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
A high-level ministerial delegation from Ethiopia and the private sector is coming to London on 16th October 2018 for a full-day trade and investment forum, representing the first significant overseas trade and investment mission for the new Ethiopian Government.
14 Sep 2018
Ethiopia invites UK partners to invest in Africa’s fastest-growing economy
As we move into the New Year, we should aspire to create a strong and democratic Ethiopia, based on our unity under a diversity “intertwined and moulded with love and forgiveness”. Our task for the year is to maintain the spirit of change and transformation, to overcome our shortcomings, to bring the peace and unity we all want.
12 Sep 2018
New Year Message from Foreign Minister Workneh Gebeyehu
The weekly publication from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ethiopia.
24 Aug 2018
A Week in the Horn
Fresh from a global highly acclaimed tour including their debut at the Underbelly Festival in London’s Southbank, the Circus Abyssinia Troupe brings Ethiopian Dreams to enchant Edinburgh Festival Fringe audiences again this summer.
10 Aug 2018
Circus Abyssinia returns to Edinburgh Fringe
Following the historic rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea, a delegation led by Ambassador Hailemichael, senior diplomats and staff paid a courtesy visit to the Eritrean Embassy in London, to further cement the agreement and resume diplomatic ties.
7 Aug 2018
Ethiopia and Eritrea resume diplomatic ties
The weekly publication from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ethiopia.
3 Aug 2018
A Week in the Horn
The project manager of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, Engineer Semegnew Bekele, was given a hero’s farewell on 29thJuly as thousands gathered to pay their respects at his funeral.
31 Jul 2018
Ethiopia bids farewell to Engineer Semegnew Bekele
A UK-Ethiopia Trade and Investment Forum is scheduled to take place in London on 16 October. This will be the first significant overseas Trade and Investment Summit for the new Ethiopian Government and will showcase the huge opportunities that Ethiopia offers and encourage inward investment.
30 Jul 2018
UK-Ethiopia Trade & Investment Forum – London – 16th October
On 11 July, PM Abiy marked his first 100 days in office. Since his election on 2ndApril, he has motivated Ethiopians with his catchphrase, “Medemer,” which has become the mantra for the revitalisation of Ethiopian unity.
27 Jul 2018
PM Abiy’s first 100 days in Office
Leading Ethiopian botanical scientist, Professor Sebsebe Demissew, has been elected as a Foreign Member of the Royal Society, becoming the first ever Sub-Saharan African scientist to be elected in the Society’s 357-year history. Professor Sebsebe is recognised for his lifelong work on promoting Ethiopian biodiversity.
20 Jul 2018
Prof. Sebsebe becomes first African Foreign Member of the Royal Society
The weekly publication from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ethiopia.
20 Jul 2018
A Week in the Horn