The Majority people of Oromiya are called Oromoo. Oromo is derived from “Ilmoo Ormaa” or Children of People. Waqtolaa means Waaq is Kind. Waaq is the black Oromoo God. He lives in the sky, for this reason the sky is at times called waaqaa in Afaan Oromoo. Afaan Oromoo or the Oromo language belongs to the Cushitic language group. In the Horn of Africa many such languages are spoken. Among them are Somali, Sidamaa, Afar, and Geedi’oo languages. All these were pushed to obscurity to advance Amharic.
Oromiyaa is rich in minerals, coffee, plants and animals and agricultural products. It is now the colony of Ethiopia and so is part of the Ethiopian Empire. Ethiopia is also known as Habashaa or Abyssinia. The major language of the colonizer is Amharic, which is of Semitic stock. In olden times to get a job one had to be proficient in Amharic.
At schools only Amharic was taught. Those who cannot afford to send their children keep them at home as cattle herds, farm helping hands or shepherds. Those were the majority. Therefore majority did not speak Amharic. So they didn’t have a chance to get paying jobs.
Paying jobs are found only in towns. Country boys envy those who come to visits relatives from urban centers. Their style, the way they dress, the way they speak, the treat and gifts they bring for relatives were different. It was a wish of all country boys to go and work in town. The following story is about a grown up farmer who was tired of farming and went to search for a living in a town.
So starts the story teller:
Waqtolaa was a young peasant. He had different types of grain, oil seeds and pulses in his store. He had a number of cattle, sheep and goats. He had also chicken and pack animals. He also maintains some beehives on the tree a short distance from his home. Being tired of harassment by settlers, as well as never improving ways of life in rural area he sold all he had and left for town. There he started living with his aunt. His aunt’s name was Ilikee. Ilikee is his father’s elder sister.
One day he said to her. “Adaadee (Aunty) I am not going back to the country, could you get me a job here?” Then Ilikee said to him, “Who do you think I am? I am a simple farsoo (local beer) vender”. What a job can I get you? The biggest factory that doesn’t need license around is that of farsoo, daadhii and katikalaa (daadhii is a fermented drink from honey, while kaatikaalaa is hard liquor from grain. All are home made in very small amount). Would you try that she asked?
Is that not women’s job, would you allow me even if I wanted to adaadee? However miserable I may be you don’t expect me to do woman’s job. How can I demean the name of my father in the midst of our clan? What are you joking adaadee? Even if that legendary woman you admire, Akkoo Manooyee comes back I will not do it.
Ilikee was furious at his statement. She said to him, you are ignorantly arrogant. What Manooyee tried was to eradicate such arrogance and bring men down to the level of their real size. Unfortunately she was over powered and untimely over thrown. If you want to survive the changing times forget to divide jobs into men and women’s. Jobs are scarce nowadays and one like you would hardly get any.
How did the son of Abbaa Mijaa, Abbaa Duulaa, and Wondimmuu Xuruna got jobs? He asked her. These were people who came to town from his neighborhood. My boy, except the natives every body has connections. Never dream to get a job without some one pulling strings. You are the grand daughter of Abbaa Bokkuu he said to her, how come you have no string to pull in your own country? You naughty boy, keep quit, don’t ever try to enrage me, she warned him.
I lost hope when abbaa Galgaloo was put behind bars for speaking to a gathering in Afaan Oromoo, said Ilikee. He had been doing that since he reached adulthood. He doesn’t know any other language except that. His wife who had overheard that an order had come from Shoa banning speaking vernacular in public places had warned him and asked him to verify. He didn’t bother but went and addressed the gathering as usual. Later it was announced that one should speak only through interpreter who speaks Amharic even if the speaker and the audience speak only Afaan Oromoo.
That was why said Ilikee Gandaa Courts have simaabaloo. They interpret what the judge said into Amharic. That goes on every day irrespective of the judge, the plaintiff and defendant speaking only Afaan Oromo. Both left and right pay for the Amharic speaking simaabaloo for a service they didn’t use. So how can we say we are living when our language, the expression of our personality and identity is being killed inside us? We are told officially that our language doesn’t worth to communicate with each other.
