When, in 1930, Ras Tafari Makonnen, great-grandson of King Saheka Selassie of Shoa, was made Emperor of Ethiopia and proclaimed Negusa Negast (King of Kings), Jamaica's slum-dwellers and rural poor, for whom Garvey had been something of a gallant oracle, regarded this event as the fulfillment of a prophecy of deliverance. Indeed, Ethiopia had symbolized all of Africa for the slave-descended Jamaicans since as far back as 1784, when American Baptist minister George Liele founded the Ethiopian Baptist Church on the island. These "Garveyites" were awed by newspaper and newsreel accounts of the pomp of Selassie's coronation in Addis Ababa and took note of the symbolism in the choice of his formal title, Haile Selassie being an honorific meaning "Power of the Holy Trinity." Selassie, they knew, claimed to be directly descended from King Solomon, so they reasoned that he must be the long-awaited savior of the planet's far-flung African peoples.
In Africa, Selassie was hailed as the greatest of modern monarchs and a symbol of the continent's vast potential. In the United States, residents of Harlem jammed movie houses to watch the newsreel footage of his coronation. And in the Caribbean, as elsewhere in the West, the advent of Selassie's reign was taken as shining proof for all downtrodden people of color that, as the back-to-Africa Garveyites and the firebrands of the syncretistic Rastafarian cult had foretold, the day of Deliverance was at hand.
To the Garveyites, Haile Selassie I was a hero without peer. To the Rastafarians he was the Living God of Abraham and Isaac, He Whose Name Should Not Be Spoken.