Every 2 March is Adwa Victory Day in Ethiopia. It is a time of great national pride and of remembrance of the great victory of Emperor Menelik over an invading Italian army on 2 March, 1896.
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Ethiopia was the last part of Africa to resist European colonisation, and though they finally feel to Italy for a time in the 20th Century, they impressively thwarted Italy’s first attempt to conquer them in the 1890’s.
The background of the battle of Adwa was a treaty signed between Ethiopia and Italy in 1889. The treaty granted a part of Ethiopia to Italy and arranged for arms and financial aid to be given to Ethiopia in return. But instead, Italy decided the treaty made Ethiopia their “protectorate” and invaded when Ethiopia rejected that claim.
Ethiopian forces were led by their Emperor Menelik himself. And when an Italian army moved on the town of Adwa, inspired by their emperor and by their right to defend their homeland, the Ethiopians crushed the better equipped Italian army completely.
The victory was so decisive that Italy soon recognised Ethiopian independence in the Treaty of Addis Ababa.