Derg Downfall Day

Derg Downfall Day—also known as the Downfall of the Derg—is a public holiday in Ethiopia that is observed on the 28th of May every year. It is Ethiopia’s National Day and marks the end of the Derg regime in 1991. The Derg was a military junta that remained in power in the country from 1974 to 1991. This day is observed to remember the people who gave their lives to defeat this repressive regime and place Ethiopia on its path towards liberty.

The History of Derg Downfall Day

During the 1950s, the Ethiopian monarchy became politically unstable under the rule of Emperor Haile Selassie. His administration had become increasingly unpopular among the citizenry due to a drop in the quality of life, stagnant economic development, and, above all, human rights abuses. Although the emperor had originally started his administration as a popular figure due to his attempts at bringing Ethiopia up to modern standards, his reforms were largely ineffective. His administration was viewed as one that favored the nobility of Ethiopia—a ruling class that had consistently rejected his proposed reforms.

In December of 1960, a coup d’état was attempted to overthrow the emperor and install a more progressive government under his son, Crown Prince Asfaw Wossen. However, the attempted overthrow was crushed by loyalists to the government. Another attempt to overthrow Haile Selassie occurred on September 12, 1974, and this one was successful. The emperor was replaced with the Derg—a committee of enlisted men and low-ranking officers in the Ethiopian Army. They would become a ruling military junta when they abolished the monarchy and then adopted communism as their official ideology.

After the war and devastating famine during the 1980s, opposition rebel forces against the Derg became more organized under the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front. This coincided with a lack of financial and military support from the Soviet Union. In 1991, opposition forces advanced on Addis Ababa, and with no backing from the Soviet Union, Major Mengistu fled the country, and Derg rule officially came to an end. Shortly thereafter, Derg Downfall Day was proclaimed as Ethiopia’s National Holiday.

Interesting Facts About Ethiopia

We have some interesting facts that we’ve learned about Ethiopia, and we’re now going to quickly share them with everyone reading right now. Let’s check them out.

  • The lowest place on the African continent, the Danakil Depression, is located in Ethiopia.
  • The Danakil Depression is one of the hottest places on Earth, with an average temperature of 93.9 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Ethiopia has its own calendar.
  • Ethiopia is where coffee began to be used for the first time.
  • Addis Ababa is 2,355 meters above sea level, which makes it the highest capital city in all of Africa.
  • Over 80 different languages are spoken in Ethiopia.

Observing Derg Downfall Day

All over Ethiopia, people pay homage to those who sacrificed their lives to defeat the oppressive Derg regime. People often take the day off work and listen to speeches commemorating the fallen. They also visit Addis Ababa to lay wreaths on the graves of the martyrs of the revolution and participate in various celebrations.

Where is it celebrated?
Ethiopia (Public holiday)
When is it?
This year (2024)
May 28 Tuesday
Next year (2025)
May 28 Wednesday
Last year (2023)
May 28 Sunday