As a young man Oliiqaa was a person with strong admirable character. Bodily he was athletic built. He was an excellent horse man and a sharp shooter. He was gentle but harsh when challenged. Gabayyoo a son of a colonialist went to priest school with Oliiqaa at the same time. Gabayyoo bullied native sons who were afraid of him because of his father’s status in the new social formation. But his attempt to subdue Oliiqaa didn’t materialize. Oliiqaa beat him in front of his peers so badly that he never regained the stamina to raise his head. But he kept his grudge against Oliiqaa.
The news of Gabayyoo’s misfortune reached all children in the village. Every child started to challenge him. There were no more peers he could beat. He couldn’t bear the shame to stay in school. So he left school and turned to the streets. He roamed the streets and lived a life of shame and contempt. His father was as authoritarian to his children as he was to his peasants. So the way he tried to discipline Gabayyoo aggravated Gabayyoo’s situation rather than disciplining him. So he became an outcast.
Oliiqaa graduated from school after mustering reading the Psalm in Geeze, a dead language used only in Habashaa Coptic church. He also became good in speaking, reading and writing Amharic, the language of the rulers. With this knowledge he was hired in the district treasury as a clerk. After that he was married to a love of his life. There was no body that Oliiqaa trusted more than his wife.
His married life was wonderful. Everybody envied their life style. Though they were converted to a new religion they don’t pass by the Odaa with out offering green grass and uttering words of thanksgiving. Their parents used to worship Waaqaa, the black God, that they believed created every thing on earth and in the skies. Shade trees and malkaa (water bodies) are special spots to thank Waaqaa. Every passing believer throws cut green grass to them. Vows are presented and sacrifices were usually made under them. Waaqaa expresses itself through the fathers’ and mothers’ Ayyaana. Each child is expected to remember the dead parents by mentioning their names when they vow or offer sacrifice to Waaqaa.
His wife has inherited her mother-in-law’s “callee” (beads) and is responsible for the worship of Ateetee, the Ayyaanaa of women’s fertility. Up until then they didn’t give up on their traditional practices in spite of heavy pressure from the new religion. It was long after those days that more fanatic denominations started to appear. These do not see the difference between faith and ethos that they preached thoughts detrimental to national culture and identity.
Oliiqaa and his wife belonged to the same denomination of Christian faith. Wherever they went be it, for wedding, worship or funeral they were seen together walking side by side and chatting intimately. Religious dogmas didn’t go deep down into their bones. They feel equal with each other like michuu rather than like spouse in the traditional way.
His wife brewed daadhii which was sold during market days. The biggest market day was Monday. With this they subsidized the meager pay he gets as a clerk. They were never heard complaining about life and lived harmoniously until the second invasion. The second invasion came with new styles of life. European perfumery, jewelry, clothing, shoes etc. filled the market. Every thing was tantalizing in particular for woman. So many women were tempted to obtain them by any means.
Forces of Mussolini’s entered Dhaayee at the end of 1936. All social outcasts rallied around them and started to spy on the people. It was then that Gabayyoo joined the Italian force. With the new position he got he started to go after all those who shamed him in the past. One of his targets was Oliiqaa.
He first socialized with his wife as a customer. Then he came with different baits, perfume from Paris, shoes and boots from Italy, and the possibility of having many more products from all over the world. Through such gifts and promises he was able to win her heart. First relations took place in secrecy. Oliiqaa started to observe changes of attitude and display in his wife.
Every time he came home he sees Gabayyoo drinking at his home. Gabayyoo now displays a sense of superiority and leered at Oliiqaa provocatively. Oliiqaa patiently followed all the moves his wife and Gabayyoo were making. He showed no anger but rather greeted him meekly. This attitude of Oliiqaa was taken as cowardice by Gabayyoo. He started to embrace his wife in public and invite her “aranchaataa” the new soft drink.
Oliiqaa controlled his feelings and avoided seeing towards them. He didn’t change his behavior to her. Oliiqaa lied low and started preparing for greater project than an envious emotional outburst. Even under the previous rule Oliiqaa was complaining that he was tired of living a life of second rate citizen. Now a new oppressor came before he acted on the first. It was too much for him. After studying the pattern of Gabayyoo’s day he started to finalize the plan he had for him.
