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Adwa: turning point for world politics

Adwa: turning point for world politics



Alula Gebeyehu 03-03-16

It was so incredible to the entire world when one of the world powers scrambling the African continent for colonization defeated in a severe battle at Adwa, a city in the Northern part of Ethiopia.   


The news of the defeat and the glorious victory of Ethiopians reached the world. The news of that calamity also reached Italy. For the black people around the world it was a proud deed hearing a poor nation in the poor and undeveloped continent to dismantle such a modern army with ample logistics. 


It developed a feeling and belief that the white are not superpower. There are possibilities to by the Africans and as a result freedom fighters against the colonialists have begun to emerge and strengthen.


For the colonialist powers it was a shock. Particularly to the Italian people it became beyond their expectation and gave them room to know the courage of Ethiopians and the love and devotion for their motherland.


In the aftermath of the battle of Adwa and the defeat of the Italian army,   there were street demonstrations in most major cities Italy querying the return of the Italian army from countries it occupy like Nepal, parts of Somalia and Eritrea. 


Historical documents indicate that as the violence had become so fierce, the universities and theatres were closed in Rome and other major cities of Italy.  The violence got worse and the police were called out to disperse rock-throwers in front of Prime Minister Crispi's residence. As a result, Crispi resigned on 9 March 1996. 


In other major cities like Pavia, crowds built barricades on the railroad tracks to prevent a troop train from leaving the station. The people cried for the return of all military forces in Africa. Italy declared March 14 as a day of mourning. All those havocs were due to the victory that Ethiopians gained over the Italians at the battle of Adwa.


The battle of Adwa coerced Italy to sign the Treaty of Addis Ababa, recognizing Ethiopia as an independent state. Ethiopians are now remembering that glorious victory that served as a turning point to the world politics.


That historic day March 1, 1896 was remembered not only in Ethiopia but also in Africa and other parts of world.  The poor nation with backward and traditional arms fought with one of the powerful and developed countries with modern arms. 


In fact Italy managed to colonize Eritrea and Italian Somalia but shamefully defeated and run away although it had a strong enthusiasm to expand its occupation and improve its position in Africa. 


Available documents indicated that the 1889 treaty of Wuchale, which Italy attempted to cheat Minilik II, was the cause of the war between the two countries. 


Article 17 of that treaty fell under different interpretation in the two versions of the document. In the Italian-language, it stated that the Emperor of Ethiopia was obliged to conduct all foreign affairs through Italian authorities; whereas, the Amharic version stated that the Emperor could use the good offices of the Kingdom of Italy in his relations with foreign nations if he wished.


Having cheated the articulation of the treaty, later the Italian government decided on a military solution to force Ethiopia to accept the Italian version of the treaty.


Between the signing of the treaty and the Adwa battle there was famine in the six years, which was caused by animal disease. The animal disease was spread to Ethiopian cattle from cattle that Italians brought from India. That time was the darkest period to Ethiopians all their cattle was died of the spreading disease.


Besides, there was no infrastructure in the country. The people had no access to transport and other basic service delivery institutions. The Ethiopians had to move from all corners of the country to Adwa, northern part of Ethiopia on foot except a few of them who had the capability to use horses.


In addition to this there is no technology in the country. The army used traditional fighting materials including stone while fighting against the modern arm of Italy armed with modern weapons. Despite these three major obstacles, Ethiopians marched to Northern Ethiopia to fight against the Italian invading army.


Following Italy’s decision to force Ethiopia to accept the Italian version of the treatment, Ethiopians began their journey to Adwa under the command of Minilik II.


The journey was on foot and in some case on horse backs. It took 4 months and 12 days to Ethiopians from every corner of the country to join the group marching towards Adwa.


After that tiresome journey, Ethiopians had to fight with the modern Italian army. However, they had determination; courage and devotion that they manage to gain a glorious victory over the Italians, which turned the world politics and the notion of the superiority of whites to black people all over the world.


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