When Red turns Black

Sanaagaa was a land of great streams, mountains and forests. Booyyee’s country was surrounded by the land of Yombaa, Abnure, Zoomoo, Zangir and other very dark people. The people of Sanaagaa were lighter in color than their neighbors and claim to be red as compared to all others. The others who were lighter than them designate the Sanaagaa and all the neighbors as black. The Oromo recognizes three skin colors of people, gurraacha, magaala and diimaa (black, brown and red). Magaala and diimaa are lighter shades of black. Some add “dajjii” to show shade between brown and red.

Booyyee was a very rich man. He was not only known for his bravery but also for his compassion. He cannot stand filling his belly when many go empty. Widows, orphans, the disabled and seniors had regular supply from Booyyee. Most people then ate only meat and dairy products with their meal of Marqaa. But Booyyee must always have raafuu (kale or collard) on the side. These vegetables were known as food of the poor in that part of the world.  But Booyyee has never been poor. 

Booyyee had several wives; the first wife was called Gaalituu. Gaalituu was a daughter of another great warrior and so commands respect from her husband and all his clan. She was a wise woman. Many come to her for advice on crucial issues of war and peace. It was believed that her husband’s raw guts could not have been enough to keep him in power had it not been for her superb mental abilities.

His youngest wife was so beautiful that he never believed her fidelity. So her hut was on the periphery of farm area so that no body goes there without being noticed. He had assigned to her his loyal servants to make it hard even to think of accessing her. Younger wives were also under the care and supervision of the senior wife.

One of such servants was an elegant over six feet tall coal black teenager called Kuusaa Waandii. He was captured by Dinqaa the eldest son of Booyyee on a war with the people of Zoomoo. Kuusaa was the son of king Waandii, of Zoomoo. It was a devastating war. On both sides many people were killed. But at the end Sanaagaa’s army won the battle. It was then that the son of Zomoo’s king Kuusaa was captured. But no body knew his identity until later years.

Who ever he was a captive was looked down upon with contempt. He is despised for being from the loser side. He was hated for being an enemy that caused harm in the fighting. He is a captive and like all captives he was a slave. Though they treated him kindly, Booyyee and Gaalituu knew in their hearts that no clan member will look upon him as clean and worthy of social interaction. That was why they forgot his gender when they assign him for duty involving woman folks. He was not only dark but his bloodshot eyes were presumed scary for woman and children to come near him, let alone socialize with him.

Dinqaa, the son who captured Kuusaa died childless. So the parents kept him around in respect for their son’s memory. He also showed discipline and manner of behaving uncommon with captives. He swore on the name of Dinqaa even long after Dinqaa was dead. He was reclusive and responds only when called and doesn’t intermingle with members of the household. He was about sixteen years of age. He accompanied Booyyee as a page boy on the wading day of his youngest wife. On return he presented him to the junior wife, Solanee, as an attendant.

In the family of Booyyee there was a long standing legend that an illegitimate black child by wives would bring a bad omen to the race. For this reason they expected women to keep away from illegal extra marital practice. Relations are lawful within the clan when they are covered by the law of the land. The dangerous one would be when done out side the race. That is why the color of the clan was the same through the years. So no body expected a black or white child from the Sanaagaa clan all must be red. 

Over time Kuusaa won the confidence of the junior wife and her house hold. Every servant and slave loved and respected Kuusaa as a brother and comrade. He was the only one who enters the bed room and washes the feet of and gives other services for Booyyee and his young wife whenever he spends the night there. Booyyee visits his wife probably once a month. He had to spend most of the time at his main residence with Gaalituu. Their relation was not only conjugal but also political.

Booyyee had several children from his several wives. Gaalituu had a son but he died of Malaria leaving for her no child but Kuusaa. All his children were light colored as his. So there was no doubt that the wives were loyal to the clan. Slaves and servants had also children of their own color. So, a balance between the colors was kept and people lived in harmony until a thrilling mishap took place.

The relation between Kuusaa and Solanee started to get closer and closer each passing day. But this relation was not visible to all around them. From washing her feet he advanced to massaging her.  Though they were around the same age Kuusaa was a virgin. He didn’t grow under normal circumstance and so had no peers to learn things from. Whenever he touches her body he started to have strange feelings in his body. Genital erection and the thrilling of nerves worried him much.

