Ras Abebe Aregay and the fate of Ethiopian Heros

Ras Abebe Aregay

Ras Abebe Aregay

Yesterday, the Alliance of WWII celebrated the 70th anniversary of the victory day of Normandy in France. On this occasion, it is essential to remember the greatest general, Ras Abebe, the leading figure in the trying time of 1936-41, who fought against the fascist regime in Ethiopia.

Abebe was the offspring of two distinguished families. His mother, Aaskal Gobena was the daughter of Ras Gobena Dache, the legendary general of Emperor Menelik II. Abebe’s father, Aregai Bechere, was Afenugus (Mouth of the King- Honor Judge) and later held the most coveted title of Nibured (High Priest) of Axum.
As a young man, Abebe was one of the first modern military trainees in Ethiopia, and upon graduation was promoted to be the commander of the Municipal Military officers of Addis Ababa with the rank of Balambaras (the first rank in administrative hierarchy).
In 1936, when Emperor Haile Selassie marched to the battle of Mychew to engage the invading Italian army, Abebe remained in Addis Ababa on duty.
After the war was over and the Emperor departed to England,the Fascist army advanced to the city of Addis Ababa. Abebe and his 17 friends were among the first men to form guerrilla fighting. Within a year, his group reached to more than 10 thousand and later to more than 20 thousand patriots which enabled him to control the entire lowlands of Northern Shoa province. During the struggle, he rose up to the rank of Ras, which made him the only Ethiopian to earn this title while the Nation was still under fascist occupation. In the territory under his control, he showed his capacity as a great soldier, like his grandfather, Ras Gobena, and as a wise administrator, in the footsteps of his Nibured father, which enabled him to work with all engaged to liberate Ethiopia.
Throughout the five years as a guerilla leader, he was in close contact with the Emperor, usually through hermits, who crossed the wild desert with his messages. Aba Wold Tensaye, Aba Agaest, Aba Yerdaw, Aba Wold Maryam, and Aba Tesfa- Tsion were a few outstanding among the many. Out of the five hermits, the first three were known for travelling to Jerusalem by foot, before the fascists occupied Ethiopia. Another young messenger, Mr. Demisae Wold Amanuel, who is still alive, travelled for forty five days along with two deacons to Kenya to meet Mr. Lorenzo Ta- izaz, who delivered the Emperor’s message in French at the League of Nations.
In 1937, Ras Abebe had taken part in an attempt to retake the capital city of Addis Ababa, and his army had almost reached the Imperial Palace before being stopped by two heavy battalions.
The story of Ras, who maintained the patriotic resistance within a radius of fifty miles of Addis Ababa, was always a headline on “The Voice of Ethiopia” newspaper in New York and on “New Times and Ethiopian News”, in London and in other parts of the world newspapers.
After five years of struggle, and when the Emperor’s army advanced from the East, Ras met him at Feche, and they marched together to the Capital triumphantly. During the march, Ras flew the flag that never ceased to fly throughout the five years of struggle.
After the fall of the Axis powers in Europe, his name and picture were widely spread in the mainstream media of Europe. In fact, there was a high expectation to see him lead the delegate of Ethiopia in Europe.
When the Emperor’s administration was restored, Ras was appointed first as a provisionalprovincial Governor, the Minister of the Interior, and the Minister of Defense.
Tekalign Gedamu, a former vice president of The African Development Bank, in his great book, Republican on the Throne, described him: “ Abebe had a sharp intellect, was endowed with a remarkable capacity to unravel knotty issue, possessed a keen sense of justice, an ability to delineate the seminal from the peripheral, and the knack to pull together the essential strands of complex issues into an intelligible summary which often led to solution. Above all, he had led issues without fear or favor.”
In 2011, three Italians by the name of Carmelo, Stephens, and Matthias, the sons of Fascist soldiers who were stationed in the Northern Shoa during the war, came to Ethiopia to pay their tribute to Ras Abebe. When they arrived in Addis Ababa, they met Daniel Getachew, the grandson of Dejazmach Afework, the great hero of Korahea(Somali region).
The three Italians told Daniel that they wanted to repent for their late fathers’ sins by praying at Ras Abebe’s tomb in Debre Lebanos. They said they were brought up and fed with the history of Ras Abebe, and their fathers were among a special force that was always dispatched to hunt down Ras. They said when their fathers met on occasions, he was the center of the discussion. Their fathers articulated how he managed to make his escape when he was nearly surrounded. He was also clever and bought time by luring them.
The three Italians’ childhood memories that always lingered in their mind was when their fathers finished the discussion and said goodbye, the numbers of empty bottles of wine and cigarette butts left on the table.
Carmelo’s father even had an intention to come to Ethiopia and personally congratulate Ras Abebe on his promotion to the Minster of Defense; however, Ras was killed by the coup d’état of 1960, before Carmelo’s father realized his plan.
The three Italians, in order to fulfill their mission, traveled to Debr Lebanos and upon arrival, they had difficulty meeting someone who knew Ras Abebe and who could show them the whereabouts of his tomb. When at last they found it, to their greatest dismay, the tomb was unattended and dirty, beyond their imagination. It took them almost a day to clean it up. Finally, they knelt down and made a special prayer for the soul of Ras, and the forgiveness of their fathers’ sins, and for the good relationship between the people of Ethiopia and Italy.
It is unfortunate that while his former enemies’ sons admired Ras Abebe and traveled this length to pay tribute to such a heroic figure, not much is said about him in his own country. On the contrary, during a ceremony held at Addis Ababa University to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the coup d’état of General Mengestu Neway, the act of the murdering of Ras Abebe and 16 other high ranking officials was highly praised. To make things worse, Professor Endreas Eshete, the president of the university, said that General Mengistu’s act was to modernize Ethiopia. So long as there is this kind of justification, the heroic deeds of Ras Abebe and others would not be considered in the right perspective. It is not by accident that today the nation is running out of common hero. The irony is while Ras Abebe had been fighting for five years to liberate Ethiopia; General Mengistu was living in Djibouti in peace.
Evidently, all the assassinated were the elites who could help modernize Ethiopia. For instance, General Mulugeta Bule and Captain Derge Hailmariam were well proven highly trained military officers while Mekonnen Haptold was a dedicated and well rounded manager who encouraged Ethiopians to compete in business which was monopolized by Arabs, Greeks, Armenians and Indians. Abdulahe Mome was also highly educated and was one of the first Muslim ministers in the financial sector. These are some of the rare Ethiopians who were killed randomly along with Ras Abebe.
The act of General Mengestu and the coup d’état of 1960 is the birth of anti- Ethiopianism that blended with a foreign ideology.
Aba Koronchos, a hermit who marched to the Korean War as the confessor of the famous Ethiopian Army, once said “The fascist’s spirit is reincarnated through our children in the year 1960 to revenge against our heroes and our history.”
It is high time for the new generation to rise up against the mindset of the sixties generation and give the Ethiopian patriots their due rights. Ras Abebe, one of the greatest patriots of the tryingtime of 1936-41, deserves recognition. The least we can do is to give him a dignified resting place.
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Posted by on June 9, 2014. Filed under NEWS. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

