Axum, the Seat of the earliest Ethiopian kingdom and one of the holiest grounds, the Church of St. Mary of Zion. The earliest monasteries in Ethiopia, established by the ” Nine Saints ” who spread the gospel are also found in Tigray. Thus, it is properly considered the birthplace of Ethiopian state, religion, culture and civilization. It’s also the area through which all trade and communications passed to and from the ports of Adulis and subsequently Massawa, it was the gateway of the Ethiopian Empire. During the last quarter of the 19th century, there had been constant internal and external warfare and famine in Tigray.
During 1890, Menelik II received the response to his letters to the European powers announcing his coronation and requesting their recognition. Notably, Britain and Germany responded that according to Article XVII of the Wuchalle Treaty concluded with Italy, Menelik’s communication ought to have been made through Italy. Angered by this response, Emperor Menelik II at once wrote to King Umberto on September 26, 1890, denouncing Article XVII of the Treaty of Wuchalle. The relation between Ethiopia and Italy rapidly deteriorated. Ultimately, an advance party led by Ras Makonnen and aided by Ras Alula, Ras Mikael of Wollo and Ras Wolle of Yejju as well as a number of other commanders was dispatched to join Mengesha in Tigray.
On 7 th Dec 1895, Ethiopia gained her first victory at Amba Alage. After the arrival of the Emperor with the Empress Taitu and King Tekle Haymanot of Gojjam, the Ethiopian forces successively defeated the Italian army at Mekelle on 21 Jan 1886 and at Adwa on 1st of March, 1896.
Adwa has become a quintessential emblem and a pedestal for Pan-Africanism an important political form of a religious Pan-Africanist worldview appeared in the form of Ethiopianism. Ethiopia’s African diasporic religious symbolism grew in the 1800s among blacks in the US and the Caribbean , through a reading of Psalm 68:31, Ethiopia shall soon stretch forth its hands unto God, as a prophesy that God would redeem Africa and free the enslaved.
The calamity of the late 19th and early 20th Century
The Scramble for Africa, also known as the Race for Africa was a process of invasion, occupation, colonization and annexation of African territory by European powers during the New Imperialism period, between 1881 and World War I in 1914. Because of the heightened tension between European states in the last quarter of the 19th century, the partitioning of Africa may be seen as a way for the Europeans to eliminate the threat of a Europe-wide war over Africa.
The last 59 years of the 19th century saw transition from informal imperialism of control through military influence and economic dominance to that of direct rule. The Portuguese had been the first post-Middle Ages Europeans to establish firmly settlements, trade posts, permanent fortifications and ports of call along the coast of the African continent, from the beginning of the Age of Discovery , in the 15th century. There was little interest in, and less knowledge of, the interior for some two centuries thereafter.
European exploration of the African interior began in earnest at the end of the 18th century. By1835, Europeans had mapped most of north-western Africa. In the middle decades of the 19th century, the most famous of the European explorers were David Livingstone and H. M. Stanley, both of whom mapped vast areas of Southern Africa and Central Africa. Arduous expeditions in the1850s and 1860s by Richard Burton, John Speke and James Grant located the great central lakes and the source of the Nile. By the end of the 19th century, Europeans had charted the Nile from its source, traced the courses of the Niger, Congo and Zambezi Rivers, and realised the vast resources of Africa. Even as late as the 1870s, European states still controlled only 10% of the African continent, all their territories being near the coast. The most important holdings were Angola and Mozambique, held by Portugal; the Cape Colony, held by the UK and Algeria, held by France. By1914, only Ethiopia, Liberia and the Dervish State were independent of European control. Technological advancement facilitated overseas expansionism. Industrialisation brought about rapid advancements in transportation and communication, especially in the forms of steam navigation, rail- ways, and telegraphs. Medical advances also were important, especially for tropical diseases.
However, in Africa exclusive of the area, which became the Union of South Africa in 1910 the amount of capital investment by Europeans was relatively small, compared to other continents. Consequently, the companies involved in tropical African commerce were relatively small, apart from Cecil Rhodes’s De Beers Mining Company . Rhodes had carved out Rhodesia for himself; Léopold II of Belgium later, and with considerably greater brutality, exploited the Congo Free State. These events might detract from the pro imperialist arguments of colonial lobbies such as the All deutscher Verbana ,Francesco Crispi and Jules Ferry, who argued that sheltered overseas markets in Africa would solve the problems of low prices and over production caused by shrinking continental markets.
