Published: Tuesday, January 13h, 2015
New York (TADIAS) — For more than a century Ethiopia’s iconic Taitu Hotel in Addis Ababa, which was badly burned by a raging fire this past weekend, had stood tall bearing the namesake of its founder and the most admired woman in Ethiopian history — Empress Taitu Bitul who was also one of the leading architects of Ethiopia’s winning strategies at Battle of Adwa on March 1st, 1896.
Empress Taitu opened the hotel a few years after Adwa as the nation’s first full-service hotel prompted by the increasing number of international dignitaries and travelers visiting Ethiopia after the country’s decisive victory against Italian colonial powers at Adwa. Encyclopaedia Aethiopica notes that for a time the Hotel was nicknamed Bollotatos Hotel for its Greek manager. Taitu Hotel was favored by Emperor Menelik as well as Ethiopian students returning from overseas and the political elite of the times. According to historian Ayele Bekerie, an Associate Professor at the Department of History & Cultural Studies at Mekelle University, Ethiopia hosted a reception at Taitu Hotel in 1903 in honor of the centennial anniversary of the Haitian revolution. Furthermore, Taitu Hotel was where war correspondents and photojournalists from around the globe covering the second Italian invasion of Ethiopia were housed in 1935.
Professor Ayele had written extensively about the significance of that era in modern African history and beyond. “Following the war Taitu and Menelik shared the enormous task of building a newly reconstituted country with diverse population and cultures,” notes Professor Ayele. He shared an article honoring Taitu for Women’s History Month two years ago published here. “Empress Taitu Bitul was actively involved in Menelik’s government. It is worth mentioning that she was married to Menelik at the age of forty-three and she was four years older than him,” Professor Ayele states. “Taitu’s pioneering and enduring work in politics, economics, culture, social welfare, military have added to the definition and implementation of a national agenda. The founding of Addis Ababa as a new capital city allowed people to migrate and settle in this new town from all regions of the country.”
Professor Ayele says the Taitu Hotel is a monument not only to the timeless legacy of our forefathers and mothers who kept Ethiopia free, but also stood as a tribute to the woman who established the capital city that today millions of residents call their home. “Taitu Hotel is one of the most important historic landmarks of Addis Ababa,” he said. “Terribly saddened by what happened. It is a precious national treasure. I am hopeful that the building will be restored as soon as possible.”