What is the Haile Selassie Era?
The early 20th century was marked by the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie I, who came to power after Iyasu V was deposed. He undertook the modernization of Ethiopia from 1916, when he was made a Ras and Regent (Inderase) for Zewditu I and became the de facto ruler of the Ethiopian Empire. Following Zewditu's death, he was made Emperor on 2 November 1930.
Haile Selassie was born from parents of three Ethiopian ethnicities: the Oromo and Amhara, the country's two main ethnic groups, as well as the Gurage.
The independence of Ethiopia was interrupted by the Second Italo-Abyssinian War and Italian occupation (1936–1941). During this time, Haile Selassie appealed to the League of Nations in 1935, delivering an address that made him a worldwide figure, and the 1935 Time magazine Man of the Year. Following the entry of Italy into World War II, British Empire forces, together with patriot Ethiopian fighters, officially liberated Ethiopia in the course of the East African Campaign in 1941. An Italian guerrilla campaign continued until 1943. This was followed by British recognition of Ethiopia's full sovereignty, (i.e. without any special British privileges), with the signing of the Anglo-Ethiopian Agreement in December 1944. On 26 August 1942 Haile Selassie I issued a proclamation abolishing slavery. Ethiopia had between two and four million slaves in the early 20th century, out of a total population of about eleven million.
In 1952, Haile Selassie orchestrated the federation with Eritrea. He dissolved this in 1962 and annexed Eritrea, which resisted and finally won its Eritrean War of Independence. Haile Selassie played a leading role in the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1963.
Although Haile Selassie was seen as a national hero, opinion within Ethiopia turned against him owing to the worldwide oil crisis of 1973, which caused a sharp increase in gasoline prices starting on February 13, 1974; food shortages; uncertainty regarding the succession; border wars, and discontent in the middle class created through modernization. The high gasoline prices caused the taxi drivers and teachers to go on strike on February 18, 1974. Students and workers in Addis Ababa began demonstrating against the government on February 20, 1974. The feudal oligarchial cabinet of Akilou Habte Wolde was toppled. A new government was formed with Endelkachew Makonnen serving as Prime Minister. Haile Selassie's reign came to an end on September 12, 1974, when a Soviet-backed Marxist-Leninist military junta, the "Derg" led by Mengistu Haile Mariam, deposed him. The new Provisional Military Administrative Council established a one-party communist state which was called People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.
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