On May 5, 1941, Emperor Haile Selassie I returned to Ethiopia after a five-year exile in England following Italy’s annexation of the Horn of Africa nation after defeating them in the Second Italo-Abyssinian War.
The invasion was launched by then Italian leader Benito Mussolini in October 1935. Held at bay by emperor Selassie’s troops, Mussolini eventually entered Addis Ababa on May 5, 1936, declaring the country as part of the Italian empire and Italian East Africa.
At root, the “Abyssinia Crisis,” as it was also called, was years in the making. Europe and its colonization of the African continent had become a key point of contention for many. The League Of Nations, the intergovernmental organization developed to help bring about world peace, was largely ineffective in stopping the growth of the Axis powers of Germany, Italy, Japan, and other nations. The Axis opposed all Western authority and sought to dominate anyone in their path.
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As the invasion overtook the country, the emperor went into exile in England. He, however, returned in 1941 after the Italians were successfully defeated. While in exile, however, the emperor delivered one of his most iconic speeches in 1936 when he appeared before the League of Nations to argue for his country’s independence. A portion of it read:
I declare in the face of the whole world that the Emperor, the Government and the people of Ethiopia will not bow before force; that they maintain their claims that they will use all means in their power to ensure the triumph of right and the respect of the Covenant.
Eventually, the emperor was patient in rising back to power, using political connections and the military might of his allies to defeat the fascist Italian forces, prompting Ethiopia’s liberation.
Take a look at the video of his triumphant return to Ethiopia below: