By Robele Ababya | 14 March 2012
Purpose of this piece
The Italian Fascist military garrison and observation post at Deneba in north Shoa is an indelible symbol engraved in my mind of famous patriots and their followers comprising the Oromo and Amhara ethnic groups. My upbringing near this garrison, dominated by the two ethnic groups, living in enviable harmony at the time, had formed my character as a child and the memory of that experience refuses to go away until now. The purpose of this writing is to stress that the Zenawi regime is emulating the Mussolini doctrine to hit the Amharas & Oromos and that naïve Ethiopians are falling prey to the secret design of the regime to destroy the country.
Life as a child in the environ of Deneba
The garrison is one of the strongest World War II Italian garrisons in Ethiopia located in Deneba in the Tegulet Province of Shoa in northern Ethiopia. It was built on a high huge plateau from one end of which rises a steep tall hill used as an observation post overlooking the lower surrounding grounds visible to the naked eye as far as tens of kilometers away on a clear day. Imagine how further the Fascists could see with their binoculars to detect the movements of patriots that gave the invaders terrifying time during their short but destructive occupation of our motherland!
The parish Church Deneba Giorgis, where I went to priest school, was built on a big plateau beside the garrison. The two plateaus formed a narrow deep gorge providing a route for travelers to Addis Ababa and back with their belongings laden on their animals.
It was natural to speak in Oromiffa or Amharic under the same roof switching from one language to another swiftly. All of my playmates, the children in our village including me, were bilingual in that we all spoke both languages fluently.
Conversations in both languages among the elders were almost always monopolized by the atrocities the Italian Fascists cruelly inflicted on the people of Ethiopia. Famous patriots including the legendary guerilla leader Ras Abebe Aregay and others like Dejazmach Abera Kassa, Fitawrari Haile Balcha, Dejazmach Geleta Quoricho, Dejazmach Meshesha Banché and scores of others were gloriously mentioned for giving hell to the invaders in Deneba and its environ as far as Selalle, Yifat, Debre Berhan et al.
It would be interesting to note in passing that Selalle was the birth place of Abichu who was a dynamic young heroic organizer and brilliant leader of the Special Forces in Tembien, Adwa, and Maichew, among others, that demoralized Marshall Badoglio through a series of surprise attacks. The Emperor dubbed the young Abichu “Leju” (The Boy) and his compatriots in the war arena fondly nicknamed him Liju; he was known for his loyalty to his Commander of Selalle militia, Dejazmach Abera Kassa.
Traders and shoppers streamed to the Deneba market on the plateau – Amarigna speakers mostly from the north and east and Oromiffa speakers from the south and west. As I recall the market stood once a week on Mondays and goods were exchanged peacefully; the people treated one another with magnificent civility.
As children we played like crazy in the big grazing field adjoining Laga Jeldesa River (Zingero Wonze in Amahric) originating from the high ground in Debre Birhan. We played all kinds of games including hockey, wrestling, swimming, horse riding competition, running, you name it. Our technological contrivance was building wheels out of straw and chasing them in the wind until we were tired. In retrospect I imagine that our playful childhood life was an immensely pleasing reward to our parents; we relished the freedom our forebears had bequeathed to us by paying the ultimate price in fighting the Italian Fascist invaders.
In my tiny world at Deneba as a child, I thought Ethiopia was the home of only Amharas and Oromos (Galas) because these two were the only dominant ethnic groups that lived there. However I was to learn more in Addis Ababa about the reality of Ethiopia’s cultural and ethnic diversity.
Back to Addis Ababa
When I came to Addis Ababa at the age of nine I was surprised to find out that there were so many other ethnic groups with rich culture, dexterity and intellectual capacity that in retrospect I see as having enormous potential for development. But Amharas and Ormos were far more in number than any other ethnic groups and being fluent in these two languages I had no difficulty in communicating with the residents of Addis Ababa (Shagar).
In my elementary school, among boys in my class, some came from Tigray under the auspices of Ras Abebe Aregay who led an expedition there to quell the first Weyane uprising. One of them by the name of Bahta Meles and I became close friends until completion of our elementary school and for many years after till fate set us apart.
Zenawi’s paranoiac sustained hatred for the Amharas
A group of Ethiopians in the Diaspora originating from multiple ethnicities including me expressed strong support for the late legendary Professor Asrat Woldeyes for his noble effort to save the Amhara ethnic group singled out for vindictive onslaught by TPLF as soon as it took control of Addis Ababa in May 1991. We made financial contribution to the Professor’s All Amhara People’s Organization (AAPO) that he was then leading. I personally wrote to the AAPO pleading with it to shed its tribal garb as soon as the threat to the Amhara people had vanished. Unfortunately the Professor died prematurely before his honest cause bore fruit.
Now that Zenawi’s paranoiac sustained hatred for the Amharas has become increasingly acute and worrisome, Ambassador Imru Zeleke is right to rise to the occasion in mobilizing the victims for self-defense. One modus operandi is to create a website that would inform the plight of the victims to Ethiopians and the international community.
History affirms that the Italian Fascist invaders of Ethiopia, “dropped leaflets over villages in Tigray singling out and blaming the Amharas and Oromos in particular for hindering the ‘civilizing’ mission of Italy; the leaflets carried strict warning intimidating villagers not to cooperate with the Ethiopian army in any way.” Vide my article titled “Hegemony: Potential for war between Ethiopia & Eritrea” by Robele Ababya dated 03 February 2012.
It is crystal clear from the above that the TPLF strategy is to pulverize the Amhara stamina first followed by similar satanic action second – eventually to vanish the name of Ethiopia from the world map.
I understand the concern by some stakeholders in the unity of Ethiopia expressed in their reaction to Ambassador Imru’s initiative in the creation of a website that would serve the legitimate right of self-defense against the ongoing genocidal program aimed at the Amharas and subsequently at the Oromos. The central theme of the concern is that the gains towards unity so far made must not be lost.
Nothing should stand in the way of our critically needed unity. With the all the foregoing proviso intact, I support that the Amharas and indeed all other ethnic groups that are threatened by the Zenawi onslaught have every right to create complementary websites solely focused on attacking the heinous crimes of the TPLF regime in self-defense. In fact there are some such websites already in existence in symbiotic cooperation.
Abichu at the age of between 16 and 17 became commander- in- chief of peasant militia army organized under four Generals leading militia from Hamassien, Tigray, Gojjam and Sellale and in collaboration with the 15, 000 strong militia from Kembatta bravely mounted devastating attacks on Fascist bases in Tigray thus bringing tears to the eyes of Marshall Badoglio at his Headquarters in Mekele. Abichu and his compatriots exalted in reverence the beloved victor of the battle of Adwa, Immye Menilik II. Let us revive that heritage of spirit of unity to defeat Zenawi who publicly calls us his enemies.
The plight of the masses must come first. I hope that all pro-unity Oromos et al read me loud and clear!
Thank you Andinet.org for the inspiring logo below where the four words in Amharic on it mean Unity, Freedom, Equality, Prosperity:
LONG LIVE ETHIOPIA!!!
Release all political prisoners in Ethiopia including Andualem Aragie, Eskinder Nega et al