A Letter to Qeerroo

by Elella Daba

As the sound of the call for freedom rings louder, I thought it was about time that I reached out to you. There is no question that the past four months have been demanding and trying. The sacrifice that you are paying on behalf of our people and country has not gone unnoticed. The determination that you have to stand in front of bullets with nothing but your bare hands and the courage that you have to fight for our people at any cost makes the likes of you a hero. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration if I said that you are redefining the meaning of determination, courage and hope.

The enemy really believed that the will and the spirit of the people had been broken; that the fire burning bright had been put out. But you are living proof that this is not the case. You keep proving them wrong time and again. No matter how many times the enemy barks of planning and taking merciless action, you refuse to back down and sell off your land. The message you are sending is clear: Oromia is not for sale, never has been, and never will be.

I want to tell you how much we appreciate you, Qeerroo. I want you to know every Oromo heart beats true for you, prays for you, thinks day and night only of you and the struggle of the people that you are leading. No other nation can ever claim to be this lucky, lucky to have a generation that has not forgotten its history, nor has become a sellout. The struggle of our people has not become foreign to you. The heroes of yesterday that sacrificed their lives are living and breathing through you. Their struggle has not been for naught. You have taken the torch and you have run faster towards freedom than anytime before.

From every corner in Oromia you have organized and come out in droves, marching and singing the songs that I heard when I was a little girl, “siifan lola Oromo narra hin gortuu” bringing back so many memories of the struggle and the price paid by so many Oromos. The sheer determination I see in you tells me that fear has left Oromia. The naysayers can say whatever they want, but the time is not for the faint-hearted. No longer can they tell you that you are not well organized or that the enemy is more prepared than you. Despite the immeasurable obstacles you are facing everyday, you keep pushing back, harder and stronger. I have no doubt that many wish you were theirs, that they could call you their own, claim you as their brothers and sisters, and heroes of their people. But you belong right where you are, and it is with the Oromo people. You are writing history with your blood and the price you paid for our people will never be forgotten.

Qeerroo, the hope and the future of Oromia, I want to tell you I believe in you, that I believe in your potential to build a brighter future for Oromia. You are what we have been waiting for. You and only you will be determining your future, and the future of the generation coming after you. The next generation will never have to wonder what qabsoo looks like; they have you as a prime example. Our ancestors began this struggle and famously promised “gabrummaa hiddaan buqqifna, dadhabnu ilmaan itti guddifna”. They started “fincila diddaa gabrummaa” and now you are rewriting history with “fincila xumura gabrummaa”. Your children will never know the taste of injustice. I have no doubt they will eternally be grateful for the price you paid and for the responsibility you took upon yourself to put an end to injustice.

Your sister,
Elella Daba


Elella Daba is a university student living in Norway. Her hope is to see the day where Oromos will be able to determine the future of Oromia without any preconditions imposed by outsiders. As the saying goes in Afaan Oromo,  “alagaan alaguma, Oromo dammaqi”.

My Seat at the Table

by Najat Hamza

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It is an indisputable fact that patriarchy is in charge of the world, regardless of its failure as a system. It is also equally important to note that women all around the world have fought this unjust system to bring about real change and equality. My argument will not be about falling victim to this political, cultural, social and religious system of unfairness set by men for men and fueled by women, but about how I define it. As women, most of us have asked men to include us in one closed group or another as if they hold the key to our freedom, but how many of us stop and think “why do we need to ask men for inclusiveness?”

Patriarchy is experienced and practiced all over the world and it is too broad to cover it in this piece. However, I can speak about my experience as an Oromo woman of Muslim faith. In a society like that of the Oromo, culture plays an important role in gender role assignments and how men and women define themselves. If we look at religion – specifically my religion, Islam – we find that the first believer of our faith was a woman. We also know that the first martyr of Islam was also a woman, not to mention the courageous warriors and defenders of the faith from the beginning to date.

Even though this is the reality, we are made to feel like the contribution offered by women is secondary to that of men, and the honor and respect our faith gives us is presented as a gift from men when it is from God/Allah. If we look at the organic Oromo culture before the pollution of the colonizers, we see the balance it had in handling both genders, the roles each in respect to one another. What we witness and live now as culture, however, is the hybrid of men’s injections of patriarchal ideologies and some borrowed bad practices that give men the unfair advantage of using these pillars as a means to an end.

