Can any Normal Oromo Get Addicted to Ethiopia?
by Tulluu Madan, June 23, 2018
Verbal Violence, the Humiliation and Dehumanization Psychological Violence against the Oromo People
Moment of Truth: “Now, it is illegal to kill people; even the Gallas!” I heard this from three familiar faces that I have known at the Addis Ababa University who were walking in front of me near the Engineering Faculty, Ammist Kilo Campus of Addis Ababa University. That moment was also a great moment of truth that has changed my attitude towards Ethiopia. There is a saying in my language, “Arrabni lafee hin qabu; lafee nama cabsa.” When loosely translated, it is like saying, “The tongue has no bones but it could break a bone.” The Law of Attraction puts it this way, “The tongue has no bones but it is strong enough to break a heart. So, be careful with your words.” Verbal violence against the Oromo was so pervasive and most of them thought it was their absolute right to use it with impunity. Specially, it would be more painful when the so called educated young people just act like their grandparents and their outdated and archaic Abyssinian monarchy.
Even when our world class athletes win international competitions, the next morning we were being told that, “Since they don’t have thinking minds in their heads, what they have is only a strong muscle on their legs and that is why they are better at running than us.” Surprisingly, when Haile Gebre-sellassie became one of the world class athletes, however, athletics became a rocket science and the public relations work that was done to promote him on Athletics Magazine was entirely different from that of Oromo athletes. The Network of Oromo Activists (NOA) had to work hard to reverse that and we were planning as to how we could raise the account of the Oromo people. I was fortunate enough to speak to the United States major media outlets when Athlete Feyisa Lellisa came to the United States of America in 2016.
I know an Oromo who was very ashamed of speaking Afan Oromo to avoid the humiliation and dehumanization campaigns and psychological violence when I was working for Ethiopian Airlines. There was also an imbecile guy who used to say, “Inee droom Gaallaa nanyi; ahunim Gaallaa nanyi!” They used to encourage him saying, “Hulluum indaantee bahone; ya inyaa Adbaar” and so on. I used to call him ‘dhulaandhula wayii!” Dhulaandhulaa is a parasitic boneless aquatic creature that usually gets under the tongue of cattle and sucks their blood.
I was trying to use words to fight back whenever they exceed the limits and I remember when an imbecile like Girmaye Gessessse tried to mess with me saying, “Dagmoo Gaallaa Ahiyaa mandaat injii min yaawuqaal?” I was not angry at all. I only told him a true story that one of my own friends told me. In his birthplace, there was a severe draught and people were eating cactus (beles in Tigrinya) and they had difficulty in their bowl movement. Therefore, a medical doctor had to use certain type of foam to assist his patients in their bowl movements. When I told him that true story and I said, “Donkeys live where they can have adequate grass. Your people didn’t have enough food to eat and that was why they were eating grass (cactus) like donkeys and get sick,” he was too angry and was about to beat me up in front of the employees but very reasonable people like Mr. Getiye Nigussie and Etsegenet Taye told him that he must be able to handle the punch back because he was the first person who has started the verbal attack. They have wrongly convinced themselves that they could attack us in any form whenever they want to but we do not have any right at all to fight back.
The Abyssinain Elites are using Scare Tactics and Fear Mongering as Weapons of Oppression to Silence Dissent
The scare tactics they often use against the Oromo people in particular and other marginalized nations and nationalities in general are also very pervasive in the Abyssinian political culture. It was the moment I have started training at Ethiopian Airlines that I was called to the security office of the Dergue regime that was located at the old airport, in the South Western region of Finfinne/Addis Ababa. I was interrogated as to how I was connected with Eritreans who were living in the town of Ambo. I sincerely told them that I had no political connections with Eritreans at all. However, the security agent was trying to intimidate me to tell him everything I have known about Eritreans whom I have known in Ambo town but there was nothing I could tell him because I knew nothing about their secret underground clandestine political operations. As far as I knew them, they were not that stupid to tell their secret political operations to a very young high school student who was interested only in studying biology, chemistry and other academic subjects.
Another Ethiopian Airlines’ School of Marketing and Finance (SOMAF) trainee, Ato Ayenew Alemneh, who was my classmate, was shivering when both of us were waiting in the compound of that Dergue Security camp at the Old Airport. I asked him why he was shivering like that and he said, “You don’t even know that this place is a torture facility where they do “wafeelaalaa?” I asked him what that strange word was and he told me it is the torture techniques they often used on political suspects and members of the opposition political parties like the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Party (EPRP,) the MEISON, the TPLF, EPLF, OLF and the rest. Thanks to the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition (TASSC), now I know the inside out of “wafeelaalaa” and why Ato Ayenew was shivering like that.