The great famine of 1888-1892 began with the spread of rinderpest from Indian cattle unloaded at Massawa by the Italians to feed their troops. The disease spread instantly all over Tigray, Begemdir, Gojjam and Shoa. It deprived the peasant of working animals to till the soil. Because of lack of grain, cattle, goat, and sheep, one third of the population is reported to have perished. The suffering in Tigray was aggravated by the constant external and internal wars which took place in that province. The successive external wars against the Egyptians in 1875 and 1876; against the Mahdists, in1884 and 1889; against the Italians at Dogali in 1887, Sahati 1888, Koatit, Senafe,Debre Haila, Amba Alage, Mequelle and Adwa in 1894 to 1896. After the death of Emperor Yohannes IV, in March 1889, at the Battle of Metemma fighting against the Mahdists, the power centre shifted from Tigray to Shoa. King Menelik II was proclaimed Emperor of Ethiopia. Ras Mengesha Yahannes, who was nominated heir to the throne, retreated from Metemma to Tigray. The internal wars were incessant due to rivalry and differences among Tigrayan leaders.
Emperor Menelik II and the Wuchalle Treaty
Menelik II concluded the Treaty of Wuchalle with Count Antonelli, the representative of the Italian government. In Article III of this Treaty, Menelik II conceded part of Hamassen and Bogos(Keren) to Italy. In August 1889, the Italians moved their headquarters from Massawa to Asmara and subsequently declared their colony as Eritrea. Italy did not waste time before it expanded its colonial territory by absorbing Seraie and Akele Guzai, which eventually was formalised by treaties concluded in 1900 and 1902, which drew the frontier along the Mereb-Belesa-Muna line. In another treaty concluded in 1908, Italian occupation along the Red Sea coast from the border of Agame and Akele Guzai at the Bada swamp to Rahita bordering Djibouti was stretched 60 kms inward.
During 1890, Menelik II received the response to his letters to the European powers announcing his coronation and requesting their recognition. Notably, Britain and Germany responded that ac-cording to Article XVII of the Wuchalle Treaty concluded with Italy, Menelik’s communication ought to have been made through Italy. Angered by this response, Emperor Menelik II at once wrote to King Umberto on September 26,1890, denouncing Article XVII of the Treaty of Wuchalle pointing out that he had only agreed if he so desired, and not that he would be obliged, to employ Italy in his foreign relations and negotiations. Antonelli was then sent and arrived in Addis Ababa on December 17, 1890, with instructions to give way on the question of the frontiers, if he could secure the maintenance of the protectorate. Fruitless negotiation continued, Menelik II remaining adamant that he would not entertain placing himself under obligatory protection of another nation.
The Empress Taitu, Menelik’s consort who had taken part in the deliberation reprimanded Antonelli when he lost his temper. Finally, Antonelli was obliged to leave with Salimbeni on February 11, 1891, without accomplishing him mission. Menelik II wrote to Umberto complaining of the rude behaviour of his envoy [Antonelli] and sent a circular to all the European powers on 21 April,1891, describing the boundaries of his Empire and concluded by saying:
I do not intend to be an indifferent spectator while far distant powers make their appearance with the intention of carving out their respective empires in Africa, Ethiopia having been for fourteen centuries an island of Christians amongst a sea of pagans. As the Almighty has protected Ethiopia to this day, I am confident that he will protect her in the future. I have no doubt that He will not let her be under the subjection of other states.
This circular is very similar to the letter written to the European powers by Menelik’s predecessor Yohannes dated Samera, (a place near Debre Tabor), 11 Yekatit, 1873 i.e 17 February, 1881, outlining the extent of Ethiopia’s territorial claims.
“Divide et Impera”
The Italian response was indecisive and ambivalent. Up to then, the government in Rome supported Antonelli’s view that they should continue to Support Menelik II with the objective of gaining the protectorate over all the Ethiopian empire. In protest against this policy, Baldisera and his successor Orero resigned from the governorship of the Eritrean Colony, since, in their view, the only true course for Italy to pursue was one of “ Divide et Impera ”, namely to play off the Tigrayan against the Shoan and increase the territory of the colony. Now, in desperation, the green light was given to the new governor Giuseppe Gandolfi, who replaced General Orero in June, 1891. Dr.Cesare Nerazzani and Dr. Angelo de Martino were sent to join Tennente Benedetto Mulazzani who was resident in Adwa, on October 23, 1891 with a letter from Umberto, to convince Ras Mengesha that he should meet General Gandolfi. The motive of the Italian government in allowing Gandolfito conclude the so called Mereb Convention , undoubtedly was to exert pressure on Menelik II by alienating Mengesha from him and creating a hostility between them in the hope of inducing Menelik II to accept the protectorate clause of the Wuchalle Treaty.
