Rekindling the Spirit of Adwa

28 Feb 2018

On 2nd March 1896, the unthinkable had transpired which shell-shocked a world unaccustomed to news of feats of heroism flowing from Africa. Not seldom, but never, in the chequered history of European colonialism, had an African nation with its “ragtag-and-bobtail army” managed to deliver a mortifying defeat on a colonial army.

For Ethiopians, Adwa – a small hill town in the north of Ethiopia – is a perpetual reminder of the power that lies in unity of purpose in the face of adversity. The Victory of Adwa is regarded by many, outside Africa, as a historical miracle. The victory not only secured the independence of Ethiopia but also demonstrated the strong unity and identity of the people of Ethiopia. Ever since, Adwa has become a synonym and symbol of freedom for Africa’s people and its diaspora.

Adwa Landscape

Mindful of the great sacrifice and inspiration represented by the Victory of Adwa, the Government of Ethiopia recently gave its full support to the establishment of a Pan-African University in Adwa – an institution expected to embody the ideals of African unity. On the margins of the sixth Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa in April 2017, Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni jointly laid the cornerstone for the first-ever Pan African University in the presence of dignitaries from Nigeria, South Africa, Malawi, Liberia and Burundi.

This year’s commemoration of Adwa Day takes place at a time of great significance to Ethiopia. In a time of public discontent and rising demand for good governance, the government has taken various measures in its attempts to maintain peace and security, sustain economic growth and achieve democratic reforms across the country. One notable undertaking, amongst many others, was the resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn from his positions as chairperson of the ruling party and Prime Minister, as a part of the ongoing reforms. The announcement, regarded as an emblematic deed, was a first in the nation’s modern history.

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.

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