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Unit 4: Nationalism, Industrialism, and Imperialism

Lesson C: European Division of the African Continent

Activity 9: Conflict and Resistance in Africa — Ethiopia


Ethiopia and Liberia were the only two countries in Africa to remain independent of European rule. Liberia was founded as a colony for freed American slaves and blacks. It was able to remain independent primarily through its relationship with the United States. Ethiopia had a long history and a strong military, but they had to fight off the Italians to remain free. In 1896, the Ethiopian leader Menelik II and his wife led Ethiopian troops in battle at Adwa. The Italians had over 17,000 troops while the Ethiopians had at least 70,000 troops. The Ethiopians were well equipped with weapons and were able to defeat the Italians. Since Ethiopia was recognized as a Christian country and they demonstrated that they had a Western style army, they were able to remain independent until the Italians invaded Ethiopia prior to World War II.

With this background knowledge, examine the image of the Battle of Adwa.

battle of adwa, 1896

Battle of Adwa, 1896 [1]


Notebook Icon

Written Activity - Notebook

In your notebook, respond to the following questions.

  • What can you infer about the events that took place in the Battle of Adwa? What makes you think this?
  • Who do you think created this image, the Ethiopians or Italians? Why?
  • How might an Ethiopian view this image? Why?
  • How might an Italian view this image? Why?


Page Notes:

[1] This image from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Battle_of_Adwa_tapestry_at_Smithsonian.png is licensed with Creative Commons Attribution. Attribution: Joshua Sherurcij.