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This Unit Is About The Halo Ethiopian crisis of 1935-41 as a result of Italian invasion and declaration of Ethiopian as a colony.


A crisis is a period of instabilities, political chaos, fighting and confusion. It refers to the instabilities and chaos which occurred in Ethiopia in 1935 and 1941 as a result of Italian invasion of Ethiopia, the declaration of Ethiopia as a colony and the occupation of Ethiopian territory by the Italian forces.

In 1935 Mussolini the leader of the Fascist government in Italy decided on the invasion of Ethiopia and on its control by Italy. At that time Ethiopia was ruled by Emperor Haile Selassie.

The causes of the Italian invasion of Europe were;

Mussolini’s desire to avenge for the defeat of Italy by Ethiopia at Adowa in 1896 during the reign of Menelik 2. Mussolini thought that the invasion and defeat of Ethiopia would remove the shameful scar of Adowa and show that no African country had the ability to defeat a European power and neither the moral right to do so.

Italy’s late arrival in the colonial arena. Italy entered the race of the scramble and partition late. As a result she got very few territories and the ones that she got were not economically rewarding. She got Italian Somali land, Eritrea on the red sea coast both of which were poor and Libya which was a desert with huge mountain ranges. As a result , Italians cast covetous eye an Ethiopia in order to control Ethiopia because it looked attractive with its good soils., good climate so that Ethiopia could be linked to Italian Somali land to create an empire in the horn of Africa.

Italy’s desire to display its military might and prove her worth to the other European countries. After the defeat of Italy at Adowa in 1896 and her poor performance in World War 1, she was regarded as unimportant in European affairs. In 1922, the fascists took control and made social and economic changes and they made reforms in the army. The army was modernized, expanded, trained in modern techniques of fighting and equipped with modern equipment’s which were manufactured in Italy. Mussolini therefore invaded Ethiopia because he wanted to defeat it to show other European countries that now Italy was an important military and political power to reckon with.

The economic depression of the 1930’s. In early 1930’s there was an economic depression which swept the whole of Europe. During the depression, there were high levels of unemployment, low level of industrial activity, shortage of goods and services and poor standards of living. Italy as one of the countries affected by the economic depression invaded Ethiopia in order to control it and to reap benefits from there which would help in solving the problems arising from the depression because Ethiopia would provide market for Italian goods supply cheap raw materials for Italian industries and foster employment for Italians both directly and indirectly.

The emergency of fascism and its entrenchment in Italy. Fascism was a political philosophy which believed that the powerful nations had the right to control and occupy the weak nations. When Mussolini came to power in 1922, he popularized the philosophy among the Italians who desired the creation and revival of a big Italian empire like what had existed during the time of Alexander the great, Julius Ceaser ( when the roman empire was extensive).

The unfair treaty of Versailles in 1919 following World War 1. The victor powers signed a treaty with defeated Germany in the town of Versailles in France. According to the treaty, Germany lost all her colonial possessions both in Africa and Europe. In the sharing of territories, Italy was not given any territory which had belonged to Germany in Africa and even in Europe, her gains were minimal. As a result Italy felt she was unfairly treated and decided to compensate herself by invading and controlling Ethiopia.

Mussolini’s desire to raise his prestige. By 1935 Mussolini’s internal policies were greatly resented especially the elites so in an attempt to raise his prestige and divert peoples attention from his bad policies decided to invade Ethiopia hoping that success in foreign policy was reduce the discontent which the elites, capitalists and nationalist had towards their ruler.

The desire by Mussolini to civilize Ethiopia. He claimed that it was the responsibility of the civilized nations of the world to civilize those nations which were still backward. On the basis on this, Mussolini decided on Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia in order to spread Italian culture, language and Christianity. He also asserted the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie was a barbaric tyrant, anti-progress and supported slavery and as such he (Mussolini) felt justified in planning the attack on Ethiopia.

The general ill feeling and jealousy of European states towards Ethiopia. The Europeans generally resented the fact that Ethiopia had not been colonized and had enjoyed her independence for over 2000years. Ethiopia was adored by the other African states and was regarded as an icon of African nationalism. As a result the other European states supported Italy in invading and colonizing Ethiopia to show that Ethiopia as an African state was still inferior to Italy as a European state.

