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The Wider Psychological Impact of the Battle of Adwa

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on March 3, 2013


by Haile Muluken

  1. A Short Review of Racial Based Prejudices towards Black Peoples

  2. Adwa for Ethiopia and the Rest of the Black Peoples

  3. Adwa for Italy and the Rest of the World

The victory of Adwa is rightly understood as a lifetime heritage and a precious jewel to Africans to be proud of and defy white stereotypes. On the whole, however, assessment of the historical significance of the victory of Adwa based on the reaction of blacks to the news of the victory; the enormous coverage accorded to it by media outlets and history books; its role in the Pan-African movement; its inspirational value to other oppressed peoples and the level of panic and shockwave it sent to imperialist circles amounts pressed peoples and the level of panic and shockwave it sent to imperialist circles amounts infinitesimal to the ultimate value of the victory which perhaps would remain too tough to fully comprehend.

By the late 19th century,

Ethiopia was a newly constructed empire consisting of diverse ethnic groups with their own political and religious traditions, but also long lived interconnections a condition found to be opportune by the invaders to break Ethiopian resistance.

The victory of Adwa was made possible because Ethiopians from all corners of the country came out in solidarity and made selfless human and material sacrifice in defense of a common cause. This unity was maintained not only amidst internal misunderstandings but also in the face of strong divisive propaganda by their enemy. The cooperation that saved the nascent Ethiopian empire from colonialism was a true manifestation of Ethiopian nationalism at work: nationalism that transcends internal oppression and misunderstandings; nationalism that does not barter the nation for enemy propaganda; nationalism that values unity amidst diversity; nationalism that pays dearly for values of freedom and independence and nationalism that puts the nation before anything else.

Today divergent claims exist about the significance of Adwa to Ethiopia among scholars,not necessarily historians, motivated by the desire to provide intellectual rational for secessionist movements or centrist political programs. Being politically motivated, some of the discussions advanced about Adwa’s internal significance are simply ahistorical and senseless. As the disunity of Italian peoples was a factor for the defeat of expansionists, so was the unity and sacrifice of all Ethiopian peoples for the victory for which they were not compensated by the state by way of good governance and elimination of exploitative relationships. If history is to be consulted for any lesson, the prospect of building a united and prosperous Ethiopia lies in the ability of the present and future generations in enhancing the kind of nationalism their fathers exhibited at Adwa which was built on a sense of belongingness to one another i.e., bond of fraternity.

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