Ethiopia commemorates the 121th anniversary of the Battle of Adwa

Ethiopia marks the 121st anniversary of the Battle of Adwa, where history was made as an invading European colonial power was soundly defeated by an African army for the first time during what was called the ‘scramble for Africa’. On March 1, 1896, Ethiopians defeated the Italian aggression, keeping it the only nation in Africa that has never been colonized.

Ethiopia under Emperor Menelik II decimated the invading Italian army in the Battle of Adwa, which made it a symbol of independence and pride for all black people around the World. The colors of Ethiopia’s flag [Green, Yellow, Red] have been adopted by many African countries after their independence and school children across Africa are taught about the Battle of Adwa.

The Battle of Adwa is a humiliating defeat for colonialism and a pride among Africans all over the world. Below are some of excerpts from archives of the New York Times about the battle.

Ethiopian Flag

“ITALY’S TERRIBLE DEFEAT” The New York Times March 4, 1896.

Here is an excerpt from The New York Times published on March 4, 1896.


Three thousand Men Killed, Sixty Guns and All Provisions Lost.

Baratieri’s Strategy Condemned.

All Available Steamers for Transport of Reinforcements to Abyssinia are Ordered.

Persistent Rumor of Ministry’s Fall

Rome, March 3 – The present campaign against the Abyssinians threatens to become one of the most disastrous in which the Italians arms have ever taken part, and what the final outcome will be it would be hard to predict. It was rumored today that the latest defeat of the Italians by King Menelik had compelled Ministry to resign, owing to the popular disapproval of the Government’s policy, but tonight this report is denied.

Details received here today of the defeat on Sunday of the Italian Army show that the Italian losses were very heavy, they being placed by some at 3,000 killed. It is still impossible to ascertain the precise losses, but popular opinion credits the report that the number of killed is not overstated. Thus far the reports make no mention of the number of wounded. Among the dead are Gen. Albertone, Commander of the Left Brigade, and Gen. Dabormida, Commander of the Right Brigade.

The news of this latest disaster has caused the greatest excitement throughout Italy, and the Opposition party is taking advantage of it to make violent attacks upon the Government’s policy in attempting to extend the sphere of Italian influence in Abyssinia.

The Pope is greatly disturbed by the news.

Among the many reports current today was one to the effect that Gen. Baratieri had committed suicide, being unable to endure the humuliation of his defeat.

Published on March 4, 1896 in the New York Times.

Read original story from NYT

On March 2, 1896, the New York Times wrote the following article.

ABYSSINIANS DEFEAT ITALIANS.; Both Wings of Baratieri’s Army Enveloped in an Energetic Attack

Massaowa, March 2, 1896 – Gen. Baratieri attacked the Abyssinians yesterday. Gens. Albertone, Arimondi, and Dabormida commanded the left, centre, and right brigades, respectively. Gen. Ellina commanded the reserve.

The Italians captured the passes leading to Adowa without opposition. Gen. Albertone, with four native battalions and four mountain batteries , engaged the enemy, but where soon overcome by overwhelming odds.

Gen. Arimondi was ordered to cover the retreat, but his position prevented him from complying with the order. The Abyssinians in the meantime made an energetic attack, which soon extended to the whole Italian front and enveloped both wings.

A desperate struggle ensued. and finally the Italians were compelled to abandon their positions. The nature of the ground prevented the batteries from moving. The Italians are retiring behind Belesa. The losses sustained are unknown.

The New York Times
Published March 3, 1896


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