Dej. Balcha Safo


Dejazmatch Balcha Abanefso; An Ethiopian hero at the Battle of Adwa, 1896

The Battle of Adwa (usually known as Adowa, or sometimes by the Italian name Adua) was fought on 1 March 1896 between Ethiopia and Italy near the town of Adwa, Ethiopia, in Tigray. It was the climactic battle of the First Italo-Ethiopian War. [Ethiopian Victory over Italy]

Dejazmatch Balcha was known by his horse name of "Aba Nefso". Taken captive in battle as a boy, the young Oromo was raised at the Palace of Menelik II, and regarded the Emperor as his father. He was devotedly loyal to Menelik, and served him as a regional governor in various southern provinces including Sidamo and Harrar as well as one of his leading military commanders. He was a hero of the battle of Adwa in 1896. After the death of Menelik II, he was disaffected by the behavior of Lij Iyasu and supported his deposition. However, he was a conservative who was devoted to Empress Zewditu, and regarded the modernizers around the heir and regent, Ras Tafari Makonnen, with hostility. His open challenging of the Heir to the throne led to him being stripped of his offices and he was confined to a monastery in Addis Ababa. He was freed from his detention by Emperor Haile Selassie when the Emperor departed on the eve of the fall of Addis Ababa to the fascist Italian forces, and valiantly fought the Italians as a guerilla leader in 1936-1937 when he was killed. Athough he always had a difficult relationship with Emperor Haile Selassie, he was fiercely loyal to the memory of Menelik II and to Ethiopian independence.