With respect to religion, if any woman questions any part of these clusters of systems of oppression to call attention to the frame of patriarchy operating from behind the curtain, she could get accused of heresy or falsifying the word of God/Allah. If one questions the culturally-infused system of patriarchy, she could be accused of disrespecting her identity, or worse, her ancestors. We are left in a paralyzing space where we walk on eggshells all of our lives in order to not upset or cause a stir in the honey’s jar that is patriarchy. As women, when we fear to speak out and correct the wrong, not only do we fail ourselves, but we fail men as well. Men benefit from an equal and balanced world as much as women do; it is time to save us both.

We usually talk about a glass ceiling being shattered or cracked when measuring women’s achievements here in the West, but what if we no longer need the limited distance between the floor that is patriarchy and the ceiling as an achievement to roam over it? What if we roamed in galaxies instead? What if sky was no longer the limit? It is not the limit. What if we stop accepting limitations patriarchy sets for us as women and define our own distance with or without limits? We can and we are.

If our goal as women is to crack or shatter the glass ceiling, we are not ambitious enough. Our goal as women should be to let men know: we do not need your glass ceiling to shatter or crack; we already have the most coveted seat at the table. We birthed humanity, we nurtured it, we educated it, we taught it to walk, we taught it to speak, and we unleashed it on the world. It has no place to come back and tell us we have limits as women. If we are still sitting around for men to open a door of opportunity for us, give us space and a seat at the table, it is like asking our own child permission to sit in our own home.

Men may like or dislike who I am, men could agree or disagree with my ideas, men could learn or unlearn from me and I could do the same, but what men cannot do is give me a voice, space or a seat. Because I already have my chair at the table of existence. I am here for a purpose, my purpose is defined for me and I am the master of it. It is hard to complain about a system while we are fueling and empowering it, so for all my women, I say this: put down the fuel pump.

You can join me at the table if interested; your place is waiting if you are not there already. I am grateful for the great women before me who had to remind me to assume my place at the table as prescribed to me and for me.


Najat Hamza is an Oromo human rights activist living and working in Minnesota. Her dream is to see Oromo people and Oromia reclaim their dignity and respect in her lifetime.

Six Foot Deep

by Soretti Saleh

Momma, I thought you knew
I was six-foot deep
Six foot deep before I knew

Change it up

Six mans* deep
Hands held behind my back
Wearing rubber shoes
I’m running in any direction
I see the steel bit aimed for my head
Running away before it passes through
A baby on my back,
Now regretting I had you
Your family has gone too
Nairobi or Mogadishu
A celebration as it looks south
Oppressors celebrating the death of
Our people; so let us know with the sense of fume
That our bodies burn with the
Remembrance of all of you
That light gives us motivation
At least to a couple or a few
So be the lamb that roars

Ask our government, was he but a mere peasant?
Peasant was king, in the eye of one,
Whom to a cockroach had been lessened,
Crushed could he be, momentarily.
Momentarily were we human beings

Dark, blood, and bodies.
We see because it’s the destruction they’ve conceived.
Hope, light, and prosperity.
We can’t have if we can’t show our identity.
Advocates, activists,
Guns that face me.
Words,
The bullets to address we.

Warriors.
“Peace” is an annoying interruption of war
For a warrior can swiftly swing a sword
And my pen, can write your horrors
A symphony of cries and screams,
My diaspora
Try to recover

*”6 mans” is Toronto slang, meaning “6 men”.


Soretti Saleh is an almost high school graduate in Toronto and is destined to pursue law at Harvard in order to help the diaspora and our people back home. As a young girl, she would listen to both her parents come up with poetic songs and so she made poetry her own and used it as a tool to spread awareness about the Oromo diaspora.

A Message for Our Graduates

by Amaanee Badhassoo


Oromo students protesting in front of Haromaya University

Congratulations Oromo graduates,

I would like to especially congratulate Oromo graduates this year. You give me chills, your success is a nation’s success and your victory is a nation’s victory. I am inspired by all of you and the families that nurtured you.

May you never forget that you are a product of warriors, founders of democracy and the great African nation. No matter where you go in life, be reminded of the sacrifices made on your behalf. Let their sacrifices be your armor, strength and courage.

Do not allow anyone nor existing oppressive systems restrict you from making your dreams a reality. Become thinkers, healers, advisors, educators, innovators, change agents, humanitarians, leaders and all that you aspire to be. Lean on one another and empower each other.

