To make a long story short, Haile Selassie was the emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 through 1974.
Faces Of Africa – Haile Selassie: The pillar of Ethiopia, part 1 & 2
Though he died almost four decades ago, Haile Selassie’s legacy remains strong and valid. “Faces of Africa” sought to unearth the events and memories of the man who dared to confront The League of Nations, now UN, pleading for their support in conquering the Italians who were preparing to attack Ethiopia.
As biographical documentaries go, this one is hagiography (it’s here, Shane). Only near the very end of the film is it noted that Haile Selassie failed to resolve many domestic issues, particularly a feudal rural economy. Economic dislocations borne of the 1973 oil crisis sealed his fate.
Two subsidiary matters are as interesting as the documentary itself.
First, its maker: CCTV Africa, the “African bureau of CCTV News, the English-language news channel run by Chinese state broadcaster China Central Television.”
For David Bandurski of the China Media Project at Hong Kong University, CCTV Africa is part of China’s bid to beef up its “soft power” strategy, a notion that first emerged with President Hu Jintao in 2007 and aims to win influence abroad by appeal and exchanges rather than threats or force.
Second, perhaps the primary reason why Haile Selassie remains relevant outside of Ethiopia, four decades after his death.
Today, Haile Selassie is worshipped as God incarnate among followers of the Rastafari movement (taken from Haile Selassie’s pre-imperial name Ras—meaning Head, a title equivalent to Duke—Tafari Makonnen), which emerged in Jamaica during the 1930s under the influence of Marcus Garvey’s “Pan Africanism” movement.
Now you know.
For an even stiffer does of unquestioning worship, there’s this.
Amazingly, the interwebz reveal exactly when it first aired.
The Lion of Judah, Tuesday’s Documentary on BBC One London (22 June 1971; 21.20)
A film by Anthony de Lotbiniere
The story of a living legend – His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia
Tracing his descent from King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba this tiny old man now nearing 80 looks back on a reign that has brought Ethiopia out of the Dark Ages, and on a life which more than any other man’s symbolises Africa’s emergence into the 20th century.