For a Kinder, Gentler Society
The Battle of Adwa
Reflections on Ethiopia's Historic Victory against European Colonialism
  • Edited by Paulos Milkias & Getachew Metaferia
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The Battle of Adwa. Reflections on Ethiopia's Historic Victory against European Colonialism
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Africans won a solitary, shocking, glorious victory at Adwa (Ethiopia) in the 19th-century “Scramble for Africa,” when the Europeans were carving up an entire continent for exploitation.

The most celebrated military operation involving the Africans and the Europeans since the time of Hannibal, this emblematic victory still resounds in the minds of Africans and the African diaspora as a promise of potential and an illustration of the dictum, “strength in unity.”

The limited success of that event, stunning as it was, left seeds for the current conflicts involving Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan and their neighbors, conflicts that again are fed, if not forced upon them, by outside, neocolonial powers: the French in Chad, the Chinese in the Sudan, and the United States somewhere behind the curtain...


About the Author

Paulos Milkias, editor, has been Professor of Humanities and Political Science at Marianopolis College/Concordia University in Montreal Canada starting in 1986. He earned his Ph.D. from McGill University. He has published two books with Algora Publishing, and several other books mostly focusing on Ethiopia. He is Editor of North-East-African Studies (Michigan State University), and Horn of Africa, (Rutgers University). As well, he is Contributing Editor of World Education Encyclopedia, (Facts on File Publications, 1988) and a lead author for Encyclopaedia Aethiopica, (University of Hamburg 2005). Dr. Milkias has published over 100 articles, many of which have appeared in peer reviewed and prestigious scholarly journals.

Getachew Metaferia, co-editor, teaches political science and coordinates the graduate program in International Studies at Morgan State University. Dr. Getachew Metaferia is associated with the Political Leadership Institute at Morgan State University, which, in collaboration with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), provides leadership training. His publications include a book on the exodus of Ethiopia’s educated classes and numerous scholarly articles and book chapters. He received his department’s "Distinguished Service" award in 2005. Dr. Metaferia was also a recipient of Fulbright-Hayes awards and was assigned to Myanmar and Thailand (2002), and China (2004).

Among the book's contributors, Richard Pankhurst has published 36 books and more than 400 scholarly articles. His seminal works, The Economic History of Ethiopia, Cambridge University Press, 1976, and The Ethiopians: a History, Oxford University Press, 2001, are classics in the field. He was awarded the prestigious title of Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his contribution to Ethiopian studies in 2004.

Zewde Gabra-Selassie, Dejazmach, served as Governor and Mayor of the capital city of Addis Ababa, Minister of Public Works, and in other leadership positions during the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia. As well as being decorated by the Emperor, he is a recipient among others of the GC of the Orders of Phoenix of Greece (1959) and Cdr. of the Orders of St Olav of Norway (1956). Dr. Dejazmach Zewde is also a distinguished African historian and is the author of many works including Yohannes IV - Political Biography, Oxford University Press – 1975; and Eritrea–Ethiopia, In the context of the Red Sea and Africa, Washington D.C, Smithsonian Institute, 1976.

Negussay Ayele, a former Ethiopian Ambassador to Scandinavia, is Professor of Political Science and International Relations. A cofounder of the African Association of Political Science, he has been awarded Fulbright, Ford, and Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung Fellowships. His recent books include Ethiopia and the United States: The Seasons of Courtship and In Search of the DNA of the Ethiopia-Eritrea Problem. He teaches for the Bunche Center for African-American Studies and for the Honors Collegium at the University of California in Los Angeles.

Harold Marcus was Distinguished Professor of History at Michigan State University. He was the founding editor of the refereed journal Northeast African Studies; he is perhaps best known for his biographies of Emperors Menelik II and Haile Selassie I, and his textbook History of Ethiopia [Oxford University Press]. He also authored numerous articles dealing with Ethiopia, and edited several monographs.

Theodore M. Vestal is professor of political science and international studies at Oklahoma State University. He holds degrees from Yale Law School, Harvard, and Stanford University. In 2005, Professor Vestal was Hiob Ludolf Endowed Professor in Contemporary Ethiopian Affairs at the University of Hamburg in Germany. His books include Ethiopia: A Post Cold War African State, Praeger, 1999.

Maimire Mennasemay teaches in the humanities/philosophy department of Dawson College, Montreal, Canada and is a fellow of the Center for Developing-Area Studies (CDAS) of McGill University. Dr. Mennasemay has published many scholarly works and is currently a member of the editorial board of Labor, Capital and Society published by CDAS, McGill Universtiy, Montreal, Canada, Horn of Africa Journal, Rutgers University, and the International Journal of Ethiopian Studies, Hollywood, CA.

