|Exiled Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia (1892-1975) stood before the League of Nations to
appeal for international support against the Italian Fascist conquest of his country.
A few weeks earlier, he and his family had taken refuge in Wimbledon with a sympathetic family
living in Parkside. After a while, they moved on for a longer period in Bath but his stay at Lincoln
House, opposite Wimbledon Common, marked one of the town’s most remarkable events and is
still recalled by a statue in Cannizaro Park.
An amateur sculptor, Hilda Seligman took advantage of Haile Selassie’s presence at her house to
create the bust now standing in Cannizaro Park. It originally stood in the grounds of Lincoln House
until the building was demolished in 1957, making way for the roads and houses now on that site.
Wimbledon Council was given ownership of the statue and it was moved to Cannizaro Park’s rose
garden beside Camp Road. In the 1980s it was transferred again to its present position in the
former Tennis Garden amid rhododendrons behind the aviary.
Over the years the bust deteriorated and in 2004, Hilda’s daughter-in-law, Nancy-Joan Seligman
(widow of Madron), offered what was now Merton Council and the Friends of Cannizaro Park some
funding towards its restoration. Eventually, Merton's arts development officer persuaded the
Council to carry out the project, supported by the Friends.
Haile Selassie himself was assassinated following a coup in Ethiopia in August 1975. However,
following his exile in the 1930s, he had become an inspirational African leader known as the Lion of
Judah to followers of the Rastafarian faith.
So when the restored bust was formally unveiled by the Mayor of Merton on 22 October 2005, the
ceremony was attended by a remarkable mix of Rastafarians, members of the Seligman family,
relatives of the late Emperor himself - now exiled once more - and Friends of Cannizaro Park.
For Haile Selassie, Africa’s last true Emperor and 225th in a line traced to back to the Biblical Queen
of Sheba, holding a unique status had its ups and downs.
|The Crown Council of Ethiopia|
11 February 2019 at 08:22
The President of The Crown Council of Ethiopia participated in the unveiling at the African
Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa on February 10, 2019 (22nd Yäkatit 2011). The statue
honors His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I, the driving force behind the
foundation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the fore-runner to the African
Prince Ermias is shown in the grey suit (left picture: left, right picture: center) at the
statue with a number of members of the Imperial Solomonic Family on a landmark
occasion, at which the new Ethiopian Government and the African Union publicly
celebrated the Emperor.