A statue of Emperor Haile Selassie, the last emperor of Ethiopia and a longtime ruler who served from 1930 until his overthrow by the Marxist regime in 1974, was unveiled outside the African Union’s headquarters in Addis Ababa on Sunday. The Emperor, who garnered an image of an elder statesman and leader of Africa, is being honored with the statue 45 years after his death.The unveiling ceremony of the statute was attended by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo and Rwandan president Paul Kagame.
Cast in bronze, the 3 metre statue shows the Emperor making his signature hand sign with the thumb and index finger in a triangular shape. Created by three Ethiopian artists, Bekele Mekonnen, Mesfin Tesfaye and Henock Azene under the auspicious of the Addis Ababa University’s Alle School of Fine Arts and Design, the statue recognises “the Emperor’s contribution to Africa’s liberation and unity leading up to the founding of the Organization of African Unity in 1963”, the African Union said in a press release.The Emperor is also credited for bringing Ethiopia into the League of Nations and the United Nations and making Addis Ababa the major center for the African Union.
Emperor Haile Selassie and Ghanaian president Kwame Nkruhuma promoted Pan-Africanism and African unity and spearheaded the creation of the Organisation of African Unity on 25 May 1963. Though a statue was unveiled for Nkruhuma on February 2012, Emperor Haile Selassie was conspicuously ignored, provoking the ire of many Ethiopians. A petition demanding that a statue of Nkruhuma be joined by Emperor Haile Selassie has been launched since then. [Ethiopia Observer]