Ignored: The iconoclasm that didn’t fit the narrative

Aug 6, 2020 by

by Ollie Wright, The Conservative Woman:

[…]  Except Liberia, with its own sometimes dubious history (founded under American sponsorship as a homeland for freed slaves), Ethiopia was the only patch of Africa left uncolonised by Europe. It suffered Italian occupation following Mussolini’s invasion in 1935, but this was short-lived. British-led forces liberated it in 1941, re-instating as ruler Haile Selassie who had spent the intervening years exiled, perhaps rather oddly, in Bath whence he regularly visited Weston-super-Mare to swim in its open-air pool. 

Mussolini wanted revenge for Italy’s historic defeat by Ethiopia at the battle of Adwa in 1896. But he also wanted to build a new ‘Roman Empire’ and used savage methods including poison gas and the bombing of civilians to achieve it. His justificatory propaganda not only made great play of bringing ‘civilisation’ to Ethiopia, but also of ending slavery.

Guardian op-ed writers might find this a difficult truth but Africa’s last independent nation, whose civilisation reached into antiquity and where Christianity was established in the fourth century, was cheerfully a country of slavery. It says something that invasion by Mussolini’s fascist legions could actually be seen by some of its inhabitants as a liberation.

[…]  When they finally departed, the European empires left behind much valuable institutional, cultural and physical infrastructure. And although it is unfashionable to point out, their rule would have been impossible without active and enthusiastic support from millions of indigenous Africans. But we should not forget the accompanying evils.

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