She was aware of what was going in him from the way he changes the movement of his hands. But she wanted to keep the distance between a slave and a mistress. She was good at hiding her true feeling. So she made sure that he will not have any misgivings to dare make advances. He has been taught self control from child hood. So he was able not to react to the urge of his body. On the other hand she wanted to have him before slave girls attracted him. She had also curiosity about the difference between circumcised and uncircumcised organs. Booyyee was circumcised according to tradition during the cycle of his father’s Gadaa. Zoomoo didn’t have that tradition. Soolanee imagined Kuusaa’s taking off its hat in her body’s honor when coming in.

So one day at the height of his temptations she ordered him to lie on his back necked. It was not hard for he had only a loin cloth. She told him she has to teach him better techniques of massaging. Listen carefully she said. You have to apply this when you massage your master and me. Then she started to gently touch him at sensitive points. Then things started to change in his body. He had involuntarily full erection and didn’t know how to handle the situation. She was more disturbed that her reasoning power was all gone. She felt her brain had gone down between her crotches. It was then that she forced herself on him come what may. Yet he was not daring to respond as he would have liked to do. She guided him and he was on top. Every thing was over within a twinkling of the eye it seemed. 

He thought his soul was going out through his butt. Now he was no more a virgin. A red woman had taken it he felt, what he should have preserved for his likes. She told him to keep it secret; otherwise, she told him, the clan will burn him alive. Forget massaging your master in the way I showed you. Do for him in your usual way. In his heart, he cursed the minute he did that and sobbed asking apology for the indignation. He promised he will keep it to himself till death. Don’t ever blame yourself; you have done the right thing. But right things are some times dangerous. Right for the truthful and right for the conceited have different meanings. That is why this world is taken as unfair by the weak, like woman and slaves. 

You are of my age. My husband is of my grand father’s age. You could have been more fitting for me but fate had made you slave. Slave has no right to a girl of his master’s race let alone to his wife. But that rule doesn’t apply to my husband. He is entitled to the first night of slave girls. Why am I not entitled to the first night of slave boy? Because I am a woman my rights are limited to the will of men.  That is what I am protesting when taking you. I take the consequences of my action. I have liked you I will keep you as far as possible.

Now we both have committed crime against the law of the land. It is up to us to defend ourselves. The first step is to keep our lips sealed. If some how it leaked we have to run away to an unknown land. I believe the first will be enough for the time being. So don’t change your behavior towards any one in this household. I should not tell you why you have to be vigilant.

For her the affair was a blessing and a curse. A blessing because she will have permanently sexual gratification which old Booyyee cannot provide. It was a curse because he was black and if she bears a child it is going to resemble him in color. Be as it may, the relation continued until she was pregnant.

It was the senior wife who observed it first. She inquired from the junior wife about her cycle and the visit of Booyyee. That was a routine that she does when all wives get pregnant. Solanee humbly responded to all the senior wife’s queries. Gaalituu had doubts of Booyyee’s visit during those days. So she had to investigate further to avoid or cover up any possible scandal.  But during those days more serious affairs of the state occupied her that she didn’t have time for the investigation.

Girls deliver, at least their first born, at their mothers house. So she had to go to her mother’s place, which was two days journey by mule, before the due date.  Some of her servants have to go with her. The list was to be approved by the first wife. The junior wife told Kuusaa that she will not include him in name suggesting to the senior wife to doge her suspicion.

If the senior wife adds him to the list it is well and good, if she doesn’t she said, she will send him a guide to take him some where he could hide. For every thing let us pray to abbaa Caffee to help us, she said. He bowed down in respect and told her that he is not afraid of death for he was living it. What worried him he said was her wellbeing.

When I was captured I was twelve. It was only after I have finished my arrows that I tried to take off. My captor was a strong and swift person. He easily reached and grasped me. I didn’t know that I was wounded.  But he hurried me to medicine men that treated me like their own because of what he told them. Now I don’t have scar left externally. But my heart is full of deep scars. I have lost my youth, my family, my freedom and my country. I have also lost an understanding master.

Yet I don’t forget my captor, I shall always remain grateful to him. I missed him much. He was like a guardian for me. It is because of him that I got some favors like being assigned for you a young respected lady. In my present position what I did was like defiling you. I have told my young master that I am the eldest son of king Waandii, which means I was the crown price according to our tradition. It is now only for you that I am telling this secret. It is bad omen that a prince is taken captive. I want my people to consider me as dead and go about their way without guilty conscience.

