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Last Update : 17/03/2017


Empress Menen Asfaw was born 3 April 1891 Gregorian Calendar (25 March 1883 Ethiopian Calendar)
As Woizero Menen Asfaw also Manan Dagmawit was born on 3rd April 1891(25th March 1883, Ethiopian Calendar) in the Egua village of the Ambassel region of the Wollo province. She was baptized Walatta Giyorgis in the St Delba Giorgis Church. Her name Menen was given for the most beautiful and respected ladies.


Empress Menen was the daughter of Asfaw, Jantirar of Ambassel. The title of Jantirar traditionally belonged to the head of the family holding the mountain fortress of Ambassel, Jantirar Asfaw was one of them. She was a direct descendant of Emperor Lebna Dengel, through Emperor Gelawdewos and his daughter Princess Enkulal Gelawdewos, although this genealogy was deleted from the official history of Etege Menen.
Her mother was Woizero Sehin Mikael, half-sister of Lij Iyasu (Iyasu V), and daughter of Negus (King) Mikael of Wollo. Woizero Sehin's mother, Woizero Fantaye Gebru, was a direct descendant of Emperor Susenyos I in the "Seyfe Melekot" line.


When we follow the Prophet Mohammed’s lineage, we can find evidence that Empress Menen is related to the Prophet.  Similarly, Emperor Haile Selassie I is the last king to sit on the Throne of King David, holding the orb and scepter symbolizing his authority as Earth's Rightful Ruler, in direct succession from King Solomon. Therefore, the Emperor and the Empress are still to be paid their homage and given the honor, glory and the majestic praises they deserve. 

is the last reigning Queen for the Muslims. Muslims should recognize the divinity of Her Majesty Empress Menen as well, for She is directly descended from the Holy Prophet Mohammed.


Empress Menen was known to be kind, compassionate and devoutly God fearing. She knew her native language of Amharic and was a well read and skillful writer, having gained various academic qualifications including home economics and spinning (an Ethiopian tradition).
Woizero Menen Asfaw was given in marriage by her family, to Dejazmach Ali of Cherecha, a prominent Wollo nobleman, and bore him a daughter, Woizero Belaynesh Ali and a son, Jantirar Asfaw Ali. This marriage ended in divorce and Woizero Menen then married Dejazmach Amede Ali Aba-Deyas, another prominent nobleman of Wollo. She had two children with him, a daughter Woizero Desta Amede and a son Jantirar Gebregziabiher Amede. Unfortunately Empress Menen's second husband died suddenly. After this Woizero Menen's grandfather, Negus Mikael arranged her marriage to Ras Leul Seged Atnaf Seged, a prominent Shewan nobleman, who was considerably older than Woizero Menen, sometime in late 1909 or early 1910.


Woizero Menen probably met Dejazmach Tafari Makonnen (later Emperor Haile Selassie I) at the home of her uncle, Lij Iyasu. This joyful occasion may have inspired Lij Iyasu to attempt to bind Dejazmach Tafari to him more firmly through marriage ties. He therefore arranged the separation of Woizero Menen from Ras Leul Seged, and sent her to Harar to marry Dejazmach Tafari Makonnen. They were married in July 1911. Ras Leul Seged apparently did not hold a grudge against Dejazmach Tafari for this circumstance, blaming it entirely on Lij Iyasu who had ordered it. He was among the leaders who fought on the side of Dejazmach Tafari Makonnen in the Battle of Segale, and died in that battle.
The account given in the Autobiography of the Emperor, My Life and Ethiopia's Progress, mentions no previous marriage or children of Empress Menen and no such order by Iyasu, but states only that at the age of 20, they were married by their own mutual consent. The future Emperor was very impressed by her character and friendly disposition. H.I.M Emperor Haile Selassie then Governor of Harar in His twentieth year said of H.I.M. Itegue Menen "...Her character is such that, apart from goodness, there is no evil or malice in her. Ever since, we were married, we lived together, by virtue of her being fertile, in one family joy, as well as sadness..." 


