Memories without Faces

Though many photographs were made during this war, very few were given to those Africans who were often the subjects. This page features the memories and stories of loved ones who experienced, or were connected to, the 1935-41 Italo-Ethiopian war. This is a page for those who exist in memory, without a photograph.

Getenesh “Getey” Woldegabriel
Location: Simien Shewa, near Alem Ketema
Date: 1935
Submitted by: Maaza Mengiste

My great-grandmother, Getey, was a young girl in 1935. When Haile Selassie sent out an announcement ordering the eldest from each family to enlist in the army because of the expected war with Italy, Getey said she would go to represent her family. She was the first born of four children. She was in an arranged marriage, but too young to live with her adult husband as his wife, so she still lived at home. Her father objected to her wish to enlist. Instead, he said he would give his gun to her husband and he would represent the family. Getey disagreed with this arrangement, and she took her father to court. She pled her case before the village elders and won. She was given her father’s gun, and she went to enlist in the war.