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Vittorio was under attack. Ethiopian tribesmen had pushed him back up the hill of Daga Roba, near Galla in Ethiopia. They asked him to put down his weapons. He refused. As an Italian army offi cer and gentlemen explorer he’d got into (and out of) many sticky situations. But on this Wednesday, in March 1897, there was one vital difference: whilst he’d been mapping the Omo River, Ethiopia had declared war on Italy.1