Diplomatic Diary

Celebrating 128 Years of Adwa Victory: A Testament to Ethiopian Resilience and African Pride

Honoring the Legacy of Adwa: Ambassador Demeke Atnafu Pays Tribute to Ethiopia's Historic Triumph.

Adwa victory is the symbol of Ethiopia’s independence and Sovereignty; it is the Symbol of dignity of Africans and Black people! March 2nd, 2024 marks the 128th year anniversary of the Battle of Adwa. 

A treaty known as the Treaty of Wuchale was signed between Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia and Italy in 1889, where the Amharic and Italian versions of Article 17 of the treaty interpreted differently. The Amharic version of the treaty states that Ethiopia can use Italy for all business with other countries, whereas the Italian version obliged Ethiopia to use Italy in all of its foreign dealings. The difference in the interpretation of Article 17 became a major source of conflict and disagreement that led to war.

When Italy disregarding the Amharic version of the treaty and continued to consider Ethiopia as its protectorate, making full preparation to invade Ethiopia, Emperor Menelik II called on all Ethiopians to defend their country, family and religion. He ordered every capable person to fight and those incapable to pray for Ethiopia’s victory.

The Italian army invaded Ethiopia from its colony in Eritrea, expecting to encounter little resistance. About 20,000 Italian and Italian trained troops armed with modern weapons advanced in three columns. However, the Ethiopians were well prepared and assembled a formidable army of around 100,000 troops.

The battle began at dawn, with the Italian artillery bombarding the Ethiopian army. The Ethiopian army then launched a fierce counter-attack, charging the Italian lines with traditional weapons. It didn’t take long for the Italians and their auxiliaries to become disorganized, greatly outnumbered, and exposed in hostile surroundings. The intensity of the Ethiopian attack initially caught them off guard. Their modern weapons were less effective than they had anticipated.

The battle lasted for several hours, with the Ethiopians gradually gaining the upper hand. The Italian army began to retreat, but the Ethiopians pursued them relentlessly, causing heavy casualties. By the end of the day, the Italian army had suffered around 7,000 casualties, with over 6,133 soldiers killed, while the Ethiopian army had suffered around 4,000 casualties.

The Battle of Adwa marked a decisive victory for Ethiopia, making Ethiopia the first African and black nation to fully resist and defeat European colonizers in the 19th century.  It was a resounding victory, not only it aborted Italia’s ambition to establish a colonial foothold in Ethiopia but also compelled major European powers, including Italy to accept the independence and sovereignty of Ethiopia. It significantly contributed for Ethiopia to preserve and continue to maintain its own unique alphabets, calendar and way of life. The crushing defeat greatly enhanced Ethiopia’s International reputation, with a host of foreign advisers, ambassadors, emissaries and adventurers flow into the country.

Moreover, the victory challenged the European perception of Africans as inferior and primitive. It clearly demonstrated that Africans were capable of defending their territories and independence by resisting European colonization. Further it became a source of pride and inspiration for other African nations struggling for independence from European colonial powers. It also contributed to the growth of Pan-Africanism, a movement that sought to unify African nations and people across the continent and became a rally emblem for the later African nationalists in their struggle for decolonization and political independence. 

This is an official message by H. E. Ambassador Demeke Atnafu (Ethipion Ambassdor in India).

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