የአርበኞች መንፈስ ሲታወስ (Remembering Ethiopian Patriots)

February 19, or Yekatit 12, is remembered in Ethiopia as Martyr’s Day. Seventy six years ago, two young Ethiopians (they were Eritreans but Eritrea was a province of Ethiopia then), Abraham Deboch and Moges Asgedom, who were angered by racism and colonial occupation, attempted to assassinate Rudolfo Graziani, the commander of the Italian fascist forces that occupied Ethiopia between 1936-1941, inflicting heavy wounds on him and his subordinates, killing few of them. In retaliation, the fascist forces massacred more than 30,000 Addis Abeba residents within three days. As a result, Graziani was given the nick name “the Butcher of Ethiopia.”

The fascists thought that they could subdue the people by brutal force; however, the plan only backfired on them, and emboldened the resistance movement. Ethiopian patriots, men and women, were already actively fighting the occupying force in every corner of the country; the massacre in Addis Abeba only strengthened their freedom-loving spirit to fight more in oder to liberate their country from the invading foreigners. And victory was not too far.

Italy invaded Ethiopia in WWII, using air planes that sprayed the land with cluster bombs and nerve gas, against international law, but failed to occupy the country successfully. This was an attempt to avenge its 1896 humiliating defeat at the battle of Adwa, where traditional African freedom fighters courageously quashed a highly trained and armed European colonizing army. Italy learned once again that it can never erase Adwa from world history.

The following is an Amharic poem that I just wrote to remember those patriots who, during that anti-colonial era, paid heavy sacrifice with their blood and sweat to preserve a country that I call home: Ethiopia. These patriots hailed from every region of the country, and from every ethnic background; what united them to fight against the invaders was the love they had for the country, not necessarily for the rulers. The rulers were, and still are today, actually ungrateful to these great warriors and patriots. Some of these brave hearts were hanged to death, while others were treated as worthless individuals because they were also a thorn in the flesh for the domestic tyrants. After liberating the country, the freedom fighters demanded reform, better governance, better leadership, better system, and that made them “public enemy number one.” They were seen as threats to the rulers so they were systemically oppressed or sentenced to death. But history will continue to remember their sacrifice.

Today, too, Ethiopia’s rulers are not tolerant to those who boldly challenge them. They have enacted laws left and right, laws that silence individuals who demand a better, more democratic Ethiopia. There are political prisoners in jails, some incarcerated on bogus charges.

Those who are ruling should know better that people who feel suffocated by a system will never stop to rebel against it. That is precisely what Ethiopia’s history teaches us from the recent past to the present day: After Italy was kicked out, Emperor Haile Sellasie was next, followed by Mengistu Hailemariam. The current system also will face the same fate as those who ungracefully left in the past if it keeps going down the totalitarian abyss.


የአርበኞች መንፈስ ሲታወስ

የራስ አሉላ አባ ነጋ
በታታኝ የግብፅን መንጋ
የቴጌ ጣይቱ ብጡል
ብልህ የሆነ ወንዱ ሲታለል
የፊት አውራሪ ገረሱ ዱኪ
ነጫጭባውን አንበርካኪ
የደጅ አዝማች ታከለ ወልደ ሐዋርያት
ጠላትን ወግቶ ያልተደሰተ በአፄም ሥርዓት
የራስ አሞራው ውብነህ ተሰማ
ነጩን የፈጀ ጀግናው ባለግርማ
የራስ አበበ አረጋይ
ሽምቅ ተዋጊ ጠላትን አጋይ
የደጅ አዝማች በላይ ዘለቀ
አባ ኮስትር በአፄ የታነቀ
የደጅ አዝማች ባልቻ አባ ነፍሶ
ጠላት አሳዳጅ መድፍ ተኩሶ
ያ የወኔያሙ ኃይለማርያም ማሞ
ጠላቱ ሳይቀር ያደነቀው ተገርሞ
የገሞራው አባይ ካህሳይ
ነጩን አስጎንባሽ ጥቁሩ ታጋይ
የደጅ አዝማች በቀለ ወያ
ታንኮች ያጋየ ለኢትዮጵያ
የነብሮቹ ልጅ ዘርዓይ ደረስ
በአሉላ ሰይፍ ሮምን ትርምስምስ
የአውሮፓው ጄኔራል አብዲሳ አጋ
በሀገሩ ግን የተቆጠረ እንደ ተራ ዜጋ
የደጅ አዝማች ዑመር ሰመተር
በጥይት ቆስሎም አንበሳ ነብር
የአብረሐም ደቦጭ የሞገስ አስገዶም
የተጠረጠረ ጠላትን ቢያደማም
ያ የልባሙ ሰው ስምዖን አደፍርስ
ለትግል ጓዶቹ ቀድሞ የሚደርስ
በዱር ገደሉ የተንከራተተ
ለሀገር ፍቅር ለሕዝብ የሞተ
ይህን ይመስላል የአርበኞች መንፈስ
ከዘመን ዘመን በትውልድ ሲታወስ


4 thoughts on “የአርበኞች መንፈስ ሲታወስ (Remembering Ethiopian Patriots)

  1. I am half way through Cutting for Stone, and I am loving it.
    And I am learning more about Ethiopia and its beat and feel, and its attempts at finding freedom, the role of expatriates & NGOs in curbing diseases and overcoming social issues.
    The places and people and the languages sounds so familiar to me – thanks to this Patriotic Kweshcn space 🙂
    Amharic, Eritrean, habesha, Addis Abeba, horn of Africa, and the lovely word “Tizita” … would have been so very foreign otherwise.
    and have read about the Emperor Haile Salaesi and the coup lead by the Colonel …

    May the souls of the patriotic Martyrs rest in peace.

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