DESTINY visits former Ethiopia ruler Emperor Haile Selassie's holiday home.
The faded silk headboard was torn a little, but the glamour was still there. The beautiful scalloped basins were still charming and the Art Deco fittings, cutting edge.
Ethiopia’s Emperor Haile Selassie, the biological heir of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon of ancient Israel, was reportedly killed by a communist junta in 1975. But he was so special a leader that he is revered even today as the God incarnate of the Rastafari faith.
On a recent trip to Ethiopia, DESTINY was part of a group permitted to visit his holiday house on the outskirts of stunning Lake Tana in Bahir Dar. It’s been preserved and untouched, for four decades and gives intriguing access to the life he led.
Cake and Ale, the 30s novel from William Somerset Maugham, leans against a tome on Indian philosophy in his study bookcase. Texts on Europe and the Second World War also sit side by side.
We took turns sitting in his mud-green swivel chair while a white-jacketed butler, once Selassie’s personal butler, looked helplessly on. He’s kept the house spotless for 27 years and seemed none too pleased about the government’s decision to start allowing selected groups of tourists to troop through the eery property.
In the sunny reception room is a bar of perfectly stylish repute, padded leather everywhere and geometric tiles. Also, a blue velvet couch sits close by. In the back, two army-issue Land Rovers are rusting.
The kitchen was spotless, with a discreet staircase leading up the back of the house to the emperor’s modest dining room. Everything brought the 60s and 70s vividly to life.
Style website mrporter.com has named Selassie – whose full title was Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and Elect of God – one of their international style icons. His bemedalled, military apparel was always perfectly pressed and his demeanour impeccably regal.
No surprise then that his house inspired the same sense of his enduring style.
To read the full version of this story go to page 42 of the July issue of DESTINY