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Haile Selassie Quotes: Africa’s Most Influential Monarch

To some he is God incarnate, to others, he is a redeemer, and to some, he is a revolutionary freedom fighter. His Imperial Majesty Haile Salassie I is one of the most influential figures to come out of Africa.

Ethiopia is recognized as the only African nation to never be colonized. A man who traces his lineage to King Solomon and The Queen of Sheeba, Selassie worked for decades to modernize and uplift Ethiopia.

He stood against the tyranny of Italian occupation. He was the last reigning monarch of the Solomonic dynasty. Below, you will find 50 quotes from His Imperial Majesty that provide food for thought regarding forgiveness, sovereignty, spirituality, and the nature of humankind.

Halie Selassie quotes about life and freedom

1. “Sometimes things that do not appear inspired by courage demand great courage.” – Halie Selassie

Halie Selassie quotes

2. “Rich and poor have always existed and always will. Why? Because there are those that work and those that don’t, those wish to earn their living and those that prefer to do nothing. Those that work, that want to work, are not poor.”Halie Selassie

3. “For it is true that Our Lord the Creator sends us into the world as equals, but it is also true that when one is born one is neither rich nor poor. One is naked. It is later on that one becomes rich or poor, according to one’s drive.”Halie Selassie

4. “Yes, We too are aware distributing alms serves no useful purpose. Because there is only one means to solve the poverty problem: work.”Halie Selassie

5. “We have said that whoever doesn’t work because he doesn’t want to is poor. We have said wealth has to be gained through hard work. We have said those who don’t work starve.”Halie Selassie

6. “We add that the capacity to earn depends on the individual: Each individual is responsible for his misfortunes, his fate. It is wrong to expect help to fall from above, as a gift: Wealth has to be deserved!”Halie Selassie

7. “Work is one of the commandments of Our Lord the Creator!”Halie Selassie

8. “Young people will be young people. You can’t change the uncouth manners of the

young. “Halie Selassie

9. “There is never anything new under the sun. Examine the past: You’ll see that the

disobedience of the young has occurred all thru history. The young don’t know what they want. They can‘t know it because they lack experience, they lack wisdom.” Halie Selassie

10. “It is for the head of the state to show the young which path to tread and to punish them when they revolt against authority. It is up to us.”Halie Selassie

Halie Selassie quotes about human nature

11. “ But not all the young are wicked and only the most irreducible culprits must be

punished unbendingly. The others must be reduced to reason and then persuaded to serve their country.” Halie Selassie

12. “One should examine things thoroughly. One then discovers that the death penalty is just and necessary. For disobedience, for instance. Why? Because it is in the interests of the people. We have abolished many things. We have abolished slavery, too. But not the death penalty, We can’t abolish that. It would be like renouncing punishment for those who dare to defy authority.”Halie Selassie

13. “I was a very serious, very diligent youth. I was sometimes punished, but do you know why? Because what I was made to study did not seem enough and I wished to study further. I wanted to stay on at school after lessons were over. I were loath to amuse myself, to go riding, to play. I didn’t want to waste time on games.”Halie Selassie

14. “: It is my opinion that the world hasn’t changed at all. I believe that such changes have modified nothing. I don’t even notice any difference between monarchies and republics: To me they appear as two substantially similar methods of governing a nation.”Halie Selassie

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15. “Democracy, republic: What do these words signify? What have they changed in the

world? Have men become better, more loyal, kinder? Are the people happier? All goes on as before, as always. Illusions, illusions.”Halie Selassie

16. “Besides, one should consider the interests of a nation before subverting it with words. Democracy is necessary in some cases and We believe some African peoples might adopt it. But in other cases it is harmful, a mistake.”Halie Selassie

17. “It is necessary to proceed slowly, cautiously, to be a watchful father for one’s children. Our realities are not yours. And Our misfortunes are endless.”Halie Selassie

18. “. Even at the hardest, most painful moments, We have never regretted or cursed our fate. Never. And why should we have?”Halie Selassie

19. “We were born of royal blood, authority is ours by right. Since it is ours by right and

since our Lord the Creator has deemed we might serve our people as a father serves his son, being a monarch is a great joy to us. It’s what we were born for and what we have always lived for.”Halie Selassie

