Open main menu

Monument to the Lion of Judah

History of the monumentEdit

The monument of the lion of judah commissioned by the emperor Hailè Selassiè to the sculptor Maurice Calka in 1954, this sculpture, easily identified by its silhouette, became a cultural symbol of Afrocentrism[3] [4].

The monument is located in the square of the Addis Ababa railway station in Addis Ababa and marks the end of Winston Churchill Avenue, one of the main arteries of the city.[5] The sculpture of the Lion of Judah, in gilded bronze, is placed on a black granite pedestal decorated with relief portraits of Menelik II, Haile Selassie I, Zewditu, and ras Makonnen Wolde Mikael. The work was made by the French sculptor Georges Gardet in 1930, on the occasion of the coronation of Emperor Hailé Selassié on November 2,1930. After the 1974 revolution, the Derg regime thought of removing the monument, symbol of the monarchy, but an association of Arbegnoch veterans claimed that it was a memory of Ethiopian antifascist resistance and a symbol of Ethiopia. So, the regime agreed to leave the monument, which is still in front of the Addis Ababa central station.[6] In 1954 a new monument was commissioned by Emperor Hailè Selassiè to sculptor Maurice Calka.[7][8]

The monument brought to RomeEdit

The Lion of Judah at the obelisk to the fallen of Battle of Dogali in Rome, Italy

At the end of the so-called March of the Iron Will (in italian: Marcia della ferrea volontà) (during the Second Italo-Ethiopian War) that led to the occupation of Addis Ababa by the Italian army, the statue was transported to Rome, Italy in 1935 at the end of the Second Italo-Ethiopian War.

The Lion of Judah sculpture was placed just beyond Square of Five hundred to Rome, under the obelisk that remembers of the Battle of Dogali on May 8, 1937, on the occasion of the first anniversary of the proclamation of the Italian Empire. The Lion of Judah statue remained in Rome until the 1960s, when it was returned to Ethiopia after the negotiations in Addis Ababa. Emperor Haile Selassie took part in the new inauguration ceremony in military uniform, also recalling the patriotic gesture of Zerai Derres.

Zerai Derres history in ItalyEdit

On June 15, 1938 the young Eritrean Zerai Deres made a protest against the Italian occupation of Ethiopia in front of the monument. Brandishing a scimitar, he wounded several onlookers and was shot by soldiers.[9][10] He was arrested by the fascist militia and imprisoned in a psychiatric hospital (however, contemporary Italian historians doubt the claim that he was mentally unstable) in Sicily, where he died in 1945. For this gesture Zerai Deres is considered a national hero both in Eritrea and Ethiopia.[11][12][13]


The Monument to the Lion of Judah in Addis AbabaEdit


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ high. official site
  4. ^ Benoit Teillet photography in Maurice Calka workshop in 2001
  5. ^ Jean-Bernard Carillet; Stuart Butler; Dean Starnes (2010). Etiopia e Eritrea. Lonely Planet. p. 86. ISBN 9788860405456.
  6. ^ "Imperial Monuments of Ethiopia". 2015-07-26.
  7. ^ high. official site
  8. ^ Benoit Teillet photography in Maurice Calka workshop in 2001
  9. ^ "Tre persone ferite da un eritreo impazzito". Il Messaggero (in Italian). 1938-06-17. p. 4.
  10. ^ "Ethiopian runs amok in Rome; hacks four persons with sword". Chicago Daily Tribune. 1938-06-16.
  11. ^ "The Global Security Architecture, Human Rights Violations and the UN in the 21st Century Part I". Minister of information of Eritrea. 2015-10-07.
  12. ^ Alberto Sbacchi (1985). Ethiopia under Mussolini: Fascism and the Colonial Experience. London. p. 138., cited in Lionel Cliffe; Basil Davidson. The Long Struggle of Eritrea for Independence and Constructive Peace. p. 71.
  13. ^ Alessandro Triulzi (2015). Paolo Bertella Farnetti; Cecilia Dau Novelli (eds.). Across the Mediterranean. Acknowledging Voices and Silences of (Post)Colonial Italy. Colonialism and National Identity. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. pp. 161–176.


See alsoEdit