The Hoare-laval pact of 1935. In April 1935, the British foreign secretary Samuel Hoare secretly met with the French secretary of state Pierre Laval at Stressa and agreed that they could not interfere with Mussolini for he decided to invade Ethiopia. Later the two secretly met with Mussolini at Zeilla where they agreed that Ethiopia should have divided into two i.e. the north for Italy and the south for the emperor. They also agreed in the tripartite arrangement that Britain, France and Italy should jointly supervise the economic and political reforms needed in Ethiopia. Mussolini took the pact and the treaty of Zeilla as indirect permission from Britain and France to invade Ethiopia.

Weakness of the League of Nations. The League of Nations had been created after World War 1 in 1919 as an institution to maintain peace in the world. The league was dominated by Britain and France which compromised with Mussolini and Hitler. They adopted the appeasement policy and because of this Mussolini knew that the league of nations would not interfere with him for he decided to invade Ethiopia more over the league lacked the membership of Russia and America which would have been able to control Mussolini’s general activities towards Ethiopia.


On 3rd October 1935, an Italian force of 12,000 troops supported by 100,000 soldiers from soldiers from Somalia and Eritrea and covered by 345 fighter planes invaded Ethiopia. The Ethiopian forces were defeated and the Empower was later forced to live in exile.

Ethiopia was taken over by the Italian forces and later in 1936 declared an Italian colony. Ethiopia’s defeat was because of the following reasons;

Mussolini had total support from all the Italians back at home. Before the actual attack Mussolini convinced the Italians about the need to attack Ethiopia arousing their nationalistic sediments as a result, they offered financial, military and moral support and this made the venture successful.

Prior military preparation by Italy. Mussolini’s government had done thorough military preparation/ modern armaments were manufactured, fighter planes were made ready, the Italian troops were trained and grilled in modern welfare and the number of army men had been expanded. All these preparations ensured Italian success over Ethiopia which was ill prepared.

Disunity among the Ethiopians. The non- Amharic people like the Wallo, Gallo, and Sidamo didn’t cooperate with the Amharic tiger people of the south. This gave chance to the Italians to get information free, guides, hideouts and this enabled the Italians to succeed in the invasion.

The indirect support of Britain and France to Italy. Britain and France the most important powers of the League of Nations allowed Italy to stock pile power arms in Somalia. The two countries were not serious in imposing sanctions on Italy but they were hard on Ethiopia whom they did not allow to buy fire arms from any European country. This contributed to military weakness of Ethiopia leading to her defeat by the Italian forces.

The weaknesses of the League of Nations. The League of Nations lacked impartiality because both Britain and France were interested in the horn of Africa; they did not want a powerful African kingdom in the area. So they did not have a military organ which would have checked on Italian aggressive activity. This contributed to Ethiopia’s defeat.

The backward state of the Ethiopian army. The Ethiopian army was not modernized, the fighters lacked up to date armaments like modern guns, bullets and had no fighter planes. They had eleven old ones seven of which could not get off the ground and the three operational ones were too slow and on the other hand Italy had got fighter planes which would take photographs and throw bombs on the Ethiopian bases with accuracy. Consequently the Ethiopians would not put up with the effective resistance against the Italians.

Economic backwardness/ poverty of Ethiopia. By 1935 Ethiopia was still economically backward. It had few industries, a poor transport system which hindered mobilization and mobility of the armed forces because of the poverty, the Ethiopians could not pay people to spy for information. They did their work in the open, they had to carry heavy luggage over long distances and all this made them vulnerable to the invading forces.

Lack of help to Ethiopia from her neighbors. Ethiopia’s neighbors like Egypt, Sudan, Kenya and Eritrea were still under colonial rule, they were so poor to offer financial or military help to Ethiopia and to make matters worse Somalia and Eritrea provided troops to Italy to fight against Ethiopia as a result, Ethiopia fought on a small island against Italian invasion.

The determination of Italy. Right from 1922 the fascist government was determined to invade Ethiopia and defeat her because of the Adowa incident. As a result the Italians used all means to ensure Ethiopia defeat. They used planes to spray poisonous gas on Ethiopian camps, they detached and bribed some of the races to betray the people for example Ras Gugsa wholed his company fighters in an Italian ambush in 1935.

