Monthly Archives: February 2014

Names and Identity: The case of Oromo names cultural genocide

By Hawi Chala | September 8, 2013

Our names distinguish us from billions of people in this world. To many of us names, the most fundamental part of a human being, gives us a sense of identity and belonging to a given society. Because names are part of every culture of a given society, they often put a strong connection between the individual who receive the name and the society that give the name. By giving a name the society acknowledges the personal existence in that society and simultaneously the society confirms its own responsibility towards that person. In other words, names are preliminary prove whether a person belongs to a given society. If we take these names Megersa, and Abreha, we can identify that the former belongs to Oromo identity and the latter belongs to Tigrean identity. Therefore, We are able to identify their identity just only by looking their names because we know that these names only belong to that community.

By carrying that particular name, the individual share the history of his society and become part of the nation. Since that particular name differentiate that child from others, the society will foster and socialize the child with needs and feelings different from those of others. That is why many of us own different feeling and needs depends on where we came from and the ethnic group we have been socialized with. Because of that name his /her needs and feeling will exist different from others. For instance, an Oromo child born and grown up in Norway will remain an Oromo, and have different feeling and needs from his/her Norwegian friends.

Having an Oromo name by itself will make her/him able to feel a sense of attachment to his/her Oromo heritage and culture.

There are different ways of naming a child in Oromo culture. When families give names to their children, they have usually, if not always, put a reason behind that, such as for example religion, specific situation the family find itself, places, hopes they have for the child and etc.

Religion plays a significant role in names.

A religious family usually names their child from their religious perspective.  A Christian family may either give a baptismal name or after people in the bible; while a Muslim family give a name after people in Quran or from Quran perspective. The same applies in other religion too. By doing so, each family need to assert that the child belongs to their respective religion. These names given after people in Bible or Quran helps the person to have the attachment to the faith and to feel that they are part of the faith.

In Oromo culture when a woman get married, she is given a new name in addition to her previous name to indicate that the woman now onwards belongs to her husband family. Women from the western culture are not required to change their name but they instead change their family name to their husband family name. The logic behind the new name in both cultures is to indicate that the woman will belong to her husband kinship family and the new name indicates her new identity.

Influence of ‘famous individual & literature on name choice

In this modern world media and literature play important role in choosing names. The more medias cover about models, artists, influential people, the more we became familiar with their names and the more we became inspired by them and their names..

Names like Tilahun (after the singer Tilahun Gessese, Mengistu after X-president Mengistu H/Mariam, Aster (after singer Aster Awoke), Tewodros (after king Tewodros).etc , have been commonly used among many Ethiopian.

Historically since Oromo people have been denied any government key positions, and since the Oromo literature have been weakened purposely by government, since our talented artists were unable to shine out due to oppression and limited opportunities given, it has been a big challenge for Oromo names to get promotion opportunity through Ethiopian medias and literature. Due to this, their popularity of Oromo names couldn’t shine out rather remained mired in rural setting of Oromia.

Our names make the core of our identity.

The link between personal identity and a given name is at the heart of this article wants to discuss thoroughly.

As we have discussed above, many scientific studies confirmed also that there is a strong link between a given name, identity and personality.

The link between a name and identity happens in our daily life starting from when we introduce our selves to a new friend, to various daily events. If I tell you that my name is Roberto, you can easily distinguish me that I might be an Italian, or if your name is called “Hawi” I can easily guess that you are an Oromo. If your friends hold the name Abrehet, we can guess that she is Tigrean and if the other friend also has the name Wi Hu Zhao we might guess that he/she is a Chinese. More than their metaphorical usage. these names  help us to distinguish  the person identity, where he is from and the society she/he belongs to.

When people have odd names, names that don’t explain his/her identity, it would make hard for others to easily distinguish who is he/she and to whom she/he belongs. In other word through his/her given name, the name is unable to explain his/her identity.

During the colonial period, many of African indigenous names were changed to the colonizer interest names to indirectly change their mind to loose their identity. If you travel to Nigeria today you hardly find indigenous names among the new generation instead people are favoring British names.

During the slave trade times when Africans left the continent, they left also their names, culture and all of their identity, where they were in return given new slavery names with new identity. They lost their identity and their roots. This is a proof why these days the Caribbean and many black Americans have lost the feeling of African identity. In resistant to this identity crisis many black American civil right activist marched various movement condemning their cultural genocide. One of the prominent activist was Malcolm who refused the name given by white imperialists and changed his name to Malcolm X , which became later one of the cause for his assassination. . He chose the new surname “ X” to signify his lost tribal name and identity.

