Kebedech Seyoum: The Fearless Ethiopian Resistance Fighter Who Fought Against Italian Occupation

Born in 1910, Kebedech Seyoum was a remarkable Ethiopian resistance fighter who played a crucial role in the fight against Italian troops during the occupation of Ethiopia in the 1930s.

Kebedech Seyoum: The Fearless Ethiopian Resistance Fighter Who Fought Against Italian Occupation

The Italian invasion of Ethiopia, also known as the Second Italo-Ethiopian War, took place between 1935 and 1937. Under the rule of dictator Benito Mussolini, Italy sought to expand its empire by annexing Ethiopia. The Ethiopian forces, led by Emperor Haile Selassie, faced a well-equipped and technologically superior Italian army. The invasion had severe consequences for the Ethiopian people, who fought valiantly to protect their sovereignty.

Amidst this tumultuous period, Kebedech Seyoum’s life took a tragic turn when her husband who was a soldier in the Ethiopain army was executed by italian forces just a few days after she gave birth. Fueled by grief and a deep-seated determination, Kebedech transitioned into a guerrilla warfare leader, and managed to reunite the remnants of her husband’s soldiers under her own command.

Kebedech Seyoum: The Fearless Ethiopian Resistance Fighter Who Fought Against Italian Occupation
Abyssinian warriors going to the northern front during the Second Italo-Ethiopian War

Her intelligence, resourcefulness, and commitment to the cause quickly earned her the respect of her peers. Kebedech became a key figure in the underground resistance movement, coordinating efforts to gather information and conduct sabotage missions. Early activities included capturing war materials, rolling boulders off cliffs at passing convoys, kidnapping messengers, cutting telephone lines, setting fire to administrative offices and stealing fuel and ammunition.

Operating in small, highly mobile units, she and her fellow resistance fighters employed hit-and-run tactics, ambushing Italian convoys, disrupting supply lines, and launching surprise attacks. Their knowledge of the Ethiopian terrain gave them a strategic advantage, allowing them to evade capture and strike when least expected. In total, she engaged in confrontations with Italian armies fourteen times before ultimately retreating to Sudan.

Kebedech Seyoum: The Fearless Ethiopian Resistance Fighter Who Fought Against Italian Occupation

One of Kebedech’s most notable achievements was that her actions not only hindered the Italian war machine but also boosted the morale of the Ethiopian people, instilling a sense of hope that liberation was possible.

The Italians continued their steady advance across the nation. On May 5, 1936, they took the capital Addis Ababa, leading to Emperor Haile Selassie’s exile, where he fled to Mandatory Palestine and eventually to England. Subsequently, Italian dictator Mussolini appointed King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy as the Emperor of Ethiopia, uniting the provinces of Eritrea, Italian Somaliland, and Abyssinia (Ethiopia) to form the Italian province of East Africa.

In 1941, during world war I, the Allied forces, including Ethiopian and British troops, succeeded in driving the Italians out of Ethiopia. Emperor Haile Selassie returned to his throne, and the Ethiopian people celebrated the end of years of Italian occupation. Kebedech Seyoum’s contributions were acknowledged, and after her death in 1976, she remained a symbol of resistance and strength in the post-occupation era, continuing to inspire the people of Ethiopia.

Talk Africana
Talk Africana
Fascinating Cultures and history of peoples of African origin in both Africa and the African diaspora


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