Ethiopians from all over Sweden will converge on Stockholm on 2
March 1996 to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the historic
victory at Adwa by the heroic Ethiopian forces against Italian
colonialism. The highlights of the program which starts at 1300
hours are summarized as follows:
Part One: Open air rally at Sergel Square, Stockholm.
1. Speech by a member of the Organizing Committee.
2. "The Centenary of Adwa"- a paper by Ato Zawde Hailemariam
3. "Adwa: a Legacy of Resistance"- Mr Patrick Samba.
4. "Adwa's Historical Role in the Struggle for African
Independence"- Cles Adam Wachtmeister.
5. "Adwa for What?" - English poem.
Part Two: at Alvi Medborgarhus Hall, Gustavsv. 164.
1. Prayer and benedictions- Abuna Elias, Arch Bishop of the
Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
2. EOC Choir.
3. Prayer and benediction- Leader of Ethiopian Muslims.
4. Welcome speech by a member of the Organizing Committee.
5. "Adwa: an Ethiopian Heritage and Pride "- Hagos Mehari.
6. "The Role of the Ethiopian Women at Adwa War"- Dr Mesret
7. "The Multiethnic Base of the Adwa Victory and its Lessons
Today"- Dr Tarekegn Adebo.
8. "Note on the Hounor of Adwa"- poem of Laureate Tsegaye
9. "Adwa-Menelik"- poem by Tadese Kostre.
10. Dinner and music, kererto, shillela, poems- by Amare Tegbaru,
Dr Teshome Amare, and Zenebe Bekele.
The Organizers, on behalf of all Ethiopian associations in Sweden-
Amare Tegbaru, Ahmed Ali, and Tesfaye Dessalegn.
Long live the spirit of Adwa! Long Live Mother Ethiopian!!
First of all I apologize to those who responded in connection to
our announced program and did not get any reply due to my
absence from my e-mail. Below is a somewhat personalized
summary of events during the Centennial celebrations of March
2/96 in Stockholm of the historic Adwa Victory.
The event attracted a large gathering of Ethiopians and few
foreigners and it was a galvanizing occasion which re-invigorated
our zeal and commitment to the spirit of Ethiopianness.
We held an open air rally for four hours during rush hour and an
indoor meeting where speeches were delivered, songs and
kererto/shillela were enchanted, poems were read and prayers and
benedictions were offered. Two Kenyan guest speakers made the
event more reflective as they authentically linked Adwa to Mau
Mau uprising and Kenyan independence.
Adwa, a shining contribution of Ethiopia to human freedom, was a
result of multiethnic unity which both enabled that victory and was
steeled by it. The commanders of the forces, the fighting human
force around them quickly amassed from the newly reunited
Ethiopia- the South, Center, East, West replenishing the material
(gold, ivory..) and manpower needs which had been exhausted in
the North by famine and earlier wars at Gura, Gundet and Dogali- it
was a feat of magnificent heroism!
Historians have concluded that the Adwa victory was a result of
the Ethiopia Spirit and Meneliks diplomatic/political prowess
(Rubenson). We agreed and applauded!
On this occasion we tried to see our history and people from a
holistic perspective, properly linking the general and particular, we
were open to see what unites us for we had dwelt so much on what
separates us. We tried to dispel the delusions, mentality of
fissiparity ingrained through internal archaic practices of former
days and kept lingering from the years of the cold war which still
haunts us long after its protagonists have become friends. Our
history, people and their diversity have been mercilessly churned in
the vortex of international propaganda so much so that proper
assessment regarding the strategic interest of our multiethnic
NATION-STATE became an impossibility even for the most
concerned minds. Having struggled together over centuries for our
freedom and during recent decades for the betterment of our
society, we reject fissiparity and nihilism and uphold respect for all
and unity in equality.
1. On ethnicity. Ethiopia encompasses a highly mixed stock
originating mainly from Kushitic/Hamitic-Semitic (mainly cultural)-
Nilotic linguistic nexus, an Ethiopian type-(Ullendorff,
Trimingham,Levine- Greater Ethiopia). The further divisions are
within our family with their peculiarities-a mosaic, but
interpenetrating! We are of an Ethiopian stock, African! Laureate
Tsegaye GM visited us recently and challenged us to know
ourselves lest our fate be like that of the aborigines. He randomly
took some names as example- Hamhara, Hamasen, Hambata
(Kambata) ... and said all point to the Kamitic origin and our
forefathers put these and similar signs for us to know ourselves.
