Emperor Menelik and the Italians.

Emperor Menelik and the Italians

“The study of history is the best medicine for a sick mind!” Livy

Beide Mariam Ejigu Retta

Ethiopia has a rich history spanning more than five millennia, solidifying its status as one of the
world’s esteemed nations. As articulated by Mani in his literary work, Ethiopia held a prominent
position among the four Great Powers during the 6th Century. Across this extensive timeline, our
ancestors have left us an invaluable inheritance. Among this cherished legacy, the Axum stelae, the
magnificent Lalibela rock-hewn churches, and the grand Gondar castles prominently stand as
enduring symbols of our cultural heritage. Throughout the ages, Ethiopia has confronted numerous
internal conflicts and skilfully repelled external invasions, though often at the grave cost of losing
significant historical landmarks and countless lives. Despite these formidable challenges, the 18th and
19th centuries marked a crucial era in our nation’s history, characterized by the rise of regional rulers
colloquially known as the “era of princes” or “zemene mesafent.” This period coincided with Europe’s
pursuit of African dominion, famously referred to as the scramble for Africa, as they embarked on
expeditions into our continent.

During that era, Kassa Hailu, who would later ascend to the throne, exhibited a steadfast
determination to reunify the nation that had witnessed a decline in her authority due to the
incompetence of certain princes. Emperor Theodorus waged campaigns against these regional
leaders, vanquishing them all and thus paving the way for the re-unification of Ethiopia. Remarkably,
the emperor, who never tasted defeat in any of his military endeavors, chose to take his own life
within the walls of the fortress of Meqdela rather than surrender to the invading British army, which
had arrived in Ethiopia with the intent of liberating prisoners and repatriating them to their
respective countries. The emperor harbored the belief that being captured and taken to Great Britain

would bring disgrace upon his homeland, and so, he resorted to using his handgun to end his own
life, departing with a sense of dignity.

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