The New Today


The Battle of Adwa: Remembering History

On February 27th 2023, we experienced a unique historic event on the island of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. Forgiveness has risen its head and our island experienced an opportunity to reconcile with our colonial past.

Whether the Trevelyn family psychologically represents all colonial families requesting an apology who derived benefits from slavery depends on how quickly we are willing to forgive our past and move on with our present. This faithful representation and what it means for us, in a larger sense provides hope for our future and the next generation.

As we scan the pages of our historical heritage, it is relevant to understand that not too long also, on this day March 2nd 1896, an empire and independent state had flourished in the fourth century and during the “scrample for Africa” was able to withstand the impacts of colonialism.

The Battle of Adwa and the great African victory that it represents is not only celebrated in Ethiopia, but its diaspora. It is a moment in time to ponder, appreciate and to be thankful that the destiny of Africa, did not become the destiny that our colonisers would have imagined and Ethiopia, for all of us, represents that freedom.

The Green Yellow and Red, on the Ethiopian flag and the colour of nationalism and pan-Africanism across African countries of the world and its diaspora, for the Ethiopians, according to our fathers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church represents the unity of the Godhead. Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Three in one, and one in three.

The Father begets, the Son is begotten and the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father. Having received Christianity as early as 34 AD Ethiopia’s strong Christian heritage and faith, is also one of the reasons for the Victory of Adwa.

The Green, Yellow and Red also represents the covenant that Almighty God made between mankind to never destroy the earth again by flood (Genesis 9:11) being the most prominent colours of the rainbow.

The truth is, in the absence of her Christianity and strong faith in God, the Ethiopians would have never been able to defeat Italy and withstand the colonial invasion of 1896 and the defeat of the Italian forces.

Earlier in the Book of Acts 8:26-40 we learn about the Ethiopian Eunuch, Treasurer to the Queen of Candace, who after travelling from Jerusalem was reading the Book of Isaiah the Prophet. Not understanding what he was reading he pondered on the verse in the book that said:

“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter

and like a lamb before its shearer is silent,

so he opens not his mouth.

In his humiliation justice was denied him.

Who can describe his generation?

For his life is taken away from the earth.”

Phillip the Deacon and Evangelist being caught up by the spirit of God, in the Book of Acts was told, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.”

“Do you understand what you are reading?” Phillip asked

And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

It was here, after explaining the verse to the Eunuch that the Eunuch having been convicted in heart responded saying “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?”

It was here also that the Eunuch became converted being a Jew previously and spread the doctrine of Christianity to the Jewish Nation, Ethiopia who became Jewish earlier in 100 BC when the Queen of Sheba visited King Solomon in 1 Kings 10 in the Bible. More on how Ethiopia like Israel adopted the monotheistic faith is read about in the “Kebra Negast” or the “Glory of the Kings.”

Earlier in her history also, in the 15th century when western Christianity was being spread throughout the world by Jesuit Missionaries, Ethiopia also resisted the invasion of a foreign religion. Martyrs that we remember like Woletta Petros led the anti-Catholic struggle refusing to accept a foreign religion in her land.

Although under Emperor Suseynos the missionaries were successful in converting the Emperor to Roman Catholicsm, through the struggles of Waletta Petros and Ethiopias, the tewahedo faith was restored after Emperor Suseynos died and his son, Emperor Fasilidades, expelled the Jesuits and reclaimed the historic and ancient Christian Faith of “Tewahedo”.

Merate Kristos Romain