Oduu Haaraya

Elemo Qiltu: The Rebel Chief and Chef

Most of those who have heard of Elemo Qiltu, the former Oromo guerilla leader, don’t know much about him except that he died fighting for their freedom against the regime of Haile Selassie. Because of his early death in 1974, not much is known about his character, certainly not to the extent of his comrade and brother in arms Jarra Abba Gada for example. I was watching a movie about the life of Ernesto Che Guvuera yesterday, and in many aspects it reminded me of Elemo. I could get into the similarities that I noticed, from their being well off young men, husbands and fathers, who were motivated by compassion for their people; Their risk taking personalities, egalitarian views, right down to the boat infiltrations they used to launch their rebellions against their respective feudal oppressive systems but what I wanted to do was shed some light on the character of Elemo Qiltu as explained by those who knew him personally. When asked what kind of person Elemo was in a radio interview, his old comrade Dhugomsa Dhugasa replied:

“Elemo was a decisive and brave man, one who never feared anybody and never believed that any thing can harm him except by God’s will. He was a man who can take on different personas; a master of diguise. He can sling a rifle underneath his jacket, go to the city and have a cup of coffee with local officials and come back. When you would looked at him he looked like a poor farmer. He was short, balding, wore the clothing of a peasant and appeared as though he didn’t know much. but infact he was a wealthy man. He was a known and well off businessman who conducted trade between Yemen and the homeland. But he was a person of sacrifice. He was selfless and never behaved arrogantly. He was a person who would feed us, and cook for us as well. I followed him around and learned some of his cooking recipes, and how to make mulawwa. He believed in self-reliance, so we would always cook for ourselves and never ask the civilian population for food. We would go to the market, buy whatever we could and cook or fry it ourselves. He was not just the leader of the army but he would cook for us and feed us all.”

Check Also

dhaloota qubee

Qabsoo Bilisummaa Oromoo: Injifannoo Argamee fi Balaa Isa Mudate

Qabsoo Bilisummaa Oromoo: Injifannoo Argamee fi Balaa Isa Mudate Leenjisoo Horoo Elba 25, 2023 Mata-Duree …