The Empress Behind Ethiopia’s Battle of Adwa

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Ethiopia is one of the oldest nations in the world and the only African country to successfully resist the scramble for Africa by colonial powers. Ethiopia became a symbol of hope and strength for all people of African descent when Ethiopia had beaten back attempts at colonization by Italy. The famous battle of Adwa signified a victory not only for Ethiopia, but for all people of the African diaspora.

Ethiopia, once ruled by King Solomon and Queen Sheba (Makeda) around 931 BC, in more recent times was ruled by provincial monarch named Menelik II who later married Taytu Betul in 1883. The marriage between the two brought stabilization to Menelik’s rule in Ethiopia, blending her political sense with his cautious leadership style.

When the Europeans started engagements to begin the process of colonization, Taytu led a faction that opposed her husband’s acceptance of European influences and instead favored a bold, aggressive military opposition. Her influence drove her husband to tear up the 1889 Treaty of Wuchale between the Ethiopian Empire and Italy. Commanding her own battalion in battle, she motivated women to join the battle as fighters and nurses and motivated men against retreat on the frontlines.

The opposition against colonization became a worldwide spectacle, where it was no longer just about Ethiopia, but about all Africans. Her opposition to her husband’s affiliation with the Europeans ultimately led to the decision to resist colonial interference. The victory at Adwa symbolized hope for the rest of the world and Ethiopia has been held as the pride of the African diaspora.

For more information, read Ethiopia by Paulos Milkias.

Picture from Diaspora Channel

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