By NEMERA MAMO
Like many nations in the world the Oromo has lost hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of martyrs who suffered death as the penalty for refusing to accept principles and values which is not theirs. According to Prof Mohammed Hassen (1990), for centuries the Oromo lived as a free, powerful independent nation in the Horn of Africa; they had their own political and religious institutions, which flowered in patterns of their own making and nourished their spiritual and material well being. However, as our humble Prof mentioned, the Oromo nation lost its sovereignty, freedom and independence after Menilek, the Amhara King of Shawa (1865-1889) and the Emperor of Ethiopia (1889-1913) conquered and colonized Oromia. Since then Oromo refused to renounce their own culture, values and democratic principles enshrined in their Gadaa system.
Oromo heroines and heroes lost their lives in the struggle for freedom, justice and democracy during the modern Oromo National Movement-after the fall of The Republic of Gadaa System. These martyrs include all sections of the public who were targeted because of their freedom fights; systematic victims of colonizers determined to halt the movement, and individuals who, in the sacrifice of their own lives, brought new awareness to the Oromo National Movement. They deserve BIG print in the book of Oromo history. It’s encouraging the fact we have a particular day which is observed as the Oromo Martyrs’ Day; also known as Guyyaa Gootota Oromoo in Oromo language. APRIL 15! As the pioneers of commemorating April 15 as the Oromo Martyrs’ Day, Oromo Liberation Front deserves the credit to start commemorating Guyyaa Gootota Oromoo. This is one of the main reasons why commemoration of Guyyaa Gootota Oromoo entirely associated with OLF. For reference how it started and the detailed reasons for celebrating the Oromo Martyrs’ Day please have a look at the article posted on Gadaa.com on 23 February 2012. The main objective of these martyrs was and is to restore Oromo culture, identity, and human dignity that were wounded by Abyssinian colonialism.
My main intention here is not to present the historical records of Oromo Martyrs’ Day nor historical facts about Abyssinian colonialism. I would rather want to bring to the attention of the Oromo and Oromo friends that we ought to stand together to commemorate Guyyaa Gootota Oromoo as our big common National Memorial Day. Like we do on Oromo Festival of Thanksgiving Day! Oromo Martyrs’ Day is not the commemoration by specific sectors of the public; it’s for the whole nation. The Oromo and Oromo friends ought to stand together to salute the martyrdom of soldiers, activists, farmers and students who lost their lives defending the identity of our nation Oromo.
Different Oromo communities in different countries, different Religious Institutions, Women Institutions, Youth Institutions and Student Institutions must take part in the organization and commemoration of Oromo Martyrs Day. Oromo martyrs include all sections of the public including soldiers, individual activists, religious leaders, youth, farmers, students and women. The highlight of the commemoration must demonstrate Oromo activists lost their lives regardless of their ideology, class or occupation. Tributes must be paid by all from different civic groups. All religion prayer ought to be offered by religious leaders of different faiths. Classical Oromo musical renderings and devotional songs ought to be held on this day. Oromo Martyrs’ Day ought to be dutifully observed by the entire Oromo nation. The event must represent a major turning point in the history of Oromo’s path to freedom which will soon or later be attained.
My message for the 2013 Oromo Martyrs’ Day will be excerpts from the speech by Dr Baro Tumsa:
“We Oromos must capture state power by any means necessary. In order to do this we must clandestinely organize all sectors of our society. It is the responsibility of young educated Oromos who disseminate this spirit of Oromo nationalism when they return to your their respective communities. We can only change the deplorable condition of our people by being tolerant to one another and re-establishing Oromo unity. In this way we can build strong organization, capture state power and take actions that facilitate fundamental social transformation.”
Honor and Glory to the fallen Oromo Martyrs!