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Mon, 05.05.1941

Ethiopia Gains Independence From Italy

*On this date in 1941: Ethiopia Regained Its Independence from Italy. This helped Black Africa repair the invasion of the 1884 Berlin Conference, the high point of white European competition for territory in the continent, a process commonly known as the Scramble for Africa. 

The independence of Ethiopia was interrupted by the Second Italo-Ethiopian War, beginning when Fascist Italy invaded it in early October 1935, and Italian occupation of the country.   During this time, Haile Selassie appealed to the League of Nations, delivering an address that made him a worldwide figure and the 1935 Time Man of the Year.  As most of the Ethiopian population lived in rural towns, Italy faced continued resistance and ambushes in urban centers throughout its occupation.  Selassie fled into exile in Fairfield House, Bath, England.

Mussolini proclaimed Italian Ethiopia and the assumption of the imperial title from the Italian king Vittorio Emanuele III.  In 1937, the Italian massacre of Yekatit 12 occurred, where as many as 30,000 civilians were killed and many others imprisoned.  This massacre was a reprisal for the attempted assassination of Rodolfo Graziani, the viceroy of Italian East Africa. The Italians made investments in Ethiopian infrastructure development during their occupation. They created the so-called "imperial road" between Addis Ababa and Massaua.  More than 900 km of railways were reconstructed, dams and hydroelectric plants were built, and many public and private companies were established.

The Italian government abolished slavery, a practice in the country for centuries.  Following the entry of Italy into World War II, British Empire forces, together with the Arbegnoch, restored Ethiopia's sovereignty during the East African Campaign in 1941.  In August 1942, Selassie issued a proclamation that removed Ethiopia's legal basis for slavery.  Ethiopia had between two and four million slaves in the early 20th century out of a total population of about eleven million. 

An Italian guerrilla warfare campaign continued until 1943. This was followed by British recognition of Ethiopia's full sovereignty, without any special British privileges, when the Anglo-Ethiopian Agreement was signed in December 1944.  Under the peace treaty of 1947, Italy recognized the sovereignty and independence of Ethiopia.  

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