Dictatorship of the emperor. By 1935 Haile Selassie practiced dictatorship, abolished trade union activities, favored the nobles, did not recognize the rights of small groups of parliament to have a say in government and because of this show of dictatorship, his government did not have strong support of the people and did not have many professional soldiers to fight Italy.

Racism of whites who did not want a powerful African kingdom in northern Africa because some of them believed that the right to rule African people belonged exclusively to the whites so European countries directly and indirectly gave support to Italy to invade Ethiopia.

Poor military strategy, the Ethiopian races chose to fight individually in their provinces with poorly trained, equipped and demoralized fighters. They ignored the advice of the Emperor to use guerilla warfare mainly in mountains other than fight conventional warfare using pitched battles in the open plains, as a result the armies in the open areas became the targets for the fighter planes of the Italians to drop poison and gas bombs. This reduced the efficiency of Ethiopian forces and led to their defeat.

Lack of large scale nationalization by 1935, large scale nationalization had not developed in Ethiopia. The peasants did not help the armed forces in the struggle against the Italians and this undermined the strength of the Ethiopian forces.

Abduction of Emporer Haile Selassie on 2nd may 1936, the emperor realized that his country would not escape the Italian occupation so he decided to leave the country and go to exile in Britain. The fleeing of the Emporer left the army without a commander. It demoralized the Ethiopian fighting forces and gave more courage to the invading forces of Italy and this ensured the success of the Italians in the invasion.

After 17 months of war, Ethiopia was defeated by the Italian troops and she was annexed by Italy as a colony.


It ended her long term independence and Ethiopia lost her prestige among African states as an independent and sovereign state.

It increased disunity within Ethiopia. Italian fascists took over power, they tried to create disunity in Ethiopia, they bribed some of the races to be on their side with positions in the new government for example Ras Haile of Gajjum and Ras Gugsa were made administrators in the new government run by the Italians, also encouraged the Somalis, the Galle And the Walla to rebel against the government causing further disintegration of Ethiopia.

The crisis led to loss of lives and property. During the invasion and the actual occupation, many Ethiopians were killed on the battle field. Some were killed by poisonous gas sprayed from the planes, 3000 officials who had been working with the Emporer were murdered. Some of the priests who refused to cooperate with the Italians were killed for examples at Debra Lbanes monastery about 350 priests were killed and in the Grazian massacres of 1937 about 20000 people were killed in a space of two weeks. This great loss of man power hindered Ethiopian development for some time.

The crisis formed the base for the conflicts between Ethiopians, Somalis and Eritrea in the 1970’s later on.

The crisis led to the loss of wealth by Ethiopia. The Italians looted Ethiopian property including religious obelisks and the golden state of the “lion of Judah”. This deprived Ethiopia of her culture and wealth. Some of the land of Ethiopians was taken by the Italian settlers.

The crisis led to the wide spread and recurring famine. The poisonous gas whish was sprayed destroyed the fertility of the soils and people could not cultivate during the years of insurgency.

It increased the popularity of Haile Selassie as a hero and nationalist among the black Africans and this was seen in the establishment of the Rastafarian cult in the West Indies and his reception by the African nationalist at Liverpool in 1936.

The crisis led to the foundation of the guerrilla movement under Rasimru with the intension of fighting for liberation of Ethiopia from Italian rule. This was the black lion’s movement.

This crisis led to solidarity between the church and the politicians in Ethiopia during the time of occupation. The church provided over whelming support to the Ethiopian and liberation fighters.

It led to Ethiopia benefiting in Italian investment between 1936 and 1940. Italy invested about 100 million pounds in investments, roads were constructed, town buildings, education in Ethiopia although they were mainly used by Italians.

It led to the creation of a friendship between Ethiopia and USA because president Roosevelt of UAS invited Haile Selassie to the UNO general assembly to state the case of Ethiopia and this helped to uplift Ethiopia’s image in international affairs.

In Europe the crisis led to the establishment of an organization called “The international Association of friends of Abyssinia”, in 1937. This organization was instrumental in mobilising funds and other logistical support which helped in the liberation of Ethiopia in 1941.