Their sacred and happy union lasted forty-seven years during which time they had six children - three daughters and three sons and many grandchildren. Listed below are details of their children:
1. Their first daughter: Princess Tenagne Worq was born in January 1913, being christened Fikirte Mariam. She married Ras Desta and then Ras Andargatchew, having six children and many grandchildren.
2. First son: Prince Asfa Wossen, heir Prince born in July 1916. He was christened Amha Selassie. He married first Princess Walata Israel and then Princess Medferiach. He had five children including Prince Yacob.
3. Second daughter: Princess Zenabe Worq, born in July 1918 and christened Hirute Selassie. 
She married Haile Selassie Gugsa but she passed way in March 1933 having had no children.
4. Third daughter: Princess Tsehay, born in October 1920 and christened Wolete Birhan. She married Galabiye Abebe and passed away in August 1942 without having any children.
5. Second son: Prince Makonnen, later Duke of Harar was born inOctober 1923 and christened Araya Johannes. He married Princess Sarah Gizau and passed away in May 1957, having had five sons.
6. Third son: Prince Sahile Selassie, born in February 1931. He was christened Aba Dina and was baptised at Mekane Selassie Church in Addis Ababa.
Of these children only three, Princess Tenagne Warq, Crown Prince Asfa Wossen Haile Selassie and Prince Sahla Selassie survived her.


The day before Empress Menen received the divine coronation on the same day as the Emperor, she joined him in a night of fasting and constant prayer until the early morning hours as they prepared to take on the mantles such as: "Elect of God", "Rose of Sharon", "Bright and Morning Star", and "Light of the World".

For the first time in Ethiopian history, Empress Menen was crowned Queen of Queens, alongside Emperor Haile Selassie I, King of Kings on 2 November 1930 at St Giorgis Church in Addis Ababa. On Coronation day, H.I.M Itegue Menen was given a gold and ivory scepter. On the entablature at the foot of the scepter is engraved the ineffable name of God and the Pentacle King of Solomon. She was crowned Itegue Menen, Itegue being the title of an Empress. It is to be noted that H.I.M Emperor Haile Selassie I, set a new precedent for how women were viewed, by changing the course of Ethiopian history insisting that the Empress be Coronated on the same day as the Emperor and not three days later as was the custom. Both from the Solomon and Sheba lineage. 


A mother of ten, she balanced a stable family life together with her King and husband, Ras Tafari, crowned Emperor Haile Selassie. She became a trusted adviser in national and international affairs, and strengthened the confidence of millions of women by educating them and giving them opportunities to shine.
Her garments were always royal, elegant, extremely appropriate by international standards, and indeed, they show her royalty with the finest of silks, cottons, and other fine materials often woven with gold, silver, and velvet.

Empress Menen performed perfectly in the role of Empress. In her public role she combined religious piety, concern for social causes, and support for development schemes with the majesty of her Imperial status. Outwardly she was the dutiful wife, visiting schools, churches, exhibitions and model farms, attending public and state events at her husband's side or by herself. She took no public stand on political or policy issues. Behind the scenes however, she was the Emperor's most trusted adviser, quietly offering advice on a whole range of issues. She avoided the publicly political role that her predecessor as Empress, Empress Taitu Bitul, had taken, which had caused deep resentment in government circles during the reign of Menelik II.

She was also known for being a courageous woman. Early in Haile Selassie’s reign an army revolt broke out and He was taken hostage. She commandeered a tank and drove it herself through the garrison’s gate to free her husband.

During the invasion of italy in Nov. 18 1928 His Imperial Majesty King of Kings Haile Selassie I went to the north battle field, Empress Menen stayed in Addis Ababa and prepared logistics that got sent to the battle field. When the enemy’s planes bombed civilians she advised the people to take care. During the bombing she traveled by car in the city to advice and encouraged the people through her own courage. In addition to this she had been praying waging a spiritual war against the enemy.
The Holy Empress made a royal proclamation that she had faith in Almighty YAH that her husband, King David, would defeat the italian goliath and YAH's words would remain true: that David's throne would remain the seat of Earth's Rightful Ruler forever and ever.  She was so sure in this fact, that she was willing to give up her most prized material possession: her Crown of Makeda the Queen of Sheba. She made a pledge to the Virgin Mary at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, promising to give her crown to the church if Ethiopia were liberated from occupation. Following the return of Emperor Haile Selassie I to Ethiopia in 1941, a replica of the crown was made for future Empresses, but the original crown that Empress Menen was crowned with at her husband's side in 1930 was sent to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Empress Menen, although often seen wearing a tiara at public events that called for it, would never again wear a full crown.