The same cultural genocide has happened in Ethiopia against Oromo people names. In Oromo people culture, names represent an important part of life and have been a pillar of our identity. Since Oromos population largely surpasses other ethnic group in number, there has been groundless fear among successive Ethiopian leaders to be overwhelmed by this majority groups. In response to this, one of the strategies used by these successive repressive regimes has been to make the Oromo people systematically loose their identity through developing a feeling of proud Ethiopianism while feeling embarrassed with Oromuma identity. To ensure the domination of Abyssinians‎ culture over the Oromo people and to strength their assimilation policy, these successive governments have banned the Oromo language, culture and names. Speaker of Afan Oromo language and holders of Oromo names were privately and publicly ridiculed and embarrassed.

Following the victory of Minilik on the war with Oromo, between 1868 and 1900, where more than 5 million Oromos were killed, hundred and thousand of Habesha settlers were dispatched in to fortified settlements across Oromia. These Habesha settlers didn’t only take away the vast land of Oromia, but also changed Oromo place name to Amharic names and banned Oromo cultural practice. Classic example of this names genocide is the name of the following Oromoia cities: Addis Ababa (Finfinne ),  Nazret (Adama), Debrezeit (Bishoftu), Zeway (Batu), Asebe Teferi (Chiro), Hageremariam (Bole-Bora ) ….etc were the victim of the eradication policy of Oromo names.

During various resettlement program in the country history, many Oromos , who has lost their own land by the government to give to multinational cooperation, were also resettled in different parts of the country including Gojjam and Gonder. Even today if you travel around Gojjam and Gonder you will surprisingly hear a lot of indigenous Oromo names. This was one of government strategy to silently kill the booming of Oromo culture through the assimilation policy at the back of the settlement program. These Amharized oromos have Oromo roots but baptized under Amhara culture. Holding surnames may keep the attachment with Oromo people, but that alone wouldn’t make them proud of Oromumma since they have lost the feeling and the culture of Oromo people.

Now we came across two paradoxes. In one hand we have said that there are few indigenous Oromo names in Gojjam and other parts of the Amhara region while in other hand we know that there are millions of Amharic names among Oromo people.

Let me stop you here and give you two minutes break while thinking your friends or families who is holding Amhara names.

Roughly 2 out of 3 Oromos have an Amharic names.

Then my big question is :

Why Oromo families name their children by Amharic names instead of Oromo names? Or  why the name Adane is preferred than Feyisa among Oromo families?

Well, It undeniable fact that from our grand –grand fathers to the present Qube generation, having an Oromo names make us embarrassed and feel less valued. It was not a hidden history that many Oromo families changed their names in to Amharic names when they moved to towns in order to escape from discrimination and easily integrate in to the dominant Habesha culture.

Until recently it has been regarded that holding Oromo names was perceived as foolish, ruralist, impulsive, not moody, “geja” and many more abusive words. They made us feel that an Oromo names is less valued over Habesha names. Take for instance these names, Tolesa, Kiros, Gezahegn, Megertu, Hiwot ? Which name is better off the other ? Names are names. Every name is beautiful to the society it belongs. But the successive Ethiopian brutal governments make us feel down with our names, made us feel embarrassed with our beautiful Oromo names, made us feel that our names is backward, regressive & unmodernised, made us feel that our Oromo names has negative implication rather than its identity justification. They ridiculed and insulted us for we are holding Oromo names.

Many Oromo children change their name when they start school because they inherited that embarrassing feeling with holding Oromo name at school. The Habeshas used to insult and made jokes on our Oromo names. This inhuman mistreatment made our Oromo families feel ashamed with their names and their children names. These insults and discrimination made by Habeshas forced many Oromo familes to give Amharic names to their children.

They changed in to the Amharic names not because they changed their oromuma identity but only because they need to protect the psychology of their children not to feel embarrassed and ashamed with Oromo names.

Until recently many Oromo job-seekers are forced to change their Oromo names and hide their Oromuma to increase chances of being hired by employers.

This cultural genocide against Oromo names by successive Ethiopian government was supposed to bury our Oromo identity. I am not going to naysay the very fact that we have been affected by identity crisis. But at the same time we could survive the name genocide and regained our Oromo identity. Thanks to those who have fought and sacrificed their life, we are now able to feel proud with our survived identity and names. But the scarce of our name genocide will never be forgotten.

Names build a nation

The connection between names and identity does not only affect people. Names and naming also constitute an important part of the work of the building of a nation. This becomes quite evident if we take a look at the history of Norway and Eritrea during the period following the independence of Norway from Denmark in 1814 and Eritrea from Ethiopia 20 years ago. After the end of 400 years of Denmark rule, the Norwegian people gained a new feeling of freedom and independence which provoked a strong wave of National Romanticism, and this, among many other things, also called forth a strong agitation to bring back the Old Norwegians names and put them to use instead of imported, foreign colonial names. This revival of the so-called national names has later become known as the Nordic Name Renaissance. The same history has recently happened in Eritrea. As a consequence of National Romanticism, Eritrean government has implicitly prohibited Ethiopian music, language and names in Eritrea so as to boom Eritrean own culture, than imported names and cultures.