I believe in equality of peoples. I don’t feel I am inferior to “red” persons because of my color.  Slavery is an accidental situation. There is no slave race as there is no superior race that is born to enslave others. Today my people are living under foreign domination. They are being inhumanly treated. For my people it is a matter of continuing as a people or going extinct as many were subjected to in ancient history. No human being accepts extinction willingly. All will put up resistance before they give up. The hard choice is to live as a free human or perish.

I know if my seed is born alive he or she will be called after your husband. But when he grows up, he will be asking question about his difference in color with the others. You may not dare to tell him but some how he would hear it. He may lead an army to erase my people from the earth’s surface in revenge of painting him black. I wish I would be at the other side of the war to save him from committing further mistakes.

I believe that blood is not what matters. It is what we think of ourselves vis-à-vis others. He is going to campaign as a warrior of Sanaagaa not that of Zoomoo. He is going to destroy half part of him to assert the other side. Color is not as visible for him as it is for the people he is going to lead. They don’t disown him but use him as long as he does claim being part of them. The moment he questions that he will be dishonorably eliminated. In every society there are king makers. Outsiders and persons of doubtful origin like him serve at the mercy of these king makers. They rarely complete their natural life or transfer power to those they wish.

Thank you for your concern, continued Kuusaa. I don’t know how to express my self. You are my mistress, and I have remained your loyal slave up to now. What ever I have done so far is not to disrespect you. I have only fulfilled your will. This doesn’t mean I don’t have a place for love in my heart. But you are too big for my present status. Now whether I would be assigned to go with you or not, the time for us to part is nearing. The sooner I find my way or perish without trace in the hands of my enemies.

If the child is mine it is going to be black. A black child is abhorred by your legend. That I have heard from childhood. According to the legend it will waste away all the other children of the family. So the moment its black face comes out I will be the first to be targeted before any body makes a suspicious glance towards me. I will be wiped out from the memory of all who knew me before the child is brought out to the public. They will convince you that there was a black person in the ancestry and you will forget me like all others. Take my words seriously and start erasing me from your memory from this time on wards. Before that, now I can proudly say I love you like a free man.  You are my first and you will remain my last “red” woman.

Let us make love before they come with the verdict, said Kuusaa. No sooner than they went into the bed room they intertwined themselves as if wishing to become a unit. They sighed and sobbed as they parted. He kissed her feet for the last time as a slave and then her lips for the first time as a free man.

His freedom was a unilateral declaration. He has already made ready a spear, his bows and arrows. If he were assigned to her he would follow her to her parents house if not he has decided to take off to unknown destination. But Solanee had already taken care of that.

The senior wife came to tell the decision. Before announcing she called Kuusaa aside and asked if he was willing to go with her. Madame, since when do I decide what I will and don’t will. I always remain your loyal slave, and perform what you wish, he said. Did she treat you well so far? Yes madam, she was just like you, I have no complaint so far. Thank you for over seeing that, he said. I have decided that you remain near her until the child is born. After that you will come to the headquarters and get training.

He was delighted. He is going to be with her at least until she reaches her parent’s home. The old woman was only waiting the result of further investigation before eliminating him. Then the senior wife told Soolanee about the itinerary and the name of servants to go with her.  She didn’t express any surprise on her face.  She thanked the old lady asked for her blessing and prayer.

The old lady left. The journey is going to start early in the morning. She gave instruction to those remaining and announced the name of those to follow her. She asked all to go to bed early for they have to rise at the morning clamor of birds. This was also going to extend the night in bed with Kuusaa. Solanee wanted Kuusaa to go out of her life for ever but she wanted him to be alive. Though she loved him she has to maintain the good name of her family and take care of the interest of the baby in the womb. It should have at least one side of itself as its own.

It took them two days to reach their destination. Soolanee had already arranged for Kuusaa’s exit before it would be too late. She purposely forgot an important ritual item at home in a place no servant tread. She has already made arrangement with a trusted cousin to receive Kuusaa and show him a way to his people without being noticed by any Sanaagaa person. The cousin lives at a day’s journey from her parents’ home in the opposite direction to Booyyee’s place.  She ordered Kuusaa in front of other people, to start early in the morning and bring the forgotten item.

Kuusaa didn’t wait for daybreak. He was supposed to sleep in the leaving room of specially prepared hut for her. He made sure that every one has fallen asleep and kissed her on the forehead and tiptoed out of the compound and lost into the darkness. He arrived at the cousin’s home early morning while every body was sleeping. He had to leave before being noticed by the neighborhood. A loyal servant of the cousin led him away into a big jungle. They slept at a foot of a huge odaa tree until daybreak.

