One of our elderly grandparents (who was alive during the events of World War II to be able to recall them, and is still living) didn’t know much about Rastafari faith, but they remembered Haile Selassie well for his character and public persona, and for this alone were open minded toward one of their grandchildren venerating or worshipping the Emperor as Christ returned.
Those who lived in the time of His Imperial Majesty’s international fame knew H.I.M. as the Lion of Judah, and if you asked many from that time, who is “the Lion of Judah?” they would say H.I.M., as Lion of Judah was synonymous with Haile Selassie, as exemplified by the testimony of Grace Butcher, ex-Bath resident (9:30, 9:44) “of course, when I knew he was Haile Selassie, he was the Lion of Judah wasn’t he… he knew who he was and what he was doing…” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLUpvdS8ucI
A person we met locally also had no idea about our faith, but they knew it involved Haile Selassie, and they told us that their Grandfather had met H.I.M. whilst serving in the armed forces, and the grandparent had recalled to him the impression the ‘Lion of Judah’ had made on him as a younger man.
Christine Sandford, recites ‘The Lion of Judah hath prevailed.’ as part of H.I.M.’s title in the same titled biography (“so ran his title”) (Chapter 7, King of Kings, paragraph 1 – p.56). Lion of Judah is also the name and title used to refer to H.I.M. in many documents and films from the era. (There are two documentaries Lion of Judah, a black and white documentary from the 1930s and The Lion of Judah, which was later and in colour. The former is rarer but we can find it if needed; it has some footage of great intrigue for those who haven’t seen it).
Commonly held beliefs in Christian eschatology, alongside modern interpretations of Ethiopic culture made during the age of information, mean that many (if not most) non-Rastafarians do not believe H.I.M. to be a candidate for Jesus Christ, and so accept the definition of The Lion of Judah to only allude to the Imperial motto of Ethiopia; understandably, otherwise Rastafari would be in much higher numbers.
A thorough and scholarly academic investigation of pre-Derg, and even pre-Italian invasion Ethiopia would be required to substantiate the claim that Lion of Judah was not a personal title of H.I.M. and void of any Christological implications; thus far we have yet to find a trained person to support the contemporary interpretation and viewpoint, yet we will always concede to accurate and fair information where it is given. However, thus far the evidence in society at large is that whereas in the geographic and cultural spaces of Ethiopia and it’s past ‘Lion of Judah etc.’ preceded Emperor’s titles as a Christian practice, the title took firm root in the annals of international history through the events surrounding, and person of, Qedemawi Haile Selassie. Factually (truthfully and honestly) no one else on the international world stage has been known as the Lion of Judah during their time on earth except one man. He is the Lion of Judah. Of course Jesus was called the Lion of Judah also, in Biblical scripture in reference to his return. Other than the Son of God, Jesus, who we’re not sure was called Lion of Judah during his first advent (via scriptural inference), is there another?
Because the title Lion of Judah is reserved for Christ, practicing Rastafari exalt H.I.M. as the Lion of Judah as a personal title for H.I.M., because in our faith He is the exact same Christ, Lamb of God and Lion of Judah. He is the Son of God in our Rastafari faith unequivocally.