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Monday, December 16, 2013

By Side Goodo

It is often argued that the socialist regime of the military junta that took power after the 1974 revolution in Ethiopia was not exclusively an Abyssinia (Tigre and Amhara) dominated administration. The basis of such argument was the participation of handpicked few surrogates who were ready to serve their Abyssinian masters at the expense of their own peoples. In this regard, there were a number of notorious non Abyssinian cadres of the socialist government who tortured, maimed and killed their own people to obtain favours from their Abyssinian masters. Ali Musa of the then Bale province in the present Oromia region and Pertros Gebre of the then southern Shewa province are the cases in point. These individuals were some of the most brutal and the most feared non Abyssinian cadres of the socialist government of the time.

Although such surrogates were encouraged to kill and maim their own people they were not tolerated when they try to voice little concern about their own peoples. Mathewos Korsisa, a Sidama from Dalle District rose to one of the highest ranks in the socialist government through his participation in the Socialist Ethiopia Farmer’s Association. From the secretary of the Dalle District Socialist Ethiopian Farmer’s Association Mathewos Korsisa moved up the ladder to become the secretary of the Sidama Provincial Socialist Ethiopian Farmer’s Association. When the Workers’ Party of Ethiopia was inaugurated during the early 1980s Mathewos was recruited to become a member of central committee of the party, the highest position any regional government or parastatal leader could hold. Unlike Petros Gebre and other notorious cadres, Mathewos Korsisa was not an administrator and hence was not involved in brutalising the local people. He rose to fame because of his involvement in organizing farmer’s cooperatives particularly in coffee rich Sidama and Gedeo areas which led to an initial increase in coffee productivity and increased high quality coffee export for the central government. Mengistu Haile Mariam applauded him on several occasions for the initial success of the various farmers’ cooperatives in the Sidama and surrounding areas. 

Mathewos Korsisa used his position and his relation with Mengistu Haile Mariam to fight against the corrupt government regional administrators such as Tefera Endalew. Tefera Endalew was one of the most notorious Abyssinian administrators of then Sidama province. He was from Wello province in the present Amhara region. He used to torture, harass and intimidate the Sidama, Gedeo and Guji Oromos who were part of the Sidama province. Towards the end of 1970s, Tefera Endalew ordered each and every peasant farmer in the Sidama province to pay over 50 birr (very big money 30 years ago) in order to build a small meeting hall in Awassa town now called Sidama Cultural Hall. Over 8 million Birr was mobilised by peasant framers in Sidama, Gedeo, Jemejem and Arero (the later two are in Oromia at present) in forced taxation. However, the construction of the hall took only about 1.5 million birr. Mathewos Korsisa as the representative of the peasant farmers not only opposed excessive taxation but also demanded to know what has happened to the millions of Birr mobilised in the name of building a small meeting hall in Awassa. He complained that Tefera Endalew was impoverishing the peasantry by forced taxation in the name of building small meeting halls.

However, what did not occur to Mathewos Korsisa was not only that his highest political authority in the region (his position as a member of central committee of workers’ party of Ethiopia) was fake because he was a Sidama but also that Tefera Endalew was not alone in making decisions to lay excessive taxation on the Sidama peasantry in the name of building little projects. That was an integral part of Abyssinian systematic exploitation of the resources of Sidama and other areas in the South that continued since 1891. 

The money raised in the name of such small projects was shared among the top echelons of the Abyssinian administrators. Tefera Endalew alone could not make such big decisions unless he was backed by the high ranking Abyssinian officials in Addis Ababa. In fact, millions of the money raised in the name of building a meeting hall in Awassa was shared between Fiseha Desta, a Tigre and the then vice president of the country and Tefera Edalew himself among others. 

Unaware of such Abyssinian deceptions and trickery and thinking that his position as a central committee member of the ruling party in the country was real, Mathewos Korsisa launched an all out attack on Tefera Endalew in front of other officials. He condemned him for impoverishing the Sidama, Gedeo, and Guji Oromos in the name of small building projects and plundering most of the money. 

