ADWA VICTORY CENTENARY
Ethiopian Community in Britain supported by African Centre of the University of East
London, International Policy Research Initiative of Middlesex University, Pan-African Grass
Roots Initiative, the Ethiopian Refugee Communities of Brent, Lambeth and Harringey, Royal
African Society, African Centre at SOAS, London University and The Izra Ethiopia Artistic
Logo: Gorade(1), Light radiating out of Ethiopia to the world(0), and shield(0)
"ADWA AS A DEFINITIVE AFRICAN VICTORY WHICH BEGAN THE ENDING OF
THE EUROPEAN SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA;SYMBOLISES THE CLASH BETWEEN
THE FORCES OF COLONIALISM AND ANTI-COLONIALISM ON A WORLD SCALE;
THE PAN-AFRICAN SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS VICTORY;ADWA AND THE
EMERGING COMMUNITIES OF AFRICAN RESISTANCES AND
LIBERATION;RELEVANCE AND LESSONS FOR DECOLONISING AFRICA'S
Saturday 2nd & Sunday 3rd,1996
The centennial anniversary celebrating the victory of Adwa over Italian colonialism in
Ethiopia will take place in London between March 2-3,1995. Adwa was a major anti-
colonialist battle fought by all Ethiopians, under the skilful leadership of Emperor Menelik
and Empress Taitu. This victory resonated well beyond the Ethiopian and indeed the African
border. It represented the clash between colonialism and liberation on a world-scale. In the
aftermath of this victory, Ethiopia' own global reputation grew with Europe conceding
recognition to its significance.
Adwa 1996 provides the occasion to appreciate fully the international significance of the
Ethiopian victory over the world colonial project in Africa. The failure to put this victory in
the context of the wider challenges which confronted Africa before, during and after the
nineteenth century. Italian colonialism was supported by the British rulers and German Kaiser
and other European colonial powers. Elements within the British ruling circles contemplated
assisting Italy with direct military action. Ethiopia was supported mainly by the African
diaspora and anti-colonialist elements in Italy itself.The Ethiopian victory of Adwa
symbolised an historical turning point where colonialist and anti-colonialist forces clashed in
Africa. In fact, it represented the struggle of the black race for human dignity and respect.
Some British settlers in Africa regarded the victory of Adwa as a "foul crime". Colonialist
historiography generally consigns the whole episode to a minor detail of the battlefield lore.
It is a matter of historical record that the Adwa victory signalled the beginning of the end of
the Scramble for Africa. This victory constitutes a crucial chapter in the record of African
resistance and liberation.It armed generations of Africans with the confidence of victory to
engage in resistance and liberation. It attracted attention as far as the Caribbean and the
Americas, not to mention Europe and the rest of Africa. It deserves to be celebrated both as
a significant episode in its own right and as a memory serving well the emerging communities
of resistances in the African world never again to surrender to colonial tyranny.
Within Ethiopia itself, the historical significance of Adwa has been contested. Politically-
motivated internal and external wilful interpretation attributes the victory of Adwa exclusively
in terms of one segment of the Ethiopian population. It was in fact the unified effort of all
segments of the Ethiopian population which made the Ethiopian victory at Adwa possible.
The battle of Adwa is not just a memory of the past. This event which took place 100 years
ago by a relatively small and weak country, against Italy, a formidable, highly armed and
ambitious new colonial power, is still relevant today. For example, President Nelson Mandela
and Mr. Alfred NZO, Minister of Foreign Affairs of South Africa have linked their country's
anti-colonialist struggle to the victory of Adwa. With the spectre of re-colonialism haunting
Africa, Adwa is a historical memory which urges us to hasten the de-colonisation of Africa's
future. It is the spur to the revival of pan-Africanism.It is inextricably linked with Africa's
present and future destiny.
ECB has planned a number of activities: a two-day international symposium, exhibitions,
cultural shows, sport, literary and artistic competition,film and video shows are the major
ones.We are expecting that a number of organisations will continue to actively participate in
or sponsor the event by joining in a loose consortium with each other coordinated by some
E.C.B. on an informal basis.
The centenary celebrations belong not only to all Ethiopians but also all Africans and
colonised peoples throughout the world. The organisers look forward to enthusiastic
participation of all Ethiopians and other Africans and friends in the U. K. Historians and
other African and African-Caribbean representatives will be active participants. The Ethiopian
community and the general public will be the prime target audience.
Active participation from the public with ideas, finance, organisational assistance is most
Please send ideas to and ask information from:
The Adwa Centenary Planning Group
66 Hampsted Rd
tel no. 0171-388-4944
Dr. Mammo Muchie,
London, N14 4XS
e-mail: [log in to unmask]
Please send your financial contribution
to "ADWA CENTENARY PLANNING GROUP"
c/o ECB, National Westminster Bank,
P.O. Box 3853, U.K.
Account no. 12639664