Our status is falling deeper than these riffraff every day. We are colonized people. They are taking away what we have one by one. Public offices are run by them. Language alien to our people is used by them. Even if notices were put out for employment, interviews are given in Amharic. That by itself is enough to exclude our youngsters.
They can’t even get to guard gets or run errands in public offices. Therefore only their kind or their lackeys have the chance to compete for those positions how ever menial the jobs may be. Yet we are the ones who pay their salary. For that they levy on us heavy taxes and tithes. They even call us to die for them.
Even in private business they will always find a way to pull down our people if they think they are getting richer. They know wealth is the basis of power. Therefore they can’t allow it to freely grow in the hands of colonial people. It was their machination that sent Bulii, Meexxii and many others bankrupt. Look at all the dying out clan leaders they don’t have even regular food on their table. Could there be any one who could be richer than them when the land, the forests and mineral belonged to their people? They were disowned and impoverished intentionally.
You were asking about those boys that came from your village. Abbaa Duulaa’s son makes a living by guarding the gate of the faranjii (white man). Even that is a kickback for the water his grandfather once allowed him to use for flour mill. The water was on the piece of land the colonizer left him after taking three fourth of clan land for submitting without resistance. Over and above that the late brother of the faranjii was his Godfather. Abbaa Mijaa’s son fetches water for Madinee’s daadhii; Madinee and his father came from up there together.
Wondimmuu speaks Amharic, and is said to be highly learned. They say he has read something called Malikta (extract from Saint John’s gospel) when telling about his education. It must be of high level. People tell he is being groomed to be scribe to the waradaa (district). His Father, Xurunaa came with Ras Birruu during the war and remained behind. Ras Birruu was suspected to be the emperor’s son born from a slave. Xurunaa claims to be pure and proud Habashaa.
Since then Xurunaa has been spying for every governor that comes here. He informs them on movements of our people. He was given Abdiisaa’s land for his service. Peasants bring him half of their produce and he enjoys without ever touching soil with his hand. That places him in a strong position to get favors. Xurunaa was suspected for Fitiraarii Tuuchoo and Qanyachi Shuno’s frequent imprisonments.
Do you want to compete with Xurunaa’s son? All who work there are remnants of servants of Rases, Dajaachis and Fitiraarii it was told. Those were the forces that broke the backbone of our grandfathers. They came from far north waving green, yellow and red colors, beating drums, wielding rifles and bragging about their valor.
Their big war drums were called “Nagaariit”. They were carried by captives from other nations like Isaatuu Birruu. It was the master that gave him a name and his own last name. Most colonial people lost their identity in that way. It is not only that Xurunaa came with Ras Birruu, my son; you have also to be one they call “human breed”.
Don’t you see Isaatuu lives on begging? Even if he came with them he didn’t get the privilege of the “human breed” because he was slave. They consider giving him their name and sparing his life a privilege.
Do you now get a glimpse of the picture? Can you see the difference between you and Wondimmuu? She continued you are like Isaatuu except that you are not taken away from your country. The poor Isaatuu you see now might have been the son of a king of a country. Because you are in your country and can trace more than seven generation of your ancestry you despise the new comers that cannot count beyond their grandfather. Isaatuu doesn’t have that chance. He doesn’t even know who he is. What ever his background, Wondimmuu reads, writes and speaks Amharic as additional advantage.
Listen adaadee Waaqtolaa said, when we were in our village I excelled Wondimmuu in every thing, farming, athletics and articulating ideas. His Amharic did no magic for him. Still I assure you I will beat him if we are allowed to compete on a level field minus Amharic. Don’t you think they should give me this chance without knowledge of Amharic? He asked her.
She told him that those who don’t speak Amharic only give to the government and its Nafxanyaa. They should not expect to receive any thing from them. He said, why, of course, without thinking? Do you hear me my son? She said to him. Did you hear the saying, “beware ye mouth, said the nose, looking down at the mouth”? “Why” is a crime in this place. So be careful of what you utter.