The territory of his people was a four day journey. Kuusaa remembers a trusted servant of his father who had retired long ago and lived at the foot of a forested mountain. They reached in the vicinity safe. Kuusaa hide in the forest and the other person went to enquire about the man Kuusaa mentioned. The man has grown very old. He greeted him with suspicion and asked the guest to sit down and have coffee. He then asked what brought him there. The guest told him a coded message from Kuusaa. He jumped up with elation and kissed the ground.

Is he really alive? He inquired. The messenger told him that he was alive and wants to escape from slavery and come home if you so advise. The old man asked what he needs for the escape. The messenger replied, nothing but a safe place when he arrives here. He had made all the arrangements. The old man said there is no safer place than this one. This is where his peers are. They refused to go home before hearing Kuusaa’s end. From your talks I assumed you are truthful. Even if you meant to guide an enemy into my village we will destroy them. Here we have all his fighters ready to do and die. His peers had now grown into adult hood.

So what took them so far old man, asked the messenger. The old man said, it is a long story that could be narrated only at Kuusaa’s presence if it were true that he is alive. Then the messengers said give me some provision enough for two persons for a day and I will be back with him tomorrow.  The messenger added, I know what is on your mind. I don’t mean to demean your prince. For now he is slave. He will travel here like one. So do as I told you. The old man arranged for what he needed and saw him away in the darkness of the night.

Kuusaa and his friend spent that night and most of the next day in the forest. They ate the food, joked about slavery and their journey until darkness falls. The guide asked Kuusaa why he decided to leave the comfort of Booyyee’s palace and come to live in such miserable lowland infested with malaria. Kuusaa was cool in his answer as usual. I learned from your people a saying “yaa biyya abbaa koo jettee daljeessi kattaatti galtee” (the baboon moved to barren rocky hill claiming it to be the father land.) what ever it is that is the fatherland I am supposed to live in. Nothing gives me pride and comfort that the “miserable” land you saw and that was what you came to conquer and enslaved me.

Your stories have several examples of sacrificing to what is your own. For instance, I heard that ones upon a time their was a man who lost all he had but was left with a hora (mineral water lake) which he could retain only if he slay something on it before his rich cousin does that. The man was almost nearing the hora when the poor owner came running from behind without any sacrificial animal. He wandered what he had in mind. The man reached the hora first and cut his own throat to save it for his children. Thus his children lived enjoying the legacy of their father. This taught me that you have to sacrifice let alone comfort your dear life for what is your own. So you can understand what drove me here into malaria nest if you understand your own history.

Let me ask you one thing said Kuusaa, you told me that you are a soldier and under oath to protect the honor of Booyyee and advantage of Sanaagaa. By helping me are you not breaking your oath? You see, on training they have tried to clean my brain and implant what they wanted only. Unfortunately for them I was not a good recipient I came out intact with my conscience. I don’t like injustice. No oath can force me to do it.

The people of Sanaagaa are not enemies with Zoomoo, said the guide. It is the rulers that wage wars and enslave people. Slavery helped only the ruling class not the masses. So the people have no advantage. In that case I broke no oath. My conscience is clear that I didn’t help you for my selfish motif but for the advantage of my people. But I have broken the law by conspiring with my likes to do good for humanity. For me justice is absolute. That is why I don’t entertain double standard one for me another for others.

It is not material benefit but principle that brought us together. Our secrets are safe among us it will die with us. Even if it happened to leak what a member knew was limited to his assignment. So we have inbuilt organizational protection. There are those who are no better than trained hunting dogs that jump on any one they are set to. In general once you are recruited into the system there are parts they loosen in you.

How ever much you may know that wrong was being done you have no guts left in you to protest. You only murmur like slaves who have no freedom to express themselves and yet you pretend to be free. You feel free with a spear carrier like you even if he was a Bulguu rather than standing with those against whom crime is being committed. Did you get your answer asked the guide?

Thank you said Kuusaa, for being so kind and humane like the Zoomoo people. I told you the people of Sanaagaa are no less humane than any one asserted the guide and asked Kuusaa to start moving. On that night in the privacy of darkness they reached the old mans house.

No talk when moving. No body should hear their footsteps what so ever. They both were trained trackers. They came to the old mans house through the back yard as instructed. First the guide called out to the old man with coded voice. After getting a response he told him that he has the product. The old man told him to stay where they are.  He brought out a ram and a knife and called them to the front. On the threshold the slave prince slew the ram and strode over it and entered the old mans hut. The ram is condemned to die in order to save Kuusaa from evil spirit that could stand on his way of succeeding his father to power. He is now cleansed from evil of slavery.

