February: A month of independence, martyrdom

For many decades, the people of Africa have been wallowing in the quagmire of colonialism. Black people were suffering excruciating pain created by the system where black people were subjects and treated inhumanely.

Where Africans were in the darkness, a country from the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia, stood shoulder high to show what black people are capable of. Ethiopians, and all black people, will raise their heads whenever they talk about the bravery that Ethiopian patriots paid in the battle of Adwa. Ethiopia is the only nation that enjoys victory, not freedom, over colonialism and white supremacy. Through Adwa Victory, the black taught, for the first time, the world that every human being in the world is equal. That is why Ethiopia is still considered the light and an example to the whole African people to liberate themselves from the shackles of slavery and colonialism.

After the Adwa victory over the white colonial power, other African nations who were under colonialism started to ask for their freedom and paid the ultimate price to emancipate themselves from slavery. Ethiopia played a tremendous role in supporting African brothers and sisters by providing the necessary support to realize their freedom.

From all the months of the year, February is unique to black people. The month is known as the ‘Month of Black History’ because many African nations got their freedom. Throughout the world, black people celebrate the month to remember their pain and how their ancestors were the sacrificial lambs for the freedom of generations to come.

While the black community around the world enjoys the month, Ethiopia, on the other hand, remembers the month as the month of the most heinous massacre committed on its people by Fascist Italy. When the brave Ethiopians Abreha Deboch and Moges Asgedom attempted to assassinate Marshal Rodolfo Graziani, the troops of Fascist Italy took measures to kill more than 30 thousand Ethiopians without showing mercy. For this reason, Ethiopia remembers February 19 as Martyrs’ Day for those who were brutally killed by the fascists. Parallel to Black History Month, Ethiopia also commemorates February as a month of martyrdom.

For its entire history, Ethiopia is well-known as the sovereign state and founding member of many international organizations, including the League of Nations, and the current United Nations (UN). However, such privileges would not protect the nation from any foreign aggression. Ethiopia has the right to be protected from any unprovoked and aggressive invasion from any nation. Such rights could not stop fascist Italy from invading the sovereign nation and causing Italy to commit the century’s most heinous crimes against humankind.

The fascist aggression was revenge for Italy’s defeat in the Adwa war. The fascist had been preparing itself well for over 40 years to hit Ethiopians hard and bring them to their knees. To realize its dreams, fascist Italy started attempting its invasion of Ethiopia in 1934.

According to reports, “Italy deployed 685,000 soldiers, another 4,000 from Eretria and more than 285,000 soldiers from its colony in the former Italian Somaliland. Italy had 6,000 machine guns, 2000 artillery and 599 tanks as well as 390 aircraft. Italy later ordered and acquired 3,300 machine guns, 275 artillery pieces, 200 tanks and 205 aircraft. This was no match to the Ethiopian Army which consisted of 350,000-760,000 trained and untrained peasant soldiers with ammunition of 400,000 mainly old rifles; 234 antiquated artillery and 75 anti-tank guns; 4 tanks and 13 outmoded aircraft with four pilots.”

All the artillery that the Italian Soldiers got was so advanced to its Ethiopian counterparts. However, Ethiopian patriots and soldiers were untouchable for those well-advanced troops of Italy. Ethiopians showed their unwavering stand towards their motherland even when they were fighting uneven forces.

According to Wikipedia, “Following the defeat of the Ethiopian forces under his command at the Battle of Maychew on 31 March 1936; Emperor Haile Selassie left Ethiopia to address the League of Nations to plead for their assistance against the Italians.”

According to Ian Campbell’ book ‘The Addis Ababa Massacre: Italy’s National Shame’, in June 1936, just after Italian armies had entered the Ethiopian capital, Mussolini ordered his viceroy that ‘all rebels taken prisoner to be shot’. The book also stated, “About 19,000 men, women and children were murdered in Addis Ababa in three days of mayhem from 19-21 February 1937. Some were shot or hanged, others burned to death when their huts were set on fire, and some were beaten to death with clubs, shovels or pitchforks. Yet more were drowned, by being dropped down wells or thrown into the river. The perpetrators were Fascist militia, Fascist-approved immigrant civilians, Libyans and other colonial troops (askari). With some reluctance, ordinary Italian soldiers and carabinieri joined in, too.”

“In exile in London, Emperor Haile Selassie had encouraged such Ethiopian ‘resistance’ to Fascist rule. Almost immediately after the grenades detonated, Italian forces, in a moment of mutual terror, fired into the crowd. However, by the afternoon, local Fascist party boss, Guido Cortese, a young colonialist intellectual rather than a thug, had issued his followers with a carte blanche to do what they liked in the city,” Campbell elaborated in his book.

Reports prevail that In 1946 when Haile Selassie’s restored government presented evidence and appealed to the United Nations half a million of his subjects fell during Italian rule and asked for justice. Unfortunately, the United Nations ignored the matter. Italian perpetrators avoided justice and the Italian public has typically viewed the country’s imperial record as beneficent.

All and all, Ethiopians have seen the two sides of life; having destroyed the Italian invasion in Adwa, and remembering the martyrs of February 19. The month of February is a memorial for Ethiopian fathers and forefathers who paid their bones and blood both for the independence of brother African nations and the lives sacrificed to the evil massacre of fascist Italy.



Recommended For You