From Menelik to Adwa

From Menelik to Adwa

 

 

Ethiopia in its roughly current form began under the reign of Menelik II who was Emperor from 1889 until his death in 1913. From the central province of Shoa, Menelik set off to subjugate and incorporate 'the lands and people of the South, East and West into an empire'; the people subjugated and incorporated were the Oromo, Sidama, Gurage, Wolayta and other groups. He did this with the help of Ras Gobena's Shewan Oromo militia, began expanding his kingdom to the south and east, expanding into areas that had not been held since the invasion of Ahmed Gragn, and other areas that had never been under his rule, resulting in the borders of Ethiopia of today. During the conquet of the Oromo, the Ethiopian Army carried mass atrocities against the Oromo population including mass mutilation, mass killings and large scale slavery. Some estimates for the number of people killed as a result of the conquest go into the millions. At the same time, he made advances in road construction, electricity and education; the development of a central taxation system; and the foundation and building of the city of Addis Ababa – which became Ras, capital of Shoa province in 1881.

After he ascended to the throne in 1889, it was renamed as Addis Ababa, the new capital of Abyssinia. Menelik had signed the Treaty of Wichale with Italy in May 1889 in which Italy would recognize Ethiopia's sovereignty so long as Italy could control an area north of Ethiopia (part of modern Eritrea). In return Italy was to provide Menelik with arms and support him as emperor. The Italians used the time between the signing of the treaty and its ratification by the Italian government to expand their territorial claims. This conflict erupted in the battle of Adwa on 1 March 1896 in which Italy's colonial forces were defeated by the Ethiopians.

The Great Ethiopian Famine of 1888 to 1892 cost roughly one-third of its population.

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