The same logic should work for Oromo cultural revival.  By giving Oromo names to our children, we should play important part of building greater Oromia. We should provoke a strong wave of OROMIA ROMANTICISM and RENAISSANCE.  In fact many Oromo youngsters, especially the Qubee generation has showed their resistance to the system by changing their Amharized name in to the beautiful Oromo names. To continuously pass our identity from generation to generation and attach the feeling of Oromo identity, we should name our children with our beautiful Oromo name. We have cultural responsibility to stop this cultural genocide of our identity names by making our self and our children feel proud of Oromumma by naming with indigenous Oromo names. Through naming of Oromo names, each of us has a responsibility to build a nation that feels proud of its identity, a nation that struggle for its freedom and a nation that proudly say I am a Oromo first and no more Amharic names!


Adler, Peter (2002) : Beyond cultural identity : Reflections on multiculturalism , Pepperdin University, school of Law, USA.

Benedicta, Windt, (2012) : Names and personal identity in Literary context, Oslo studies in language. Vol 4, No 2 (2012), Oslo , Norway.

Taylor, Paul et al (2012): When Labels don’t fit: Hispanics and their views of identity. Pew Research center´s Hispanic Trends project, USA.

Hawi chala : can be reached by this email :



1. Born to Serve and Die Serving , by Hawi Chala


TOLTU TUFA On radio with Jon Faine on the conversation hour at ABC studios Melbourne

Bekele Nadhi, a pioneer Oromo leader and activist, dies at 80

By Mohammed Ademo

(OPride) – Bekele Nadhi, a prominent lawyer and fierce Oromo rights activist, who was among the pioneer founders of the Macha Tulama Association (MTA) passed away at his home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Tuesday from heart complications. He was 80.

Ob Baqqalaa Nadhii1Over the last 50 years, since the founding of the MTA until his death, Bekele served in various leadership capacities, including as a president, vice president, honorary president and most recently legal advisor, according to statements from the organization.

The MTA was formed in 1964 as a grassroots-based pan-Oromo organization to promote socio-economic development across Oromia, the Oromo country, and to emancipate the Oromo from cultural marginalization, political oppression, and economic exploitation. The Oromo are Ethiopia’s single largest ethno-national group.

A watershed event in Oromo history, the creation of the MTA allowed Oromo activists to mobilize their resources and unite disparate resistance movements against feudal oppression. Its founders played a monumental role in the Oromo reawakening, not least through the publication of a fervently revolutionary literature. The organization attracted Oromo luminaries, including martyrs Mamo Mazamir and Baro Tumsa as well as former Oromo Liberation Front leaders such as Lencho Lata, Ibsa Gutama and Taha Abdi.

But it was during the organization’s turbulent episodes that Bekele’s able leadership and dedication was felt the most. The MTA was repeatedly banned under three successive Ethiopian regimes. Time and again, Bekele played the role of a savior, courageously steering the organization out of the stormy seas. He was the steady hand that manned the ship in its greatest hour of need.

In 1967, when the then Haile Selassie regime arrested its core leadership and banned the MTA at the peak of the organization’s ascendancy, the defiant Bekele clandestinely organized activists to ensure continuity. He was later elected vice president when the organization’s founding father and longest serving president Colonel Alemu Qixessaa was released from prison. In early 2000s, upon the Colonel’s passing, Bekele led the organization as its interim president for a period of one year.

He subsequently stepped down and passed on the torch to Dr. Gemechu Megersa. Shortly there after, the organization was embroiled in a rare spate of internal disputes, once again requiring Bekele’s seasoned intervention, ending with an early election.

In 2004, Ethiopia’s ruling party, the EPRDF, once again arrested Dr. Gemechu’s successor, Diribi Demissie along with other senior leadership for alleged ‘political’ activities. The banning of the organization followed suit, the last nail in the coffin of independent Oromo civic and open activism. The octogenarian Bekele would not relent, even at an advanced age. He offered his place of business for board meeting and relentlessly campaigned for the release of its leaders and the reopening of the organization.

Born and raised in Addis Ababa, the cosmopolitan Bekele was also remarkable in many other respects. Decade after decade, how he led his life and carried himself around served as a relentless reminder of Addis Ababa’s Oromo identity – an inspiration for the Oromo and a thorn in the throat of his detractors. This has endeared him to friends and even those who disagreed with his political views. In addition to his more than a half-century of activism and leadership, Bekele often facilitated a return of the body of Oromo expats who passed away abroad, including the late Sisay Ibsa.

