The Pan-African Implications of the Italo-Ethiopian War of 1935
Robert L. Harris, Jr.
Thesis DT 3.5 1989 B424
xii, 111 leaves; 1989
The Italo-Ethiopian War of 1935 was instrumental in the rebirth of the Pan-African Movement. Mussolini's ambition of empire-building in Africa turned into mass uprisings for self-determination and freedom. It was a rallying point for race consciousness and solidarity. The War was unprovoked and brutal. International diplomacy failed to stop it. The United States under the pretext of a policy of neutrality refused to heed the plea of Ethiopians for military weapons.
African Americans were stirred by the invasion of Ethiopia. They organized themselves and protested vigorously. Interviews, an examination of primary sources, newspaper articles of the 1930's, and reviews of books and journals clearly showed the level of depth of African American organization against the War. Harlem served as the nerve center of this activity.
The campaign against the War became a prelude to the planning and conducting of the 1945 Pan-African Conference in Manchester, England. At this Conference, Pan- African leaders passed resolutions which demanded an end to colonialism and called for self-determination of all African people. New generations of Pan-African leaders like Melaku E. Bayen, John Robinson, Willis N. Huggins, C.L.R. James, George Padmore, and Kwame Nkrumah, provided excellent leadership and guidance to the newly emerged mass organizations and movements.
Ethiopia began to "re-Africanize" as a result of the War experience. The racial policies of the Italians and the massive support of Diasporic and continental Africans for the Ethiopian cause induced Ethiopians to positively reassess their link with the African world. In spite of this, Ethiopia's image presented dual meanings. The African World image of Ethiopia was based on the symbolic significance of Ethiopia and its ability to retain its sovereignty. Ethiopia's image of itself was not only different from the African world image, but, at times, tended to negate the Pan-African sense of racial identity and solidarity. The duality of this imagery appeared to contribute both to the rise and decline of the Pan-African Movements.