11 Responses to Ras Abebe Aregay and the fate of Ethiopian Heros

  1. AleQa Biru

    June 9, 2014 at 10:07 AM

    የጥሩ ጀግና ታሪክ መጻፍ ያለበት እንዲህ ጅል ሆኖ አይደለም:: ከዚህስ ባይጻፍ ይሻል ነበር:: የስመ-ጥሩን አርበኛ ፎቶ ክ እንደዚህ ዓይነት ዝባዝንኬ ጽሑፍ ጋር ቀላቅሎ ማሳየት ራሱ በጣም አሳፋሪ ድርጊት ሆኖ አግኝቼዋለሁ::

    እኔ እምለው..ለምን በማትችሉት እንግሊዝኛ እንደዚህ ማፈሪያ ነገር ከምትጽፉ በምትችሉት ቋንቋ እጥር-ምጥን ያለ ነገር ለመጻፍ ለምን አትሞክሩም? በመጀመሪያ ነገር ስለ ኢትዮጵያዊያን አርበኛ ማወቅ ያለበት ማነው? የኢትዮጵያ ሕዝብ ወይስ የውጭ አገር ሰው?

    ለውጭ አገር ሰው በው የተጻፈው እንኳ ቢባል በደህና እንግሊዝኛ ካልተጻፈ ምንም ሊነበብ ስለማይችል ዋጋ አይኖረውም:: ለኢትዮጵያዊያን ከሆነ ግን ኢትዮጵያዊያን በሚችሉት ቋንቋ (በየትኛውም የኢትዮጵያ ቋንቋ ቢሆን)ቢጻፍ ይመረጥ ነበር::

