Empress Menen Asfaw of Ethiopia

2 Posted by - January 1, 2020 - Black History, BLACK WOMEN, History

Empress Menen Asfaw (Baptismal name Walatta Giyorgis) was the Empress consort of the Ethiopian Empire. She was the wife of Emperor Haile Selassie.

Menen was born Itege Menen Asfaw In Ambassel on April 3, 1889. She was the daughter of Asfaw, Jantirar of Ambassel. Her maternal grandfather was Negus Mikael of Wollo and her uncle was Emperor Iyasu V (Lij Iyasu).

She married in early August of 1911. She was 20-years-old and the future Emperor was very impressed by her character and friendly disposition. Over time, Empress Menen Asfaw gave husband, Emperor Haile Selassie six children; Princess Tenagnework, Prince Asfaw Wossen, Princess Tsehai, Princess Zenebework, Prince Makonnen and Prince Sahle Selassie. When Haile Selassie became Emperor of Ethiopia his wife was crowned Empress alongside him. As consort, Empress Menen was very active and undertook a number of charitable duties focused on women, children and religious issues. The Empress also supported numerous charitable causes for the poor, the infirm and the handicapped.

Empress Menen Asfaw also served as Patroness of the Ethiopian Red Cross, and the Ethiopian Women’s Charitable Organization. She was also a patroness of the Jerusalem Society that arranged for pilgrimages to the Holy Land. She founded the Empress Menen School for Girls in Addis Ababa, the first all-girls school which had both boarding and day students. She gave generously from her personal funds towards the building of the new Cathedral of St. Mary of Zion at Axum but did not live to see it completed and dedicated.

Empress Menen Asfaw died on February 15, 1962, and was buried in the imperial crypt at the Holy Trinity Cathedral.





  • Fredrick Williams September 26, 2017 - 11:18 pm Reply

    Thanks for making us aware or bringing awareness to this fascinating pioneer. An Empress who was a giver to many causes. Glad to know she founded the first all girls boarding school helping countless women reach untold heights.

  • Zee April 9, 2018 - 4:52 am Reply

    This article speaks of Empress Menen being married at 20 years… However, it does not cover that she was married prior, more than once… She was a child bride at 9 years, birthing her first two children… She also birthed her third and fourth child with second husband, before being widowed… Regardless of information not presented here, One thing is for sure… She was a Wombman of great attributes… Her life story truly motivate others to perform greater works and deeds for HUEmanity…

    • Nadine May 13, 2018 - 10:45 am Reply

      Hi as I have been researching about Empress Menen. I am unable to locate the prior children or husband they state she was married too? Could you refer any articles or pictures of her other children? Thank you.

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