Following is what he wanted the whole world to hear (read).
This is my personal diary and to make it a bit tasty I used football terms quite few times. This isn’t to be offensive to anybody, rather, it is because I am so passionate about football and I want to use this opportunity to test my own reporting skills of my favorite game. May I tell you also this is the first time in my life that I dare to present my idea in written form in any media, so my sincere apologies in advance if you find some grammatical mistakes and wrong usage of words/phrases. In terms of sticking to the facts, everything I wrote below is as accurate as one can be which anyone can ascertain from so many others who are at the same event I am going to tell you.
Every Year at the University of Washington (UW), African Students Association of the UW (ASA) presents Afro-Caribbean Night (ACN) in April. The occasion is usually a very fascinating one even for strangers let alone for nostalgic Diaspora Africans and the event being performed by young African students or Americans of African origin makes even sweeter to the elderly parents and community members coming to the occasion.
As it was customary, last year also the event was carried out successfully. However, to some of the attendees who happen to despise the mere sight Oromo students, the show was deemed tarnished by these "unruly Oromos". The Oromo students participating on the occasion as Oromos not as Ethiopians was the talk of every Ethiopian household in Seattle, even in churches and community centers. May be it went even beyond Seattle as it was negatively reported by SeaEthio web site.
At the time I was really amazed by the negative stance of the websites and individuals involved. I attended the event and I was very satisfied by the shows presented by the Ethiopian (Abyssinian) group and the Oromo group alike. I couldn't see anything offensive being exhibited by Oromo performers unless as I mention earlier, one is being offended by the mere sight of Oromos on stage in which case I can only say hard luck and pray to God to have mercy to this hate-monger-poor-souls.
May be, just may be, it is based on the recommendation of the community members and/or others who took offense by the mere sight of Oromo students having their own show, that last Sunday, 03/09/2008, afternoon, some members of the African Students Association (ASA) made a futile attempt to exclude Oromo students from this year's edition of the ACN.
To begin with, the idea itself is not only unjust, it is evil. It is discriminatory as well as unconstitutional based on the constitution of ASA that these same students and/or their former colleagues wrote. Well, they set a meeting on a Sunday afternoon mainly to the reduce the not-well-informed Oromo students to the minimum possible to amend the constitution so as to pass a law which would prohibit Oromo students from the ACN for good and possibly to expel them from the ASA membership. Had this happened, they would have found themselves in the mother of all troubles.
One cute girl said very loudly, “We should vote on it today as there is need to waste time on this trivial issue. Besides, the final-exam is just round the corner, only one week away”. She is such an ignorant as most of them are that she didn’t even know to vote on constitutional amendment, the proposal should be announced two meetings before. What these bunch of hate-mongers didn't know was how Oromo students were well prepared for this meeting despite the short notice, some of them in fact heard only hours before the meeting, and how determined they are to take the matter as far as needed to make sure that they be part of the ACN event for now and to avoid such a mishap for the future totally.
As one can imagine under these circumstances, the discussion was so intense and full of emotions that some even feared a fight would breakout any moment. Luckily, it hasn't gone that far. The meeting went with Oromo students scrutinizing every single word said by the facilitator, who was a former student invited with others for this unjust cause mainly to outnumber and intimidate the Oromos to no avail. I really felt bad for him, as he was forced to repeat the same thing sometimes for 10 or 20 times.
Among the most debated issues were if the words "country" and "culture" are to be used on the advertisement flyer for this year's ACN event. Oromo students were against the use of the word "country" while the other group was for it. Eventually the idea of not using the word "country” won and a consensus reached. Goal Number Three. Team Oromia is now leading 3-0 and besides, the ball seems never to pass the half-line to be in Oromia–half of the pitch.
