Adwa, a town located in Northern Tigray— at the vicinity of the southern border of Eritrea—once hosted an historical incidence whose bounties have mesmerized the entire African continent though huge sacrifice was paid.
It is well remembered that Europeans planned to end up with ruling the native peoples of the Americas, Africa, Asia and Australia.
A decade before the Battle of Adwa, as history would have it; European powers had decided the fate of Ethiopia. At the Berlin Conference, 14 European countries divided Africa among themselves. Before the conference, only about 10 percent of Africa was controlled by Europeans; the remaining 90 percent was ruled by indigenous and traditional rulers. Italy had a colonial possession over Assab Port since 1882. At the Berlin Conference, European colonial powers agreed that Italy could take over Ethiopia as its future colony.
This writer approached Tsega Getachew, a third year History student at Kotebe Metropolitan University to have a piece of information about Adwa. He said, “The Battle of Adwa, which is also referred to as the first Ethiopian-Italian war, marks the first black victory against a colonizer force in the African continent.
Not only is the Victory of Adwa a representation of unanimity, together and strength for Ethiopians but it is also that of the rest of African, and the global community as well.” On the first day of March, traditional warriors, farmers and pastoralists as well as women defeated a well-armed Italian army. The outcome of this battle ensured Ethiopia’s independence, making it the only African country never to be colonized.
Adwa turned Ethiopia into a symbol of freedom for black people globally. It also led to a change of government in Italy, he underscored. As to Tsega, following its gracious gifts amid immense life loss, Adwa Victory has become one of the pivotal helices for Pan-Africanism and Ethiopianism as it has provided Ethiopia with one of the best practical examples of the African resistance excellently bending the sly Scramble for Africa attempt.
Though war is a complex social phenomenon that could be considered as a wicked problem, complex and ambiguous, it is inevitable when one wants to infringe sovereignty and independence of country of the other.
The war is believed to have initiated other freedom fighters across the African continent to struggle towards independence and freedom against colonialism. This year’s Victory Day is being celebrated across the country, he added. Yesterday, Ethiopians across all walks of life celebrated the 126th anniversary of the Victory of Adwa, which marked the East African country’s victory against a colonizer force some close to 130 years ago.
The government has called the general public to further augment national unity and togetherness towards the country’s prosperity.
Noting that the Victory of Adwa had played a greater role in setting the overall societal, geographic and territorial integrity of Ethiopia, he said the current generation should embrace the spirit of the Adwa victory to build national unity towards realizing a positive future. Amsale Woyesa, who is a history teacher at Lem Secondary School, was also approached for comment.
She said, “We should strive to move forward for a better future putting the spirit of Adwa into practice and it is time to work in harmony to make a well developed country in the years to come for the new generation as no one can come and act accordingly to provide us with an affluent and lovable nation.” She further stressed that the Adwa Victory is an important milestone, and Ethiopians should tap into the sense of unity that resulted from the memorable victory towards building national resilience that would help withstand current misunderstandings among the Ethiopian society.
She further elucidated that Adwa Victory day signifies a profound achievement not only for Ethiopians, but also for all Africans and other freedom fighters across the globe.
“As the name depicts, it signifies a momentous victory by a less-equipped Ethiopian force against a well-equipped and automated colonizing Italian force. Thanks to our forefathers and foremothers patriotic deeds, we have been able to keep our culture and knowledge, as well as a respected country to be the only African nation, and have its own script and unique identification,” she added.
As to Amsale, the battle was distinguished as it was the first victory by an African country over a colonial power and is seen as an inspiration for the pan-African movement that would sweep across the continent in the twentieth century and oust the colonial powers. The defeat may have also helped sow the seeds that would result in the Fascist regime of Benito Mussolini.
Adwa still stands as witness to what ordinary Africans can do when they come together as farmers, pastoralists, women and rural people, workers and artists. They are able to score a decisive victory against global colonialist forces. Regarded as the origin of humankind, Ethiopia has remained a continental pride, and has stood as the antithesis of the colonial world, she underlined.
According to Amsale, Ethiopians from every tribe, culture and community answered Menelik’s call; this is historically recorded. Regional leaders from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds responded unanimously creating an army of 100,000. They had inferior weapons but a strong cause.
The Italian commander agreed to surrender if they would be allowed to leave with their firearms. Menelik agreed that they could leave the garrison unharmed. She further stated that after two weeks of inactivity, General Baratieri decided to advance for a surprise attack. It was 1 March 1896, or, according to the Ethiopian calendar, Yekatit 23, 1888, the day of Saint George.
The priests carried a replica of Ark of the Covenant (Tabot), a religious icon that symbolizes the sanctity of Ethiopia, to the battlefield. The 20,000 Italian and Italian-trained native troops who advanced in three columns fought bravely with their cannons and machine guns before facing a decisive defeat.
News of an African victory spread throughout the world. As of that time on, Adwa has connected black people with Africa’s ancient glory and future hope, she stated, this fundamental, important, and timely question serves as a backdrop for any strategic thinking by senior military leaders who must decide how armed forces will be employed in military interventions.
In simple terms, Adwa turned Ethiopia into the symbol of redemption and freedom for black people, she said. Modern theories regarding victory in battle are useful tools to better understand battle mechanisms.
This should not be taken to indicate that the elements under scrutiny are always valid in real-life situations. This was a national victory with a wider African and indeed world significance.
It was and remains an exemplary episode in demonstrating what a united people can achieve. “Adwa was a major anti-colonialist battle fought by all Ethiopians, under the skillful leadership of Emperor Menelik and Empress Taitu. This victory resounded well beyond the Ethiopian and indeed the African border.
It represented the clash between colonialism and liberation on a world-scale,” Amsale stated. 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, she underlined.
Yes, the Victory of Adwa deserves to be celebrated both as a significant episode in its own right and as a memory serving well the emerging communities of resistances in the African world never again to surrender to colonial tyranny. The Battle of Adwa is not just a memory of the past. It continues to live on in the eternal waterway of time.
“As Ethiopia won the battle against Europeans despite colonialism prevailed in Africa, it is ready to overcome poverty and impoverishment via employing megaprojects like GERD. Hence, it has to be provided with the right privilege and place in Africa and the world, too,” she underscored.
In a nutshell, the unity of all Ethiopians coupled with the strategic thinking of leadership had brought the victory to a full realization. This momentous step has to be replicated and get doubled against poverty and backwardness.
All Ethiopians at home and from abroad Ethiopians are now recording a new Adwa like victory by constructing the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) being engineers, workers and finance sources themselves.
As the Battle of Adwa held between Ethiopia and Italy was one of the battles on the African continent that pitted an ancient kingdom against a European nation, GERD is by far instrumental in declaring Ethiopia’s or Africa’s renaissance within the shortest time possible as its over 85 percent work is accomplished.
BY MENGESHA AMARE
The 3 March 2022
The 3 March 2022