There is something special about this generation. I am confident that this is the generation that will put an end to misery in Oromia, Ethiopia and win some victory on behalf of humanity. So, graduates, brush your shoulders off, you are the champions of Africa and the world. Who is going to stop you? Take the world by storm, victors!


Amaanee Badhassoo is currently a researcher and consultant in MN. She is a prospective student of law and an aspiring lawyer, political advisor and conflict negotiator. She is inspired by the previous and current social movements in Oromia, Ethiopia. More importantly, she sees the Oromo struggle as a symbol of defiance against oppressive systems. The victory of the Oromo struggle is an alternative to the current repressive ethnic federalist system that aims to benefit a few!

Spoken Word by Soreti B. Kadir

 

A very moving piece by Soreti B. Kadir inspired by Hawwii Tazarraa’s protest song “Ka’i Qeerroo”. In her words: “News of Hawwii’s arrest by Ethiopian security forces (third time in 3 months) surfaced less than 24 hours ago. Her beautiful song is my heart’s anthem right now. My tiny tribute to her and all who have sacrificed similarly to bring the #OromoProtests movement to where it stands today.”

We loved Soreti’s lyrical prowess and powerful delivery. For more of her work, buy her book of poetry, entitled Siyaanne, at the following link: http://soretibkadir.strikingly.com/

No Ethiopia Without Oromia

“There is no Ethiopia without Oromia. Here’s a short note on why!

It was the Oromo people who fearlessly fought the fully-armed Italian colonizers. Their bravery was admired not only by Africans, but by the colonizers themselves. It was the Oromo people who fought for the dignity and decolonization of Africa. It was the Oromo people that assisted in the fight against the Derg regime and defended the Ethiopian people as a whole against tyranny and potential genocide.

It was the Oromo people that sent food to Tigray when the famine almost destroyed an entire group of people. It was the Oromo people that brought TPLF to power for the mere purpose of restoring justice and order to the Ethiopian state (until they were betrayed by TPLF/EPRDF).

It was the Oromo people that built Ethiopia. Ethiopia is nothing without Oromia. Now, a century later, Oromo protesters are fighting for the dignity of the citizen populace and survival of millions. They are facing a merciless regime and live bullets to protect Oromia, Ethiopia from land grab.

If you are an Ethiopian, African and (heck) a citizen of anywhere in the world, you ought to be inspired, moved and in complete awe of the resilientOromo protesters‬.

My vague words don’t do much justice for the ‪#‎OromoProtests‬, so I will leave it here.”

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Woman grieving murdered Oromo protestor

– Amaanee Badhassoo

 

Peeling the Layers of Motherhood

by Hanan Osman

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Mother and Child

As I sit here with this little time I have to myself, drinking this nursing support tea to help produce breast milk for my 3-week-old newborn baby, I reflect on the days when my body didn’t ache as much, or when I had the luxury of stepping out of my home whenever I wanted, or when time didn’t slip so easy. The transition into motherhood is soo different for so many of us. There’s this notion that every woman instantly falls in love when finding out they’re pregnant, carrying the little one throughout pregnancy, or right after labor.

For me, it was so much different. While pregnant with my first child, now 18 months, I never had or felt a connection while carrying her or even after birthing her. Of course I nurtured her, kept her safe, and gave her everything I could. I just didn’t have that immediate connection with her.

It’s here where our society makes women feel guilty or not motherly enough for not experiencing this sooner. For me it was a new experience, it was life-changing and I needed to adjust and realize how amazing my body was to carry this little person inside of me. Throughout the many sleepless nights and the non-stop crying, many times I questioned if I made the right decision. The first three months were the hardest. But then my daughter started sleeping throughout the night, entertaining herself, and now as she’s growing up she’s slowly becoming more independent. It’s a bittersweet experience.

Everyone tells you what it means or what it looks like to be a great mother, but no one ever tells you the constant inner struggles or pieces of yourself you let go of. But I’ve learned this: that which we lose we gain. And I’ve gained.

Being a mother, I’ve learned, is so much more than just being a caregiver. There is so much you learn about yourself, about the strength you never knew you were capable of having, about coming to terms with a lot of insecurities you held about the many changes to your body or about how well you perform your role as a mother. There is this change that happens in women, this change that’s happened in me.

