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The Oromo Chronology @

By Ethiopian Regimes  |  By Key Events  |  By Centuries

Before 1853


1853 ...

1872 ...
1865 ...

1909 ...
Haile Selassie

1930 ...
Mengistu Haile Mariam

1974 ...
Meles Zenawi

1991 ...

Events in Oromo History During the Reign of Menilek




Menilek, after escaping from Tewodros' prison and returning to Shawa, immediately began to build his army to fulfill his father's dreams of colonizing the south and in particular Oromia.


A. Plowden stated, "among republican systems, Gadaa is superior." Source: "Travels in Abyssinia and the Oromo Country"


Emperor Tewodros' force on Maqdala was encircled by the Oromo army, which cut off military and other supplies coming from Gondar. Maqdala was part of the territory, which Queen Warqitu, Adara Bille, lost to Tewodros.


Kassa of Tigray became Emperor Yohannes, King of Zion, King of Kings of Ethiopia. It was as the vassal of Yohannes and with his consent that Menilek set out to conquer and incorporate Oromia into the Abyssinian Empire.


After 10 years of resistance, under the leadership of Abba Waatoo, the Rayya, Yejju and Wallo Oromo were defeated only by the combined forces of Yohannes from the north, Menilek from the south, and internal problems caused by the execution of Prince Amedie Ali Liban by Tewodros on Maqdala, and the subsequent deposition of the regent, Queen Warqitu. It was only after Yohannes and Menilek had made sure of the stability of their rear that the Abyssinians were fully engaged in the conquest of the "south." But the Rayya, Yejju and Wallo Oromo never submitted fully, revolts and uprisings continued.

May-June 1878

Wallo was, at the end, divided up between Yohannes and Menilek at a conference in Boru Meda, attended by the Abyssinian Emperor, kings and religious leaders.


While Menilek was busy invading the Oromo lands around Shawa, Tekle Haimanot of Gojjam was fighting in the west, across the Abbaya (the Blue Nile) for his share in the scramble for the Oromo lands. The Gojjamites crossed the Abbaya, pillaged and devastated parts of Guduru, Horro, Ginda Barrat and Jimma Raaree, etc. They forced Oromo to build Orthodox churches and pay tribute.


Shaykh Tallhah of Wallo fought against Emperors Yohannes and Menilek for many years.


Menilek conducted several unsuccessful invasion campaigns against the rich and fertile Oromo territory of Arsi. The Arsi Oromo put up stiff resistance against an enemy equipped with Modern European firearms.


Menilek could not remain indifferent to the Gojjamite expansion into the rich and fertile southern and western Oromia on which he had already fixed his eyes. In the Battle of Embabo, in 1882, the Shawans defeated the Gojjamites. Menilek thus frustrated the Gojjam expansion into Oromo areas, ending by military force, Tekle Hayimanot's struggle in the scramble for Oromia. It was the Battle of Embabo, which determined the course of Oromo history, for this was indeed the launching platform for Menilek's war of colonization that followed.

By the end of 1882, Gobana, Menilek's strongest war-lord, had brought the Tuullama, Macha, Limmu, Gomma and Geera Oromo under Menilek's control.


Menilek gave Wallo to his son-in-law, Araya Selassie Yohannes, as fief for his wedding gift. As a result, the Wallo leader Abbaa Jabal (alias Liban) Abbaa Waato rebelled; this caused serious consternation in both the Yohannes and Menilek camps.


Under the leadership of Sheik Tola Jaafar, the Wallo Oromo rose up against the Abyssinian occupying forces. This was in the districts of Warra Qaallu, Warra Baabbo, Garfa, Riqa, etc.


In the east, Hararge had already been victimized by the Ottoman Empire (Turks) and Egyptians for decades. In 1884, as soon as he heard about the possible evacuation of Egyptians from Harar, Menilek began his preparations for annexation. Harar was bound to fall into the hands of either the Abyssinians or the Italians.


Menilek proposed to the Italians that he should occupy Harar and the Italians should occupy Zeila and Barbara.

May 1886

One of the few advantages of the Arsi Oromo during the resistance was their hit and run guerrilla fighting campaigns. During one such campaign in May 1886, the Arsi killed about 700 of Menilek's soldiers.

