INTRODUCTION: Thousands of Ethiopians celebrated the 81st anniversary of their victory over the Italians at the battle of Adowa on Wednesday (2 March).
INTRODUCTION: Thousands of Ethiopians celebrated the 81st anniversary of their victory over the Italians at the battle of Adowa on Wednesday (2 March). The battle had deep significance, not only for Ethiopia, but also for the whole of Africa, because it marked an important defeat of a colonial power during the 19th century "scramble for Africa".
SYNOPSIS: The Emperor Menelik masterminded the Adowa victory, which was celebrated on this occasion by Ethiopia's new leader, Lieutenant-Colonel Mengistu Haile-Mariam. He has virtually ruled the country since the overthrow of Emperor Haile Selassie, but was officially declared head of state on february the 3rd, following a gun battle in military headquarters in which the previous Head of State, Brigadier-General Teferi Bante was killed. General Bante was the third Head of State to die in three years.
Colonel Mengistu called for vigorous revolution, and reminded Ethiopians they had once defeated imperialism at Adowa and said they could do it again if the situation arose. He said the Ethiopian revolution would be transformed from a defensive position to an offensive one.
Colonel Mengistu, flanked by the vice-chairman of the Ruling Military council, Lieutenant Colonel Atanfu Abate and the head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Archbishop Tekle-Haimanoi, at one stage chanted with thee crowd, 'Yankees Go Home', and 'Down With U.S. Imperialism'.
Italy started tits colonial ambitions in Ethiopia in the 1880's when they gradually occupied the northern part of the country, then ruled by Emperor Johannes. By 1885 they had seized Massawa and four years later had advanced inland and occupied most of Eritrea, including its capital Asmara. Italy made overtures to Emperor Menelik in 1882 and supplied the Ethiopian Emperor with physicians and arms. Italy proclaimed Ethiopia an Italian protectorate in 1889 and advanced further in support of their claim. They occupied the town of Adowa the following year. It wasn't until four years later that Emperor Menelik was provoked to war and fighting broke out. Menelik won significant victories at Amba, Alagai and Mekele. the war ended with a bitter one-day battle at Adowa, in which several prominent Italian generals fell into the hands of the Ethiopians. The defeat caused riots in Rome and brought down the government of Francesco Crispi.
Adowa Day has long been one of the most important occasions in Ethiopia, but apart from token appearances by warriors and the traditional re-enactment of the battle, the celebration was noticeably more political than in past years.