Waqtolaa said to himself “who could see what I am thinking” and continued to think about it. The mouth is created to talk in addition to its other functions. Why should any one make it a crime to speak? Is it not against human nature? I feel I should be given equal opportunity to work with all human beings. I didn’t want to carry garbage and guarding somebody’s gate. I want a job of my choice. The nose was afraid of the consequences of what the mouth utters. Is adaadee afraid of what might befall her for what I might say? He asked himself.
If you are gagged you suffocate. Speech is air it will find its way through dirty pipe and come out another way and pollute the surrounding with its stink. It will be difficult to know from where it came. Ever one will hold ones nose as not let in the stink. Which one is better to let it out through the proper channel or to muffle it and send it to uncontrollable outlet? If I can’t go public I will go underground like a mole and turn inside out. That was a thought he was churning in his mind.
Waaqtolaa wanted office job like that of Wondimmuu. He believes the others are not descent enough for him. The spirit of his family would not be in peace with him if he is to take those ones. While churning positive and negative aspects in his mind it turned from dusk to dawn.
He remembered his aunt saying there is nothing that cannot be bought and sold in that town. Without telling any body he decided to go for the purchase. So he didn’t wait even for breakfast to leave for where he believed Amharic may be sold.
He carefully took out some money from what he hid and sewed in the nook of his tattered coat and sewed back the rest in such a way that nobody could easily find it. As he decided, he started early towards the church where Amharic is widely spoken. From experience he knew people send their children to church to learn the language. So he was confident to get it there.
On arrival he saw a person wearing turban and greeted him, good morning, in his native language. The person returned his greetings with accented Afaan Oromoo saying, good morning my son, what brought you this way? He seems one of those clergies known as “dabtaraa”, learned but malicious.
I wanted a job but they said I have to speak Amharic; I came in search for a means of learning it. This is very simple I will sell it to you he said. Waqtolaa asked him if he knew about the language. The person said perfectly, “even hatataa manafist wa awuda nagast” (horoscope). Even though he didn’t understand a bit of what he said, Waqtolaa beseeched the clergy man that he is willing to pay for it if it were purchasable. I will tell you a magic word, if you say it uninterruptedly until tomorrow morning you will know every thing, the clergy said.
He then asked him, “How much do you have?” He told him one dollar. If you want the good one you have to pay more. Even if I want the spirits will not turn up for less than two dollars. Ok give me, said Waqtolaa. He turned his back to the man and carefully took out two dollars from a corner of his shirt. After that the clergy took out a book from under his armpit and murmured to it for a while. He closed the book, kissed it and made Waqtolaa kiss it as well. Then he said something and touched Waaqtolaa’s forehead with a wooden cross again murmuring a language he doesn’t understand.
After that the clergy told him to repeat after him “Minnawu? Mindinnawu? Waqtolaa did as he was told. He had to do that for seven nights standing on one leg on immovable stone, holding lime in his hand. If the lime dries he has to change it after taking incense for the church and telling a priest as to what happened. After rehearsing for several times and bidding him goodbye, they parted. The dabtaraa smiled and murmured, “kabt Gaallaa” (cattle/naïve Gaallaa). The phrase sold meant “Why? What is it?”
Waqtolaa started towards home doing what he was told to do. On the way he stumbled and badly fell. He was almost unconscious for a moment. Waking up he wanted to cry from the pain but he is not a kid. Some how, he got up from the ground with great effort. He bent down to massage his swollen foot. After a little relief from the pain he remembered buying a language. But he couldn’t remember it, it is already lost.
He started searching on the ground. He gazed on the stump that hit him if it could remind him, but in vain. He then sat on a rock and started lamenting for the painful leg and the lost language resting his head on a staff he always carried for self defense, usually against aggressive dogs. Inside he said, “My money, come home crying”. He beseeched the surrounding streams, hills and trees to help him. He believes Waaq hears through them.
While he was sulking a monk arrived. Habashaa monks lived in monasteries called “Gadaam” where they took refuge from worldly activities. Upon seeing him the monk asked in Amharic, the only language he spoke, “Lijee minnawu mindinnawu ye hoonkewu (My son why what happened to you?)”. Waqtolaa bragged with rage and said, it was you who hypnotized me and took my “minnawu mindinnawu! Release it! He shouted at the top his voice.
