By : Kinkino Kia, Hawassa University ( Oct, 2012)
As many scholars contend, a very little is known about sidama people due to the consistent lack of such a status as a nations in the Ethiopian historiography. As Seyoum rightly argues, the general lack of useful sources on sidama studies has been a bone of contention among the contemporary sidama intellectuals for quite some time. The paucity of information has resulted in confusion and ambiguity in identifying the people, its culture, the history and the current development underlying the change and continuity in Sidama land.
Sidama people conceive the modern government administrative structure from their historical experience of conquest and subsequent alienation in the past. Therefore, a brief review of the place of Sidama within the modern Ethiopian state is appropriate.
Ever since the conquest of Menlik II, in early 1890s, the sidamaland and its people have been subjected to relentless oppression and exploitation. To borrow Seyoum’s wordings, this period “is by far the most critical and perverse event in Sidama history” and impacted the sidama world in many ways. The invading neftegnas ruthlessly and massively destroyed the sidamas indigenous institutions, mores, norms, values and conceptions and replaced it with entirely alien colonial machinery.
The conquerors tirelessly worked against everything which is sidamas. Thus, we lost precious customarily established centuries-old social values and forced to live under the perverse historic exploitation by the invading “neftegnas”.
For the Sidama, the state seems to be defined with reference to experiences during the second part of the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie I, when the state attempted to suppress ethnic identity and to implant notions of belonging to an Ethiopian nation (Aadland, Ovynd,2002).
The relentless oppression of occupation perpetrated by the gun bearers brought about the untold atrocities to the sidmas life in its entirety. The legacy of domination and exploitation were maintained by the “modernizing” autocracy of Haile Selassie. The collective memory of the Sidama nationals of this epoch was the modernization of oppression; namely the honing of the methods of tax collection, recruitment of coercive army and bureaucratic personnel. The period is characterized by land dispossession, feudalism, force, myth and external support—the means through which the spoils of the conquest were maintained ( Hamesso). The absolutist monarchical rulers of the time deliberately failed to undertake the development works and improvements in the political, social and economic affairs. Then, no fruitful works were to be expected from the Abyssinian colonial tyrants who changed the people into virtual slavery and serfdom.
The same is true for the military junta of Derg who came to annex the power in the early 1970s. The former President Mengestu Haile Mariam (Mengestu) inherited the core problems of Ethiopia as a polity which contained a multitude of centrifugal traditional and ethnic forces and was sustained only by force. Accordingly, nation building, the forging of an all-embracing official consciousness, failed miserably. The legacy of imposition and absolutism wrapped in Marxist rhetoric compelled Ethiopia to remain a militarist state and determined the controlling role of the military in Ethiopian politics and society.
Being one of the most naked dictatorial regime on the earth, Derg manifestly declared a war on humanity. Untold human suffering, massive killings and deportations, forced resettlement, collectivization and villagization have resulted in hazardous consequences than to bring about any meaningful social transformation. Many sidama sons and daughters paid immense sacrifice and tribute their lives for the call of dictates of humanity, liberty and equality in the campaign to dismantle this repressive regime. Indeed, there remains the validity of drawing a lot of lesson by the present generation from these heroes and heroines.
The political arrangement that replaced the Derg in 1991 drew its social base from Tigray, led by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) which obtains its inspiration from Albanian communism (Hamesso).
The EPRDF is the driving force in the new government. There seem to be two movements struggling for influence in Sidama, which counteract each other. On the one hand, an external top-down authority is once again being imposed on the people, this time cloaked in the ideological rhetoric of democracy and with external support from the West. “Central” dominance continues directly or more indirectly through satellite parties of the EPRDF. However, within the regime there has occurred a transition, from Amharic to Tigrean domination. On the other hand, ethnicity has become the most crucial and controversial force in Ethiopian politics of today. The EPRDF maintains the principle of the unconditional right of nations, nationalities, and peoples to self-determination including secession. (Adland,2002). However, this celebrated constitutional canon remains to be paper tiger with no practical validity.