Halie Selassie quotes about pain and suffering

20. “A king must never regret the use of force. Painful necessities are still necessities and a king must not stop when he is faced with them. Not even when they hurt him. We have never been afraid to be harsh: It is the king knows what’s best for the people, the people themselves don’t know it.”Halie Selassie

21. “As regards punishment, for instance. We must apply what Our conscience dictates, nothing more. And We never suffer when We inflict punishment be- cause We believe in that punishment, We trust Our judgment completely. So it must be and so it is.”Halie Selassie

22. “We devote a great deal of time to prayer and attend church as often as possible: every morning when We can. We receive the sacraments every Sunday regularly. But We don’t consider Our religion alone valid and have granted Our people the freedom to observe any religion they please.”Halie Selassie

23. “We believe in the reunification of the churches.”Halie Selassie

24. “He [Mussolini] is dead and what purpose is served by passing judgment on the dead? Death changes everything, sweeps everything away. Even mistakes. We dislike

mentioning hatred or scorn in connection with a man who is no longer able to answer us.”Halie Selassie

25. “History doesn’t forget but man can. He can also forgive, if he is kind-hearted. And we try to be kind. Yes, we have forgiven. But not forgotten. No, not forgotten . We remember everything, everything!”Halie Selassie

26. “As ever in life, nothing is ever all black or all white. We may state it freely: The Italians harmed Our country greatly, but they also did some good things.”Halie Selassie

27. “. Such episodes occur constantly in a country‘s history. There’s always something

moving, brewing. There are ambitious people everywhere. Wicked people.”Halie Selassie

28. “The only thing to do is deal with them with courage and decision. One must beware of uncertainty, weakness, or conflicting emotions: They lead to defeat. We have never allowed ourselves to fall prey to them. Force must be used against force, and that is how we reacted in that circumstance” – Hallie Selassie

29. “It’s hard to feel indulgent to human beings.”Halie Selassie

Haile Selassie quotes spirituality

30. “It’s much easier to show indulgence to animals and children. When one has led such a difficult life as Ours, one feels more at ease with animals and children. They are never wicked, or never deliberately so at least.”Halie Selassie

31. “Human beings on the other hand . . . Well, there are good men and wicked. The former should be made use of and the latter punished, without attempting to understand why the ones are good and the others wicked.”Halie Selassie

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32. “Life is like the theater: One mustn’t try to understand it all at once and immediately. It is no longer amusing. Besides, We demand too much of men to be able to respect them.”Halie Selassie

33. “ A king must be able to maneuver, be capable of oscillating between friends and

enemies, old and new. A king must know how to take his time and bend everything to his predetermined air.”Halie Selassie

34. “We have traveled a great deal. We don’t like traveling. It tires us. Frequently, it doesn’t even amuse us. But we go just the same because we consider it useful to travel in search of friends, and this is a king’ s function.”Halie Selassie

35. “We liked China, too. There is a completely different way of life there, but each in his

fashion, as We also stressed in Our dialog with the Chinese that yielded a favorable

result.”Halie Selassie

36. “Ethiopia has existed for 3,000 years. In fact, it exists ever since man first appeared on earth. My dynasty has ruled ever since the Queen of Sheba met King Solomon and a son was born of their union.”Halie Selassie

37. “It is a dynasty that has gone on thru the centuries and will go on for centuries more. A king is not ,, and, besides, my succession is already ensured. There is a Crown Prince and he will rule the country when We are no longer there.”Halie Selassie

38. “When Jesus Christ was born from Virgin Mary, from that time on He lived an

exemplary life, a life which men everywhere must emulate. This life and the faith which

He has taught us assures us of salvation, assures us also of harmony and good life upon earth. Because of the exemplary character of the life of Jesus Christ it is necessary that all men do their maximum in their human efforts to see to it that they approximate as much as they can the good example that has been set by Him”Halie Selassie