The colonial authorities in Eritrea, on the other hand, may have regarded the new policy as a prelude for the expansion of the Italian colony and for establishing a paramount influence or even hegemony over the rest of Tigray, rather than the effect it would have on the protectorate issue. The new policy, for whatever motive, was a clear departure from the policy pursued by Italy since 1889, which regarded Mengesha and Alula as archenemies and were persistent in supplying arms ammunition and finance to their principal adversaries, Dedjazmatch Seyum Gabre Kidan, Dedjazmatch Debbeb Araya, and Dedjazmatch Sebhat Aregawi.
The relation between the Tigrayans and the Italians was so bad that Menelik II had placed Meshesha Worqe at Adwa with the additional responsibility of ensuring peaceful coexistence between the two enemies, namely the Italians and the Tigrayans. This arrangement, however, did not last long. The Italians in Eritrea found out Meshesha was ineffectual in Tigray; and that Mengesha was no longer a threat to them. Under the circumstances, they chose to ignore Meshesha, who was placed as a buffer between the two enemies (Italy and Tigray) and to deal directly with Mengesha. Meshesha eventually was obliged to leave Tigray with his five thousand men and settled at GudoFelasi, in Seraie, as guest of the Italian government in Asmara and Massawa. When the Italian governor of Eritrea prevented him from levying taxes in Seraie and Akele Guzai, and subsequently denied him the financial and food supply which he had been receiving, his army began to loot the villages, which resulted in the confiscation of their arms. Finally, the Italians handed him over all the confiscated arms, and he returned to Addis Ababa.
The Mereb Convention:
Mengesha, on his part, was responsive to the overture made by Italy when he received a letter from King Umberto suggesting that “he could ask the governor of Eritrea, residing at Massawa, for whatever assistance he may desire,” He responded positively in a letter to Umberto, dated August 1,1891, both for economic and political motives. In this state of affairs, with the Tigrayan economy in shambles, it was a question of survival, which partly persuaded Mengesha to seize the opportunity offered to him by the Italian overture to import food and ammunition, both of which were exhausted by natural calamities and the series of wars. Mengesha hoped eventually that the blockade imposed by the Italians, immediately after they occupied Massawa in 1885 and which had been continuously in effect since 1887, would be lifted.
Mengesha and his counsellors appear, therefore, to have contemplated breaking their tie with Menelik II, now that his main ally, the Italians, had abandoned him on account of the dispute that had arisen concerning the protectorate clause of the Treaty of Wuchalle. Ras Mengesha, accompanied by Ras Alula, Ras Hagos and other Tigrayan personalities met General Giuseppe Gandolfi on December 6, 1891, and concluded the “Mereb Convention”. “The Mereb convention”, so called by the Italians, was simply a ceremony held at Mareb for an exchange of an oath between Ras Mengesha and the prominent personalities of Tigray with General Giuseppe Gandolfi, the Italian governor of Eritrea. There was no written formal agreement. The only document produced was a letter from Ras Mengesha to King Umberto, written at Mereb, on 29 Hidar,1884 (December 8,1891)confirming that he and the Italian governor met at Mereb and concluded an oath which declared,
“My enemies shall be thy enemies and my friends shall be thy friends.”
After the Mereb Convention, the Italians allowed the import for a while of food purchased in the Eritrean markets and about 35,000 cartridges were sent by Gandolfi, which was urgently required for security reasons. Dr. Nerazzani, who negotiated the terms of the Mereb Convention, on behalf of Italy, and had given an advance warning that Italy would only supply a limited amount of arms and ammunition and that it would do so only in the event that Tigray was attacked by the Mahdists who were their common enemy. Mengesha’s act in concluding the so called, “Mereb Convention”, was regarded by Menelik II a treachery.
