The Battle of Adwa between Ethiopia and Italy took place in 1896. It was one of the battles on the African continent that pitted an ancient kingdom against a European nation. The Italians were defeated, and Ethiopia was able to retain its faith, traditions and land. The Ethiopian faith was emulated by the Rastafarian sect as far away as the Caribbean island of Jamaica.
Molefi K. Asante discussed the ramifications of the Battle of Adwa at the MKA Institute on Sept. 11. Asante is the MKA Institute president, an Africology professor at Temple University and an organizer for Afrocentricity International.
“There are those in Jamaica who studied and [revere] the name of Haile Selassie (Ethiopia’s regent from 1916-30 and emperor from 1930-1974),” Asante said. “That’s why the Rastafarians say this the first time we have seen God in the king of a Black empire. For the Rastafarian faith, [that is] Ethiopia. This is a victory more than Joe Louis. That is what the Battle of Adwa was [important] to so many.”
During the question and answer segment, Africology Professor Abelelgabar Adam pointed out that there could be a time when Africa could be united to recapture its cultural heritage. He said there is a possibility of having a United States of Africa among the many African countries, despite their cultural and religious differences, on a larger scale than the United States of America.
Adam has seen what colonialism has done to Sudan. He singled out Christian missionaries and those of the Islamic faith for using their faith “as tools of oppression.”
He said currently it is the Chinese that are draining African resources. “You see the Chinese everywhere. If it continues heading this way by 2030 the Chinese are going to take over Africa because everyone wants African resources,” Adam said.
Those who came to the lecture said that they learned much about a topic they previously knew nothing about. Though Gina Wright of Germantown said that she heard of Selassie and the Rastafarians, she did not know they were connected. She also had never heard of the Battle of Adwa. “It’s good to know that despite all the colonialism in Africa, someone did win the battle against the Europeans,” Wright said.
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