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Pan Africanism VII


The Significance of the Great Adwa Victory for Building Africa’s Free Future

 by Mammo Muchie


In 2016, it is 120 years of Adwa’s African decisive Victory. In 2015 it was the 70s year of the 5th Pan-African Congress and the 60s year of the Bandung Conference. In India earlier this year, in New Delhi, we made a memorable celebration of the 120 years where we learned that there were Indians who decided to join the battle and support Ethiopia’s heroic struggle against imperialism.

On May 25, 2016 on Africa Liberation Day at the Africa Expo event, the 120 years of the Adwa Victory will be celebrated in South Africa. The former president of South Africa, H.E. Thabo Mbeki will give a keynote address. This extremely significant, like his famous speech 20 years ago when the South African Constitution was launched on May 8, 1996. He also tried to introduce into schools the relevance and significance of educating the young generation by helping to prepare a textbook on the Great African Daw Victory, the Haitian Victory, and the struggles to successfully end apartheid. This work he thought of over twenty years ago is still relevant for making Africa’s future free and with full agency.

Today, still, very little is known about the rich African struggle heritage, let alone the need to draw lessons to build a better African future. It is urgent that the constructive and positive heritage of liberation struggles from every part of Africa be studied and resurrected in order to re-educate and wean generations of Africans to know what the struggle heritage entails. The glorious past, particularly of early Africa, resistance to numerous imperial advances, and the stolen legacy should be recovered. 


The battle of Adwa in 1896 epitomises the successful resistance against colonialism. It has come to be recognized as one of the most significant African liberation struggles that took place during the time of the European Scramble for Africa. The best highway of African liberation is symbolized by the successful resistance of the 1896 Adwa Victory. It provides a lesson from the past for the present and the future. The African spiritual, knowledge and struggle heritages (ASKSH) has to be fully re-learned in order to make the African future full of wonder, significance and achievement where all African people earn their self-worth, dignity, freedom, independence and pride.

25th February, 2016. The Great African Adwa Victory: Relevance for Global South. Presentation at Symposium in JNU Campus in New Delhi, India.

This glorious Adwa African victory over the age of empire should offer a powerful inspiration for the African people to confront current challenges that are more subtle and insidious than those faced during slavery and colonialism.

For pan-Africanists across the world, the Adwa Victory also makes Ethiopia the epitome of African nationalism. Ethiopia is not just for those in Ethiopia; it is the moral and spiritual national resource for all Africans across the world... No one can express better than our icons Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and Tata Madiba to reinforce why Ethiopia is for all Africans and not just for those who currently live in the current Ethiopian geographic space.

In his biography Dr. Nkrumah relates his reaction to the fascist assault against Ethiopia. He was in London at the time of the savage attack on the way to the United States, when he saw the newspaper poster, “Mussolini invades Ethiopia.” He said he was immediately and naturally seized by a strong outrage.

“At that moment”, he wrote, “It was almost as if the whole of London had declared war on me personally. For the next few minutes I could do nothing but glare at each impassive face, wondering if these people could realize the wickedness of colonialism, and praying that the day might come when I could play my part in bringing about the downfall of such a system. My nationalism surged to the fore; I was ready to go to hell itself, if need be, in order to achieve my object.” (Quoted in John. H. Brown, Public Diplomacy Press Review, USC Centre for Public Diplomacy, May 22, 2004)

Our revered Nelson Mandela felt a similar outrage: “I was seventeen when Mussolini attacked Ethiopia, an invasion that spurred not only my hatred of that despot but of fascism in general.” (Nelson Mandela, Long walk to Freedom, p.402)

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Prof Mammo Muchie
DST/NRF Rated Research Professor

SARChI Research Professor: Tshwane University of Technology
Adjunct Prof: Adama Science and Technology University
Senior Research Associate: TMDC, Oxford University

Read more about Prof Muchie and his view on being a futurist



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