Piecing to gather all those half answers-unexplained feelings of Ogaden politicians, the hard response of Ethiopian one in relation to my teachers questions and suggestions I came to the conclusion that I grew to live in a planet of others: A planet in which we have to obey laws and rules of others, celebrate others’ achievements, read others’ history and honor other’s heroes, and all at the expense of ours! I also realized that my favorite folktales were a true legend with the simple shrewdness of an oral society.

A Real Life Story…

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In my childhood I have never felt anything I was missing in my days; the school was in an open field where I can sneak in and out during and after the Amharic class: the playing ground was in my easy reach from every corner of our house, and never missed a ball to kick in my own muddy field. In this world of mine I thought I was privileged over all my age mates. My best and most loved asset of the time was folktale-tales about our great grand’s–about heroes who fought and won thousand wars against enemy of  our land.
I knew I was in transit for longer journey of life, but have never been tolerant about it: I was so desperate to reach maturity life for me to be a man-a man to order and not be ordered. I was seeking more freedom from the parental chains of control… which I could get only after I become a man. Unfortunately I and friends, blinded with longings for our manhood, were losing more freedom as we gained days of age without our knowledge: A huge world was opening in front of us with million invented hopes in brilliant images .However, I and friends never knew that we were not in the centre of the opening world, not even the bit in the brackets and all we were growing were empty years of life.

No sooner did I notice the real status of mine than our teachers, all non-Somalis, took on us with a number of mind-blowing engagements; first it was my history teacher, a northerner, who told me and  friends  ,in vehemently tone,  “you will be very vital and of useful when Ethiopia invades Somalia”. Other one was our geography teacher who tasked us with a single 20-mark-question-assignment of “why Ogaden region is devastatingly poor, backward and underdeveloped compared to the most backward regions ofEthiopia”. Our schools’ demographic throughout the Ogaden region, which is dominated by non-Somali-teachers and administrators, and not vice versa, undisputedly  reflected  the said backwardness in Ogaden.

To my teacher it was advantage of having Amharic-speaking- Somali-youngsters for the use of military purpose against Somalia. In this context we are important only for certain time and purpose, but the backwardness? We made the question to any local politician for answer, but only to find an stander response of ‘instability’ as reason of lack of developments, which itself raised question of why instability in Ogaden persists, which non of our local politician dared  to explain for a reason of what I had to later found as a fear of government reprisal . As a competing young student I couldn’t stop anything shorter than securing the whole 20 marks of the assignment. In what could be a best try in building bridge between a socially disconnected people in a single town, I decided to cross to the other side, Ethiopians as we called, for help.One ahmara classmate helped me and presented it to his father in written, as it was unusual,(if not for bidden)
for us to visit Ethiopian houses, and vice versa ,I waited outside for my friend to deliver.

That night I came back home keeping my head low with a grave psychological damage. My friend’s father, a veteran military commander and politician, reasoned the underdevelopment of Ogaden region  ‘the existence of a negative mindset of allying with enemy of the country by Ethiopian-Somali leaders , which prompted the denial of any basic development for Somali region by Ethiopian governments’. It might be the correct answer I might have for sure, but not to me: To accept to have my nation depicted as a negative-minded society was far too much bitter to swallow than to sacrifice the whole assignment, and I chose the latter.

Piecing to gather all those half answers-unexplained feelings of Ogaden politicians, the hard response of Ethiopian one in relation to my teachers questions and suggestions I came to the conclusion that I grew to live in a planet of others: A planet in which we have to obey laws and rules of others, celebrate others’ achievements, read others’ history and honor other’s heroes, and all at the expense of ours! I also realized that my favorite folktales were a true legend with the simple shrewdness of an oral society.

Since then, from my plain understanding of life as a teen to a concrete world of adults, through school teachings as well as a solid experience on the streets, every passing day was a testimony to what teachers said, and juxtaposes facts, but not reasons of how, and not why, Somalis in Ogaden are dissimilar and do not belong to our country.

