Ethiopians and Ethiopian-Americans to Celebrate King Menelik and His Victory at the Battle of Adwa

January 18, 2014


Washington, DC – One-hundred and eighteen years ago, a well-organized army under the command and leadership of Emperor Menelik II and Empress Taytu, decimated the Italian force that was seeking to colonize one of Africa’s most ancient nations – Ethiopia. As a leader beyond his time, Emperor Menelik II was able to organize and structure an army within a short period of time to confront the Italians at Adwa. With his swift victory over the Italians, Minilik II solidified Ethiopia’s independence by putting Ethiopia among the very few states in the world that have never been colonized.ETHIOPIAN HERITAGE  SOCIETY IN NORTH AMERICA, ADWA 2014

The Ethiopian Heritage Society of North America (EHSNA) will be celebrating the leadership of King Menelik  and Empress Taytu in their struggle for independence. Last month marks the 100th anniversary of Menelik’s death, nearly 18 years after defeating the Italian colonial force. The commemoration of Minilik and Tyatu, and the victory at Adwa, will take place on Sunday, March 2, 2014 at the Silver Spring Civic Building at Veterans Plaza in Silver Spring, Maryland. The general public is encouraged to attend and commemorate the victory at Adwa, as well as King Menelik’s accomplishments in restructuring Ethiopia.

Black Unity

King Menelik’s victory at Adwa raised the status of Ethiopia to a degree that Ethiopia, then known as Abyssinia, became a symbol for Africa’s great potential. It shattered the centuries old, negative portrayals of Africans as being, “savages.” The victory produced and strengthened a new phase of Pan-Africanism that planted the seed of unity and cooperation of blacks throughout the world to break the yoke of colonialism in unison.

In Africa, many nations viewed Ethiopia as a role model, and took the Ethiopian flag colors (Green, Yellow, and Red) to construct their own flag in recognition of Ethiopia’s struggle and victory over colonialism. In the Americas, the African-American community adopted the words “Ethiopia” and “Abyssinia” in their church names to further push the idea of black unity. Langston Hughes, in his poem entitled Call For Ethiopia, writes: “Ethiopia is free! Be like me all of Africa, arise and be Free! All of you black peoples, be Free, be Free!”

Emperor Menelik II’s leadership

Besides saving his country from slavery, Minilik can also claim victory in the development sphere. With great zeal, he led Ethiopia into the 20th century. A 1909 New York Times article describes Menelik: “The Emperor, after abolishing the feudal laws still extant in the empire, and emancipating the slaves, established compulsory free education throughout his dominions. As a result in another generation education will be as widespread in Abyssinia as in several European countries.”

Emperor Menelik II introduced a plethora of modern institutions and infrastructure that Ethiopia sorely needed. From the first railway, to the first bank and telephone systems, from electricity to the first sewer system, Emperor Menelik II was determined to move Ethiopia into a new era. Before he died, it is alleged that he was thinking about reforming the government into a constitutional monarchy.

A Battle for Emperor Minilik II and the Truth

Recently, an organized campaign to degrade and belittle the image and legacy of Menelik II has been taking place. This deliberate and hateful campaign has attempted to target and belittle one of the fundamental cores of Ethiopian identity – the victory at Adwa.

Despite the diversity of language, culture, and religion among them, Ethiopians united to defeat their common enemy colonialism. The victory helped foment a nationalist renaissance that focused on an Ethiopian identity that includes diligence and courage.

This smear campaign not only attempts to belittle and degrade the history of Ethiopia, but also to rob the historical symbolism and pride of blacks around the world. By portraying a vicious image of King Menelik and his victories, it attempts to define black identity as a people conquered by colonialists, while the triumphant victory proves otherwise. Since their defeat at Adwa, the colonialists have searched for ways to degrade the victory of Adwa and Menelik, because it reminds them of their defeat.

Using Colonialist Policies

The present regime in Ethiopia is adopting the techniques of those past colonial powers. It seems to be attempting to colonize Ethiopia a second time. The regime is attempting to rewrite history by ignoring the victory at Adwa and besmirching the image of Menelik. The regime attempted to pull down a historic statue of Menelik, but the people of Ethiopia reacted negatively and the statue still stands in Saint George Circle in Addis Ababa.

The ongoing campaign of demonizing Menelik can be deemed as a colonialist agenda. This colonialist agenda includes policies to belittle, desecrate, and degrade Ethiopia’s historical victories as well as its historical artifacts. This colonialist policy became evident when the current regime refused to commemorate the centennial anniversary of Minilik’s death and vowed to punish with arrest any attempts to do so.

Common knowledge indicates that the regime has financed this smear campaign against Menelik and the victory at Adwa. Its ultimate goal is to deconstruct the shared history of the nation using a divide-and-conquer technique, pitting citizen against citizen. The victory at Adwa and the leadership of Menelik and Taytu are synonymous with Ethiopian freedom. They define what the Ethiopian people can accomplish as a united front.

