Battle of Adwa 1896: When Ethiopia Destroyed Invading Italian Army

AFRICAN HISTORY

On March 1, 1896, the Ethiopian army under the leadership of one of Africa’s illustrious wartime heroes, chief strategists Emperor Menilek II dealt Italy with a decisive defeat.  Italy’s crushing defeat sent their colonial ambitions back 100 years and stopped their advancement into the African territory.

The battle of Adwa became a model that was used by liberation fighters across the continent to take their land back from colonial invaders in the 20th century.

It is significant because it shows that Africans were not docile while the Europeans took over their resources but that they fought like fierce warriors to defend their homeland and preserve their sovereignty.

This was a shrewd move because the Italian version contained verbiage that made Ethiopia into a colony of Italy and the Ethiopian version did not.

The Italians occupied the northern part of Ethiopia and Emperor Menilek II let them occupy the land for about a year while he traded with them. This gave him time to build up his arsenal for the pending war to drive the Italians out.

The Italian General overestimated his ability and led 14,500 troops to war against 100,000 Ethiopian warriors. Due to this miscalculation, Emperor Menilek II defeated the Italians and killed 6,000 Italian soldiers and 4,000 as prisoners of war. Ethiopia decimated the Italian army at Adowa on March 1, 1896, and their secured freedom.

Emperor Menilek II

“Italy can have Ethiopia when I am the emperor of Rome” -Emperor Menilek II

Written by Anna Mosi-Oa-Tunya
Via: global black history

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