The floodgates opened in the 19th century. It seems like every European nation with any hope of appearing rich and powerful joined the race to overrun and colonize the African continent. Within a short amount of time, all of the African nations were overrun and became colonies of the various European nations.
There is still great pride in Ethiopia that they were never colonized like the rest of Africa. During my visits to Ethiopia, I was reminded on several occasions by several different people that Ethiopia is the only African nation that was not colonized.
That doesn’t mean there wasn’t an attempt to take over Ethiopia in the 19th century. Italy tried. They brought their modern war machine and were met head-on by the Ethiopian army at the Battle of Adwa. Some consider the result of their military contest to be a miracle, thanks to the intervention of St. George. The Ethiopians defeated the Italians. And Ethiopia maintained its sovereignty while surrounded by European colonies.
Italy did eventually get some revenge. Some 40 years later, Mussolini’s Italy swept into Ethiopia with tanks, machine guns, heavy artillery, advanced airplanes, and mustard gas (in violation of international law). The Ethiopian army, armed primarily with swords and spears, was no match for this advanced military invasion. italy pulled out all the stops and swept into Ethiopia.
If I remember my World History classes correctly (and that could be a very big “if”), this invasion was one of the key events that showed how impotent the League of Nations actually was. Mussolini wound up occupying Ethiopian territory for around five years until the Italians were driven out by Allied forces in 1941.
But don’t call that a colonization. It wasn’t it was a military occupation.
It’s not just a matter of semantics. It’s a matter of national identity and pride.