The crisis served as a catalyst to bring together Africans in Europe West Indies and afro Americans.

The Italian invasion strengthened the pan African movement and its activities under the leadership of Africans in the diaspora under Marcus Gurvey, Edward Dubois and Sylvester Williams.

The crisis propelled the calling of the 5th pan African congress at Manchester where the Africans in the charter of the congress declared the adoption of the use of violence if necessary to end colonial rule. The declaration said in part,” We are determined to be free, if the European world is determined to rule mankind by force, then the Africans as the last resort may have to appeal to the use of force in an attempt to achieve freedom even if such force destroys them and the world.”

The crisis led to the dismantling of the dismantling of the League of Nations because as a result if the crisis, many countries ceased their activity in the league in protest and after World War 2, the League of Nations was replaced by the United Nations Organization (UNO).

Significance of the crisis to African nationalism

The crisis led to the increased expansion of African nationalism because the African nationalists used the invasion and cruelty of the Italians as a justification for condemning and de-campaigning colonization and the increase in the desire to end colonial rule.

It sowed the seeds of violence against colonialism in Africa. The success of the use of violence by the black lion’s movement in resisting the Italians between 1936 and 1941 served as an imitative for other countries to form radical and militant movements which were used to get rid of colonial rule. For example the Mau Mau rising in Kenya between 1952 and 56, the liberation armed movements in Angola, Mozambique Algeria and Guinea Bissau in the 1950’s.

The crisis deepened the political consciousness of the blacks who realized that the whites will always be united by racial instinct against the blacks so the blacks had to do all they could to get rid of colonialism and domination by the whites.

The crisis exposed the white man’s conspiracy against the Africans and propelled the need for Africans to have independence from colonialism.

The crisis triggered off demonstrations and discontent in the entire black world against colonialism as the Africans in the continent and the diaspora collectively supported Ethiopia against Italy. This collective support for the oppressed African country promoted the growth of nationalism.

The crisis undermined the credibility of the League of Nations and later led to the fading out and its being replaced by the UNO which was sympathetic to the cause of African nationalism.

The crisis unearthed the miss- deeds of colonialism because between 1936 and 1941, the Italians grabbed land, imposed heavy taxes and forced labor on the Ethiopians, they monopolized trade and all this unfairness and exploitation served to strengthen the demand for independence by other African countries.

It initiated the use of guerilla warfare and guerilla movements in many African countries because the activities of the black lions movement especially use of guerilla war fare other than conventional war fare in fighting against the colonialists in Algeria, Angola, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

The crisis strengthened the anti-colonial activities of the West African students union which recruited and mobilized youth from West Africa to fight the Italians in West Africa. They collected funds and even some students in Nigeria and Ghana joined the black lion’s movement to fight. This Trans national unity of purpose and collective effort promoted African nationalism.

It provided a lesson on how Africans could deal with colonial oppression from the example of the black lion’s movement; Africans became aware that where diplomacy and constitutionalism could not work, use of force was necessary in expelling Europeans from Africa so as to attain political and social independence.

The crisis influenced churches in Africa to help nationalistic struggles against colonial rule for example the Ethiopian church helped in the guerilla movements and this showed churches in other African countries the need to support the liberation struggles for example the church in South Africa supported the ANC in the struggle against apartheid.

The crisis led to the establishment of the independent church movements in many African countries which became a platform for protests and de-campaigning of colonial rule which supplemented the work of colonialists in the decolonization of different African countries like Malawi, Kenya and Zimbabwe.

The crisis acted as a forerunner to World War 2 which had great positive impact to African nationalism.

It exposed the fact that Europeans wouldnot be trusted and this increased African nationalistic activities.

The crisis catalyzed the activities of the pan African movements which resulted into the formation of the O.A.U IN 1963 as an organization to protect the sovereignty of African states and promoting peace and unity among African states.

Reasons for the defeat of Italy by Ethiopia in 1941

Between 1936 and 1940, the Emperor Haile Selassie lived in Britain which he used as a base to solicit for international support against Italian imperialism in Ethiopia.