Bekele was a father of four children, including two surviving daughters. According to Oromo elder Lube Birru, Bekele treasured Oromo culture so much so that each time he left the city he would join wedding parties uninvited to learn about traditional Oromo wedding ceremonies.

Obbo Lubee recalled one historic case from Bekele’s long legal career. It was during Haile Selassie srule. Bekele represented a group of 80 farmers who were evicted from their farmland in from the Arsi province. When the local court ruled against the farmers, Bekele managed to present the case beforethe emperor at the Zufan Chilot – an appeal “court” where the monarch himself gave the ruling.

Anticipating an unfavorable judgment, Bekele apparently advised his clients on how to react to the ruling. “Oh, Waaqa!We will not ask this court to review our case again…we gave you this case,” the farmers cried upon hearing the king’s verdict. “Oh! Waaqa, May you be the ultimate righteous judge!”

As the farmers exited the court, petrified, Haile Selassie asked Bekele to bring them back and reversed his decision. And they were allowed to keep their land.

Bekele was fiercely independent, patient and truly loyal, according to emailed obituary from the MTA. “He lived a principled life dedicated to the service of others,” the statement said. “His legacy and heroism will continue to reverberate and inspire for generations to come.”

A memorial service will be held at the Saris Abo Church in central Addis Ababa on Feb. 13, 2014, according to the organizers.

A U.S.-based nonprofit, the Macha-Tulama Cooperative and Development Association, is commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the founding of MTA on August 1, 2014 in Washington, DC.


OSGA Invited to the UN to report on human rights abuses

HCH is working in conjunction with the Oromia Support Group of Australia (OSGA), one of our long standing community partners, to raise urgently required funds toward a unique opportunity to present serious allegations of human rights abuses in Ethiopia, at the highest level; the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

Human rights organisations have long been reporting human rights abuses committed by the Ethiopian government, which include rape, torture, arbitrary detention and kidnapping. OSGA is an Australian based organisation that was established in 2008 to report on and raise awareness of these violations.

They have recently been offered a significant opportunity to send a delegate to the 19th session of the UN Human Rights Council’s UPR in April, 2014. There they will present a first-hand account of human rights abuses committed by the Ethiopian government.

This opportunity, to report first-hand accounts of torture, arbitrary imprisonment and rape to senior UN officials, will enable them to forward these concerns to the Ethiopian government during the official UPR process. This process will require the Ethiopian government to answer the accusations.

OSGA is raising urgently needed funds to send a representative from the Ethiopian community in Australia. The estimated total cost is approximately $5,000. If you can help, OSGA can provide a receipt, and will also report on the acquisition of any funds. Any contribution would greatly assist this effort.

If you can contribute, please contact info@osgaustralia


Ethiopia Spymaster infiltrates Kenya police

By Kasembeli Albert , The Sunday Express

(February 10, 2014, Nairobi, Kenya )— Anxiety has gripped the corridors of power and the National Police Services after it emerged that Ethiopian National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) has infiltrated the service and established a unit within, which pays allegiance to NISS and executes orders from Addis Ababa.

Security pundits consider this an act of treason on the part of Kenya police officers involved.

Despite notification from the Kenya spymaster – National Security Intelligence Services (NSIS), sources intimated to The Sunday Express that nothing had been done to avert the lurking threat to the national security by such infiltration by a foreign agency.

“This guys are operating with impunity as though they are no longer officers of the National police Service,” said a senior police officer at Vigilance House.

When contacted the Inspector General, David Kimaiyo denied knowledge of such a unit operating under his arm bit. “Am not aware of that. In fact am hearing it from you,” said Kimaiyo.

Though officials at the Ethiopian Embassy in Nairobi declined to comment on the matter only referring as to Addis Abba, our sources within the embassy divulged that 50 polices officers are on the pay roll of the Ethiopia Government.

The officers under the command of senior police officer based in Nairobi received a total monthly payment of 900,000 Ethiopia Birr (KSh4.5 million) monthly minus the allowances and money meant to facilitate specific operations. The officers are said to live a lavish life and are accessible to top of the range cars.

Even as Ethiopia appears to be using the old spying system. Questions are emerging as to why the government has never taken stern measures against officers involved including charging them with treason because it is clear espionage.

Security analyst Simiyu Werunga attributes this to poor pay and deplorable working conditions, leaving the officers more vulnerable to corruption and bribery. “The government should take a stern action against the suspects for having taken part in criminal activities against their country even after taking an oath,” he said.