After ousting Mengistu Haile Mariam’s dictatorship in 1991, the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), led by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi,embarked on a project to radically transform the country’s political system.
The regime not only restructured the state into the current Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, but also vigorously redefined citizenship, politics and identity on ethnic grounds. The remake over the past twenty years has been accompanied by tremendous hopes for a more prosperous and peaceful future, after decades of poverty, hunger and oppression. Despite so vowed continued economic growth, however, these aspirations have given way to wariness about the ethnically defined state centralism advocated by the EPRDF. Following the 2005 elections, broad frustration has emerged with the government’s relapse into authoritarianism. ( Lovise Alen; Self-determination in Semi-authoritarian state, 2006).
The absence of consensus regarding ethnic federalism results from contradictions that date back to the formation of the modern state in the nineteenth century and have become virulent since 1991: ethnically defined politics that decentralize rather than mitigate inter-ethnic relations; government-propagated democratization inhibited by the ruling party’s unwillingness to share power; and rapid economic growth and increasing urbanization accompanied by growing inequality and social tensions.( The Discontents of Ethnic Federalism, International crisis Group Report, 2009).
While these contradictions have been present since the beginning of EPRDF rule, they exploded in the 2005 elections. Politics are intensely contested. At stake are fundamentally opposing visions of Ethiopia’s history, problems and the way forward as conceived by different ethno political constituencies and a diasporas dominated by Amhara and Amharised urbanites. While Meles Zenawi’s regime has managed to stay in power, its support among the population at large, former sympathizers and even members of the powerful Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has continually eroded over the past decade ( ibid). An increasingly bitter confrontation between the EPRDF and major opposition parties, the growing insurgency by the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) in the east, recurrent localised inter-ethnic tensions and rapidly mounting economic challenges are all serious factors. Democratic centralism, the dominance of the party apparatus behind the façade of regional and local autonomy, an extensive patronage system and the use of force to silence opposition have severely hampered genuine democratization having tremendous effect on sidama society.
Earlier, the forced merger of five ethno-national entities in today’s Southern region frustrated the Sidama, who settled for a separate zone instead of their own region.( Lovise Alen, 2008). When the government tried to settle competing claims over Hawassa by giving it a multi-ethnic status through sharing power to other nationalities similar to Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa, a Sidama protest forced it to back down( ibid). But, this project of the regime has never been changed, the city politics is operating to the complete detriment of interests of sidama people until today.
This is the historical frame of reference in which we have to analyze the present situation. A glimpse over the past is, hence, important at least to show paradigm of political orientation and historical narratives in the modern Ethiopian polity. When we analyse the current developments in sidamaland, the consideration of historical narratives on the formation of the modern Ethiopian state and its underlying historic impacts in shaping the changes and continuities in the contemporary sidama finds a wider room.
As can be learned from the foregoing, the type of regimes operating in Ethiopian political realm throughout centuries can be roughly categorized as feudal autocracy and authoritarianism, absolute military dictatorship and revolutionary democrats.
Part II Education, Universities and Contemporary Realities in sidama
In the previous part of this piece, we have tried to see at least the historical placing of the current developments in a summarized context. In the following section, we are going to deal with some of the matters which need a brief consideration beginning with the brief background of modern education in sidama, and expansion of schools resulting in increased number of intelligentsia revitalizing the historical paradigm of social functionaries. We will also briefly look at recurring and contemporary political developments in sidama and attendant social problems and complexities. The long-lived and ambitious discuirs of perpetration that managed to repudiate the keen interest of sidama people is also briefed. Lastly, the roles played by sidama university students will be presented in a succinct form.
It is the well known fact that modern education is the recent phenomenon in sidama cultural and political society. Due to the general lack of access to education solely by the reluctance and fragility of state interest to provide educational facilities, sidamas were, until recently, detached from mainstream politics and, therefore, forced to live under mass illiteracy. So, the educated man power necessary to build and lead modern society based fundamentally on the democratic principles of equality, freedom and justice in sidama could not be easily found until near past. Those who were said to have acquired modern education and skill were not allowed to serve their community faithfully with their knowledge and skill. To the contrary, they were persecuted, and forced to flee their motherland. This unequivocally resulted in debilitated nature of social functioning hampering knowledge creation, economic growth and social development.
