February 19, 2014

On this day February 19th

DARC Ethiophile Chronicles

On this day

19 February, 1937 Italian troops commence with raids into Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia. After the capture of Addis Ababa by the Italian troops, Benito Mussolini, the Fascist President of Italy remarked: " we have been patient for too long". He thus made clear that the capture of Addis Ababa was revenge for the Ethiopian victory in the Battle of Adowa where Italian forces suffered heavy losses.

In February 1937, Rodolfo Graziani, ordered Italian soldiers to raid the famous Ethiopian monastery Debre Libanos, and had the monks and nuns in the monastery executed. Afterwards, Italian soldiers destroyed native settlements in Addis Ababa, which resulted in over 30,000 Ethiopians being killed and their homes left burned to the ground.

Over the following week, numerous Ethiopians suspected or accused of opposing Italian rule were rounded up and executed, including members of the Black Lions, and other members of the aristocracy; most of the 125 young men whom Emperor Haile Sellassie 1st. had sent abroad to receive college education, and were still resident in Ethiopia, were killed. Many more were imprisoned, including collaborators like Ras Gebre Haywot, the son of Ras Mikael of Wollo, Brehane Markos, and even Ayale Gebre; the traitor who had helped the Italians.

In the 1950’s, Emperor Haile Sellassie 1st. built a new modern church on the old site. In addition, on the right hand hillside of the church stands a holy cave shrine which is also a source of holy water. A pretty walk leads up to this cave shrine and many monks and nuns still live in the neighboring caves.

The brutal massacre has come to be known as Yekatit 12. (February 19) thereby subsequently declared as Martyrs Day by Emperor Haile Sellassie 1st.

This is the basis for DARC inaugural Tribute to the Ancestors/Celebration of Life events being held both today February 19 and on Sunday February 23, 2014 on the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies.

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