The old man embraced him, uttered several words in their language and then pushed him away from himself to see him clearly. He then touched all parts of his face as if his touches were better than his sight. The three persons sat down on the dais. Women prepared food and served the three. After they ate and recuperated his friends started to trickle in one by one. The meeting with each was emotionally filled. Tears went down like flood. They didn’t believe they will see each other again. There was no bone fire, singing or dancing. It was reserved for later days after the messenger from enemy land leaves and Kuusaa gives the report about the enemy. For that night all smeared themselves with ashes for protection against malaria and went to sleep on mats.

In the morning the guide took leave from the prince. He was given gifts of precious stones, gold and ivory ornaments for himself, the cousin and Soolanee. He didn’t expose the relation he had with her. He used the usually polite language when he referred to her except now he doesn’t call himself her slave. He tolled the guide to thank her and all involved in helping him gain his freedom on his behalf. He also sent special gift for the infant to be born. It was only the cousin who should be given that message.

Kuusaa never used his captor’s language since he arrived home. During his stay in Sanaagaa he had mastered Oromo language and speaks without accent. He also practiced his language with other slaves from his country. The guide also speaks Zoomoo language but was surprised at a sudden change of Kuusaa when he is not under duress. But he didn’t take it as disrespect for him as a guest. You don’t lose your identity and honor to satisfy aliens. That is good said the guide in his heart. He belonged to antislavery clandestine group. After that nobody followed what happened to Kuusaa. He was totally forgotten and evaporated from Sanaagaa people’s memory.

When Kuusaa failed to return on the expected day another messenger was sent to look for him. The messenger was also told where he could find the forgotten item. When the story was broken at the headquarters inquiry was sent out but no body reported having seen him. It was suspected that slave traders might have abducted him and took him to far away land. They didn’t care to send after him on slave trade routs. Probably a bird has told the first wife of the relation with Soolanee. No body could tell.

She might have suspected the relation from her own experience. It was rumored that she had seduced a slave who was her husband’s confidant. He died in the war in which Kuusaa was captured. Eyewitnesses say he was stabbed in the back. Could it be Galaanee who arranged that to burry her secret? Could she suspect Solanee to have gotten rid of Kuusaa in cold blood as she was also suspected of her slave gigolo? Be it as it may it was good riddance. She was saved from the sin of harming Kuusaa herself.

The messenger went back with the forgotten item and told the story. Soolanee pretended to be devastated by the news. She blamed herself for sending him alone. Older people consoled her; by saying if slave is gone slave will come. But she didn’t accept that comment. She said, he meant a lot for the first lady. He was her only son’s slave. It was because she believes in him that she assigned him to her household. He was not just a simple slave you see?  I have abused his service and I have to apologize to her in person. One old person said with authority, there was no need to do that for the big mistress had seen slaves close to here heart come and go in death or abduction. This one is just one of them. Solanee suddenly sobbed and went in.

Some other day she received a message from her cousin. He thanked her for the message she sent him about her pregnancy. He said to her that he looks forward to see her little bulging abdomen before she gives birth. The tobacco you sent me was very good, he continued. By the way he said, I have stopped smoking during the day. So I sent it to the market and it fetched me a bonanza. I am very happy.

If I add a small amount of salt I could buy you and the baby an expensive gift. Had I any thing more, my only cousin would deserve more. As he promised he visited her while pregnant and gave her Kuusaa’s gift as his own so that no body suspected. But she knew and took it as a keepsake. That was the end of Kuusaa’s story.

The baby is going to occupy most of Sanaagaa’s discussions. It was going to be told as a legend forgetting that it really happened. All children of Sanaagaa passed the story to posterity with some distortions. Some told of a strange black traveler, who came to Sanaagaa from across the Nile River and passed a night as a guest. Other told about the king of a neighboring country who raped the woman while she was traveling to visit her parents and others even related it to the Ayyaanaa of Boorantichaa as having impregnated her. The truth was as told above. But Sanaagaa didn’t want to give credit to a slave boy that outsmarted it. At times even the name Booyyee was changed to Abbooyyee and Safii to Sayifuu to hide black origin.

As feared a black baby boy was born in the hands of Soolanee’s mother. As a rule the mother and child should remain in seclusion for five days. The mother put her loyal maid in attendance and warned that no body visits the new born until she gives permission. She then sent to the old lady about the birth and to come alone and see it. Gaalituu knew at once that there is something strange. She told her husband of her intentions to visit the child. He gave her permission to leave and sent here with some gifts to the mother and baby as well as the family.

