Who is Who in the Oromo Resistance Struggle?
Demissie Kebede Serda
Obb. Demissie Kebede Serda, is the son of Ade’a Oromo, born in Ade’a Berga around Holota, some 40 km away in the rural area of Oromia.
His resistance struggle for the Oromo people stems from the protest his grandfather, his father and his uncles played against the Netegna system.
During the reign of Menilk II when Oromo was defeated by the Abyssinian kingdom of Shewa, Oromo land was confiscated and settlers were appointed in every village. Mr. Serda who was very conscious of this injustice represented his community as a lawyer in Menilik court and protested against the confiscation. Because of his aggressive move, he was banned from entering Menilk palace.
During the Italian occupation of Ethiopia in 1936, there was a serious dispute in the community whether to support the Neftegna to fight the Italians or to abstain. Serda, though aged, was, serious that they rather should fight the Neftegna who were worse than the Italians and he organized a group that would fight the Neftegnas who reduced the Oromo to serfdom. However, he was ambushed by betrayers.
As a consequence more than 30 people died from both (Serda side and his opponents). Later the grudge between Seda’s relatives and his opponents was intensified and three of Seda’s sons including Demissie’s father were ambushed on another incident and buried in same grave on a single day. The widow of Kebede, Demissies’ mom, the cousin of Feyisa Ejeta, was forced to flee her husband’s place with her children, including Demisse. She moved to Badii, her birth area around Sheger and reared her children under serious difficulties.
Demisse went to an elementary school in Holota. Then he moved to Finfinne and completed a high school.
While he was in the high school he frequently attended Macca and Tulamaa gatherings and he was groomed with Oromo self-consciousness as a result. When the government cracked down on Macca and Tulama Association, Oromo youth of those days who saw there was no alternative for the Oromo people than a political solution, formed an OLF and Demissie is one of the founders of OLF.
Demissie joined the industrial sector as a worker and became the chairperson of Ethiopian Agricultural and Industrial Labour Union, which had 150,000 members.
When the Ethiopian Trade Union was formed Demissie became vice president of the Union. He was still organizing a clandestine OLF in the Trade Union, chairing one of the cell committees in the trade sector.
However, he and his comrades were identified by the Derg secretive services and jailed in January 1980. Demissie was tortured in prison, languished for almost 12 years in jail and released in 1991 when the Derg regime collapsed. After, his release he went back to Oromo political business from day one of his release, without even visiting his aging mom. He was one of OLF representatives during the Transitional Charter Conference.
Demisse became a member of the transitional Parliament and OLF CC member during that period. When OLF withdrew from the Transitional government Demisse was abroad for medical treatment because of the complexities he sustained as a result of torture. He moved to Canada from the Netherlands and he has devoted all his life to Oromo struggle up to now. He is one of the icons who is in the forefront for Oromo refugees and Oromo issues in the community in North America.