Is this veneration of Haile Selassie just a rastafari thing or is he respected also among regular Ethiopians?
The personality of H.I.M. Haile Selassie I is controversed among the Ethiopians. You can have different reactions, depending on the person with whom you are discussing. I feel in general their view on H.I.M. is "bittersweet" you see. "Haile Selassie the good and the bad" some say.. But you also have those who consider him to be very very great, and on the other hand those who despise him considering him to be an evil man. Really controversial.
There were so many propagandas against H.I.M. and his government and the royal family.. And personally I must say that some Ethiopians are very ignorant about H.I.M., and just believe and repeat the distortions, the lies or half-truths they hear around them.
this is a fair and balanced assessment IMO. the Emperor remains controversial not only due to ignorance and hateful propaganda which has obviously been rampant by the derge regime and other parties, but also among the well educated historians as well as the general Ethiopian public which for the most part is highly political and knows its history pretty well. there are extremes on each end of course, but most would be fair to say, he was both good and bad. as he was only a man who had great responsibility of leading a country which is not made out of a one ethnicity , nor one religion. not everyone was enjoying his leadership, however we evaluate our emperors by the standards of their time and the precedent of our other glorious kings, kings we have canonised, as being just leaders as well as devout God bearing Christian Saints. some have abdicated their rule to persue the religious life. some have lived on a strict ascetic life while ruling as kings, the taxation only enough to maintain the govt, they were true servants of the Lord and the people, some of them not even eating the royal banquet that would be prepared for their court, rather they live on whatever income they have acquired by selling baskets as the monks do. each gives their crown to the Church upon their passing or their abdication. Kings like Emperor Minelek II were so much loved that their name was never called as just janhoy Menelik, but rather it was always Emmye Menelik/ dearest mother Menelik/ you see the place of a mother in Ethiopian Psyche is great, and that was how much they loved him, infact he was so loved that his death was hidden from the public for five years and for five years people used every opportunity to morn him on public defying the official denial of his death. they were also fiercely patriotic, there is a tradition in Ethiopia that the worriers go singing and laughing as they do battle the main team is to call the names of those that have died heroes, the ancestors, and how delightful it would be to meet them today and to stand among them with honor. its mainly called ' qererto, fukera, shillela' because of its outrageous jovial mood many have been called demons by their enemies.
the Emperor is measured by all that came before him and by the standards of his time and his situation. he has done many great things, and has made his fair share of political errors. however if we are talking about his faith, then he was a faithful man a devout orthodox christian, and served the Church the best he could. it pains me to see how much his name has been used to spread a false message, and idolatry which for some brought a political gain. however as St. Paul have said, saying I am Paul's or Apollo's is not the message of the Gospel. let us rejoice in the message of freedom that the Gospel of Christ Our Lord brings us.There is much fruit that has come out of him sending Bishop to the Caribbeans and making sure that the message of the Gospel is not distorted by political interest groups or other innocents. for Our Lord Jesus Christ is who we worship who we preach and whose return we anticipate and pray for. I thank God for those who have heard the message of Orthodoxy and became part of the fold of Christ's flock as a result of that. and I pray for the rest who are mistakenly lead astray by those who have distorted the message of the Gospel that they may come to see the Light of Christ Our Victorious King.
I realise there are monarchists who would wish for the return of the monarchy in Ethiopia, that is not likely to happen in the Ethiopia of today, however they can pray for that as the rest pray for the leadership that will be just for all. I read that some clergy are telling people that they must pray for the restoration of the monarchy, that is absolutely a matter of personal opinion. not a canonical obligation of the faithful.
habte I do not want to bust your bubble but, the 'baby boomers' as you called them although i doubt they can be called that, are not as ignorant of their history as you protray them, there is nothing fairy tale or a bogey man attitude about the emperor, if they have a boggy man attitude they will tell you the reason why they despise him, the reason might not be to our satisfaction but still there is a reason. Ethiopians are highly political people, they spend ours talking about their history and political impact of this leader or that, the generation you missed is the generation that overthrew the king, they are the fathers and mothers of the above baby boomers, and they have talked about him a lot more than they have talked about Emperor Caleb, or any other emperor. the new generation you mentioned of loving and adoring the emperor, because they are wearing the T-shirts of the lion of Judah, and the emperor or bob merely, i assure you the same generation is the one that has been fighting for a democratic government, this generation is not a monarchist generation, millions of Tupac's T-shirts have been sold in Ethiopia, as well as the T shirts of Emperor Theodoros, Yohannes, and Menelik. do not read too much into the event.
as to our Coptic brothers being at the Coronation , ofc they were there, as they have been before in the time of Menelik , theodoros, yohannes etc... solidarity in faith , and the hymn really means nothing other than it being a traditional hymn reserved for kings and bishops. there is no hidden Messianic message, and the hyperbole of praise by the Ethiopian singers of their monarchy its business as usual, they do it for all the kings. the more praise one comes up with a creative double entendre the better demonstrative effect it has on the learnt poet. the poets being Christians they use christian imagery in their poems.
May the Lord have mercy and give eternal rest to the soul of the Faithful Departed Servants of God Emperors of Ethiopia.