Nevertheless, in recent years, the average number of educated sidamas increased in a steady trend and has shown promising increase. The students joining colleges and tertiary education are showing dramatic increment. Annually, hundreds of students graduate from different universities in undergraduate programs, Hawassa university taking the lion’s share. The attendants of graduate degree have shown also increasing trend who are self-sponsored, party-sponsored and those supported by academic institutions. The coverage of tertiary education ranges from medicine, technology and engineering and other components in natural science, and from law to other social science disciplines and economics. The doubt still reigns as to the degraded nature of the quality of education which is one the most critical problem in the country currently and a years ahead.
Question: Are these intellectual serving our community truly and responsibly?
Leaving the answer to the judgment of the reader, a brief and succinct summary of the remarkable works accomplished by the Sidama students in Hawassa University undergraduate programs from some years back will be made. Without any exaggeration, being found at the centre of the sidama community and home town in which various policy attempts are made affecting our people, this university students benefited from this opportunity than those in other universities across the country.
As reminded earlier, the number of students attending tertiary education was minimal some years back, but now has shown a steady increase faster than ever. This situation made the attempts easier than before to deal with matters pertaining to sidamas political and social world. The emergence of self-help associations to build confidence, common consciousness and mutual trust thereby strengthening mutual support signified collaboration among the students. From less than one dozens in the some years back, now they range to many thousands taken in their entirety in general terms.
What importance do their increased number signify for the revival of movements for the well being of sidama society?
Without going in to much detail in the foregoing, the writer tries to provide some of the leading accomplishments of the sidama university students from some years back to the developments today.
1). The first and foremost benchmark in their influential role is to create a solid structure of coordination and mutual mobilization in the time of difficulty as the need arises. In order to better address the perverse problems in academic, financial and other experiences, there became the essence of establishing non-political self-help organizations. Through the centrality of these organizations, the students obtained a forum to deal with matters pertaining to sidamas which range from matters concerning individual members to sidama nation and the country as a whole. In effect, the “Sidama Students Organization in Universities” (SSO) has became a reality. This organ has been playing a key role in coordinating and mobilizing the entire sidama students at various times from individual help and support to issues concerning our society at large.
2). The second one signifies the active involvement in the wider life of the community. As one of the societies living under acute poverty, we sidamas do really have debilitating social problems. We experience problems ranging from massive impoverishment and abject poverty to national questions of equitable representation, distributive justice, self-determination and mainstreaming and correcting historic abuse, and also maintaining the historic strongholds of the sidama territories which have became hotly sensitive political and social issues now a days. Being a part of this society facing a fiercely demonstrable competing interests from outsiders and at a time struggling for continued existence as a nation, we can not in any way and any time, be silent and passive.
In this regard, numerous occasions have rose which showed the engagement of students in politics. As it can be guessed, it is not because the students have keen interest in politics, but the exigencies of the circumstances has at a time compelled calling for active interference.
a). Momentum of 2002 through 2005: This period is recorded as one of the black days in contemporary sidama history. It was a time in which sidamas were put under terribly ravaged situations ranging from an attempt to up-root them from their indigenous capital – Hawassa to murdering of hundreds of innocent civilians, empty-handed mothers carrying their babies, children and elders by the regime’s security forces around Looqqe, hence named as “Looqqe Massacre”, which lives in our collective memory throughout all generations. It is really a tragic event happened to and belligerent warfare perpetrated against the sidamas. This occasion gravely endangered the whole species of human rights and questioned the existence of living democracy. Marking a blatant violation of the fundamental principles of the customary international humanitarian law which dictate the belligerents to spare and protect the civilian population, it won dense attention from the international human rights activists.
