or Reality: Is the town of Adwa growing in Leaps
March 1, 1896 Ethiopian patriots achieved an
unprecedented triumph against Italy’s aggressive
colonization at the Battle of Adwa. It is exciting
to know that the honorable Prime Minister of
Ethiopia, Ato Haile Mariam Desalgne has laid down
a commemorative monument dedicated to the
establishment of the Adwa Pan-African University
120 years after this historic battle. Although the
infrastructure in Adwa is currently inadequate,
the prospective university center is key to
university’s site is very close to the Enda Aba
Girma Church, where the Italian Brigadier Vittorio
Dabormid and the remaining Italian brigade was
finally wiped out (Jonas, 2011). The stone
monument was erected very close to the statue and
burial place of the known Ethiopian hero, Ras
Alula (Aga Nega). In addition, the University will
be close by the church of Aba Germa, where some of
the belongings of the Holiness Abuna Paulos,
Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahado
Church, are found.
vision of the University is still evolving. It is
hoped that the Adwa Pan-African University will
have an unique competitive thematic niche.
However, it is my assumption that the Adwa
Pan-African University will be tailored to ensure
and depict Ethiopia’s pride and inspiration for
the victory of all black Africans who suffered
under the yoke of enslavement and colonialism,
especially within the context of the battle of
Adwa (See Jonas, 2011 and Desta, 2011).
is hoped that the Adwa Pan-African University will
contribute to enlightenment and diffuse innovative
and creative knowledge. More specifically,
the Adwa Pan-African University should be tailored
to serve as
a primary source for the preservation of artifacts
that are necessary to carry out research on the
Battle of Adwa. In addition, to clarify the
significance of the Battle of Adwa, the Adwa
Pan-African University should uncover local
resources and map out the landscape of Adwa
(Desta, 2012). Currently, the so called ‘Museum
for the Battle of Adwa’ that was inaugurated by
ex-President Girma Wolde Giorgis has remained as a
window dressing, with nice pictures of the
initiators and erected posts that bear worn out
and torn flags.
see no reason why the Adwa Pan African University
will not portray historical, cultural and artistic
significance for the education of the global
public if the various administrators and
functionaries who administer the university remain
committed to the aims of the projects and enough
funds are allocated to carry out this project.
Prime Minister Haile Mariam needs to reconsider
his statement of April 27, 2017 that ‘within the
last six years that he visited the town of Adwa,
it has grown in leaps and bounds’ (or in
Amharic, amounts to the difference between the sky
and the earth).’
the ramshackle Adwa hospital that provided
inadequate services for decades is in the process
of being repaired. The Queen Sheba Senior
Secondary School is in the process of being
renovated. And though not fully equipped, the
crammed Queen Sheba Secondary School has now a new
library built by the contributions made by the
Ethiopian Diasporas. And at a tremendous cost to
the residents, the center of the town has been
remodeled. But these minuscule and illusionary
changes should under no imagination make the Prime
Minister openly say that the town of Adwa has
grown in ‘leaps and bounds’.
sober reality is that the town of Adwa has become
case nobody had the guts to tell the Prime
Minister, let it be crystal clear that over the
years, the town of Adwa has deteriorated
example, when houses in commercial centers were
trashed to expand the center of the town, the
community was not given adequate notice and
several small business owners were forced to flee.
Some have already established their business in
another large towns. Those who remain in the town
waiting for the renovations to finish have
remained unemployed. Those who don’t have family
members have no other choice but to become
destitute beggars, and reside in the existing
churches and mosque compounds.
addition, the government failed to take the trash
of the depilated houses and deposit them in
landfills, so the accumulated dirt became mud,
which caused flash floods and created erosion
during the rainy season. The fast-moving
landslides then carried away the existing houses.
During the dry seasons, the dust causes
major health problems to the residents, such as
coughing, sneezing, and irritation of the eyes.
once very competitive Queen Sheba School used to
be regarded as the powerhouse for producing
Ethiopia’s intellectuals. Now, it is now on the
verge of collapse. Every year, few students pass
the twelfth Ethiopian Leaving Certificate Exam.
Most of those who graduate from the Technical and
Vocational Educational Training (TVET) program do
not remain in the town to contribute positive
effects on the community or don’t undergo
through internship before they graduate, making it
harder to find employment.
original Technical and Vocational Educational
Training (TVET) Center that this author paid
$30,000 USD to build is completely abandoned,
despite being built in 2006. The trashed former
TVET fully demonstrates that the local
administrators are not interested in maintaining
the welfare of the students, only in making their
political leaders happy. As a result, the school
has become a disincentive for other Diasporas not
to give assistance for other community needed
classrooms that were built in the 1960s for the
Queen Sheba Elementary School are now rented to
businesses by the woreda
administrators. The cadres have found it more
beneficial to use the rental funds for
administrative purposes instead of using the
classrooms for student learning activities.
Similarly, multimillion funds were promised by the
known philanthropist Dawit Gebreegzabher for the
establishment of historical sites and a modern
language training recreation center in the town of
Adwa. Though the project would have given the Adwa
community real hope, so far, the government has
not been willing to give the necessary permit.
historical churches at Yeha, which is in close
proximately to the town of Adwa could have been
fully utilized as a tourist paradise and as an
economic multiplier to the Adwa community.
Instead, nothing has been initiated to entice
the conclusion could be that the Prime
Minister’s impression of the town of Adwa
carries a great Ethiopian tradition of heroism of
the past. And as the saying goes, it is better to
be late than never. If the envisaged university
has ascertained the seed money to start and has
the necessary operational budget to run it
effectively, the multiplier effect of the
establishment of the Adwa Pan-African University
will rekindle the town of Adwa. But as it stands
now, objective reality clearly shows that over the
years the town has been backsliding.
mapping the road forward is likely challenging,
the establishment of the Adwa Pan African
University in the town of Adwa with the blessing
of Prime Minister Haile Mariam is indeed
remarkable. In addition, the movers and shakers of
this noble project need to be congratulated for
their hard work.
that the modes
operandi of the existing Ethiopian government
are based on “Good Democratic Governance” one
way of crosschecking the validity of some of the
illusive statements that the local administrators
might have given to the Prime Minister could be by
asking some of the residents of the town of Adwa.
After all, isn’t involvement of citizens in
public life at the local level one of the tenants
of a democratic system?
A. (2012). “Sustainable
Local Development: The Revitalization of the Town
of Adwa (Ethiopia) through community -Based
Journal of Academic Research in Business and
Social Sciences. Vol. 2, Issue, 2, pp.
A. 2011). “A note on the Economic Effects of
Queen Sheba School on the Town of Adwa.”
R. (2011). The Battle of Adwa: African Victory in
the Age of Empire.
Boston: Harvard University Press.