Menen Asfaw was the wife of Emperor Haile Selassie, the last monarch of Ethiopia. She was a respected and influential figure in Ethiopian history, who supported her husband’s reforms, promoted women’s education, and founded several charitable organizations. She died on 15 February 1962, after suffering from a long illness. In this article, we will explore her life, achievements, and cause of death.
Early Life and Marriage
Menen Asfaw was born on 25 March 1889 in Ambassel, Wollo Province, in the Ethiopian Empire.
Menen Asfaw had two previous marriages before she married Ras Tafari Makonnen, the future Emperor Haile Selassie, in 1911. Her first husband was Dejazmach Ali Mohammed of Cherecha, a prominent nobleman of Wollo, with whom she had two children, a daughter and a son. Her second husband was Dejazmach Amede Ali Aba-Deyas, another Wollo nobleman, with whom she also had two children, a daughter and a son.
She met Ras Tafari Makonnen, the governor of Harar and the heir to the throne, at the home of her uncle, Lij Iyasu. According to some sources, Lij Iyasu arranged their marriage to strengthen his ties with Ras Tafari, who was his rival for power.
Empress of Ethiopia
Menen Asfaw became Empress of Ethiopia on 2 November 1930, when her husband was crowned as Emperor Haile Selassie I. She was the first Empress to be crowned in Ethiopia since the 17th century.
She supported her husband’s efforts to modernize Ethiopia and to resist foreign aggression. She accompanied him on his travels abroad, such as his visit to Jerusalem in 1931, his attendance at the coronation of King George VI of the United Kingdom in 1937, and his speech at the League of Nations in 1936, where he denounced the Italian invasion of Ethiopia.
She was also a patron of education, culture, and religion. She founded the Empress Menen School for Girls in Addis Ababa, the first all-girls school in Ethiopia, in 1930. She also established several other schools, hospitals, and churches throughout the country. She was a devout follower of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, and donated generously to its clergy and monasteries.
She was also a philanthropist and a humanitarian. She founded the Ethiopian Red Cross Society in 1935, and served as its president until her death. She also created the Empress Menen Women’s Association, which provided assistance to war widows, orphans, and refugees.
Cause of Death and Legacy
Menen Asfaw died on 15 February 1962, at the age of 72, in Addis Ababa.
She is remembered as a beloved and respected Empress, who devoted her life to the service of her country and her people. She is also revered by the Rastafari movement, which regards her husband as the messiah and her as the Queen of Zion.
Menen Asfaw was a remarkable woman, who played a significant role in Ethiopian history. She was the wife of Emperor Haile Selassie, the mother of six children, the founder of several institutions, and the benefactor of many causes.