During this period, schools in sidama including Hawassa experienced closure, forced withdrawal and migration of the sidama students for fear of actual persecutions. Of whom the predominant number of the students from high schools, colleges and universities were hotly pursued, detained, tortured and subjected to inhumane or degrading punishments- social disturbance!!
Aggrieved and catalyzed by this perpetration, the oceanic rise of sidamas with a determination to acquire regional autonomy continued with a greater magnitude. The then university students along with other collegiate allies made a fierce but peaceful struggle for the respect of the rights of people. After a series of negotiations, they convened a historic conference with the EPRDF’s chief ministers and high ranking officials. A fundamental social matter is raised, debated and defended for the interest of entire sidama people.
b). Pre-2009 National Election Period: During this period, there were also wide distrust, grievances and general insecurity in the society. The round border conflicted at many frontiers in Wendogenet and Boricha woredas( argued by some as instigated by the regime itself) which resulted in massive human sufferings and high economic causalities on the peripheral residents has triggered a wide public arousal. Moreover, the wide rumor regarding the administrative status of Hawassa city, the administrative necessity and claim over Hawassa university and much more prevalent social problems such as lack of infrastructural and maintenance works and good governance, the call for regional status, the gradual relegation and withdrawal of sidama language as a medium of instruction from schools of Hawassa and the accompanying constitutional issues etc, were the major agendas which demanded the due attention at that time. We then approached to the regional and zonal officials for dialogue and discussion. Frustrated by the then political environment as the national election is fast approaching, we gained a warm attention and reasonable consideration.
By the 29th of March 2009, a general meeting of Hawassa University students from all its four campuses held a conference with officials from Regional authorities, zonal head officials and from Hawassa city administration. Representatives from academic community were also the participants. With a greater degree of caution and careful weighing of every factor, we fiercely debated over social and political issues with regional president Mr. Shiferaw Shigute. Even though no one strong argument was welcomed, and, if welcomed, dubbed as opposition-sponsored, our firm determination for real change has brought about some remarkable achievements. The one worthy to mention here is the appointment of the new Hawassa University president Dr. Yosef Mammo from sidama. And many more minor fraction of changes has been witnessed like creating employment opportunities for unemployed members of society, re-opening of some dysfunctional offices, revival of sidama development corporations, etc.
c). The Party- sponsored new Agenda: “How to lead our Metropolitan city?” and our anti-annexation struggle ( May- June 2012).
As has been described elsewhere in my previous piece of work, “In Retrospect”( Oct, 2012), the sidama nation has witnessed numerous devastating events in this last summer through this time. The state-sponsored agenda which seems to have originated from anti-sidama renegades, was to affirm the annexation of Hawassa administration from the hands of the sidama people, which signified the unconstitutional nature of the acts of party members. The said agenda was to be put in to effect without the knowledge and deliberations of the sidama people since this city is the integral part and heart land of the sidama territory since time immemorial. It highly made manifest the unconstitutional move of the regional authorities contrary to the predominant interest of the sidama people which they represent.
It was and still is the clear contravention of the law of the land , which in its opening preambles provision gave a high regard and due emphasis as the building blocks of the constitution for the rights of nations/nationalities to self-determination which made them the champions of the new federal constitution and the new Ethiopian set-up of federal polity. The so called “ fitih newspaper” columnist Muluneh Ayalew elaborated the devastating nature of the new metropolitan agenda on the sidama people and on the Ethiopian politics at large under the title” Sidama 2: A sidama Women not to cry for the second time…”( Amharic version , translation mine).
The contents of the said document , which is of 13 pages, underestimated and oversimplified the capability of sidamas to resist the up-rooting project, citing through their previous systemic dealings and triumphs on many occasions. Contending at the opening paragraph that they cannot lead their metropolitan city in the same way they used to do it in the past when the city is in the hands of sidamas, they announce that they have proposed and devised an “opening-up policy” in which every administrative staff ranging from office of the mayor to other work processes should be equally made open for other representatives of nations and nationalities.