6 Sept, 1886

12,000 Oromo warriors were killed during the Arsi resistance. This number doesn't include the women, children and old men whom the Abyssinian soldiers burned alive and massacred in looting. It's said that the Arsi campaign was the bloodies of Menilek's reign. The then Arsi's Abbaa Duula (War Minister), Roobaa Butta, after a bitter battle using primitive war weapons against modern European arms and expertise, finally submitted.

However, Roobaa Butta voiced his faith in the future independence of Oromia in the following words, "The hour has not come but it will come, perhaps our children will see the departure of the oppressor."

Oct 1886

On their way to the Harar city, Menilek's army had to fight several battles against numerous Oromo communities on the way. In October 1886, at a place called Tuullu on Burqa river, the enemy suffered heavy losses. The Abyssinian army led by one of Menilek's leading generals, Wolde Gabrel, was encircled and routed. Those who survived fled back to Shawa in disarray, including Wolde Gabrel himself.

Nov - Dec 1886

The Arsi resistance finally broke down; the region fell into the invading Menilek force.


Menilek had conquered and absorbed much territory belonging to the Oromo and other nations, in the south, west and east. Feeling that he had used Gobana enough, he took away the administration of Oromo lands from him and gave it to Shawan Amharas.

The conquest of Itu and Wallagga.


Prince Firrisa of the Kingdom of Gumma intermittently resisted the Amhara administration.

Jan 1887

Menilek personally led his large army of more than 25,000 men, most of them armed with newest and most modern firearms, on Harar. Emir Abdullahi, a Harari ruler, united the Oromo, Hararis and Somalis, and with an army of about 4,000 men, of whom only 1,000 were armed with old rifles, about half of them in good working condition, met the Abyssinian army at Chalanqo-Meettaa and Oborra Oromo land - on January 6th 1887. After a bitter fight, Abdullahi's army faced defeat in a battle of unequals.

The conquest of Ilubbabor.


Menilek's empire was several hundred times the size of the empire he inherited in 1867.


Gobana, deposed in 1886, died in 1889, frustrated and without hope.


The uprising of the Walla Oromo, under the leadership of Sheik Tola Jaafar, was only defeated when Menilek himself led a large well equipped Shawan army against them. But the resistance did not completely stop. After his defeat, Sheik Tola fled and went to the Sudan to solicit assistance from the Mahdi.


The conquest of Baale and Sidamo.


D. Smith, "Expeditions Through Somaliland to Lake Rudolf," described condition of Arsi Oromo as follows: "Where was the country teeming with lusty warlike people? Certainly not here! Where we found ... was only ... the natives presenting the most abject appearance imaginable. Only four years ago, they must have been a fine race of men, they loved to tell us of their former glory, their eyes would light up, and they would forget for the instant their present condition ... the Arsi ... here, as elsewhere were regarded as slaves and were even sold in the market as such."


The conquest of Boorana.


Menilek employed Leon Danegon, a Frenchman, to lead 15,000 Abyssinian soldiers to Borana Oromo land and conquer all the way up to Lake Rudolf.

In 1887-1888 Russians helped over 30,000 Abyssinians conquer southwestern Oromia up to Gimira.

By 1900

All of the Oromo Kingdoms were occupied or paying tribute to Menilek.

These Oromo Kingdoms and Confederations were the Arfan-Qallo (Oborra, Ala, Noole and Babile), Arfan-Naggaadota (Western Oromia, Guuma, Limmu, Gomma and Jimma), Arfan-Oromootaa (Leeqaa Billoo, Leeqaa Hordaa, Leeqaa Naqamte and Noole Kaabbaa) and others.

~ 1900

Menilek granted concessions to a Swiss company to mine gold, silver and other materials in Nejjo, Wallagaa region.


The British, French and Italians signed the Tripartite Treaty of 1908 with Menilek II to not only officially recognize the newly carved Ethiopian empire state but also to maintain them.

Completion of the railroad in eastern Oromia, Dire Dawa, and in 1917 to Addis Ababa, made colonial exploitations easier.


Sheik Tola Jaafar, after obtaining assistance from the Sudan, went back to Wallo and continued the armed struggle well into 1910.