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Archive for the ‘20th century’ Category

Emperor Menilik, his Swiss technical advisor Alfred Ilg, Italian and French duplicity and how Djibouti came to be spelled with a ‘G’… These and more fascinating facts from modern Ethiopian history make this week’s corner a must read.

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1 The beginnings of Ethiopia’s modernisation

The last decades of Menilek’s (1889-1913) reign marked the beginning of Ethiopia’s modernisation, which had been delayed, among other reasons by almost a century of internal or external warfare. An unprecedented period of peace after the battle of Adwa, the opening up of foreign contacts in the aftermath of the Italian defeat, and the advent of increasing numbers of foreign craftsmen, created an entirely new climate for economic and technological development. This owed much also to the Emperor’s almost child-like interest in innovations of all kinds, and to the ability of his trusted Swiss engineer Alfred Ilg. All these factors contributed to the founding at this time of a modern state.

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