There is no doubt that Mengesha after his first submission to Menelik II at Aguedi, near Mekelle, in February 1890, should have obtained permission from the Emperor prior to negotiating and concluding whatever kind of agreement. On the other hand, the so called “Mereb Convention” was in no way comparable to the two secret treaties, which were concluded between Menelik II and the Italians in 1883 and 1887. During the two months after the so called ”Mereb convention” was concluded, General Oreste Baratieri replaced General Giuseppe Gandolfi as governor of Eritrea, on February 15,1892, a change which marked a shift of policy on the part of Italy. The entente cordiale between Mengesha and the Italian Administration in Eritrea was destined to be of short duration. Baratieri denied Mengesha even the 20,000 sacks of grain, which he had purchased earlier from Bahir negash markets for the consumption of his army. The relation between Ethiopia and Italy rapidly deteriorated. The territorial and the protectorate issues were to be settled only by the use of force.
Prime Minister Crispi did not take heed of Prince von Bismarck’s sound advice during his visit to Friederichsruh as early as 1887 during the reign of Emperor Yohannes IV. Crispi should beware of getting involved in conflict with Ethiopia, despite Germany’s basic interest of shifting Italy’s preoccupation elsewhere away from the Adriatic which had been the cause of conflict with Austria.
Victory at Amba Alage, Mekelle and Adwa
In December 1894, Bahta Hagos who was one of the first allies of Italy revolted in Akele Guzai with Mengesha’s encouragement, and was killed in the encounter. At this juncture, General Baratieri advanced as far as Adwa and retreated. Mengesha Marched to Eritrea and fought indecisive battles from 13 to15 January 1895 at Koatit and Senafe without sufficient preparation on the Ethiopian side. Famous heroes such as Dedjazmatch Tedla Aiba, Dedjazmatch Gizaw Haile Mariam, Dedjazmatch Teferi Araya fell on the battlefield. Soon after Mengesha’s retreat, Italian forces advanced into the heart of Tigray as far as Amba Alage. Despite the gallant attack made on them from October 7 to 9 at Debre Haila in Enderta, Italian annexation and partial occupation of Tigray in March-April 1895 led to the mobilisation of Ethiopian forces.
An advance party led by Ras Makonnen and aided by Ras Alula, Ras Mikael of Wollo and Ras Wolle of Yejju as well as a number of other commanders was dispatched to join Mengesha. On 7th Dec 1895, Ethiopia gained her first victory at Amba Alage. After the arrival of the Emperor with the Empress and King Tekle Haymanot of Gojjam, the Ethiopian forces successively defeated the Italian army at Mekelle on 21 Jan 1986 and at Adwa on 1st of March, 1896 . In all these encounters, Tigray was the battleground. Over 100,000 armed men with their entourage and minimum supply of food from elsewhere ravaged the province of Tigray. In a country where adequate logistics and infrastructure are lacking, the sacrifices sustained by the peasantry were immense. Their grain and cattle were consumed by the vast army as it passed through and especially in places where it was stationed for a considerable time.
After the victory of Adwa, Mengesha was married to Woizero Kefey Wolle, the niece of Empress Taitu, and remained nominally as the overlord of Tigray. Nevertheless, in actual fact, Ras Alula was given the command of western Tigray and Abba Wolde Giorgis, a native of Gojjam and formerly a confessor of King Tekle Hayamanot and subsequently a confidant of the Emperor, was appointed as Nebure Ed of Axum with the responsibility of keeping an eye on Tigray. Mengesha was deprived the counsel of his former mentor, Ras Alula who had switched his allegiance to his sovereign master and became his rival. Ras Mengesha in distress asked the Emperor if he could come for a visit to Addis Ababa. Menelik II responded that he could come for the Ethiopian Christmas in 1897. While Mengesha was on his visit, a fierce battle took place in Shire between Ras Alula and Ras Hagos. Hagos was killed while Alula died on 15 February 1897 from a wound received at the battlefield. Mengesha returned to Tigray when he heard the tragic news without accomplishing anything, his aspiration to gain the crown as king of Tigray never materialised.
