The Battle of Adwa, in which Ethiopian forces under Emperor Menelik II united to defeat an invading force of Italian troops, was one of the most significant turning points in the history of modern Africa. It occurred, in 1896, when the “colonial era” was well advanced on the African continent, and it served notice that Africa was not just there “for the taking” by European powers.
“The Battle of Adwa,” The Crown Council of Ethiopia
It is of symbolic significance that the initiative to make contact with Ethiopia, the country which was victorious over Italy in Africa, was by envoy Benito Sylvian of Haiti, a country that defeated Napoleon’s army in the Western hemisphere.
Negussay Ayele, A Page from a Century of Ethiopia-United States Relations (31 August 2002)
At the Pan-African Conference of 1900 in London Ethiopia, the state, was represented by a Haitian friend of Menelik II, then Emperor of Ethiopia, Benito Sylvain, who had been to the court of Menelik II to ask him to head and to join a program and a projected society of Black men in the world.
Clarence G. Contee, “Ethiopia and the Pan-African Movement before 1945,” Black World/Negro Digest (February 1972)
Mr. Sylvain is a highly educated young Haitian of wealthy parentage—a full blooded negro as a matter of course. Mr. Sylvain conceived the happy idea some years ago of seeking the Emperor Menelik, in order to secure His Majesty’s adhesion a programme for the general amelioration of the race. To Mr. Benito Sylvain it seemed especially appropriate that the greatest black man in the should become the honorary president of his society.