Adwa’s 115th commemoration and Sebhat Nega’s duplicity



By De , Writer of this Blog




Today we mark the 115th celebration of the battle of Adwa, the day in which a Black country defeated a white Western colonising country, Italy, for the first time in the history of the world.


Raymond Jonas, in his book, TheColor of Africa: Black and White at the Battle of Adwa as it appeared on saysThe battle of Adwa of 1 March 1896 was a stunning victory for Ethiopia but a rout and a disaster for Italy. Adwa – the story of Africans seeing to their own freedom – played out against a background of almost unrelenting European expansion into Africa. The success of Ethiopia’s forces assured that Ethiopia would be the only African country successfully to resist European colonization before 1914. It also resonated powerfully in post-Emancipation America where hierarchies of race and ethnicity were only beginning a process of challenge and renegotiation.


While Wikipedia puts it as “theBattle of Adwa(usually known asAdowa, or sometimes by the Italian nameAdua) was fought on 1 March 1896 between EthiopiaandItalynear the town ofAdwa, Ethiopia, inTigray. It was the climactic battle of theFirst Italo-Ethiopian War.


In the country that I am living now, thousands of miles away from Ethiopia, few African mates congregated to mark the day.


Indeed, like most of my African sisters and brothers, I feel proudly super due to the Battle and my King Menelik II.


May God Bless his Soul!!!


Sebhat Nega’s duplicity


Born in 1934 in Adwa , Chairman of the TPLF (Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front, 1979-89) and founding member ‘Godfather ’ of the TPLF/EPRDF,Sebhat aka ‘Aboye Sebaht’, had a long interview ( a pro-EPRDF Website and Voice Room ,Ethiopians Forum for Political Civility last year on the 13th February 2010.The interview on Adwa begins on the 88th minuite.


Of all the topics he was interviewed was about Adwa, and its historic significance. He begins by saying that his party (TPLF) always has grieved about the Nile issues.


‘’Adawa’’ he said “Europeans attempt of scrambling the continent of African was ….futile. During the 100th celebration of Adwa, in Adwa Province Tigray, a cornerstone was laid to build an infrastructure and memorial in Adwa to mark the history. However, this initiative was less implemented. The victory of Adwa, is a very, very miraculous history. What the Battle thought me was the unity of the then rulers.”

He then begins to contravenehimself and says that King Menelik had “insulted’’ Ras Alula .He blames Atse Menelik. He puts Ras Alula as innocent…He says when Atse Menelik learnt that Italians were going to invade Ethiopia, he sought pardon from the Grandson of Ras Alaula , Ras Mengesha and beseeched him to go to war with him.He says that the Tigreans/Ras Alula’s were generous enough to assist the king they ‘saw differently ‘, i.e. Menelik and stand with their ‘Boss’ ,King Menelik.


He announced that Adawa Foundation will be established and will have branches in United States of America as well.

So what then?, if you ask me…


One : I feel this spinner of Meles Zenawi and the Ethiopian regime , has been hypocrite. Biniam Weldegebreil in his 2004 Masters Degree thesis “Memories of the Victory of Adwa: A Focus on Its commemoration. (1941-1999)” states that the Adwa Battle/Day was interpreted by Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in its won version that saw Ethoipia’s history as of just 100 years.The TPLF/EPRDF’s interpretations and ways of celebration of Adwa until 1996 was highly opposed by the Ethiopia mass and opposition parties.



He also says “The President of the then Transitional Government, Ato Meles Zenawi, in his speech addressed to the Ethiopian people on the eve of the Adwa Victory Day in 1993, underscored that the Ethiopian people had no conflict over resources as had been exhibited in Adwa, all Ethiopian people would rather demand to come out from slavery and oppression.”


Therefore, I feel that Sebhat’s Party which had the ideologically and intrinsic conviction that Adwa Day, was a history of the Shewan Monarchy vis-à-vis Empereor Menelik, has no moral or political power and outstanding to revert now and say ,Adwa deservers respect and bigger commemoration.


As to Biniam (2004) With the demise of the Darg, the political philosophy of the ruling regime brought about change in the commemoration as well as in the interpretations of the Victory of Adwa. EPRDF did not seem to take notice of the values of national symbols like the Victory Day of Adwa. In the first three or four years, after it took power narratives of the Victory were not published in the newspapers and its memories were not told in the government media.



“Moreover, unlike the earlier regimes, when the commemoration was presided over by higher officials, the top leaders of the EPRDF showed their ambivalence by not presiding over the celebrations. The Centenary celebrations in particular showed vividly the ambivalence of the government. The government handed over the responsibility of celebrating the Grand National Centenary to a third party and allotted a very insignificant amount of money to its celebrations. The opposition, on the other hand, took an extreme stand rejecting the Centenary celebrations at Adwa where Ethiopians got the resounding victory in 1896. The controversy between the government and the opposition made the Centenary celebrations highly politicized.” He adds.


Such a regime or Party Head is now after 20 years learning from its mistakes?



Secondly: I get sick to listen to a veteran, elderly, active politician promoting and reminiscing racist and tribal tones. Sebaht Nega, I don’t know where he got it, believes that Ras Alula (the then Tigrean King) was degraded and ‘insulted’ by Emperor Menelik and is also holding a grudge at Him (Amharas) until now. And it is this fatherly figure of the Ethiopian ruling party/politics that is ruling us. What a shame! This tells me there is yet a rotten hatred and resentment within the ruling party against certain tribes.


As a young man and part of the new Ethiopian generation, I say down to racism and hatred based administration.



Thirdly: I see his 11th hour wake up move and preparation of upholding the Day and the place, only as an attempt of developing the province of Adwa, his and Meles Zenawi birthplace. I have no problem with the economic development of the area but is baffling to witness these old Aradas acting street smarts.


One year has elapsed since he announced the launching plans of Adwa Foundation; there is no tangible Foundation yet. Adawa is as it was 115b years before; as is Ethiopia in all forms.


It is Ethiopia’s youth time to hold the wheel; move our nation and continent with the faster gear.


Happy Adwa Day to all of you!!