My take on BefeQadu Z. Hailu’s latest post about Adewa and Minilik II

Achamyeleh Tamiru

The battle of Adwa is a phenomenon that has completely changed the theory of the then world, that has been accepted for long, upside down. Some people like BefeQadu Z. Hailu consider the implication of this unique phenomenon as a mere change of masters between Umberto I of Italy and Emperor Minilik II of Ethiopia. By this the likes of BefeQadu Z. Hailu are telling us that the battle of Adwa is a dispute between two colonial powers; Ethiopia and Italy. That means for the likes of BefeQadu Z. Hailu Minilik II was a colonizer.

In his commentary of the battle of Adwa, BefeQadu Z. Hailu has mentionedBewketu Seyoum’s latest book to substantiate his argument. It is true that two years ago the eloquent Bewketu Seyoum has written a well documented book analyzing and comparing the lives of the so-called nation and nationalities before and after they come under Minilik II’s ruel. In his book, Bewketu Seyoum has presented the atrocities committed by local chiefs of Keffa, Wolayita, Arsi, etc that Minilik II has stopped in the aftermath. Lij Bewuke has provided us the accounts of French and Italian travelers eye witness accounts which reveal the fact that the Arsi local chiefs, before Arsi’s submission to Minilik II, were sadists who were enjoying harrowing live human’s skull.

Abba Jifar of Jimma was the greatest slave entrepreneur of the horn and he was the largest supplier of the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade that was at a mass production and corporate level and intergenerational. Some writers argued that the number of slaves Abba Jifar has sold exceeds 3 million. Fitawurari Teklehawariat Teklemariam, who visited and interviewed Abba Jifar, in his autobiography, Reminiscences of My Life, wrote that Abba Jifar of Jimma has actually sold more than a million slaves.

The house slaves of the king of Keffa were objects whose responsibilities, among other things, were to feed the king and give the him a drink. When the king was away from his palace, their right arms, which fed the king, was tied in a canvas sack as if their right arm is not theirs. The field slaves of the king of Keffa were exploited to every extent possible.

In all, the life of ALL of the so called nations and nationalities of the greater south has been the same, if not the worst, as the above nations and nationalities of the south way long before they come under Minilik II’s rule.

While the atrocities of the south has been going for centuries while the southerners were ruled by their own clan members, BefeQadu Z. Hailu et.al have always create an impression that the so-called nations and nationalities were ruled by democrats before they fall under Minilik II and think that it was Minilik II who transported exploitation and oppression to the South by the back of his mule. The fact on the ground shows that by the mid-1890s, it was emperor Menelik II who was actively struggling to suppress the slave trade of the southern local chief who have been practicing the business for centuries.

In 1876, for exmaple, king Minilik issued a proclamation in which he prohibited people under his rule from buying and selling slaves in his territories and mandated that any one caught traveling with slaves should be taken into custody and tried. (Pankhurst, 1968, p. 100.) Upon his ascent to the throne in 1889, he again issued a decree abolishing slavery. (Encyclopaedia Aethiopica p.680.) .

In his book, Chris Prouty stated that Menelik prohibited Slavery, while it was beyond his capacity to change the mind of his people regarding to this age-old practice that was widely prevalent throughout the country. In fact it was emperor Minilik who destroyed notorious slave market towns such as the ones in Jimma. One can read the different letters of Emperor Minilik II that were sent to Abba Jifar of Jimma urging and giving him an ultimatum to stop his slave trade. Similar letters have been dispatched to the different local chiefs of the South to stop their abuse of the subjects and end to their institution of slavery.

The likes of BefeQadu Z. Hailu also think that it was emperor Minilik II who introduced the gabber system to the greater south. This is absolutely rubbish and historically inaccurate. Long before Minilik II, the southern chiefs and chiefdoms have invaded natives, expel them all from their land, finish those who resist the land grab and established a Gebar system by taking ALL the land of the endogenous people.

The Gebar system practiced by the southerners was perpetual every time the chiefs face reduction in production and income. Some of the groups of the Uouth used to do it every eight years. According to some, the Gebar system of the southern chiefs before Minilik was very oppressive and exploitative than that of Minilik’s time (Larebo, H. M. 1994. The Building of an Empire: Italian Land Policy in Ethiopia 1935-1941, Oxford, Clarendon Press. P. 247)

In fact, what has been untouched so far is the oppressive and exploitative nature of the Gebar system of the South before the advent of Minilik. Had there been oppression and exploitation in the greater south by the time of Minilik II, the oppression and exploitation was undertaken by the elites and chiefs of the clans of the south themselves. For instance, the explorers and oppressors of Wolayita, from 1560-1974, were the clans of Wolayita who belong to the Tigre dynasty. The explorers and oppressors of Kefa were the elites of Minjo clans. The list goes on…. In fact it was Minilik II who partially distributed the land that was accumulated on the hands of the ruling clans of Wolayita and Kefa to the southern subject clans who were reduced to landless by the Tigre and Minjo ruling elites of Wolayita and Kefa.

So, unless the likes of BefeQadu Z. Hailu have said that it been scientifically proved that oppression and exploitation apply only to Minilik II, the battle of Adwa is not a dispute between two colonial powers; Italy and Minilik II.

But, as I said earlier, the indoctrination methods of the leftists and separatists out there are working. They produced brainwashed minds and make people like Befekadu a hostage of distorted and manufactured stories. The other problem is that once someone is brainwashed, it is very difficult to be aware of it. A brainwashed state of mind and actions is completely normal to the brainwashed soul. That is what is exactly happening out there.

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