One day he left home telling his wife that he will be away for a week. She didn’t complain but wished him good journey and kissed him away. For her that was a blessing in disguise. She was going to have good time with her quisling lover. For him it was the first step to start the last journey of his life.
Then he went underground. He contacted dare devils of the area and entered a pact with them. Together they mapped out ways and means of challenging the new enemy. They chose bases and carved out areas of operation for each other. They then recruited young men to join them to fight against the enemy. After everything was in place Oliiqaa was to take a dramatic action that would win him sympathy from the public at large.
One market day he lay in ambush in a corner of the neighborhood where he could easily target a high chair in his own house. Gabayyoo usually sit in that chair with Oliiqaa’s wife by his side. On market days drink houses and the streets were over crowded. All sorts of sounds fill the air. Gabayyoo as usual came from Daallee, where government headquarters were situated. Oliiqaa’s wife kissed him took his hat and overcoat and he sat down in the usual spot.
All in the house drinking daadhii stood up in his honor until he ordered them to sit down. The street boy Gabayyoo was now high in the ladder of power. Every one was afraid of him. So they finished their drinks paid their due and bowed down for him and left. Now the table was spread and drinks and food was in place. She came and sat by his side and started to eat.
She occasionally rapped the buddeena with ittoo and pushed into his mouth. Oliiqaa’s target was clear. But he was waiting the right time. After they were half through the last supper he took an aim and boom! He hit him in the head. She fell down from shock. He was not interested to kill her. His target was the enemy collaborator. With only one shot he sent away Gabayyoo to his last resting place.
No body saw him doing what he did. He immediately mounted his horse which was waiting saddled he galloped to Daallee. In Daallee he directly went to Gabayyoo’s. He called out the wife and ordered her to take out night cloth and her child before he burned her alive. She did as ordered. He then said, “I know you are burning from inside as I do. I have nothing against you and your child. But I have to burn this house for my own satisfaction his home has to be destroyed as he destroyed mine.
Good luck my fair lady you are now free from the adulterer. If Waaqaa wills we shall meet in freedom. He then set fire to the house. He stood there until it totally burned down. No body came to putout the fire for there was curfew imposed by the new ruler. Even if there were no curfew no body would run to rescue scoundrel like Gabayyoo.
He then galloped away under the cover of darkness. Back at Oliiqaa’s home there was tension. The “sollatto”, as the Italian soldiers were called, closed the street and surrounded the area. But no arm-bearing individual was found. The woman was taken into custody after gaining consciousness. But she was of no help. She told them that her husband was away for a long time. But the news from Daallee established that he was the culprit. The woman was released and hunters sent out for him. It was in this way that Oliiqaa’s guerilla life started.
His group had already calculated that a force would be sent behind him. For this reason they had chosen where they could lie in ambush and wait for whatever comes. All that were sent after him were greeted with fire and were put out of action. Their weapons and uniforms were confiscated and the livings were allowed to carry away the dead and the wounded.
Oliiqaa never killed his enemies in revenge. He meets them face to face and kills only in battle. As long as they have no history of killing his people in cold blood he sets free his captives. Through them he spread the myth that no bullet can hit him. He reads the Davit (Psalm) standing on one leg and then pouring water on himself, so spread the myth about him throughout Qellem. That was taken as the spell that kept him immune from shots. The myth about him seemed a combination of the legendary Robin Hood and the film of Tarzan.
He moved from one place to the other so fast that the enemy couldn’t pin him to one area. His main bases were in Tulluu Walal and Akaakil, mountains in the heart land of Qellem. But he was not limited to them. He had been to Garjeedaa and chains of Anfilloo mountains. The different groups under his friends also coordinated their action in such a way that the enemy fills he was all over the places. In a short time the movement and in particular Oliiqaa has won the love and sympathy of the majority inhabitants.
Using his name many vagabonds used to rob and torture people. But if that comes to Oliiqaa’s attention they will not escape his wrath. He will pursue them to wherever they run. In many cases all robed properties were returned to the rightful owner and wrong done compensated. For this reason areas of his operation were the most peaceful and safe.
