Ethiopia: A Decade after the Aborted Oromo Eviction from Finfinnee

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Jan 10th, 2013
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By Mekuria Bulcha

A DECADE AFTER THE ABORTED OROMO EVICTION FROM FINFINNEE
A Persistent Story of Expropriation, Humiliation and Displacement

 

The first version of this article was published under the title Greater Addis Ababa in the Making: Stop Them, or Keep Quiet and Perish in 2003.  The sub-title is added now. My main aim then was to awaken the Oromo to a tragedy which was in the making in connection to the decision, made by the Ethiopian regime, regarding the status of Finfinnee as the capital city of Oromia. I am republishing the article for readers’ reflection in relation to the problems the Oromo students at Finfinnee/Addis Ababa University are facing at this moment. The demands made by the editor of Gadaa.com recently agree with the suggestions I made back in December 2003, when I wrote the first version of the article as a commentary in support of the Macca-Tuulama Association’s protest against the decision of the Ethiopian regime to evict Oromo institutions from Finfinnee and relocate them in Adama, a town about 100km south of the city.

The first version of the article was published in both English and Afaan Oromoo on December 6, 2003, and also broadcast on Oromo radio stations. A copy of the article was also included as a background document in a petition submitted to the United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan on 13 January 2005 by delegates representing the Oromo Studies Association (OSA), and the Oromo Communities in North America and Europe. Some changes are made in this version in order to update it.

Following the 2005 elections in which the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) lost its seats and a ‘mandate’ to rule the capital city to the opposition, the late PM of Ethiopia, Mr. Meles Zenawi, made an opportunistic turn and withdrew the decision of making Adama the capital city of Oromia evicting Oromo institutions from Finfinnee, which hitherto had been the capital city of both Oromia and Ethiopia. The aim was to win Oromo support. Although the decision to end Finfinnee’s status as the capital city of Oromia was aborted, the problems which were raised in 2003 have remained, not only unresolved, but some of them have even been exacerbated. The eviction of the Oromo from the city’s surroundings has continued and thousands of Oromo families have been displaced to open space for the expanding city. Thus, the expropriation of Oromo property, which started about 120 years ago, has continued and is extended by the present regime to other districts around Finfinnee in all directions. The regime is building “Greater Addis Ababa” displacing the Oromo population. As the cause and consequences of the recent clash between Oromo and Tigrayan students indicates, the Oromo are still being provoked, denigrated and persecuted by the oppressive regime that will displace them from their city.

Introduction

On November 30, 2003, the Macca-Tuulama Association (MTA), an Oromo mass organization with its headquarters in Addis Ababa since the early 1960s, released a statement opposing the on-going eviction of Oromo institutions from Finfinnee (Addis Ababa) and the planned separation of the city from the regional state of Oromia. The forced removal of Oromo institutions was planned and implemented by the current government of Ethiopia. The MTA indicated that the city of Addis Ababa, called Finfinnee by its indigenous inhabitants, is a historical homeland of the Oromo people and argued that the Ethiopian government’s plan to forcibly evacuate Oromo institutions and the offices of the regional government of Oromia is, not only illegal, but a criminal act planned to undermine the cultural rights of about 600,000 Oromos (or 20 per cent of Finfinnee’s population which, according to Central Statistical Agency was 2,980,000 in 2011) and to eventually evict many of them from the city. The association maintained that this is an act of ethnic cleansing, violating, not only the UN Convention on Human and Peoples Rights, but also the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia of 1994, which provides that “The special interest of the State of Oromia in Addis Ababa, regarding provision of social services or the utilisation of natural resources and other similar matters, as well as joint administrative matters arising from the location of Addis Ababa within the State of Oromia, shall be respected.” (Article 49/5)

When I wrote the first version of this commentary in 2003, my intention was not to narrate the history of Finfinnee/Addis Ababa, but to comment on the appeal made by the Macca-Tuulama Association to the international community to help them stop the Ethiopian government’s plan to uproot them and other Oromo institutions from Finfinnee. Although three episodes I have described below and the historical documents cited support the claims which the association made to Finfinnee on behalf of the Oromo nation, my intention to investigate the events which occurred in the past was not to argue that city belongs (or should belong) only to its indigenous population, but to reveal the impunity with which generations of Abyssinian leaders have treated the Oromo in their homeland, in this case in their city, Finfinnee.