My mother, like many mothers, carries soo much weight on her shoulders. Her role is never-ending – a mother’s role is never-ending. We carry our children to the moon and rejoice in the sun with them. I strongly believe that motherhood isn’t meant to look the same for everyone, feel the same, or be experienced the same, although making our children feel love, warmth, and protection is the goal.

My mother, through her experience, has helped me realize the importance of self-care through this journey of motherhood. To always be kind, easy, and most importantly not live up to the expectations of how motherhood is defined by others or society. To do the best that I can, and to ultimately know that will be enough.

I hope that this Mother’s Day brings mothers some form of consolation that you’re not alone in your experience. That you are enough. That while you continue to embrace and embody this amazing and life-changing experience you also don’t forget about yourself, because your child wouldn’t want you to!

With love and blessings, Happy Mother’s Day!

Hanan


Hanan Osman is a mother of two beautiful little girls, sister to four amazing young men who are her heart and a loving wife and daughter. Her knowledge and love about the struggles of her Oromo people began on her first trip to the motherland, where she learned her biggest life lessons with her mother by her side.

Preserving Afaan Oromo

“If God has protected a language for 100 years, isn’t it our duty to look after it as well? Our forefathers, our grandfathers; what I asked for was $50,000 from people, it’s a small price to pay. When so many Oromo people who are not in this room today, they paid the heaviest price for us to sit here, they paid with their lives. They paid with their own blood, they paid with their own relatives, they paid with themselves to make sure that they stand up for something they believed in. So we have a duty.”

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– Toltu Tufa on fundraising for her Afaan Publications campaign

MY Country

by Faiza Juhar

I am Oromo
I do not identify myself with the Saudi country which I was born in
Or the Italian country I lived in
Or the Canadian country I now reside in
But with the country I have so much pride in
The country in which I have spent less than a year of my entire life
The country in which my roots lie
The country my forefathers and foremothers have made home
The country where my own parents were born
Where there are plenty of fresh fruit to eat
And you walk around till you have aches in your feet
Where the sun shines bright all day
And the flies just won’t go away
Where the little boys play football down the street
And the little girls go to the market to fetch some meat
Where the market is full of spices of all kinds
And the schools are filled with bright eager minds
I identify myself with the country that has no officially recognized borders
But which we all know existed before, and shall exist once more
A country whose existence is denied and debated
And whose propaganda-like political ideologies are becoming inflated
A country where the people look like me,
Have the same history as me
And speak the same language as me
Where Afaan Oromo is heard from every corner of the land
Where a flag of victory will one day stand

I am Oromo
And my country is Oromia


Faiza Juhar is a graduate of the University of Manitoba with a degree in International Development Studies. She has currently taken time off to raise her 1-year-old son. Although not born in Oromia, she maintains a close connection to the land where her last visit lasted 6 months as she worked in a school and orphanage in the Melka Jebdu/Dire Dawa region.

#SiiqqeeSuperstar – August 2016

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Every city in our diaspora has members of the community who greatly contribute to the success of community affairs. We are aware of the ones close to home, but rarely are we introduced to works and contributions of the many others. This month, the Siiqqee Chronicles Team would like to introduce you all to one of the pillars of Little Oromiyaa.

August’s Siiqqee Superstar, Aaddee Bashatu (Yenenesh) Dabala, is and has been a constant element in the greater Minneapolis/St. Paul area for almost two decades. You can bet your last dollar that she will be at every event; concerts, youth events, cultural shows, Oromo community meetings, and front row at every church service. Her strength is evident as she seamlessly transitions into the different roles of her every day life. Some know her as the one-woman catering team, others know her as a devout church member, and others as a mother and head of household to three children. But one thing everyone knows her as in Minnesota is a proud member and the heartbeat of the Oromo community.

Selflessness, like that of Aaddee Bashatu,­ has allowed our largest population of Oromos in diaspora to reach the milestones that they have. She wears her Oromummaa so proudly on her sleeve and never allows for it to be compromised. Aaddee Bashatu, thank you for being a shining example to generations of women after you and for shattering the glass ceiling by showing them that a woman’s work can supersede that of her counterparts any day.

Baga teenna taate! Ulfaadhu. Umrii dheeradhu.
The Siiqqee Chronicles Team

*Photo taken from Finfinnee Tube’s Irreechaa 2015 album on Facebook