Adwa Remembered

1 Mon Ago
Adwa Remembered

 

 

By Wegayehu Muluneh

 

On March 1 of every year, Ethiopia commemorates a pivotal moment in its history - the Battle of Adwa. This decisive victory against the Italian forces in 1896 stands as a testament to patriotic esilience and its successful defense against colonial expansion.

By the late 19th century, European powers were actively colonizing Africa. In 1889, Italy, driven by its own imperial ambitions, signed the Treaty of Wuchale with Ethiopia. However, this treaty contained a hidden clause misinterpreted by the Italians as granting them a protectorate over Ethiopia. This misinterpretation led to rising tensions, culminating in the declaration of war by Italy in 1895.

Emperor Menelik II, determined to protect Ethiopia's sovereignty, mobilized a vast army of over 120,000 soldiers. The Ethiopian forces, equipped with modern weaponry alongside traditional swords and spears, marched north to meet the Italians near the town of Adwa.

On March 1, 1896, the two forces clashed in a fierce battle. Despite initial Italian advancements, the tide turned as the Ethiopians held their ground and launched a series of counterattacks. By the end of the day, the Italian army was decisively defeated, with heavy losses and thousands of prisoners captured.

Adwa turned Ethiopia into the symbol of redemption and freedom for black people. Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. Du Bois, Bob Marley, George Padmore and others drew inspiration from the African victory. The first Afro-Brazilian newspaper was named O Menelick, publishing pride in black identity and African connection with prominent women writers from 1915-1916. Adwa served as a bridge between black individuals and the ancient splendor and promising prospects of Africa, as eloquently expressed by Marcus Garvey.

The Ethiopian flag, featuring green, yellow, and red, was embraced by numerous African nations following their independence from colonial rule, along with the establishment of a common national anthem for people of African descent.

 

The Battle of Adwa marked a turning point in African history. It was a rare instance where an African nation successfully defeated a European power at the height of the colonial era. This victory became a beacon of hope and inspiration for other colonized nations, demonstrating the possibility of resistance against European domination.

Beyond its immediate impact, the Battle of Adwa continues to hold profound significance for Ethiopia and Africa as a whole. It serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of national unity, self-determination, and the courage to defend one's freedom.

 

On March 02, 2024, Ethiopia celebrates the 128th  legacy of Adwa not only as a historical victory but also as a symbol of national pride and a call to continue striving for a just and equitable world. The battle's enduring message of resilience and resistance continues to inspire future generations to fight for their rights and aspirations.//


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