Empress Menen is known to have been devoted to the traditions of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, including honoring of holy feasts such as Easter and Sabbath Days. These traditions include much fasting and prayer, and strict observance of church rules and regulations. This made her a model Queen for all women in Ethiopia, by remaining involved in the current affairs and progression of her country while remaining steadfast to the holy traditions of the Ethiopian Empire.  As she is a God fearing Empress, she always prays to YAH. She went to St. Mark church everyday and stayed up to 9 A.M. praying to YAH and received monks and nuns that came from different churches and monasteries.
Every Friday She went to St. Mark Church for special praying since Friday is the day which Jesus Christ was crucified. When the Empress went from the palace to the church, she received women who lost their husbands in the war front and tried to fulfill whatever they demanded.
The Empress never alienated other churches, she always read their books and liked to give attention for the interpreted views of the church. This shows how far sighted she is and had bright mind.
She is a Queen to rise up and fulfill every standard as a woman, wife, a monarch, a Christian, a mother, and a benefactor to all who needed her most in her country, Empress Menen Asfaw has become the perfect role model for a woman.

The Empress supported numerous charitable causes for the poor, the infirm and the handicapped.
Empress Menen let Orphans to learn who lived in areas outside the capital city.
She listened to the problems of the poor and always visit patients in hospitals.
She took an active interest in all that went on, frequently visiting schools, looking in on classes and presiding at awards and graduation ceremonies.
Empress Menen's contributions to churches, schools, hospitals are widely recognized as unparalleled by any other woman in Ethiopian history.
H.I.M Itegue Menen sought to serve the people instead of demanding services from them. 
She believed man is mortal so that is why she always listened to problems of the people and tried to solve them.

Empress Menen herself had been in deep sorrow because the passing of her beloved children. As she is strong spiritually, the Almighty YAH gave her strength to come through this. Even though she lost her children she never neglected the country's problems, this is well known by Ethiopian people. She passed each problem patiently. All Ethiopian people shared her grief and sympathized her. Therefore, Ethiopian people love Empress Menen from the bottom of their heart and share the happiness and sadness with her.


  • Empress Menen was active in promoting woman's issues in Ethiopia, being the founder of the Ethiopian Woman’s Welfare Association in 1935, with 54 members of the royalty and nobility in the face of the threatened italian invasion. Before and during the war against the Italians, EWWA was primarily involved in preparing medical supplies, gas masks, and bandages for the military. After the Liberation in 1941, the organization focused on assisting women and children affected by the war, running orphanages, training programs for destitute women, and promoting handicrafts and traditional eateries to employ women.
  •  Empress Menen was Patroness of the Ethiopian Red Cross, and the Ethiopian Woman's Charitable Organization, formed as the italians prepared to invade Ethiopia, and supported and encouraged nursing students. When the Italian invasion was launched in 1935, she helped organize Ethiopian women to tend the wounded, and appealed to woman’s associations abroad for material and moral help.  Her speech to the World Woman’s Association in 1935 articulated her commitment as a woman of peace and called on women worldwide to help resolve conflicts and care for those wounded in war and families devastated by war.
  • She was also patroness of the Jerusalem Society that arranged for pilgrimages to the Holy Land.
  • She founded the Empress Menen School for Girls in Addis Ababa, the first all-girls school which had both boarding and day students. Girls from all over the Empire were brought to the school to receive a modern education, encouraged by the Empress who visited it often and presided over its graduation ceremonies.
  • The Empress gave generously, as well as sponsored programs for the poor, ill and disabled.
  • Empress Menen was also a devoutly religious woman who did much to support the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. She gave generously from her personal funds to build and renovated numerous churches in Ethiopia and in the Holy Land Ysrayl. Prominent among these are the, the Kidane Mehret (Our Lady Covenant of Mercy) Church on Mount Entoto, and the Holy Trinity Monastery on the banks of the River Jordan in the Holy Land.
    In 1923, Empress Menen fulfilled her promise to Empress Taitu (who fought triumphantly as a soldier in the Battle of Adwa) and invested large sums of money to completely build a church east of Addis Ababa, around the Entoto Tigret region. Empress Taitu gave this project to Empress Menen because she knew spiritually, Princess Menen would be Empress of Ethiopia in the future. The church became a monastery and called Hamere Noh. This monastery is still a shelter for many Christians. There is Holy water near to the church where people immerse and drink from. People from every corner of Ethiopia give thanks to Empress Menen for this Holy water.
     In Sept. 6, 1926 Empress Menen went to sacred land Jerusalem for the 2nd time. After she visited different Churches and monasteries she built the St.Trinity church for Ethiopians on her account. She donated a lot of money for the monastery & clergymen and inaugurated the church.
     In 1939 Empress Menen allowed the Gete Semani St. Mary Church at Sebeta to be made which is 23 kms from Addis Ababa, this modern building was started on her private account.
    In 1943 Empress Menen reconstructed Boru Trinity church which was devastated by Italian aggressors in Wollo province. She donated 56500.00 Birr from her private account and made the church in a modern building.
    In 1945 she put the base stone which is supposed to be constructed a new church around Fitawrari. Habte Giorgis area. The name of the church was St. Raguel building which was started by Empress Menen.

