Born in 1844, Menelik II was one of the most celebrated of Ethiopia’s rulers, and led the most successful campaign of African resistance to repel the onslaught of European colonialism. Menelik’s reign (1889-1913) coincided with the European Scramble of Africa. After serving as govenor of Shoa for twenty-five years. Menelik became Emperor in 1889.
During his reign, he doubled the area he inherited, incorporating vast areas of Southern Ethiopia into his domain, mainly through conquest. Always eager to embrace new technology in his quest to modernize ancient Ethiopia, Menelik’s innovations were unprecendented in Ethiopian history. Among these were first and foremost the creation of the capital, Addis Ababa, in the mid 1880’s, constuction of modern bridges and telegraph lines; concession for a railroad; establishment of the bank of Abyssinia, the first hotel, hospitals and schools; national currency; mint; a postal system and national newspaper.
“Enemies have now come upon us to ruin our country and to change our religion. Our enemies have begun the affair by advancing and digging into the country like moles, with the help of God I will not deliver my country to them.
Today you who are strong, give me your strength, and you who are week, help me by prayer”. Menelik II