Happy Adwa Victory Day

Happy the 123rd Anniversary of the Victory of Adwa!

Commemorating the Battle of Adwa, March 1, 1896 – An African Victory by Emnet Tadesse

In March 1896 a well-disciplined and massive Ethiopian army did the unthinkable—it routed an invading Italian force and brought Italy’s war of conquest in Africa to an end. In an age of relentless European expansion, Ethiopia had successfully defended its independence and cast doubt upon an unshakable certainty of the age—that sooner or later all Africans would fall under the rule of Europeans. This event opened a breach that would lead, in the aftermath of world war fifty years later, to the continent’s painful struggle for freedom from colonial rule.

Adwa Mountains in Tigray, Ethiopia

Colonization took the names and language of many Africans, denied them their religions, and reduced some to the level of an animal where they branded them on their chest. In some cases, they even put a law stating an African people as 3/5 of a human being. In the late 1800s to well into the 1900s, colonizers took Africans and created “Human Zoos” in places like Paris, Berlin, Brussels, Hamburg, Antwerp, Barcelona, London, Milan and New York… African people were thought to hate themselves and most suffered from self-hatred to the extent of trying to change their skin colour.

Such misery was happening nearly all over Africa in the era of Emperor Menelik. So, had it not been because of the great king and those who made sacrifice along with him, the Italian invaders would have done the same. But thanks to our ancestors, the enemy was destroyed. Our liberty was saved. Our faith stood tall. Our culture survived. Our pride lived on and history was made!!

The battle marked the largest military triumph of an African state over a European army in the 19th century and made Ethiopia to retain its independence during Europe’s scramble for Africa. All the regions, religions, and linguistic groups pulled their resources together to formulate and execute a strategy of victory. European strategy to divide Africa into their spheres of influence was halted by Emperor Menelik II and Empress Taitu Betul at the Battle of Adwa. Emperor Menelik’s army scored a decisive victory against invading Italian forces, marking the first time that an African country had defeated a European colonial power. Historian Donald Levine wrote “the Battle of Adwa qualifies as a historic event which represented the first time since the beginning of European imperial expansion that a nonwhite nation had defeated a European power.” It was shocking news for colonial powers. News reports describing Italian soldiers fleeing in panic sent shockwaves throughout Europe. In Italy, riots broke out and the government of Prime Minister Francesco Crispi was forced to resign. Emperor Menelik was depicted as a white man in the U.S. News papers since it was hard to believe in the 19th century a Black King could defeat a formidable European army.

Elsewhere in the world, shouts of “Viva Menelik” would emerge as a battle cry for anti-colonial movements. For those who still lived under the yoke of racial discrimination, Ethiopia’s victory “would become a cause célèbre,” writes Scholar Fikru Negash Gebrekidan, “a metaphor for racial pride and anti-colonial defiance.” Soon, inspired by the Emperor, African Americans and Blacks from the Caribbean Islands began to make their way to Ethiopia. In 1903, accompanied by Haitian poet and traveler Benito Sylvain, an affluent African American business magnate by the name of William Henry Ellis arrived in Ethiopia to greet and make acquaintances with Menelik. Empress Taitu said “ I am a woman. I do not like war. But I would rather dies than accepting your deal.” It is a matter of historical record that the Adwa victory signaled the beginning of the end of the Scramble for Africa. This victory constitutes a crucial chapter in the record of African resistance and liberation. It armed generations of Africans with the confidence of victory to engage in resistance and liberation. It attracted attention as far as the Caribbean and the Americas, not to mention Europe and the rest of Africa. 

The Battle of Adwa was a landmark which fundamentally changed the context of Ethiopia. Thanks to the ultimate sacrifices made by our hero ancestors, now we have African names, we still use our own African language, we do have our own religion, we still maintain our tradition, our typical food culture, most of all we never understand the meaning of racial superiority in our culture!

While celebrating the Anniversary of the Victory of Adwa, I would like to say loud and clear glory to all brave Ethiopian heroes who paid the ultimate sacrifices!!

ተሰጠኝ ህይወት ዛሬ በነጻነት
ሰው ተከፍሎበታል ከደም እና ከአጥንት
ስንት ወገን ወደቀ በነጻነት ምድር
ትናገር አድዋ ትናገር ትመስክር
ትናገር አ ድ ዋ ትናገር አገሬ
እንዴት እንደ ቆምኩኝ ከፊታችሁ ዛሬ
አድዋ ዛሬ ናት ..አድዋ ትናንት
መቸ ተረሱና የወዳደቁት
ምስጋና ለአድዋ ..ምስጋና ለጀግኖች ለዛሬ ነጻነት ላበቁን ወገኖች
የጥቁር ድል አምባ….
አፍሪካ ..እምዬ ኢትዮጵያ

Categories: Ethiopia

Leave a Reply