Another Historic Victory – The Battle of Guræ
Egypt under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, led by Isma’il Pasha, the Khedive of Egypt, sought to expand his reign to the land of Abyssinia and control the Blue Nile. Isma’il Pasha became the ruler of Egypt in 1863. After annexing Darfur in 1875, he turned his attention to Ethiopia. He wished to create an empire covering the whole of the Nile River, much of which is in Ethiopia, and to do this he built a large army, recruiting many European and American officers. Yohannes IV became the emperor of Ethiopia in 1872 after defeating Tekle Giyorgis II in battle. He worked on modernising his army, some of whom were trained by the British adventurer John Kirkham.
“Many consider the Abyssinian army to be undisciplined and it cannot withstand a well organised European army, claiming that the recent war with Italy doesn’t prove any thing. I will not begin to guess the future, and will say only this. Over the course of four months, I watched this army closely. It is unique in the world. And I can bear witness to the fact that it is not quite so chaotic as it seems at first glance, and that on the contrary, it is profoundly disciplined, though in its own unique way. For every Abyssinian, war is the most usual business, and military skills and rules of army life in the field enter in the flesh and blood of each of them, just as do the main principles of tactics. On the march, each soldier knows how to arrange necessary comforts for himself and to spare his strength; but on the other hand, when necessary, he shows such endurance and is capable of action in conditions, which are difficult even to imagine. You see remarkable expediency in all the actions and skills of this army; and each soldier has an amazingly intelligent attitude toward managing the mission of the battle. Despite such qualities, because of its impetuousness, it is much more difficult to control this army than a well drilled European army, and I can only marvel at and admire the skill of its leaders and chiefs, of whom there is no shortage”.
Alexander Bulatovich ( A Russian military adviser of Ras Wolde Giyorgis)
The Egyptians invaded from their coastal possessions in what is now Eritrea. The armies of Yohannes and Isma’il met at Gundat on the morning of 16 November 1875. The Egyptians were destroyed. News of this huge defeat was suppressed in Egypt for fear that it would undermine the Khedive. The Egyptians tried again to invade from the north, but were again defeated at the battle of Guræ in March 1876.
Adwa a pedestal for Pan-Africanism
The Ethiopian victory over the Italians on 1 March 1896 at Adwa shocked the world, especially Italy’s fellow European powers. Many military historians consider the Battle of Adwa one of the most significant battles in world history as the destruction of the Italian army and the sight of thousands of Italian prisoners at the mercy of the Ethiopians seemed to dispel deeply racist views held by many Europeans regarding the intellect and strength of Africans and cemented Ethiopia’s place in history as one of the only states during the Age of New Imperialism to resist the European conquest. This composition will argue that the Ethiopians were successful at Adwa because they had superior military and political leadership, a well-equipped army, and a proud, nationalistic, and united state to back them up. All three factors, plus the ineptitude of the Italians during the First Italo-Ethiopian War, proved instrumental in the Ethiopian victory at Adwa.
Pan Africanism represents the complexities of black political and intellectual thought over two hundred years. What constitutes Pan-Africanism, what one might include in a Pan African movement often changes according to whether the focus is on politics, ideology, organisations, or culture. Pan-Africanism actually reflects a range of political views. At a basic level, it is a belief that African peoples, both on the African continent and in the Diaspora, share not merely a common history, but a common destiny. This sense of interconnected pasts and futures has taken many forms, especially in the creation of political institutions. One of the earliest manifestations of Pan-Africanism came in the names that Africans gave to their religious institutions. An important political form of a religious Pan-Africanist worldview appeared in the form of Ethiopianism. Ethiopia’s African diasporic religious symbolism grew in the 1800s among blacks in the United States and the Caribbean, through a reading of Psalm 68:31, “Ethiopia shall soon stretch forth its hands unto God,” as a prophesy that God would redeem Africa and free the enslaved. The verse served as a bulwark against a racist theology that declared black people were the descendants of Ham, the cursed son of Noah whose children were to be the hewers of wood and drawers of water. Ethiopianism thus emerged initially as a psychic resistance to racist theology, soon becoming the basis of a nascent political organising. Négritude is a literary and ideological movement, developed by francophone black intellectuals, writers, and politicians in France in the 1930s. They believed that the shared black heritage of members of the African Diaspora was the best tool in fighting against political, intellectual hegemony and domination. They formed a realistic literary style and formulated their Marxist ideas as part of this movement.
