Thousands of Ethiopians poured into Addis Ababa on Sunday (2 March) to celebrate a high point in their calendar - the eighty-fourth anniversary of the battle of Adowa.
SV PULL BACK TO LV AND CU Equestrian statue of Emperor Menelik, Guards at base with floral tributes (2 shots)
SV PAN & CU Guard watches as Ethiopian leader Mengistu Haile Mariam walks forward to lay wreath (3 shots)
CU PULL BACK TO LV AND PAN TO CU Head of statue and Mengistu saluting (2 shots)
GV, LV & CU Crowd assembled in Revolution Square watching display by young people waving hammer and sickle flags in front of official party of platform (3 shots)
LV PAN FROM Flag wavers in front of dais to decorated building in background
SV Seated guests applaud
GV & CU Crowd listen as World Peace Council President Romesh Chandra makes speech PAN as mengistu listens (3 shots)
SV Guests applaud
LV Groups of marchers going along road re-enacting Ethiopian defeat of Italian forces
SCU Mengistu and Chandra watching from dais
LV Soldiers with firearms and huge flags goose stepping by
TV Marchers in civilian dress carrying banners: 'Marxism-Leninism is our guiding principles etc.
TV Crowd continuing by banner, (Forward with the liberation struggle in Africa).
CHANDRA: "Two days ago, the participants tin this conference of the World Pace Council had the honour of present the highest award, the highest present that we can give to any man to our beloved Comrade Chairman Mengistu Haile Mariam. And he said he accepted in on behalf of all of you, the people of socialist Ethiopia, the people of revolutionary Ethiopia."
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Thousands of Ethiopians poured into Addis Ababa on Sunday (2 March) to celebrate a high point in their calendar - the eighty-fourth anniversary of the battle of Adowa. At this battle, in 1896, a charge by twenty-five thousand Ethiopians defeated an Italian colonising force.
SYNOPSIS: The Ethiopian armies were led then by Emperor Menelik, whose equestrian statue surveys Menelik Square in the capital. Ethiopians have long regarded the victory as a pivotal incident in African history -- they claim it was the first time Africans had beaten colonial forces. The country's present leader, Lieutenant Colonel Mariam Haile Mengistu, laid a wreath at the plinth of the statue.
Menelik the Second ruled Ethiopia from 1889 to 1913, and is considered one of her greatest leaders having expanded the country to almost its present-day boundaries.
One feature of the long programme of marching and entertainments was synchronised groups of young people waving hammer and sickle flags, symbols of a nation that has become a revolutionary republic.
The dancers point their flags towards their leader and officials as a sign of allegiance. Then the crowd heard a speech from the World Peace Council president, Mr Romesh Chandra.
Three generations on, marchers re-enact the rout of the Italian troops. At the battle of Adowa, the Italians estimated that almost two thousands of their own troops were killed almost two thousand of their own troops were killed, almost five hundred wounded, and more than eighteen hundred taken prisoner. The Ethiopians believed they lost between five thousands and six thousand men, with another eight thousands badly wounded. Some of the contemporary troops who marched here had seen action against Somali force in the Ogaden war.
Now that Ethiopia has been transformed into a Marxist state, this anniversary is especially savoured as a crushing defeat of an Italian foe branded as 'imperialist'. Amid the forest banners was one urging 'fair and free elections' in Zimbabwe, where the votes were being counted as this parade took place.
These Ethiopians look back on their ancestors at the time of the battle of Adowa as being an oppressed people, and they consider that battle was a first step towards their own liberation.