The African Union (AU) has unveiled a statue of Ethiopia's Emperor Haile Selassie I at its headquarters in Ethiopia's capital city Addis Ababa. The emperor served as King of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974. The statue was created in recognition of the role Haile Selassie played in the creation of the Organization of African Union (OAU) in 1963. He had a vision to free all African countries from colonialism and create strong and free independent countries on the continent. Speaking at the inauguration of the OAU, he said: "May this union last 1,000 years." The OAU lasted for 39 years before it changed into the African Union in 2002. The AU continues Haile Selassie's vision of achieving greater unity between African nations.
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Emperor Haile Selassie I was born in 1892 into an Ethiopian family that traced its roots back to King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba three thousand years ago. He was a highly influential figure in contemporary Ethiopian history. He was a skilled politician on the international stage during a time of great turmoil. He helped lead Ethiopia to become a charter member of the United Nations. Ethiopia remained a country that was never colonized. Haile Selassie is revered in the Rastafarian religion. Around one million Rastafarians around the world consider him as a messiah who came to Earth to spread the word of God. The 1973 famine in Ethiopia led to his eventual removal from the throne.