Adwa: An African Victory and beyond

27 Feb 2017

In Ethiopia, March 2 is a Red-Letter Day! On this date in 1889 Ethiopians from the four corners of the country converged in Adwa, Northern Ethiopia and, under the overall command of Emperor Menelik II and Empress Taitu, dealt a death blow to Imperial Italy’s ambition to annex Ethiopia.

The meting out of a mortifying defeat on a modern army, by what an Italian historian once described as “ragtag fighters”, sent shock waves through European capitals and stunned the world. Seldom have the annals of the Scramble for Africa recorded such acts of bravery, fearlessness, and confidence as that demonstrated by patriotic Ethiopians at the Battle of Adwa. Poorly trained and equipped Ethiopian forces were no match for Italy’s highly honed and mechanised army, but nothing could scupper Ethiopians indomitable will never to fall prey to colonialism. In short, the battle was akin to the proverbial fight between David and Goliath albeit on a titanic scale.

The impact of the Victory of Adwa on the struggle for decolonisation cannot be over-emphasised. Former President of South Africa and veteran of the anti-apartheid movement, Thabo Mbeki, spoke at the 120th Anniversary of the Victory of Adwa as “The Victory of Africa and all Black people struggling for freedom and equality.”

Adwa Day provides a golden opportunity to spur the patriotism of each and every Ethiopian who rededicate their unwavering support to ending poverty, in a newly revamped union of free, willing and equal nations, nationalities and peoples. There exists in Ethiopia today a consensual agreement between Government and people that Ethiopia’s number one enemy is poverty, which if left unconquered, threatens to scupper its very existence.

Emperor Menelik II and Empress Taitu

  Under the Democratic-Developmental State the government and people have carved out swathes of bespoke reforms and the dividends are tangible. Millions of people have been lifted out of poverty, 30 million youths are in school, access to primary healthcare improves year by year and average life expectancy is now 64. The establishment of universities and enrolment have increased many-fold.

A huge rise in infrastructure supports socio-economic development and promotes regional economic integration. This paves the way for the realization of Africa’s Agenda 2063.

On Adwa Day, Ethiopians renew their commitment to exercising their capabilities as agents of their socio-economic, political and cultural transformation. Adwa holds a significant share of the motivation of the people of Ethiopia in particular, and Africans in general, to stand up for freedom, equality and justice. Then Poverty will meet its Adwa!

…121st anniversary commemorated

The 121st anniversary of the Victory of Adwa was commemorated in Adwa, Tigray Regional State, the very site where Ethiopians defeated the Italian invading army on 1st March 1896.

At the celebrations, President Mulatu Teshome said Adwa was a great victory which resonates with the spirit of cooperation and mutual respect as well as the value of striving for success, adding “it is a victory for all black people.”

He said “Our ancestors made huge sacrifices to safeguard the sovereignty of the country and pass it down to the existing generation.” He urged the younger generation to step up their engagement in the country’s ongoing development projects, and notably the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen handed over to President Mulatu Teshome and Speaker of the House of Federation, Yalew Abate, a torch which is dedicated to the campaign to raise funds for the GERD. The campaign will begin on 26th March in Addis Ababa, and the torch will be carried across all the regional states and city administrations in the following 11 months.

Deputy PM Demeke Mekonnen called on all Ethiopians to sustain the unity and participation evident during the battle of Adwa into supporting the construction of the renaissance dam.

Latest News

Browse all
Ethiopia will host the 53rd session of the International Sugar Council from 25th - 28th June 2018. Interested parties can see the programme as well as the events and hotel and visa information. 
19 Mar 2018
53rd Session of the International Sugar Council
The weekly publication from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ethiopia.
16 Mar 2018
A Week in the Horn
Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams will be making their London premiere at Underbelly Festival for six weeks only from 6th April. The 14-strong cast tells the tale of the circus through astonishing synchronised feats of acrobatics, juggling, contortion and dance, as seen on ITV’s Royal Variety Performance. Tickets on sale now.
13 Mar 2018
Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams makes London premiere
Editorial: As part of the ongoing governmental reform process in Ethiopia, the Council of Ministers declared a 6-month State of Emergency. Now, more than ever, it is incumbent on the peace-loving citizens of Ethiopia to defend the constitutional order from all threats, thereby establishing a foundation for the reforms needed to secure peace, advance development and propel our young democracy.
12 Mar 2018
Stability Holds the Key to Reform
The weekly publication from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ethiopia.
9 Mar 2018
A Week in the Horn
A 12-member team represented Ethiopia at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Birmingham from 1st – 14th March. At the conclusion of the event, Team Ethiopia finished second on the medal table, behind the USA, with 4 gold and 1 silver. The United Kingdom finished fourth with 2 gold, 1 silver and 4 bronze medals.
6 Mar 2018
Genzebe Dibaba leads Team Ethiopia to World Indoor Championships glory
The weekly publication from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ethiopia.
2 Mar 2018
A Week in the Horn
Today, as ever, the spirit of Adwa inspires us – reminding us of our courage in the face of unprecedented hostility and our unity in the fight for our independence. On Adwa Day 2018, we summon this spirit once again to unite Ethiopia in our battles against poverty and in pursuit of democracy and development.
28 Feb 2018
Rekindling the Spirit of Adwa
Full remarks by Ethiopian Ambassador to the United Kingdom, H.E. Dr Hailemichael Aberra Afework, at the 12th Nile Day celebrations in London.
26 Feb 2018
Remarks H.E. Dr Hailemichael Aberra Afework at the 12th Nile Day celebrations in London
On 22 February, the Embassy hosted Ambassadors, High Commissioners and Diplomats from Nile Basin countries to celebrate the 12th Nile Day in London for the first time under the theme “The Nile – Shared River, Collective Action".
26 Feb 2018
Nile Day commemorated in London for the first time
Editorial by Ethiopia's Minister of Water, Irrigation and Electricity, H.E. Dr. Eng. Seleshi Bekele, on Nile Day 2018. Ethiopia is hosting the 2018 Regional Nile Day celebrations in commemoration of the establishment of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI).
22 Feb 2018
The Nile: Shared River, Collective Action