ADWA, adwa or AADWA? Call me by my NAT

April 26, 2010 at 8:50 pm (Commenatry)
By Obo Arada Shawl

April 23, 2010


Using the Latin alphabet to write ADWA, adwa or AADWA appears to portray insignificant difference to the naked eye or rather to the majority of Ethiopian intellectuals aka M’huran. But to a liberated Eathiopian mind and as well as to the Tsinhate M’huran (scholars), there are serious and logical implications.

ADWA, which I prefer to label as ADWA I, is about place name where in 1896, thousands of Ethiopians had volunteered to defend for their centuries old freedom.

Adwa, which I also prefer to call as Adwa II, is about cliques of leaders who were either born or raised in that historic place fought for freedom.

AADWA is an alternative name encoded in five dimensions of place, people, politics, reason and solutions (PPPRS).

Historical background

The last time Ethiopians came together physically was 114 years ago. In 1896, Eathiopians gathered voluntarily at a place called ADWA I in order to halt an invading foreign army. It was in defense of their own country (the land), their government (the king) and for their traditional values.

After the war at ADWA fundamental issues, some events and political consequences, which are documented by the filmmaker professor Haile Gerima, had taken place. The physical geography of Ethiopia was changed. Eritrea was demarcated physically but not emotionally or psychologically. There are no willing people to be colonized despite contrary claims by some quarters.

In 1974, after 78 years, once again, Eathiopians raised in political unison to change their ancient system of government – from an absolute Monarchy to a popular system of government. However, the military junta has played politics of obstruction to deny the Eathiopians to be ruled by civilian popular government. The struggle to topple the Fascist DERG went on unabated for 17 years.

In 1991, 95 years since the battle of ADWA I, or 17 years after the onset of the popular revolution, another clique of leaders of TPLF (a guerrilla peasant organization) came to play politics of obstructionism, the same way the military junta did in 1974.

As if Eathiopians had not had enough confusion especially after the victory of ADWA I, the clique of leaders who came to arrest the Eway Revolution have come to represent the paradox of Ethiopian political history. *

As a footnote to the above background, by and large, the Eathiopian people, despite their victory at ADWA I, have become victims of glory.

During the reign of Haile Sellassie, out of the 14 regions, provinces or Kifle Hagers, only 3 provinces were inaccessible to the outside world. They were Arussi, Shewa and Tigrai (AST) provinces. Arussi despite its rich resources, the people were kept isolated from modern means of transport and communication. The people of Shewa were kept apolitical while the people of Tigrai were kept away from modern industrialization.

I don’t know whether my assertion is in line with the thinking of the power holders or with the opposition parties. But that was the way the people of the three provinces were subjected to.

Whether by design or chance, the military junta had launched projects and plans in Arussi province, possibly to redress the oppression from the inaccessibility.

By the same logic, the adwa clique of leadership may have believed to open a gate to industrialization for the province of Tigrai albeit at the expense of losing access to the entire country.


ADWA I: Ethiopians had volunteered to defend their freedom

In 1896, Ethiopia, an African nation has defeated Italy, a European nation. How come a peasant nation could defeat an advanced European nation?

“Ethiopia had a legitimate and a just cause not to be colonized”, says a historian.

Where did the war take place? It was fought at place called Adwa that I prefer to label as ADWA I. What has happened after the victory of ADWA I? For the most part,

  • The land remained Ethiopian
  • The king of kings had consolidated his power and
  • Ethiopian families continued to live and continue to keep their traditions and values.

The current meeting being held everywhere around the world including within Ethiopia do not seem to be healthy. There is no forgetting and forgiving – if there is that would be considered reconciliation. A grievance and revenge (GG) will be wasteful to say the least.

For instance, the recent conference that was held in Arlington, Virginia would only add fuels to the followers of ADWA I. There was no issue of the past – the basis of conflict. It was a hash-hash advocacy for normalcy. Why on earth M’hur Akal (PhD) from Eritrea would clash with another M’hur Akal (PhD) from Ethiopia? This shows that they have not yet resolved their age old differences about ADWA I. One is supposedly a colonizer and the other colonized perhaps in reverse order. It is shame for both professors to represent Eathiopia. Why don’t they resolve their personal grievances first before they attempt to indulge in solving Eathiopia’s political problems?

