6, 2011

New York (TADIAS) – In remembrance of President Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday (Sunday, Febraury 6), TIME Magazine lists 25 other political icons from around the world that match Regan’s charisma or share similar historical status for having left enduring impressions on global affairs.

The list is an eclectic collection of inspirational leaders, freedom fighters, reformers as well as dictators and monarchs. Among those highlighted include The Egyptian Queen Cleopatra, Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, Mohandas Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher, Abraham Lincoln, Charles de Gaulle, Ernesto “Che” Guevara, Simón Bolívar, Kim Il-Sung, Vladimir Lenin, Benito Mussolini, Mao Zedong, Franklin Roosevelt, and last but not least Haile Selassie.

Regarding the Ethiopian Emperor, TIME stated: “That he was ultimately deposed by a military discontented with his regime should not eclipse his contribution to African solidarity. Selassie gave Ethiopia its first constitution and convened the earliest meeting of the Organization of African Unity.” Historians also agree that while celebrated abroad as the father of modern Africa, the Emperor’s aloofness towards the impoverished majority in his own country, coupled with his prolonged neglect of reform voices, would eventually bring about the abrupt, unceremonious end to his rule.

Like President Reagan, Haile Selassie exhibited a commanding presence on the world stage. TIME magazine noted that “he is perhaps most widely remembered for the speech he gave before the League of Nations in 1933 as the legions of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini stormed his ill-equipped nation. The League did little to prevent Ethiopia’s defeat, but Selassie’s appeal, uttered movingly in his native Amharic, would serve as a pillar in the struggles against colonialism and fascism. With a firm internationalist bent, the last Ethiopian monarch eventually saw his country become a charter member of the United Nations. A TIME “Man of the Year” who claimed descendance from the biblical King Solomon, he ushered the continent he had unified into a distinctly African modernity.”

Click here to view the full list at TIME.com

Video: Reflecting on Ronald Reagan’s Legacy (PBS)

19 Responses to “What Do Ronald Reagan and Haile Selassie Have in Common?”

  1. 1 antonio Feb 7th, 2011 at 10:57 am

    his majesty did do alot for africa and for ethiopia. Though he was not perfect and made mistakes we should honor him and other african leaders for the good that they accomplish. My hope is ethiopia and other african countries do not forget their past in an ever increasingly global community. Always remember who you are and pass it on the the next genration.

  2. 2 Monica Feb 7th, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    In my opinion, they were both elitist in their own respective ways. They did not really care about regular folks. But there could be no doubt the two were also expert stagemasters, rather than Statesmen.

  3. 3 Tiru Leb Feb 8th, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    We need to appreciate what we had and what we have instead of always complaining and complaining and complaining. Let us appreciate him for the good he did. The bad has been elaborated for long already. thanks for posting.

  4. 4 KALEB Feb 10th, 2011 at 11:57 am

    I think they have absolutely nothing in common.

  5. 5 Jambo Feb 10th, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    One was an autocrat, the other a democrat (as in “freely elected.”). There is a big difference.

  6. 6 abdisa aga Feb 12th, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    Haile is the most outstanding leader in modern history of ethiopia. Is ethiopia under any governance today? For me after him the great people of ethiopia leaderless.

  7. 7 Tsehai Feb 13th, 2011 at 1:24 am

    Atse Haile Selassie was considered modern, liberal leader at one time. The Aristocrats were against his ideas to educate his people. When he wanted to send Ethiopian students to foreign countries, he wanted to send 150, his wife Etege Menen wanted 100 students to go. Ras Kassa said “ye Etge Beza, Ye Teferim Tenzaza. Temerew semetu egnane lemesdeb 50 Ayebekam,” alu. Even though I don’t agree with Ras Kassa he was right that was what happened. Atse Haile Selassie did a lot to Ethiopia. He definitely could have done more. Let’s not forget Ethiopia Had nothing when he came to power. It was dark age. It is unfortunate that his life ended up with tragedy.

  8. 8 Yilma Seleshi Feb 13th, 2011 at 11:59 am

    Haile Selassie ended up like Hosni Mubarak of Egypt because he failed to properly administer his responsibility #1: Pay attention to the deep grievance of your own people. As Abebe Gellaw correctly observes on http://www.abugidainfo.com, “The 1974 Ethiopian revolution swept away the monarchy and the ruthless feudo-capitalist system that had reduced the masses to tenants with no title deeds whose fates were controlled by the archaic ruling class. Land belonged to the Emperor and his cronies making the great majority of the Ethiopian peasantry landless in their own land. It was mainly the anger toward the land tenure system and the hidden hunger in Northern Ethiopia that mobilized so many Ethiopians under the banner of land to the tiller and bread to the hungry.”

    But in many ways history has been kind to the Emperor because of the manner and dignity in which he shouldered the unprovoked and brutal attack on his people by a madman named Benito Mussolini. His speech before the League of Nations, proudly and intentionaly delivered in Amharic, was as timeless as it was prophetic. I am no fan of Haile, but listening to that speech, still gives me chills. We must give credit where it is due.

  9. 9 Gasha Mar 1st, 2011 at 9:21 am

    Monica said: “In my opinion, they were both elitist in their own respective ways. They did not really care about regular folks…”

    Really Monica?! I tell you, whenever the Emperor visited the countryside in Ethiopia(and he did it very often, he made it a matter of honor to visit schools, and handout gifts to students. Many Ethiopians fondly remember the one Birr notes they had recieved from His Majesty as a gift. I don’t remember modern Ethiopian leaders, including mengistu and meles, doing that. In fact they make sure that you are posted far away whenever they get out of their palace.

    Who is elitist?