This document, which is later declared to have flourished from the executive committee of the SEPDM- the ruling affiliate party in the region.
This document announced clearly that sidamas are no longer the legitimate claimers and lawful administrators of their own homeland and the city. This agenda poses a formidable difficulty to identify whether it is a research paper or a clear political document and defies easy categorization. It unambiguously declared the corrupt, rent-seeking and politically inefficient nature of the sidama officials, thereby claiming that this has hindered the development of the city. But this assertion is dubious, fragile, flawed and not supported by adequate research. Moreover, it is the greatest of humiliation on the diginity of sidama people- the corrupt( if any) are the recruits of the party and not entire sidama society.
One exceptional nature of the said document, which this writer has witnessed by his own eyes, is the question that follows; why did it only highly focused only on Hawassa city- Hawassa’s betrothal for metropolitanity status from among many Ethiopian cities. Furthermore, the vague interpretations the politicians give for the term metropolitan’ to deceive the people by simple meaning of the word is worthy of consideration. This writer does not contend whether Hawassa is qualified for being metropolitan status or not, but the contention lies like; does the attainment of metropolitan status lead to annexation from the owner sidama people? Or is there any other hidden purpose sought using confusing metropolitan nomenclature as a pretext?
Soon after, this document was secretly released to the community by the sidama-hearted, sidama-loving cadre members because they have well considered that the agenda to be effected is terribly debilitating and detrimental for which some of them were forced to consent. They are those genuine sidamas who did not want their mother land to be sold unlawfully and unconstitutionally to the aliens as happened nowhere in the country.
Since those days of secret undertakings, our students and every individual sidama community member, including a high-ranking party officials who claim that their loyalty to the party is there only so long as the party remains loyal to the people, were highly aggrieved by the repudiator anti-sidama interest state move. The people declared through different available media and other outlets that they are ready to pay whatever sacrifice to force back, curb and to make ineffective the denigrating political attempts. Social disorder and general insecurity followed. In those days, websites like Worancha and social media like face book group profiles played very significant role to up-date recent information from entire sidama areas.So many locally edited newspapers with universal outreach were circulating in the city and rural hamlets. The contents notified the state actors about the unified and strengthened arms of sidamas declaring for the glory, solidarity, mobilization and earnest desire for respect for the rights of the people specifically calling for the respect and observance of the constitutional stipulations.
Rather than dealing with matter peacefully, the regime acted in the mood of belligerent warfare state. Popular opposition movements were opted to be suppressed by the iron feast, weapon and military power. The state lost many opportunities to address the issues more peacefully. This angered the genuine sidamas and other sidama-loving neighborly nations very gravely. Thus, the sidamas were united together from ordinary beggars to the high ranking party cadres to press a concerted force on the rulers and to teach them a lesson of democratic rule beyond partisan democracy.. This public opposition was also demonstrably marked around those sidama children found in the military posts at various parts of the country. The people from all walks of life said it is too much and marched rallies, peacefully demonstrated thereby calling up on the regime’s actors to retract the statements stated in the agenda, for repeal and derogation of the same. The regime was told to refrain from its anti-constitutional conspiracy.
One interesting propaganda the actors induced and some other private media reported was t to report as if sidamas are perpetrating harm and it is an inter-ethnic conflict. The So called ESAT television is the case in point. But they later recognized the true spirit of the struggle for existence and in opposition to the dismantling projects of the time by the sidamas and reported accordingly. Some said the sidamas are inducing a violence against the wolayta residents in the city. But this assertion is dubious, flawed and has no place in the egalitarian sidama society founded on the principles of Halaale, the principles of ultimate truth and justice. The truth is that sidamas were not violating the rights of others, but they were struggling for existence, to do away with injustice perpetrated against the general welfare of the community. In no case do sidamas have ever been in a hostile relations with others comparable sisterly nations. It never promoted harm done to the other ethnic groups who share large measure of community life with them.