It is worth noting that NISS is a very powerful and dreaded organ of Ethiopia’s totalitarian government. It is to protect national security by providing quality intelligence and reliable security services. Under the plans presented, it is accountable to the Prime Minister. The agency has a wide permit to lead intelligence and security work both inside and outside Ethiopia.

“The unit specifically compiles intelligence reports as to specifics missions as requests made by Addis,” said a source privy to operations of the unit. The unit too specifically monitors the operations of Ethiopian dissidents and refugees living in Kenya.

The unit is also said to be responsible for kidnappings of Ethiopian refuges and dissidents and their subsequent repatriation to Addis Ababa where they face death, brutality and long prison sentences. The unit has specific detail to trail their eyes on Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and the Oganden National Liberation Front (ONLF).

Last week, two police officers appeared in court charged with alleged abduction of two ONLF leaders in Nairobi. On January 26, two top officials of ONLF were abducted from outside a popular restaurant in Upper Hill, Nairobi. The two who were identified as Mr Sulub Ahmed and Ali Hussein were members of the ONLF negotiation team that was in Nairobi for a proposed third round of talks.

It is claimed security agencies from Ethiopia and Kenya were involved in the kidnapping. They were abducted by men who were in three waiting cars. One of the cars, a black Toyota Prado was seized and detained at the Turbi police station on Monday but the two were missing amid speculation they had been taken across to Ethiopia. The ONLF officials were invited by the Kenyan government for peace negotiations.

The two officers charged, a Chief Inspector Painito Bera Ng’ang’ai and Constable James Ngaparini are attached to Nairobi Area CID. He added the officers had been identified by witnesses as having participated in the abduction of Mr Sulub Ahmed and Ali Hussein who were members of the ONLF negotiation team that was in Nairobi for a proposed third round of talks.

Last week, the Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) wrote to President Uhuru Kenyatta expressing its deep concern regarding the safety of four Oromo refugees from Ethiopia who were arbitrarily arrested by Kenyan anti-terrorist squad from Isili area in Nairobi on different dates of operations and taken to unknown destinations.

According documents in our possession,  Mr. Tumsa Roba Katiso, (UNHCR attestation File#: NETH033036/1) was arrested by people claiming to by a team of Kenyan police, who arrived at the scene in two vehicles, on February 1, 2014 at around 10:00 AM from 2nd Avenue Eastleigh Nairobi on his way home from shopping. The other three refugees, Mr. Chala Abdalla, Mr. Namme Abdalla, and the third person whose name is not known yet were picked up from their home which is located in the same vicinity.

They are alleged to have been picked by the special police squad on the payroll of Addis Ababa. The whereabouts of those Ethiopian-Oromo refugees is unknown until the time of going to press.

The HRLHA is highly suspicious that those Ethiopian-Oromo refugees might have been deported to Ethiopia. And, in case those Ethiopian-Oromo refugees have been deported, the Ethiopian Government has a well-documented record of gross and flagrant violations of human rights, including the torturing of its own citizens who were involuntarily returned to the country.

The government of Ethiopia routinely imprisons such persons and sentences them to up to life in prison, and often impose death penalty. There have been credible reports of physical and psychological abuses committed against individuals in Ethiopian official prisons and other unofficial or secret detention centres.

Under Article 33 (1) of the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (189 U.N.T.S. 150), to which Kenya is a party, “[n]o contracting state shall expel or forcibly return a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his . . . political opinion.”

This obligation, which is also a principle of customary international law, applies to both asylum seekers and refugees, as affirmed by UNHCR’s Executive Committee and the United Nations General Assembly. By deporting the four refugees and others, the Kenyan Government will be breaching its obligations under international treaties as well as customary law.

Though some government officials denied it is official government policy, the Kenyan Government is well known for handing over refugees to the Ethiopian Government by violating the above mentioned international obligations. Engineer Tesfahun Chemeda, who died on August 24, 2013 in Ethiopia’s grand jail of Kaliti due1 to torture that was inflicted on him in that jail, was handed over to the Ethiopian government security agents in 2007 by the Kenyan police.

Tesfahun Chemeda was arrested by the Kenyan police, along with his close friend called Mesfin Abebe, in 2007 in Nairobi, Kenya, where both were living as refugees since 2005; and later deported to Ethiopia. The Ethiopian government detained them in an underground jail in a military camp for over one year, during which time they were subjected to severe torture and other types of inhuman treatments until when they were taken to court and changed with terrorism offences in December 2008. They were eventually sentenced to life imprisonment in March 2010.

“The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) is highly concerned about the safety and security of the above listed refugees who were recently arrested by the Kenyan anti-terrorist forces; and for those who are still living in Kenya,” said a communiqué petitioning President Kenyatta to intervene.

