Remembering our Heroes and Heroines
April is a month when Oromo communities all over the world remember their heroes and heroines (henceforth heroes). Particularly, 15th April has a special place in the Oromo struggle for freedom. It is on this particular day, in 1980, that the Oromo people lost a dozen of their gallant and brilliant heroes who had dedicated their lives to the just cause of their people. For the Oromos, 15th April has since become a de facto remembrance day, not only for the 1980 event, rather as a remembrance for all fallen heroes before and after as well.
When we talk of heroes, we talk about exceptional people who have special places in their society due to the unique roles they have played in the socio-political, economic and cultural lives of their society and the sacrifices they made to bring positive changes to the livelihood of their people. Because of what they did for their people in their lifetime and for the great sacrifices they paid their people always remember them.
In our case, the reasons why we remember our heroes are even far beyond the aforementioned reasons. Their lives are attached to the struggle of our people for freedom and the independence of our country, Oromia.
Freedom is everything for the Oromo people. It is about political, economic, social, cultural and linguistic freedoms. In general, it is a quest to be free from political dehumanization, economic exploitation and cultural and linguistic suppression. It is a quest to transform one’s nation from dehumanized to humanized nation. To realize these freedoms it requires having an independent state or country. Without independence, when one’s country is occupied, freedom is unthinkable. Freedom is not what the colonizer, which rules by brute force, gives the colonized bit by bit. It is what the colonized take by force. That is what our heroes, who were conscious of this hard fact and are aware the risk it takes, fought and sacrificed their lives for. That is what those, who have been tested in the flame of revolution are still struggling for. That is why our school children and university students, joined by their parents, have emulated our heroes and raised the banner of independence and have faced barehanded the brutal Agazi Special Force and the Federal police. That is why they have defied death and shed their blood.
Our heroes are the most extraordinary people who felt the sufferings and dehumanization of our people under Abyssinian rule and decided to play the leading role in the struggle for the freedom of our people and the independence of our motherland, Oromia, from Abyssinian rule. They are the most passionate, and selfless visionaries who have clearly understood the need of their people and as a result committed themselves to the fulfilment of the desires and hope of their people. They are individuals who had consciously and deliberately put the most burning issue of their people, FREEDOM and the INDEPENDENCE OF THEIR COUNTRY, before their own lives and the lives of their families. They are people who heroically stood against the invading colonial forces and sacrificed their lives in defense of the independence of Oromia and the freedom of the Oromo people. They are liberators who, since the colonial occupation, fought and sacrificed their lives to free us from colonial rule, to reinstate our lost dignity, history, culture and language. They are people of special qualities who were imprisoned, tortured and finally faced the Abyssinian firing squads without compromising the cause of their people.
Our heroes are still alive for they live in the hearts and minds of the Oromo people, particularly the Oromo young lions, who have been facing since November 2015 TPLF’s Agazi Special force and the federal police barehanded. Our heroes live with us in our homes, work places, schools, churches, mosques, Oromo thanksgiving places and entertainment arenas. It is impossible not to think of them when we write articles, books and when we enjoy the beautiful Oromo revolutionary and love songs and even gospel or Islamic prayers and Oromo thanksgiving songs. All these are the fruits of their sacrifices, which even diehard reactionaries and turncoats cannot deny.
Our heroes are everywhere in Oromia. We feel them in the cities, in the countryside, in the mountains and when we walk along the rivers of Oromia. They are still ideologically guiding and leading us on the revolutionary path they charted towards freedom. They are still making an immense impact on the current Oromo struggle for freedom. When Pan-Oromo nationalism and unity are at stake our heroes have become our reference and our guide. When there are wavering and doubts about the success of our struggle they have become sources of courage and commitment for the Oromo nationalist to continue with the struggle. ‘For us all the Oromo nationalists, particularly the Oromo youth, they have become symbols of all the qualities we would like to have and all the goals we want to attain.’ Everything that the Oromo young lions have been following since last November is clearly indicating this fact.
Based on the revolutionary foundation their hero forefathers and fathers laid, acquiring their courage and commitments to the cause of their people, visualizing the goal they set, following their legacy of Pan-Oromo nationalism, adding their own revolutionary creativities using modern mass media, with the full backing of their gallant mothers and fathers, the Oromo young lions have marched all over Oromia joining hands from corner to corner raising their voices against tyranny. They have justly raised the banners of their gallant predecessors. “Freedom, Oromia for the Oromo” are their slogans.
In panic, the TPLF regime has responded with violence using lethal forces against them. Since the Oromo peaceful protest has started in mid-November 2015 hundreds of Oromos have been killed and tens of thousands are incarcerated and many untold crimes have been committed against them. Amazingly, all these atrocious acts by the TPLF have never brought the Oromo young lions to submission. To the contrary, the heavy handedness of the TPLF regime added fuel to the flame of freedom burning in their hearts. The atrocities committed against them and their mothers and fathers made them to realize that freedom, justice and peace are attainable only when they become the masters of their motherland, Oromia. This realisation has made them to pay the price of freedom with their lives. They are our heroes as well; like their gallant predecessors, they have consciously dedicated their lives to the cause of their people. Just like our heroes in the past, our new heroes come from all parts of Oromia, all walks of lives and all forms of religious believes consolidating the unity of the Oromo people and Pan-Oromo Nationalism heading for a common goal.
The deeds of our heroes, which have produced brilliant young Oromo lions that emulated them and raised their banner, will certainly close the chapter of our struggle with victory.