Ethiopia, The only African nation that resisted the partition of Africa.

How Ethiopia became the first African nation to defeat a European force, following the partition of Africa during the Berlin Conference of 1885 is something worth sharing in the content African governments feed our children.

Italian Prime Minister, Francesco Crispi went on a colonising spree in the mother continent following the partition of Africa during the Berlin Conference. The Italian troops under his leadership were deployed in the port of Massawa based in Eritrea and also in parts of Ethiopia, the focus was on the Red Sea due to it’s trade routes which also led to Asia and East Africa.

King Yohannes of Ethiopia did not take the sudden presence of the Italians lightly nor did he like the idea of them placing themselves on a land that wasn’t theirs the way they did. The king fought back against Italian invasion and eventually defeated the Italian troops in a battle that took place on the 26th of Jan which came to be known as the Dogali Massacre.

The Dogali Massacre left four hundred and thirty Italian troops dead and another 82 were injured, the King’s forces never dislodged the Italians from Eritrea but he did limit their control over the province. In 1889 King Yohannes joined his predecessors but had already set a precedence which was to be followed by the next king.

In stories similar to this, legacies are never really maintained so my respect for the Ethiopian people goes a long way. The new monarch, King Menilik II also tried ways to defend his people and prevent a war from brewing unlike his predecessor his way of operating was questionable but smooth. The new monarch came up with a strategy where he assembled a modern arsenal for his army by availing themselves for trades with the Djibouti who were under the control of the French and ironically with the Italian merchants based in Massawa. Not long after the sudden friendly relationship with the Italians which was the Ethiopians brainchild not the Italians, the opportunistic Italians came up with the idea of signing a treaty. The Treaty of Wichale was signed in 1889 not long after the Dogali Massacre.

The two parties had a different understanding of the treaty they had signed despite the fact that they had to respect the Ethiopian’s choice in doing things it was shady for the Italians to deliberately misinterpret a treaty they presented. The Italians used the treaty as a ticket to gain complete authority over all Ethiopian trade and communications with other nations whilst they kept the Ethiopians under a thin veil of deception making them think they’d initiate communication between Europeans. The Italian troops deliberately misinterpreted the treaty for their own selfish gains stripping Ethiopia of it’s sovereignty. This then led to tensions brewing between Italy and Ethiopia which birthed the Italo Abyssinian War of 1889-1896.

King Menilik II, assembled an army of 196 000 men to take on both the Italian army which consisted of European troops and Askari. They were led by the Italian governor of Eritrea, General Oreste Bovatieri. This time around peace was far from the Ethiopians as they were there to fight and defend their nation even if it meant fighting without ceasing, 82 000 Ethiopian troops were armed with modern rifles and another 8000 were on horses and had 40 rapid-rifle mountain guns. This came as a shock for the Italians as they undermined the anger of a nation they so badly wanted to destroy and rob.

The ongoing battle and Ethiopia’s surprising defeats between 1889-1895 led to the withdrawal of Italian troops and their allies to a town in Mek’ele only for them to fall under a forty-five days seige.
The Ethiopians were stationed around Adwa tho goal was to outflank the Italians which resulted in a stalemate until late February 1896. At this point both armies were beginning to decrease, surprisingly so the colonizers weren’t about to give up they continued the fight and went as far as planning to attack Ethiopia in the middle of the night on the 29th of February. Word got out through the lips of those tasked to spy and King Menilik II upon receiving the brief rallied his own troops which outnumbered the scattered Italian troops beforrnthey even got to engage in combat. This came to be known as the Battle of Adwa which left seven thousand Ethiopian troops dead and another 5200 Italians.

The victory of the Adwa war had the king demanding for the abolition of the Treaty of Wichale, a contract which was to subject the people of Ethiopia to hell falslesy presented for him to sign which he did… It’s remarkable how this mistake was fixable but sacrifices had to be made in order for that to happen. He also demanded for the recognition of Ethiopia as a sovereign nation by Italy and other European powers.

Ethiopia became the only African nation to successfully resist the partition of Africa, the victory of Adwa is still celebrated on the 1st of March as an Ethiopian holiday.

For more information on these massacres and the invasion of the Italians in Ethiopia kindly visit :
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