Topple the Statue of Menelik and Honor the Principle of No-Colonization that Triumphed at the Battle of Adwa


March 1, 2009 at 7:40 am ·


The toppling of the statue of Menelik in Finfinne (Addis Ababa) is long overdue. No one in their right mind would erect the statue of Hitler in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. No one in their right mind would erect the statue of Fidel Castro in Miami, Florida, or the statue of Mussolini in Addis Ababa or that of Mengistu Haile Mariam in Asmara. Why is the black colonizer Menelik’s statue still in Finfinne?

It’s a popular misconception that it was only Europeans that colonized Africa during the Scramble for Africa in the late 19th century. A black King of Abyssinia (northern region of the present-day Ethiopia), Menelik II, colonized Oromia and much of the south of the present-day Ethiopia during the same period Europeans were colonizing the rest of Africa. And Menelik’s statue is now in the middle of Finfinne, the capital city of the land he colonized and brutalized. Toppling the statue of Menelik honors the principle that triumphed at the Battle of Adwa: no colonizer is welcomed. Menelik was the colonizer of Oromia, and he’s not welcomed in Finfinne, the capital of Oromia.


While the Battle of Adwa always remains to be an African victory against European colonial powers of the 19th century (as a whole), it is also this Adwa victory that was used by the Arsi butcher, Menelik, and his Abyssinian ruling elites as a springboard to further institute a black colonial rule against the Oromo and the South peoples of today’s Ethiopia.

Just 10-15 years prior to the Battle of Adwa, Oromia was independent with Oromos enjoying a pure African democratic rule under the Gadaa system of governance. Through countless raids and massacres by Menelik and his European-backed army, the Oromo people and country fell under the brutal colonial rule of the Abyssinian regime. It is estimated that up to 5 million Oromo men, women and children were murdered by Menelik’s army in fiercely fought battles and raids between 1882 and 1898. Despite what Ethiopianist history revisionists tell the world, for the Oromo, Menelik is no “hero”, but a butcher of women and children.

Though it is true that Oromo generals fought side by side with their Abyssinian counterparts to squash the invading Italian force at the Battle of Adwa in 1896, it is also true that this African victory was stolen by Menelik’s and subsequent Abyssinian regimes (including the current one) with no meaningful credits to the brave Oromo generals and their people who earned the victory for Africa. The Battle of Adwa was ill conceived to be the pillar of the “one Ethiopia or death” Abyssinian nationalism and its System of Domination, creating a black-on-black colonial rule in the Horn of Africa. The Adwa victory was molded and minted into the “Adwa shame” by repressive Abyssinian regimes in their attempt to cling to power through any means necessary. While Oromos, as Africans, remember the victory of the Battle of Adwa with honor and pride, they unequivocally denounce the legacy of the Battle of Adwa, mythified by Abyssinian ruling elites to validate their colonial rule over Oromia and the South.

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