Maya Kassahun is originally from Southern California, but is now attending university in Minnesota. She is a callee enthusiast.
Maya Kassahun is originally from Southern California, but is now attending university in Minnesota. She is a callee enthusiast.
In her eyes, you had it all. Perfect build, killer smile, quite easy on the eye to that sixteen-year-old tomboy. You had ambition, direction and motivation. The words she needed to hear flowed off of your tongue like the sweetest form of poetry. Words so sweet she could taste them. Words so vivid, every time you spoke she painted a masterpiece in her head. Your speech made the world around her go completely mute. You knew you were becoming the center of her world; you allowed her to surrender her heart to the palm of your hand, despite the fact that you knew you never intended on giving her yours in return.
You made her think the fantasy you created was reality. You tugged at her heart strings until she lived, breathed and bled for you only. She was quick to come to your defense; she was a one-woman militia, ready to eliminate anything and everything that threatened your well-being. Whether or not you knew it, she tied her happiness to you. She allowed you to puppet her along for years, hoping that one day you would look her in the eyes and ask her to hold your hand and run off into the sunset. Truly hoping that one day, you would put her on the same pedestal.
You deserve an Oscar for the way you played the role of her Prince Charming. You were a natural on the stage of her life. So convinced, she told her closest friends about you. So inspirational, she prayed God kept you in the shade of His protection. So implausible, she gloated about how blessed she was. So believable, your act made her fantasy a reality. So rehearsed, you even said you loved her like you truly meant it.
Every time she would ask you to take a step forward, you would blame distance. It confused her because she was conditioned to believe that there is nothing that can stop true love. Still, she didn’t lose hope.
A few years passed and time progressed around her. She heard the whispers, but you trained her to never believe what she heard unless you said it. She was beginning to feel like there was something off about it all, but you stopped her before she got carried away in thought. Although it was evidently clear to the rest of the world that you were flawed, you were still perfect to her. She did not realize that she was asking you to give her something that you were incapable of giving. She did not realize that the distance you were referring to was not literal, but in fact, figurative. So she went the extra mile. She bridged the gap and allowed for you to break her. She allowed you to change her until she could no longer recognize herself. Before she took the leap towards you, you started off in the opposite direction.
But still, you touched her. You kissed her and held her like she was the only one. You deliberately took a piece of her, knowing that it was just another souvenir. She did not realize that she would never get that piece of her back and trusted that you would cherish it. She was rudely awakened.
It was at that moment in time she realized who she had become. She finally realized her devotion to you was stronger than her devotion to God. She realized the many things she did for you, only to find out not only did you neglect her, but she neglected herself. She wallowed in depression and looked for answers, none of which you seemed to have. She thought she was doomed and the world around her would never make sense without you. You broke her but nevertheless, she fought to keep you around – if not as her lover, at least as her friend. Although she believed it was possible, time proved otherwise. You both trotted down the paths of your lives, moving in different directions, only to become estranged.
She’s come to her own realizations now. She now can see that she was asking you to love her, not realizing that you did not know how. She now understands the distance you were referring to was the distance between how she felt about you and how you felt about her. She was light-years ahead and expected you to catch up. You taught her lessons she never expected to learn. You helped her flip the pages into a new chapter of her life and gave her the push towards the start of healing she yearned for. Although you might believe there is nothing more for her to say, there is one last thing. In case you’re reading this, she wants to say thank you for not “meeting her halfway”.
Akkoo Waree was born in Hargeisa, Somalia and was raised in Dallas, Texas. She is currently pursuing a pre-law degree and hopes to use her degree to advance the current state of the Oromo people.
Have you ever wished you could add an Oromo twist to one of your favorite English songs? Well, now you can! Take a listen to this English/Afaan Oromo version of Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable”. 🙂
Shout out to Alby on her creativity, beautiful voice and awesome shirt. Follow her on YouTube at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1ikoA3mmJH6DBReA8o1kJA
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“The irony is that when Oromo men trample on the rights of Oromo women, it is not considered a betrayal of the national cause. Thus Oromo women are told to “bear it” or “swallow it” and put off the struggle against sexism until after national liberation. Despite their denigration, however, Oromo women in Oromia and in the Oromo diaspora are stepping up their struggle against sexism. Some women in Oromia have formed an organization under the name of siiqqee which underlines the fight against gender oppression. Women like Likkee Waldee and Maymune Sherif have continued their revolutionary activism even in exile; they cry out for the necessity of multifarious Oromo women’s organizations and a wider scale of consciousness-raising education. Obviously gender and national consciousness assists Oromo women to correct the distorted images and prepares them for the struggle of true liberation.”
– Aaddee Kuwee Kumsa, “Oromo Women and the Oromo National Movement: Dilemmas, Problems and Prospects for True Liberation” from the text “Oromo Nationalism and the Ethiopian Discourse: The Search for Freedom and Democracy”
I understand that these are emotionally challenging times for Oromos and other concerned Ethiopians worldwide. For the most part we are in pain, and it’s not the kind of pain that we can find a cure for readily. I myself have resorted to an unhealthy amount of social media intake. I read everything, I mean everything, on #OromoProtests.
