Toronto – Ethiopia on Sunday inaugurated the Adwa Museum project in the heart of Addis Ababa. The Memorial Adwa Museum building has eleven blocks and five floors. In her speech during the inaugural ceremony, Adanech Abiebie, Mayor of Addis Ababa city, said “Adwa Victory Memorial – with its eleven blocks and five floors- is built with architectural excellence in a way that matches the fruit of the patriot’s victory.” She described it as a timeless edifice.
The building is on five hectares of land in the location where marchers to the battle of Adwa – from the Addis Ababa area – started the long march to Adwa- North Ethiopia where the battle took place in 1896. The facility has an auditorium with a capacity to hold 2500 participants. The edifice has several gates; East Patriots Gate, West Patriots Gate, North Patriots Gate, South Patriots Gate, Horsemen Gate, Patriots Gate, and Pan Africanism Gate.
“Do not doubt our stand,” Abiy Ahmed said during his speech on the occasion of Adwa Museum inauguration. He took the occasion to make a political point. It appears that he was exploiting the ceremony to send a message that the popular support he lost and the growing skepticism as to the motive of his government is rooted in “doubt” rather than the performance of his government.
“Those of you who doubt… those of you who doubt our stand, who our speech, pause and pay attention. Do not let strangers take away your mind. we are not one who could not be stopped by strangers for we are the children of our fathers” he emphasized.
He labeled detractors of his government as “banda” (translates to collaborators).
Ethiopian President, Sahle Work Zewde, was the last person to speak at the ceremony. The speaker after her was an Artificial Intelligence (AI) power version of Emperor Menelik II – the remarkable Ethiopian Monarch who mobilized Ethiopians for the Victory of Adwa and put Ethiopia on a modernization path. The AI-powered speech did however sound anachronistic in the sense that words of political cadres from the regime are easily traceable.
Sahel Work Zewde said, “The rise of a brother against a brother is not a pride for any country. It is something that causes one to hang one’s head in shame,” stressing her point with a pointed index finger.
Highlighting that Ethiopians have been proud of what our fathers did in history, she said “We have to achieve victory in our own time and pass. This [the conflict in the country] never fits [our history]”
She particularly highlighted the conflict going on in the country. Expressing her views with “that is it” kind of body language expression and looking in the direction of front-seat government leaders including Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, she said “It is obvious what the solution is. We all have to come to our senses, have dialogue, and move the country forward,” she said. Implied in her speech is that the government of which she is a part has to work for peace too.
Sahle Work Zewde also recognized the contributions of all those involved in the project. She credited Abiy Ahmed for the initiative and particularly praised Adanech Abiebie, Mayor of Addis Ababa city, for the project.
In a speech at the event, Adanech Abibie said “The victory of Adwa is the outcome of genuine and strong unity that all generations learn from.”
Public Reaction to Adwa Museum
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed lost the support he enjoyed – in the country and abroad – soon after he made his first speech in the Ethiopian parliament following the ruling party’s disclosure – in April 2018 – that he was selected to replace Hailemariam Desalegn who resigned in February 2018.
His failure to protect the security and safety of Ethiopians, especially in the Oromia and Benishangul Gumuz regions of Ethiopia, the devastating wars he has been waging for more than three years now – first under the guise of fighting the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) but devastating three regions (Afar, Amhara and Tigray) and now in the Amhara region (it has been more than seven months now), the prevalent and deepening corruption across government structures and the unbearable (and worsening) cost of living the country are among some of the issued that are casting doubt on his rhetoric about the prosperity of Ethiopia.
The level of kidnapping and anarchism in the Oromia region has been worsening to the point that traveling a mere 40 kilometers outside of the capital Addis Ababa has become a risky business that could cost life and property.
The Oromia regional administration has demolished hundreds of thousands of homes under the guise of “illegal construction” and reduced hundreds of thousands of families to homelessness.
Cultural encroachments to Ethiopian values through agreements that his government signs have also caused great skepticism in the country. Recently, Ethiopia’s Religious Council released a statement in that regard.
The source of financing for big prestige projects like the estimated $15 billion palace construction – which is also known as “chaka project” – is not known to Etihopians and to the Ethiopian Parliament. PM Abiy Ahmed declined to reveal the financial source to the parliament.
The inauguration of the Adwa Museum in Addis Ababa came weeks after the latest string of atrocities government forces committed in the Amhara region of Ethiopia. More than 100 civilians were brutally executed in the streets of Merawi – a town thirty-five kilometers from Bahir Dar. Shocking video released on social media on Monday this week purportedly shows bodies littered in the streets of the town.
While the edifice in the heart of Addis Ababa to commemorate Adwa is something that residents in the city and Ethiopians in general see as positive ( based on conversations ongoing on social media platforms), it does not appear to have the power to entice Ethiopians to forget what Abiy Ahmed’s government brought about to many families – in the capital Addis Ababa and the northern parts of Ethiopia.
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