The battle of Adwa: an Ethiopian victory that ran against the current of colonialism

The Conversation

Ethiopians attend a parade to mark the 123rd anniversary of the battle of Adwa last year. Photo by Minasse Wondimu Hailu

On the first day of March 124 years ago, traditional warriors, farmers and pastoralists as well as women defeated a well-armed Italian army in the northern town of Adwa in Ethiopia. The outcome of this battle ensured Ethiopia’s independence, making it the only African country never to be colonised. Adwa turned Ethiopia into a symbol of freedom for black people globally. It also led to a change of government in Italy.

The town of Adwa is located in Northern Tigray, closer to the southern border of Eritrea. Yeha, the capital of Ethiopia’s ancient empire from 980-400 BC, and the monastery of Aba Garima, which was founded in the sixth century AD, are located near the town.

The battle between Ethiopia and Italy took place in the mountainous terrain of the area.

Adwa still stands as witness to what ordinary Africans can do when they come together as farmers, pastoralists, women and rural people, workers and artists. They are able to score a decisive victory against global colonialist forces.

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