RESPONSE TO NEGATIVE REMARKS ON EMPEROR YOHANNES IV
By Mathza, January 30, 2010
Between mid and 22 January 2010 a number of Ethiopians have aired on VOA Amharic program their views regarding the project for erecting a monument for Emperor Yohannes IV. Some of them were negative. Not only did they belittle the Emperor but also held him responsible for depriving Ethiopia of sea outlet hiding the fact that it was Emperor Menelik II who invited the Italians to occupy Eritrea. This explains why Emperor Menelik II did not pursue them beyond Adwa. It should be noted here that Massawa was already occupied by Italian forces and therefore Emperor Yohannes IV did not withdraw his army from Massawa as the accuser claimed. When the Emperor came to learn that Gondar was destroyed and its people massacred by the Dervishes he decided to move his forces to Metema where he died fighting the Dervishes. It is alleged that a person(s) sent from Shewa shot him from behind.
The chauvinists have been doing everything to brainwash Ethiopians that the history of Ethiopia is that of one single ethnic group, meaning the other 80 ethnic groups have no history. The conspiracy to keep the Ethiopian people in the dark regarding Emperor Yohannes IV is a case in point. Not even a street was named after him until recently. No body would associate the so-called “Yohannes Street” with him. It appears that the appropriate name, Emperor Yohannes IV Street, was deliberately not used. Very few Ethiopians know of his patriotism and deep love for his country.
His main preoccupation throughout his rule was to jealously preserve the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. Ethiopia was in a dangerous and critical situation during that era of the scramble for Africa. Its existence was being dangerously challenged. It was threatened and aggressed in different fronts by highly armed invaders. His forces fought over nine battles against the Dervishes/Mahdists, Egyptians and Italians. He was, despite the collusion of the then King Menelik with all these mortal enemies of Ethiopia, victorious in all the battles. It is thanks to him that Emperor Menelik II, using forces from all over Ethiopia, achieved victory over the Italian invasion. It should be noted here that Emperor Yohannes IV’s forces were virtually comprised of Tigrigna speaking people. It is nauseating to hear and witness such hatred against and ruining the good name of Emperor Yohannes IV and, by implication, the Tigrigna speaking people who sacrificed so much to preserve Ethiopian independence.
By the way, Emperor Yohannes IV was the first and the only one who instituted a federal system of government in which the kings under him were responsible for administering their respective territories. How many Ethiopians know about this?—practically none. He was the King of Kings and thus deserved the true title of Emperor which by definition is above kings in both honor and rank.
For responses to other allegations and further details please read the following article:
, July 3, 2007
e’adis Yetgl Tarik Enterarra (yidres leteqwamiwoch)” by Bekele Shumie in Ethiopian Review (6/20/07). I have written two articles related to such accusations and manipulations of history.* The following extensive quotation from Pat I of one of the articles shows that, on the contrary, it is Emperor Menelik II who deserves accusations not on one but on many counts.
“Emperor Menelik II, adored as “Immiye Menelik” by the diehards, has betrayed his country so many times by siding with all of its enemies and against Emperors Tewodros II and Yohannes IV. The following quotations from his own letters show how treasonous he has been.
· To Napier leading the British expedition against Emperor Tewodros II: “I was first willing to send (supplies) to you in a suitable manner, but my enemies are between us… Now I am far off, but I have no hesitation (to help).”
· To King Umberto of Italy after the Dogali defeat of the Italians by Ras Alula: “I can revenge the Italians who have died… I have confided to Antonelli many things that I cannot write which he should tell you.” After he was crowned Emperor he wrote to King Umberto “I would like the soldiers of your majesty to forcefully occupy Asmara and make sure that the route is well guarded and defended.”
· To Caliph-Khedive of the Mahdists: “When you were at war with Yohannes, I was also at war with him. Between us there has been no war.” He avoided fighting the Mahdists twice: first together with King Tecle Haimanot, second with Yohannes IV.
· Cooperation agreement related to Egyptians invasion: “The scheme was while the Egyptians Were attacking King Yohannes IV in the north, Muzinger Pasha and Menelik were to attack from the south.”
· A similar cooperation arrangement was made between King Menelik and the Italians, the former to attack Yohannes IV from the south and the later from the north.
At the battle of Adwa he wanted, for the usual selfish motive, his 25,000 Shewan guards to come out intact. He had to be persuaded to release them participate in the final assault when the Italians had the upper hand and he was about to order retreat. If it were not for his wife, Empress Taitu, and Ras Mengesha there would not have been an Adwa victory. This and the above and other facts are taboo and do not appear in history books authored by Ethiopians.”
The above facts omitted in history books are glaring examples of how Ethiopian history has been and is being manipulated by chauvinists who dream the return to the old system of governance. Note that these same people are among those who practice politics of hate and follow the saying “the end justifies the means” in order to usurp power which they so much covet. Their lust for power has blinded them and they cannot, therefore, see the irreversible nature of the change that has taken place.
Repeatedly bashing Emperor Yohannes IV — a cheap attempt at scoring political gain — is not surely going to serve their own ends or help their cause. It is crystal clear from the above quotation that Emperor Menelik II is the root cause of the present predicament of Ethiopia in as far as all the troubles perpetrated by the Eritrean leader are concerned. Let us not forget that, with practically no contribution from his kings, Emperor Yohannes IV heroically and successfully defended Ethiopia from Egyptian, Mahdist and Italian aggressions in 1875, 1876, 1877, 1880, 1883, 1885 and 1887. It was Ras Alula who struck the first blow on Italian colonial aggression at Dogali in 1887 long before the battle of Adwa in 1896.