Stories of some of the great Ethiopians who have contributed to the country in their fields of expertise
Arcishop Abune Petros
Abune Petros was an archbishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in much of the central and Eastern parts of Ethiopia during the late 1920s and early 1930s. When Fascist Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935, Abune Petros went to the frontline to help the wounded, consecrate the dead and preach the Gospel. During that time he witnessed first-hand how the invading army – with the help of nerve gas and technologically advanced weaponry – burned down many villages and indiscriminately killed innocent civilians.
Belay Zeleke was born in 1912 in the Wollo province of Ethiopia . At a very young age in a mysterious situation, Belay Zeleke killed his uncle which prompted him to flee his village and live as a fugitive isolated from his family and friends for 15 years. In his solitary life, Belay Zeleke learned to be courageous and decisive.
Four years before the start of the Second World War, Italy invaded Ethiopia on 3 October 1935 under the orders of the then Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini. They had much more advanced weaponry than Ethiopians and attacked on ground and from air. They soon seized several Ethiopian towns across the northern part of the country despite stiff resistance by the Ethiopian army. Supported by hundreds of planes, cannons and different types of weapons, the Italian army swept across Ethiopia committing untold war crimes. The Italians took control of the capital, Addis Ababa, on 5 May 1935 and Emperor Haileselassie left Ethiopia for Switzerland to ask for international help to oust Italy from Ethiopia at the League of Nations in Geneva. He was officially in exile. In response to the Emperor's appeals, the League of Nations voted to impose economic sanctions on the aggressor. Yet the sanctions remained fruitless because of staggering indifference on the part of the Western powers.
Emperor Thewodros ruled Ethiopia from 1855-1868. His original name was Kassa and he is widely known as Ethiopia 's first modern ruler. Not only did he reunify the various Ethiopian kingdoms into one empire, but he also attempted to focus loyalty around the government rather than the church, which he sought to bring under royal control.
He also worked to abolish the feudal system and create a new nobility of merit, dependent on the ruler alone. Although he failed in these aims, while alienating the church and important elements of the nobility, his lead was followed by his successors.
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