Shewa (Amharic: ሸዋ; Oromo: Shawaa; Somali: Shawa; Arabic: شيوا), formerly romanized as Shua, Shoa, Showa, Shuwa (Scioà in Italian[1]), is a historical region of Ethiopia which was formerly an autonomous kingdom within the Ethiopian Empire. The modern Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa is located at its center.

Shewa as a province during the reign of Haile Selassie.

The towns of Debre Berhan, Antsokia, Ankober, Entoto and, after Shewa became a province of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa have all served as the capital of Shewa at various times. Most of northern Shewa, made up of the districts of Menz, Tegulet, Yifat, Menjar and Bulga, is populated by Christian Amharas, while southern Shewa is inhabited by the Gurages and eastern Shewa has large Oromo and Argobba Muslim populations. The monastery of Debre Libanos, founded by Saint Tekle Haymanot, is located in the district of Selale, Oromia[2] Modern Shewa includes the historical Endagabatan province.[3]

History edit

 
Rochet d'Héricourt's map of his 1842–1844 expedition, showing the Rouyam de Choa (Kingdom of the Choa)

Shewa first appears in the historical record as a Muslim state, which G. W. B. Huntingford believed was founded in 896, and had its capital at Walalah.[4] In a recent discovery, a team of French archaeologists uncovered three urban centers believed to have been remnants of the former Sultanate of Ifat, with the Nora site in eastern Shewa being the most notable among them.[5][6]

Yekuno Amlak based his uprising against the Zagwe dynasty from an enclave in Shewa. He claimed Solomonic forebears, direct descendants of the pre-Zagwe Axumite emperors, who had used Shewa as their safe haven when their survival was threatened by Gudit and other enemies. This is the reason why the region got the name "Shewa" which means 'rescue' or 'save'. This claim is supported by the Kebra Nagast, a book written under one of the descendants of Yekuno Amlak, which mentions Shewa as part of the realm of Menelik I. Aksum and its predecessor Dʿmt were mostly limited to Northern Ethiopia and Eritrea during the 1st millennium BCE. However, Shewa eventually became a part of Abyssinia upon the rise of the Amhara Solomonic dynasty.[7] Dawit I and his successors stayed in Fatagar (part of Shewa) for a long time in Tobya (Yifat, Fatagar). The province served as the birthplace of the future emperors Zara Yaqob and Dawit II. Zara Yaqob and Na'od would then make Debre Berhan and Zway their capitals respectively. In 1528 Shewa was overrun by Muslim invaders from the Sultanate of Adal to the east, and its ancient cities were destroyed.[8][9][10][11]

Most of Shewa was overran by the Oromos during the late 16th century. According to oral traditions, Shewa had a powerful king named Sarako, who prevented the people from bearing arms. A certain giant arose against Sarako, and his children, and destroyed them. When the clans of the Borana, Gombichu and Ada, entered Shewa, they found no-one to stop them, since the children of Sarako had been killed. Enrico Cerulli believes that this tradition is related to the Amhara tradition of an arrogant king, which is attributed to Emperor Dawit II. However, he also notes that Sarako is the Gurage name for Emperor Zara Yaqob, from this he concludes that the Oromo acquired the Sarako tradition through their contact with the Gurage.[12]

 
Sahle Selassie, king of Shewa from 1813 to 1847

The Amhara Shewan ruling family was founded in the late 17th century by Negasi Krestos, who consolidated his control around Yifat and extended his territory to the south by conquering Menz, Tegulet and Merhabete from the Oromos. Upon rising to power, Sahle Selassie aligned himself to the Abichu Oromo and turn his attention to the Tulama Oromo, whom he defeated in the early 1820s. He followed this victory by rebuilding Debre Berhan, which had been burned in an Oromo raid, as well as a number of other towns and consolidated his hold by founding a number of fortified villages, like Angolalla, in the Abichu territory. He extended the frontier of Shewa into Bulga and Karayu, to the southeast into Arsi, and as far south as the territories of the Gurage. After a few years, Sahle Selassie felt his position secure enough that he proclaimed himself Negus, or king, of Shewa, Ifat, the Oromo and the Gurage peoples, without the authority of the Emperor of Ethiopia in Gondar.[13]

