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AFRIK-IT  June 1995

AFRIK-IT June 1995

Subject:

National Committee on Adewa

From:

Dawit Yohannes <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Thu, 22 Jun 1995 12:06:56 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (105 lines)

 * Original to: [log in to unmask] (2:2/501)
 
 
 
Greetings,
 
The opening ceremony of the National Committee
Commemoration of the Centennial of the Battle of
Adwa was held today at the Africa Hall, Addis
Abeba. The ceremony was attended by H.E. Ato
Tamrat Layne, the Prime Minister of the TGE, H.E.
Mr. M.D. Saar, Acting Executive Secretary, UNECA;
H.E. Mr Alfred NZO, Minister of Foreign Affairs,
Republic of South Africa; and H.E. Dr. Salim Ahmed
Salim, Secretary General, OAU. All of them remarked
on the importance of Adwa to Ethiopia and Africa.
 
The following remark by Professor Andreas Eshete,
Chair of the National Committee sums up the sprit
of the ceremony.
 
---------------------------------------------------------
 
                 National Committee
  Commemoration of the Centennial of the Battle of Adwa
           Centennial Anniversary Celebration
                           of
                  The Battle of Adwa
 
 
Every political community resorts to epochal events to
anchor its collective memory. Adwa is unquestionably a singular epochal event
in Ethiopian history. Adwa
represents the rare -- perhaps unique -- success of a
poor, black country in defeating the imperialist
ambitions of a European power.
 
The centennial celeberation of the battle of Adwa should
attempt to cultivate an understanding of the event that
is deeply and distictively Ethiopian in place of the stock
images offered up by Western condescending eyes or by our
own visions of imperial glory. It is time to abandon the prespective on Adwa
from on high. The story we tell of Adwa
during the centennial should shape the meanings we are
prepared to give to our country's present and future. A
genuine celebration of Adwa should allow us to think afresh
the ideals defended at Adwa in a spirit of loyalty to them
in order to see vividly how we can sustain our commitment to
them in the present. Through a searching exploration of both
the tenacity of Adwa and the mutability of its significance,
the past can be deployed to put our present predicaments in
meaningful perspective.
 
Everyone can agree that the pervasive significance of Adwa
is that it shows poor societies prize their independence and are ready to
assert it in the face of great adversity. How do we now keep faith with the
ideal of independence resolutely upheld at Adwa? Can we cherish the spirit of
independence triumphantly displayed at Adwa and remain complacent about our
evident material and cultural dependence on others ? If Adwa matters because
we successfully defended our independence by ourselves, its
celebration should prompt a recommitment to our country's independence at a
time when the world is variously inhospitable to the aspiration of poor
societies to chart their own way of life.
 
The recovery of Adwa -- its purpose and promise -- has to proceed from a clear
picture of our present predicaments. Adwa's centennial will be celebrated as
darkness descends on empire. For the first time, then, the fight against
imperialism can be commemorated unencumbered by Ethiopia's own attachments to
empire. We can salute the voices and deeds of the disenfranchised -- despised
cultural communities and peasants -- at Adwa.
 
In the fight against empire, we have seen our share of bitter conflict and
profound change. The resultant uncertainty and unsettlement has aroused a
hostility to vision. Adwa, properly perceived, can serve to prompt the
enormous regenerative capacities of the Ethiopian people. In particular, the
story we now tell ourselves of Adwa can be an excercise in mutual
reconciliation and collective self-definition that can play a formative role
in the ongoing construction of our national identity. We should therfore take
advantage of the happy coincidence that the centennial occurs at a time when
conditions for forging popular unity among Ethiopian citizens and communities
are more favourable than ever.
 
Finally, Adwa can be a catalyst to a rethinking of worthy ideals --
patriotism, political sovereignty, popular sovereignty, cultural autonomy,
economic independence -- in the wider African community. Beyond its intristic
importance, commomorating the centennial as a celebration of an African
triumph would show that Adwa is not being summoned to bolster partisan
politics or ideology. Indeed, placing Adwa in a wider context may artfuly
demonstrate the salient connections and continuities between the battles of
1896 and our ongoing struggle for freedom a hundred years later. To highlight
the African significance of Adwa, South Africa would be an appropriate focal
point for the continental dimension of the anniversary : South Africa
represents the conclusion of the struggle for independence initiated at Adwa.
 
                                        Andreas Eshete
                                        Chair
                                        National Committee
 
 
============================================================
Pol.Ethiopia
June 20, 1995
 
============================================================

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