I think there is a part of Ethiopian history that many either do not get or ignore in favour of their own idea of its mystical spirituality in relation to Rastafari, Selassie and the biblical Solomonic line.
Christianized Ethiopia is of ancient vintage, being one of the earliest Christian African countries even before Egypt in the era of the Coptics. The earliest Christian crusades that massacred thousands of non-Christians throughout Europe and many other parts of the world saw Ethiopians soldiers and generals joining the ranks of European monarchs and generals defending the cause of Christianity. Similarly there are stories of European explorers searching for the ancient Christian kingdom of the mythical “Prestor John” who they believed to have existed somewhere in India or Ethiopia. Some also record several visits of the Knights Templar who established links with Ethiopian monarchs and noblemen and carried over many of the ideas of badges of chivalry and knighthood that could have been a European forerunner to the lodges and so called “secret societies” of the free masons. Furthermore, during the many periods of Muslim incursions into Christian Ethiopia especially in the 1400’s and 1500’s, Portuguese soldiers came to the defense of this ancient Christian kingdom to repel the ‘heathen’ invaders.
What I am really trying to establish here, are the ancient links between the Ethiopian monarchy, nobility and Europe. This is of course in the midst of the continuing oppression of the other indigenous non-Christian groups that also existed in Ethiopia. In light of this, it should really be of no surprise to anyone that Selassie was involved in European-type Masonic lodges as it was part of a long history of recognition of this Christian monarchy by Europe for centuries. Ethiopia was used by European Christian crusaders to put an ancient spin on their own political agenda and certainly the Ethiopian monarchies appeared to have little problem with this agenda either.
Selassie’s strong Christianity was no front or no disguise. It was part of a long legacy of a Christian monarchy with strong links with European nobility. While many Rastas do see Ethiopia as part of their own version of biblical prophecy for black revolution, and Selassie himself may have had his own political agenda that did line up with other African leaders who sought political autonomy from Europe, I am not convinced that Selassie really shared or understood their concerns to the fullest. The Ethiopian monarchy’s historical links with the European nobility and the Christian church meant, in my view, that Selassie could not have understood the ill effects of Christianization on colonized blacks. It also meant that he could not really feel the urgent need for African development completely separate and apart from European intervention of paternalism.
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