In 1940, the Emperor came to Egypt and from there he mobilized Ethiopian patriots. He got into contact with the black lions movement and the forces of the Emperor entered and expelled the Italians in 1941 after a series of successful battles. The Ethiopians were able to win this time round because of the following reasons;

The outbreak of World War 2. When the war broke out in 1939, Italy mobilized her troops to join Germany and japan to fight against Britain, France and their allies. Italian troops were withdrawn from Ethiopia to concentrate on fighting in Europe moreover Italy’s joining with Germany compelled Britain to support Haile Selassie and Ethiopia in fighting to dislodge the Italians.

The extensive assistance given to Ethiopia. USA, South Africa, Britain, France and Australia all gave moral, material and financial support to the Ethiopians in the struggle against Italy between 1940 and 1941. The British navy helped the troops which came from Egypt through Sudan and the troops from Kenya through the red sea and these worked together with Ethiopians to dislodge the Italians from Ethiopia.

The formation and activities of the Black Lion’s Movement. In 1936, some Ethiopian patriots and elites the remnants of the army formed the Black Lion’s Movement under Ras Imru. The movement organized a guerilla war against the Italians. The movement spread anti- Italian propaganda. Its guerrilla fighters attacked Italian administrative posts, barracks and installations in the country side and this undermined Italian strength and led to the defeat by Ethiopia.

The help of the Ethiopian church. The church leadership in Ethiopia including the priests and bishops refused to condemn the activities of the black lion’s movement. It urged the local people to resist Italian rule. The priest in the monasteries channeled help to the guerillas in form of arms, food and medicine. The monasteries for example Debra Libanois were hiding places for members of the BLM and the help of the church undermined Italian strength and led to the defeat of Italian troops in 1941.

The language barrier; Ethiopia had many languages including Amharic, Tignnya, Somali, Galla and Atar. These were too many for the Italians to master so Italians fighters and administrators were easily misguided. Italian troops were easily ambushed and this undermined their morale and strength leading to their defeat in Ethiopia.

The escape of the emperor in 1936. When the emperor realized that Ethiopia would be defeated by Italy, he escaped through Djibouti and until 1940, he lived in England from where he mobilized for financial, moral and other military and material support for Ethiopia. In 1940, he came to Egypt from where he mobilized a strong army which came together with foreign forces and overwhelmed the Italian forces in 1941.

The poor and brutal method used by the Italians. The Italians instituted unfavorable policies like forced labor, land alienation, high taxes, and other forms of taxation. In 1936, they executed soldiers who had surrendered in good faith. This method made the Italians loose the support of the local people and the Ethiopians started supporting the patriot and guerilla fighters against the Italian administration leading to their defeat.

The increasing poverty in Italy due to World War 2. By 1940, Italian participation in WW 2 had started to take toll on their economy, her industries were declining, there was shortage of raw materials, inadequate funds as a result, Italy lacked the resources to support a large and efficient force in Ethiopia giving room to the Ethiopian liberation movement to intensify its activities which undermined the Italians and later led to their defeat.

The geographical set up of the country. Ethiopia had steep mountain ranges like the Abyssinian islands with steep valleys and gorges which made the movement of Italian forces and armored vehicles very difficult. This terrain favored the guerilla fighters who were able to hide in the mountains and forests from where they made frequent surprise attacks on Italian positions leading to their defeat.

The Grazzian massacre 1937. In 1937 some Ethiopian patriots tried to murder Grazzia, the Italian governor of Addis Ababa. The Italians retaliated by massacring about 30,000 people in Addis Ababa and such cruelty angered the Ethiopians in the capital who decided to support the BLM in the struggle against the Italians.

The Ethiopians were fighting on home ground. They were used to the climate and terrain, they knew the shortcuts, they would easily cross the marshes during the night, and they knew which areas to lay ambushes and this gave the Ethiopians great advantage and success against the Italians.

The support of the Africans in the diaspora. The Africans who lived in various parts of Europe, USA, West Indies and parts of South America criticized the Italian stay in Ethiopia. They gave moral and financial support to the BLM. They made the international community aware of Italian cruelty in Ethiopia. This made Italians lose support of many liberal countries which isolated Italy and led to her defeat in 1941.