As I have argued in 2003, although appealing to the international community for moral, legal and material support is the right thing to do when violation of their basic rights occurs, that alone is not going to protect the Oromo from the violence of the Ethiopian ruling elites because they seem to be obsessed with the idea of dispossessing and uprooting, or as in the case of the present attack on the Oromo students at Finfinnee University, humiliating their subjects. Persistent struggle is needed in order to end the impunity with which the Oromo are treated in their city and homeland. Fredrick Douglass, the famous anti-slavery African American once said that:

Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without demand. It never did, and it never will. Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.

Although Fredrick Douglass’s words were about the injustice of slavery in America in the past, they have a lot of relevance for the Oromo situation. The Oromo should make sacrifices, more than ever before, in order to stop this outrageous violation of their rights, or follow the fate of many indigenous peoples who were unable to protect themselves and have now become extinct. Having said that, I will proceed with the discussion of the different historical episodes leading to the eviction of the Oromo from Finfinnee.

I. Amhara Predators Raid Finfinnee: 1843

Ethiopian history books tell us that the Amharic-speaking community of Menz started to expand from its mountain stronghold in the early eighteenth century to become the Abyssinian rulers of Shawa at the time of Sahle Sellasie (r.1813 to 1847). In 1843 Sahle Sellasie went on one of the predatory raids, he usually conducted twice and often three times a year, into the Tuulama Oromo territory bordering on kingdom of Shawa. Major W. C. Harris, who was sent on a diplomatic mission to Shawa leading a British delegation and followed Sahle Sellasie on several of his raiding expeditions against the Oromo during the 18 months he stayed in the country, reported what he witnessed in his book The Highlands of Aethiopia (1844, Vols. I-III). Harris depicted vividly what he saw while following Sahle Sellasie on his many raiding expeditions against the Oromo. One of these expeditions took place 180 years ago in December, 1843 against Finfinnee, a cluster of prosperous Oromo villages with rich farm lands and numerous life-giving springs and wooded valleys. The quotations in this paper are from Vol. II (p. 185-198) of Harris’ book. What he wrote was corroborated by Johann L. Krapf (Travels, Researches, and Missionary Labours, 1858, 1968) who was in Shawa during the same period. Harris saw Finfinnee from a hill as the Amhara forces descended on it. He called the vast and thickly populated plain lying at the foot of the Entotto hills “the very picture of peace and plenty.” He wrote,

Hundreds of cattle grazed in tempting herds over the flowery meads [meadows]. Unconscious of danger, the unarmed husbandman [herdsman] pursued his peaceful occupation in the field; his wife and children carolled blithely over their ordinary household avocations; and the ascending sun shone bright on smiling valleys, which, long before his going down, were left tenanted [occupied] only by the wolf and the vulture.

Harris noted that, after conferring for a while with an Orthodox priest acting as his father confessor, Sahle Sellasie ordered the expectant army to “carry fire and sword through the land.” What followed was exactly what the king ordered his forces to do.

Rolling on like the mighty waves of the ocean, down poured the Amhára host among the rich glades and rural hamlets, at the heels of the flying inhabitants—tramping underfoot the fields of the ripening corn, in parts half reaped, and sweeping before them the vast herds of cattle which grazed untended in every direction. When far beyond the range of vision, their destructive progress was still marked by the red flames that burst forth in turn from the thatched roofs of each village; and the havoc committed many miles to the right by the division of Abagáz Maretch, who was advancing parallel to the main body, and had been reinforced by the detachment under Ayto Shishigo, became equally manifest in numerous columns of white smoke, towering upwards to the azure firmament in rapid succession.

Having indicated the utmost satisfaction expressed in Sahle Sellasie’s eyes while watching the progress of his forces who “poured impetuously down the steep side of the mountain and swept across the level plain,” the British envoy continues to describe the magnificent view over the country that was devoured by sword and fire. The “beautifully secluded valley of Finfinni, which, in addition to … high cultivation, and snug hamlets”, he wrote, “boast a large share of natural beauty. Meadows of the richest green turf, sparkling clear rivulets leaping down in sequestered cascades, with shady groves of the most magnificent juniper lining the slopes, and waving their moss-grown branches above cheerful groups of circular wigwams, surrounded by implements of agriculture, proclaimed a district which had long escaped the hand of wrath.” And as the troops “performed their bloody work” and the air became dark with the smoke coming from scores of burning Oromo villages,

