Several African leaders at the current African Union summit and relatives of the emperor attended the statue unveiling ceremony. Ethiopians have cheered the statue's erection, the first on Ethiopian soil since Haileselassie was mysteriously killed at the age of 83 in 1975 when a military junta called the Derg overthrew the imperial dynasty that existed in Ethiopia for 3,000 years.
Emperor Haileselassie is among the key African leaders who founded the Organization of African Unity, which became the African Union. He oversaw the maiden meeting of the continental body in 1963. Ethiopia was never colonized and Haileselassie is credited for helping a number of African countries to gain independence.