The group who organized the meeting even invited a representative from the governing body of student organizations at the UW as a witness for Oromos expulsion from the ACN event. The guy came late, fortunately for him, but he was subjected to the later part of the discussion when everybody was so charged that at times one can't know who is talking and who is listening. So, it was quite an experience for him to begin with. He was consulted in the middle of our heated debate that if it would be considered discriminatory to expel a group of students who aren't willing to work within a group with other groups from the same country. Then, the guest responded:" it is unreasonable not to allow student performers while you are hiring professionals from outside". He continued, “besides, priority should be given to the students of the UW". Our dear guest couldn't get the sinister intention of the facilitator. This added another setback to the cause of the meeting organizers while it brought a broad smile to the Oromo students’ faces, with it Goal Number Four. Quite amazing, even the referee scored a goal against the Team Ethiopia, albeit unintentionally.
Next, one of the meeting organizers raised her hand and said: “Quite honestly I am not personally against the Oromo students having their own show, however; the community members were offended last year and that is why we don't want that to happen again". What an honest young lady she is! But her honesty haven’t enabled her to be fair. May be she mean that she is honest for issues raised by her community while quite the contrary when it comes to Oromo brothers and sisters. But should I blame her being raised by such a community who doesn’t seem to know about individual right. If she was a teenager I may not but for her age I have to blame her as much as I blame the community. What! Said an Oromo student raising her hand. She continued “the community members have no right to give or deny permission Oromo students. Rather, you have to teach your community that everybody has the right to define his/her own identity and tell them to try to live with it”. Well, what options do they have after their young warriors are being clinically defeated by the enemy they despise so much and unwisely underestimate rather than swallowing the bitter pillow of witnessing Oromos having another show for the second year running at the Grand Kane Hall of the University of Washington. May I take this opportunity to invite you to this eventful occasion if you are residing in Seattle or its environs. The exact date will be announced by the coordinators soon, but expect it to be in the third week of April.
To be frank, it is almost impossible to describe all the punches and counter punches thrown from both directions and thus I will go to the final conclusion of this bizarre meeting.
Finaly, when there was no way out of this calamitous web of their own making and after five hours of mind boggling arguments, we were back to square one. The event to be presented the same way as last year. Thus, the east African group to be represented by the Ethiopian group, the Oromo group, the Somalia group and the Eritrean group. Remember, we agreed not to use even the word “country”; thus, when we say the Ethiopian group, for instance, it is a “band name” not a “country name” in this context, mocked the facilitator himself. Quite amazing!!! The students who claim to represent Ethiopia organized the meeting, (though the name is ASA, the members are actually almost entirely composed of east Africans which isn’t their fault to be fair,) to expel Oromos from such an event for good if possible or at least give them an identity known as Ethiopia under which they can present their show with other Ethiopian group. The end result, they lost that identity even for themselves and the name Ethiopia is reduced to a “band name”. No offense intended here, but as I mentioned above it was the facilitator of the meeting himself who designated as such. This wrap up a sensational victory for Team Oromia with 5-0 score line.
What a victory for Oromo students (Team Oromia) given the fact the time and the playing field was exclusively chosen by the Team Ethiopia, in fact, it is a victory for right against wrong. So, at the final whistle: Team Oromia 5 – Team Ethiopia 0 reads the score board.
My personal conclusion.
When I think about the meeting and the whole scenario retrospectively, I really feel sad to experience people not accepting and respecting the will of others in this era and of all the places, in the United State of America. Had there been a mutual respect among us, let alone for people who share a lot of values and experiences, despite countless unfortunate incidences, it would have been possible to have a show as one group even with others from much far places. But it isn’t meant to be.
But why Oromos are being despised for being themselves? Why the Seattle Ethiopian Community or any body for that matter is offended by the mere sight of Oromos on stage? Why some Ethiopians feel they have the right to tell Oromos what is good for them? And why of all the people, these smart young guys find themselves deep into this stinky trench? A lot of whys come to my mind with no answer. I am sure some Ethiopians will give me a sound answer sometime. Should Oromos be blamed for not want to be associated with Ethiopia? Not at all, under such circumstances, who in his right mind would want to be associated with someone who despises even his mere existence on this earth?
As an Oromo, 03/09/2008 was one of my happiest days at UW. As to my Ethiopian (Abyssinian) brothers and sisters who are misguided by something I can’t tell, please try to Love others as hate would destruct the hate-monger him/herself eventually. It is because of your hatred you end up “Aterfe baye agudaye” as the Amharic saying goes.