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Menelik II, The Brave African Emperor Who Defeated The Europeans In A Brutal Battle

There are only two countries in Africa that did not experience colonization, when the mad rush by European powers to seek colonies in Africa was on.

The countries are Liberia and Ethiopia.

For this article, we will consider Ethiopia and the powerful ruler that kept her safe at a time when other countries in Africa caved under the superior military power of European nations.

That ruler was Emperor Menelik II, one of the most prominent 19th century African leaders that ruled Ethiopia from 1889-1913.

Menelik II was famous for many political and economic achievements during his reign.

But by far, his greatest achievement was in the field of battle, when he won a resounding victory against the Italian Invaders when they tried to colonise his country by force.

That brief but terrible war in March of 1896 came to be known as the Battle of Adwa (also Adowa).

For a long time, Italy had vested interest in taking Ethiopia as their colony, and had made the point clear to other European powers.

They made contact with Menelik and offered to make Ethiopia a protectorate of Italy, but Menelik kicked against the notion, insisting that Ethiopia did not need protection from any nation.

Before the war broke out, there had been some peace talks between Italy and Ethiopia, as both countries tried to come to reasonable terms. But the talks collapsed, leading to the famous battle.

This is a quote from Menelik II's epic speech just before the war:

"Now an enemy that intends to destroy our Homeland and change our religion has come crossing our God-given frontiers. Now, with the help of God I will not allow him to take my country. Help me, those of you with zeal and power. Those who do not have the zeal, for the sake of your wives and religion, help me with your prayers."

That speech had a positive impact and Menelik II was able to gather and arm 100,000 Ethiopian fighters against Italy's 20,000 men.

In the Battle of Adwa, much to Italy's surprise, the Ethiopian's were better armed, being equipped with thousands of modern French rifles and Hutchkiss artillery guns, with ammunition and shells which were superior to the Italian rifles and artillery.

This made Menelik II the first African ruler to successfully counter a colonial invasion.

It should be mentioned that the victory was very significant, in that it helped boost the morale of other Africans who were under the threat of colonial rule.

The victory of Ethiopia was a victory for Africa. That day in 1896, Africa defeated Europe in the field of battle.

The defeat was a major blow to the industrial world, as it heralded the struggle for independent by colonized African nation's.

After that victory, Ethiopia was recognized as an independent and sovereign nation by Italy and other European countries, and no other country tried to attack her again.

Menelik II died in 1913 in Addis Ababa, following a stroke attack he had previously in 1909.

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