Like other empires in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century,
expansion and slavery went hand in hand in Ethiopia, contrary to imperial
justifications based on the abolition of the slave trade and slavery. Towards
the end of the nineteenth century, the Ethiopian empire incorporated the
northwestern border enclaves of Bela-Shangul and Gumuz into greater
Ethiopia. Having obtained the subordination of the local Muslim warlords,
the emperor then demanded tribute from them in slaves, ivory and gold.
Slaves were used as domestics in the imperial palace at Addis Ababa and the
houses of state dignitaries and as farm labor on their farms elsewhere in the
country. Responding to the demands of the central government as well as
their own needs, borderland chiefs raided local villages and neighbouring
chiefdoms for slaves. Expanding state control thus led to intensified slave
raiding and the extension of the slave trade from the borderlands into the
centre of the empire in spite of Ethiopia's public commitment to end slavery
and the slave trade as a member of the League of Nations. The end of slavery
in Ethiopia only came with the Italian occupation in 1935.