In 1950, fourteen sacred books from the church were printed by Empress Menen. There were 3,800 books which were sold and donated to the Siwaswe Berhan St Paul School. The total amount collected from the sale of the books came to 19,000 Birr. During 1950 Empress Menen renovated the Gishen Church located in the Ambassel region in the Wollo region - her native province with her own money. In addition to that she allowed the construction of a road which would enable believers to gain access to the church. 
She gave generously from her personal funds towards the building of the new Cathedral of St. Mary of Zion at Axum, but did not live to see it completed and dedicated. She spent her last years in failing health, but continued her good works, constructing and repairing monasteries and churches.

  • She gave a lot of acres of land to the priests and deacons of the church including urban land to the residents. 
  • Her Majesty also gave her estate for orphans whose fathers and mothers were killed by the enemies and to freed slaves.
  • She opened Siwaswe Birhan School which also catered for children who were either blind and to children who could not read or write.
  • In September 1948 His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I gave instructions to the people that Ethiopians should wear cultural dress so that the coming generations would follow this as an example. Her Imperial Majesty, Itegue Menen took the initiative to wear cultural dress for the first time in that New Year. In December 1949 Empress Menen visited the new St Trinity Spiritual School as she was a model for spiritual deeds. 
  • In 1935 she gave her estate for the orphans whose fathers and mothers were killed by the enemy. She opened Siwaswe Birhan school. In this school even blinds are learning how to write and read.
  • Empress Menen gave estate and residence area for priests and deacons of St. Mary church.
  •  In 1941, on the Empress Zewditu avenue, Empress Menen gave her estate around ourael ara for the school which is named by her beloved daughter princess Zenebework.
  • In Dec. 15, 1941 Empress Menen visited the new St. Trinity Spiritual school as she is a model for spiritual deeds.
  • In 1942 the 14 sacred books of the church were printed by Empress Menen. The number of books were 3800 which were sold and for 'Sewaswe Berhan' St. Paul school as a donation. Moreover, she gave part of her mothers estate and many houses for the service of the school.
  • Empress Menen as she is generous bought the land of the former German mission investing hundred thousands of Birr. This institution is found at the East of Debre Selam Medhane Alem church. Empress Menen gathered blind orphans around Addis Ababa and hired Ethiopian and foreign teachers. She also assigned guardians for the blind orphans to facilitate their learning teaching process.
    Moreover, in this school she constructed an additional new building paying 200,000 Birr for 100 boarding students. The building was effective from Dec. 30, 1949.


