Monday, May 24, 2010

Favorite Royal Images: Lion of Judah

The last Emperor of Ethiopia with one of his pet lions. In general, my favorite images of any of the Ethiopian Emperors are those when they are in their full imperial regalia -showing all the glory of what a real, genuine African emperor looks like as opposed to the most recent (Bokassa) in Central Africa who tried to look like a Frenchman for some reason. However, I love the symbolism of the photos of Haile Selassie with his lions, mostly because of the symbolism, iconic images very evocative of Africa -the only native African Emperor and the lion, the "King of the Beasts" and they also (as intended) point to the Ethiopian Emperor's title, "Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah", which itself points to the Ethiopian tradition that their emperors descend from the offspring of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon of Israel.


  1. Bokassa was a madman who admired Napoleon (hence the French look). As an emperor he had about as much legitimacy as Napoleon-he took Central Africa by force of arms and held on to it merely because his enemies were not strong enough to challenge him until near the end of his reign. Although many of the rumours about him have been expanded or made-up, he was not a very nice man nor a very good ruler. I agree that the emperors of Ethiopia make far better symbols of African monarchical rule than Bokassa.

  2. The most I can usually say about Bokassa was that he wasn't boring. I don't know if he was any worse than the other leaders of the CAR but it seems odd that, if he wanted to create an air of legitimacy, he would have done everything in such European fashion instead of trying to at least look more like a traditional African royal, especially considering how widely regarded the Ethiopian Emperors have always been.

  3. We should also remember that he spent I think three years of his countries foreign aid on the coronation. He paraded round in his fantasy world while his people starved. No true monarch would treat his people with such disregard.


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