EHSNA and History

EHSNA, the sponsor of this commemorative event, is a non-profit, charitable organization (501c) that encourages young members of the Ethiopian diaspora, and their families and friends, to remember and celebrate Ethiopia’s cultural heritage – such as the significance of the Battle of Adwa. As a lesson in freedom, please come and celebrate the victory of Adwa and the legacy of Emperor Menelik II and Queen Taytu.

10 Responses to Ethiopians and Ethiopian-Americans to Celebrate King Menelik and His Victory at the Battle of Adwa

  1. sadie

    February 9, 2014 at 11:55 pm

    Good job about time you wake up we need to defend our leaders and history like they did for us children of ethiopian a free mind free sprit, they stood their ground to tell them no one of my children that you can slave and died suffer for us. now we need to stand and tell all of them we are here we will defend our father and mother who sacrifice for our freedom and protect our children from that kind of agression. we should not allowed to trash our leaders and history

  2. ancient ethiopia

    January 24, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    good job. invite all black americans , black africans, africa’s ambassadors and friends of ethiopia and tell them how that ethiopia’s black lion fought and defeated the white power which was supported by all european’s countries.

  3. tsedale

    January 22, 2014 at 12:39 am

    It is a long long time coming my brave and patient people, break the silent defending our being, we no more allow those bastered to distort our leaders name and history.

    “what you do not protect it will be taken” it is in the bible

    the army protect borders but the people (citizen) protect it’s land, people and history, Let’s go.

  4. Woyane is in Labor

    January 20, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    Past glorious, uplifting and magnanimous histories of Emperor Menilik kept refreshing our minds and soul that makes every Ethiopian proud of his/her past. This is the one we have common with and feel proud of our King and ancestors who died defending Ethiopia.

    King Menelik was a blessing for Ethiopia and for the whole black people. He was magnanimous monarch who was free from ignorance, ethnocentric, greed and prejudice. God had equipped him with vision, intelligence, tolerances, fairness and many more admirable knowledge that are very hard to find even in this time and age.

    On the other hand Woyane is birthing unfounded, false, that washes out any pride, unheard of, undocumented and never happened histories that to make us feel as lowlifes, shameful and humiliated.

    Woyane families were serving the enemy flag for money and clothes when Italy invaded Ethiopia and killing our soldiers defending their country. So we give this one to Menilik haters. Let Woyanes/TPLF die feeling shame of their past.

  5. DoomDoom

    January 19, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    Thank you to those “anti-Ethiopians” who are slave of fascist Italian, Arab petrol dollar kings and western imperialists, We the true Ethiopians are now more awake and united like our for fathers. This fire is going to eat alive those separatists and ethnic politicians. Our father, King of Kings MENELIK restored the lost territory of Ethiopia from Oromo migration, freed our south omotic and nilotic people. He freed the in slaved Oromo people from their war lords. Then he say “we are one and equal,you keep your language, land, religion etc and let build this mother land of ours together “!!!!
    Then all went to show how a united Africans can win war with super power-BAFANKULO FASCISTA ITALIANA. The war should have been fought by king Yohannes, any way he died unable to defend himself. You eat by yourself you die by yourself.
    Ethiopia means a unity = means strength= freedom.
    Long live our KING MENELIK and all Ethiopians who shed their blood for us. Long live All ETHIOPIANS(Tigre,Oromo,Sidama,Somala,Amhara,etc + all people of colored who were and still under oppression !!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. guest

    January 19, 2014 at 3:27 am

    Good job, celebrating our heritage is key to knowing our identity. Menelik II has done a lot to our Ethiopia, and his legacy is acknowledged by Africans, let alone Ethiopians.

    The recent demonization of this Ethiopian icon is short sided at best, and is totally inappropriate and unfounded. I feel that we should be open minded in discussing what was done or not at the time, but sitting back and allowing the inaccurate and unfounded characterization of this leader should not be tolerated. I would like to emphasize that these fallacies should be exposed at all costs, and that saying nothing amounts to accepting these lies.

    Let us all take time to go back and read some history. Let us try to analyze why some feel such hate and anger towards Menelik II. The more we know, the better we can defend his legacy.

    I would like to conclude by saying that I see a push from some people (The Oromos mainly) who feel slighted by Menelik II. The wise have chosen to give a chance for all to express what they feel, even if they disagree, and have chosen to abscond from reacting. Personally, while I have tried to understand the roots of this hate and anger, I feel like the silence is being mistaken for an admission of guilt. I would like to point out that nobody or no leader was/is/will be perfect, if some people choose to select one chapter of history and lay accusations/use it to target/attack others/other ethnicities, other chapters of our history (Oromo expansion) should be fair game to be brought up in the discussion. There are plenty of examples f horrors and atrocities that could be found there too. What is happening now is the pointing of the accusatory finger at one group of people (the Amhara) for all the ills of our nation. While most are fighting to preserve our legacy and history, in the name of our Ethiopia, it is being mistaken for self preservation and self interest. It is self-preservation in terms of maintaining unity but not one ethnicity. Enough is enough, staying quiet has only resulted in emboldening some.

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