There is no understanding to modern Ethiopia without a grasp of Haile Sellassie's life. Sellassie would prove to be one of Ethiopia's most noble leaders. He pushed education for his people. He made a valiant effort to drag Ethiopia out of its stagnant state of unpaved roads, minimal schools, very little education, and views on international affairs. He looked and carried himself like a king. The Ethiopian Emperor traditionally took the title of King of King, Lion of the Tribe of Judah as a title. He was also believed to be a descendent from the line of David by Solomon. .
The old Ethiopian legend of Kebra Hegast tells the story of the Queen of Sheba's visit to Solomon's mighty kingdom to learn the secrets of being a great leader. While in his kingdom the Queen Sheba bore Solomon a son, to which Solomon gave a jeweled ring to prove his descent from the seed of David. The Queen of Sheba returned to her land in, then Southern Ethiopia, what is today Somalia, with her son to continue to rule the land(Gorham 1966.). .
Haile Selassie was born as Tafari Makonnen on July 23, 1892. His mother died when he was two years of age. Shortly after his country was in war with the Italians. It was at this war that Tafari's father, Ras Makonnen fought next to Emperor Menelik, the emperor of Ethiopia at that time. The Emperor swore their relationship hoping that he would pass the throne to Ras Makonnen when Menelik's time had come. .
Ras Makonnen wanted a good education for his son "Ras" Tafari. Ras is an Ethiopian title given to people of royal blood. Fortunately, Mokonnen saw to his son's education early, because in 1906 he became sick and soon after died. He left the fourteen-year-old son Tafari to be raised in the house of Meneik. The Emperor, anxious to see Ras Tafari live up to his father's stature and take the throne when the time came, made the young man, now seventeen years, Governor of the Southern province of Sidamo.