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Between the 1870s and 1900, Africa faced European imperialist aggression, diplomatic pressures, military invasions, and eventual conquest and colonization. At the same time, African societies put up various forms of resistance against the attempt to colonize their countries and impose foreign domination. By the early twentieth century, however, much of Africa, except Ethiopia and Liberia, had been colonized by European powers.
The European imperialist push into Africa was motivated by three main factors, economic, political, and social. It developed in the nineteenth century following the collapse of the profitability of the slave trade, its abolition and suppression, as well as the expansion of the European capitalist Industrial Revolution. The imperatives of capitalist industrialization—including the demand for assured sources of raw materials, the search for guaranteed markets and profitable investment outlets—spurred the European scramble and the partition and eventual conquest of Africa. Thus the primary motivation for European intrusion was economic.
Thus it was the interplay of these economic, political, and social factors and forces that led to the scramble for Africa and the frenzied attempts by European commercial, military, and political agents to declare and establish a stake in different parts of the continent through inter-imperialist commercial competition, the declaration of exclusive claims to particular territories for trade, the imposition of tariffs against other European traders, and claims to exclusive control of waterways and commercial routes in different parts of Africa.
Battle of Adwa , Adwa also spelled Adowa or Italian Adua , (March 1, 1896), military clash at Adwa , in north-central Ethiopia , between the Ethiopian army of Emperor Menilek II and Italian forces. The Ethiopian army’s victory checked Italy’s attempt to build an empire in Africa. The victory had further significance for being the first crushing defeat of a European power by African forces during the colonial era.
From the mid-19th century, Ethiopia was an aggregate of semi-independent kingdoms, which were presided over by the Ethiopian emperor. The 1889 death of Emperor Yohannes IV was followed by great disorder as his potential successors fought for ascendancy. The Italians had supported Sahle Miriam of Shewa (Shoa) in the years prior to this, supplying him with modern weaponry, ammunition, and funds that helped him acquire military strength. He used that strength to incorporate smaller Ethiopian kingdoms under his rule and, after Yohannes IV’s death, to secure his claim to the title of emperor, taking the name Menilek II.
The discrepancy eventually came to light. Menilek first repudiated in September 1890 the treaty’s ambiguous Article XVII and then, in September 1893, repudiated the treaty altogether. Menilek, conscious of the Italian troops in the neighbouring colony of Eritrea, began preparing to combat any attempt by the Italians to impose dominion militarily, which they initiated by early 1895.
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