Tefera Endalew was temporarily humiliated but never admitted that he made a mistake. He started to plot with his bosses in Addis Ababa to eliminate Mathewos Korsisa once and for all. But there was a problem. Mathewos Korsisa was a member of central committee of the ruling party, a person with the “highest ranking political authority” in the region. He was liked by every peasant member in the region. He was not involved in brutalizing the people in the area. Therefore, eliminating such a famous figure in the area proved to be difficult task for the Abyssinians. Besides the issue of Abyssinian corruption in the province he was condemning was correct and most people knew it.

Thus, the only way to get ride of Mathewos Korsisa was to fabricate lies and implicate him in serious and inhuman crimes that one could ever imagine. Abyssinians are experts in lies and deceptions and they finally wrote a gruesome fiction and committed a gruesome murder that paved the way for them to get ride of Mathewos Korsisa. An innocent Mathewos Korsisa had befriended an Abyssinian small restaurateur in Awassa town. He would not imagine that Abyssinians would use that as an opportunity to eliminate him from the planet for ever.

Tefera Endalew used the Abyssinian government police commanders in Awassa to commit the most brutal murder on the Abyssinian restaurateur and her family so that Matehows Korsisa could be implicated for her and her family’s murder. The Awassa police department led by Major Chane also from Wello province went to the residence of the Abyssinian women murdered her and her mother in an inhuman and most barbaric manner ever witnessed in Sidama history. They cut the woman’s body into pieces and put objects in her private parts. Mathewos was in a meeting with peasant farmers in Dale districts when this all happened. When he returned back to Awassa after 3 days, there was a rumour spreading around Awassa stating that Mathewos murdered his Amhara girl friend and her mother. The organized Abyssinian cadres started to harass all Sidama people stating that the Sidama people are barbaric. How do they murder an Abyssinian women in such a brutal manner and so on. Mathewos was stunned. He and the Sidama people knew that this was not the work of Mathewos Korsisa. Every body knew that that was a plot. But to no avail. After a week of lies and deceptions Tefera Endalew finally got Mathewos Korsisa. Even before his immunity as a member of central committee of the ruling party was officially stripped, Mathewos along with his two nephews who lived in Awassa with him, was implicated in the crime, imprisoned and tortured to unconsciousness. The level of torture was so inhuman that Mathewos gave a plastic full of dead body tissues from his legs to his family as an evidence of Abyssinian brutality. 

The Sidama people led by a famous Sidama elder and an uncle of Mathewos Korsisa called Assefa Balango who was also a two time member of Haile Selassie’s parliament submitted a petition to the central government stating that Mathewos would never commit such a heinous crime and it was not in the culture of the Sidama people to murder women. But to no avail.

Fiseha Desta and other high ranking officials in Addis Ababa who shared millions of the money from the province with Tefera Endalew told Assefa Balango and the Sidama delegates that they knew that Mathewos was a "killer" and would never be pardoned. In 1987 Mathewos Korsisa and his two nephews were tortured for the whole day and then taken out of the Awassa prison with the pretext that they were being transferred to a prison in Addis Ababa. However, that was not the case, they were taken some where in between Awassa and Addis Ababa, left there until it became dark and then brought back to the Oromia side of lake Awassa at night and brutally killed and buried there by Major Chane and his colleagues who also killed the same Abyssinian woman and her mother. The truth about the disappearance of Mathewos was disclosed only in 1996 when the Sidama police managed to capture major Chane in Wello and managed to bring him to Awassa. Major Chane testified that he killed both the women and her mother and Mathewos Korsisa with his two nephews because he was ordered to do so by Tefera Endalew. Major Chane took the Sidama police to the place where they buried Mathewos Korsisa and his two nephews. The skeleton of three men was found after 8 years of their brutal murder.

After Mathewos Korsisa was taken out of Awassa prison, his uncle and a famous Sidama elder, Asseffa Balango tried to locate him in Addis Ababa prisons. He would never find him any where. Finally he realised that he was killed. He died of heart attack in Yirgalem hospital few weeks after.

Such was the first hand account of Abyssinian brutality in Sidama. We can draw a parallel with the current TPLF brutality. The Loqqe massacre is the continuation of the same Abyssinian brutality.

Mathewos Korsisa survived with his Sidama wife and several children.

Tefera Endalew lives a luxury life in Nairobi, Kenya at present. He runs a lucrative tax business with the money he looted from the Sidama province.