Ethiopianism took institutional form in South Africa; African diasporic activist intellectuals were beginning to convene pan-African conferences. The first of these was the Chicago Conference on Africa, convened on August14, 1893. Lasting a week, it drew, among others, Henry McNeal Turner and Alexander Crummell, the Egyptian Yakub Pasha, and African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church bishop Alexander Walters. Topics of discussion included “The African in America,” “Liberia as a Factor in the Progress of the Negro Race,” and “What Do American Negroes Owe to Their Kin Beyond the Sea.” That impulse toward an African identity was also apparent in the religious practices of enslaved people throughout the Americas, who tended to develop syncretic religions that blended African deities and belief systems with Christianity and Catholicism, giving rise to Santería in Cuba, Vodun in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and Candomblé in Brazil. In contrast, enslaved people in the United States tended not to develop elaborate belief systems, but their African informed religious practices helped foster a sense of collective identity, just as Vodun and Santería did, and served as the basis of certain radical political practices. The Haitian revolution, itself facilitated and organised through Vodun, inspired several southern enslaved ministers (Nat Turner, Gabriel Prosser, and Denmark Vesey) to lead or plot slave revolts.
Southern Africa in the late-1800s, Ethiopianism assumed institutional form following visits from the African Methodist Episcopal Church, especially Bishop Henry McNeal Turner. Two groups, one led by Joseph Mathunye Kanyane Napo in 1888, the other by Mangena Maake Mokone in 1892, broke from the Anglican and Methodist churches, Mokone establishing the Ethiopian Church in 1892, which joined the African Methodist Episcopal Church four years later. This led to several South Africans visiting the United States and attending historically black colleges, including some of the earliest leaders of the African Native National Congress. Ethiopianism was also believed to have played a role in the 1906 Natal Zulu Rebellion. At the same time that Dusé Mohamed Ali prepared to launch his journal, a young Jamaican printer by the name of Marcus Garvey was travelling throughout the Caribbean and Central America. Garvey would land in Europe in 1912. Upon arriving in London, he joined the ATOR staff. Ali’s journal and the political ferment in London exposed Garvey to an even wider diasporic world than he had encountered in his travels throughout the Americas. He envisioned a global movement that would found an African empire.
All of a sudden, the concept of a benevolent dictatorship has become an illusion. Dictatorships disrupt the foundations of social accord and the very social fabric that make people the direct agents, goals and means of development. If the renaissance that will bring Africa into the global is going to happen, we must primarily understand that the authority of state derives from the will of the people. It may be exercised only in accordance with that will. It follows therefore that it is the right and responsibility of the people, not the state, to determine what constitutes the public good. This is fundamental to the principle that the authority of state derives from the will of the people. The State is ideally an instrument of the people, created by the people to serve their will.
Those state officials whose actions reveal an underlying belief that their positions confer on them a superior wisdom and rights to regulate the behaviour of others by their personal definition of the public interest engage in a misuse of state’s coercive power. They violate the public trust that has been vested in them, and demonstrate that they are unfit for state service. Talk of multipartyism, elections and basic human rights are necessary but not adequate conditions for participatory democracy. Africa must ensure that nations are committed to legislating the political rights of individuals, citizen’s groups, protecting, restoring and sustaining lives and cultures, develop laws and systems to monitor and ensure the observance of human rights. Almost half a century ago, the human community proclaimed a bold and revolutionary vision of the future. the monumental challenges in front of Africa are identifying ways and means of helping to foster institutions, which currently do not exist; reorienting institutions, which have been diverted to non democratic ends; building in country capacity for democratic governance on the basis of our demand. The prospects, nature and outcomes of democratisation depend on the configuration of political institutions (as manifest in political rules or organisations) in state and civil society. The key question is therefore whether the endowment of political institutions is conducive to democratisation and hence unification. While, there is a consensus that states cannot be solely responsible for managing the crisis and we recognise that future efforts must accord people themselves, communities and their organisations a substantial and expanded role. It is becoming increasingly apparent that future progress depends on negotiating a trend toward greater institutional pluralism and broad based participation in the mobilisation and management of resources.
Human quality and capital development must feature prominently in a continent bankrupted of its precious human capital leaving behind an ill prepared leadership; handicapped fatally to lead national consensus; as learning systems and cultures collapse, some, beyond repair. These are the requisite basis for regional advocacy, cooperation and construction and deployments of alliances and develop the strategic framework for communities of practice. These underline the need to develop the rights based approach to democratisation and coalitions that must happen both at national and regional levels; networked into communities of practice focussed on advocacy, public relations, negotiation, and social marketing in addition to a systematic knowledge management.
