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The 117th Anniversary of the Battle of Adwa. By Robele Ababya

By Robele Ababya

The indelible legacy of Emperor Menilik II and EmpressTaitu

Battle of Adwa

There is no heritage more glorious, precious, and inspiring than freedom and independence won by the ill-equipped and poorly trained, if at all, Ethiopian militias over vastly superior Italian invaders at the famous Battle of Adwa in 1986 under the leadership of Emperor Menilik II and His brilliant diplomat and strategist, Empress Taitu, who in Her own right commanded 16,000 valiant militia warriors.

The Empress devised the idea of controlling the water points near the Italian garrison at Mekelle in Tigray. She sent a well-armed detachment of selected militia secretly with orders to capture those water points on which the Italians and their animals of burden depended for survival. The mission was so successful that the enemy offered to negotiate surrender. The magnanimous Emperor granted them safe passage and the garrison came under the control of His militia army. Lo and behold. The enemy that invaded Ethiopia under the pretext of civilizing barbarians found mercy in the hands of those it came to educate!

Emperor Menilik II is the victor of the famous Battle of Adwa, which became a trophy of  epic pride for Ethiopians and a beacon of hope for the black people in the Diaspora; a truly beloved Great Leader of His people that dubbed Him Emmye Menilik (Mother Menilik).

The famous victory won at the Battle of Adwa at heavy price paid in lives and blood, came as a complete surprise to European colonial powers that had no choice but recognize Ethiopia as a sovereign state.


Revenge by Fascist Italians 40 years after Adwa

The victory of our ancestors under the able leadership of the Monarch, His Empress, valiant Generals, and brave militia warriors at the battlefield dealt an unforgettably humiliating defeat to the Italian aggressors. So the Italians took forty years of extensive preparation and invaded Ethiopia in 1935 – an act of atrocious aggression in full view of the League of Nations of which both Ethiopia and Italy were members. The European powers did nothing to prevent the naked Italian aggression. But when Mussolini and Hitler forged alliance at the start of WWII, the prophetic famous speech of Emperor Haile Selassie at the League of Nations came to pass. Great Britain this time allied with the Emperor and His guerilla fighters and the alliance played a decisive role in driving out Marshall Graziani’s occupying forces from Ethiopia. The ouster led to the disgraceful fall of Mussolini.

Incidentally, the ferociously advancing Ethiopian militia warriors were within wee minutes of claiming the second Adwa victory in this war too. But, due to the sabotage by renegade Rayas (bought and armed the Fascists) attacking the advancing force to the stronghold of the enemy from behind the war was lost.  In this war the Ethiopian peasant warriors vowed in the name of Emmye Menilik and fought with extraordinary gallantry. For example,  the immortal legacy of the beloved Monarch was inherited by top patriot Abichu at his tender age of 17 years and his young compatriots under his command  including the militia army of the children of Hamassein commanded by General Haptom;the militia army of the children of Tigray (Mekele) under the command of General Tesfatsion; the militia army of the children of Gojjam (Damot) commanded by General Gashu; and the main militia army of the children of Selalle under the command of General Worqu.

Source: Habešská Odyssea (YeHabesha Jebdu) የሃበሻ ጀብዱ by Adolf Parlesak Translated by Techane Jobre Mekonnen – page 274.

What is most remarkable and pleasing to me is that the children of Ethiopia, unknown to each other and hailing from distant regions and all of them young, could form their own command which by his own admission became excruciating thorn in the flesh of Marshal Badoglio – supreme commander of the invading Italian Fascist Army.


Provocative monument to Graziani, the Bucher of Ethiopia

Unfortunately, the Italian authorities, have identified a square in Rome where it has erected a monument in a public park  for Field Marshal Graziani despite the record of his atrocities including the murder of Abune Petros for refusing to betray the right of his people to fight for freedom and independence; atrocious carnage of Ethiopia patriots; terrorizing people into submission by dragging dead bodies of patriots on the streets of major cities; throwing  patriots from airplanes; heavy attack from the air with machineguns and bombs; aerial spraying  of poison gas, barred by international law, on Ethiopian militia warriors poorly  equipped with swords, spears, shields, rifles, and a few machine guns.

In August 2012, $160,000 of public money was used to finance monument in his honor with the words “Fatherland” and “Honour” engraved on the mausoleum. It is really sad and perturbing that the Vatican blessed the occasion of the inauguration of the monument of the “Butcher of Ethiopia” monument as if its endorsement and blessing of the Fascist invasion of our motherland was not enough.

Ethiopians on 19 February 2013 commemorated the anniversary of  the massive massacre  on 19 February 1937 of over 30, 000 innocent Ethiopians in Addis Ababa alone by order of Graziani only because an attempt was made on his life by two heroic citizens. He was nicknamed “The Butcher of Ethiopia” worldwide including even in Italy.

That grisly massacre did not deter Ethiopians from vowing in the name of Emmye Menilik to resist the occupation of Fascist Italy. So, Graziani ordered the removal of the monument of Menilik to a secret place because its presence in full view of the public in the city gave him a nightmare as it increasingly became a rallying point for consultation, exchanging information, and plotting to oust the Fascists. The statute was recovered and put back in its original place after the triumphant return of Emperor Haile Selassie to Addis Ababa; it is a priceless symbol of grand victory of all Ethiopians over tyranny that must be jealously guarded.

 The victory of Adwa is a symbol of our strength in unity in diversity; a pride of our harmony in the face of our cultural diversity; an indelible foot print like no other in our long history. It is a sacred inspiration and hallmark of our future existence in unity as a democratic, prosperous and strong nation. Adwa is our hallowed ground where our ancestors from all corners converged to defend their liberty by paying incalculable sacrifice in human lives, bloodshed, and expended material resources. Menilik died penniless leaving an immortal legacy of earnest quest for freedom and independence. The history made at Adwa must never die!


Menilik the magnanimous and fair judge died penniless

The Monarch elevated His antagonists to high key posts in His government, to wit: – Fitawrari Haptegiorgis Dinegde and Dejazmatch Balcha Safo among many others

In a civil suit the Emperor ruled in favor of the appellant on grounds that it is unfair for the Crown to own both the throne and land stressing what with the people will remain if the Monarch owned both. He died penniless leaving behind the true meaning of magnanimity and justice.


Gratitude to EHSNA

It is with utmost sincerity and great pleasure that I congratulate the Board officials of EHSNA on the glamorous occasion of the celebration of the 117th Anniversary of the Battle of Adwa.

As I have said time and again, EHSNA was conceived by farsighted visionary few inspired by genuine love of Motherland Ethiopia. They were no doubt motivated by the rich repertoire of Ethiopia’s abundant heritage garnered over thousands of years. I am sure that young celebrants in particular will proudly appreciate and vow to enrich the repertoire of their heritage.




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