Amongst followers of Rastafarianism, a religion which developed in the 1930s in Jamaica under the influence of Marcus Garvey’s “Back to Africa” movement, Haile Selassie I is regarded as a messiah who will lead the peoples of Africa and the African diaspora to freedom. The date of his coronation is celebrated by believers throughout the world as one of the most sacred days of the Rastafarian calendar.
Haile Selassie’s birthname was Tafari Mekonnen. When he was crowned Emperor in 1930, he assumed the name Haile Selassie, “might of the trinity”, as well as the title “King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah.”
He reigned until 1974, when he was deposed in a military coup following famines and economic turmoil in the country. Put under house arrest by the military authorities, he died in 1975, reputedly of natural causes, although many believe that he may have been killed on the order of the military. Rastafarians themselves believe that Selassie is still alive, and that his widely reported death is part of a conspiracy to discredit their religion.