Three years ago, My wife, my sister and I was invited to meet with the president of Ethiopia, The honorable Girma Wolde-Giorgis. After our meeting, the president kindly allowed us to visit the living chamber of Emperor Haile Selassie and Queen Menen. The living chamber of the palace is located on the second floor of the palace. This was a very unique opportunity because The palace’s living chambers was out of commission since 1974 and they are out of public reach. When we headed to the upstairs of the palace, the people that work there was pretty amazed due to the uniquness of our visit. Once we get there, we were greeted with a very nice and sweet lady that was around before the passing of the king.
Let me say a little bit about this lady, I am not going to mention her name for personal reasons. Say what you want about King Haile Selassie, but for her, there was no confusion about the love and devotion she had for him. Throughout the tour she was addressing him in present tense as if he is still around. She uses terms that are from the time of the monarchy. I asked her why she is doing that and she said because she believes and proudly call him her king and remembers her service for him. She said she cleans and keeps everything the same way, I mean the same way, for the past 30 plus years. She showed me a book he was reading right where he left it. The things he left in his night stand are exactly where he left them. This confused me a lot because the military junta that killed the king and over thrown his dynasty was very hostile to people that are associated to the monarchy and what I am witnessing didn’t match up. So she explained it to me. She said, “The military leaders instructed some of the staff to keep caring for the palace even if the official palace is out of commission” she also said ” they chose me to do it and here I am as ” she said wiping her tears and smiling as the same time. All I can do was hug her.
Another thing that interested us was how the emperor lived. All his cloth and shoes was made locally. The military garment you are seeing in his photos are all Ethiopian made. His shoes are local made and still being shinned. Our tour guide told us it was one of his rules to show his countries product especially when he travels. The bedroom have a bath with black tile on it. Inside that bedroom, I felt a dying king who was lonely and dedicated the rest of his life for prayer and meditation (Bible on the night stand and a one chair by the window he frequent)
The lady also took us to Empress Menen’s room. Empress Menen Asfaw was the wife and consort of Emperor Haile Selassie I. She died February 15, 1962, five years ahead of the Emperor. He ordered to keep her room be taken care of as if she was still around. Finally he also got the same wish. Thanks for the lady no one else know about, until now at least.
I am sure there are a lot of supporters and opponents of the king and his monarchy. I think that is ok depending on who you ask but it is very important the we keep history intact so the next generation judge it. It is because of the work of all the people involved that I come to learn what I am sharing with you.
Here is the photo of our tour in the Emperor Haile Selassie’s palace bedroom with the lovely caregiver.