  10. 10 werede mimi Mar 18th, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Ababa Janohoe, atse h/silasse, was and he will always be the greatest leader of all time in Ethiopia. He got rid of esclavage. He gave the same chance to all ethiopian boys and girls to go to school as well as the unity of Africa, etc.

  11. 11 Eyosias Mesfin Mar 25th, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    The late king have done a lot for the entire continent of Africa and showed the World that all man kind is equal.

  12. 12 Degitu Mar 25th, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    Hi Tsehai, Gasha, Yima and Mimi,

    Liked your comments. They are interesting. Below are my thoughts on the topic:

    From my history lessons, HIM led the country for so many years. The longevity of his rule itself makes characterization of his era very difficult. HIM had both progressive and stagnant periods during his reign. So he was kind of a mixed bag so to speak.

    After all is said and done though, his positive contributions far outweigh his negatives. Of course, he could have done much better than he did. However, his fellow Ethiopians must acknowledge his constraints as well as his good deeds. For example, he has made positive progress in the areas of education, health, construction, etc. His impact on the self esteem, pride and identity of Ethiopians and Africans is immeasurable. Ethiopia, by the way, had the lowest number of political prisoners in the entire world during his time.

    And look what we did to him and his loved ones. We insulted him (Lebaw, Adahariw, Bez bazuge, Shemagelew), we disgraced him, and finally we murdered him in cold blood and threw his body into unmarked grave. We even refused to a few amongst us who wanted to honor and mourn for him. We slaughtered his associates, friends, family members and incarcerated or chased away his kids. We the merciless, we the vengeful, we the Azuro Mayet Yemanechel Angete Bisoch, do not even have the most elementary form of decency to name a single establishment after him in the capital or anywhere else.

    A person who impacted the country and the world very positively in all conceivable spheres of ours and other’s life is now a no-body among us Ethiopians. Thanks to us, thanks to our self-loathing conscience.

    Viva la Africa, viva la Jamaica, Viva la USA for their consistency and untiring effort to give a respectable place in history to HIM.


  13. 13 Duba Mar 26th, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    Ababa Haile was not perfect person. Of course, he had his own shortcomings as do all other leaders and human beings. But he loved Ethiopia and the idea of Ethiopia. He was the best representative for it. In comparison to the two stooges that followed him, he was a hell of a leader.

    Perhaps, we are still paying for the sins we committed against the old man. Egziabher Yiqir yibelen.

    However, it is not too late to give him a State funeral and honor him properly. I am confident that every country in the world (with the understandable exception of Eritrea) will send a rep for the memorial, just like most countries did for his coronation. It will be a hell of an event of forgiveness for the world to watch.

    Then, maybe, the true scent of spring will return to Ethiopia.

  14. 14 Mat Mar 28th, 2011 at 12:17 pm


    I could not say it any better. Reading your comments brought me close to tears because it’s the truth. The strongest part for me is how you used the word “we” in your sentences when describing the problems.

  15. 15 Munit Jun 2nd, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    Haile Selassie was in power for over 6 decades. That’s a very, very long time. No human being should be allowed to rule more than 10 years. That’s even way too much!

  16. 16 Ras Mitat Jun 2nd, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    Ababa Janhoy lezeleam yinuru! Ethiopia Tikdem!

    Jah Love

  17. 17 Garasu Dhuki Jun 3rd, 2011 at 9:54 am

    Haile Selassie:

    He left his country during bad times, running for his life, abdicating his duty in times of needs. This happened when the country was invaded by Italy for the second time; he left to London via Djibouti.

    How could Haile Selassie be compared with Regan? Regan was an elected leader of the free world. Haile Selassie came to power deposing a legitimate king and heir of the throne, Lij Eyasu (aka Joshua). He presided in a country where the people in more than half of the country were landless, serving as day laborers on their own ancestral land. He was a colonizer, ruthless dictator and admired by all parasites he was feeding.

    No wonder many who benefited during his regime would love him. But he was never a hero, no where near that. I owe my freedom to the farmers who fought bravely to fend off Italian invasion. [Not to mention] he hung and killed Belay Zeleke in the freedom square he fought for.

  18. 18 Alemu Aug 11th, 2011 at 9:10 am

    He never ran away! All the patriots of which my grandfather was one, begged him to go because if anything were to happen to him, the people would lose hope and fall to the Italians. The idea that he left to save himself is a complete lie which anyone who experienced the era will debunk for you, anytime! His Imperial Majesty fought for us, we failed him. May God forgive us all.

  19. 19 Abebe Haregewoin Sep 7th, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    There are no two men who are unlike one another than Ronald Reagan and Emperor Haileselassie beggining with their heights and going deeper to their psyches and personal histories. The Emperor was a man of infinite patience and saw his hereditary tenure as the leader of his country in a long and meticulous plan that allowed him to rule unquestioned until almost to the end of a half century rule that ended tragically. During his rule he stage manged his persona and created an aura and presence that reflected his deep felt sense of self importance along with the paraphernalia of power including military titles and uniforms along with the projection of a calm and unperturbed presence. Whereas Reagan came from a less priviledged and working class background and was molded into what he became as the president of the USA through his career as a B movie actor and sometime cowboy. Unlike the emperor he was an effusive man with a sense of camaraderie, joviality and backslapping as part of his personal charm. With age Regan developed a grandfatherly and an avunvular personality that was difficult to mistrust or hate. The emperor until the end projected a sense fo grandeur and respect that even his jailors were unable to dispel. Both men irrespective of whether their detractors will be part of history for entirely different reasons. The Emperor for his long tenure as the leader of the only free nation in Africa during the colonial era and the role he played in the creation of African Unity and Reagan for his brand of celebrated Republican right wing politics. However, nobody can blame either man for being the champion of the poor.

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