It urges the government of Kenya to respect the international treaties and obligations, and unconditionally release the arrested refugees, and refrain from handing over to the government of Ethiopia where they would definitely face torture and maximum punishments. It also urges all human rights agencies (local, regional and international) to join the HRLHA and condemn these illegal and inhuman acts of the Kenyan Government against defenseless refugees.

HRLHA requests western countries as well as international organizations to interfere in this matter so that the safety and security of the arrested refugees and those refugees currently staying in Kenya could be ensured.

In the recent past, the rendition of Oromo refugees has been in the news. Kenyan authorities have been accused of illegal rendition of Oromo refugees to Ethiopia   under the pretext of cracking down on the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) militias. While in Ethiopia, the individuals are allegedly arraigned before special courts where they are handed heavy jail sentences ranging from death to life in prison.

The fundamental objective of the Oromo liberation movement is to exercise the Oromo peoples’ right to national self-determination and end centuries of oppression and exploitation. The OLF believes the Oromo people are still being denied their fundamental rights by Ethiopian colonialism. According to Terfa Dibaba, head of the Oromo Relief Association (ORA) based in Germany, 21 Oromo refugees have been adducted in Nairobi and Moyale and illegally shipped to Addis Ababa where they have been locked in custody.

Some of the people abducted in Nairobi and Moyale and clandestinely whisked to Ethiopia and languishing in jail include: Jatani Kuuno, Liban Wario and Milki Doyo. These, ORA alleges, were abducted in a friend’s house in Moyale by Kenyans enlisted by the Ethiopia authorities and ferried in two Kenya government’s Land Rovers to Ethiopia.

Others are Dabaso Kutu, Libani Jatani and Deban Wario. They are currently on trial in Ethiopia. Impeccable source have confided that a Kenyan, Abrhim Dambi, the head of the head of Ethiopian Spy network detailed to track down political dissidents has now fled to Addis Ababa where he is hosted by the government after he was exposed.

TPLF hardliners oppose return of former OLF members; ODF has submitted a letter at Ethiopian Embassy in DC.

(A4O, 11 February 2014) The recurrent attempts by the United States (ION 1211) and Norway for some former opponents to be allowed to return to the country have been torpedoed by the more conservative parts of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO), two parties that are members of the ruling coalition Ethiopian People Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).

imagesThe idea was to persuade Addis Ababa to accept the return of a dissident group of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF, armed opposition) headed by Lencho Letta and including Dima Negewo, ahead of the general election in 2015.

Despite these misgivings, Lencho Letta is still negotiating the terms of such a return, seeking to have some members of his group given positions in the administration.

But hardliners in the Ethiopian regime will have no truck with this, as they see him as “a traitor” and especially fear that his return could weaken the OPDO.

However, a wing of the TPLF, grouped aroundDebretsion Gebremichael, current Deputy Prime Minister, seems willing to play the game so as to give a better picture of the Ethiopian government vis-à-vis Western countries.

On the other hand, the moderate Oromo opponent Merera Gudina (read here) who will take up residence in the United States for a few months this year may be able to convince other Diaspora groups to negotiate their return, as OLF dissidents are now doing.

Meanwhile, Ethiopian Prime Minster Haile Mareyam Desalegn says  ODF has submitted a letter for negotiation at press conference. According to PM Hailemariam,  ODF [Lencho Lata]has submitted a letter at the Ethiopian embassy in Washington for negotiation to enter domestic politics and contest next election.

However, the negotiation is not  started yet, according to the news source.


Addis Ababa’s master plan under revision, again

(A4O, 11 February 2014) The development of a new master plan for Addis Ababa which also integrates the Oromia special zone is in the final stages.

Map of around Finfinnee11An international conference, which aims to add some inputs to the new international-level master plan, is scheduled to be held at the end of the current budget year.

The Addis Ababa and Surrounding Oromia Integrated Development Plan Project Office has drafted the new Addis Ababa master plan that will incorporate the outskirts of the Oromia Regional state with the development of the metropolis.

The new draft master plan aims to modernize the city in collaboration with the Oromia Special zone and has been presented to civic society on Tuesday, June 4, to obtain additional feedback from the public.

Officials of the project office told Capital that similar panel discussions will be held with different stakeholders to gather fresh ideas to include in the new master plan. “The final event will be the international conference that will take place in the town of Adama (Nazareth) for three days, from 26 to 28 June.

At the event, federal government officials, all regional administrations, officials from other African countries, African Union officials, prominent European master plan institutions and other relevant stakeholder will be able to comment, evaluate  critique the draft plan,” Fetuma Lemessa, Deputy Manager of Addis Ababa and The Surrounding Oromia Integrated Development Plan Project Office, told Capital.

