Column: Celebrating Emperor Haile Selassie I

November 6, 2019

[Written by Chris Famous]

“Hail him without any apology. Hail His Imperial Majesty” – Burning Spear”

“Look to the east for the crowning of a Black King” - Hon. Marcus Garvey

On November 2nd, 1930 in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, Ras Tafari was crowned as His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie the first and his wife Empress Menen.

History will record that Emperor Haile Selassie I was the most progressive African leader of the last century. He ushered in reforms to help unite and modernise not just his own country of Ethiopia, but indeed the entire African continent.

He was one of the founding fathers of the Organization of African Union in 1963.


“Until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned, everywhere is war.” - Emperor Haile Selassie I

At one point in time, during the early 1960s, Nelson Mandela, whilst serving as the head of the then outlawed African National Congress [ANC], which was waging a guerrilla war against the racist apartheid regime of South Africa, traveled to Ethiopia to learn the art of military and civic leadership from Emperor Haile Selassie himself.

The Emperor provided Nelson Mandela with an Ethiopian passport under the name of David Motsamayi.

“Fundamental tenets of the Ethiopian Movement were self-worth, self-reliance and freedom. These tenets drew the advocates of Ethiopianism, like a magnet, to the growing political movement. That political movement was to culminate in the formation of the ANC in 1912. It is in this sense that we in the ANC trace the seeds of the formation of our organization to the Ethiopian Movement of the 1890s.” - Nelson Mandela

As a well-traveled Emperor, Haile Selassie visited several Caribbean islands, such as Jamaica, Trinidad and Bermuda.

“When His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassi I arrived on board a Canadian Air Force plane at 2.00pm, he looked as though he deserved all of his impressive titles. The Bermuda Recorder speculated that the large crowds had turned out at the airport because of his impressive titles, race and that he was the first man of color to be given such an impressive welcome.” – Dale Butler, from His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I in Bermuda 1963 and 1967

The Emperor returned for a second one-day visit in 1967, en route to the US and Canada, and was again greeted by large crowds and honored with a reception for some 200 people at Government House.

Haile Selassie I Bermuda Nov 2019

The teachings of both His Imperial Majesty and Hon. Marcus Garvey were the catalyst for the uplifting of black people around the world, leading to the overthrow of European colonialism in numerous African and Caribbean nations.

Equally, their teachings formed the foundation of the Rastafarian Movement in Jamaica which spread to the Caribbean, Africa and eventually the entire world.

The primary vehicle of the message of Rastafari was the word sound and power of reggae music, which has in itself become one of the most powerful forms of political and social upliftings.

The musical works of Bob Marley, Burning Spear, Peter Tosh, Judy Mowatt, Marcia Griffiths, Steel Pulse, Lucky Dube and Jimmy Cliff have helped to change how black people view themselves and each other and how they were viewed by others.

So too, in Bermuda during the 1970s, the Rastafari movement grew out of the inspiration of reggae music.

One neighborhood in particular became the epicentre of black youths seeking to learn more about this African King and their African roots; some know the area as Friswells Road, others know it as the “King Negus” region.

Out of the King Negus region grew the birth of two reggae bands, one known as ‘The Third and Fourth Generation’ the other known as ‘Ital Foundation,’ the latter going on to record a seminal album in the early 1980s.

Fast forward to 2019 and a new band by the name of The Kings Band has been formed with some of the members of the previous mentioned bands.

The Kings Band members include:

  • Drums: Stephen Furbert drums
  • Bass Guitar: Keith ‘Bassie’ Flood
  • Keyboards: Ralph ‘Popa’ Flood
  • Guitar: Wensey Woolridge
  • Guitar and vocals: Jules ‘Juice’ Roberts
  • Percussion and vocals: Kavin ‘Aswad’ Wilson
  • Alto sax and percussion: Micheal Payne ,
  • Percussion and vocals: Mitchelle ‘Live Wires’ Trott
  • Percussion and vocals: Phiemma Caisey
  • Vocals: Charo Hollis vocals
  • Vocals, dj and percussion: Culture
  • Rapper: Shiloh
  • Engineer: Bingi

On Saturday [Nov 2], Arijahknow Productions hosted a Coronation Day celebration at Victor Scott School, formerly known as Central School.

89th Coronation Of Emperor Haile Selassie Bermuda Nov 2019 (2)

Of historical importance is the fact that Central School is the first government school built for black children in Bermuda in the 1930s.

Additionally, this school, which serves as home to Boulevard Community Club, is in the Friswells Hill/Parsons Road region, which is essentially, the King Negus Region.

So, it was only fitting to see a gathering of many, who originally hail from this region, return home to hear the word sound and power of reggae music.

For over four hours, there was a mixture of both live music and conscious reggae played by Ricochet Sound and DJ Ninja Cutty.

89th Coronation Of Emperor Haile Selassie Bermuda Nov 2019 (1)

Snacks were provided by victor Scott PTA.

In the midst of celebration of our mozaic of cultural heritages, it is equally important for all Bermudians to recognize that part of our culture is reggae music.

Interestingly enough, this weekend during the Portuguese celebrations, a Portuguese singer by the name of Richie Campbell sang all reggae music.

Reggae, which is the message of the King, is now indeed a universal music.

Hail His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I.

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  1. ROGER LAMBERT says:

    Appreciate this writeup from You Brother Chris. The teachings of Emperor Selassie & Honorable Marcus Garvey be highlighted more now & in the future, for their teachings combined with other visionaries of Our Black culture will help the world be a better place.
    I didn’t know a bout the Get-Together at Victor Scott School, hope it went well & we hear about the Kings Band getting together again.