Then he started beating the monk very hard with the staff in his hand. It was a common talk among peasants that such believers have the power to hypnotize and do on a person what ever they like. Waqtolaa grew up hearing such talks. Once, when Batra’s daughter lost conscious as a result of spell cast on her by some one, an exorcist called dabtaraa was called. He had a wooden structure with one piece placed over the other (cross). Splashing water on her, the dabtaraa continued beating her with it.
A friend translated for Waqtolaa what the dabtaraa was saying when beating her. It seems Waqtolaa was imitating the dabtaraa he saw then. In the mean time a police officer came, and asked “Minnawu mindinnawu? (What is the matter, what happened?)”. I don’t know, I saw him depressed and asked him “minnawu mindinnawu?” after which I saw only beating raining on me.
Waqtolaa now believed that there was conspiracy against him. His minnawu mindinnawu has been shared out among all, this may be what they call “aafeez aadangiz” (casting spell) he thought. He knows also that the police will have no mercy on him. He couldn’t run away for the police had already grabbed him. He couldn’t attack the police because he is afraid of the law. But he started memorizing the word loudly as he jogged in front of the police with his arms tied at the back.
The police threatened, “Are you joking at me, never mind you will get it.” Upon arrival at the station he slapped him and with a kick on the butts hurled him into a dark room. He banged against the wall and again he lost his language. Waqtolaa then said, “Get lost; I had never known you before”. Since then people quote him when they lose some thing involuntarily.
In the country side where Waaqtolaa was brought up sorcery was common place. They were said to perform the impossible. Waaqtolaa’s belief in miracles started from there. Here too they fooled and sold him something intangible. Yet he claimed magic words that he thought his paid for. He paid dearly with his savings for his naiveté. The dabtaraa, the monk and the state were the winners again. After keeping him in dark solitary room for some days they transferred him to a room where there were other prisoners. It was stinking filth. At a corner there was a bucket full of urine. It has already over flown and wetted the corner floor. The senior prisoners told him to stay in the corner. He did as commanded. One of them was very huge and scary. Waaqtolaa didn’t dare to challenge.
Most prisoners were thieves and looters. These ones demanded money “for candle” and took all remaining in his open pocket. Then they allowed him to share their corner. There was a hermit in prison who was put there for “mouth passing” (defaming) officials, as it was then called. It was a fasting season. He asked Waaqtolaa if he fasts. Waaqtolaa said no. The hermit asked him if he was baptized. Waaqtolaa said they told me so but I have never gone to church in my grownup life. Ok my son you have to fast and hurt your flesh to pave for good life in heaven. He offered to teach him that if he is willing.
You have seen me eating only two pieces of bread daily since I came here what fasting are you talking about? Your government has already forced me to stay here hungry. Do you want me to die? Waaqaa doesn’t require from me fasting. It doesn’t want me to finish my self here. He wants me to finish what is here. So don’t ever try me again, I am not in good mood. What does it help if I pluck these unkempt hair locks of yours? Forgive me my son I stand corrected said the hermit. The hermit was taken out before they uttered a word to each other again.
After a fortnight of searching, his aunt found his where about and visited him. She raised up her hand looked up and thanked Waaqaa for finding him alive. He asked her to bring him cloth left at home and wash for him the dirty and lice infested he was wearing. She left and brought him what he asked for.
He then gave her what was on him for so long. He never believed he could get that chance. He said to her, “aunty clothes have corners and touched his chest, and she changed the topic and said “Donkey, you will not remain in a corner”, and then left for home. She turned his clothes inside out and got the corner of his coat he implied. There was the treasure he hid.
She then went to the police chief and gave him some money to take Waqtolaa to the court. And then she also gave some amount to the judge for quick verdict and mitigation. The judge adjudicated fine for state and compensation for the monk. He ruled that he be release upon payment and ordered for the files to return to the archives. Ilikee never thought a monk would take worldly compensation.
Waaqtolaa left his country home to lead a better life. But he lost what he saved lifelong and his aunts subsidy. He had also enough of prison. The aunty was thankful for his release and did not feel the cost she incurred. She used to look up and say, “If the Black with the belly of the sea wills wealth can be found any time”.
