The Doubts and Hesitations of Marcus Garvey; The Day Marcus Garvey Dissed Haile Selassie I

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By Marcus Garvey

The Failure of Emperor Haile Selassie

It is a pity that a man of the limited intellectual calibre and weak political character like Haile Selassie became Emperor of Abyssinia at so crucial a time in the political history of the world. Unfortunately, Abyssinia lost the controlling influence of a political personality of patriotic racial character like the late Menelik, whose loyalty to his race and devotion to his country excelled all his other qualities, to the extent that he was able to use that very strength to continuously safeguard the interests of the Ethiopian Empire. What he did so well to preserve, a cringing, white slave hero worshipper, visionless and disloyal to his country, threw away. This is the impression the serious minded political student forms of the conduct of the ex-Emperor of Abyssinia.


Every Negro who is proud of his race must be ashamed of the way in which Haile Selassie surrendered himself to the white wolves of Europe. These statements may be considered very severe, and in fact, they are. We could have been otherwise apologetic and sympathetic, but that would have been only if we were dealing with a Coptic Priest or a Religious Monk and not a[n] Emperor who held and presided over the political trust of twelve million people of his own country, and the political destiny of the entire Negro race. This little misguided Emperor could not realize that he held in his hands the political trust of the hundreds of millions of Negroes of the world, men and women, who were looking up toward the firm establishment of political sovereignty, and that Ethiopia, like Liberia and Haiti were to them prizes of glory to be perpetuated and strengthened in the maintenance of the dignity of that black race that other men have claimed to be incompetent, inferior and unworthy, which every black man must disprove.

When the war started in Abyssinia all Negro nationalists looked with hope to Haile Selassie. They spoke for him, they prayed for him, they sung for him, they did everything to hold up his hands, as Aaron did for Moses; but whilst the Negro peoples of the world were praying for the success of Abyssinia this little Emperor was undermining the fabric of his own kingdom by playing the fool with white men, having them advising him[,] having them telling him what to do, how to surrender, how to call off the successful thrusts of his Rases against the Italian invaders. Yes, they were telling him how to prepare his flight, and like an imbecilic child he followed every advice and then ultimately ran away from his country to England, leaving his people to be massacred by the Italians, and leaving the serious white world to laugh at every Negro and repeat the charge and snare – “he is incompetent,” “we told you so.” Indeed Haile Selassie has proved the incompetence of the Negro for political authority, but thank God there are Negroes who realize that Haile Selassie did not represent the truest qualities of the Negro race. How could he, when he wanted to play white? How could he, when he surrounded himself with white influence? How could he, when in a modem world, and in a progressive civilization, he preferred a slave State of black men than a free democratic country where the black citizens could rise to the same opportunities as white citizens in their democracies?

The truth must be told so that the white world will realize that it was not the pride of the Negro that surrendered in Abyssinia. It was the disloyalty of a single man who was too silly to take pride in his race, who played such a game as to disgrace the political integrity of a noble people. The Negroes of Abyssinia and of the world are satisfied however that Abyssinia was not conquered by Italy and the European forces of Mussolini. Abyssinia was only conquered by the black levies of Italy. The Askaris have really been the victors in Abyssinia. [Rodolfo] Graziani only marched into Addis Ababa after he had made sure of the advanced guard of the Askaris. Every battle that the Italians won in Abyssinia resulted from the advanced charge of the Askaris. It was black men fighting black men, and this was made possible in Abyssinia because the regime of Haile Selassie had given a bad taste to the mouth, not only of the blacks of Abyssinia but of those of the surrounding territories. They felt that they had a cause against the Amharic white loving Emperor who liked to chain and flog black men, and whose brutality to them gave Mussolini the cause to fool the world that he was bestowing a blessing upon the people of Abyssinia by freeing them.

It was a piece of impertinence to suggest that black men should be held as slaves. We must admit that we glorified Haile Selassie when the war started, fought his battles to win international support, but we ever felt deep down in our hearts that he was a slave master. We had hoped that if Abyssinia had won that we would have forced the Government of Abyssinia to free the black whom they held as slaves. We would have preferred this than seeing the country taken by Mussolini or any European power; but now that the country is temporarily lost and the Emperor has cowardly exiled himself, the truth must be told.

The future freedom of Abyssinia must be built upon the highest principles of democracy. That is why it is preferable for the Abyssinian Negroes and the Negroes of the world to work for the restoration and freedom of the country without the assistance of Haile Selassie, because at best he is but a slave master.

The Negroes of the Western World whose forefathers suffered for three hundred years under the terrors of slavery ought to be able to appreciate what freedom means. Surely they cannot feel justified in supporting any system that would hold their brothers in slavery in another country whilst they are enjoying the benefits of freedom elsewhere.