Economically, socially, politically there exist almost insurmountable obstacles to African democratisation and the flourishing of international trade. Nevertheless, there is no reason to believe that
Africa’s democratisation is doomed. A skilled and committed civic and state leadership can mitigate conditions that are hostile to unification.
For centuries, taxation has remained the most important base of political power in Ethiopia. One of the main reasons for stationing military regiments in various parts of Ethiopia was for the purpose of enforcing the collection of taxes. Since the period of Zamana Masafint (ca.1769 – ca. 1855) regional powers started to act as a state and continued to collect taxes to maintain their regional political powers.
Emperor Tewodros II and his 19th and 20th century successors worked hard to achieve both political and economic centralisation. However, during the early 20th century, largely due to the political power struggle in the palace of Menilek II since 1906, there were some economically and politically autonomous regional powers in Ethiopia under the rule of local dynasties. One of them was Gojjam.
Early 20th century Gojjam was under the business minded hereditary lord of Gojjam, namely Ras Haylu Täklä Haymanot (r. 1907-32). He was one of the wealthiest persons during the period. Haylu was also a powerful regional ruler. The bases of his power were his huge regional army and the wealth drawn from the people of Gojjam. Ras Haylu`s Gojjam was one of the last autonomous provinces of Ethiopia.
Ethiopia has a unique position in the history of Africa. During the era of European colonialism it preserved its independence and at the same time revived the monarchy that was in crisis from the middle of the eighteenth century. After this period of severe weakening of imperial power, known as Zemene Mesafint (1769-1855) or the Era of the Judges, a series of strong charismatic emperors: Tewodros II (1855-68), Yohannis IV (1872-89) and Menelik II (1889-1913) revived the monarchy.
From time to time, the nation had disintegrated into component parts, but it had never disappeared as an idea and always reappeared in fact. The Axumite Empire may have faded after the seventh century, but the Zagwes followed in the eleventh century; and, of course, the succeeding Solomonic dynasty created a state that incorporated at least two-thirds of the country’s present area. In the sixteenth century, that empire lost its will to rule after being ravaged by Muslim armies waging holy war, and it sharply contracted in the seventeenth century as the Oromo successfully invaded the devastated and depopulated highlands.
Even as the Solomonic monarchy weakened in the eighteenth century, the imperial tradition remained validated in Ethiopia’s monasteries and parish churches. The northern peasantry was continually reminded of Ethiopia’s earlier greatness and exhorted to work toward its renaissance. From1896 to 1907, Menelik II (1889-1913) directed Ethiopia’s return into southern and western regions abandoned in the seventeenth century. Modern firearms gave the emperor’s soldiers a strategic advantage, but their morale was inspired by expectations of booty and the belief that they were regaining lands once part of the Christian state. By the end of the expansion in 1906, Ethiopia (without Eritrea) had reached its present size, comprising the highlands, the key river systems, and the state’s central core, surrounded by a borderland buffer zone in low-lying, arid, or tropical zones.
From the Axumite period, public history in Ethiopia has moved from north to south, and the twentieth-century state developed along this well trodden path. Menelik II and his governors ruled Ethiopia’s heterogeneous population indirectly, largely through accommodation and co-option. Haile Selassie centralised the state and expanded Ethiopia’s civil society as a counterweight to ethnic forces. He fostered unity through the development of a national army, a pan Ethiopian economy, modern communications, and an official culture whose main feature was the use of the Amharic language in government and education.
In the past, many of the heroes and heroine sacrificed themselves for Ethiopian independence. For them, Ethiopia comes first not ethnic identity, not a religion and not language. In order to realise growth and prosperity in Ethiopia the application of the principle of Ethiopianism such as patriotism, unity, concern for others, accommodation of difference and independence has given primacy. Love for freedom is one of the most important qualities that is expected for this generation to inherit from their forefathers. From the past history, the new generation has to know how the hero and heroine of the generation defended the injustices inflicted upon the country by invaders and how Ethiopianism began as a movement of all black population in the world. It is important to examine the past in order to recognise and appreciate the present. The present is the continuation of the past. It is because of the history that was made by our forefathers, that we defeated several aggressors including the European fascist army. It is because of what they performed Ethiopia became a sign that signifies African modern social and political entity.