To spell it out loud and clear, Eathiopian elites are presented with three alternative choices.

The path of ADWA I – the victory of freedom against the Italians should be recognized unconditionally by the Eritrean professors. The Ethiopian professors should likewise accept the abandonment of Eritreans to the rule of Italians. Both sides have been harping exclusively on the negative sides of true history. It has been going on for over a century. We need closure, closure and closure.

And why would an organizer who claims that the conference was highly successful demand the editors of a website to censure an opinion of an individual who had claimed to the contrary? Such conferences were held before and they all ended up in failure if not in disaster. Our issue is not the Horn of Africa. First it is about the aftermaths of ADWA I and BAD ME wars and the aftermaths of the Revolution.

In my opinion, we should go back to resolve the case of ADWA I, the adwa II and then move on to AADWA III.

ADWA II: Ethiopians were forced to fight for ethnic power

In 1991, which is after 95 years, cliques of the Tigrai People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) that I prefer to call as ADWA II came to power by force of arms. What has happened to the core issues of Ethiopia and Ethiopians after ADWA II? The results are as follows:

  • Ownership of land is dead. There is no distinction or it is rather an opaque phenomenon in distinguishing among nationals, nationalities or citizens of Ethiopia
  • The materialist “king” of Tigrai has gained land access to the outside world exclusively to the region of Tigrai though at the expense of surrendering a national sea outlet.
  • Ethiopian families are disintegrating at a faster rate than any known countries in the world. A moral bankruptcy has set in motion among the Ethiopian societies.

AADWA III: Ethiopians chose to struggle for national politics

The third AADWA (Assimba-Debteraw-Wallelign) is a generation of conscious revolutionaries who has arrived at their conclusion, not through fight but through intellectual study. Their ideas did not come from spontaneity, they learnt them and as they learn they in turn go out to convey consciousness-forming ideas to their peers.

The new had to replace the old. This is true when it comes to society as well as to ideas. The new ideas have actively confronted and exposed the old ideas and became obsolete and bankrupt. Though ideas have no physical life in themselves Wallelign and DEBTERAW must have been engaged in clash of ideas. That became mantra of the Ethiopian Revolutionaries.

In Western Europe, there was the French Revolution – a Revolution for Equality, Liberty and Fraternity (ELF). In the Far East, there was the Chinese Revolution – a closed Revolution until the country feeds itself. In Asia Minor, there was the Russian Revolution – a Revolution to upgrade an agrarian country and in the America’s it was the American Revolution – a Revolution to promote Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness (LLP).

In Africa, there was and is the Eway Revolution that was meant to upheld a Flag, a Fidel and many Freedoms (FFFs). What happens to each Revolution and its aftermath is anybody’s understanding. Our interest should be in the Eway Revolution not in the Horn of Africa’s crisis.

What is the Eway Revolution? Although I have attempted to explain in the past using some examples drawn from DEBTERAW’s pattern of life and struggle, we need to comprehend the Eway Revolution in the context of the present as well as in its contextual future.

First of all, those who claim, as ተጋዳይ ታጋይ dichotomy is confusion by itself. It may mean a differentiation those who fought and those who struggled. It was not and still is not clear to the majority of Eathiopians. Whatever is the case, here is the scenario of the Ethiopian Revolution.

The DERG had ideological and operational advisors from the then Soviet Union and the then German Democratic Republic  (GDR). The EPLF leaders had not only supply of literature but also had training from the Chinese government. Neither the ELF nor the TPLF had followed a real Revolution such that I have mentioned above but hodgepodges of rebellious countries as their model and advisors.

The Eway Revolution, which was followed by EPRP, is not a replica of ADWA I, which was a voluntary mobilization by the people of Ethiopian for one country, one king and one family. The AADWA III, on the contrary is about one flag, one alphabet and many freedoms. It was fundamental and unprecedented. It was fundamental as it was based on

  • The Ethiopian objective conditions and
  • It is still going unabated on many fronts


This is a preliminary reading of our problems, if we really believe we have any.

ADWA I was about unity based on Voluntarism

Adwa II was about power by any means necessary and

AADWA III was and still is about Unity, politics and freedom.

Let everyone and everybody choose to volunteer, to vote and register victory.


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