The luckless inhabitants, taken quite by surprise, had barely time to abandon their property, and fly [flee] for their lives to the fastness of Entotto … The spear of the warrior searched every bush for the hunted foe. Women and girls were torn from their hiding to be hurried into helpless captivity Old men and young were indiscriminately slain and mutilated among the fields and groves; flocks and herds were driven off in triumph, and house after house was sacked and consigned to the flames … Whole groups and families were surrounded and speared within the walled courted yards, which were strewed with the bodies of the slain. [Those] who betook themselves to the open plain were pursued and hunted down like wild beasts; children of three and four years of age, who had been placed in the trees with the hope that they might escape observation, were included in the inexorable massacre, and pitilessly shot among the branches. In the course of two hours the division left the desolated valley laden with spoil, and carrying with them numbers of wailing females and mutilated orphan children, together with the barbarous trophies that had been stripped from the mangled bodies of their murdered victims.

Continuing with his description of the woes and destruction inflicted upon Finfinnee’s inhabitants who, as mentioned above, lived a peaceful and happy life just moments before the invaders descended on them, Harris wrote:

The hoarse scream of the vulture as she wheeled in funeral circles over this appalling scene of carnage and devastation, mingled with the crackling of falling roofs and rafters from the consuming [burning] houses, alone disturbed the grave-like silence of the dreary and devoted spot, so lately resounding to the fiendish shouts and war whoops of the excited warriors, and to the un-pitied groans of their helpless captives … gloomy columns of smoke rising thick and dense to the darkened heavens, for miles in every direction, proclaimed that this recently so flourishing and beautiful location had in a few brief hours been utterly ruined, pillaged, and despoiled, as far as the means of ruthless and savage man could effect its destruction.

After looting and destroying Finfinnee, the Amhara forces marched to Eekkaa (Yekkaa), today a suburb of Finfinnee/Addis Ababa. Harris noted that “the Abyssinian system of warfare consists in surprise, murder, and butchery, not in battle or fair conflict.” The reason for avoiding open engagement by Sahle Sellasie was in fact that the Oromo had repeatedly defeated him in battle. Taking the Eekkaa Oromo by surprise, his forces repeated their work of destruction they have already performed in Finfinnee. Harris wrote,

As the evening approached the scattered forces began to rendezvous around the state umbrellas, now unfurled, to which they were directed by the incessant beating of kettle-drums. Whilst the work of destruction still continued to rage on all sides, herd after herd of lowing beeves [cattle) pouring towards the royal standard, and each new foraging party brought with it fresh groups of captive women and girls, and the barbarous tokens of their prowess … The slaughter had been immense. Every desolated court-yard was crowded with the bodies of the slain—childhood and decrepit age fared alike; murderers, unconscious of the disgrace attaching to unmanly deeds, unblushingly heralded their shame, and detailing their deeds of cruelty, basked in the smiles of their savage and approving monarch … (emphasis mine).

Night Life in the Predators Camp

Harris wrote that after fourteen hours of raiding, looting, killing and burning, the weary forces halted in the Eekkaa valley.  The “horses and mules were … turned loose among the standing beans, and several thousand head of cattle [43,000, see Sven Ege, Class, State, and Power in Africa: A case Study of the Kingdom of Shawa, 1996] tired to death with the distance they had been driven from their … pastures, were, with infinite difficulty” collected in one secure spot. And “the King took his position for the night” contented with what he had achieved.

Major Harris’ description of life at Sahle Sellasie’s night camp reveals a telling contrast between the defeat and destruction of the Oromo on one hand, and victory and joy of their adversaries on the other. While reading what he narrates about the night, one almost ‘hears’ the sounds made by the displaced and agitated livestock, the screams of female captives calling for help or pleading that their captors leave them alone, the crying children who saw their parents killed during the day and now being dragged into slavery by their captors, the burning of their villages and homes surrounding Sahle Sellasie’s camping site, and the boastful fukara and qararto (war songs) of his Amhara forces. Harris wrote that,

Loud whoops and yells, arising from every quarter of the wide valley, mingled with the incessant lowing kine [cattle], the bleating of sheep, the thrill neighing of the war-steed, and the occasional wailing of some captive maid, subjected to the brutality of her unfeeling possessor. Groups of grim warriors, their hands embroiled in the innocent blood of infancy, and their stern features lighted by the fitful flame, chuckling over the barbarous spoils they had won, vaunted their inhuman exploits, as they feasted greedily … Spears and bucklers gleamed brightly around hundreds of bale-fires, composed of rafters stripped from the surrounding houses; and the whole distant landscape, red from the lurid glare reflected by scores of crackling [burning] hamlets (emphasis mine).