After the death of Sahle Selassie in 1847, Shewa fell under the rule of his son, Haile Melekot. Shewa soon attracted the attention of Emperor Tewodros II, who mobilized his army in Wollo and advanced into Shewa on October 1855. The Emperor advanced into Tegulet and around the same time the Oromo seized the opportunity to rebel and burnt Ankober to the ground. Haile Melekot, decided to prevent Debre Berhan from falling into the hands of his enemy and had the town put to flames, he then fled to a nearby hill where he hoped to hide but soon died of an illness on November 10. After Haile Melekot' death, Tewdoros' opponents rallied behind the late king's son, Menelik II. Tewdoros left his camp at Debre Berhan and pursued the boy to Bakarat where he was captured and imprisoned at his mountain stronghold in Amba Mariam. After crushing the Amhara opposition in the province, Tewdoros then turned his attention towards the Oromo and according to Zanab "exterminated all the Gallas, from Debre Berhan to Ankober so that their corpses covered the ground like a carpet."[14]

Menelik II, who escaped from Amba Mariam at the end of June 1865 when he was twenty one years old, quickly returned to war-ravaged Shewa. During the first part of his reign, he ordered the reconstruction of various fortified towns such as Ankober, Debre Berhan and Warra Ilu. These sites had the advantage of being in the center of his realm, enabling him to remain in contact with the Christians to the south and the Muslim Oromos in the northeast. The area around these town moreover had rich pastures capable of feeding numerous cavalry and other livestock. After the Egyptian-Ethiopian War, Emperor Yohannes IV, who was angered over Menelik's claim to be the Emperor, marched into Shewa and ravaged the towns. Menelik, realizing that resistance was futile, was forced to submit to Yohannes.[15]

Escaping influence from Yohannes, Menelik moved his capital south from Ankober to Mount Entoto in 1884. There, his wife Taytu Betul was attracted to a nearby spring known as Finfinne by the local Oromo inhabitants. In the spring of 1886, Menelik chose the site for Addis Ababa, his future capital. Building began at once, and, when Menilek became emperor of the whole country in 1889, Addis Ababa became the capital of Ethiopia.[16]

Notable people edit

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Shoa" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 24 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 991.
  2. ^ "Niras in Ethiopia". www.niras.com. 24 October 2011. Archived from the original on 18 November 2013. Retrieved 23 June 2023.
  3. ^ Hassan, Mohammed. Oromo of Ethiopia (PDF). University of London. p. 234.
  4. ^ G. W. B. Huntingford, The historical geography of Ethiopia from the first century AD to 1704, (Oxford University Press: 1989), p. 76
  5. ^ Francois-Xavier, Fauvelle. Nora, a Medieval Islamic City in Ethiopia (14th-15th Centuries). ERC COG HornEast project.
  6. ^ Hirsch, Bertrand (2006). "Reconnaissance de trois villes musulmanes de l'époque médiévale dans l'Ifat". Annales d'Éthiopie. 27: 134.
  7. ^ The Nile: An Encyclopedia of Geography, History, and Culture. Abc-Clio. 12 May 2017. ISBN 9781440840418.
  8. ^ Proceedings of the ninth international congress. Snippet view. 1988. p. 105.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  9. ^ Lincei, Accademia Nazionale dei (1974). Problemi Attuali. 550. pp. Snippet view.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location (link) CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  10. ^ Lincei, Accademia Nazionale dei (1974). Problemi Attuali. p. 551.
  11. ^ Lincei, Accademia Nazionale dei (1974). Problemi attuali Di scienza de cultura quaderno. Snippet view. p. 549.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  12. ^ "The Oromo of Ethiopia 1500-1800" (PDF). p. 243.
  13. ^ Mordechai Abir, Ethiopia: the Era of the Princes (London: Longmans, 1968), pp. 144ff.
  14. ^ Pankhurst, Richard (1982). History of Ethiopian towns from the mid 19th century to 1935. p. 151.
  15. ^ Pankhurst, Richard (1982). History of Ethiopian towns from the mid 19th century to 1935. p. 157.
  16. ^ "Encyclopedia Britannica: Shewa". www.britannica.com.

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