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Menelik's Impact On Ethiopia Essay

2210 words - 9 pages

European colonization caused devastation and humiliation towards African colonies. The imperialistic colonizers were in total dominance with their substantial amounts of power over these colonies. They had stronger militaries, and more advanced weaponry. In theory, African colonies had little to no chance of remaining independent, but remarkably, Ethiopia managed to do it. Ethiopia remained independent and prospered due to the efficient leadership that came from Emperor Menelik II. Menelik ruled during a tough time in African history, where he was confronted with many challenges; mostly having to do with European Imperialism. Menelik II successfully held off European imperialism through his ...view middle of the document...

The Italians were striving to become a major world power, and imperialism was a great way to gain this power. Therefore, Italy began to make their move on the next available territory, Ethiopia. Menelik’s first encounter with Italy was when Italy had initially gained influence in the neighboring country, Eritrea, then shortly after, they later proposed the Treaty of Wuchale, which would recognize their influence in Eritrea. Menelik signed the treaty without realizing the underlying scandal. The problem with this treaty was that it was written in two different versions; an Amharic version and an Italian version. The Italians schemed Menelik by changing article 17 from saying in the Italian version that, “The Emperor consents to use the Italian government for all the business he does with all the other Powers or Governments” to saying in the Amharic version, “The Emperor has the option to communicate with the help of the Italian government for all matters that he wants with the kings of Europe.” Menelik found out about the scandal, and immediately refuted the treaty. Meanwhile, Menelik had been importing mass amounts of firearms during this time, along with expanding his territory. During the dispute of the treaty, France sided with Ethiopia, arguing the falsity of the treaty. Menelik refused to agree with the terms of this treaty, and the Italians began to invade Ethiopia. The Italians eventually marched towards the capital and the Battle of Adwa was fought. Ethiopia won the Battle of Adwa, causing Ethiopian independence was recognized by Italy.
Menelik’s action to import firearms was pivotal; he may have not obtained his victory at the Battle of Adwa without this action. During the dispute with Italy, Menelik began preparing for war before it was too late. Menelik imported thousands of guns, along with millions of bullets from Italy, Italy distributed these guns in act of gratitude, in order to try and soften Menelik’s stance on the Treaty of Wuchale. Menelik also seeked out and purchased firearms from local resident dealers in Harer, Ethiopia. In addition, he imported weapons from profit seeking gunrunners in the French colony of Obok, located in current day Djibouti. This importation of mass amounts of firearms eliminated the leverage the Italian military had, which was their advanced weaponry. Firearms were extremely expensive, but Menelik was able to pay for it through his expansion of territory. Previously, Menelik chose to expand his territory through conquest, then he shifted the main power of his country from the north, to the conquered land in the south. This shift in power gave Menelik new economic opportunities. Formerly, Ethiopia’s economy was weakening due to the lack of resources in the north. Luckily for Ethiopia, Menelik’s conquest obtained new resources such as gold, ivory, musk, coffee, hides, and even slaves. Menelik used majority of these new resources to purchase his firearms, his action to do so showed wise forethought...

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