By Oumar Hussein
Dr. Getachew Reda, I read your article in defense of Dr. Fikre tolassa about Oromo people with curiosity. The article is full of lies and isn’t substantiated with evidences. According to you, the word Galla isn’t a derogatory, and the Oromo people should call themselves as such. And you said you are unable to find any evidence or anyone to disproof your argument. You are like “some men go through a forest and see no firewood.” You have failed to mention evidences in your article except hearsay; you need to back up your arguments with evidences.
Dr. Getachew, let me list some of the Amhahara sayings: Gallana sagara iyyader yigemal; Galla kemiweldegn berie barragn; Galla siseltin begabi lay kis yisefal. These sayings clearly depict the derogatory nature of the word galla. Dr. Getachew, can you find any Oromo in today’s Ethiopia from east to west or north to south who calls himself/herself galla? You cannot come across anyone. So, why do you want us to carry the name we don’t want? We call ourselves Oromo. As the late Chinua Achebe once remarked “nobody can teach me who I am. You can describe me parts of me, but who I am – and what I need – is something I have to find out myself.” It is just like telling the African Americans to call themselves ‘nigger.’ This is a typical nature of Amhara elites. This is not new. The Amhara elites always want us to abandon Afaan Oromoo and speak and write in Amharic. This reminds me what Europeans used to tell Africans to write their literature in English, French and Portuguese. And Ngugi Wa Thiongo, a Kenyan writer, responded like this: “There is something very wrong in saying to a human being, ‘Let me cut off your legs and I will give you artificial ones, which will be perfect.’ I’m saying let us walk on our own two feet.”
According to Dr. Getachew, Oromo is not a pure ethnic group. He even said the percentage of Oromo people is below 1-5%. This is totally denying the existence of Oromo people in the Empire which is over forty million. He said the Oromo people living in different parts of Ethiopia are different in their pigmentations, and they are only similar in their languages. We speak one language, that is, Afaan Oromoo, not similar languages as Dr. Getachew is lying. That is disingenuous on his part. There are dialects among our people, and this is one of the universal characteristics of a language. Even in developed countries there are dialects. For instance, in United States, the north and the south have different dialects. Imagine, in United States where there are well developed air lines, rail ways, ground transportations, TV, and social media there are still dialects. Gojjam and Gonder are like head and tail. And yet they have different dialects.
The Gojjamme for instance, says ‘albeltom’ where as the Gondere says ‘albelahum. People also dress differently depending where they live. What is, then, a big deal about dialect variations of the Oromo people? The Amharas and the Tigrians have so much in common according to him. Imagine, these two peoples are different ethnic groups, and yet they have too much in common. As Daniel Nayeri said “I think the biggest lie the devil ever told was that beauty and goodness are the same.”He is trying to tell us they are pure. The Oromo, however, are different from one region to another. The truth is there are Amharas and Tigrians with brown and dark colors just like the Oromo people. Some of them are tall while others are short like any human beings. It seems he is clueless about his own people let alone about the Oromo. He is just like Mendzi, the main character, in ‘Mission to Kala.’ The character goes to French school. He learns at school about European geography and history which are irrelevant to the people of Cameroon. When he returns to his village, he finds himself strange to the local way of life. He is double alienated. Dr. Getache Red, too, seems suffering from double alienation.
Dr. Getachew believes the Oromo people are outnumbered other ethnic groups because they subdued them through warfare. According to him, the Oromo people are not pure and as heterogeneous as American people: Greeks, Italians, Jews, Brits, African Americans, Germans…etc. This is another lie fabricated by him. If you go to Walloo, you find names of places such as Hara, Garaadoo, Dagaagaa, Marsaa, Kombolsha, Xiixaa, Kamisee, Caffaa, Roqaa, Luucco, Siida, Wajiiree, Roggicha…etc. Dr. Getachew, are these names your mother’s beads? The names declare loud and clear that the Oromo are everywhere like oxygen in the Empire. The same way in Arsii, Baale, Wallagga, Shawaa, Iluu Abba Boora, Borana and Hararghe the names of rivers, places, mountains, valleys, fields and lakes named in Afaan Oromo. Could you, Dr. Getachew, list the names of these places before the Oromo people assimilated other indigenous people as you allegedly call us immigrants?
The second reason, according to Dr. Getachew Reda, that increased the number of Oromo people was through concubine. As far as I know concubine is unknown in Oromo culture. It has been part of Amhara culture. If you do not believe me read ‘Feker Iskemekabir’ by Haddis Alemayehu. Fitewrari Meshesha, one of the feudal characters, in the novel has so many concubines apart from his wife. Why did the number of Amharas fail to increase, Dr. Getachew? Were they receiving Depo Provera contraceptives? What went wrong with your men’s mewgia, thing? The third reason the Oromo people outnumbered other ethnic group, in Dr. Getachew’s view, was through gudifacha. When the Amharas captured someone at the battle field or subdued a village they would turn them into baryas, slaves. How did that fail to increase the number of Amharas? In Oromo culture, gudifachas have equal rights like anybody in the society, but the Amharas have different shelf for them. They keep having babies secretly from slaves and call them yesew lij, child of man and yebet lij, child of house. They do not carry their fathers’ names. They call them yetabatu/ yetabatua (where is his/her father)? Dr. Getachew, you can read more on this: Seifu Metaferia’s ‘Yabarya Sem Bamaraaw Bahel’ and Teshale Tibebu’s ‘The Making of Modern Ethiopia: 1896 – 1974.’ Teshale’s chapter three is wholly about slaves and occupational minorities.
Who are the Amharas, by the way Dr. Getachew? The Walloyyes (Warra Baabboo, Warra Iluu, Warra Bachoo, Qaalluus, Raayyas, Yejjuus), Gojjammes? Gonderes? Menzes? The majority of the people in Walloo are Oromo. There are people in Gojjam, too, who are Oromo. Even in Gonder there are people who trace their root to Oromo. There are people who have been assimilated in Gojjam and Gonder who are Qimant, Agew and Beja but call themselves Amhara. I don’t know the exact number of Amharas with certainty but their number is much lower than what is being air on media. Dr. Getachew , instead of meddling into oromo affairs, look after your own first. The adoption of Latin script for Afaan Oromoo also has been a bone in the throat for him. He is trying to tell us to use Ge’ez alphabets. They are equally as alien as Latin scripts. We have chosen the Latin script over the Sabean alphabets because it would fit the phonology of Afaan Oromoo. All European countries have been using it. And they are doing fine. What is wrong if we use it? The employment rate is on the rise among the Amharas, and their language is shrinking too since the introduction of qubee. Our path is irreversible no matter what he says: “the Oromo people are aping the white man even though they are blacks.” Our oromo elders say “waywaanni du’a nam hinoolchu.” When loosely translated “apprehension never saves one from death.”
In conclusion, Dr. Getachew Reda’s argument regarding the number and existence of Oromo people in the Empire doesn’t hold water. He failed to back up his argument with evidences. The Oromo people are as old as the rivers, lakes, mountains, fields, valleys and wild animals of Biyya Oromoo.
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