A History of Ethiopia


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A border war between Ethiopia and Eritrea broke out in when Eritrean forces occupied disputed territory. Despite work toward reforming the nation's agriculture, continues to face problems of famine and widespread poverty. Their ongoing confrontation with Eritrea did not help matters either, coupled with the drought of Further information For a broad overview of African independence. Further Reading. Know something about this topic? He abandoned the Shoan capital of Ankober and soon founded Addis Ababa.

During his reign, electricity and telephones were introduced, bridges, roads, schools and hospitals built, banks and industrial enterprises established. Menelik died a natural death in Iyasu, his raffish young grandson and nominated heir, proved to be very much a product of the 20th century.

Iyasu and his councillors pushed through a few reforms, including improving the system of land tenure and taxation, but they faced ever-deepening opposition from the church and nobility. Finally, after also upsetting the allied powers with his dealings with the Weimar Republic Germany , Austria and the Ottoman Empire, a pretext for his removal was found.

Prince Ras Tafari boasted more experience and greater maturity than Iyasu, particularly in the field of foreign affairs. In Tafari pulled off a major diplomatic coup by securing Ethiopia entry into the League of Nations. Membership firmly placed Ethiopia on the international political map, and also gave it some recourse against the grasping designs of its European, colonial neighbours.

Continuing the tradition begun by Menelik, Tafari was an advocate of reform. A modern printing press was established as well as several secondary schools and an air force. In the meantime, Tafari was steadily outmanoeuvring his rivals. In the last rebellious noble was defeated and killed in battle. A few days later the sick empress also died.

Ras Tafari assumed the throne. The extravagant spectacle was attended by representatives from across the globe and proved a terrific public relations exercise. It even led indirectly to the establishment of a new faith. It granted the emperor virtually absolute power, his body was even declared sacred. The two-house parliament consisted of a senate, which was nominated by the emperor from among his nobles; and a chamber of deputies, which was elected from the landholders.

It was thus little more than a chamber for self-interested debate. Ever since the day of his regency, the emperor had been bringing the country under centralised rule. For the first time, the Ethiopian state was unambiguously unified. Any Italian attempt to link its two colonies would require expansion into Ethiopia.

Ethiopia | History Today

When Mussolini seized power, the inevitable happened. From , in an effort to undermine the Ethiopian state, Italian agents, well heeled with funds, were dispatched to subvert the local chiefs, as well as to stir up ethnic tensions. In a minor skirmish known as the Wal Wal incident took place between Italian and Ethiopian forces. Italy had found its pretext.

On 3 October the invasion began. Italians, overwhelmingly superior in both ground and air forces, invaded Ethiopia from Eritrea. First the northern town of Aksum fell, then Mekele. The League of Nations issued sanctions against Italy , but they proved to be little more than a slap on the wrist. If the Suez Canal had been closed to the Italians, or an oil embargo put in place, the Italian advance — as Mussolini was later to admit — might have been halted within weeks. Terrified that the international community would impose more serious embargoes, and keen to keep Italian morale high, Il Duce pressed for a swift campaign.

Impatient with progress made, he soon replaced De Bono, his first general.

Implicit in the instructions was the use of mustard gas, which contravened the Geneva Convention. Despite overwhelming odds, the Ethiopians succeeded in launching a major counterattack, known as the Christmas Offensive, at the Italian position at Mekele at the end of However, the Italians were soon on the offensive again.

Backed by hundreds of planes, cannons and weapons of every type, the Italian armies swept across the country. On 30 June he made his famous speech to the League of Nations in Geneva. The league staggeringly responded by lifting the sanctions against Italy later that year. Hoping to create an important economic base, Italy invested heavily in its new colony. Ethiopia kept up a spirited resistance to Italian rule throughout its brief duration. Mussolini personally ordered all rebels to be shot, and insurgencies were put down using large-scale bombing, poison gas and machine-gunning from the air.