Recently, during my excessive browsing on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc., I have come across tweets, Facebook statuses, and various posts, sharing concern about the diaspora global solidarity rallies and the excess of what they call the “OLF flag”. At first I didn’t think much of it. People have opinions, that’s fine. Then, I started seeing it more frequently from people whom I feel should know better. The arguments are flawed for so many reasons, but it is dangerous when it is coming from individuals that have far-reaching influences.
First of all, OLF is part and parcel of the Oromo struggle. It is an organization that has contributed more to the Oromo struggle, Oromo consciousness, and resistance to oppression than any other Oromo organization save the Macha Tulama Self-Help Association. Every conscious Oromo the world over owes our consciousness to one or both of these two organizations. The younger generation, such as myself and the young students dying for their rights on their own soil, are beneficiaries and products of the sacrifices made by those who came before us, who resisted before us, who stood up before us, who sacrificed before us, who said NO before us, and who paved an unprecedented path through remarkable bravery, courage, resilience, and ultimately their lives. Yes, through the years the organization has had its failings, but its contributions to the Oromo people’s struggle far outweigh its failings. I and every Oromo who is able to speak their language proudly, know our history, name our children proudly, learn qubee, and walk down the street with our heads held high and proud, owe gratitude to this organization and the awareness that their struggle birthed.
Now, when an Oromo who is a direct beneficiary of this same organization orders me to “leave my OLF flag at home”, I am appalled, and here is why:
First, this assertion criminalizes OLF. Contrary to popular belief within the broader Ethiopian community, OLF is NOT a criminal organization. It is NOT a terrorist group just because TPLF and their allies choose to classify it as such, nor is it Ethiopia’s enemy. With that logic, these same people we are showing support and solidarity for are also “terrorists” and we are ALL terrorists. OLF is not and was never any ethnic group’s enemy. Its resistance is to successive oppressive, repressive, and murderous regimes, who annex Oromo land, displace Oromo people, degrade Oromo lives, and murder Oromo people with impunity. To tell us we are not helping our cause by flaunting a flag that is a living symbol of Oromo resistance in order to accommodate others who may feel offended by it, while not voicing a single aversion to others flaunting a flag that is a symbol of 100+ years of oppression to me and my people, is blatantly disrespectful. You all should know better.
Now, I have many dear friends, that I love as much as my own family, from various other ethnic groups in Ethiopia. They identify with the Ethiopian flag and despite my personal aversion to it, I respect that. It’s part of their identity, just like the OLF flag is a significant part of my identity. They accept me, I accept them. I still love them the same. I also welcome anybody to bring any flag that they feel represents them to any solidarity rally anywhere in the world, because this is about humanity. It’s about innocent people losing their lives for simply airing grievances. If my carrying the OLF flag deters anybody from standing with #OromoProtests protestors, I and the broader Oromo community are better off without their support because they are part of the problem.
Also, TPLF is NOT murdering our people because we are holding our flag, it is murdering people because it is the only way they know how to govern. They know none of these children and elderly are associated with OLF or any diaspora politics. They kill us because they are incapable of governing, because it’s the only way they have governed, and because they are an illegitimate government that can’t allow any room for dissent. DO NOT lay blame where it doesn’t exist. With or without the OLF flag’s presence, TPLF will continue murdering our people. We are not the cause of our own misery. We are all victims of a brutal regime that needs to go for the good of EVERY Ethiopian citizen.
Those who are committed to social justice and human rights are not and should not be worried by what flags I am holding. Our common goal is to amplify the voices of the brave souls who are brutally being silenced, to amplify their voices to a world that chooses to not listen, and do our very best to assist the broader Ethiopian populace in building a better future for themselves and their children. That should be our common goal. Solidarity should not come at the expense of my identity, my history, or my values. This flag represents everything I hold dear. Too many have paid the ultimate price for us wielding this same flag. Too many have been maimed, raped, imprisoned, tortured, and murdered over it. It is not a symbol owned by a single political organization, but it is in every way a symbol of Oromo people’s resistance to oppression – oppression of any kind!
We are not going to put down OUR flag, we are not going to be apologetic about our views, and we are not going to appease anybody. We will wield this flag, we will flaunt this flag, we will raise this flag, we will stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are being murdered and we invite anybody who wants to stand up for human rights and justice to join us. Wield whatever flag you choose, you are ALL welcome.
Instead of laying blame where it doesn’t exist, we should all do our best to amplify the voices of the deliberately silenced. The #OromoProtests have already accomplished inter-ethnic solidarity all over the world. It is definitely remarkable and I am ever more inspired by and proud of all those involved. It shows me what we can accomplish when we put humanity first and value human lives, and it’s wonderful that none of it has to be at the expense of my beliefs and values!! Let’s all do what we can individually and lay off the lectures. If you do lecture, create a meaningful dialogue in which people can educate one another.
Qaanqee Gaara Kaakkaa is a student of Political Science and an aspiring human rights attorney residing in the Twin Cities, MN. She has immense appreciation for the Oromo Gadaa system because it grants value to all living things.