“The draft master plan will be finalised by the end of July 2013 after it includes the new inputs that shall be drawn from the international conference,” he added.

According to the plan, in the coming budget year the project office will undertake the accomplishment of the implementation strategy, the second phase of the project that will help realise the new master plan, which is expected to take the whole of the coming budget year.

Fetuma said that the actual implementation of the master plan will take place after one year.
Twelve studies involving different sectors were used to draft the master plan and took one year. According to the plan, towns on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, those under the Oromia Regional administration, will be included during the implementation of the master plan.

The development of highways and roads, parking lots for buildings, the establishment of several market areas throughout the metropolis, the various development of land, a detailed classification of mass and private transportation, the classification of metropolitan areas and the development of an international standard airport, are some of the studies included in the new plan.

The master plan for the city and the Oromia Special zone covers 1.1 million hectares of land and incorporates 5.7 million people currently, and is a plan for the coming 25 years.

For further information

The Oromo year is twelve lunar synodic months of 354 days

(A4O, 10 February 2014) The original Oromo calendar is a lunar-stellar calendrical system, relying on astronomical observations of the moon in conjunction with seven particular stars (or star groups).

According to the researchers at no time (except indirectly by way of lunar phase) does it rely upon solar observations.

The Borana year is twelve lunar synodic months (each 29.5 days long), 354 days.

While it will not correspond to the seasons, this may not be of primary importance for people this close to the equator.

There are twenty-seven day names (no weeks), and since each month is either 29 or 30 days long, the first two (or three) day names are used twice in the same month starts on a new day name.

Many argue that it is not the pride of Oromo people, but  the heritage of the whole humanity if properly recognized.

According to Nure Adem it is the symbol of Oromo civilization. “The great Oromo is pride of all Africans and one of the indicators of Oromo Wisdom in Black Civilization!”

The original Oromo months (Stars/Lunar Phases) are Bittottessa (iangulum), Camsa (Pleiades), Bufa (Aldebarran), Waxabajjii (Belletrix), Obora Gudda (Central Orion-Saiph), Obora Dikka (Sirius), Birra (full moon), Cikawa (gibbous moon), Sadasaa (quarter moon), Abrasa (large crescent), Ammaji (medium crescent), and Gurrandala (small crescent).

 The concept of Oromo Calendar

Time is a very important concept in Gadaa and therefore in Oromo life.

Gadaa itself can be narrowly defined as a given set of time (period) which groups of individuals perform specific duties in a society.

Gadaa could also mean age.

The lives of individuals, rituals, ceremonies, political and economic activities are scheduled rather precisely. For this purpose, the Oromo have a calendar. The calendar is also used for weather forecasting and divination purposes.

The Oromo calendar is based on astronomical observations of the moon in conjunction with seven or eight particular stars or star groups (Legesse, 1973 and Bassi, 1988) called Urji Dhaha (guiding stars).

According to this calendar system, there are approximately 30 days in a month and 12 months in a year. The first day of a month is the day the new moon appears. A day (24 hours) starts and ends at sunrise.

In the Oromo calendar each day of the month and each month of the year has a name. Instead of the expected 29 or 30 names for days of a month, there are only 27 names. These 27 days of the month are permutated through the twelve months, in such a way that the beginning of each month moves forward by 2 or 3 days. The loss per month is then the difference between the 27-day month and the 30-day month, (Legesse, 1973).

One interesting observation is that, as illustrated in the computing of time like in the Oromo calendar, Oromos visualization of events is cyclical just as many events in nature are cyclical.

Since each day (called ayyaana) of a month has a name, the Oromo traditionally had no use for names of the days of a week.

Perhaps it is because of this that today in different parts of Oromia different names are in use for the days of a week. Each of the 27 days (ayyaana) of the month have special meaning and connotation to the Oromo time-keeping experts, called Ayyaantu.

Ayyaantu can tell the day, the month, the year and the Gadaa period by keeping track of time astronomically. They are experts, in astronomy and supplement their memory of things by examining the relative position of eight stars or star groups, (Bassi, 1988) and the moon to determine the day (ayyaana) and the month.

On the basis of astronomical observations, they make an adjustment in the day name every two or three months. The pillars found a few years ago in north-western Kenya by Lynch and Robbins (1978) has been suggested to represent a site used to develop the Oromo calendar system.

According to these researchers, it is the first archaeo-astronomical evidence in subSaharan Africa. Doyle (1986) has suggested 300 B.C. as the approximate date of its invention.