I have also been called once to the Ethiopian Airlines’ security office and harassed for using Ethiopian Airlines’ mailing address to receive educational brochures on behalf of my close friend, Tarekegn Chimdi (Ph.D), who wanted information from the University of California (UCLA) to look for scholarship opportunities that would enable him to get a Masters Degree in Physics. The security agent threw many opened envelopes in front of me and tried to intimidate me saying, “Wow! The Imperialists have planted you here!” I told him that those opened envelopes had nothing to do with politics. I was explaining that there were only brochures from an educational institution in those envelopes and my friend was only using my name and Ethiopian Airlines’ mailing address since he was teaching at a small town of Mojo, which is located to the East of Finfinne/Addis Ababa, that didn’t have a well developed postal service. I also tried to sincerely explain to him that I didn’t even know any American or European at all. The only foreigners I have ever known during that period of time were my Indian and Russian high school teachers.
After I came to the United States of America, I was not surprised at all when a postal worker at the United States Postal Service told me that they don’t accept any return receipt first class mails to Ethiopia because of their unreliability. I had to use DHL express services by paying high prices to deliver important documents to make a family reunion with my children.
Later, I realized that the intimidation and harassment tactics were to scare me to stop pursuing the legal case I have started against Ethiopian Airlines. I was also called to the offices of the then Chief Financial Officer, Mr. Mekonnen Eshetie, and Director of Accounting, Mr. Fekade-sellassie Abate, and both of them were systematically harassing and intimidating me.
All Abyssinian elites follow same tactics and the TPLF’s Airport Security Chief, Mr. Getachew Fantaye, also called me to his office and said, “Lakkaas aantee qandanyaa oneg nahi? What else more do you need? The government has given you such a great opportunity. If we advertise your position here at Ethiopian Airlines on the newspapers, people would line up from Markato to Bole International Airport.” What Ato Getachew should have realized was that I was one of the senior employees at Ethiopian Airlines prior to the taking over of power by the TPLF political appointees like him. At least the previous management didn’t create an Apartheid system like you. Since you didn’t have the confidence and do not trust the employees, you created a separate gate for yourselves and your bosses. Your master, Melles Zenawi, died without going out and talking to the people he was ruling with an iron fist even for a single day.
All Abyssinian elites have similar mindsets and standing policies when it comes to the Oromo people in general and other marginalized nations and nationalities in particular because Ethiopia is a client state that was created by the support of the European powers and the so called “Historic Routes,” flight destinations in North Ethiopia like the cities of Bahr Dar, Ghondar, Lalibella ,Mekelle, Axum and the rest were given special attention and promotion. In contrast, flights to cities and towns in Oromia and Southern Nations and Nationalities were deliberately neglected because they are intended for extracting resources. Obviously, the main goal and mission why the Abyssinian flag carrier was created was for airlifting those resources from the periphery to the administrative and commercial centers where they control the government like Finfinne/Addis Ababa and to other international markets to generate revenue and sustain their dominance.
Fear Mongering, the Baddanno Drama and my Personal Experiences at Ethiopian Airlines
I have never apologized for using words to fight back when an employee who was much older than me, Abebe Gebremariam, has reacted to that illicit conspiracy video of the Badanno Drama in 1992 and verbally attacked me in front of my colleagues the next morning. It was perhaps one of the peak moments that I have used words to perfectly express myself and to confront the pride and prejudices of the Abyssinian elites and their very irrational behavior when it comes to treating the Oromo people with contempt. When I tell that story to Oromos, some of them say, “It has to be recorded as a historical document.” Certainly, it was a very historic moment. I guess it is not appropriate to repeat it here in public but I will certainly put it on record for the next Oromo generation in consultation with other Oromo scholars.
Political labeling, fear mongering and scare tactics are extensively used by the Abyssinian elites to instill fear and silence the Oromo people so that they stop their demands for freedom, justice, equality, peace, democracy and equitable development. Code words like “shifta, narrow nationalist, anti peace, anti development, secessionist, and now terrorist” and so on are tools that are extensively used by both the past and current Abyssinian regimes to silence the Oromo people. They are psychological weapons that are extensively overused and abused and they have already been made irrelevant during #OromoProtests.
“Hope Lives On!”`~ Community of Healing
We chose to speak
So that we break
The “conspiracy of silence”
Against human violence!
A Truth Speaker on the Community of Healing of the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition (TASSC), June 23, 2018. The phrase “conspiracy of silence” is that of a Special Rapporteur for the United Nations Convention Against Torture (U.N. – CAT.)