On Celebration of Oromo Hero/ Heroine Day
(Just a reminder)
For Oromo “Day” (Ayyaanaa) can have different meanings. Here we take it to literarily mean “day” i.e. we use it to mean days of the month and celebrated days. People have days for celebration, for remembrance and for welcoming different events. Before adopting the seven day week cycle and the thirty day month Oromo had 28 days month with each day having own names. Because they abandoned those they had in common, now they have different names for days of the week in each region. Among them are days designated for different holydays. During the era when there were no written calendars they were persons called “Ayyaantuu” that compute on what day those occur. For this reason we grew up hearing “Ayyaana waggaa Ayyaantuutu arga” (It is the Ayyaantuu that foresee holiday). The land and natural resources that Oromo have were what made neighbors envious towards Oromiyaa. For these reason they lived fending of evil eyes and devastating campaigns throughout their existence, at times victoriously and at other times being vanquished. From among them, struggles during the fifteenth and sixteenth as well as those in the 19th century were unforgettable. It was the occupation by aliens that started in the 19th century that was the most harmful of them all. They had to wait until the 1960s to get organized and rise in unison. After that Oromo youth started liberation movement equipping themselves with Oromummaa and a political program that reflected it.
Prior to that they were given a name they did not call themselves with and forced to identify themselves with country and ethnicity of the alien; forbidden to speak their language or teaching it to their offspring’s; much pressure was put on them with barrel of the gun to give up their history and culture. However with movement they started they defied all those and brought the people to a level it is in today. Today if not those who knowingly refuse to recognize everyone believes that they have a language, a culture and in general history and country separate from all rest. This level of consciousness was not easily reached. It was with scattered struggle Oromo fathers and mothers waged since Oromiyaa lost her independence and the immense sacrifices paid with organized uprisings that started in the 1960s that Oromo started walking with their heads up asserting their identity and aspirations. Many lost their lives, others were disabled and still others were imprisoned and the rest gave up with natural call. Only few of those that paid and are paying sacrifices are known by name. Whereabouts of great many of them is not known by relatives and comrades. They left a burden of history and a challenge to the following generations and passed away.
Such types are called heroes/heroines. Hero or heroine means those braves that show their ever readiness without waver and do not give in for harm and threats, full hearted and always place themselves at the forefront of their people and face any coming danger to save it. The conscience of heroes and heroines never allow them to stand by and see when the arrogant abuse a people or the weak. Oromiyaa had produced many such persons and still is producing. Their gallantry is being witnessed every day. For instance movements of High School and Universities student throughout Oromiyaa against land grab around Finfinnee that shook the empire was part of this. For the sake of their nation’s rights they stood against an enemy armed with tanks and big firearms bare handed and suffered in the hands of the coward. Many who were wounded, tortured and imprisoned then were among Oromo heroes and heroines.
A people greatly honor those types. It decides on a day and remembers them every year. It discusses about them in a meeting or among family members. It raises their names preparing activities relevant to their honor, praises and brags with their deeds and vows to finish what they started. Such occasion may take a month but concluded on a given day. And that is April 15th which we have so far came remembering together. On this day, many leaders of the first Oromo political organization (OLF) were massacred. It was decided that all heroes and heroines before them and those that come after them be remembered on that day.
It would be better if celebration of this designated day is limited only to activities related to their memories. Funds may not be solicited on that day. What can be done in that environ can be determined by bodies assigned for it. They may allow some receptacles to be placed at places to give chance for generous persons to throw some bucks or coins into them. That can help finance hall rent, printing and distribution of materials for the Day. But care has to be taken not to make having money criteria for participating in the gathering. If social organizations could form a body that takes responsibility to organize the day, it could solve the problem of asking every year as to who was going to organize it. The committee that was recently (May 2, 2014) formed by nationalists to coordinate Oromo efforts towards this end can be considered as a blessed step for the purpose.
On that day bravery and heroism of the Oromo may be told and bragged about. Based on age groups, competition in writing prose or poem and different artistic performances can be organized beforehand so that the end result can give grace for the occasion if presented on the final day. The day will be that of remembrance and pride. It means all will spend the day in happiness through remembering their common identity together. In particular, the Badii (diaspora), until the force that forced them out of their country and disabled them not to live in peace and develop their culture, produce children and raise is uprooted can never forget the heroes that have given their lives and taken the responsibility to do that. Together they are expected to remember and thank the dead, the living and the disabled heroes and heroines. When their country gains independence they will build a memorial that will help keep their memory for ever. Until then it will not be expecting too much from them to raise high and celebrate their anniversary.
Anyways such a day will be decided by a body starting from a day. To decide this, April15, 1980, the day on which comrades that played great part in Oromo liberation movement as leaders and founders were massacred was taken into consideration. It was decided by conference of activists of the Front that met on later days in 1983. However the day did not remain as that of the deciding body but of all Oromo people for the last almost four decades. But outside Oromiyaa organizing the celebrations did not get proper owner. For years it has depended on volunteers. Such a big day should not be left in the hands of volunteers who could pay attention to it whenever they have spare time. Since it is of common interest it has to be agreed and responsibility entrusted to a known body for all celebrations to come. This year has gone, it is hoped that nationalist will come forward with agreement for subsequent years.
Mentioning heroes/heroines day here should not imply that there are no other days to be remembered. For instance there are Army (OLA) day and Women’s Day not to be forgotten. The Army wherever it is can celebrate its anniversary by remembering the day of its formation, deeds it registered, its current condition and the plan it has for tasks ahead by marches and demonstration of different activities. The people will give it necessary support and send messages of good wish. World Women’s Day is celebrated yearly on March 8. Since Oromo women are part of oppressed women of the world it makes it more graceful if they celebrate the same day. However the day has to be the day that all Oromo women in an area feel it and flock out and announce their contributions and their oppression as well as their visions to the world not a day when men form the majority on such gathering. It is appropriate to remember all those yearly. Days not mentioned in here can be included either in Women’s Day, Army Day or Hero/Heroine Day. For the present purpose let us henceforth give especial focus for Hero/Heroine Day. They are the ones who helped us get back our lost identity; they are our hope to regain our independent country. They are the benevolent that sacrificed all they have for they loved us more than they did themselves. Let them attain eternal glory. Long live Oromo Hero/Heroine Day!
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!