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Meet Balahu, Ethiopia’s Tallest Man and Umbrella Carrier for Emperor Selassie

Balahu was discovered by the late Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie around 1934 when he presided over the Supreme Court of Addis Ababa.

He had then been captured amongst a group of bandits who were plundering villages on the outskirts of Addis Ababa.

He was later brought before the Supreme Court to face trial although other accounts state that he was captured for murdering his rival in a love affair.

Haile Selassie was the last emperor of the Solomonic Dynasty that ruled Ethiopia until September 12, 1974

Balahu, with his exceptional height (7-foot 5-inch), caught the attention of the emperor, who decided to free him and appoint him as the ‘Imperial Umbrella Carrier of the Lion of Judah’.

Born in Ethiopia in 1910, Balahu, who was then dragged before the emperor in chains, would now become his giant umbrella carrier during ceremonies.

But that wasn’t all. He was also given the most envied post of the entire Ethiopian empire – the Drum Major of the Imperial Fanfare.

Balahu was made a drum major in the imperial band — Tallest Man

But things fell apart for him when the Italian army invaded the capital in 1935.

In October 1935, fascist Italian war leader Benito Mussolini launched his invasion of Ethiopia. Held at bay by Emperor Selassie’s troops, Mussolini would eventually enter Addis Ababa on May 5, 1936, declaring the country as part of the Italian empire and Italian East Africa.

Selassie, otherwise known as The Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I, King of Kings of Ethiopia, Elect of God, had then fled Ethiopia to French Somaliland, leaving Balahu behind.

As the Italian army advanced, Balahu joined the resistance fighting Italians but was captured and jailed. He was later executed in 1936.

According to a report by the Daily Express newspaper, Balahu was condemned by the Italian military tribunal on a charge of “espionage and brigandage” and was executed by a firing squad.

Balahu was executed in 1936 —

The life history of Balahu tells the stories of men and women who grew above the normal human height, a phenomenon that has since attracted several scientific terms, such as acromegaly, pituitary gigantism, and eunuchoid tallness, among others.

One cannot highlight historical giant figures without mentioning Ella Williams, otherwise known by her stage name Mme Abomah.

She was in the late 1800s described as an extraordinary woman who stood over eight feet in height and could easily support the weight of a man on her outstretched arm.

Born in South Carolina in the USA in 1865 to slave parents, Ella Williams grew to become an international celebrity and travelled all over the world as the tallest woman in the world.


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