Oliiqaa puts the well being of his comrades above any thing else. If they are sick or wounded he took them to a well-guarded shelter immediately. If they die he buried them with honor. If they were imprisoned he would assign some one to look after them until he was able to break prison or pay indirect bribes and free them. If they were killed he never rests until the comrades blood is paid for in kind. Every other operation used to be minimized until that was accomplished.
He would never leave his comrades at the mercy of his enemies. That created a solid unity and trust among comrades that no external force was able to infiltrate their movement. Because of this many young citizens started to flock to their base area en masse. That was how leadership could make the difference. There was no cut and run with Oliiqaa attack and retreat were all orderly. Risks were taken when necessary but the sacrifice must worth it.
Oliiqaa usually spend nights at poor old ladies houses. That enables him to help them with booty from battles with enemy forces. He usually leaves them blankets, clothes and food when he parts. So he was seen as patron of the poor. His units looked after families of imprisoned nationalists. Any “sollatto or bandaa” that abuses them was never left unpunished. There was no mercy for snitches that lived among the people and spy on them.
There were many hooligans who live on the meager resources of the poor members of society. Each night they knock at their doors and ask them to open. If they knew that Oliiqaa was nearby they beseech them by his name and never open voluntarily. They were confident that their patron would come and rescue them. They believed he had a bird that informed him immediately whenever his fans are in problem.
There were times when they even refuse to open for Oliiqaa without knowing. Those he frequents know from his voice and some coded words. Others threaten him with his own name if they suspect that it was not he. If it is necessary that he get shelter for that moment he will insist to be allowed in. They usually open for they have no power to stand against armed gang. He gets in investigates the safety of the house and then put down his ransack and relax. His bodyguards were usually placed at strategic spots to give him cover if need arises. But they were not visible as to frighten the surrounding.
The treachery of his wife changed his attitude towards women. He never trusted his safety to women. His cooks and body guards were all men. But that didn’t save him from another deadly treachery. He was going to witness that untrustworthiness was not the monopoly of women. The unfortunate thing was that he would meet his end before he changed his outlook.
During those days tape worm was a regular parasite that was treated every two months with heexoo (Hagenia abyssinica). Even if there was no tape warm many take the medicine out of doubt. If left untreated matured single warms start coming out through the anus and drop on the leg. It was shame if seen by any one that one has tape worm. It is an indication that one is cowardly to drink the medicine which is very bitter and offensive.
Heexoo seed was ground and dissolved in water and the patient drinks a cup of it standing. After some hours dead worms formed into tape several meters long would be ejected with excrement. Drinking heexoo exhausts. For this reason good food is prepared for after successful ejection of the dead worm.
It was during one of those practices that Oliiqaa met his end. It was his loyal aide de camp that prepares the medicine for him. He never doubted that this person would have access to enemy machination. The Italians had put thousands of lire on Oliiqaa’s head. The aids was accessed and promised the full amount of the reward if he poisoned his boss. He took the offer.
Oliiqaa always took two cups to clear his stomach. The aids gave him the first cup clean. In the second cup he mixed the poison provided him by Italian intelligence. Oliiqaa as usual gulped it without suspecting malpractice. He felt slowly losing strength it was too late when he realized that he was tricked. He grasped his pistol and firing continuously rolled down a cliff. Probably his own bullets might have helped in ending his suffering faster.
They enemy thought he was faking. So a unit was sent down the cliff to check and drug him up hill. His corps was tied to a ladder and put against the rails of a bridge and displayed. Photographs taken then were hanging in later days from the wall of a bar carrying his name in Dambii Dolloo.
So Oliiqaa’s life ended few months before the Italians were chased out by the allied British and Belgium Congo force. His comrades followed the culprit and killed him before he could collect his prize. Even the snitches only son lived in disguise for years after his death. Oliiqaa died for what he believed in. The Habashaa Government didn’t recognize his contribution. No studied records were made said the story teller. Future generation will carry that burden. For now continued the story teller, Oliiqaa will remain in the custody of only the hearts and minds of his locality as a legendry unparalleled hero of the fascist days. Thank you for listening good night!