39. “It’s quite true that there is no perfection in humanity. From time to time we make

mistakes. We do commit sins, but even as we do that, deep in our hearts as Christians we know we have a chance of forgiveness from the Almighty. He taught us that all men are equal regardless of sex, their national origin and tribe. And He also taught us all who seek HIM shall find Him. To live in this healthy life, a Christian life, is what makes me follow Jesus Christ.”Halie Selassie

Haile Selassie quotes on religion

40. “I would tell a person who was considering the claim of Christ for the first time that it is necessary to have faith in the Almighty, that it is necessary to have love, and that it is necessary to conduct oneself in a manner that we have been taught to do in the Bible.Halie Selassie

41. I would also advise him to seek the secular knowledge, for the more one knows the more he realises the need for a prime mover, the need for a Creator, a Creator who is good, and the need for salvation and also for peaceful life upon earth.”Halie Selassie

42. “I would also tell him to learn and to think for himself the ways he would serve the Lord. In this thought and in this undertaking of his he will inevitably find the way of serving his fellow men. For his faith would then be manifested by His conduct. If Christians behave in this way, if we dedicate ourselves to this fundamental task, then we will have a peaceful world and will be assured of not transgressing against the will and the Commandments of God.”Halie Selassie

43. “There are many instances in my life where the belief in The Almighty and the Christian Faith have sustained me, times of troubles and difficulties. No matter what may befall a human being he can always succeed in overcoming it in time if he has the strength of faith and praise to God, for inevitably He comes to the assistance of those that believe in Him and those that through their work live an exemplary life.”Halie Selassie

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44. “This goes not only for Christians in my view, but for all men. I think God commiserates with those that find themselves in misfortune. In particular, when my country Ethiopia was invaded by aliens several years ago I was sustained in that period by my faith in God and in the abiding belief that justice, however it may take time, will ultimately prevail.”Halie Selassie

45. “If I did not have in my heart the love of God I don’t think I would have acted in the

manner that I did. The love of God brings a sense of religiousness in a human being, it

gives him comfort for the future and assurance that right cause will ultimately prevail.”Halie Selassie

46. “The Church is not merely a building. The Church is the faithful fulfilment of the

Christian life and its requirements. Thus, as the name applies to the buildings so is our

heart The Church in which God dwells.”Halie Selassie

47. “All men are endowed with natural responsibility. This responsibility is in turn

distributed and delegated to all according to his gift, and it is expected of each one to

fulfil his responsibility. This responsibility in turn is to God and thus for example, one

would start his work asking God to bless the beginning and thank God for a good ending too.”Halie Selassie

48. “As I said before, the birth of Christ is celebrated all over the world. When I say the

whole world it does not mean that all people would observe it in the same manner. In all the places that I have visited, including the Muslims and the Buddhists, We have seen the observance. But for Christians it is an act conducted with love.”Halie Selassie

49. “Nations differing in ideologies could live side by side in peace unless they clash on

matters involving self-interest. We live in an age of ideologies and world peace is too

precious a thing to be disturbed merely because of the clash of these ideologies. It is an entirely different matter though, when one country attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of another.”Halie Selassie

50. “One cannot deny that in former times man’s life had been one of toil and hardship. It is correct to say, therefore, that modern civilization and the progress of science have greatly improved man’s life and have brought comfort and ease in their trail. But civilization can serve man both for good as well as for evil purposes. Experience shows that it has invariably brought great dividends to those who use it for good purposes while it has always brought incalculable harm and damnation to those who use it for evil purposes.”Halie Selassie

What was your favorite Haile Selassie quote?

When addressing the topic of fear and tyranny he famously declared “The only thing to do is deal with them with courage and decision. One must beware of uncertainty, weakness, or conflicting emotions: They lead to defeat. We have never allowed ourselves to fall prey to them.” A truly inspirational figure, Selassie had an integral part in inspiring people all over the world to pursue freedom for themselves.

African leaders and the African diaspora across the globe looked to Selassie for his guidance and role as a sovereign monarch. Many of the people in countries fighting for freedom use his example to continue to push for their own emancipation.

His efforts to modernize Ethiopia and stand up against colonial influence marked a change in post colonial politics. He fought against slavery and stood for African unity for people on the continent and across the globe.

Clifton Sankofa
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