12 mins read

Mulugeta Haile
February 26, 2021

Four days from now, Ethiopia will mark the 125th Victory Day of the battle of Adwa. I can’t write this without mentioning the hate which the world witnessed last June 30, 2020, when the local government toppled and destroyed the equestrian monumental statue of Ras Makonnen, which was sculpted by Laureate Afewerk Tekle. At once, Ethiopia lost two pieces of heritage: a master work of a National artist, Afewerk and a statue which was the symbol of freedom and dignity of a Nation, as represented by ADWA.

Afewerk once said, in an interview which took place in Washington DC, USA, “When I was working on the statue of Ras Makonnen, the Emperor (Haile Selassie) told me not to make the Ras’ statue bigger than the statue of Emperor Menelik in Addis Ababa. He wanted Menelik’s to be a land mark of the nation.”

Why was the statue of Ras Makonnen, the symbol of dignity and freedom, toppled down in Harar? How will we prevent this from happening again?

According to an eye witness, “A Harari police officer, with one hand in his pocket, cellphone in the other, was giving directions on how to topple it down, whilst other officers stood and watched, when the General of ADWA statue, slowly hit the ground.” They made the Italian generals’ bones jump with happiness in their graves.

The statue, beyond its symbol of freedom and dignity, was an icon of Pan- Ethiopianism, the social fabric of the nation, which allows Muslims and Christians from different ethnicities to live in harmony. Ras Makonnen was a product of Tigria, Amhara, and Oromo ethnicity. His wife, Yeshembet, was the fruit of a Christian Gurage and a Muslim Oromo. The couples’ heritage intertwined to create the perfect son, Lij Tafari, who produced a large family, at home and abroad.

The extraction of Ras Makonnen’s statue has been a deadly blow to the symbol of the unconquered Ethiopia.  He was a man of many firsts. He was the first especial envoy who travelled abroad, the first who alarmed Emperor Menelik about the Italian colonial ambition, the first who tried to stop the Battle of Adwa through diplomacy, the first who led the two victorious battles: Amba Lage, and Mekele as a prelude to the Battle of Adwa.

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A head of time, he was the first to have hired an African from abroad, Joseph Vitalien, a physician, from Guadalupe, to practice medicine in Harar. As a diplomat, he was the first who welcomed international delegates to Ethiopia, before Emperor Menelik met them in Addis Ababa. As Foreign Minister, he was the first to pick an ambassador, who would represent Ethiopia in USA. That person happened to be Honorable Sadik Abdulahi, a native Harari who handed Emperor’s Menelik’s message to President Theodore Roosevelt.

In his selection of a Muslim envoy to USA, he proved wrong those who had the notion that Ethiopia was only a Christian country. He was a visionary who commissioned the building of the first hospital in Harar city. “Ras Makonnen was announcing people to go to the hospital but the people preferred the tradition way,” Mohammed Ali, an India business man and friend of the Ras, revealed in his diary, “…for his hospital he asked me to bring from abroad, medical experts.”

As unofficial Minister for Education, he was the first to send a student abroad. This student, Fetawrari Takel, was later instrumental in preparing the first Ethiopian Constitution.

Undoubtedly, Ras Makonnen was larger than life. His statue was simply the story of a legend, helping to narrate the good deeds of his past, so they would be known by and inspirational to, the present and future generations.

Speaking of the future generations, Laureate Afewerk said, “It was not by accident that Ras Makonnen’s statue was facing the coastline of the colonizers. It was placed in this direction to invoke the vigilante spirit in the coming generations, and proclaim that the war is not yet finished.”

In Harar, the anti-Ras Makonnen movement displays various characteristics. In the city, it aimed to eradicate his icons symbol, and eventual to establish an Islamic State in the three regions: Harar, Bali, and Aris, which are the predominately Muslims areas.

Before the withdrawal of Ras Makonnen’s statue, number of wickedness have been made by government between 1993 and 2020. Anything that carries the name of Ras Makonnen and Emperor Haile Selassie has been removed from Harar. For example, an assembly hall that was named after Ras Makonnen was renamed after Amir Abdullahi, the last Emir of Harai. The Emir deserved to have something in his name, but why did this have to come at the expense of the Ras. Wouldn’t it have been good if they had built a new grand hall and named it after the Amir?

