April 15, 2014: Oromo Heroes and Heroines Day
By Ibsaa Guutama*
An Oromo hero/heroine is one who effects change or dedicated one’s life to change Oromo life with his/her determination and sacrifice. An Oromo hero/heroine is known for bravery, generosity and wisdom, and never flinches in the face challenges and temptations. An Oromo hero/heroine is a patriot for whom the national cause and the love of the people stand first, rather than personal interests. Oromiyaa has produced numberless heroes and heroines for whose sake Oromos have started walking with heads raised. A nation without a hero cannot express its feelings even when it is hurt. It is afraid of aggravating the already worst situation. But, if it has a hero to guide it, fear and pain will no further intimidate it. That is what Oromo heroes and heroines have done. They have helped their people to attain political consciousness, and recognize their identity and rights pertaining to it. That is why the enemy pursues them. The number of unknown Oromo heroes and heroines; those who have become meals for birds of prey; those who are suffering under enemy captivity; and those who are disappeared and not searched for is greater than the known ones. For all, we owe a lot. We remember Oromo Heroes’/Heroines’ Day to show our gratitude for their contributions and also to help the new generation learn from their patriotism.
Oromo youth started discussion about the liberation of their country in the 60’s; in the seventies, they came out with the vanguard of the Oromo liberation movement, the OLF. Hearing that the grand people, after a century of oppression, are coming out organized to fight for their liberation, there were commotions in all enemy camps. When Zaid Barree and Darg, with their allies, went to war, they hated and feared the Oromo movement more than each other. They attacked it from both sides and fatigued it, but were unable to wipe it out. The brave Oromo raised havoc both enemies never expected. Because war had weakened them, it was decided that ten members of the leadership go to Somalia, and look for help and consultation. But, an unexpected catastrophe betook them on April 15, 1980. From then on, it was decided that April 15 be remembered as Oromo Heroes’/Heroines’ Day for past, present and future.
How do we remember our heroes and heroines? One is meeting each year as usual, and preparing songs, dances, poems, reading materials, arts that reflect the occasion, and sing and dance together in their honor. On that day, we renew our vows to continue the struggle they had started to the finish. By doing so, we appease the spirit of our heroes and our ancestors. Not only that, we will also discuss how we can strengthen the struggle based on future plan of action, not on emotion-scratching handout-seeking annual presentations. This day will give us the opportunity to reflect where we started, and where we have reached now and to assess conditions in which our people find themselves at present and what to do next. We may also hear more about our heroes and heroines.
We appreciate and honor not only heroes that passed away, but also those who survived and are still heating up the struggle with people they initially agitated to rise. Heroes fallen in Ogaden did not budge for the gun pointed at their forehead and give up their unity and national pride for life in return. They stood together with courage and determination to the end, and paid the ultimate sacrificed for their nation. They were entered into the same grave holding to their nation’s dawnkaayyoo without religion and tribe dividing them. Pushing back personal comfort and family interest for the sake of the fatherland, they taught us what firmness on objective, generosity, commitment and determination means. When we remember our martyred heroes and heroines and those who are still languishing in enemy’s captivity, we should also not forget that they like us have old parents, children without support and someone they love to care for.
Honor and glory for the fallen heroines and heroes; liberty equality and freedom for the living and nagaa and araaraa for the Ayyaanaa of our fore parents!
* Ibsaa Guutama is a member of the generation that drew the first Political program of the OLF.