Emperor Menelik (1889 – 1913)

Posted: May 28, 2016 in Ethiopia - the Secret of Africa
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Menelik was the King of Shoa and dreamt, like Tewodros, of the unification and modernisation of his country. He started an aggressive and ruthless campaign of expansion. He occupied territories in the south, southwest and southeast, forcing the various ethnic groups to join his empire. On Yohannes’ death, the Italians recognised Menelik’s claim to the throne. In exchange for granting Italy the region that was later to become Eritrea, the Italians recognised Menelik’s sovereignty. But the Italians did not keep their word and invaded territories that lay beyond the borders agreed to in the peace-treaties. In 1895, the Italians occupied the town of Mekele. Menelik assembled his forces and met the Italians in Adwa – and defeated the Italian amies! In the following months, diplomatic missions were sent to Ethiopia from across the world and international boundaries were formally drawn up. Ethiopia as an independent country was born. ‘

The Battle of Adwa was one of the biggest and most significant battles in African history – one of the very few occasions when a colonial power was defeated by a native force. Ethiopia became a beacon of independence in a continent almost entirely colonised.

Menelik did a lot to modernise the country. The new capital Addis Ababa was founded. Electricity and telephones were introduced, roads, schools and hospitals were built and: as a great technological achievement: Ethiopia’s railway was constructed.

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