Mesfin Araya is Associate Professor of African Studies at York College/ City University of New York, where he is Head of African-American Studies. He has produced numerous scholarly works on Ethiopia and Eritrea, from a political science perspective; his next book analyzes Eritrean nationalism.

About the Book

Ethiopia's warriors earned an outstanding reputation over a hundred years ago. In the 19th-century “Scramble for Africa,” when the Europeans carved up an entire continent for exploitation, Africans won a solitary, shocking, glorious...

Ethiopia's warriors earned an outstanding reputation over a hundred years ago. In the 19th-century “Scramble for Africa,” when the Europeans carved up an entire continent for exploitation, Africans won a solitary, shocking, glorious victory at Adwa (Ethiopia). The most celebrated military operation involving the Africans and the Europeans since the time of Hannibal, this emblematic victory still resounds in the minds of Africans and the African diaspora as promise of potential and an illustration of the dictum, “strength in unity.”

Nine scholars analyze the unique Ethiopian victory at Adwa, pondering the factors that brought success, the putative missed opportunities for securing the future integrity of the Ethiopian territory, and the lessons to be learned.

Rising above their regional rivalries and local concerns, all facets of this multi-ethnic society pulled together to defeat the Italian invaders who were armed with vastly more sophisticated technology and had the support of all of Europe.

For the victors it was decisive; for the vanquished, catastrophic. The Italian colonialist soldiers were crushed. Their casualty figure was 70%; all their artillery pieces were captured, one out of four of their generals was taken prisoner and two of the remaining as well as almost half of their staff officers were killed on the battlefield.

The event and its implications have much to say about Ethiopia’s subsequent development, the secession of Eritrea, and relations with external powers. It also reveals much about the machinations of global powers and the dangers they pose to weaker nations, and most specifically international influence in Africa.

The Ethiopian victory at the Battle of Adwa has remained a very important event in the shared recollection of the entire African people. It is the only secular episode in the whole history of Africa that has been celebrated for more than a century with unabated popular enthusiasm.

A phenomenon such as Adwa is a complex nexus of various historical processes with wide ranging but as yet not fully explored meanings. The contributors to this collection show that Adwa does not only reflect its time, but that it also transcends it, and that the aspirations and meanings that flow from it have been a powerful constitutive force in the rise and evolution of modern Africa. Indeed, it is an event that awakened the hope for emancipation and the struggle against colonialism and racism among Africans in the colonies and in the Diaspora.


More Information
Excerpt

[G]roup identities are always contested. However, the current trend is towards accommodation and union and not to engender disintegration. For example, if we look at European history, with the religious and political wars leading to the formation of nation-states, currently they are moving toward a larger union. In addition, in the case of African Americans who despite their separate identity rooted in the history of slavery, lynching, and...

Excerpt

[G]roup identities are always contested. However, the current trend is towards accommodation and union and not to engender disintegration. For example, if we look at European history, with the religious and political wars leading to the formation of nation-states, currently they are moving toward a larger union. In addition, in the case of African Americans who despite their separate identity rooted in the history of slavery, lynching, and racism, they have not espoused separatism. Back in Africa, look at the social disintegration of Somalia, whose people possess a common religious and linguistic identity — a rare phenomenon in the entire continent of Africa. Look at the checkered history of Eritrea itself, which was once an Italian colony, an autonomous region of Ethiopia and currently a new nation state. Those who perceive the politics of nationalism/ethno-nationalism as a fixed, permanent phenomenon need to think twice. Viewing the politics of nationalism/ethno-nationalism in terms of experiences of relationships has profound and radical implications. When it comes to the politics of nationalism/ ethno-nationalism, nothing is historically given; separatism is not inevitable, nor is the act of separation is a fixed, permanent phenomenon.

— Chapter 8. Contemporary Ethiopia in the Context of the Battle of Adwa, 1896
Mesfin Araya Ph.D., Professor of Political Science
York College, City University of New York
Reviews
Dec. 2006 CHOICE | More »
Horn of Africa Journal, Rutgers University | More »
The Journal of African History, Cambridge University, Volume 48 , Issue 02 (13 Jul 2007) | More »
Book News | More »
Aethiopica - International Journal of Ethiopian and Eritrean Studies | More »

Pages 340
Year: 2005
LC Classification: DT387.3.B39
Dewey code: 963'.043—dc22
BISAC: HIS001510
BISAC: HIS027000
Soft Cover
ISBN: 978-0-87586-413-6
Price: USD 26.95
Hard Cover
ISBN: 978-0-87586-414-3
Price: USD 35.00
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ISBN: 978-0-87586-415-0
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