Confident enough with its military capability, the cadres denounced and deliberately misrepresented every piece of peaceful struggle. They labeled it with the cover “anti-peace and anti-development elements who do not represent the interest and the will of the people”. They acted as if nothing happened saying the opposition not well-founded and nurtured by the opposition parties. Specifically, in rural woredas they promised people as nothing happened claiming that it is the manufacture of the hostile Sidama Liberation Movement (SLM) for long time.
The state -owned Radio and Television as well as their newspaper consistently denounced the sidama people’s non-violent struggle to restore the city and call for regional self-determination. The derogatory statements made by the party-controlled media misinformed to other sisterly nations that the sidamas move is ethnic-based hatred against others. This created a greater misconception of the sidamas true cause. But, this misleading propaganda and misrepresentation of our true cause is deliberately made and knowingly sponsored to humiliate the genuine sidamas. Therefore, the state-owned media clearly derogated and insulted the entire people as “ anti-peace elements and anti-development agents “ making the position of the government clear that the terms of the metropolitan agenda would not be retracted ( forced back), which is later turned out to be confusing- in somewhere, they say the effectiveness of the agenda is stopped; on the other they quickly carried on their underground projects.
As is briefly stated in the writer’s previous work, now became the concerted effort to curb and denounce the agenda clearly compelling for average sidamas within and abroad. The sidama children from all corner of the world and from all walks of life showed their loyalty and faith to their mother land and its people’s dignity. They have gloriously shown their historic unison and greater solidarity irrespective of any distinction on the grounds of politics, religion, party affiliations and other considerations.
Ultimately, after the regime realized that the popular uprising is beyond the estimated easy control and suppression by the vanguards, they then opted to a series of deceptive public conferences and dialogue forums first with cadres themselves extending down to kebele level and then to ordinary members of the community.
Our university students as a community of intelligentsia thoughtfully and carefully worked towards preparation for dialogue and toughest criticism after mastering and learning the key founding policies and inherent causalities to arise from the said discriminatory agenda. We realized that we would be blamed in front of history of sidama people by the generations to come if we failed to pay our due!
Our highest call then was to “be voice of voiceless”for those some languishing in acute poverty , mass illiteracy and some in prisons and jeopardized, the Hawassa University students, under my and my collague’s leadership, made an arduous and painstaking deliberations, first within us on a pre-meeting preparatory works. The situation dictated and compelled us to marshal rallies and demonstrations, but we learned that peaceful dialogue is the sole alternative as long as room for peaceful dialogue presents itself before us.
Accordingly, in a desperations and aggrieving environment we determined to avoid to the maximum extent possible unnecessary bloodshed and suffering of life, and propertygreatly drawing lessons from irreparable past atrocities. Reaching to consensus to first opt for peaceful talk among ourselves, we approached to zonal administration to appear and respond on contemporary political developments and blowing wind in the society. As said, we held first-round dialogue with the sidama zone chief administrator Mr. Milion Matewos and mayor of Hawassa city Mr. Yonas Yosef in the presence of university vice president and former mayor of Hawassa Mr. Ayyaano Barasso and other cabinet members. In this forum, we condemned the projects and called for the realization of the sidama regional autonomy since these all humiliation is rooted from lack of such a status. It was then postponed until regional president returns from (political) visit of Saskatchewan University in Canada.
The most important, and also terrible, was the second round conference held on the 17th of June 2012 at the Hawassa university great conference hall. In this meeting, a high ranking political figures from federal, regional ,zonal and city government posts , university president, members of the senate, scholars, and members of the academic community and students from other university amounting over 6000 became participants. The program is pre-adjusted and so disciplined that only what is agreed by the house is to be presented, no room for personal feelings. The interest which overrides is the interest of the larger sidama public and those who were assigned to forward questions are required to carefully rise the core and overriding national issues. Logic, reasonableness and capability to cross-examine and carry argument forward matters then. This all has been timely arranged and prepared.