To get a job like Wondimuu’s he lacked the right to equal opportunity. To get a job in his own fatherland he cannot meet the language criteria. He couldn’t compete even for a job he pays tax for. The only chance was to till the land and share the produce with land lord, church and state. His life was designed by aliens in such a way that what remained as his share should be enough only for survival no surplus to accumulate for investment. They know economy is the basis of power. The native should be deprived of that basis. Knowledge is power. Waqtolaa lacked knowledge. When he tried to spend his incidental savings to buy it, it landed him in prison.
He has now seen urban life. He cannot go back and farm for others and live like his father. What waited for him was homelessness or going into the military. He believes it is better to be homeless rather than to come back and fire at ones own people. Aliens save jobs without risk for their relatives. They want others to take the risk and make them live without risk. If such recruits are willing they pamper them with callee on their chest like that of our girls. If they refuse they keep them in line with threat to their life.
They have organized peasants into counties, neighborhoods and streams. These units were put under hand picked galtuu. Then a quota for contributing their young for the military was laid on them. Since they were organized to the smallest unit there was no way of escape. All who can run and pull trigger were taken away. Only the elderly and women were left to produce.
Except giving their children no one has the right to ask their whereabouts. For this reason parents live on expecting to hear something about their children. The fortunate may get letters from those who knew that they were dead or alive but in rehabilitation centers.
Until they die or thrown back home crippled the militia members will go on wiping their lice, shivering with malarial attack and live always fearful of their masters and the enemy of their masters. For name sake they will be given uniforms and some token for drinking beer, which the establishment sold at the camp. They live on mold infested canned food for unknown time.
Nothing can relieve from this except knowledge, said Ilikee. If you join them they will even before you die make you unlearn what you already knew. After running away from Damboobaa I got job with an alien woman. She used my labor like as if I was slave. But I learned how to make farsoo with geeshee (hops). Then I left her and lived with farsoo vendor helping her only for food and shelter. It is then that I learned the relation of cost and profit. An old acquaintance got me this hut and I started brewing farsoo with the money I saved from the alien woman’s service. Now aadde Dibaabee has promised to teach me how to ferment commercial daadhii (mead). I have learned to make first class daadhii at my parents. But it will be too costly for selling. That means I need special coaching. With that I will gain more knowledge and go on adding up power and wealth.
What is better for him? Asks aadde Ilikee, whenever she tells people about Waqtolaa. Damboobaa was her first husband. He was retired from the army after he lost an eye on duty. His service of twenty years didn’t earn him rank. His language and national background was a problem. Even in retirement he used to get a meager ten dollars a month.
He was angry at the system that discriminated him because of what he didn’t choose to be. But he directed this anger to those nearest him rather than the system. He boasts of his medals and paraphernalia from his service showing the confusion in his mind. He fails to understand who was responsible for his miserable life. That is why at times he identifies himself with those who used and discarded him.
He had some property left by his parents. He sold every thing at low price to usurers and drunk it all. Every time he drinks he comes home and beats up Ilikee. At one point she lost all patience and respect for him. She beat him back and left home in pitch darkness, and never seen him again. There were those who ask her in return, “why doesn’t Waqtolaa refuse like you did? Why doesn’t he rebel?”
Her reply was, though Damboobaa’s chauvinistic behavior emanates from the system, she has a direct tormentor in him. So she said her protest was directed against him. Had he understood his problem I would have helped him find his real enemy. Waqtolaa and others target is not narrowed down like hers, it is directly the system of oppression. It needs a wider strategy. He cannot do it alone. All his likes had to hold hands and protest together. Waqtolaa alone cannot be blamed for not fighting against a national adversary. So every one of you has to ask each other as to what should be done. Understood, said Ilikee.
Waqtolaa feels he has to do something. But he doesn’t know how to do it. He lacks knowledge. The question of knowledge has started to bother Waqtolaa again. He knew that there is no magic leading to it. To go to school needs moral and material support. Waaqtolaa couldn’t see the way out. To rise without enough know how it would make easy prey to the enemy. If not school he should get a way to get information on possibilities. In between Waaqtolaa doesn’t help laughing at himself at the foolish thing he tried. There is no magic that takes short cut he said to himself.