According to Asmarom Legesse (1973), “The Oromo calendar is a great and unique invention and has been recorded only in a very few cultures in history of mankind.” The only other known cultures with this type of time-keeping are the Chinese, Mayans and Hindus. Legesse states that the Oromo are unusual in that they seem to be the only people.

It is believed that the Oromo developed their own calendar around 300 BC.

More than 36 towns and 17 districts will be integrated to Addis Ababa administrative.

(Oromedia, 10 February 2014) The newly established office of “Addis Ababa and surrounding Oromia Integrated Development Plan” has drafted a new master plan in an international conference held in Adama on June 2013.

Map of around FinfinneeSources from Finfnenne says  about 36 towns and 17 districts which are currently in Oromia and administered by Oromia regional state will be merged with Finfinne, so that the land use and the administration issues will be determined by the central mayor of Finfinne. 

According to the proposed plan, which you can see from the map, the new Master plan will incorporate all the Oromia towns and districts lying within the range of 100 km from Finfinnee.

Some of the towns are  Adama,Sodere,Mojo,Wenji, Ejere, Alem Tena, Koka, Adulala, Bushoftu, Dukem, Gelen, Akaki Beseka, Godino,Chefe Donsa,Sebeta,Sendafa, Milkewa, Wendoda,Sirti, Duber, Gonfo,Chancho, Mulo, Debre Muger, Ulo, Adis Alem, Holota, Burayu, Debre Genet, Illu Teji, Tefki, Sebera Boneya, Melka Kunture and etc.

Map of around Finfinnee11According to the sources, some of the districts areas are  Adma Dodota,Bora, Lome, Liben chukala, Adea, Akaki,Gimbichu, Bereh, Aleltu, Jida, Sululta, Ejere, Welmera, Illu, Sebeta, Hawas and etc.

Leaving behind the unresolved constitutional right over Finfinne, the TPLF government is going to grab our fertile land and clear the indigenous dwellers.

When farmers of these areas are forced to leave their land, caused by road and industrial area construction, they usually don’t receive any equivalent compensation, and many find themselves migrating to find another daily labour occupation to survive their big family.

Analyst says the concept of integration and interconnection is not against the  will of the Oromo people but the indigenous right must be respected.

Around Finfinnee “Oromos are not against interconnection and integration of cities and towns that enhance mutual development of other parties, but we are against the clearing of indigenous people, loosing right of land, the political administrative issue and not least the geographical and identity issue,” says.

There is a big discussion on this issues  on different social media.

According to Hawi Chala, Oromo young Oromo activist and analyst the current trend has direct impact on the indigenous right . “Peripheral small towns are becoming overpopulated by new comers kicking out the indigenous farmers.

Gadissa H  says, “this is clear and present danger for the Oromo people in all aspects; politically, economically and socio-culturally. The question now should be how can we prevent/mitigate?”

According to Habte Dafa the action is a “systematic eviction and the abuse of the God given rights of the Oromo people needs to be approached collectively, cohesively and purposefully.

He added that  the action to evict the Oromo people from birth place is unacceptable.  “Enough is enough for our people. …It is the high time when all the able citizens of Oromia must put the feasible legal actions into motion. This is an ethical and moral responsibility.”

 Abdii Gemechu  also criticized the Oromo ruling party strongly for unable to protect Oromo’s natural right over their homeland.

“That is why I vehemently oppose the coward OPDOs.”

Why Gadaa System Denied Recognition to Be a World Heritage?


(A4O, 9 February 2014) The Oromo Gada system is a system of generational classes that succeed each other every eight years in assuming political, military, judicial, legislative and ritual responsibilities. Each one of the eight active generation classes–beyond the three grades–has its own internal leadership and its own assembly, but the leaders of the classes become the leaders of the nation as a whole when their class comes to power in the middle of the life course at a stage of life called “Gada” among the Borana.

The class in power is headed by an officer known as Abba Gada or Abba Bokku in different Oromo areas.

Gada is an existing system in Borana Oromo. It is still able to preserve its structural values though various external challenges tested it to abolish or decline it through time. Scholars and researchers argue that it is the best model for the modern democracy of the world. The existing Gada system in Borana today witnesses the reliability and creditability of the scholastic argument.

Teferi Nigusse is a PHD candidate at Addis Ababa University and is also a writer. According to him, the Gada system is a typical example of popular democracy that a world must learn from and gain invaluable substance from it mainly in today’s politics. “It is a complete system and fully characterized by democratic values that undergone centuries without any internally disruptive actions and managed to get here especially among Borana and Guji Oromos,” Teferi says.

“Basically the system is democratic and endowed with overall social, economical and political developments that pass through necessary and possible stages. Power transition is smooth and free from any conflict. It is also inexpensive; it does not need any high cost, but other political democracies do,” he added.