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Last Update : 03/04/2018

Blessed Love and Greetings in the name of Her Imperial Majesty InI beloved Empress (Etege) Menen Asfaw, also known as Queen Omega, Living through the lineage of King Solomon and Prophet Mohammed representing the Woman of the world, in particular Rastafari Woman, who in general are more connected, knowledgeable and have more Love for Her Majesty. For InI she is the perfect Isample for Woman to look to, also having an important role for Female Iquality around the world. Being One with Rastafari and therefore blessed to have this opportunity to set a good example on a world wide scale.

BIRTH

Empress Menen was born 3 April 1891, Gregorian calendar (25 March 1883 Ethiopian Calendar) as Woizero Menen Asfaw (or Manan Dagmawit) in the village Egua of the Ambassel region in the Wollo province. The name Menen was usually given to the most beautiful and respected woman in Ethiopia. At eleven weeks (80 days) on the 21st of June she was baptized Walatta Giyorgis (Wolete Giorgis) in the Ethiopian Orthodox St Delba Giorgis Church.

ELDERS

Empress Menen was the daughter of Asfaw Ali, Jantirar of Ambassel. The title of Jantirar traditionally belonged to the head of the family holding the mountain fortress of Ambassel.
Her mother was Woizero Sehin Mikael, daughter of Negus (King) Mikael of Wollo a direct descendant of Prophet Mohammed who had some family members residing in Ethiopia since 615 A.D. Empress Menen can trace back her lineage to Abdullah Bin Mohammed Al-Bakir (fifth in the line of descent from Prophet Mohammed). King Mikael used to be a Muslim until he converted to Christianty after Emperor Yohannes had ordered that al muslims either convert or give up their positions of power and wealth. Woizero Sehin's mother, Woizero Fantaye Gebru, was a direct descendant of Emperor Susenyos I in the "Seyfe Melekot" line of King Solomon.

YOUTH

Empress Menen Grew up in relative luxury and was known to be kind, compassionate and devoutly faithful to YAH. She had home tutors, a scholar named Maidu and a Monk named Abba Workineh. She gained various academic qualifications including home economics and spinning (an Ethiopian tradition) and was well read and a skilful writer.
At the age of twelve (which is normal in 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 sometime late 1909 or early 1910 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.

MARRIAGE WITH RAS TAFARI

Woizero Menen being the half sister of Lij Iyasu, then Emperor, probably met Dejazmach Tafari Makonnen at his home. This joyful occasion may have inspired him 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 and that he was very impressed by her character and friendly disposition. Later he said of H.I.M. Empress 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..." 

CHILDREN

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 in October 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.

CROWNING

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 YAH", "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 Empress Menen was given a gold and ivory sceptre. At the foot of the sceptre the name of YAH is engraved and the Pentacle of King 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, noting that both are from the King Solomon and Queen Makeda lineage. 

CHARACTER OF THE EMPRESS

A mother of 6, she balanced a stable family life together with her King and husband, Ras Tafari, crowned Emperor Haile Selassie I. She became His 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 acts, 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, offering advice on a whole range of issues and assisting in writing the elegant speeches of His Majesty. 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 the reign of Haile Selassie I an army revolt broke out and His Majesty was taken hostage. Her Majesty commandeered a tank to brake 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 were sent to the battle field. When the enemy’s planes bombed civilians she advised the people to take care. During the bombing she travelled by car in the city to advice and encouraged the people through her own courage. In addition to this she had been praying profusely, 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. Later when the italians had invaded Ethiopia, 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 honouring 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 a devote and faithful Christian in the Orthodox faith she was often in deep prayer. She went to St. Mark church every morning 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 Yahshua 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 fulfil whatever they asked of her.
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 what bright mind she has.
She is a Queen to rise up and fulfil every standard as a woman, wife, monarch, Christian,  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 visited 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 Empress Menen sought to serve the people instead of demanding services from them. 
She knew all people are mortal and equal 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 of the passing of some of her beloved children. As she is strong spiritually, the Almighty YAH gave her strength to overcome this. Even though she lost 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 with her. Therefore, the Ethiopian people love Empress Menen from the bottom of their heart and shared the happiness and sadness with her.

ACHIEVEMENTS

Empress Menen was very 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.

Empress Menen was 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 new church east of Addis Ababa, around the Entoto Tigret region. Empress Taitu gave this project to Empress Menen because she knew spiritually that 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.
On Sept. 6, 1926 Empress Menen went to the sacred land Jerusalem for the 2nd time. After she visited different Churches and monasteries she arranged for the construction of the St.Trinity church for Ethiopians on her account. She donated large sums 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, 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. Moreover, she gave part of her mother’s estate and many houses for the service of the school.  
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 faithful ones 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 transitioned before it was completed. She spent her last years in failing health, but continued her good works, constructing and repairing monasteries and churches.

Her Majesty gave estate and residence area for priests and deacons of St. Mary church. 

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.

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.

She opened the Siwaswe Birhan school. In this school the blind are learning how to write and read. The Empress gave generously, as well as sponsored programs for the poor, ill and disabled.

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.

Her Majesty also gave her estate to orphans whose fathers and mothers were killed by the enemies and to freed slaves.

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, Empress 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. 