Every day he roamed the town purposelessly. One day while passing by a house a maid called him out, gurbaa (lad)! He responded to her call. She asked him if he might help her splitting fire wood. She was a pretty maid, so he didn’t want to refuse. He went into the compound. He split the wood and called her to say goodbye. Instead of the maid a bigger well dressed lady came out and invited him in.
She gave him a sit and asked him so many questions. He told her every thing about himself, his wishes and aspirations. She spoke his language without accent. He couldn’t believe she could be one of his. Then she stopped her query and led him to where he could wash his hands. She then gave him food and drink.
After he had finished she asked him if he would like to serve as a domestic hand half day and go to school for the other half. He couldn’t believe his ears but he didn’t want to show his excitement. He told her he will consult with his aunt and give her an answer some other day. She told him to come with his answer in the morrow. Then she gave him coffee and he left for his home.
He hurried home and said misirachoo! (Surprise), to his aunt. Himii gammachiisi! (Tell it to me and make me happy) she said. He told her every thing. She was happy and supportive. She made coffee and thanked her father’s spirit. You see you are learning many things. You are now happy to serve a lady. That is my boy. Akkoo Manooyee didn’t demand more than that, she teased him.
She asked him the lady’s name and if she has a husband. He told her that he didn’t inquire. What about her maid’s name? He said, she refers to her as Almaz. As long as you work there never flirt with Almaz, do you here me, she asked him. He laughed and assured her he was only after education. She suspected her special relation with the master.
The next day Ilikee accompanied him to the periphery of the compound, kissed him on the head and wished him good luck. He hugged her and bade her goodbye. She observed the land marks so that she doesn’t miss it if the need arise.
He knocked at the door and the maid came out and opened the door for him. Adaadee looked at the girl from a distance and registered her feature in memory. He told the maid of his appointment with lady of the house. With a smile she led him into the house to where the lady was. He greeted her politely and told her that he came with a positive answer. She called Almaz and told her to show him all he is required to do and also to take him with her to school in the evening.
He was then showed around and told what he is expected to do by himself and what he will do in cooperation with her. She then showed him his room. In the evening she took him to night school and registered him. He couldn’t believe it. One of his duties was to stand at the gate and open the door when asked. To who to open to whom not to open was also told. He is told he can visit relatives every month on the weekend.
He started work on the same day. The next day he went to school with Almaz. Class started at 2 o’clock and ended at 6. He was to watch the gate from 6:30 to midnight. On that night no body came. He was told head of the household, Aggafaarii Wuqaawu, has gone out of town and may be in by tomorrow day break.
As said Wuqaawu came the next day and was introduced. The man doesn’t speak Waaqtolaa’s language. With Lady Warqee, the mistress of the house as interpreter they communicated a little and he was excused. It was time for school so he left. It took him six months to speak with his master. Yet he was happy that he could say more than “minnawu, mindinnawu”. Waqtolaa became an outstanding student. He was able to finish elementary school in three years. Before that he spoke Amharic fluently with only minor accent.
On the day he heard his exam result he was very happy. Starting next fall he was going to junior high. He took his report card home and gave it to the master in presence of the wife. He thanked both for the opportunity they gave him. The wife showed her delight by kissing him on the chicks. The man only said congratulations and didn’t show any excitement. He didn’t even shake his hands. Waaqtolaa didn’t bother much. He said to himself probably he had higher things on his mind at that time.
That evening he was ironing clothes in a room adjacent to the master bedroom. He noticed a heated discussion going on between the spouses. He put aside the iron and tried to eavesdrop by going nearer to the door. They were discussing about him.
Aggafaarii was not happy about his progress. He was saying to his wife that those peasants who are already learned are creating problems and so no need to add more of them to the stream of rebellion. We cannot go on repeating the mistake you made three years ago. Instead of making him kiss your knees if not your feet, you made him kiss your chicks.
He didn’t show any sign of submission to our system because you treated him as a free man, when he was supposed to show us in action unquestionable respect. You put me in embarrassing position where I had to shake his hand instead him kissing the ground in front of me.