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Another small statue of the Ras was also removed from the hospital that was built in 1903. This hospital and the statue were built by Russia to show the relationship between the two countries. Mohammed Ali in describing the people of Harar and Ras Makonnen, wrote, “People of Harar were generally addicted to Qat (Khat), but Ras Makonen was addicted to advancement. Every time I told him of a new innovation abroad, he wanted me to bring it in to Harar.”

Mohammed Ali and Ras Makonnen relationship begun when Lij Tafari (Emperor Haile Selassie) was 3 years old.  Ali wrote, “One year before Ras Makonnen passed, and he implored me to look out for Lij Tafari, his son in case he died.” Ali kept his word and took great care of Lij Tafari. As a god father, he built a big mansion for Tafari when he turned 18 years old. The following year, the young Tafari welcomed his wife, Woizero Menen Asfaw in this house. This historical house in 2007 was reclaimed by the local Harari government and was given to an individual to be a private museum.

On the other hand, the local government dedicated a museum to Arthur Rimbaud, a French poet and an arms dealer who only lived for 5 years in Jegol, Harar. His museum is located a short distance from the houses of Ras Makonnen and Emperor Haile Selassie, which were confiscated by the government. If Rimbaud has a museum, what about Ras Makonnen and Emperor Haile Selassie, the towering personas, who lived, labored, and toiled for the people of Harar?

125 years ago during the march to the Battle of Adwa when Ras Makonen led his army and volunteers from all over Harar region, the Harari(Adere) people did not follow him. Now their great sons and daughters have the nerve to destroy his legacy, and bring down his statue.

These people were supposed to be the first to defend his statue. Without his help, they would have remained in their small areas. Today, Harari business men and women are among the most successful in Addis Ababa. As old saying goes, “To a person who lends gold, a pebble is returned.”

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Among the standing legacies of the Ras, one that stood tall, was his making the province of Harar to be known as “Yefeker Hager” (Love City). To keep this memory alive, in 2003, UNESCO officially named the City of Harar “The City of Love”.

According to UNESCO’s official statement, “Ras Makonnen is considered as one of the peace makers of the region. Without him, Harar would have been a playground of hate. To bring Muslims and the new settlers of Christians on one table, it took the vision of Ras Makonen.”

It is my sincere hope that Lij Daniel Mesfin Jote, the current president of the Ethiopian Patriot Association, will raise the issue of Ras Makonnen’s statue when he addresses the nation on March 1, 2021. History should record this year’s celebration as a turning point, to examine the heroic characters of this generation.

What happened in Harar, could unfortunately happen in Addis Ababa to Emperor Menelik’s statue, unless we learn from this regrettable mistake.

In 1936 when the fascist Italians occupied Addis Ababa, they removed the statue of Menelik from Addis Ababa, but did not cut it into pieces. However, the officials of Harari allowed that to happen to the statue of Ras Makonnen. These perpetrators have made the Italian fascists look kinder and less destructive.

Some of smashed statue of Ras Makonnen

It would be wise if Ethiopians at home and abroad use this year’s celebration as a platform to raise the issue of Ras Makonen’s statue. It would be wise also if the Federal and local government use the event as an opportunity to create peace and reconciliation, starting to rebuild the statue and restore the iconic statue.

Ras Makonnen did his part to maintain Ethiopia’s freedom. As the same time he maintained his province to be a big melting pot of various culture.  Throughout, his life, he was a proven war hero and skilled diplomat. So what about us? Who shall we prove to be? Keepers of his legacy, or tribalists, and cheer leaders of colonialists?

History is recording our silence.



  1. አይደለም ሐውልቱ
    የምኒልክ ሐውልት መች ሆነና ግንቡ
    ነጻነቱ እንጂ ያለው በየልቡ
    ኩራቱ ነው እንጂ የእግር አረማመዱ
    አቋሙ ነው እንጂ ያለማጎብደዱ
    አነጋገሩ እንጂ የረታ አንደበቱ
    ግንባሩ ነው እንጂ ኮስታራ ሐሞቱ
    ነጻነቱ እንጂ ያለው በየልቡ
    የምኒልክ ሐውልት መች ሆነና ግንቡ።

    Same goes for Ras Mekonnen.
    Long Live Ethiopia, the legacy of our valiant ancestors!

