Adwa Victory Day – March 2, 2023

Adwa Victory Day is a national holiday in Ethiopia, which is observed on March 2 every year. This day celebrates Ethiopia’s victory over Italy in the year 1896. After many years of conflict and war with Italy, Ethiopia was able to defeat Italian forces and secure victory in the northern town of Adwa. People pay tribute to their ancestors who helped present-day Ethiopians secure their independence from European rule by coming out into the streets, having parades, and telling old tales. This day is an important milestone as it stands for the celebration of Ethiopian sovereignty.

History of Adwa Victory Day

Adwa Victory Day is a symbol of African resistance against colonial powers. It all started when Ethiopia, a country made up of semi-independent kingdoms, was under the rule of the Ethiopian Emperor Menelik II in the 19th century. Although most of Africa had already been placed under colonial rule, Ethiopia was able to remain a sovereign nation with a strong monarch and a competent army.

In 1889, the Ethiopian Emperor Menelik II signed the Treaty of Wuchale with Italy for additional financial and military support. However, plans changed when it was discovered that there were significant differences between the Italian version of the treaty and the Ethiopian one. The Italians had understood that the treaty would mean Ethiopia coming under the control of Italy.

This misinterpretation led to the First Italo-Ethiopian War in the year 1895. The Italians had some initial success in the war but in the Battle of Adwa, the Ethiopian troops were able to completely defeat their opponents. The Battle proved to be a decisive defeat for the Italians and forced them to retreat to their native lands. The battle of Adwa was especially significant because it was the first victory of an African country over a European colonial power. This resistance was seen as the inspiration for the Pan-African Movement that would henceforth spread through the entire African continent in the 20th century and rid the continent of its colonial oppressors.

Another treaty was then signed in October 1896, in which Italy recognized Ethiopia as an independent state. This was the Treaty of Addis Ababa.

Adwa Victory Day timeline

19th Century
Ethiopia is Ruled by Menelik II

Ethiopia is a sovereign nation with a strong monarch and a formidable army.

1889
The Treaty of Wuchale is Signed

Ethiopian Emperor Menelik II signs the Treaty of Wuchale with Italy for additional financial and military support.

1895
Ethiopia’s Conflict With Italy

The misinterpretation of the wording of the Treaty of Wuchale leads to the First Italo-Ethiopian War.

1896
Ethiopia’s Victory Over Italy

The Treaty of Addis Ababa is signed and Italy recognizes Ethiopia as an independent state.

Adwa Victory Day FAQs

How is Adwa Victory Day celebrated?

Many public celebrations take place on this day. In Addis Ababa, government officials, patriots, diplomats, and the general public gather for parades at Menelik Square.

What is the meaning of Adwa?

Adwa is the name of the town in northern Ethiopia where the battle between the Ethiopians and the Italians was fought.

Has Ethiopia been colonized?

Apart from a five-year Italian occupation, Ethiopia has never been colonized. 

How To Observe Adwa Victory Day

  1. Talk to people about this day

    Communication is the best way to spread awareness. Let others know about this important day by having a conversation about it.

  2. Read up

    Transport yourself to the Battle of Adwa by reading history books about the war. Gain some insight into the many facets of this conflict and the determination of the Ethiopian people.

  3. Watch a documentary

    If you love visual storytelling, documentaries are for you. Find a film about this historic day on the internet.

5 Facts About The Battle Of Adwa

  1. An army of everybody

    The Ethiopian army did not just have traditional soldiers fighting but also farmers, pastoralists, and women.

  2. The Battle guaranteed Ethiopia’s independence

    Ethiopia’s victory in the Battle of Adwa made it the only African country to have never been colonized.

  3. The enemy in close quarters

    The town of Adwa is located near the southern border of Eritrea, which was occupied by Italian soldiers.

  4. Ethiopia’s very own writing system

    The Ethiopians developed their own liturgical language called Geez.

  5. Ethiopians spoke an Afrasian language

    The Afrasian language spoken by the Ethiopians formed the origin of almost all languages presently spoken in Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia.

Why We Observe Adwa Victory Day

  1. To honor the courage of many

    This day is observed to remember the sacrifice and courage of the many soldiers and civilians who fought to secure Ethiopia’s independence. It is a day to honor their memory.

  2. To celebrate independence

    Ethiopians’ nationalistic spirit is embodied in this day. The Adwa Victory Day celebrates independence from colonial rule.

  3. To be aware of the past

    As important as it is to look ahead, it is equally as important to look back into history. Being aware of what happened in the past helps us make better choices for the future.

Adwa Victory Day dates

YearDateDay
2022March 2Wednesday
2023March 2Thursday
2024March 2Saturday
2025March 2Sunday
2026March 2Monday

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