By Henok Tibebu
This historical land had been envied and invaded by many external enemies in several periods of time. Also its people have gone through several internal conflicts and natural disasters like drought. But when an external adversary tries to conquer the land, these people, with diversified ethnic and linguistic background , would in an unexampled manner unite like stinging bees to chase the enemy off the country.
They are known worldwide as warriors. They never put their sovereignty in the hands of an external enemy. One historical battle which they had fought and passed down the glory for generations prove an evidence for this. This battle is the battle of Adwa, a black victory over fascist colonial force.
Even though fascist Italy’s interest in the East African region dates back to 1869,on the wake of the opening of the Suez canal, it made the biggest mistake in its history trying to swindle Emperor Minilik II on the treaty of Wuchale in May 1889. The treaty, which was written in Amharic and Italian languages, has 20 articles and article 17 of the Italian version was a trick (misconstrued one) that resulted in the battle of Adwa.
In 1895 Minilik had already called up on his people to arms. Many laud the way he expressed the move of the Italian force towards the now Tigray state of Ethiopia in his call for war. He said “…the enemy is causing me trouble (getting on my nerve) digging holes here and there like a Marmot…”. Surpridingly some 100,000 ill-equipped Ethiopians marched to the battle and defeated some 15, 000 well-armed and trained modern European Army.
March 2 of 1896 was the day the actual showdown took place in Adwa between Ethiopians and the colonial trops, who thought that these people are barbarians that needed Europian civilization. It is a shame that they even never realized that the Axum obelisk which they took to Rome on the second invasion forty years later was the same peoples’ fingerprint of ancient civilization.
Somehow, the battle of Adwa started early in the morning and ended in the afternoon nearly in nine o’clock, victory crowning of Ethiopians. So many agree that the victory was a shock to the colonial powers around the world. It was also an inspiration for Africans and other oppressed people in the globe.
“Adwa is the victory of all nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia against the Italian colonial forces. It is not just a past history but also a source of inspiration for the current generation in its combat against poverty. So this year it will be colorfully marked beyond the ceremonial must-do of laying flower wreaths!” says Hirut Woldemariam Minister for the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
The victory did not only safeguard the country but also the originality of diversified cultural heritages, which have been registered by UNESCO as world heritages, according to her.
Of course the victory is not some regular part of history. It is a cornerstone that actualized the unity of Ethiopians. But the way we have been celebrating it, doesn’t seem we are paying tribute to our forefathers who gave their lives in the battle and the glory of the victory. The actual battle place, Adwa and Wuchale (where that tricky treaty was made) are still waiting for us to put something that smells or sounds like tribute.
Even from my past experiences of the celebration in Addis Ababa and other towns, the primary and secondary schools never seem to play a significant role in accentuating the event. Schools are supposed to be places where the glories of Adwa are handed down to the new generation. And students must be the colors of the celebration by whether marching to the ceremonial place with different artistic shows on the streets that depict the history or some thing unique meant to showcase a special tribute. Ethiopians living overseas must display a similar sentiment of Adwa.
However, ways of marking the watershade event are expected to improve this year. According to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, this year the 121st celebration of Adwa victory will begin from 21st February with several events like panel discussions, photograph and Painting exhibitions, Musical dramas and concerts that depict the historical values and events of the battle, etc throughout the country. A crew that embraces several participants from different Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of Ethiopia including artists had already traveled on foot to Adwa .They were performing cultural and artistic activities that would remind the historical journey of the Ethiopian patroits from its beginning to the place the showdown took place in Adwa.
It is Black Shiny victory that we all have to come together and celebrate with magnificence like all the other religious and traditional festivities.
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