My Life and Ethiopia’s Progress Vol 1 (Ch 36 pt2)

The Italians again brought along aeroplanes in waves of 20 each time, on 24th and 25th Teqemt (= 4th and 5th November 1935), and totally obliterated Gorrahei with the bombs they dropped.


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They killed the Somalis and their animals, who had come to the Gorrahei region to water their herds, and then entered Gorrahei.

Fitawrari Gwangul Kolase who was Grazmatch Afawarq’s replacement had not heard of the Italians’ entry into Gorrahei; he thus marched on with some 500 soldiers and reached a place called Hanaley, to the east of Sasabane. When he heard gunfire, he ordered his men to scatter quickly and widely amidst the bushes, crevices, and grass.


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Having waited a little, they saw Italian soldiers arriving in lorries, followed by quite a number of tanks. They lay silently until the Italians had gone forward. Later on, however, those in the tanks alighted from their vehicles to look at an engine that had broken down-and the men in the lorries got out as well. Gwangul’s soldiers were watching right and left, forward and rear, and when he gave them a sign they fired a volley and wiped out the lot. In this astonishing battle only a few of Gwangul’s soldiers were killed. But Gwangul himself was injured, and as his men remained there, being unable to push forward, he informed Dejazmatch Nasibu of his victory.

When Dejazmatch Nasibu heard of their brave action, he sent two lorries and arranged for the wounded to be taken to Dagahbur for medical attention.


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In this victory there were captured, in addition to some damaged machine-guns, four most excellent machine-guns as well as many rifles and bullets, and they were taken to Dagahbur.

After We had heard about the death of Grazmatch Afawarq and the occupation by the Italians of Gorrahei, news also reached Us that the Italians on the northern front were pushing on from Adwa towards Maqalle and that the governor of Maqalle, Dejazmatch Hayla Sellasse Gugsa, had betrayed his mother-country Ethiopia and Us, his Emperor, and had gone over to the Italians. In consequence, We made Dessie Our headquarters. Since We intended to wait while finding out about the position of the armies on the northern and southern front, before proceeding to Dessie We went down by plane to Jijjiga on 9th Hedar (= 19th November 1935).


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The next day We conferred the rank of Dejazmatch upon Grazmatch Afawarq who had given his life with such valour for his country’s independence and for the honour of his Emperor. This was intended to be a memorial for future generations and for history. Subsequently We bestowed the rank of officer upon several men. On the third day We assembled the army officers in full and gave them words of advice as to how to guard against bombs from aeroplanes and other dangers. We then arranged for the following written advice to be distributed:


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‘Since the Italian Government has for forty years now set out to destroy Ethiopia’s freedom by aggression, you heroes who are alive now and who were present at that time and those of you who were not at Adwa but whose fathers had been there, they have shown their heroism by shedding their blood and they have saved their country’s freedom and their patrimony from the hands of the enemy. Now the Italian Government is preaching to its people to avenge that battle which it lost forty years ago, claiming that in Ethiopia the army was a spent force and that, therefore, they would fight us without difficulty. The Italian Government has begun the war to make you who did not die share the fate of those who did, to destroy your freedom by abasing the well known bravery of Ethiopia’s sons which is recorded in world history, to invade your patrimony and your houses, to acquire as slaves your old parents, to make exiles of your sons, and to reckon Ethiopia’s heroes as if they did not exist, and to attack with its army in the north and in the south. All the governments of the world, being aware of Italy’s violent onslaught upon Ethiopia, are our supporters. While Italy believes that Ethiopia’s heroes have ceased to exist and persists in discounting those who do, the important thing is that it is your duty to revive your valour by defeating the hostile attack launched against your generation and against Ethiopia and by victoriously driving out from our land our enemies who have taken it by violence. Man has not been created to be everlasting. His end is death which severs him from this world. This death may come early or late, but for all mankind it is inescapable. It is man’s name alone that remains as a memorial until the world, which appears to hover beyond the grave, passes altogether.


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When this our enemy fought us at Adwa, forty years ago, Ethiopia’s brave men beat him victoriously; hence their names will remain unforgotten, mentioned forever, not only yours who are alive but even theirs who were lost there. It is the main source of pride for the present generation. Again, even for a young man, as the enemy attacks him robbing him of his country and his patrimony and carrying his family into exile, it is the death that comes upon him in battle which is indeed his greatest wish and source of pride.

Even the hen will struggle to save her chicks from the vulture. This being so, do recognize that it is proper for a man to fight with the enemy, however many thousands of times the latter may surpass him in knowledge and strength!


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Since death is thus in the end ineluctable for mankind, how great will be your honour if you lose your life fighting the invading enemy to establish an inextinguishable reputation, to prevent aged parents, wife and children, being exiled and, while today they live in dignity in their free country of Ethiopia, if that liberty were to be destroyed, to prevent them sinking into humiliation and this their dignity being lost. Your glorious name will endure, being praised by your children and your families and being recalled by world history. We have been aware for some time of our enemy’s intention to carry through this plan of aggression and We, your Emperor, ruling you in time of peace, have told you of Our resolve to shed Our blood being amidst you in time of war. Thus We are now with you.


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Since you know about the multitude of different instruments of war the Italians have been accumulating, they cannot cause you much injury. The thing which is called “aeroplane” is intended to cause shock by the noise of the bombs it drops and to weaken the heart, but other useful things it does not do. While present-day modes of warfare may not cause you much damage, it is necessary to follow the advice We have given you through your respective officers, so as to enable you to attack your enemy. In order to defend your country’s independence, We shall not deprive you of Our support to lighten your burdens in terms of money and provisions in all your difficulties which you may encounter in this place at which you are stationed. And now, lest any kind of trouble should befall the kinsmen and families of the heroes who have laid down their lives, while carrying out their duty, for the honour of their country and their families, We shall protect them as Emperor and father. We have, therefore, instructed Our military representatives that their names should come before Us in writing, through their respective commanding officers. We are forever with you until Our life expires.’

10th Hedar 1928 (= 20th November 1935).

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As regards the deployment of the army, if they went down to the central Ogaden, the countryside there would be one of severe desert conditions without sufficient water and food for the army or grass and fodder for the animals. We, therefore, gave orders that they should remain reconnoitring in the area from Jijjiga to Dagahbur and that, if the Italian army crossed the desert and made an approach towards them, they should then open hostilities; they should further let us know about everything that occurred at any time by sending messages to wherever Our headquarters will be.

Subsequently We set out by automobile from Jijjiga to Harar; at Harar We arranged a lunch party for Our retinue and then went down to Dire Dawa. On the morrow, 11th Hedar (= 21st November 1935) We returned to Addis Ababa by air.

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