One may add that this happened, not only in Finfinnee or was committed only by Sahle Sellasie, but in numerous Oromo districts for many years after him leading to the genocide that killed half of the Oromo population at the end of the nineteenth century. Harris noted that Sahle Sellasie had carried out about 84 raids against his Oromo neighbours in every direction between 1813 and 1843.

Sahle Sellasie returned to Finfinnee and Eekkaa for the second time in 1843 because those who survived the first onslaught refused to submit or pay tributes to him. Harris wrote “The survivors of Ekka and Finfinni tribes, believing the fatal storm to be expended, had already returned with the residue of their flocks and herds, and were actively engaged in restoring their dilapidated habitations, when the Amhara hordes again burst over their valley, slew six hundred souls, and captured all the remaining cattle.” This time the predators looted 6000 head of cattle (Ege, 1996). Sahle Sellasie was not able to bring Finfinnee under his control. He died in 1847 and was succeeded by his son Haile Melekot, who continued with the predatory raids against the Oromo until his death in 1855.

II.  Amhara Conquest and Occupation in the mid-1880s and Oromo Eviction

In 1865, Menelik, the son of Haile Melekot, became the ruler of Shawa. Sahle Sellasie could repeatedly raid but not able to occupy Finfinnee. Though equipped with firearms, his forces were not capable to defend themselves against the famous Oromo cavalry on a permanent basis. But, Menelik was able to do what Sahle Sellasie failed to accomplish. He was, not only able to raid the Oromo territories, but also occupy them permanently. He was assisted by modern weapons he could amass in exchange for booties he collected in his numerous raids against the Oromo and other peoples in the southern regions what is today Ethiopia, and the revenues he collected from the slave trade with Arabia and the Ottoman Empire. The possession of modern weapons in large quantities enabled him, not only to defeat the Oromo, but outbid his northern rivals for the Abyssinian throne as well as to compete, as the only Africa ruler, with European states in the colonial scramble for Africa. Unlike his European counterparts, who ruled their colonies from their metropolises in Europe, Menelik moved his capital to Finfinnee in the middle of his newly built empire.

As he started expansion into Oromo territory, Menelik first built his capital in 1881 on the Entotto ranges overlooking the magnificent plains and valleys of Finfinnee. Entotto was chosen as a strategic site defensible against the surrounding Oromo who were not yet subjugated. By mid 1880s, the subjugation of the Oromo in this area was completed, and Menelik was able to descend from Entotto, build his capital over the ruins of villages and farms in Finfinnee in 1887, and renamed it Addis Ababa. Tens of thousands of Oromos were evicted as Menelik granted their land to the nobility and their soldiers, and as the city expanded over the years. Many of the uprooted moved to the south within their country and some migrated to west. The loss of Finfinnee was documented about 120 years ago in an Oromo poem titled: “No More Standing on Entotto” by an anonymous author just after occupation.

English translation

No more standing on Intottoo,
to look on meadows blow,
No more taking cattle to Finfinnee,
to water at the mineral springs.
No more gathering on Daalattii,
where the Gullallee assembly used to meet
No more going beyond Gafarsaa,
to chop firewood.
No more pasturing calves,
on the meadows of Hurufa Bombi.
The year the enemy came
our cattle were consumed.
Since Mashasha came,
freedom has vanished.

Afaan Oromoo

Inxooxoo dhabatanii
Caffee gad ilaalun haafe,
Finfinnee loon geessani,
hora obaasuun hafe
Tullu Daalatti irratt
Yaa’iin Gullallee hafee
Gafarsatti dabrani
qoraan cabsuun hin hafee
Hurufa Bombi irratti,
jabbilee yaasuun hafee
Bara jarri dhufani,
Loon keenyaas ni dhumani
Edda Mashashan dhufee
Birmaadummaan hinhafee.

