Victory of Adwa: Launching Pad for the Inception of Pan Africanism


The Battle of Adwa on March 1, 1896 is a historic landmark in the history of the black population across the world, particularly in Africa. It ignited two important phenomenological incidents in Ethiopian and African history including the decolonization of African and the continental vision of Pan Africanism. The victory at the Battle of Adwa immediately resonated across the world in complete negation of the invincibility of the diplomatic, political and military prowess of colonialists.

Ethiopia and Africa mark the victory at the Battle Adwa, in which Ethiopian peasants, artesian, women and many other volunteers from all walks of life and ethnicity marched in unison to repel Italian aggressors which received the blessings of the colonial powers in the Scramble for Africa in line with the resolutions of the Berlin Conference (1884-1885.).

According to Professor Richard Pankhurst in his book “Reflections on the Battle of Adwa” the Ethiopian victory at the Battle of Adwa has remained a very important event in the shared recollection of the entire African people. It is the only secular episode in the whole history of Africa that has been celebrated for more than a century. .

A phenomenon such as Adwa is a complex nexus of various historical processes with wide ranging but as yet not fully explored meanings. Adwa does not only reflect its time, but that it also transcends it, and that the aspirations and meanings that flow from it have been a powerful constitutive force in the rise and evolution of modern African Pan Africanism. Indeed, it is an event that awakened the hope for emancipation and the struggle against colonialism and racism among Africans in the colonies and in the Diaspora. Black people across the globe celebrate one historical asset that occurred 127 years ago in a small town in northern Ethiopia, Adwa.

The Battle of Adwa was a rocket booster or a launching pad for the inception of Pan Africanism. This historic battle and the subsequent victory registered by irregular army of Ethiopia resonated across the world as the first victory against a colonial power ever to be won by an African country.

History proves that the victory at the Battle of Adwa was not a victory only for Ethiopia. Although the Battle was fought in Ethiopia, the entire global community of people shares this outstanding victory against the colonial powers that was thought to be invincible.

It must be noted that the founding fathers of the former OAU were certainly inspired by the loft goals of pan Africanism. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, who was undoubtedly one of Africa’s foremost freedom fighters, nationalists, writers, and thinkers, that influenced a generation of Pan-African nationalists and freedom fighters, and the founding member of the Organization of African. He foretold that “It is clear that we must find an African solution to our problems, and that this can only be found in African unity. Divided we are weak; united, Africa could become one of the greatest forces for good in the world.” Will Africa live up to these expectations? The current trend is in the right direction but certainly there are huge challenges ahead before the lofty goals of Pan Africanism are achieved.

Today, the AU has creatively designed Agenda 2063, African Continental Free Trade Area and Pan African Parliament as well as peace and Security Council, African Court of Justice and Human Rights and a number of specialized committees who are tasked with fulfilling their duties in the context of the aspirations of Pan Africanism.

Ethiopia was and is indeed a forerunner in promoting the loft goals of Pan Africanism and the decolonization of the African continent by supporting major African liberation fronts like ANC, SWAPO, SPLM, ZANU-PF who fought for their freedom from Apartheid, colonialism and neocolonialism. Moreover, in the sphere of integrating Africa from the perspectives of economic Pan Africanism, Ethiopia has already gone a long way in connecting Africa by aviation, railway line, road transport, telecommunication and supply of renewable hydro-electric power for the neighboring countries of Sudan, Kenya, Djibouti and possibly for Somalia and other East African countries.

The aspirations of the victory at the Battle of Adwa needs to be implanted in the African youth who are expected to continue to light up the torch of Pan Africanism. The spirit of Adwa will certainly continue to reverberate in the current pan Africanist battle against abject poverty, climate change, unemployment, promotion of peace and security, food insecurity, inflation and the growing level of debt and debt servicing.

In his latest message on his twitter account, Prime Minister Abiy wrote “Reinvigorating and re-calibrating Pan Africanism requires us to disrupt the status quo and leap into the future. Potentials need to change into products. Our mind needs to transform our lands. We need to create clean and green environment. PAN Africanism should flourish as an idea of cooperative integration, global competitiveness and peaceful coexistence ”

Victory at the Battle of Adwa is indeed symbolic of how poor peasants defeated a colonial army equipped to the teeth only because they were united in purpose, goal to ensure their freedom and territorial integrity. The lesson from Adwa was loud and clear, united Africans can overcome any challenge as long as they are united.

Ethiopian News Agency