Yes, we are dissimilar to other ethnic-nations in all aspects including but not limited to a selective political exclusion, brutal police administration and denial of social justice, which gradually perpetuated a total devaluation of ogaden citizenry, and we don’t belong to our country for that reason alone.

One historic day of such was, when for all the more reason, Ethiopian PM showed during his last and first public visit to Jigjiga, that he was not as the prime mister of Jigjiga, Ogaden Region, as he is the prime minister of Makele,Tigrey region, nor Somalis in Ogaden are as equal citizens of the country as Tigrey in Makelle: there was well spread speculation prior to his arrival that the PM will  pardon  prisoners in Jail-Ogaden, but, the charismatic leader of Ethiopia, as he liked to be called, Mr.Malez had other tasks to finish and orders to call:12 hours curfew was imposed in jigjiga: Jail-Ogaden was permanently prohibited from visitors, the region was declared a no-go-zone for international relief organizations ,and a full media  and economic blockade was imposed with the closure of all roots to and from Ogaden, orders which remain in place to date.

That day I waved my last goodbye to my dear uncle who vanished behind the concealing walls of Jail-Ogaden for good. As I was listening the new orders with crowd of prisoner visitors, my mind went far too away from the dust filled tinny gate of the prison-now wondering why we do not belong to this country too: More different and joyful to his audiences was the PM’s last visit to other place: In makalle he inaugurated school, addressed public meetings, and promised more development projects for the town and the region as well. In Somali region his massage was loud and clear- there be no gift for enemy.

After all it was a foolish man’s hope or an imaginary expectation of a teen to enjoy a life under the shadow of a foreign occupation: A century old legacy of injustice which dated back to the handover of ogaden by United Kingdom to Abyssinia, produced its perfect people and environment-an invented-half human leaders who believed in oppression and deemed the normal life of the endogenous people as a national threat.

In an exclusionary political application, Ogaden,under a deceitful regional government, saw a number of social and political degrading and history-revisionism initiatives: It started with nullifying all educational qualifications obtained from Somali Republic by any Somali in Ogaden in a bid to exclude the only educated people, who are those fled and educated in Somalia, from the government and the political arena of the region.
The regime has also changed the existing school syllabus, which was drafted during the transnational unity government, of which ONLF was a party, on ground that it was leaning to a self-standing-Ogaden-state ideology. It has also unliterary re-launched a fake census in Ogaden which resulted in a dramatic reduction of Ogaden population by almost a half of the previous census in three years interval.

Against all these occurrences, ranging from gloomy memories of childhood times, to the chaotic daily life experience of death, detention, and disappearance of loved ones in ogaden along all those ages , the regime in Addis claims we belong to them in a bid to steal our minds rhetorically while breaking our hearts physically on daily base in the land of our fathers.

In the real application of psychological themes people are more united and at peace when mourning together than they are when celebrating in different. In the latter situation one can attempt with all obtainable resources to build one but only an ensuing cynical society should be an inevitable in the making. This is not more apparent in anywhere than it is in Ethiopia where all the regimes of our time did not invest a day in uniting the minds of our nations in the horn but spent millions to build an impassable psychological wall between our hearts.

Now as time and circumstance taught me how different I am, and have nothing to be proud of my country , I must be in mourning for my childhood time and my once precious folktales with now a different value too:  It was the only history of my nation and the only tree we have to sit in its shade-an armed struggle to liberate ogaden:this was the center piece of our secluded childhood feelings in the form of a folktales which itself burred accounts of survivors’ history in its heart-The fallen heroes who sacrificed their lives to plant for  their yet-to-born generations of the land ,but heroes to whom we are yet to honor so long we do not accomplish their mission-an entirely liberated land and people of Ogaden.

 

H.B.abdulahi

E-mail:baahilaawe@gmail.com

 

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