Makonnen Wolde Mikael

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Makonnen Wolde Mikael
Ras Mäkonnen (Wäldä-Mika'él) (1852-1906).jpg
Shum of Harar
In office
MonarchYohannes IV
Menelik II
Succeeded byYilma Makonnen
Personal details
Born8 May 1852
Menz, Shewa
Ethiopian Empire
Died21 March 1906(1906-03-21) (aged 53)
Kulubi, Hararghe
Ethiopian Empire
Nationality Ethiopian
Spouse(s)Yeshimebet Ali
ChildrenYilma Makonnen
Tafari Makonnen
OccupationMilitary Officer, Diplomat, Court Official
Military service
Allegiance Ethiopian Empire
Battles/warsFirst Italo-Ethiopian War

Ras[nb 1] Makonnen Wolde Mikael Wolde Melekot (Amharic: ራስ መኮንን ወልደ ሚካኤል ወልደ መለኮት), or simply Ras Makonnen, also known as Abba Qagnew (አባ ቃኘው) (May 8, 1852 – March 21, 1906) was a Shewan royal from Menz, a military leader, the governor of Harar province in Ethiopia, and the father of Tafari Makonnen (later known as Emperor Haile Selassie). He is ethnically Amhara. His father was Fitawrari[nb 2] Makonnen and was a grandson of Negus[nb 3] Sahle Selassie of Shewa through his mother, Leult[nb 4] Tenagnework Sahle Selassie. As such, he was a first cousin of Emperor Menelik II.



Ras Makonnen, August 1902

Ras Makonnen Wolde Mikael wolde melekot was born at Derefo Maryam near Ankober Amhara region, what was then in the province of Menz[1][2] from His Mother Woizero Tenagnework Sahle Selassie and his Father Dejazmach Wolde Mikael Wolde Melekot. His father was a well-known patriot like Haile Melekot and Sahle Selassie of Shewa. At the age of 14 his father took him to the court of Negus Menelik, then ruler of Shewa, where he became a special companion of Menelik.[3]

In 1887, Makonnen was given the governorship of Harar after it was incorporated into the Ethiopian Empire by his cousin, Emperor Menelik. Other posts Ras Makonnen served included temporary governor of Tigray after the removal of the rebellious Ras Mangasha Yohannes; as a general during various military campaigns including during the First Italo–Ethiopian War, including a leading role at the Battle of Adowa where Ethiopian forces routed the Italians; and as a diplomat and de facto foreign minister.[citation needed]

In the 1880s, as Shum[nb 5] of Harar, Ras Mäkonnen became a close friend of the French poet, Arthur Rimbaud, who was then living and doing business in that province.[4]

In 1902, Ras Mäkonnen attended the coronation of King Edward VII in London. He arrived in June to the ceremony originally scheduled for 26 June, and stayed in Europe while the King recovered from an operation, attending the rescheduled ceremony on 9 August. Between these dates, he paid visits to various parts of the United Kingdom, and visited Italy, France, Turkey, and Germany. He received the following decorations: Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (KCMG) during an audience with King Edward VII on 8 August 1902,[5][6] Star of the Russian Order of St. Anne, Star of the French Legion d'Honneur (Third Republic), Star of the Order of the Crown of Italy, Star of the Ottoman Order of Osmania.[7]

In 1906, Dejazmach Yilma Makonnen succeeded Makonnen as Shum of Harar. Yilma Makonnen was his son from before his marriage to Wayzero Yeshimabet Ali. In 1907, Yilma Makonnen was in turn succeeded as Shum by his younger half-brother, Tafari Makonnen, the future Emperor Haile Selassie.


Around July 1873, Makonnen married Yeshimebet Ali, the daughter of Dejazmatch Ali and Woizero Wolete Giyorgis. In 1875, Yilma Makonnen was born to Makonnen and a woman who was not Yeshimebet Ali. In 1892, Tafari Makonnen, the son of Makonnen and Yeshimebet Ali, was born. In 1901, following the death of Yeshimebet Ali, Makonnen was briefly married to a niece of Empress Taytu Betul, Woizero[nb 6] Mentewab Wale. Makonnen's marriage to Mentewab Wale was never consummated and, in 1902, it was annulled.


While travelling from Harar to Addis Ababa, Ras Makonnen came down with typhus. His officers brought him to Kulubi, where he died as daylight broke after having given his son Tafari Makonnen a whispered benediction.[8]

Monument to Ras Makonnen[edit]

The Monument to Ras Makonnen located in Harar was sculpted in 1959,[9] by Antun Augustinčić, a Croatian sculptor active in former Yugoslavia and the United States. In June 2020 the equestrian Monument to Ras Makonnen was toppled and destroyed by protests who participated in Hachalu Hundessa riots, following the death of Hachalu Hundessa.[10][11] The event was also followed by smashing of the Statue of Ras Makonnen Wolde Mikael's son and Ethiopian leader Haile Selassie in Wimbledon park, UK.[12] Referring to a statue in Addis Ababa of Menelik II, Hachalu told Oromia Media Network (OMN) said that people should remember that all the horses seen mounted by old rulers leaders belonged to the people.[11]


  1. ^ Roughly equivalent to Duke.
  2. ^ Equivalent to Commander of the Vanguard. Roughly equivalent to Baron.
  3. ^ Roughly equivalent to King.
  4. ^ Roughly equivalent to Princess.
  5. ^ Roughly equivalent to Governor.
  6. ^ Roughly equivalent to Lady.
  1. ^ Haile Selassie, My life and the steps of Ethiopia(Amharic)
  2. ^ Black Witness. Ras Makonnen : Pan-Africanism from within [compte-rendu
  3. ^ Haile Selassie I, My Life and Ethiopia's Progress: The Autobiography of Emperor Haile Sellassie I, translated from Amharic by Edward Ullendorff. (New York: Frontline Books, 1999), vol. 1, p. 13.
  4. ^ Nicholl, Charles. Somebody Else: Arthur Rimbaud in Africa 1880-91. 1999, p. 231.
  5. ^ "Court Circular". The Times (36842). London. 9 August 1902. p. 6.
  6. ^ "No. 27469". The London Gazette. 29 August 1902. p. 5603.
  7. ^ Kinni, Fongot Kini-Yen (23 September 2015). Pan-Africanism: Political Philosophy and Socio-Economic Anthropology for African Liberation and Governance: Vol. 2. ISBN 9789956762309.
  8. ^ Harold G. Marcus, The Life and Times of Menelik II: Ethiopia 1844-1913 (Lawrenceville: Red Sea Press, 1995), p. 6
  9. ^ The Antun Augustinčić Gallery. Archived from the original on 14 June 2011. Retrieved June 7 2020
  10. ^ "Deadly protests erupt after Ethiopian singer killed". BBC News. 30 June 2020. Retrieved 1 July 2020.
  11. ^ a b Ethiopians Angered At Singer's Death Topple Statue, retrieved June 30, 2020
  12. ^ Haile Selassie: Statue of former Ethiopian leader destroyed in London park


  • Marcus, Harold G. (1995). The Life and Times of Menelik II: Ethiopia 1844-1913. Lawrenceville: Red Sea. ISBN 1-56902-010-8.

External links[edit]

Media related to Ras Makonnen at Wikimedia Commons