Pioneers of Change in Ethiopia: The Reformist Intellectuals of the Early Twentieth Century

Ethiopia's political independence, won in part by adaptation to modern forms of warfare at the end of the 19th century, allowed it to control, more than any other contemporary African state, its further economic and political engagement with the West, and to chart for itself its own patterns of modernization . Under Menilek's direction and encouragement a steady stream of Ethiopians was sent around the world to study in many different countries. They returned with the skills of their new education in Europe and America, and at home they began to lay the foundations of a new literature and political philosophy. Intellectuals were not just the servants of the state under Menilek and his successors, but increasingly they were its critics. Their numbers were decimated by the Italian reprisals after the Graziani massacre in 1937; the surviving intellectuals formed the nucleus around which Emperor Hayla-Sallase rebuilt his administration after the Italian defeat in the Second World War. Bahru Zewde, one of the foremost historians of modern Ethiopia, has constructed a collective biography of a remarkable group of men and women in a formative period of their country's history.