By Yahya Jamal*
The first books in the history of Oromo literature
Published in the summer of 1973, HIRMAATA DUBBII AFAAN OROMOO is the first Afaan Oromoo book written in Latin alphabet by a consortium of Oromo scholars, particularly Dr. Haile Fida and Jaal Baro Tumsa. Another book BARA BIRRAAN BARIHE is also a political drama that was written by Dr. Haile Fida and Obbo Abdullahi Yousuf. Before these products, no book was published in qubee Afaan Oromoo by Oromo nationals, albeit there were the unpublished manuscripts like that of Dr. Mohammed Rashad’s FURAA AFAAN OROMOO.
While remembering these historical publications, we should also shed light on the contemporary work of the legendary Dr. Mohammed Rashad’s work, which was titled FURAA AFAAN OROMOO. Dr. Mohammed Rashad’s FURAA AFAAN OROMOO had never got the chance to be published due to the outright suppression made by Somalia’s Siad Barre’s government. Despite all the hobbling challenges, both in the naming of the book and setting the aimed contents, it was a plethora of research work, which had entrenched the corner stone for the evolution of modern Qubee development.
Although the grammar in HIRMAATA DUBBII AFAAN OROMOO reflected only a few portions of the nation’s rich language, it was, by far, a prototype research from which the equitable principles of Qubee literature have emerged to the stage they are at nowadays.
In the preface of this book, the authors expressed their concerns and foresaw the possible solutions about to come:
“Afaan Oromoo baláa dha. Afaan sooressaa dha. Garuu sabni Oromoo wal irraa fagaatee iddoo hedduutti hiramee bara baayée gatii (waan) dabarseef, kana irrattis caaffata (hogbarruu) otuu hin qabaatin waan hafeef, har’a Oromoon hundi yoo walii galuu danda’eyyuu, akki dubbii isaa sirriitti tokko miti…. Haráaf dafnee walii galuudhaaf yoo nu rakkiseyyuu, bor sooruma dhuma hin qabne ta’a … Si’as (gaafas) hundi keenya rakkina malee walii galuu dandeenya.”
Of course, as these activist scholars predicted some 40 years ago, today, Oromos from all over Oromia have reached the anticipated era in which they can communicate well in their single language, both in spoken and written forms (literature).
The authors also admitted that the work of this book was a tiny start due to the then undercutting political reasons, as they stated as follows:
“Yeroodhaaf hirmaanni dubbii nuy dhiheessine kun, akka Wallagga dubbatutti caafame. Warri kana caafne afaanuma Oromoo Wallaggaa (akka itti Oromoon gama Dhihaa dubatu) illee gaarii goonee beekna jechuu hin dandeenyu. Afaan Oromoo kaanii (akka itti Oromoon kaan dubbatu dhageenyee) homaa hin beeknu. Kanaafis macaafni kun kan silaa harka afur-shan bal’achuu danda’uu likkii malee (gar-malee) hir’uu kan ta’ee dha…. Hanqina jiru guutuuf nuy beekumsa, humna, yeroos hin arganne. Yoo nuu ta’e, gara fuulduraatti itti deebina.”
Cognizant of this fact, they had a strong message to all educated Oromos:
“Oromoon barumsa qaban, macaafa kanaan Oromoota biraa barsiisuu haa yaalani. Gaarii yookiis gadhee ta’uu isaa hojiidhaan haa agarsiisani. Macaafa kana matuma isaa akka ‘Macaafa Qulqulluutt’ ilaaluu isaan hin barbaachisu. Waan isa keessa jiru qajeelchuudhaafis, hunda isaa geeddaruudhaafis, otuu hin sodaatin, yaaluu isaan barbaachisa. Macaafni kun jalqaba malee dhuma akka hin taane yaadachuu barbaachisa.”
Here is another significant message from the authors:
“Warri barumsa qaban sadi-afur ta’anii wal qabatanii Biyya Oromoo (Oromiyaa) hunda keessa naanna’anii haa hubatani, nama haa gaggaafatani, otuu hin nuffin haa qoratani. Aadaa fi hooda Oromoo, barsiisa dhaloota darbanii walitti haa qabani. Waan argatan hunda haa caafani (haa barreessani). Akkasitti afaan keenya tokko gochuu, bal’isuu, qulleessuu (qulqulleessuu) dandeenya. Akkasitti nuy warri ija bananne saba Oromoo yaada haaraadhaa fi jireenya haaraa barsiisuu dandeenya.”
“Akkasitti nuy warri ija bananne saba Oromoo yaada haaraadhaa fi jireenya haaraa barsiisuu dandeenya.” What a classic say! The term ‘yaada haaraadhaa fi jireenya haaraa’ also stipulates the process of Oromo nation building, what we are witnessing today.
Before concluding this short reminder piece, I would like to call on those who might have the copies of Dr. Mohammed Rashad’s FURAA AFAAN OROMOO and other contemporary works in their hands to bring them to the public sight. Thanks to the OLF and the Oromo struggle, the dream from 40 years ago has now come true!
God bless Oromia!
Glory to our martyrs!
* Yahya Jamal, the author, can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org