This is the coffin of emperor Haile Selassie
Ras Tefari, the son of Ras Mekonnen (Governor of Harar), was crowned under the name Emperor Haile Selassie in November 1930. He drafted a new constitution for the country and the first parliament was assembled in November 1931, which was designed to give control of the country to the nobility based on hereditary rather than on democracy. The constitution also limited the powers of the regional Princes. This new constitution was only challenged by Ras Hailu of Gojjam. Ras Hailu of Gojjam was jailed for life in 1932, not only for his challenge to the constitution but also for attemptting to assist Iyasu esacpe from prison in Fiche, North Shewa.
Ayoub mzee at the side of emperor Haile Selassie
Haile Selassie modernisation of the whole country was based on a divide and rule policy. He worked against Tigray in many ways. He continued to isolate Tigray and it became one of the poorest and most underdeveloped regions in Ethiopia.
In October 1935, The Italian army, with order from Mussolini, invaded northern part of Ethiopia i.e. Adigrat, Adwa and Mekele. Haile Selassie appealed to the League of Nations of which Ethiopia is a member state, but his appeal was completely ignored. The League of Nations, especially Britain and France, turned a blind eye to what was happening in Ethiopia, effectively giving Italy a green light to occupy Ethiopia.
This is the seat of power of emperor Haile Selassie
In May 1936, Italy occupied the whole country and incorporated it with Eritrea and Somalia into one territory. Under the order of Mussolini, the Italian army looted the tallest Stelae (obelisk) from Aksum in 1937 and stood in Rome for 68 years. The Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia had been campaigning vigorously for its return to Aksum, Ethiopia. Italy had finally agreed to return the 24-metre granite obelisk to Aksum in April 2005 and was reassembled in 2008 on its original place.
However, the Second World War broke out in Europe in 1939. On June 10, 1940, Italy declared war on Britain and France. The British army advanced into the Italian occupied countries in East Africa (i.e. Ethiopia and Somalia). In January 1941, the British army and the Ethiopian warriors defeated the Italian army. During the occupation, which lasted 5 years, the Italians humiliated and killed many innocent civilians.
After the British army and the Ethiopian warriors drove the Italians out of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie returned from his exile to reclaim his throne with the help of the British. In 1943, when the Tigrayans heard about the return of Haile Selassie they rebelled against him forming a resistance group under the name "Weyane" (popular uprising). The Tigrayans were determined to unseat Haile Selassie as they held the view that he did not deserve to reclaim the throne for his desertion of his country and people while Ethiopia faced unforeseen occupation, killing and humiliation of its people by the Italian army.
Haile Selassie requested help from Britain to help to put down the Tigrayan rebellion. The British Royal Air Force flew from Yemen and bombed the "Weyane" while they were meeting in Mekele, Capital City of Tigray. The British appeared to have forgotten that the Tigrayans were their allies against Tewodros in 1869 and the Mahdist of Sudan in 1889. The market in Mekele is now remembered as grave of the "First Weyane".
In order to diffuse the mistrust and rebellion by the Tigrayans, Haile Selassie arranged for his granddaughter to marry Ras Mengesha Seyoum of Tigray and then made him Prince of Tigray. It was a good move politically. Soon after Haile Selassie went to Aksum to be officially consecrated as Emperor of Ethiopia. Traditionally, when leaders are crowned they must be consecrated in the Church of Saint Mary of Zion, Aksum, in order to claim their direct descendant from the King Solomon and Queen of Sheba otherwise their throne becomes invalid.