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Fitawrari Gebeyehu
Born Shewa, Ethiopia
Died 1896
Adwa, Ethiopia
Allegiance  Ethiopian Empire
Years of service 1868–1896
Rank Lord Protector of the Crown
Battles/wars First Italo-Ethiopian War

Fitawrari Gebeyehu popularly referred to by his "horse-name" አባ ጎራው, was an accomplished Ethiopian military commander and lord protector of the crown. He played a leading role in several important battles of Ethiopian history.

Early life

Gebeyehu was born in Angolela, in Shewa, Ethiopia. He was born in the same village as Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia.

Military career

Gebeyehu was Fitawrari (Army Commander, a military and aristocratic title). He played a leading role in several important battles of Ethiopian history. He made his reputation at the Battle of Amba Alaje (also known as Amba Alage or Amba Alagi) and later at the Battle of Adwa. In the Battle of Adwa, he commanded 5,000 riflemen, 15,000 spearmen, and 3,000 cavalry.


Gebeyehu was killed in action in the Battle of Adwa. He played a crucial role in the winning of the battle of Adwa. During the battle, he was the front cavalry assault leader for the king's army. While leading the assault He witnessed a large number of Italian military preparing an ambush and slaughter for the large Ethiopian army headed by emperor Minilik II. He realized unless he acted to the ambush in time the large army would be easily destroyed by the ambush. Then he drives his cavalry army direct into the fully fortified Italian army and began the attack and gave the king's army to escape the ambush and arrive at the battle filed. He was killed at this battle fighting fearlessly.

A street in Addis Ababa is named after him. He is still today renowned for his military skills.


A street in Addis Ababa is named after Gebeyehu. He is still known for his military skills.

  • pp. 7f; Bahru Zewde, A History of Modern Ethiopia, second edition (London: James Currey, 2001), pp. 132f
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