Emperor Menelik and the Battle of Adwa
#Book The Battle of Adwa (Reflections on Ethiopia's Historic Victory Against European Colonialism)
The success at the battle of Adwa is a testimonial to the quality of leadership that existed at the time.
It is important to note that some individuals in Menelik’s leadership circle came from widely differing backgrounds. Among his close advisors and ministers were those from humble backgrounds as well as from outside of the Showan establishment.
To name a few, Ras Gobana Datche was an Oromo and one of the highest-ranking generals under Menelik; he was the governor of Wallaga region. When Menelik was absent from the capital, Gobana acted in his stead.
Fitawrari Habte Giorgis, another outsider with a humble background, came from the Gurage ethnic group and served as Minister of War. He played an important role during the regency that was established when Menelik was bedridden and unable to govern effectively.
Menelik’s palace guard, the corps d’élite, was commanded by Turk Basha Makuria, who was from Tigre and not from the Showan establishment. Furthermore, in this male-dominated society, Empress Taytu Betul was also a formidable force in Ethiopia’s politics during Menelik’s reign.
Empress Taytu’s roots can be traced to Semen, Yeju, and Tigre. Educated in Ge’ez, the language of litany, Taytu read and wrote in Amharic and was familiar with the law book
Fetha Negest.
An astute politician, Taytu was actively involved in state affairs and participated in dictating some important policy papers. Menelik’s troops and government functionaries also reflected Ethiopia’s socio-cultural profile.
There were Christians & Moslems of various ethnic & geographic backgrounds. Some provinces were governed by their own hereditary royalty.Jimma-Kafa was ruled by Sultan Abba Jifar;Northern Wallaga,by Dejazmach Moroda Bakare & Southern Wallaga & Beni Shangul by Dejazmach Joté Tullu
Other such rulers of their own regions were Ras Mengesha Yohannes of Tigray, Ras Mikael of Wallo, King Kawo Tona of Walaitta, and Negus (King) Tekle Haimanot of Gojam. Their own Abegaz Walsema also ruled the Moslems of Yifat.
Given the level of the socio-economic development of Ethiopia, and a century ago, Menelik’s government demonstrated a high degree of inclusiveness and decentralization, which are the hallmarks of representative governance and sound administration.
Menelik was a farsighted ruler who let most regions be administered by hereditary leaders (once they accepted his authority) or by individuals nominated by the people.
When some of these leaders were excessive in using their authority, Menelik was said to have interceded on behalf of individuals or of the general citizenry.
On the other hand, one may observe that the increased centralization and unitary government that was introduced by Emperor Haile Selassie has contributed to some of the problems that have plagued Ethiopia.
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