Following her transition in 1962, the Empress was buried in the crypt of Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa among the tombs of her children. Prime Minister AKLILU HAPTE-WOLD delivered her eulogy paying tribute to her charity, her piety, and her role as adviser to the Emperor, as well as her personal kindness and goodness. On the third day memorial and commemoration after the funeral, the Emperor himself paid tribute to his wife by saying that although the Prime Minister had aptly described what kind of person his late wife had been, he wanted to say that “All of you knew her well but she was more intimately known to me. She was devoutly religious and did not lose her faith even in time of hardship. During the memorable days of Our companionship, We never had differences that needed the interventions of others. Our marriage and had been one of peace and mutual support,
As Sarah was to Abraham, so was she obedient to me. Our wishes were mutual until We were separated by the Almighty. Her assistance for the good of the young, the old and the needy requires no testimony for they are greater than thoughts and words. We have been extremely pleased to live long enough in the perfect union that enabled Us to see Our offspring, Our grand children and Our great grand children. We are thankful to the Almighty for having vouchsafed to Us that long and uninterrupted union which is not very common in the world today. There could be no more profound prayer for me to utter." 
His Majesty also said that in their five decades of marriage, not once had it been necessary to have a third party mediate between him and his wife.

Later, the Emperor built a pair of grand sarcophagi in the northern transept of Holy Trinity Cathedral's nave, in order to transfer his wife's remains there and eventually be buried at her side himself. But due to the revolution, the Emperor was not buried there after his transition, and the Empress remained in her original tomb in the crypt. During the ceremonial burial of her husband's remains in November 2000, the remains of Empress Menen were also disinterred from the crypt tomb, and placed in the sarcophagus next to her husband in the nave of the Cathedral, as He had originally intended.


- In September 1935 She disclosed the aggression to the world Women Association and appealed to all world nation states with her famous speech. 
Her Imperial Majesty said:

"We are indeed glad for this evening which has caused our voice to be heard by all women throughout the world. Regardless of the different climate they live in, women in this world are connected and have the same desire in maintaining world peace and love. 

Obviously, war is one of the major problems which bring disaster in the life of mankind. In spite of the difference of colour, race, creed and religion between women in this world, they all hate war because the fruit of war is nothing but disaster. 

War exterminates their beloved husbands, their brothers and their children. It destroys and eliminates their families. At this hour, and such a tragic and sad period where aggressors have planned a very heavy war upon our lives, we would like to bring this to the attention of all women throughout the world, that it is their duty to voice and express solidarity against such acts." 

- April 18, 1949 she celebrated the 25th anniversary of Empress Menen school. On this celebration, there were a lot of people. The school had shown progress and gave a chance for many girls to be educated. On this occasion she extended her message through Tafari’s work to the gathered people.
Empress Menen delivered this significant speech on the occasion.

 "His Imperial Majesty, Emperor of Ethiopia believes that there is nothing better for the development of a country's progress and development except education. In this regard on His willingness He built many schools for boys. But girls are left behind without having regular education may have disadvantages. Therefore, I have opened this School for the merit of girls twenty-five years ago since I believe that girls should learn as boys. 

This School was discontinued by the invasion of the fascist Italian but by the grace of God it resumed its functions after the victory. Many girls have been given a chance to be promoted at the higher level of education after graduating in this School. Many of them are working in government offices and private Organizations. 

In my country, girls get chances to learn a good standard of education; I hope they will contribute a lot as their brothers. There were no more than fifty students when the School opened twenty-five years. But today there are approximately 1300 students. This number is increasing because girls are aware of the advantage of education and I am very happy to see this progress. 

I thank the Almighty God for which I celebrate this 25th anniversary of the Empress Menen School for Girls. I thank the Director of this School and lady teachers which share the problems and the progress of the School." 

- Sept. 13, 1928. Empress Menen disclosed the aggression to World women Association and appealed to all world nation states.

"I am pleased to present my speech to all world women. 
When Italy conquered our people and country the world women Association supported us to settle peace and freedom. We are very happy to express our deep feeling for the association.

When I am speaking now in order to be understood to all countries my daughter princess Tsehaye translated my speech into English language.
Princess Tsehaye made speech as follows. During this time Italy conquered us difficulty unjustly and world women should hear their voice.
Even though world women are living in different countries with different climate, all women are interrelated with the same will and objectives.
War is distress and trouble of mankind, all world women are in different countries, different race, religion the act of violence and war victimized their husbands, brothers and children. War is a destruction of the family and can make people immigrant. So women are against war.

