Homegrown Pilgrimages and Festivities

The Victory of Adwa

The battle of Adwa represents a major historical landmark for Ethiopia and the African continent at large where a major European power, Italy, was defeated by Ethiopia, an African country. If Adwa holds a significant place in Africa’s history, it is because its meanings overflow the social and political conditions that made it possible and go beyond any relevance to its initial circumstances. The victory of Adwa is celebration as the national event on March 1 throughout the country. It is colorfully celebration in Addis Ababa and at Adwa, the very place of the victory.

The Victory of Adwa
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Patriots' Victory Day

At the Battle of Adwa on March 1st 1896, series of Italy’s colonial force were defeated by the Ethiopians. The defeat left a scar on Italy and arguably gave rise to Fascism and Benito Mussolini. In October 1935, Mussolini was to exact Italian revenge when he invaded and defeated Ethiopia in the Second Italo-Ethiopian War and proclaimed Italian Ethiopia. When the Second World War began, the Ethiopian resistance, the Arbegnoch (literally, “patriots”), with the support of the British were able to restore sovereignty during the East African Campaign. Italian control ended when Emperor Haile Selassie entered Addis Ababa on May 5th (Miaza 27 in the Ethiopian calendar) 1941 and addressed a decisive speech to rejoice the victory with the Ethiopian public. Ethiopians, since then, takes the May, 5 1941 as Patriot’s Victory Day. Every year, on May 5, the government leaders, diplomats, living patriots and their families as well as, descendants of the Ethiopian patriots; and, members of the Association of the Ethiopian Patriots and particularly city residents, including those in Addis Ababa at large, turn to honor patriotic veterans, who fought in the resistance movement between 1935 and 1941.

Patriots Victory Day
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Martyrs’ Day

Every year after the liberation of Ethiopia from the Fascist Italian rule in 1941, February 19 has always been as Ethiopia’s Martyrs’ Day. The Day commemorates Ethiopians massacred by the Italian forces following an attempted assassination by Ethiopian patriots Abraha Deboch and Moges Asgedom, against the Italian Marshall Rodolfo Graziani, who was the Viceroy of Italia in East Africa, during their brief occupation. Up to 30,000 civilians of Addis Ababa were killed indiscriminately within three days. Another 1,469 were summarily executed by the end of the next month, and over 1,000 Ethiopian notables were imprisoned and then exiled from Ethiopia. The massacre is considered as one of the worst atrocities committed by the Italian occupation forces and has been described as the worst massacre in Ethiopian history.

Martyrs Day
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