She arrived and was led to the seclusion room. She ululated five times at the door. She went in blessed the mother and took the baby to her arms. It was already brown. She was sure he was going to turn black. She started thinking how to break the news to Booyyee. The legend about the effect on other children also bothered her much. But it was safuu to think of any harm to the baby. In her heart, she might have said that she has lost her only son and it was not big deal if others lose too. The important decision should be how to break it to the lord.

She called the inner circle of the household and warned them that nothing about the child should be told to the public. She told them that the child is born with Ayyaanaa by the grace of black Waaqaa. That is why it needs to be handled with care. Otherwise something bad could befall the family and the clan. For this reason its story should be kept secrete until he is taken for haammachiisaa by Lord Booyyee. His haammachiisaa ceremony shall be carried out with pomp and great jubilation. All gosa (tribe) will celebrate the initiation of this portent creature.

She went back home reassuring herself that she was taking the correct steps. At home she unusually stayed closer to her husband. All who want to visit him had to pass through her. By doing so she was able to screen rumormongers and allow only those she had confidence in to pass. Booyyee had observed this change in her demeanor. He couldn’t tell what influence the new birth has on her mind. Could it be nostalgia for the days she brought forth her own child? 

He didn’t know how to react to her new attitude. Considering the age of his junior wife he felt she could bear much more children in her remaining life.  So he asked Gaalituu if she could adopt the baby.  She told him, whether she adopted it or not his son remains hers. But she concluded saying, I will do what ever my lord wills when the time comes. She also told him that she is planning for giving the baby special haammachiisaa ceremony that would include the whole tribe.

Since he didn’t show any objection she went ahead with her plan. She has first to make him accept a black baby into his home. Then she has to consult elders as to the implication to the extended family. After arranging her thought in order of priority she started taking the moves one by one.

One day she laid lunch table and invited him and his counselors who were with him on business, to come in. They all came and sat by the table. As usual the oldest of the counselors gave blessing. And then all started eating. Booyyee is sitting ideal as if there was no food in front of him. What are you waiting for my lord? She said.  He asked her raafuu? What is the significance of black raafuu my lord, when I have put in front you such mouthwatering white cow product. He said you know I prefer that black thing to all your baaduu and itittuu (yogurt and buttermilk). 

It had been over forty years since we were married. Have you ever seen my table without raafuu? What is happening to you these days? I didn’t think it imperative that raafuu had to always be served, said the wife. For me it was just a habit that could be forfeited. Was it your deep belief that white doesn’t exist without black and light without darkness in your home my lord? She inquired again. Yes that is what I meant, he replied without thinking. Shall I take that as a never regretted word of my lord? She asked him again. Yes, take it so he replied. With that she ordered her maid to serve raafuu and it was immediately served.

After lunch there was coffee ceremony. She asked Booyyee to bless the jabanaa (coffee pot). After he finished his role she took turn and started blessing. She called upon the Ayyaanaa of the ancestors asked them to forgive her for irritating her lord by not putting black with white on the table. She asked for forgiveness for all who take black as inferior. She asked Black Waaq to send his araaraa (mercy) on all tribes black and white. After she finished coffee was served.

Every body saw an unusual tone in her blessings and was expecting something new to come from her after coffee. As they taught she rose from her sit before the coffee pot is taken away. My lord, she said. You have given me your word that you have love for black rather than hate, deep in your heart. That is the quality of a great leader. A great leader is one who shows magnanimity and patience. He is one who has full heart and courage to face reality as it appears. This family and tribe are blessed to have such a leader in you.

Legends may warn us that by our act we could bring catastrophe on our family. But we don’t live in the past. We shall pray that the Ayyaanaa of our ancestors do not abandon us. Let Waaq the black send peace, happiness and prosperity to the land and absolve our children of our sins. My lord, Waaq has willed that you have a black son. Let it be your permission that we send to the mother to bring the son and get your blessing.

As far as I know she is a loyal wife and I have no suspicion of infidelity, continued the wife. She is also a proud self confident woman who care much for the honor of the family and her own ancestors. She is only sixteen and may not understand why she had a seed that is different in appearance from her. There could be some black blood in hers or our ancestry.  If it so be, it is not the mistake of the new born but our own folly. Therefore she needs our support to accept what Waaqaa bestowed upon her and continue living in peace with herself.