We know that all Italian mothers and barren women may worry about the war, since war is good for nothing. Therefore, all women found in the world should prevent the war before it brings trouble and distress. They should collaborate their voice and request to avoid the war before the bloodshed comes on both sides.

Ethiopia do not think to act the violence conflict, here wish is to maintain peace. Ethiopia tried to settle the conflict peacefully in early months. In every aspect Ethiopia has done here best. so we are mentally free.

Ethiopian people welcomed any foreigners, guests who came to work peacefully and innocently, Ethiopian people good hospitality to foreigners has been narrated in the history of the world. However, one state is which is neighbor to Ethiopia is trying to control and govern. Ethiopia is always on the line of peace, while the rival state is looking only its own interest.

The enemy deployed its army and based around our country to kill our women's husbands, children, brothers. Our people live working peacefully being God fearing but the enemy is trying to devastate the wealth of the country and destroy our family in the name of modernization.
We pray to God not to face such kind of distress and destruction if the so called modernization brings a big trouble.
Hence, the association which is established for the purpose of peace by world women may exert influence to bring peace and stability. We don't hesitate that world women Association may contribute a lot to settle this conflict peacefully.

We pray to YAH that the Association to accomplish its mission. We hope the act of the Association may bring fruitful result to preserve peace and security in our country.

Nonetheless, if the war is started, we women should treat wounded soldiers and minimize the trouble of the war.
Women who are living all over the world who stand for peace may help us during the war time. We know that these women assist the sacrificed patriot's family.

All women of the world should struggle to bring peace and justice. Government officials may guided on the line of YAH, we pray for this and you may collaborate with us."

- In 1934 Empress Menen went to Wollo province and made a speech through princess Tsehay giving the following advice.

” My country's ladies and gentlemen, First of all I would like to thank the Almighty Lord for which our flag is replaced. Our patriots came back with a victory staying in the bush for 5 years.
Secondly, any human being may have a great pleasure when he or she join with his/her birth place. With grace of YAH I was eager to see my native place Wollo. I am very happy as I am with you after 31 years.
Next I am very grateful for the people who received me with great pleasure.
All of you know that this naturally gifted country which is green and different from any African countries has never been under colony and has been ruled only by its own kings.
After many trials Italy made propaganda warfare since she can't controlled before. Through this campaign tried to dismiss our unity and divide our people.
Is there anybody who did not miss his relative during the war? Some of our citizens were killed by hoes, spade and machine guns.
YAH made it possible that Ethiopia won its enemy quickly. We, the citizens children feel proud when we see our country freed from any aggression and we are very thankful to Almighty YAH.

Ethiopian people have got a good lesson from the past experience which enables us to cooperate as one mother's children love each other. This made every Ethiopian to struggle for the country's independence and freedom.    
You have seen that people without freedom are victim as this was seen during 5 years of aggression. Indeed our people did not hate native rulers as far as they kept the language, customs and traditions of the Ethiopian people. But the Italians tried to rule in a subtle way. During the aggression, even though the enemy killed our people, patriots went to the bush and some went abroad in exile. This situation surprised the world.
My native ladies and gentle men of Wollo our country has been free since 3000 years back. However through the help of England and fierce struggle of its children, we freed our country, the flag and king for our common motherland Ethiopia. We have to be one and united.

The prince crown is selected and came up from you, our beloved son prince Meried Azmach Asfa Wosen is with you. Even though I was separated for 31 years physically it is impossible to say that I was living alienated my self from you. I was with you spiritually.
 Our beloved son is your governor. I believe you may be very happy when I tell you this information. You may service him loyally and kindly on the other hand he may share your problems and help you. He may administer you through good Justice - Please, give him advice and assist him any time.
Let Good keep our fertile country. Let YAH make it possible long live to our flag.”
Here she completed her speech. At this time the ladies, gentlemen and children of  the Wollo event touched their heart with great happiness by her speech.