  2. The Harari people showed to the world that they don’t want to see that statue in their city. So what is the point of talking all these? We all know the settlers hidden agenda behind this statue. My suggestion for you is take this statue and rebuild it in your yard or to amhara region…yet, your interest is not in that statue. So you better shut your mouth.

    • @Nevermind,

      SAD! We have unenlightened, uninformed, vacuous nobodies such yourself and your big mouth to contend with in tackling problems, perceptions and misconceptions and so on in our country – people who are not only utterly ignorant, but also unwilling to learn anything, very proud to be stupid. That is SAD.

  3. የሐረሪ ክልል ከማዕከላዊ የፌደራል መንግስት ጠቀም ያለ ባጀት ስለሚያገኝ ነው እንጂ ሌላ ምንም ግድ የለውም ስለ ኢትዮጵያ አንድነት ወይም ስለድሮ የኢትዮጵያ ታሪክ። ኦሮሞ የፌደራል መንግስትን ሲይዝ ጊዜ ፡ አደሬ የኦሮሞ አክራሪን ደግፎ ራስ መኮንንን ታሪክ ካደ ለባጀት ልመና ከፌደራል እንዲመቸው እና የኦሮሞን አክራሪን እንዳያጠቃው ለመለማመጥ እንዲመቸው። ነገ የሶማሌያ ሀገር ብትወር ሐረርጌን እና ብትቆጣጠር ሐረርን ፤ አደሬ ለሶማሌያ መንግስት እጅ ሰጥቶ ለሶማሊያ እንደሚያጎበድድ እና ኢትዮጵያን እንደሚነቅፍ አያጠራጥርም።

    • Thank you so much to sharing ethiopian históry information. Is hard tô get acess to It in Brazil.

  4. The people of Adere, you better learn from Weyane now. As it is your day today, it will come a time for great sons & daughters of the Adwa worries. Then it will be too late. You will pay a big price. Ethiopians will never accept your wicked deeds. Today the Adere business men are in Addis Abebe making millions & millions but in city of Harar other than Adere cant get a job, you think you can live like this forever? If you are wise think twise.

  5. Bendiciones de Paz y Amor… Gracias por recopilar y compartir nuestra propia historia… Grandiosa Historia Etíope.
    Saludos y Respetos de la Familia Rastafari de MELIPILLA, Chile.
    Ras Makuto and Family…

  6. It Is sad To Read Your Comments. If You Dont Know Where You Are Coming from You Dont Know Where You Are Going. How Can You Dishonor A Great Ancestor Such As Ras Makonnen ? He Made An Indelible Contribution In The Victory Of Adwa. Dont Forget That!

  7. This Article Is asking The Right Question. How Can We celebrate Adwa While The Statue of Ras Makonnens Remains In Shambles. Ethiopia! the Land Where The Gods love to be: Be Careful How You Disrespect And Dishonor Those who have paved the way! If You Refuse To Honor Your Great Ones We In The West Will Always Hail Honor And Love Warriors Such As Ras Makonnen! Menelik! Haile Selassie Ist! A King Never Honor In His Own Country and among His Own People! Restore The statue and Know thyself!

  8. I am sad & happy as the same time. Sad because the Ras Mekonnen’s statue smashed into pieces. I am happy becuse i learned nuff new history in cluding the Harrari people who did not participate in fighting the colonizer. But these coward have a caursge to bring down the statue of the great General who defeated the white genersls. I thought all Ethiopians were the same sons & daughters of brave men. Houseniggers live everywhere.
    I Love Ethiopia history

  9. Out of this great article l saw treasons: one not to march to the battle of Adwa, and 125 year later to dismantle the statue of the hero of Adwa. These people must be accountable for their crimes.

  10. What a great history you shared with us. I did not know all these details. Thank you so much Muleye. Yes, you are absolutely right. It should be restored. May justice prevail. Happy celebration.

