Menen Asfaw was born to an Oromo family on April 3, 1891. She was crowned on November 2, 1930 when her husband, Tafari Makonnen became the Emperor of Ethiopia known as Haile Selassie. Empress Menen was known as a champion for education and an advocate for women’s issues in Ethiopia. She founded the Empress Menen School for Girls, the first all girls’ school in Addis Ababa, and also built, renovated, and established churches throughout Ethiopia that had been destroyed by the Italians. Known as “the women without any malice whatsoever”, Empress Menen dedicated her crown to the church, fulfilling her oath to the Virgin Mary if the nation was spared from Italian occupation. To the public, Empress Menen was the epitome of a majestic and dutiful wife, combining her religious piety with her fervent concern for social issues and taking no personal stand on political issues. However, behind the scenes, she was the emperor’s most trusted advisor, offering her advice on a variety of social issues.
For more information, read My Life and Ethiopia’s Progress by Haile Selassie.
Picture from To Zion.