The Africans who are free can also appreciate the position of slaves in Abyssinia. What right has the Emperor to keep slaves when all the democratic sections of the world were free, when men had the right to live, to develop, to expand, to enjoy all the benefits of human liberty[?]

The Emperor who has been exiled in Europe must have seen the civilization of Europe. In England where he lives he sees that men are not flogged and chained and kicked because of their colour or because of their condition, but where true human liberty guarantees to every man the happiest pursuit he can bring to himself.

It has been reported that he is leaving England for Syria, where a large number of Abyssinian refugees are living. There is an interpretation that the decision to leave England and to live among “his people?” in Syria is to perpetuate his divine majesty in the presence of that king worship that he doesn’t get in England, where men look at others as equals and not as masters by divine right. In truth, the Emperor is out of place in democratic England. He wants to be once more in the environment of the feudal Monarch who looks down upon his slaves and serfs with contempt.

Except he changes the attitude of thinking himself better than the Negro who constitutes the larger number of Ethiopia and profit by the experience he has gained, he should not be a fit person to be in authority in the very country in which he was born.

After all, Haile Selassie is just an ordinary man like any other human being. What right has he to hold men as slaves? It is only the misfortune of the slaves that causes him to be a slave master. Negroes who have the dignity of their race at heart resent the impertinence of anyone holding the blacks as slaves.

Haile Selassie ought to realize this and abolish his foolish dream of being an Emperor of slaves and serfs and try to be an Emperor of noble men, and for him to be that he must himself be the noblest of them all.

He hasn’t proved his nobility in the war between Italy and Abyssinia. Ras Desta proved to be the Lord, the Nobleman of Ethiopia whilst Haile Selassie proved a cringing coward!


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17 thoughts on “The Doubts and Hesitations of Marcus Garvey; The Day Marcus Garvey Dissed Haile Selassie I”

  1. Thanks for this. This proves two things to me:

    a) That Marcus Mosiah Garvey was an honest and even dispassionate commentator of the truth as he saw it

    b) Rastalivewire is no wild-eyed Selassie the human is absolute in all things.


  2. This is very ensightful information. I had often wondered why George Jackson called Haile Selassie a “little punk’ in the book Soledad Brother

  3. For what Haile Selassie WAS? It`s a shame you could not,many generations later,get rid of your enslaved mentality by the white man to sow seeds of hatred and baseless facts on Haileselassie.Your masters of History are still your seems.Get a life & sort your misery,instead of blaming HaileSelassie for your unending misfortune and inferioirity complex.
    Longlive Ethiopia!!

    1. my people can’t you see what the man is saying ? haile selassie will be very unhappy with you with the words you are using on marcus garvey

  4. You are So mis- informed. Ras Desta was the son-in-law of HAILE SELASSIE.
    He headed the southern army against the Italians.

  5. Budabet and Yohanna

    So you cyaan read or what? The article was written by the right Hon. Marcus Mosiah Garvey. You wanna curse Garvey or argue with him that is fine with me, but lay your complaints at the right doorstep. Read with discernment and be slow to condemn.


  6. I suspect and hope this is the speech Marcus Garvey regretted the most of ANY address in his life. He couldn’t have been MORE WRONG IF HE HAD TRIED! History has proven him to be completely wrong. Haile Selassie I came back to power because he went into exile. He wasn’t a coward, he was smart, something Marcus couldn’t claim exclusive rights to. Haile Selassie I led AFRICA to FREEDOM and Independence, something Marcus did little about. This speech needs to be read to overstand just how wrong a good man can be on a given subject. Marcus, this is for YOU!

    1. mi bredren this is objectivity on the part of marcus garvey. he commended and criticize haile selassie. remember haile selassie as a king had his own weakness . remember also no blakkman will ovastand the reason why a blakkman will keep another blakkman as a slave, it jus does not make sense to any man of colour like marcus garvey . slavery is a white mentality. i think this particular speech encouraged haile selass to regain the throne and also remember there would have been a response haile selassie if HIM found those criticism unjust or non objective. as much as one recognize haile selassie as ones king who is ones God on earth does not stop one from expressing himself about the flaws of matter wat the weak heart says i an i know that haile selassie i i-tinaully selassie i live and regn

  7. As blessed as Marcus Mosiah Garvey was, as it is in the biblical times of Moses, from whence doubt was created and God had to prove Himself each and every time to win the faith of His Divine Kingdom; history repeated itself and though blessed by God in his endeavours: ONE AIM, ONE GOD, ONE DESTINY. Garvey failed because He knows not who this God be. He failed because he knows not that God is a “frame of thought” as the Crown resembles…..the ever knowing. As he predicts to justify the statement that a “man is just a man,” he watcheth God create the New World Order he so desire for the conscience of the Human Family. And then where his mortality became his shortcoming, the world witness God as he strengthen the Foundation for the Organization of African Unity. And without spoken a word, God revealed to the African all the jewels of wisdom he need to increase in knowledge to ascertain the goal of One Destiny: A Mighty Race. Marcus Garvey is Blessed. God is Great.