  11. We ethnic Harrari people need to build our own special forces Liyu Hayil ethnic regional especial forces military in numbers as the other ethnicities in Ethiopia do. Enough with serving this ungrateul Ethiopian national military who for generations keep us Harraris at low level post in the national government’s civil or military intentionally skiping ethnic Harraris from promotions since Menilik until today’s Ethiopian government. We Harrari ethnicity had been discriminated against for sinking by the government of Ethiopia. They even label us Harrari business owner Addis Ababa as criminals and criminalize us in Addis Ababa now saying we Harrari business people are the culprits involved in price gouging in Addis Ababa raising the cost of living higher than it should be in Addis Ababa. If we build our own regional especial forces Liyu Hayil we will get respected allover in Ethiopia

    We the ethnic Harrari people sacrificed ourselves defending Ethiopia from foreign invaders for generations.We did not get the recognition and admiration we deserve from the Nephtegna emperor’s or from the Derg either. No other ethnicity fought to defend Ethiopia as we Harraris did.. We sent more money to buy military weapons for the Ethiopian government by the nd of 1998 , to fight Eritrea during the Ethio-Eritrean war . We went to Badme and now we are in Tigray, Wollega and Susan border in the ENDF Ethiopian military. We Harari ethnicities don’t even have ethnic special forces LiyuHayils as so many others ethnicities do. We are in ENDF. The Harrari brave warriors had been intentionally removed from the Ethiopian history by the past and present leaders of Ethiopia regardless the many brave military warriors who defended Ethiopia and are still n the frontline in numbers fighting for the ungrateful Ethiopian federal military leaders who discriminates against Harrari people by calling us Junta Adere instead of Hararias many of the commentators above did . We the ethnic Harrari. Business people in Addis Ababa are not Juntas as the say we are .

    • Harar city is now an Apartheid city. If you are other than Adere & Muslim you can not be hired. Those who we 3 generation born & raised in Hara, but with different ethnicity, absolutely difficulty to find a job. The destruction of the Great Ras Makonnen’s statue is the reflection of that ethnic Apartheid system. They are happy now, but it will come a time soon for us because it has prophasised long time ago. LONG LIVE THE LEGACY OF RAS MEKONNEN

  12. Honor is due Ras Makonnen. The statue was powerful and Royal. I remember walking past it with Mama Ijahnya and Binghi Irie Lions at 4:30 am on the way to Sky Bus for our return trip to Addis. The statue was peacefully rooted into its environment and instilled pride with it’s heroic countenance. We were in Harar on a mission to Ejersa Goro/Mountain of Olives, the birth site of Lidj Tafari. This was the 2009 Harar Trod, an International fact finding Rastafari Delegation.

    The attempt to erase reality is a waist and expressive of mental degeneration. No physical destruction will hide the truth of Ras Makonnen. It is so. Besides his many works he fathered INI Rastafari Makonnen whose consciousness has spread the 4 corners of the globe and exists beyond time and space.

    Give us the teachings of His Majesty, Ras Makonnen’s son
    “We must become bigger than we have been: more courageous, greater in spirit, larger in outlook. We must become members of a new race, overcoming petty prejudice, owing our ultimate allegiance not to nations but to our fellow men within the human community”. Haile Selassie The First and Only

    Leave the polytrics and prejudice.

    Respect is due to the great Leader Ras Makonnen and His Wife Woizero Yeshimabet.

    As Bunny Wailer, Jah Rest His Soul, sang:

    What your hands do
    It is your own eyes that have seen
    So won’t you judge your actions
    To make sure the results are clean
    It’s your own conscience
    That is going to remind you
    That it’s your heart and nobody else’s
    That is going to judge

    Be not selfish in your doings
    Pass it on
    Help your brothers in their needs
    Pass it on
    Live for yourself and you will live in vain
    Live for others, you will live again
    In the kingdom of Jah men shall reign
    Pass it on

    What’s in the darkness
    Must be revealed to light
    We are not here to judge what is good from bad
    But to do the things that are right
    On a hot, sunny day
    Follow the shadows for rescue
    But as the day grows old
    I know the sun is gonna find you

    Rastafari Lives,
    Christopher Liontree

  13. I am totally disgusted with the way the Ethiopian government treated the destruction of 2 historic status that represents dignity, honor and Freedom for AFRICAN people globally.
    No one is held responsible. The matter is wept under the carpet.
    We in the USA and Europeans as AFRICA people want justice. Someone must be hold responsible…and charge with Criminal destruction of what we hold dearly in remembrance of our history. If Ethiopian are not PROUD of culture, tradition and history, then I am afraid it’s the END… and the beginning of their own destruction.
    Look at the USA. Those who destroyed the White House fixture and items, in 2020 due to political unrest, were arrested and charged. The same example should be practice in all country that is built on a democrat foundation. Globally, everyone is Watching what the President and his administration is going to do, regardless of any internal problems with tribes and tribulation. THIS WAS A SHAMEFUL AND DISGRACEFUL. ACT….