We said yes. On the other hand, we underlined the need for respect for our variety in culture and language, unity in equality, lest there
be any unwanted psychological hang-up. We strongly oppose trends to convert genuine ethnic questions as some part of
universalization of racism.
2. We viewed on a head projector maps of ancient, medieval and
modern Ethiopia and were reminded of the fact that Ethiopia has
been multiethnic from the ancient times. In particular when we saw
some unique maps depicting Ethiopia from the beginning of this
millennium, we found the North and the south had been together
for centuries before the 19th century. We observed that historical
records, internal, Arab, Portuguese, from ca 14th to 15th centuries
and the maps of the period presented Ethiopia as a state
encompassing many kingdoms, principalities, and communities and of various religions, stretching from the Red Sea coast via Tigre,
Semen, Begemeder, Gojam, Damot, Shoa, Ennaria, Kaffa, Guraghe,
Hadya, Kambata, Bali, Dawaro, Bargamo (Abaya) etc. and
further(Manoel Almeida's map).We were reminded of the Oromo
movement, wars , settlements, integration (moggassa) in the south,
center and north where they established e.g. the Gibe states and
famous Yejju and Wollo principalities long before the 19th century
and acted as a "staut bulwark" in defense of the state which they
had weakened during the Zemene Messafint (Trimingham).
Therefore we emphatically rejected the notion of "internal
colonialism" and 100 years history.
This concept of internal imperialism first coined by a British
diplomat in Addis Ababa early 1940s, elaborated by some
irresponsible writers (Baxter, Markakis, Keller, Oberst, Bereket...)
and adopted by those who reject unity, is an unfair imposition and
burden on our history. It wrongly diagnosis our ills and prescribes
a damaging medicine, bereft of reasonable cure. Unfortunately, state building everywhere has entailed ugly wars. Civil wars have been
fought like in the US in early 1880s for unity, Italy and Germany
were united through wars in 1870 and 1871 resp. and so was
Sweden during the 17th century. Why should Ethiopia's history of
19th century be treated as colonialism whereas it is not in any other
cases? States are built through colonial acts- The Americas, many
Asian, African and Middle Eastern countries. Others like
European, Japan and Thailand through tradition of expansion-
integration-settlements. Ethiopia's process is similar to the latter.
You see, colonialists wanted to tell the ugly act is not only theirs,
hence they find Ethiopia. They are trying to do the same with racism
and ethnicity; we refuse such alien couplings.
Our problem was one of democracy which still illudes our
intellectuals since the beginning of this century. From year to year
we burn our time and energy on past mistakes and past events, we
fail to concentrate on what is at hand and on the future of our
posterity. Past regimes miserably failed to effect timely and
necessary changes in our society's life, they failed to prepare us for
smooth transitions of power. We too fail to concentrate on what we
have at hand and on what is bound to come, while taking
reasonable account of the past. We talk about democracy, do we
have the necessary system of ideas in this regard which can create
an ideological minimum enabling consensus and mutual trust, do
we have the organizational preparedness? We asked ourselves.
4. We wished ourselves and all of our folks to be gripped by the
spirit of forgiveness and healing- in Prof. Mesfin WM's words
'Yekir Leegziabher' to each other, learn from our mistakes and brace up for stronger unity and democracy against the current
ethnocentric madness. I quote the Portuguese, Almeida (1632),
about the wisdom of ABAW in Ethiopia's breadth and width:
"Almost all these people are intelligent and very good natured.
They are not cruel or blood thirsty, but mild, gentle, kind, and so
inclined to forgiveness that they readily pardon any injuries. There
are not many brawls among them and when there are they rarely
strike with sward and zarguncho but end them with blows and
bamboo strokes. Poison is not used except on the arrows of the
Agaus. They are very amenable to reason and justice. In any brawl
or quarrel that is not satisfactorily concluded, they choose
arbitrators or accept them from the lord of the soil, state their case
on both sides and judgment is given. Then the guilty man's
punishment most often consists only in asking pardon or in making
payment and the brawl is then forgotten as though it had never
happened". Unfortunately, Almeida alludes among us there are
some with revanchist spirit.
Our program ended thanking the committee and requesting them to
work further to continue the spirit of Adwa through arranging more
concrete activities that unite Ethiopians.
History of the Battle of Adwa |
Adwa Victory Poems |
Centennial Celebrations Around the World
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