You keep on impressing me, said Booyyee. What would our country and the family be without you? You have presented the case in a very convincing way that I cannot turn you down. I cannot refuse what Waaq gave me, as you asserted. Waaqayyoo is black, the raafuu I like is black it would be illogical if I refuse to love a black child that Waaqaa gave me in his own color.

I am not a qaalluu but I have faith in Waaq, said Booyyee. My faith tells me that he and his dwelling Qolloo (sky) are black. What we look up and take as the belly of Waaqayyoo is this side of Qolloo. The land and the seas are all black. Sun and light are white. Without light we cannot see the blackness of Qolloo for every thing turns dark. Light and dark live together so are also black and white.

So who am I to go against Uumaa (Nature), asked Booyyee. We have never discriminated people because of their color but because of their social status. We ourselves are a version of blackness. We have seen people who are as white as egg. The darker girls are, are they not more beautiful than the red ones, old men, he asked turning to the counselors, jokingly. Our neighboring countries are all black. They also feel superiority in their country as we do in ours.

We look down only on those we capture and enslaved. That is all based on arrogance. Let Waaq forgive us for our self-righteousness. Finally, he stated his decision, let all the wraths come upon us we will accept Waaqaa’s gift with grace. Send foot soldiers and horse men to bring my son to me safely.

An old man who was an uncle to Booyyee rose and blessed Booyyee for his courage and farsightedness. He also blessed Galaanee for the care she took to cool the spirit of her husband. He then said do you know Booyyee our great grand father was mixed with the Seesee during the crossing of the Gibee? Is it not believed that both red men and woman favor blacks in bed? What is wrong with black? Don’t you remember that I didn’t eat food for days when I lost that slave girl, my Liilluu to slave raiders? Forgive me Galaanee; they are superb in every thing one needs a woman for. So color should not be an issue it could be from the Seesee qaccee (gene). Let God bless what we have. Then he sat down. Galaanee smirked but said nothing.

On the day the child arrived people came out in mass with green grass and kalaalaa in their hands praising Waaqaa and Ateetee, the Ayyaanaa of fertility. Ululation filled the air of Sanaagaa from corner to corner. The tribe was happy for the new born. Legend tells that when a black child is born for the leading family there shall be peace and abandons. But all the red children of the family shall be wasted. This the people knew. But it is a command of Waaq and so has to be received with jubilation.

The father gave the son the name Dikoo (one who turns other into dust). On the day of haammachiisaa a great feast was prepared. All the women of the clan were dressed in colorful dress. They all had green grass in their hands. They paraded behind the mother and child fro Booyyee’s home to the temple of Abbaa Caffee. They were all singing praising the mother and giving thanks to Ateetee the Ayyaanaa that gave her the child. 

At the temple drums were beaten, trumpets were blown and Ayyaanaa songs were sang. The Qaalluu took the child in his arm and went into seclusion. He came out and pressed Waaqaa for his mercy raising the child on his stretched hand as if giving it to the people and continued to perform remaining rituals. He finally turned his back to the people and consulted the Ayyaanaa. He turned to the crowd and said the Ayyaanaa has spoken the child’s name is Safii. Ululation by women went out from corner to corner. All men were saying araar, araar yaa Waaq (peace on us Waaq).

Youngsters were singing war songs. Safii means something of safuu, portent. This was the official name; he was going to be known by it for the time to come.

On return every body ate and drank, there was no body left without a treat. Young boys and girls danced to the tune of dibbee and faaggaa. The songs were about the child and its mysterious origin. No body ever related it to Kuusaa except cattle herds. Poems like the following were cut in the nib by the system:

Gurraachummaan Dikoo magarsuu fakkaataa
Garee bu’e laataa
Inni garbicha kee ati giiftiisaatii naa’oon ilma Booyyee
sitt haqe fakaataa
(blackness of Diko is like green snake. Did he go down to Garee? He is your slave and you are his mistress, did the page of Booyyee’s son rub on you?)

Kuusaa was forgotten fast but was able to paint his enemies black down generations.

Color as an element of superiority complex is gone ones and for all in Sanaagaa land. With time the legend was fulfilled; all the ‘red’ children were dead or left the country. Subsequent Mootiis and the nobility became black. Other families started to intermarry with the neighboring black peoples to look like the mootii family. That was, it is told how Sanaagaa turned from “red” to black.

