Society of African Journal Editors

Ethiopian e-Journal for Research and Innovation Foresight

“The African King Who Conquered Italy”, Menelik in the 19th Century US Press before and after Adwa

Authors: Dr. Tedla Desta1

Journal: Ethiopian e-Journal for Research and Innovation Foresight

Ethiopia’s Emperor of the late 19th and early 20th Century, Menelik II, is fondly and proudly remembered by millions of Africans and those who had been under the yoke of colonialism whilst he is also a controversial figure among an assemblage of Ethiopian and Eritrean ethnic groups as well as European, particularly Italian, communities and historians. It would be a disservice, unsystematic and unfulfilling to discuss and revisit the Battle of Adwa without discussing the leader of the victorious Ethiopian side, Emperor Menelik II the first black African man to defeat a “civilised and modernising” European force, Italy. Sixty-two reports were selected first, 10 reports omitted, with a word count of more than eighty have been retrieved and finally 52 reports were analysed. Drawing on discourse, colonial and framing theories and literature, the article applied Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) to examine the U.S. media coverage of Menelik both before and after the Battle of Adwa, with the aim of uncovering ideologies and determining if Menelik’s victory at Adwa led to any changes in the media discourse on Menelik, thereby Abyssinia. The findings of the CDA showed the presence of ideological stances and frames in the discourse such as “colonialist, hegemonic and racist” ideologies. Secondly, the “ridiculing and incompetence” frames emphasisedbefore the Battle of Adwa showed a decrease while the “condescending, uncivilised and barbaric” frames and discourses in which Menelik was represented before his victory at Adwa largely continued even after he defeated the Italians. Interestingly, the U.S., which did not hold any “colonial interest”, had a press, which supported the Italian colonial campaign in Ethiopia.