The Obelisk of Axum is 1700 year-old, 24-meters (78-feet) tall and weighs 180 tonnes. It started in 1936 when the Italia’s series of triumphs concurring Ethiopia and some other countries, after seven months campaign the Italians lost. This loss was unexpected for the world especially for Italians. Mussolini heard about the pieces of an obelisk laying on the ground in Axum then he immediately ordered to bring it to Rome as revenge. The obelisk that was set up between 100-300 A.D in Axum, the city of the princess of Sheba. This pillar was a symbol of their Christianity, Patriotism, independence and freedom for the Ethiopians. The Ethiopian emperors had to kneel down before these basalt pillars at their coronations in order to receive the power for their absolute leadership. It signifies anteriority, primacy and exemplary leadership. The obelisk elegantly captures the ancestors’ sense of the sacrifice for freedom and independence to the country. Taking an obelisk that has such powerful history and culturally relevant makes the Italy Fascists happy. Ten years later, Italy and Ethiopia agreed with a peace treaty which also states to return all spoils that were taken during the war.
However the fascists Italy refused to return it back. Finally, after years or pressure from the Ethiopians, Italy agreed in 2002 to return the 1700 year old monument. So in 2005 a team of experts carefully dismantled the obelisk, dividing it into three pieces each weighting between 40 to 70 tonnes. By the time when Italy agreed to return the Obelisk millions of Ethiopians were died and suffer from poverty. For many people it was ridiculous that a country well known with drought and poverty, where children don’t have the opportunity to go to school, patients are died just because there are not enough hospitals available to turn down Italy’s offer to build up schools and hospital in a trade-off for the obelisk. The most confusion part for many was there are six other obelisks with similar structures left in Axum and they haven’t even repaired through many years.
Accepting this trade could rather bring a change for a generation by building school and save the citizens life. There are also groups who supported the return of the obelisk and believe it is part of their identity that can also bring tourists to the country and be a source of income. “It is also our hope that this historic event serves as a catalyst for the repatriation of all historical objects from Italy and England to Ethiopia” (Ayele Bekerie, The Rise of the Axum Obelisk is the Rise of Ethiopian History). The group that the supports the return of the obelisk believes that it is time for reunite and confidence to the citizens. In general, the Axum Obelisk is more than a pillar; it is their identity which very culturally relevant.