The title Ras, or head in Amharic, is similar in Ethiopia to a mayor or governor of a district. Tafari is the first name of the last Emperor of Ethiopia before taking his crowned name of Haile Selassie I. Born Tafari Makonnen (July 23, 1892) he would inherit the land of Harar from his father and become Ras of that region of the country. His father fought side by side with the ruling king Menelik II against the first Italian invasion of Ethiopia. Makonnen senior impressed Menelik II to such a degree that he would pass the crown of Ethiopia unto his son Tafari. Menelik II had no sons of his own.
Even at a very young age Tafari was a very wise and intelligent person with a knack for foreign languages. His battle to the crown was not an easy one. Being in line for the King (Negus) of Ethiopia he was given a second name at birth, one that he would take upon receiving the crown: Haile Selassie I.