She was furious with her husband. Are you really meaning what you said now, she asked? Do you listen to the news your own government radio is broadcasting? Don’t you observe the change of tone of your authority in the capital? Do you follow what is happening in other parts of the world? Despite all these you and your likes are blinded by greed and contempt you developed for the colonial peoples.
Times are changing, whether we like it or not things are going to be different in the coming years. Some of us who valued your love over our national honor will take the responsibility for our deeds when the time comes. But we have already started to repent and could hold no more with you. So it would be better if we together participate in shaping the changes to come before we choose going our separate ways. I still am loyal to you. Don’t go further to provoke me defend my dignity against you.
But Aggafaarii was adamant. He told her starting September Waaqtolaa will not go to school but strictly limited in serving the household. She didn’t accept the ultimatum. She told him that she will terminate his past contract, tell him the option you mentioned and he will make his own free choice.
Unable to reach consensus they stopped the discussion. In the morning she called Waaqtolaa and gave him the option. As usual he told her he would consult his aunt and went out for his usual weekend. Monday morning he came back and told her that he highly appreciate the help given him so far but would like to continue on the path she showed him for search of knowledge. So he asked her to permit him take permanent leave from the house.
She told him how proud she is in his achievements and wished him all success in life. She also promised to help him when ever he requires. She paid him his salary against a receipt but gave him a separate amount and warned not to show to Almaz. Almaz is the confidant of the master. He obediently bowed down and left the place after bidding good bye to Aggafaarii. Aggafaarii didn’t respond. Inside he was cursing the time otherwise he could have taught this dirty “Gaallaa” a lesson.
To understand the attitude of the colonizers against his people the eavesdropping was unnecessary for Waaqtolaa. But he thought at least attitudes may differ from individual to individual. But the master proved him wrong. All are the same. They are literally praying for their “daily bread” not for the wellbeing of their coming generation. But he didn’t expect to get an ally in the enemies’ camp. Warqee surprised him. He never thought Warqee to be from his own people. Her self confidence and expression of authority puts her above the husband. He was proud of her for the reverence she showed her people.
Waaqtolaa could see the coming positive change. At the same time he also understood that Aggafaarii and his likes are not going to give up power without a challenge. In between many children are going to suffer. Learning is going to be sabotaged for allegation of being a source of rebellion against the colonial privileges. When transition could have been effected smoothly the commotion that could be created by groups like Aggafaarii’s would create havoc and destruction before the desired change comes.
The aunty offered Waaqtolaa a share in her business and both started to brew daadhii and farsoo. Waaqtolaa continued with his evening class. Their business of local brewery developed into a modern factory. Waaqtolaa helped a lot of country boys and encouraged them to be forward looking and never lose hope. Many of those he was helping were involved in underground movements to liberate their country.
The country became rife with rebellion that it forced the radical land proclamation of 1974. The revolution that was ignited by peasant was sabotaged by imperial army. Prominent leaders like Taaddasaa Birruu were unjustifiably executed. Many took to the mountains in protest. Waaqtolaa and other nationalists started to be in and out of prison on allegations of helping insurgents. After Waaqtolaa got a patron from the ranks of the junta things changed.
He was protected from arrest with out the knowledge of the patron. The relation was “scratch my back and I will scratch yours”. Waaqtolaa was involved in aayyer baayyer (in air) business system with lucrative return for the patron and protégé. The underground also benefited fro such transactions. And he was also able to send many children on government scholarship using the office of his patron.
One day Waaqtolaa asked his aunt, Adaadee did I tell you that I am going to address in English a charity meeting you approved of? I will make sure that the person who benefited from my ignorance about language, the police officer and the judge, are present some how? Warqee will be the guest of honor. And you, will you honor me by…..?
Warqee and Aggafaarii were since divorced. Warqee gave her share of land to the peasants. Those remained under Aggafaarii refused to pay him tribute and chased him away when he went to enforce. Later on, when he felt the area was not safe for him he packed and left for Finfinnee the last bastion of Nafxanyaa conspirators.
