The Adwa Centenary Medal was authorised by the Crown Council to commemorate the Victory of the Battle of Adwa of March 2, 1896, at which European colonialism was prevented from securing control over Ethiopia.
The Medal was authorised for bestowal beyond the centenary anniversary of March 2, 1996.
The Medal is gilded and bears the portrait of Emperor Menelik II wearing the Imperial crown. There are two ribands: Royal and Diplomatic. The Royal Riband is purple with yellow borders whilst the Diplomatic Riband is in the Ethiopian tricolour with a centre stripe of black. The reverse bears the Imperial Lion. The Royal Riband is restricted to members of the Imperial Family and to foreign royalty and is violet with gold edges. Both ribands bear a circular Imperial Lion device which is bronze-gilded.
The first minting of the medal took place in 1996, when 150 were struck by Spink, in London. The second minting of the medal was authorized by the Crown Council on the 103rd anniversary of the Battle, on March 2, 1999. With the second striking, however, a significant change was made to the design on the medal: the Imperial Ethiopian Lion, which had been left-facing on the first striking, was transformed to be right-facing on the 1999 striking.
The Centenary Medal has been bestowed on royalty, presidents, ministers, ambassadors, military officers and friends of Ethiopia including African and Caribbean scholars and liberation fighters.
The Victory of Adwa medals are presented in person by the Chairman of the Crown Council, His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile Selassie, grandson of His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie; or by the Viceroy, His Imperial Highness Prince Bekere Fikre-Selassie, great-grandson of Emperor Haile Selassie. On occasion, Adwa medals have been presented by the Special Representative of the aforementioned princes, and the medal is presented in a navy blue and gold leather case. See a brief history of the Battle of Adwa. The medal carries no post-nominal initials.