After Booyyee his family ruled for three generations until an outside force conquered Sanaagaa and all the neighboring lands. The last black mootii, Bulaa, was said to be the strongest of them all. Sanaagaa was the last frontier that the Maccaa expedition from Odaa Bisil reached. The expedition had broken down into small units of families and clans to reach there.

Bulaa started to reverse this by uniting all the clans from the Baaroo River to Jawwee Stream. It was a time that such reunification and consolidation of power under one strong ruler was taking place in Western Oromiyaa. Errands started to run between Sanaagaa, Iluu, Buunnoo, warra Bakaree and Warra Beera. The four Naggaadee were also consulted. But their common enemy was already at their door steps. It divided and negotiated with them separately.

The leader of the enemy campaign was a warrior named Goobanaa who spoke the same language with them. He cajoled them into submission. Those who refused were subdued with the help of those who submitted. Things went smoother for him than for the warrior on his left Ras Tasammaa Naadoo.

Tasammaa had a hard time to defeat Fatansaa. Fatansaa had shown those who submitted it was possible to defeat the enemy with what they have, had they respected their covenant and came to his help. He used trained bulls and destroyed camped enemy. Alas the others went their own ways to the determent of national honor and identity to be regretted by the same generation. Tasammaa was betrayed by a traitor from among his own ranks.

The reunification movement that started at western end had already reached the center and beyond before the disruption. It was told that all the tribes beyond Gibee had created some sort of under standing to come to each others aid whenever necessary. In this way the five Naggaadee (Moslem) kingdoms and four Oromo (Waaqeffetaa) countries beyond Dhiddheessa were starting a process of reunification. But for lack of communication they were conscious of the need to reach out to tribes to east and north.

As they moved north the people of Sanaagaa couldn’t see problem of red and black as much as tribal differences. That was more of a local thing. The need to unite was become clearer as it was heard an Oromo was leading alien force southwards. Rumors had started to spread that a black warrior is coming from the west to lead the assault on Goobanaa and reunify the nation. That mystic black warrior was Bulaa.

Soon news came from Guduruu that the Goobanaa’s master was a bald headed black falfalaa that the curse of Abbaa Caffee cannot turn back. He had already defeated the king of Goojjam it was said, by maneuvering magic and sending all his horse men into Coomman marsh. Many had started to believe that and begun to prepare for submission. Others stayed indifferent. Bulaa fizzled out of the Waaqeffetaa confederation.  He rather started to plan how to use Goobanaa’s magic to force the neighboring kingdom of Ballee into submission.

Shanchi Gayii the great Ballee Ayyaanaa was known for its ability to pour torrents of rain over the enemy and flash it out with floods and thunderbolts. When Goobanaa was warned about this he simply said “yoo robe” (if it rains). He had the famous Caamsituu of Maallimaa by his side. He helped Bulaa to conquer Ballee with no flood or thunder to counter him.

He took the resistance one by one for they failed to unite in face of the catastrophe to come. Those determined stood their ground and paid the ultimate sacrifice though they knew their force was no match for an enemy armed to the teeth with weapons they have never seen. Freedom and honor of the fatherland was challenged for this reason they chose to face it and die. 

The northern black Bulguu halted the progress of Sanaagaa and put it under his spell with his fire spitting wand. The nation of Zoomoo had by their litmus paper exposed that red turns black when inside turned out. But more curses for turning black were yet to come on Sanaagaa. Black Bulguu wooed the leaders to destruct their attention only to buy time until it cleared their surrounding. He himself was also red turned black. He started to take his vengeance on all who were as dark as him his people as culprits in coloring him black.

Sanaagaa and Zoomoo were both seen at slave markets in Aliyyuu Ambaa on the boarder of Afar land and Shendy in the Sudan being bargained upon like cattle. That was what the ragaa of Sanaagaa prophesied long, long ago that an unprecedented catastrophe would befall Sanaagaa when it turns from red to black. It was only repentance and loyalty to Waaq and the nation that could have reversed the situation not collaboration with an alien that is out to destroy every thing good and sacred in Sanaagaa.

Nothing good came after that, collaboration with the invader and abandoning covenant wit Fatansaa didn’t help Bulaa he was sent to Black Bulguu’s plateau as a prisoner. His Son Abbaa Burruusee died in prison. His people and neighbors were driven in mass into slavery. The house of Booyyee dissolved into obscurity staggering.  An excuse to cover Sanaagaa’s weakness was already prepared. Its destruction was said to start when red turned black.

* Names given are not true except Booyyee
* Garee is a river in Zoomoo land

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