    የዚህ ጽሑፍ ጉድለቶች የምላቸው:-
    1. የአርስቱ አመራረጥ (“ራስ አበበ አረጋይ እና የኢትዮጵያ ጀግኖች እጣ-ፈንታ”): እንዲህ ዓይነት አርስት የሚሰጠው “የኢትዮጵያ ጀግኖች እጣ-ፈንታ” ከ ራስ አበበ አረጋይ ጋር ቁርኝት (አብሮ የመውደቅ ወይም የመነሳት) ቢኖረው ነበር::
    2. የጽሑፉ ይዘት ጉድለት: ጸሐፊው ስለ አበበ አረጋይ ምንም ይህ ነው የሚባል አዲስ ነገር አልተናገሩም:: የገሌ ልጅ እና የገሌ ልጅ ናቸው ከሚለው እና በተደጋጋሚ ከሰማነው የአርበኝነት ስራቸው ውጭ ምንም ነገር አልጨመሩም:: የምናውቀውን ደግመው እየነገሩን ግን ገና ለመጀመሪያ ጊዜ አዲስ ነገር ይዘው የመጡ ያክል ሆነው ተኮፍሰዋል:: ለዚያውም ደግሞ ማንነታቸውን እንኳ ለመግለጽ አልፈለጉም::
    3. የቋንቋ አጠቃቀም: የጸሐፊ ተብየው የቋንቋ ችሎታ በጣም ደካማ ነው:: የችሎታቸውን ማነስ ለማሳየት አንድ ምሳሌ ብቻ መጥቀስ ይበቃል:: “አፈ-ንጉስ” የሚለውን ሲተረጉሙ “ማውዝ ኦፍ ዘ ኪንግ = የንጉሱ አፍ” ብለው ተርጉመውታል:: የ3ኛ ወይም 4ኛ ክፍል እንግሊዝኛ በደንብ ተምሮ የገባው ተማሪ ይህ ዓይነት አተረጓጎም ስህተት መሆኑን ይቸገራል ብየ አላምንም::

    እና እባካችሁ አታብግኑን በምትችሉት ጻፉ:: የማትችሉ ከሆነ ደግሞ ተማሩ:: አለማወቅ ችግር አይደለም:: መጥፎ የሚሆነው ሳያውቁ እንዳወቁ ሆኖ መገኘት (መምሰል እና ማስመሰል) ነው::

    ያላወቀ ሊያስተምር የሚችለው ድንቁርናውን ብቻ ነው::

    እውቀት ሐይል ነው !!!

  2. Imru Zelleke

    June 9, 2014 at 10:41 AM

    A well diserved recognition of Ras Abebe Aregai, a genuine hero of Ethiopia. He was a great man as a soldier and stateman. I knew him well, and worked with him, his wisdom and keen perception of was extraordinary. He was a pillar of Ethiopian polity, his murder and that of His colleague was a disaster for Ethiopia.

  3. ደርባባው

    June 9, 2014 at 4:35 PM

    ላገር የተጋደሉ አገርን ያልሸጡ ህዝቡን አስተባብረው የውጪ ጠላትን ድል የመቱ ጀግኖች ናቸው ያሁኖቹ ወረበሎች ግን አገርን መሸጥ ህዝብን መዋሸት ማሰርና መግረፍ ህዝብ ያልመረጣቸው ከሃገር ጥቅም ይልቅ የግል ጥቅም ያሸነፋቸው ወረበሎች ናቸው

  4. ታየ አለማየሁ

    June 9, 2014 at 5:27 PM

    የራስ አበበ አረጋይ እና የለሎችህ አርበግኖች ታሪክ ወድፊት አንደ ከዋክብት የሚያበራብት ጊዘየ ሩቅ አይደለም.

    የወደፊቱ ትውልድ ተገቢ ቦታችሀዉን ለተከታዩ ዘመን ያዘጋጃል.

  5. GARII

    June 10, 2014 at 1:49 AM

    This submissive Gobana descendant refuse when English ask him to take power.

    • Mengesha

      June 10, 2014 at 4:32 PM


      What are you saying? You would be better of with British advice than your own? This is the lowest one can go down. You should know those foreigners are the ones who thought our fathers to breed hate among themselves and down to this generation.
      He was loyal to his king because he well know that he was a full citizen of Ethiopia. His rank is one of the highest. It does not mean I like monarchy but it is now that was then.

  6. Babur

    June 10, 2014 at 3:01 PM

    Yes, Garii. He, instead, waited for the arrival of Emperor, who fled to Europe, to submit himself. When the emperor came from asylum in UK, Ras Abebe waited on his was, knelt down on the ground under the emperor’s shoes and submitted. He had to make sure that the emperor trusted him because he feared the emperor, who was just coming from refuge and had nothing. As a result Ras Abebe rolled himself several times on the dusty ground in front of the emperor and said “My master (Getaye) I am your slave and loyal servant …”. The surprised emperor later ordered “stand up! and follow us”

  7. concerned

    June 10, 2014 at 4:55 PM

    Well here is an ethiopian hero Abebe Aregai, who was Oromo through Ras Gobena, father of his mother and Tigre through his father, who was from Axum. It is pathetic all this division of the ethiopian people along ethnic lines. One can come from different regions of Ethiopia, which does not make anyone less ethiopian. It is time EPRDF stop this foolishness by classifying ethiopians and regions (killil) along ethnic lines. There are many countries that consist of different ethnic groups, living as one nation. The EPRDF must understand that there is not an ethnic groups that is superior to another. The recent problems with the Oromo students in Ambo is what the EPRDF alone has created in Ethiopia and should take responsibility for the ethnic foolishness.

