March 2, 2021

Adwa Victory and Black History Month


Adwa Victory, African Victory

Avatar: Rehobot Ayalew
By Rehobot Ayalew

Rehobot is a lead fact-checker at HaqCheck. She is a trainer and a professional who works in fact-checking and media literacy.

Adwa Victory and Black History Month

The Adwa victory is a celebration of Ethiopian win against Italy, in 1896 at the battle of Adwa. The battle of Adwa broke out mainly due to the difference in the translation of article XVII of the Wichale treaty, signed on 2 May 1889, between Ethiopia and Italy. In 1895 the Italian force led by General Oreste Baratieri was reluctant to attack the Ethiopian army in the open field. Menilik’s (Emperor of Ethiopia at the time) force, traditional warriors, farmers, and pastoralists as well as women, defeated the well-armed Italian army in 1896. And Ethiopia became a symbol of freedom for black people globally.

Adwa victory is celebrated every year in different festivals and events. On the day of the celebration people including government officials, public figures, patriots and the general public gather around Menilik square - a roundabout with a statue of Emperor Minilik II -. The public dress up in traditional Ethiopian cloth; carrying the Ethiopian flag and various patriotic banners, Singing patriotic and traditional songs (In Amharic named, Shilela, Kererto, and/or Fukera). The other event is the 1100 K.M walk from Addis Ababa to Adwa - Guzo Adwa - which started 8 years back with a group of people who wanted to honor and remember the journey of the Adwa heroes by walking the path their fathers and forefathers went through. The journey takes 45-48 days every year. The 8th round Journey, from Addis Ababa to Adwa, With the theme, “Adwa for Africans Victory.“

Many agree that the victory of Adwa had rippling effects on the struggle for independence in other parts of the African continent, and the emergence of Pan-Africanist movements. Most historians also state that Adwa is not just Ethiopians victory rather a victory for Africans and Black people. It is a trailblazer for African nationalist and liberation movements nonetheless it led the way and gave them the “We can do it” spirit for Black communities all over the world to fight for their freedom and equality.  

This year’s 125th Adwa victory is celebrated on 2 March, the day after the closing date of the Black History Month - also known as African American history month is a celebration dedicated to promoting achievement by black Americans and other people of African descents. It was officially recognized by President Gerald Ford In 1976. Since his administration, every American president has recognized Black History Month and its mission, to make all Americans "aware of this struggle for freedom and equal opportunity". The Black History Month is being officially adopted by other countries like Canada, United Kingdom, Netherlands, and Ireland. This years’, month-long spotlight. from February 1 to March 1, is an opportunity for people to engage with Black histories, go beyond discussions of racism and slavery, and highlight Black leaders and accomplishments.

As for Adwa victory, It has been celebrated by the Habesha community outside Ethiopia and some states like Montgormey, Maryland are officially recognizing the holiday. Other African communities around the world also started to celebrate it lately but It has not been official nationwide. There are also movements to get it registered in UNESCO’s world intangible heritages. But as one of Africans and Black people’s history and its significance in shaping the future of Africans and Black people to where it is now, many suggest more should be done to make it a worldwide celebration.