The financial constraints in Italy. When Italy consolidate her rule in Ethiopia, she started pouring in a lot of funds to build schools, hospitals, bridges to get support from the local population and to consolidate the stay of the settlers, but by 1941, such heavy expenditure was beginning to toll on the government budget and was opposed by the liberals in parliament who insisted on cuts in the spending on Ethiopia and this undermined Italian situation and led to their defeat.

The international condemnation against Italy. By 1940. the international community had started to condemn Italian stay and atrocities in Ethiopia. Some countries like France, Britain, and America even refused to trade with Italy. This international condemnation undermined Italian situation and led to their defeat.

The return of the Emperor in 1940, when the Emperor returned and made his base in Egypt in 1940, the Ethiopian patriots regained hope and courage and revived the inactive to fight and dislodge the Italians from their country.

The rival of Ethiopian morale and determination initiated by the presence of the emperor paid off when the Italians were defeated in 1941.


Haile Selassie was the Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930-74. He was born in 1982 in harar province and was a great grandson of Saleh Shoo who was the cousin to the father of Menelik 2. His name before he took on emperor was Ras Tafari Djezu-matchi. Before he became emperor he was governor of Sidamo in 1907 then Owara then Harar.

After the death of Menelik in 1913, he was among the greatest critics of the reigning emperor Iyasu. When Iyasu was removed in 1916, Ras Tafari became the regent for Zewditu (Menelik’s daughter) and by 1928 when Zewditu died; Ras Tafari bargained a lot of influence in Ethiopia. On Zewdiths death, Ras Tafari declared himself the “Negus Negast” or king of kings.

In 1930, Ras Tafari was crowned as emperor in Addis Ababa and he took on the title Haile Selassie (Might of the Trinity).

During his time as the governor of the different provinces and as regent as well as emperor, he did the following for Ethiopia;

In 1923, he secured Ethiopia membership in the League of Nations in the hope of preserving independence for his country.

In 1925, he protested to the League of Nations against Britain’s plan to collide with Italy to construct a dam on Lake Tana and a railway from Eritrea to Somali land without his consent.

He improved on the education system. He encouraged the missionaries to expand the mission schools; he funded many secondary schools for example the Haile Selassie 1 secondary school in Addis Ababa.

In 1951, he inaugurated the university college of Addis Ababa and a number of other international colleges were set up and integrated to form the Haile Selassie 1 university college.

He allowed the university to use part of his palace for its activities. Through his work, by 1957 there were over 600 primary schools, 24 secondary schools and 2 universities. This helped to reduce on illiteracy in Ethiopia.

He arranged for bright students study abroad on government scholarships in order to prepare them for posts in the government and administration.

In 1931, he established a new constitution which provided democratization of the government. In the new constitution, the emperor ruled with a senate and a chamber of deputies. The chamber of deputies/ national assembly worked with the emperor to put in place reforms which helped for the development of the country.

In 1928, he signed a friendship with Italy and a convention providing for road construction and economic cooperation. As a result, Ethiopia was allowed to pass her exports and imports through the port of Assab which was controlled by Italy.

A road was also constructed which linked Ethiopia to the port Assab in Eritrea. The treaty also provided that the two ( Italy and ethiopia) would have peaceful co-existance in the horn of Africa and that any problems would be solved by international arbitrations.

In the same year, he appointed Ethiopia as the Abuja (head of the Orthodox Church) to replace the former Egyptian Coptic leader. This helped to consolidate religion into the hands of the Ethiopians.

Haile Selassie allowed foreign investment to increase through his favorable policies on taxation.

He got advice from Sweden, Britain, France and Switzerland who advised him on issues of modernization and increased investment in Ethiopia. This helped to raise Ethiopia’s output.

Haile Selassie’s government improved on the rate of health in Ethiopia. He encouraged the setting up of hospitals, dispensaries and clinics. He visited the hospitals regularly checking on the standards of efficiency and hygiene. Ha also encouraged research in traditional herbs and promoting the teaching of medicine in the universities.

Haile Selassie helped to foster industrialization of Ethiopia by searching for financial and technical aid from France, Britain, Belgium and Switzerland as a result, industries producing shoes textiles and building materials, agro-processing industries and hydroelectric power plants come up.