  14. I lived in Harar at Ras Hotel for monthes. I was working in the areas of Babilay, Chinaksen, and Gorsom. During my stay, I had a chance to meet & speak with Ethiopians including Adere( Harari), Oromo, Somalia, and Amhara peoples. All have different point of view about Ethiopia & its victory against Italia. Only, the people of Amhara are happy in the victory of Adwa. The rest are less interesting & preferably wished they were colonized so they would not hearing the Amhara’s worroire song every year. Interstingly, the people of Adere are proud in their origin of Ottoman. To me it is not Ethiopia that is never colonized but the people of Amhar, who are extreamy proud nation.

  15. History of Ethiopia will repest itself. The hisory of Emperor Menelk will also prevail once gain in Harar. Today the pohto of Emperor Menelik is illigal out side Addis Abab including in Harar region. I agreed with Mulugeta statment that we can not celebrate the victory of Adwa with out Emperor Menelik photo. But the goverment tried to celebrate it without menisiong Emperor legacy. They tried to write Adwa without Menelik. Ras Makonnen statue in Harar was symbol of the victory, but it brought down by people whose great fathers did not march to Adwa.

  16. Dear Writer

    You have only selected one side of the story. Why didn’t you write what Menilek did to When in Jan 1887 he conquered and subjugated free people in their land who caused him no harm and who were themselves fighting the European colonizers while he was writing them love letters imploring them that he was not their enemy.

    When he occupied Harar he looted the gold that harar was famaous for until then and raped their daughters, killed their sons burned their mosques.

    How then do you wish Hararis to celebrate the Ras.

  17. Amhara is not Ethiopia today. They are small ethnic group that are part of Ethiopia.

    Other nations and nationalities have also excellent history that are not palatable to Amhara and the writer should talk about this decline of Amhara and in favour of Ethiopia which is a republic unlike the feudal system which he advocates.

    Also Tigrai is not Conquered by Amhara it is the defense forces of the Ethiopian state that will provide peace and dignity in the end and the amhara militia are just vultures wreaking havock in Tigrai.

  18. My brother Ali, I am archeologist Harar is not blessed with gold, but by khat & cofee. What you said about Emperor Menelik that he was robbed of your gold of Harar is a fake news. Emperor Menelik did not robbe your people identity but liberated from being colonized. I am African American and visited Harar several times. I saw your people looke upto Arabs, why that ? Your people were not friendly with African Americans, but the Amhara and Oromo people. Before Emperor Menelik your country was colonized by Ottoman & Egyptian for years & years, why your people did not raise their arms, but when Menilik claimed you as brothers & sisters, you said ” he colonized”. Menelik brought you out of that wall & made you to swim in big occean of Ethiopia. I know to you to give a criedt to Christian Emperor is a haram. The worst part of you, you are not realize that your mentaly colonized by arabs who sold your ancestors to arabia.

  19. Amhara people maybe are minority but were majority in fighting European colonialists out of Ethiopia.Why the Adere people allowed themselves to be colonized by Egypt & Ottoman for years & years?

  20. If Egypt i& Sudan ivade Ethiolia, does the Adari people will raise arms to fight the invaders ? Is there any history that tells about the people of Adari that they shed their blood for Ethiolia in defending its enemyies ?

  21. One United Ethiopia with 83 different Tribes represents to the World a People NEVER Conquered. A People NEVER Colonized. A People Born Free. Divide and Conquer is not an Option. Loyalty deserves Recognition. Neither Emperor Menelik, Empress Taitu of Ras Makonnen were risking their lives just for Amharas. They were preserving the FREEDOM or ALL Ethiopians regardless of Ethnicity

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