Ethiopians celebrated Emperor Menelik’s birthday, paid pilgrimage to his hometown

Ethiopians, both in the country and abroad, remembered Emperor Menelik II birthday. Many Ethiopians see him as the architect reunification of Ethiopia.

Menelik II _ birth day
Oromo horsemen from Shewa celebrating emperor Menelik’s birth day in Angolala. Photo : courtesy of of Dr. Abebe Haregewoin

August 19, 2019

Emperor Menelik II would have been 175 years old. Those Ethiopians who are far away from their country and active social media have celebrated  his birthday online by sharing pictures and quotes of emperor Menelik II while those in Ethiopia have organized events, some even paying pilgrimage to his birth place.  

Residents in Bahir Dar have organized a formal ceremony on Sunday and celebrated the birthday for Fitawurari Gebeyehu Abagora, Empress Taitu (wife of Emperor Menelik) and for Emperor Menelik himself. 

Like Menelik, Fitawurari Gebeyehu or Abagora in his horse’s name, one of Emperor Menelik’s prominent military commander who was killed during the battle of Adwa, would have been 175 years old.  Like Emperor Menelik, he was born in Angolala in Shewa. 

Empress Taitu, the wife of Emperor Menelik who is known for her wisdom, devotion to the Ethiopian church and for her military strategy, would have been 179 years old.  

A group of youth gathered in the capital Addis Ababa paid a pilgrimage to Angola to celebrate Emperor Menelik II. 

Menelik Birth Day _ Angolala
Group of youth paying pilgrimage to Angolala, emperor Menelik II’s hometown. Photo : courtesy of Dr. Abebe Haregewoin.

Considerable number of ethnic Oromo horsemen have also celebrated his birthday riding their horses to the birth place. 

Born on August 17, 1844, he was baptized as Sahlemariam. He was taken prisoner as a child soon after his father, Hailemelekot, died in 1855 -the year Kassa Hailu of Quara was enthroned as Emperor Tewodros II of Ethiopia. 

The young Menelik, who was said to be liked by Emperor Tewodros, remained in the Royal fortress of Maqdela until his escape in 1865.

As it turned out, he was the future emperor of Ethiopia and ruled Ethiopia between 1889 and 1913. 

Among his greatest achievement during his reign is the reunification of Ethiopian territories after several hundred years. More so, he is known in Ethiopian history as an emperor who introduces modernity in a range of areas. 

However, Ethiopian historians seem to think that it is emperor Tewodros II who is the first in the line of modernizing Ethiopia. 

In terms of character, Menelik is best remembered for his benevolence and compassion to the point that he is endeared as “Emeye” to glorify his compassionate personality. In contemporary Ethiopian politics, radical Oromo-Ethno-nationalists tarnish his name for brutality claiming that he “killed five million Oromos, and cut breasts of Oromo women,” among other allegations. 

Bravery and diplomatic skills are also important qualities that epitomize Emperor Menelik. Apart from various local battles, his military leadership skills are demonstrated in the Battle Of Adwa from which he emerged victorious over the Italian Colonial Army in the year 1896.

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