[ History of the Battle of Adwa ]

During this special time of the celebration of the Adwa centennial celebration, I would like to present you the translation of a piece of the event directly from late Paulos Gno Gno's book "Emperor Menelik".

This is dedicated to all women who contributed and are contributing towards our society and their beloved country.

Theodros Kidane


" If it is your wish, start the war next week. Nobody is afraid. We will see when you turn into action. Don't ever think that we are not willing to sacrifice our comfort and die for our country. Giving ones life for the country is an honorable death. I do not want to keep you here; it is getting dark; I am sure you have a lot of things to do to put your threats into action."

" I am a woman. I do not like war. However, I would rather die rather than accepting your deal...."

These were the words of Empress Taitu when the Italian advisor to the Emperor, Antenolli tore apart the translation of the revised Wuchale accord that in effect declared the agreement of the Italians to discard article 17.

There were two major wars fought before the final shoe down in Adwa that were crucial in determining the outcome of Adwa. These wars were fought in Ambalage and Mekele. Both times, the Ethiopian army defeated the Italians and its collaborators were defeated. I must say that the strategic planning for the victory at Mekele came from the Empress.


The Italian army has occupied Mekele before the Emperor reached there. The leftover Italian soldiers fled to Mekele to their superiors and fellow soldiers with info about Ambalage. As a result, they were instructed to build sophisticated bunkers even in today's standards. The sharp edged piece of wood stuck in the ground together with broken bottle pieces as well as the barbed wire made it very difficult for the Ethiopian army to get even near the bunkers. The few Ethiopian soldiers that were able to pass the three line of defense faced the brutal machine guns.

So many soldiers have died that the situation at one point made Emperor Menelik and his army leaders wearisome. It is at this time that Empress Taitu stepped in to devise a plan. She said to Azaj Ze Ammanuel," go and look if it is possible to surround the drinking water supply of the Italian army; make sure you consult with Lique mequas Abate. Lique Mequas Abate replied that the water is in the valley; it is about 300 feet from the nearest Italian bunker. He also added that he will watch the bunkers door and use his canon if he needs to support Taitu's personal army in their effort to protect the supply. He also stated that the Italian guard who is supposed to watch the enemy at the location goes to back to his bunker when it gets dark."

At this time, Etege Taitu ordered her soldiers after getting permission from Menelik to capture the water supply. She called her army officials and said, "you were anxious to get involved in this war. As you know, there is not enough space for all of the army; I do not want lose any of you over friendly fire. Be on guard at the water supply down in the valley. I hope you are not afraid to die for your country and honor. I will give gifts for those who will come back alive. I will take care of the families of those who die; Let God be with you!!!"

As planned, Taitu's army occupied the water. Once the Italians figured out that their supply is taken, they have attempted several times to win it back. Because of the unparalleled sacrifice of Taitu's army and her support, the water supply remained under the control of Ethiopians. "Empress Taitu used to send Tej(honey wine), well prepared fitfit(injera with sauce), raw meat around 4:00am in the morning. She took care of them in such a nice way that their morale was high and they are ready to die for her, their country and their honor." They defended the water well for 15 days from the attack of the Italians.

As Moltedo tried to put the scenario among the Italians, "we, the officers were able to our faces from the morning dew using our towels for seven days. Our names will be called to take ration for water. This was done to make sure that no one will come back for the second round. As for the black soldiers who fought with the Italians, their ration was a quarter of glass of wine with half glass of water for the Christians and a glass of water for the Muslims. Our horses, mules and cattle started dying of thirst."

Only this time that the Italians came forward to renegotiate with Emperor Menelik through Monsieur Filter. The Italian army was ordered to immediately leave Mekele to the command center in Adigrat. Menelik agreed to it after securing the peaceful take over of the bunkers that saved so many Italian soldiers.

Ke'Akbirot Gar,

Theodros Kidane

The tribute goes to the late Paulos Gno Gno for such factual and well documented presentation. God bless his soul.

"Excerpt Translated from "Menelik", author Paulos Gno Gno, printed at Berhanena Selam Press, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Copies of this book could be found in any Ethiopian stores in North America and Europe."

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