  8. ደርቤ ቀጀላ

    June 11, 2014 at 11:08 AM

    በመጀመሪያዉ ሐያሲ እስማማለሁ::
    ራስ አበባ አረጋይ ኮኮብ አርበኛ ነበሩ:: በግፍ መገደላቸዉና መቃብራቸዉ ተገቢዉን እንክብካቤ እንኩዋ አለማግኘቱ ይቆጫል::
    ይህ ትዉልድ አሳማ ሆዳም ስለሆነ ለሆዱ ብቻ እንጂ ለነጻነቱ ደንታቢስ ነዉ:: ቡከን አረመኔ ነዉ:: ሁሉን የሚመምሰል የፈረንጅና የአረብ ዉሻ ለማኝ ነዉ:: በመሆኑም ይህ ከሃዲ ቅጥረኛ ሆዳም አረመኔ ኢትዮጵያንን በመግደል:በመጨፍጨፍ በዉሸት ሶሻሊዝም: በዉሸት ዲሞክራሲ የሚደናበር ከጦጣና ዝንጀሮ አራዊት የሚያንስ ዋጋ ቢስ ስለ አርበኞች ማዉራትና መጻፍ አይገባዉም:: በመጀመሪያ ኢትዮጵያዊ ሁኑ:: ሳትሆኑ የቅጥረኘት ካባ ለብሳችሁ አታወናብዱ:: ዛሬ ኢትዮጵያ ተሽጣለች:: ባንቱስታን አፐርታይድ ሰፍኖ መሬቱዋ ለአረብ: ለፈረንጅ: ለሕንድ: ለቻይና ተቸበቸበ::
    ሕዝቡ ስደተኛ: ለማኝ: ያረብ ባሪያ:የፈረንጅ ሶለግ ዉሻ ሆነ::

    ምድረ ጎሰኛ አበበን ወረሞ ናቸዉ: ትግሬ ናቸዉ እያላችሁ ትወሻክታላችሁ::
    ማፈሪያዎች:: አፋችሁን ዝጉ::
    አበባ የሽዋ ጀግና ናቸዉ:: ነፍሳቸዉ ትማር::
    ማን ቢወልድ ማን ሆኖ ነዉ ትግሬ የተደረጉት?
    አፈ ንጉስ አረጋይ ቸሬ ተጉለቴ ነበሩ::
    ያክሱም ጽዮን ንቡረ እድ ሹመትም ነበረቸዉ::
    እናታቸዉ ወይዘሮ አስካለ ማርያም ጎበና የወግዳ ተወላጅ ነበሩ::
    የራስ አበበ የትዉልድ ስፍራ ጅሩ ነዉ::
    ስለምንድንዉ ታዲያ ዉሸት የምታናፍሱት?

    ደርቤ ቀጀላ
    ጆሌ ወበራ

  9. Goh Taye

    June 12, 2014 at 6:52 PM

    Ras Abebe Aregaye was a war hero who had fought the enemy throughout the five years. After the war however he was one of those feudal land lords who snatched land from poor peasants by incarcerating them in his own private prison cell in the basement of his residence in Entoto,now Shiro Meda. The Neway brothers,who were determined to change the regime had no alternative but target this hero who turned lord of lords and bent on exploitation of poor peasants.In a country where rulers want to rule for ever and where legal transfer of power is impossible this is their fate.I hope all concerned could learn a lesson from the history of Ras Abebe Aregaye.

  10. Mebrete Gergiso

    April 30, 2016 at 4:25 AM

    who say father of Ras Abbaba Aregay is from Tigrean family, from where this information was came? how you able to say this one? what is your source?

    if you need to understand the genealogy of one person its from his own descendants. if you need to know clearly who is Ras Abbaba Aregay, as my grandmother count, genelogy of Ras Ababa, her uncle, she inform as Ras Ababa -Aregay- Bachara- Guluma -Qancara from Jirru Oromo of North Shewa. for more information ask Professor Gobena Daniel Abbaba Aregay, who now serving in teaching at Addis Ababa University in department of Pscyology. no bodies can now our hereditary than us.

    read his biography from Encycopedia Ethiopica not from trash paper.