    1. the UNIA laid the foundation for the establishment of OAU . garvey never failed and i know haile selassie himself knows very well that garvey never failed. note haile selassie was for marcus garvey and marcus garvey was for haile selassie

  8. My overstanding of this issue is that hailie selassie had far more resources at his disposal than marcus garvey ever had. Yet garvey who had undergone far more trangression and tribulation was able to accomplish much more than selassie for the black race.
    The only sensible reason I can think of, as to why a black man would want to enslave another black man is for selfhishness and greed.

  9. My lord we must all remember that many Kings that sat upon the throne of David not excluding the Prophets and Priests that minister unto us the true Israelites,some end up falling way short of the real objective which is to serve the wishes of God their sender, the Bible can attest to this.Eventhough God and man shares the same qualities,man many times let is lower nature(lust of the flesh,pride,power etc) rules him.Man’s sole purpose on earth is to serve his Higher Nature (the Universal Intelligence,the Spirit).Also Spiritual Science teaches that the Mind,Body and Soul were all emanated from the Spirit(Our Higher Nature) the quintessence of life and not the other way around.Hence when the scriture says- that thine will be done on earth as in Heaven-,it is really saying that Earth which is temporal,must work unceasingly to be as Heaven which is eternal.(Both Marcus Garvey (the greatest Prophet ever born from the womb of a woman) and His Majesty (the Power of the Trinity) has to contend with these trappings that living on earth(the lowest realm of God) has to offer.Now how we all, including these Godheads interpret such living on a day to day basis,is not devoid of scrutinity nor critisism however harsh they may be.all of this thou we cant deny is just History and Prophecy fulfilling itself.


    Marcus Emmanuel I King Selassie Jah Rastafari!!!

  10. The ethiopian Tewahido Church ,Anintegrally African Church…ARCHBISHOP ABUNA YESEHAQ ,THE RASTA BISHOP who ATSE HAILE SELASSIE SENT TO JAMAICA AND THE WEST TO PLANT SEED OF ERTHODOXY,SAID HAILE SELASSIE IS AN ARCH TYPE OF CHRIST AND MARCUS GARVEY AN ARCH TYPE OF ST JOHN THE BAPTIST..DID NOT ST JOHNTHE BAPTIST SAID CHRIST MUST INCREASE AND HE JOHN WILL DECREASE.DID NOT THE ST JOHN THE BAPTIST CURSE CHRIST WHILE IN PRISON???SO ethiopian tewahido orthodox church head is his majesty the monarch on earth and YESUS KRESTOS IN HEAVENLY KINGDOM..ABUNA YESEHAQ CONDEMNED THE 2 PATRIARCHS IN ETHIOPIA AND CALLED FOR NEW REFORMS IN CHURCH ADM IN ETHIOPIA AWAY FR CHURCH POLITICS.THEY POISONED.I MY SELF FOLLOWED HIS COMMAND TO I RASTA TO BURY HIM IN JAMAICA IN THE CHURCH AS WITNESS FOR A FUTURE PROPHECY..MARCUS GARVEY IS JAMAICA NATIONAL HERO,AS WELL As hon his eminence abuna yesehaq an african,and nanny and cudjoe ,african maroons.if u never study theology and never know his majesty mission about the rastafarians in ethiopian tewahido acceptance..u will never overstand this dialogue..for real..its moving like a magnet right out whiteman slave masters…jah send a big black stone to mash up rome …zeen..blessed be the ethiopian tewahido church..not even ethiopians understand its mission like abuna yesehaq and his rastafarian congregation..surely he found his real home and fanily..ethiopia must end ethnicity..its unchristian and shame ful..bless

  11. U talk down on a Man who was born in a mud hut taking from HIM mom and taught about religion by a Catholic Man who I’m sure was from England. 1 thing MY Father knew was evolution was catching up to HIM county not only economically but also the weapons that created was not of God. If My Father wouldn’t stood HIM ground not went for help HIM knew Ethophia was the birth place of the original black man and they would’ve killed everyone a conquering heart knows no love. Survival u no nothing about save your ppl from genocide. The way Marcus Garvey felt about Selassie I could be y his lost his ships and everything

  12. If any other person had said these things he would have been condemned which goes to show that the majority of people who say they are rasta are fake. If you love Haille Selassie how can you revere anyone who speaks so ill of him to me it’s hypocrisy of the worst kind. Haille Selassie does not judge people based on colour.

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