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Opinion - Black History Month

The cause that keeps our heads high

by Worku Belachew

5 February 2024

The victory made at Adwa is the bedrock to win back our dignity. Colonizers, who were possessed by a capitalistic demon, robbed off Africa’s industrious people to exploit their labor and took the dear people to the other side of the Pacific.

On the table in Berlin in 1884/5, we, black people, were dehumanized. There had been enough civilization in Africa that was disrupted by the advent of the wicked trans-Atlantic slave trade which lasted over 300 years. On its heel came the colonialists to enslave Africans on their own land. And the initiative taken by Otto von Bismark put the cruel knife on the body of almost an entire Africa.

READ ALSO: 125 Years of Victory of ADWA inspires Pan Africanism

The sharp dehumanizing edge of the colonial knife looked like to inflict a lasting harm on African people indirectly and the entire black people in general until Emperor Menelik II mobilized Ethiopians from across the length and breadth of the country. The wicked sharp edge of the knife was unable to slice the sovereign and dignified black people in the battlefield at Adwa. The ill-conceived project to subdue Africans/black people and the seemingly unstoppable imperialism was proven impossible. It was a matter of time, otherwise Adwa moved the entire black people, of course all the oppressed ones.



Raymond Jonas, a history professor, in his 2011 book entitled: The Battle of Adwa: African Victory in the Age of Empire recounts the triumph. In March 1896 a well-disciplined and massive Ethiopian army did the unthinkable…. In an age of relentless European expansion, Ethiopia had successfully defended its independence and cast doubt upon an unshakable certainty of the age – that sooner or later all Africans would fall under the rule of Europeans.

Many researchers and writers alike attempted to fathom the triumph. Some described it as a ‘Victory of Justice over Injustice’; others highlighted its significance in terms of ‘charting a new course in the history of humanity’ and the rest tried to elucidate it as a historical phenomenon that humanized the entire black people.

The conference to partition Africa is easier to understand—it was conceived out of greediness, selfishness, malice and ignorance if you like. But, when one comes to the triumph of Adwa, there are not enough words to describe it. But may be one can attempt to understand it in terms of “selflessness”, “self-worth”, “dignity” and “righteousness”. It is the pinnacle of black peoples’ achievement. It is from here that the giant scholars and pan-Africanists drew their lessons to start the engine of the struggle for freedom and complete liberation.

Early Pan-Africanists from Henry Sylvester-Williams of the West Indies, W.E.B. Du Bois of the USA to Kwame Nkrumah delved into the wisdom of the victory and went to accelerating pan-Africanism. With the seamless effort of Emperor Haileselassie I, pan-Africanism has taken an institutional shape in Addis Ababa in 1963.

When we mark the ‘Black History Month’ in the month of February, we pay homage to all the black people who sweat to change the way we live today. The ancient knowledge and wisdom of the black people is behind today’s well-developed nations, be it the USA or countries in the EU and beyond.

The mother of all black people, Africa, and its children all over the world are still facing myriads of challenges. These challenges, most of which originates from Africa’s own riches, must be acutely tackled. The youth, who make up the majority of the over a billion people should get proper education—education that would emancipate the mind. The 37th Ordinary Session of the AU says it all: “Educate an African fit for the 21st Century: Building resilient education systems for increased access to inclusive, lifelong, quality, and relevant learning in Africa”.

Happy Black History Month!

This article was first published in THE ETHIOPIAN HERALD

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