(Source: Wolde Yohannes Warqineh and Gammachu Malkaa: Oromiyaa: Yetedebeqew yegif Tarik, 1994)

It was Dajazmach Mashasha Seyfu, one of the grandsons of Sahle Sellassie who, on behalf of his cousin Menelik II, occupied the Finfinnee and the adjacent Oromo territory in the late 1870s. The destruction inflicted by Mashasha was more severe than that which was caused by his grandfather Negus Sahle Sellasie in 1843 described above.  The Amhara occupation of Finfinnee and Oromo uprooting became permanent. The author of the poem laments the occupation of his homeland and suppression of its social institution, political and military institution—Gadaa, and the destruction of economic production and the natural environment of Finfinnee by the occupiers. The conquerors also went on to change the identity of the place: they renamed it Addis Ababa, and built a city using Oromo sweat and blood. And from Addis Ababa, the rest of Oromoland and the Ethiopian Empire was colonised, controlled, oppressed and exploited for more than 100 years.

1991: TPLF Captures Finfinnee and Oromo eviction continues

In 1991 Tigrinya speaking elites from Maqale and Adwa, not only took the turn to rule the Ethiopian empire, but also to decide whether the Oromo should live or not live in Finfinnee. During the last twenty years, the Tigrayan regime has uprooted thousands of Oromo politicians, intellectuals and businessmen from Finfinnee, and has succeeded in silencing many critical Oromo voices in the city and the country. The regime has imprisoned and/or sent into exile Oromo journalists, writers and artists; it has closed down all Oromo newspapers, journals and cultural clubs. Members of political organisations representing Oromo interests have been jailed, tortured and killed or exiled. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of Oromos scattered all over the world, and the number of Oromo refugees from Finfinnee has increased steadily and significantly during the last two decades. Harassed and terrorized by the regime, many Oromo businessmen have closed down their businesses and gone into exile.

I wrote in 2003 that the TPLF regime is now planning to make Finfinnee and the surrounding towns and villages into “Greater Addis Abba,” and displacing Oromo-speaking inhabitants. The Oromo will be relegated to the backyard and marginalized further as “Greater Addis Ababa” will be a zone that is free from the Oromo language. I argued that, if not stopped now, one should expect that the plan which Mr. Zenawi’s regime has for Finfinnee would have far-reaching consequences on the Oromo. Their uprooting will not be limited to Finfinnee area alone. Addis Ababa is going to expand towards the towns of Bishfotu in the East, Sabbata and beyond in Southwest, Sandafa and Shano in Northeast and Holota and even toward Ambo in the West. The scenario is that the regime will work actively to discourage Oromo presence in any culturally or institutionally organised manner in the region. Addis Ababa will get rid of everything that is reminiscent of  its historical Oromo identity, and eventually the Meles Zenawi regime or his successors will call the region “Greater Addis Ababa” and declare it a federal, Amharic-speaking autonomous region or “zone.” Consequently, I argued that the TPLF regime, with the Finfinnee experiment as a starting point, wants to create “Oromo-free” zones or settlements cutting the Oromo territory into several pieces in the same way Israeli settlements perforate the occupied Palestinian territories. Much of what I had feared a decade ago has taken place already. The plan has not changed with the death of Mr. Zenawi, who had master-minded it. The present Prime Minister has solemnly declared to fulfill the goals set up by his predecessor and mentor. Oromo uprooting from Finfinnee and other parts of Oromia will not stop. The number of Oromos seeking asylum will inevitably increase with the on-going crackdown on Oromo students and continued exacerbation of the violations of human rights in general.

All the above is a common knowledge, not only in Finfinnee/Addis Ababa, but internationally as well. It suffices to look at the many reports filed by international human rights organisations, such as Amnesty International, Africa Watch, Human Rights Watch, etc. to get a view of the human rights situation in Ethiopia during the last ten years. Needless to add, this gross violation of human and people’s rights should not be allowed to continue.

Who will stop it?

