Discontent in Tigray
Overt dissidence in Tigray during Haile Selassie's reign
centered on the 1943 resistance to imperial rule known as
the Weyane. The movement took advantage of popular
discontent against Amhara rule but was primarily a localized
resistance to imperial rule that depended on three main
sources of support. These were the semipastoralists of
eastern Tigray, including the Azebo and Raya, who believed
their traditional Oromo social structure to be threatened;
the local Tigray nobility, who perceived their position to
be endangered by the central government's growth; and the
peasantry, who felt victimized by government officials and
The course of the Weyane was relatively brief, lasting from
May 22 to October 14, 1943. Although the rebels made some
initial gains, the imperial forces, supported by British
aircraft, soon took the offensive. Poor military leadership,
combined with disagreements among the rebel leaders,
detracted from the effectiveness of their efforts. After the
fall of Mekele, capital of Tigray, on October 14, 1943,
practically all organized resistance collapsed. The
government exiled or imprisoned the leaders of the revolt.
The emperor took reprisals against peasants suspected of
supporting the Weyane.
Although a military resolution of the Weyane restored
imperial authority to Tigray, the harsh measures used by the
Ethiopian military to do so created resentment of imperial
rule in many quarters. This resentment, coupled with a longstanding feeling that Shewan Amhara rule was of an upstart
nature, lasted through the end of Haile Selassie's reign.
After Haile Selassie's demise in 1974, separatist feelings
again emerged throughout Tigray.
Data as of 1991