Haile Selassie modernized the policy and organized the army. Young officers were sent for military schools as cadets for example the St. Cyr military school in France trained many Ethiopians.

He also set up a military academy in Halata where soldiers were trained by European officers from France, Belgium, Sweden and Egypt.

He established an air force and acquired several fighter planes from America, Britain and France. He also acquired modern weapons for the army.

He set up a police academy in Addis Ababa to help train provisional police men who would maintain law and order in Ethiopia.

Haile Selassie enhanced Ethiopia’s international stand by making Ethiopian troops available to use in the Korean wars which had been in Korean wars which had been in Korean wars which had been in Korea by 1965 and in Congo crisis 1960-1963 so Ethiopians international stand was raised as a member of the U.N.O.

He improved on the wealth of Ethiopia through territorial expansion. In 1952, he won Eritrea from Italian control. In 1960 he integrated Eritrea as a province of Ethiopia and this enabled Ethiopia to utilize the mineral wealth of Eritrea, utilize Eritrean posts of Assab and Massewa and to get tribute from Eritrea. All these increased Ethiopia’s wealth and economic status.

Haile Selassie helped in the restoration of Ethiopia’s independence and sovereignty by spear heading the liberation struggle between 193 and 1941. He organized for financial and moral help from Britain and USA. He came to Egypt in 1940 and, mobilized a patriotic army which received help from Britain, Kenya, South Africa, and Australia and successfully fought against Italian troops in 1941.

He improved on the sports in Ethiopia. He also fostered cultural growth by encouraging Ethiopians to modernize their traditional practices to become morally upright, united and to take on aspects of European culture which were useful.

He made Ethiopia the focal point of the activities of the pan African movements by allowing the establishment of the O.A.U headquarters in Addis Ababa in 1963.

He supported modernization of the Orthodox Church and gave it generous contributions of land and money. Some contributions were also extended to the Muslims.

He supported the improvements in agriculture by encouraging the growing of coffee as a cash crop.


He encouraged feudalism where land was owned by a few land lords and majority of the people were squatters or tenants. This land tenure system hindered agriculture development and modernization.

He failed to check corruption among the state officials and this made his government unpopular.

He tolerated nepotism where most of the government officials were the land lords, top ranking army officers came from his tribe modes of Amharic. This led to loss of popularity and eventually led to his overthrow in 1974.

His government failed to solve the problem of unemployment, inflation, poverty and economic stagnation which occurred in the 1960’s and 70’s leading to low standards which increased hostility towards the government.

His government failed to solve the problem of frequent hunger and famine for example in the 1970’s (1972-74) there was wide spread famine among areas including Wallo, Shewa, Sidamo, Galla, Tigio and Gondar in which about 200,000 lives were lost undermine his popularity and that of his government.

His government infringed on the freedom of worship of the people who did not belong to the Orthodox Church. Non-orthodox groups like the Muslims who were mainly Galla and Somali were not considered foe employment in higher government posts and promotion in any of the jobs that they held and this brought about a lot of discontent from the Muslims towards his rule.

After 1952, Haile Selassie became undemocratic and dictatorial. In 1955, he changed the constitution such that more powers were given to the emperor like that of appointing all cabinet ministers, government officials, ambassadors and counsels abroad and he alone could dismiss such officials. This annoyed the intellectuals, liberals and the members of the chamber of deputies.

Haile Selassie failed to modernize adequately the communication system to bring it to the required standards. The railway system was poor and inefficient, linking Addis Ababa to only few towns. The roads were poor, transport was mainly by animals like the horses and ponies and this hindered movement for economic purposes.

He failed to establish a strong modern army by international standards. The soldiers were poorly paid, the barracks were overcrowded, and there was lack of water and good sanitation in the barracks. There was shortage of modern weapons this caused a lot of frustration especially to the graduates in the army. n

He involved Ethiopia in many wars with her neighbors. She fought constantly with Somalia over Ogoden from 1962-1963. She fought constantly with Eritrea tried to re-assert her independence from Ethiopia. These wars led to loss of lives undermined agriculture production and hindered political and economic progress.



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