February 28, 2022
This year’s celebration of the victory at Adwa, 126 years ago, has special significance. Although the war against the TPLF has largely been won, Ethiopia is under attack both from within and externally. The draconian House Resolution 6600, already voted up by a bi-partisan majority on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, threatens to eliminate Ethiopia’s right to be a sovereign nation. If this resolution were to be passed by the U.S. Congress, Ethiopia for the first time in its existence would become a colony under the domination of the “human rights imperialists.” Let us be clear: this resolution could only be passed by the U.S. Congress, if Speaker of the House, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, backed by the Biden administration desired it.
Let us now also celebrate, in the same spirit of Adwa on February 20, 2022, when 375 megawatts of electricity for development were generated by the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Let Adwa Day and GERD Day serve to unite all Ethiopians citizens of a great nation, without regard to ethnicity. Human beings are not defined by their geography or their ethnic lineage, but rather by their sacred power of creativity, endowed by the Creator. A sovereign nation-state is not a compendium of ethno-nationalities. It is composed of citizens who identify with, and support the principles, ideals, and aspirations of their nation in the present and for the future.
Therefore, I say: Happy Adwa Day-Happy GERD Day
Celebrate Ethiopia’s March 1, 1896 Victory at Adwa: Ethiopia is Fighting Another Battle Today to Protect its Sovereignty
February 28, 2021
This edited article below was first published in the March 2017. If you read the headlines of the European press following Italy’s defeat on March1, 1896, you will see that this battle shook the foundations of European Imperialism to its core.
Today, Ethiopia is engaged in another battle for its sovereignty, no less vital than the Battle at Adwa 125 years ago. The Ethiopian nation-state is a physical unitary reality that embodies an essential concept of national identity, which transcends ethno-nationalism. Unfortunately, there are times when it is necessary to wage war to preserve the nation state, which represents the interests of all Ethiopians. Without a functioning sovereign nation-state, society cannot provide for its citizens and for future generations. In the spirit of the victory at Adwa, all Ethiopians should unite in pursing their shared common interest: the development of Ethiopia. When all Ethiopians, from all ethnic backgrounds join together to ensure the economic progress of their single homeland, then the preconditions will exist to end ethnic conflict and marginalization. The victory at Adwa belongs to and exist inside all Ethiopians. One Ethiopia! One Ethiopian identity!
Victory at Adwa- A Victory for Africa
March 1, 2017
The battle of Adwa is probably the most renowned and historic battle in Ethiopian history. This celebrated victory by the Ethiopian army helped define the future of their nation, as one of only two non-colonized countries in Africa. The defeat of a European colonial empire by an African country, following the “Scramble for Africa” after the 1884-1885 Berlin conference a decade earlier, is not only a source of enduring pride and nationalism for Ethiopians, but also an inspiration to other Africans, who took up the fight for independence six decades later. Some historians suggest that this victory also led to the idea for the Pan-African movement. As a result, it is no surprise that on May 25, 1963, Ethiopia under the rule of Emperor Haile Selassie was a founding member of the Organization of African States-OAS.
Adwa, also known as Adowa, and in Italian Adua, was the capital of the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia. A late comer to grabbing territory in Africa, Italy began colonizing Somaliland and Eritrea in the 1880s. It was from the vantage point of Eritrea from where Italy launched its campaign against Ethiopia. The immediate pretext of the invasion was a dispute of Article 17 of the 1889 Treaty of Wuchale. Italy insisted that the treaty stated that Ethiopia had to submit to its imperial authority, thus effectively making Ethiopia a colony of the Kingdom of Italy. The Ethiopians resisted Italy’s military enforcement of its version of the treaty, leading to the outbreak of war in December 1894, with the Italian imperialists occupying Adwa and moving further south into Ethiopian territory.
On March 1, 1896, King Menelik II, who, commanded a force of over 70,000, defeated the Italian army, killing 7,000 of their soldiers, wounding 1,500, and capturing 3,000 prisoners, routing their enemy, and forcing them to retreat back to their colony of Eritrea. It has been speculated that, if Menelik had pursued the retreating Italian troops, and driven them off of the continent, it might have prevented a second Italian invasion.
On October 3, 1935, Italy led by fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, launched its second military incursion into sovereign Ethiopia territory. Five years later in 1941, Ethiopia once again drove the Italian invaders out of their country. The 1896 defeat of a European nation, considered an advanced country, by Ethiopia, viewed as a backward Africa country, led to riots on the streets of Italy and well deserved consternation in the capitals of European powers.
Without taking the time now to review the ninety years of Ethiopian history following this famous battle, the military defeat of Ethiopia’s dictatorial Derg Regime in 1991 brings us to the beginning of contemporary Ethiopia. When the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front-EPRDF assumed control of the government in 1991, it was led by the now deceased, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who initiated the economic policies that have guided Ethiopia for over 25 years. In Ethiopia’s Developmental State, the government comprehended that the state itself performed an indispensable role in fostering economic development. This is what distinguishes Ethiopia today from all other sub-Saharan African nations.
The state is not “a night watchman,” but rather an active participant promoting economic growth for the benefit of its people. Ethiopia is a poor country with a population approaching one hundred million, not endowed with rich mineral or hydrocarbon resources, and repeatedly struck by drought. Yet it has emerged in recent years with a rapidly growing economy.
In collaboration with China, Ethiopia operates the first electrified train in sub-Saharan Africa, traveling 750 kilometers in seven hours from Addis Ababa to Djibouti, establishing a port to export Ethiopia’s products. Their highway system consisting of toll roads, highways, and all weather roads will connect their light manufacturing industries to the port in Djibouti via their new rail line. As a result of coherent policy planning in energy infrastructure, the Gibe III hydroelectric power plant has now added 1,872 of megawatts to the country’s electricity grid, and over the next two years, the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD) will add an additional 6,000 megawatts, making Ethiopia the second largest producer of power in sub-Saharan Africa, behind South Africa. The next step to develop the Horn of Africa is for Ethiopia, Sudan, and Kenya to extend their rails lines to become the eastern leg of an East-West railroad. Thus, would transform Africa by connecting the Gulf of Eden/Indian Ocean with the Atlantic Ocean, creating an economic corridor that would literally revolutionize the economic power of the continent; contributing to the ending of poverty, hunger, and war.
One cannot deny the success of Ethiopia’s unique path of development, nor can one omit the vital role contributed to this process by Ethiopia’s successful resistance to foreign occupation; thus, never having to suffer the dehumanizing effects of colonialism.
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Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton.