The Battle Won, But the Journey Continues

Celebration of the victory of Adwa have been taking place last week. There was a lot to celebrate, as it is a historic event. One hundred twenty one years have gone by and the struggle still continues. Even though the battle has been won, foreign cultural trends dominates the new generation.

There is a rich collective history of Ethiopia and one stands out particularly. It was the 19th century African history of defeating white colonizers supremacy. This was not an ordinary battle or civil strife.

Men and women of all walks of life had participated. There were no technical and modern means of communication, big drums were beaten and trumpets were blown. Men shouted the Emperor’s orders and warnings orally. The word “awaj” was used to signal the seriousness of the matter and understood by the public as orders from the government. Emperor Menelik and his spouse Etege Taitu were committed in their roles of organizing their people with whatever little means they could get their hands on.

This year’s Adwa victory day was celebrated in full pledge. Participants took to Menelik square wearing all white traditional costumes and colorful flags. Some people were also adorned with the war time costumes and carrying shields and spears made from leather to remember the victory 121 years ago.

Tids and bits about the colorful celebrations of the victory over the Italians can be heard throughout the capital city. The tales of how the Ethiopians defeated the enemy and the credits given to Emperor Menelik and his wife consumes the coversations.

By some circumstantial irony I happen to be a fan of St. George football team which is currently leading at the top of the Ethiopian Premier League. Farfetched as it may be the battle of Adwa took places on St. George’s day.

There is no denying the fact that such a large number of the agrarian community cannot go to battle unguided. The Emperor and Etege Taitu had a critical role to play in organizing the gallant fighters by teams and patrols to surround the enemy until the enemy was brought down to its knees in defeat. Sometimes wrongfully all the credit is given to Emperor Menelik and Etege Taitu.

Even if Emperor Menelik has done his part to protect the freedom of his country and people from colonialism and had opened the windows of freedom for other African countries to see some light at the end of the tunnel for all the black people under the yoke of colonialism, Emperor Menelik was not without his share of mistakes.

He had to take some harsh measures to bring down some of his violent rivals so that the country is kept free and intact. All countries are made and kept united in this manner. There are prices to pay.

The misinformation by Basha Awalom Haregot also played a major role in misguiding the Italian troops.

Ethiopia’s victory at Adwa over the white supremacy did not come by easily and simply. Any top film script writer or producer would not have been able to contemplate this storyline. Emperor Menelik could have been the lead actor and Etege Taitu the star actress. Basha could have been the conspiracy used to hold audiences in suspense.

If Ethiopia’s freedom was kept strong so far and intact it is not because the present generation is part and parcel of the battle. It is simply the legacy of our forebears we bequeathed from them.

But we have to ask ourselves whether or not we are free from every foreign influence at present. Why do we try to adopt foreign cultural trends when we have our own. Foreign names of restaurants and cafés can be examples. We could have our own names of bars and restaurants.

The youth especially are impacted by foreign influences. They do not seem to understand the price that was paid. They walk around with earphones glued to their ears listening to rap music wearing trousers that are sagging because they refuse to wear belts around their waists. They rather watch foreign TV shows than appreciating their own history.

Young women and girls in Addis Abeba put on dresses or short skirts and wear high heel shoes, an alien style to our culture.

Freedom, therefore, is not adequate to be free from foreign colonization. If we open ourselves up to foreign culture and influences the value of our political freedom is still in question.

By Girma Feyissa

Published on Mar 11,2017 [ Vol 17 ,No 879]



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