The primary responsibility of stopping the Oromo eviction is that of the Oromo people themselves. We should make it absolutely clear to those who will uproot us from our homeland that they are engaged in a dangerous enterprise that can backfire. Non-Oromos should know that we have nothing against those who respect our human rights and will live with us in peace, but will not accept uprooting and humiliation anymore. This cannot be done by paper work or appeals to the international community alone. That is necessary, but not enough. We know from experience the futility of appealing to others to have Oromo rights respected. That means, we should engage in a real struggle to gain respect and security in our own country. Here, struggle means concrete action on the spot. It means organised peaceful demonstration and protest in Finfinnee itself. Indeed, solidarity demonstrations can be staged in cities around the world by Oromos in the diaspora, but it would be futile to make appeals abroad until and unless such a demonstration takes place first in Finfinnee. The population of Finfinnee should not be terrorised by the TPLF regime into passive acquiescence, but continue to protest. They should know that, once they are displaced from their territory, appeals to the international community are not going to help them to regain their rights. This is what the histories of the Palestinian refugees, and other uprooted and displaced populations teach us. Furthermore, there are several million Oromos physically not far away from Finfinnee who could be mobilised for peaceful demonstrations. Inhabitants of other Oromo cities and towns can stage demonstrations in solidarity with those in Finfinnee. Finfinnee is their city; it is the capital city of Oromia.

I argued in 2003 that the problem of terrorism and eviction should concern, not only the Oromo, but also the other peoples of Ethiopia. In particular, the oppressed peoples of the south should be approached for their co-operation. The Sidama, Somali, Anuak, Gurage, Walaita, Kambata, Hadiya, etc. should understand that it will be their turn tomorrow to be forcibly uprooted and displaced. They should know that the Finfinnee experiment will be repeated also in the cities and towns of any of the southern peoples. The same is true about the current problem of the Oromo students of Finfinnee University. It must not be their problem alone. Oromo students from all over Oromia around the world must be concerned in the first place. The Oromo people must cooperate with their sons and daughters. Students from other nationalities in Finfinnee and other cities Ethiopia must show their solidarity.

However, whatever the cost may be, the Oromo should not accept the humiliation perpetrated against them in Finfinnee and elsewhere in their homeland. As Fredrick Douglass had stated, “The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” It is time that the Oromo learn from the historic anti-apartheid struggle of the people of South Africa, the Intifada of the Palestinian children, and the Civil Rights Movement of the African-Americans, who used both peaceful and non-peaceful means to have their rights and humanity respected. To quote Fredrick Douglass once again, the Oromo should not hesitate to use both ‘words and blows’ to get rid of the injustice being committed against them.

In 2003 the Macca-Tuulama Association demanded that the decision made by the Ethiopian Government to remove Oromo institutions from Addis Ababa/Finfinnee be revoked immediately and Oromo rights to their historical homeland respected. As indicated above, the regime did not listen to the Oromo. However, when the regime was forced by the popular mood that led to its loss mandate over the city, it dropped the decision to move Oromo institutions from the capital. However, the revocation, I think, is not enough. The demands should include the following points in order to enhance Oromo rights and special interests in the city as granted by the Ethiopian Constitution and ratified by the present regime. As I have indicated in 2003, this is the least the Oromo can peacefully ask from a regime that has conquered and is occupying their city.

1. Change the name of the area and city back to its original name Finfinnee. An Oromo name is as good as any other name. Addis Ababa is an imposed colonial name as Salisbury was before it was renamed Harare.

2. Today Finfinnee’s city squares are decorated mainly by statues of Abyssinian leaders who had committed atrocious crimes against the Oromo people and against humanity. Acknowledge the crimes they committed and build parks and monuments in commemoration of the thousands of men, women and children who were massacred or taken prisoners and enslaved by Sahle Sellasie and Menelik.

3. It is a violation of human rights to prevent more than half a million Oromos living in the city from using their language as they wish. It was with Addis Ababa as a centre that the Ethiopian rulers suppressed and tried to destroy Oromo heritage. Build Oromo institutions and revive the Oromo language and culture in Finfinnee. Give Finfinnee’s main streets and avenues names that commemorate Oromo historical personalities and events.

4. The last line in the poem cited above reads: “Edda Mashashan dhufee (Since Mashasha came),Birmaadummaan hinhafee (freedom has vanished)”.  It time to stop the violation of Oromo human rights that started more than a century ago and rebuild the damages it has caused starting in Finfinnee.

* Mekuria Bulcha, PhD and Professor of Sociology, is an author of widely read books and articles. His new book, Contours of the Emergent and Ancient Oromo Nation, is published by CASAS (Centre for Advanced Studies of African Society), Cape Town, South Africa, in 2011. He was also the founder and publisher of The Oromo Commentary (1990-1999). He is an active member of the OLF and has served in the different branches of the national movement since the 1970s.

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