Ethiopian resistance reached a peak in February with an assassination attempt on the much-hated Italian viceroy, Graziani. In reprisal, the Italians spent three days shooting, beheading or disembowelling several thousand people in the capital. But Ethiopian resolve stiffened and resistance grew. Although in control of major towns, Italy never succeeded in conquering the entire country. Later, in early , Britain launched three major attacks. Though not then widely recognised, the Ethiopian patriots played a major role before, during and after the liberation campaign, which ended on 5 May when the emperor and his men entered Addis Ababa.

In the Revised Ethiopian Constitution was introduced.

A History of Ethiopia

Although for the first time the legislature included an elected chamber of deputies, the government remained autocratic and the emperor continued to hold all power. Though put down by the army and air force, it signalled the beginning of the end of imperial rule in Ethiopia. Discontent simmered among the students too, who protested in particular against land tenure, corruption and the appalling famine of —74 in which an estimated , died. Meanwhile, international relations had also been deteriorating. In Ethiopia abrogated the UN-sponsored federation with Eritrea and unilaterally annexed the Eritrean state.

By an increasingly powerful and radical military group had emerged. Known as the Derg Committee , they used the media with consummate skill to undermine the authority of the emperor himself. The result was an unprecedented wave of teacher, student and taxi strikes in Addis Ababa. Even army mutinies began to be reported. At crisis point, the prime minister and his cabinet resigned and a new one was appointed with the mandate to carry out far-reaching constitutional reforms.

But it was too late. On 12 September the emperor was deposed, unceremoniously bundled into the back of a Volkswagen, and driven away to prison. Ministers, nobles and close confidants of the emperor were also arrested by the Derg. The absolute power of the emperor and the divine right of rule of the century-old imperial dynasty were finished — forever? And what happened to the emperor? Evidence for the crime? On 20 December a socialist state was declared. Raising the status of Ethiopian peasants, the campaign was initially much praised internationally, particularly by Unesco.

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In the meantime, the external threats posed by Somalia and secessionist Eritrea were increasing. In July Somalia invaded Ethiopia. Thanks to the intervention of the Soviet Union, which flooded socialist Ethiopia with Soviet state-of-the-art weaponry, Somalia was beaten back.

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In Eritrea , however, the secessionists continued to thwart Ethiopian offensives. Internal political debate also degenerated into violence. In the Red Terror campaign was launched to suppress all political opponents. At a conservative estimate, , people were killed and several thousand more fled abroad. Red Terror only cemented the stance of those opposing the Derg.

Numerous armed liberation movements arose, including those of the Afar, Oromo, Somali and particularly Tigrayan peoples. For years, with limited weaponry, they fought the military might of the Soviet-backed Derg. In —85 another appalling famine followed a drought, in which up to a million people died. Mengistu received asylum in Zimbabwe , where he remains to this day, despite being tried in absentia in Ethiopia and sentenced to death. In August the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia was proclaimed, a series of elections followed, and the constitution of the second republic was inaugurated.


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Meles Zenawi formed a new government. In May Eritrea upped the stakes by occupying the border town of Badme, followed, a month later, by the bombing of a school in Mekele, killing 55 people, many of whom who were children. Ethiopia followed suit by bombing military installations outside Asmara , only to have Eritrea cluster-bomb civilians in Adigrat.

Reading this book is not dissimilar from listening to Sally Struthers really, couldn't they find someone a little less nose-bleed inducing? It is pinched, high-pitched, and often wince-in If you grew up in the s, your first association with the word 'Ethiopia' is probably a needle-limbed child starving to death in the desert while the shrill demoness Sally Struthers solicited money from your parents that meant, nope, you're not getting that Thundercats temple base for Christmas. It is pinched, high-pitched, and often wince-inducing.

This is largely due to the dense compacting of tons of names, dates, and information into a fairly short space without any real sense of the moments in question, their context, or any attempt at historical analysis.

A History of Ethiopia A History of Ethiopia
A History of Ethiopia A History of Ethiopia
A History of Ethiopia A History of Ethiopia
A History of Ethiopia A History of Ethiopia
A History of Ethiopia A History of Ethiopia
A History of Ethiopia A History of Ethiopia
A History of Ethiopia A History of Ethiopia
A History of Ethiopia A History of Ethiopia
A History of Ethiopia

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