ZIONTROD

In October 1961 the widely beloved  Empress Menen came under medical care for a weakened heart, from this time on the whole nation including Priests, Monks, Nuns and church members as well as the Sheiks and Kadis of Islamic Mosques turned to prayed for Her recovery. She regained her strength for a couple of months, but on the 15th of Februari 1962, at the age of 71 she transitioned due to heart failure. The Empress was buried in the crypt of Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa among the tombs of her children. Prime Minister Alilu 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 faithful 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 supposed transition, and the Empress remained in her original tomb in the crypt. During the ceremonial burial of His Majesties supposed remains in November 2000, the remains of Empress Menen were disinterred from the crypt tomb, and placed in the sarcophagus next to her supposed husband in the nave of the Cathedral, as He had originally intended.

What follows is a tribute to Empress Menen at the time of her Transition, by Yared Gebre Michael.

“It can be said that, Empress Mennen crossed the valley of the dead with heavenly glory awaiting her, her righteous accomplishments filling the world with light. Death did not overwhelm her before she had accomplished monumental deeds using the wealth YAH had given her. The Empress was the people’s right hand, her contributions were exemplary, surpassing those of other Queens and Empresses.

The passing of Empress Menen is a great loss to nation of Ethiopia, and created deep sadness among all of the Imperial family, but especially in the heart of Emperor Haile Selassie I, Menen’s husband for more then 50 years. The Empress was a true gift from YAH to the Emperor, who had not known a mother’s care for most of his childhood, as she passed away when he was only two years old, or the gentle guiding support of a father, who passed when he was fourteen. The support of the Empress was invaluable to the Emperor, especially during difficult times.

Among Empress Menen’s greatest heartaches and challenges were the years spent in exile and the loss of her children. The capacity of the Empress’s heart is echoed in the words of Solomon in Proverbs 31:10-27: “who can find a virtuous woman, the heart of her husband doth safely trust in her; she will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengthened her arms. Her candle goeth not out by night. She layed her hands on the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff (spool of fibre). She stretched out her hand to the poor, yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. She openeth her mouth with wisdom. She looketh well to ways of her household.”
We Also feel the spirit of Empress Menen in the reference, “may daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all” (proverbs 31:29)

The Empress never met anyone with a harsh expression or condescending glance, or showed feelings of annoyance or boastfulness. Her manner of speech was sympathetic and considerate towards everyone and her kindness and modesty were without doubt YAH’s spiritual gifts to her. Her love for YAH and human beings never diminished. Empress Menen used her understanding and wisdom to serve the country, to support the Emperor, undertake spiritual deeds, to take care for her family, and to show concern for her courtiers. The Empress was capable, even before she ascended the throne, of managing all household activities and moreover she contributed greatly to the promotions of modern handcrafts, and woman’s rights in Ethiopia. All of these actions must please YAH as well as mankind.

The existence of a good person such as Empress Menen creates many blessings, and so the passing of such a person created grate sorrow, especially to her beneficiaries. She looked after orphans in children’s homes by properly clothing, feeding and educating them, and eventually helped them in positions serving either the palace or in the church. By granting part of her rural land, on both a permanent or temporary basis, to those deserving, the Empress helped to pension the elderly. The Empress took care of and visited the sick, received the poor and lessened their burdens, assisted the aged, consoled the sad, and performed tasks that brought healing to the hungry, the thirsty, the naked and the imprisoned; while through all these good works, she prayed constantly  for peace in her country.

The attributes of Empress Menen resemble those of ancient biblical woman such as Esther, Deborah, Judith and Helen, as well renowned Ethiopian woman such as Empress Mentewab (circa 1710-1773, who was given the name Berhan Mogess (gifted with light), when she was crowned. Empress Mentewab is remembered with appreciation because she added on to the castle compound in Gondar and constructed the Kweskwam complex (honouring mother Mary) that overlooks Gondar from the mountains to the west. Both Empress Menen and Empress Mentewab had the baptismal name of Wolete Giorgis. (Wolete means the use of intellect to create a deeply and sensitive and refined nature, and St. George is the dragon slayer regarded as a symbol of bravery.

The sermons and prayers that will continue to be offered in the numerous churches designed and built with the funds donated from Empress Menen’s personal account stand as a continuing reminder of Empress Menen’s immeasurable benevolence. She was committed to a life of prayer and almsgiving, she abstained from unholy actions, and she regularly took the sacrament of Holy Communion. Empress Menen was indeed endowed with the qualities of wisdom, generosity, beauty, diligence, firm faith, love and respect for culture as well as flawless family care – A wealth of qualities rarely given to an Empress.”

LEGACY

Empress Menen leaves InI with a wonderful remnant, being such an inspiring woman and good example for so many, in her lifetime and still until this day, and will continue to do so for many years with the expansion of Rastafari as a way of Life. This is something that only the greatest woman throughout Istory can achieve, as this has to come naturally through the blessings of the Almighty YAH and faithful works towards the good. Just as there can only be One Christ (some make claims, but never fit the shoe), So can there only be One Empress Menen in the lead for female redemption together with RasTafari leading to redemption as a whole. And although it is not widely recognized yet, rest assured that this will come at the appropriate time.


 

 

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