Archive for July 21, 2008

Lawd Have Mercy!

You won’t understand the wisdom in the blessing, “Tebihin keDehna Sew Yargilih” (May God make your enmity with a quality person), until you have made enemies with my young colleague Issayas. An ambitious chap (who applies for the Administration Officer position while some doubt his ability to continue holding onto his present post of “Messenger/Purchaser”) who exhibits the energy and bounciness of a new born who just nailed his first steps….. WHEN he’s happy! Oh the days in which Issayas was happy! How rare and beautiful art thou!!

He’d make time for you, in those days. Stand by your door until everybody who has any business with you has gone home. He’d greet you exaggeratedly when he enters, using such words as “Ehte”, “Emebete” and so and so forth to refer to you. He then asks after the family, after school (and the possibility of him applying there) how your hell-raiser brother was; complaining, all the time, how you have been neglecting him these days, how your leg has been “misleading” men (or your skirt, or whatever presented itself as an item worth compliment on your person) and always leaves with a kindly “Ere… taL taL atarGin”. All this, ofcourse, changes when you have done something to upset the abnormal flow of his young & fucked up day, or when somebody somewhere has.

Woe to you if that somebody is on speaking terms with you! Woe to you if Issayas knows about it! The steps turn cautious and haunted. His eyes darting and searching, searching for signs of animosity, ready to return it in full measure (pressed down and shaken together) at a moment’s notice. And if, when he’s recounting the wrong he’s been done, which he simply is addicted to, you dare put in so much as “why won’t you two try to work things out?” you become public enemy number one!! All the words you uttered, from greeting to goodbye, would be split into thousands of ways making sane conversation with him impossible. He comes and goes in & out of your office, like some damn “wuha keji”, until you have admitted so and so was the anti-Christ and should be chased off the premises with garlic and cross! If you don’t, and begged Issayas to come back when he’s less neurotic, he’d stop talking to you and start talking to others, how you and so and so were in league against him. Fortunately, no one takes his accusations seriously and he always forgives. Unfortunately, he never forgets. Reminds you fondly every time he passes by your office how so and so had managed to turn you against him, but how he understood, because so and so was… etc.

But hostility isn’t the only situation that makes you earnestly pray “AdiNeNe.. KeIssayas SewReNe”. Say you two have been assigned to do something together. A wad of paper that needs punching, for example. Issayas comes around, carrying his “binder” (which he no doubt refers to as “dossier”) and looking sharper than usual in suit and tie (atleast.. that’s how it feels) ready to “conduct business” with you. The words that follow between you two are rigid and official, filled with first person references, a pompous “we” or “Derijitu” for him and a hostile “eNante” for you. He is never without enemies, so you gotta always choose sides. If your smile dare show how ridiculous the whole affair was or a desperation to ask the kid take a chill-pill; Issayas is genuinely grieved, with how he seems to be the only person in the whole building taking his job seriously, and how he could probably do your job better than you. If only for his enemies upstairs 😉 .

July 21, 2008 at 2:01 pm 1 comment

The Oromo migration revisited

According to M. D. W. Jeffreys, writer of “The Wanderers”, the derogatory term “Galla” is translated as ‘immi- grant’, guest or outsider. The group of people who used to be referred-to by that name, however, prefer to call themselves ‘Oromo’, meaning, “the strong men”. I have therefore replaced this term with Oromo, and put it in bracket so the reader would know what used to be in it’s place on the documents i’m referring to. With the post below, I hope to show how fitting the later title is for Ethiopia’s Oromo children – past & present.


Professor Getachew Haile’s “‘Yeabba Bahriy Dirsetoch Oromochin Kemimeleketu leloch senedoch gara’ (The Works of Abba Bahriy with Other Documents concerning the Oromo – 2002), is primarily a new edition and translation into Amharic and English of the work “Zenahu le-[Oromo]”, a Ge’ez study of Oromo society and Oromo migration into central Ethiopia in the sixteenth century… an important firsthand account of the social structure of the pastoralist Oromo and the impact of their migration on the existing agrarian communities of Central Ethiopia.”

Dejach Balcha Aba-Nefso, an Ethiopian patroit with Oromo roots

In it, the writer puts it as his belief that Oromos weren’t the innocent victims of Abyssinian ruler’s “massacre” as today’s politics would have us believe. For which no one should be judged, he pleads with the reader, since the wars recounted in the book are no more than accounts of two of our grandparents (namely the Oromo and non-Oromo Ethiopians) fighting over who should take the spoils of what they legitimately stole from the common people. I personally do not believe the spoils were fairly distributed, but the book gives some insights into “The Oromo Question” & culture the discerning reader won’t wanna miss.

The author of the original text, the monk Abba Bahriy, starts his narration with the words:

“I (hereby) begin to undertake studies of the [Oromo] in order that I may know the number of their tribes, their zeal to kill people, and the brutuality of their demeanor. If there is anyone who would say to me, “Why has he written about the wicked ones like the history of the good?”, I will give him an answer, saying to him: “Search in the books, and you will see that the history of Muhammed and the history of the kings of the Muslims have been written, although they are our enemies in religion. Gioyorgis Welde Amid (a Coptic historian who wrote the history of the world from creation to 1260 A.D.), too, has written the history of the Zingu’an kings of the Barbarians, who are the Afridon and the other kings of Persia, who are called at this era the Sofi”.

To corroborate this claim, Section 15 of “Zenahu le-[Oromo]” begins with:

After this, Birmeje (a “luba” or an appointed Leader of the Oromos to lead the tribe for eight consecutive years) was relieved and Mul’ata son of Bifole was appointed. He made a dullgutto on Gojjam. The meaning of dullaguto is “war of topknot” for when the [Oromo] are circumcised at the same time, they give themselves a name, as we have said at the beginning of Section 4, and they attack a country which their predecessors have not attacked. If they kill people or large animals, they shave their whole head, leaving a little hair (topknot) in the middle of their skull. But he who did not kill does not shave himself, so much so that he suffers from lice. For this (reason) they are zealous to kill us.


July 21, 2008 at 8:27 am 9 comments


The blogger tries to think outside the box, or wonder why she sometimes can't.

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