Unity was the Heart of Adwa and is Still Ethiopia’s Source of Hope

For centuries Ethiopia has been a unique force of African optimism and a firm symbol of resistance against colonialism.

When one begs the question regarding Ethiopia’s perseverance against Western interference, the answer is often the unwavering unity of Ethiopians and its ability to gain momentum even at the lowest moments in history.

ADWA a Sense of Pride for Ethiopians

This week marks the 126 year anniversary of the battle of Adwa on March 1st 1896. The battle manifests an important history of Ethiopia as the first black nation in Africa to defeat a European nation. Additionally, the battle of Adwa is a prime example of Ethiopian unity against colonialist agendas.

This unifying aspect of the battle is evidenced through King Menilik’s ability to rally Ethiopians from many tribes for the singular purpose of defending Ethiopian sovereignty.

King Menilik was able to achieve this by unifying rulers of Afar, Arsi, Borna, Harar, Gojam, Shewa, Tigray, Wollega, Wello, Wolaita and others to join and defend their nation from Italian invaders. Surely the call for unity by King Menilik succeeded in preserving the dignity of Ethiopia as a sovereign nation, free from the chokehold of European colonialism.

ABAY - GERD Ethiopia's New Hope

Ethiopia’s history like Adwa teaches us that lofty national pride continues through generations in the minds of Ethiopians. Ethiopians have always rediscovered their paths, stood firm, and fully supported fellow Ethiopians in times of need.

For instance, when Ethiopians were denied their right to use their own water, Abay (the Blue Nile), and Western nations and their financial systems rejected any finance or loans, again the unity and the sense of pride of Ethiopians was instrumental to begin Africa's largest dam, the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

The majority of Ethiopians including the diaspora participated in supporting the GERD project which is aimed at bringing more than half of Ethiopia’s population out of darkness via hydroelectric power. By purchasing bonds, sacrificing their salaries, providing their labors and skills, Ethiopians contributed in building the $4.5 billion national project.

Despite many roadblocks, the first fruit of this project backed by the unity of millions of Ethiopians was witnessed on Feb 21, 2022 as Ethiopia announced the first power generation of more than 300 megawatts.

Understanding the Underlying Purpose of Division

Divide and Conquer is an existing tactic that has proven history in its applications:

  • In 1935, colonialists at the Berlin Conference (the meeting which drew plans for the purpose of colonizing African nations) schemed ways in which it would create division, creating a path for European colonialism.

  • Currently, the strategies of neocolonialism include the same approach of dividing groups against each other and erodin national unity.

To this day, Western nations envision a divided Ethiopia - a confederate state where Ethiopians are segregated by ethnic lines. To implement this, the ethno-chauvinist group TPLF, Tigray People’s Liberation Front, was used as a means in dividing Ethiopia alongside ethnic division (Tigray against other ethnic groups).

The tyrannical TPLF regime with its egregious human rights violations, led Ethiopia for more than 27 years with the blessing of Western nations. This regime worked to weaken Ethiopian’s unity by plotting and instigating ethnic conflicts between different groups as a means of consolidating power. The outcry of the ordinary Ethiopians to the international community was ignored for years, however, the TPLF was finally ousted in 2018 through the unity and bravery of groups within the government.

Once the shackles of TPLF were removed from their hold on Ethiopian politics, the TPLF regrouped as insurgents to subdue Ethiopians for more years of oppression. They subsequently invaded Amhara and Afar in an attempt at toppling the newly formed government. This campaign was supported by Western nations with their media misinformation and propaganda.

For Ethiopians, these coordinated internal and external threats were the current generation’s battle of Adwa. Ethiopians at home and abroad rejected such voices and struggled together, saying NoMore to ethnic division, oppression, and neocolonialism.

Today, the world has once again seen Ethiopians’ unwavering unity. However, external forces will continue to fuel division by supporting ethnic based insurgents, hence, Ethiopians need to remain vigilant and united to ensure Ethiopian voices and sovereignty are respected.

The unity to defend Ethiopia should continue its mission of challenging the West’s visions. Unity means standing strong with all Ethiopians and speaking out against all atrocities, creating solutions instead of deeping the division. As Ethiopia remains a beacon of hope for Africa, its division and fracture not only hurts the nation's pride but also works at crumbling the spirit of Pan-Africanism.