Leaving the detailed matters for the imagination of the reader, we oriented our guests of which the chairman is the president of the region, Mr. Shiferaw Shigute. Denouncing and warning at the opening from the stage preceded our program. We once again reiterated the motto; “dialogue is the essence of the free society. “
Our questions of dialogue and debate at the battlefield are broadly divided in to four categories for which individuals who present it are pre-determined, but secretly. If not, we know what would have followed. Our first question deals with the decade-old quest for regional self-determination. Our argument focused on the fact of the completed nature of the approval by the zonal council of the question. We argued, therefore, that we are demanding for the enforcement and looking for an effective date of the unanimous decision and vote of the zonal council. We claimed, let it have effect!!
Our second point is to focus on the recent but hidden undertakings and developments regarding Hawassa city in much more detailed and coherent manner. We touched administrative sovereignty, is and ought to be, indicating the ways out and demanding for the detailed explanation of the current status of city and place of the sidamas today. Legal regime governing it was also criticized as ambiguous and imprecise.
The third and probably the most sensitive was to join a fight against the new metropolitan agenda, heavy criticisms and denunciations through media of sidamas peaceful movements to preserve their territory. It was also meant to rehabilitate the assertions made by prior fellow speakers and dismantling and cross-examining the dubious prepositions by the chairing authorities . This arduous and sensitive task was really entrusted to me and I defended it as much as I can. At a time, the chairman attacked me fiercely judging me as anti-peace element collaborating with terrorists and the so called Gimbot 7, declared by HPR as terrorists by passing Bills. I reasonably defended, debated and cross-examined…I spoke for the ultimate interest of the voiceless sidama public and earned denunciation and enmity with the officials. Reason; public interest overrides individual interest. Right!! The non-democratic, denigrating and unconstitutional nature and content of the agenda’s annexation move and its attendant detrimental consequences on the present and future generations were well lectured with a due emphasis on appraisal of the fundamental human rights core constitutional covenants and values without losing a sight to internationally recognized human right instruments which are the common will of the civilized members of the peace-loving internationally community. I shouldered this terrible task but successful.
The last topic I elaborately presented concerns concluding remarks, it focused with the growing security concerns throughout the entire sidama region which is the result of over-deployment of military and security forces for which people are being terrorized at the gun point for the sole reason that they are sidamas or they speak sidama language. We showed the hazard consequences to follow from this security scenario which has a very big bearings on our mind set up and dignity as nation if development work is to continue without interruption. But tight security grip of important economic environment would mean that people are frustrated and demoralized. Added to this is the brutal nature of security forces torture and inhumane treatment for no lawful reason. We sidama have undergone through these terrible ups and downs. We finally reiterated core points and read out our declarations of stand now and the time ahead. We explained our firm determination to make peaceful struggle manifestly declared until the sidama regional state is realized in the Ethiopian political map. The authorities called up on party members to cooperate with them to fight against anti-peace elements (us) and called on others to make peaceful movements which is systemic and artificial.
As per the covenants made among ourselves during this period and later discussions , in a joint action with the other concerned members of the community, concerted efforts were, have been and is being done , 1) to maintain our self-administration over Hawassa city as is the case elsewhere in the country, and 2) to realize sidama regional state.
Therefore, as can be seen from the foregoing , the role of sidama university students concerning how to address problems exerting pressure on our society have been very promising and at a time successful. A more success lies a time ahead. The university students, being a voice of voiceless rural illiterate and impoverished mass have played a significant role through both questioning the government through dialogue forums and recommending rightful tracks to follow to serve the welfare of the society. However, this requires capacitating and building oneself with modern academic knowledge, skill backed by science and technology , and new concepts of democracy, rule of law and good governance. The peaceful struggle need not only be abstractly political, but should be realistic in terms of economic and other social growth considerations.
Skillful, energetic and earnest efforts accompanied by being equipped with modern disciplines and pursuit of academic excellence by putting social matters at the center of focus is a great responsibility shouldered by the today’s students and tomorrow’s hope of this nation.
An earnest desire to describe a factual underpinnings on the ground and to find peace on this land led me at least to write this piece , with an intention to harm no one.