Warqee supported herself with “zigubbiny” (close behind me), selling food and drink behind a closed gate. That was what the fate of the wives of nobility became. Selling drinks during the day was prohibited during the day. But those undertaken behind closed gates were knowingly overlooked. For the new young surgeon rulers that was an opportunity to flirt with their old masters women and receive their share of the aayyer baayyer proceeds.
Of what use is it to brag on others’ turf when you are not yet able to curve your own, asked Ilikee? Since it is not designed for my types don’t even mention my name. I will not be there. What I approved is not for funfair but to discuss on how we can contribute to charity work. I will be there on the day when our children come back with kaawoo. Then I will listen without interpreter and thank Waaq for that. I wish I will be alive to show you how an old woman inspire the youth by dancing with the victorious fighters, “kumkum, kumkum” started Ilikee a neck dance as if a fighter was in front of her.
Now let us talk about an issue that is worrying me much for a long time said Ilikee. You are the only son of my brother. You have eaten four “buttaa” which makes you above thirty years of age. Are you waiting till you grow horn or why are you not marrying? Do you want the qaccee (gene) of my brother die out with you?
Adaadee I told you I couldn’t find a girl. You know I have spent most of my life to make ends meet. I didn’t have even a michuu like my peers. Why don’t you arrange for me and get me married? By it you will save me from knocking at gursummeettii’s (divorcee and widows) weekend come.
Ok, said Ilikee. I have already had my eyes on the daughter of Sardaa. Go and see her if you want to approve. Otherwise I will send jarsaa at the end of this month. He knows our roots. He will not say no. Thank you my son for giving me the responsibility. You will have a wife with in the next three months if the Ayyaanaa of my mother and father wills. In the mean time, try to get acquainted with her through that cousin of yours who is in that neighborhood. These days it is said parents will alone is not enough, no? She must be willing too. I have no doubt she will pull up her skirt and run after you. By the way did you drop any seed so far from wherever?
Ok adaadee, I assume you are joking about the seed, any ways the answer is no! But thank you for your positive appraisal about my attractiveness. Guddataa will be my waa’ilaa (best man), what do you think said Waqtolaa? Which Guddataa the son of Bantii that great nationalist? Yes was his answer. Isn’t he the one whose photograph is all over town with the flag which his father burned in public when he was young and strong? Shame on you, any one who falls short of his father is a farraa (freak). If you favor a farraa it is up to you. But don’t drive me to say, “Tell me your friend and I will tell you who you are”.
Waqtolaa couldn’t dare approach a girl by himself. He is not shy but he cannot stand if he is rejected. Now adaadee will handle that. He is not fast enough to see how things are interrelated. He has been complaining about the flag episode. But he couldn’t see if being a friend to Guddataa has relation with that. He doesn’t have standard measurement by which to weigh friends. He fails to reflect the Kaayyoo (basic national principle) in all aspects of his activities. In this particular case he accepted to live by adaadee’s comments. He will have nothing to do with Guddataa any more. Guddataa is with the enemy.
Waqtolaa entertained the myth of owning the language by magic without putting effort into it. He believed in those who were there to misguide him and his likes. But he learned reality in a very hard way. He was imprisoned and impoverished before he learned a lesson.
Accidentally a way to knowledge was open to him. He learned not only Amharic but also English. He with his aunt was able to produce more than they need for survival. They were able to accumulate surplus and improve their cottage industry to a real factory. Waaqtolaa was happy about his achievement. Now he had come to maneuver the system in his favor but never consciously abandoned the cause of his people and never forgot how he reached here.
Ilikee expects two things, one seeing Waaqtolaa’s gaa’ila (first marriage), and two seeing the return of kaawoo. The first has come within reach. For the second, she used to look yonder through her watering eyes. She always was expecting that one day she would see a body of men marching with her national colors, faajjii walabummaa across the field where the last colonial battle was fought. Then she will attend all meetings. For Waaqtolaa the myth he used to entertain has ended and reality is already overtaking. * In the memory of teacher Warqinaa Fiixee, who first showed a drama on minnawu mindinnawu at the beginning of sixties in Naqamtee government school. This writer had also produced and directed a short drama while elementary school teacher in Beddellee.