Gumii Paarlaamaa Oromoo (GPO)
Oromo Parliamentarians Council (OPC)
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The birth and the death of the Orthodox church
By Rundassa Asheetee Hundee
Being shocked by what happened to his church, the man went to the authorities and appealed explaining what took place against his church but no police said a thing, and no government official took any action against anyone. That was the last attempt the Pentecostalists made to open up another church in Bahir-dar.
Just some decades before that, when the Amhara leader Minilik occupied Biyya-Oromo, a man who was appointed as the governor of Ambo country gathered tens of thousands of people and ordered them to split into four groups. After he made sure that everybody was lined up and ready to listen to his speech, the governor spoke being followed by those who echoed his orders...," Simaa Belewu!"
So, the governor spoke......, "Those of you to my right, your new names will be Gebremichael, if you are a man, and Wolete-Mariyam, is your name if you are a woman".
When he got through the naming of the first group, he moved to the second, and then to the third, and then to the forth group, and gave each of them a name that they will be known by from that day on. Surprised by this process, some elders raised their voices and asked what was going on but the governor's remarks were precise and short. . He said,.. "I have been very much edified for being instructed to wash you from your Galla self. To help you further, we will assign a priest to each of your villages for whom you will build homes, give part of your lands, some animals for milking, and of course, you will build the church in which you will worship God being led by the holiness who will descend from Begemidir. These priests will teach you concerning your destinies at the kingdom of God and help you comprehend how to come clean and stand before God".
Few months later, the Amhara priests arrived as promised and spread allover the villages of Ambo county, including each town and settled in the houses built for them by native's free labor and materials that they were ordered to supply and construct these homes. In addition to the land they had to give to each Priest, the natives had to till the land and harvest it by taking turns and bring to the priests. They were also required to give the priests 2 Qunnaa xeef and 2 qunna beans or "xiree" as they called it.
Similarly, those who lived in the towns and the cities will pay 2 birr every month. These fees and the free work that the Oromo farmers had to perform for the priests, the native farmers were told, were in lieu of the benefit they get and these benefits were;
1. The natives will be allowed to burry their dead family members in or around the church compound, of course, after they paid additional fees
2. They get to enjoy access to what is known as "Fitihaat", i.e, the process thorough which the sprit of the dead will be released from the prison of hell. This process has several stages. For example, if the dead person comes from a well todo family, the priests will perform Fitihaat all night long so that the imprisoned sprit of the dead will be released from the hell quicker.
3. If the family of the dead pays few more birr in addition to the Dooroo Waax, bread, Budeenaa, Farsoo etc they give to the priests, then the prayer may last several hours based on the amount received.
To document the financial history of each contributor, the people were given a note book in which the priest writes down the amount they paid. If they lose this note book or aren't able to pay their dues every month, the reality will bit them the day their loved once die. In short, they will be denied to burry their dead at the church compound as well as on their on property unless they pay the back log payment due.
After this systematic rule was set all over the villages of Ambo, the orthodox church started spreading it's roots. In addition to what is stated above, the rulers of the empire announced that they will fund 40% of the expenditure toward to the Balaabats owned church construction. Following this announcement, every Balabat rushed to receive a tin (Qorqoorroo) by which they will cover the roof of the church they will build near their homes and enjoy the privilege of being able to burry their dead close to home. Surly, they hired their own Amhara priest who would live there for free in leu of the prayer he performs to determine the destiny of the Baalabaat's sprit (Ekera).
The priest never get board because he was always busy with prayers and baptisms, the process through which he disarms an Oromo from his/her identity. He also takes on the discourses that he gives before thousands of people every sundays where he speaks about the importance of having correct name and character acceptable to God. He would state that one need to have a private Nabis abaat (father of sprit), Abe-Lij, yee Kiristinaa abaat,.. and Jaalaa. Jaalaa is a sponsor for the boys and the girls who would get circumcised at certain age.
The Orthodox church which it's objective was to assimilate the Oromo people continued to grow with the help of such meticulous planning, and in the matter few decades, it successfully shaped the attitudes of those who were ordered to share one Amhara among the thousand.
Interestedly, even at the hight of the Orthodox church, some part of the Oromo population was fighting the expansion of the Amhara nationalism being led by men such as Gen. Waaqoo Guttu and the like. Understanding the assimilation objective of the Orthodox church, these Oromo heroes started burring down the Orthodox church especially in Baallee zone but they were faced with stiff resistance from the central Oromians who were conditioned to the Orthodox church doctrine and then moved there being evicted by the Amhara royal families.
Mean time, few Oromo children were attending schools at Ayira Gulisoo of western part of Oromia, at the missionary elementary schools and those who graduated from 8th grade became teachers. This happened because the Orthodox church hasn't yet reach far western part of Oromia.
As time went by and people started seeking jobs at large cities such as Finfinnee, having Amhara name and to speak good Amharic became the norm that everyone accepted. In the process, millions of Oromians end up adopting the Amhara character. That's why many Oromos still act and behave like an Amhara. For example, many Oromo journalists sound like an Amhara when they translate Oromo words based on Amharic language and read it with Amharic accent.
The death of the Orthodox church
To clearly understand what course the Orthodox church took since 1960s, it is important that I take you back to Bahir-dar city of today. As of today, Gojam is becoming the major Ca't producing state in empire Ethiopia and the city that burned down the Pentecostal church in late 1960s is now dominated by Pentecostalism.
Mean time, the Orthodox church is losing it's compass in Oromia and it is in the midst of the storm that is drifting it off the course day by day. As a result, it stands no more as the Oromo identity anchor unlike it's past glorious years, and it no longer continues to grow across Oromia. Evidence shows that the Orthodox church now survives within a particular places such as north central Oromia and in Finfinnee city. Even then, it's retirement date is approaching as the Oromo youth slowly rejecting it and start practicing the Original Oromo religion, Waaqeffanna.
Faced with many changes and setbacks that are now increasingly becoming the norm rather than the exception, the Orthodox church growth is not accelerating as it use to be because of the spread of Islam, Pentecostalism and because of the explosion of thousands of "made in America" religions. The disintegration of the Orthodox church also shows the death of the Amhara nationalism, especially as the globalized western cultures are undermining its values while demolishing it's false principles directly linked to White saints worshiping practices.
It is also important to note that ethnic minorities in empire Ethiopia have played a key role in the spread of foreign religions. Members of these groups have often been the first to join the European religions for the same reason the Oromos joined Islam. Interestingly, like the Syrians and the Jordanians have abandoned Christianity and converted to Islam, now the Gondares and Gojames are moving away from the Orthodox church and convert into Pentecostalism, thanks to a well organized propaganda machine employed by Western countries phscologists.
Further more, as the Oromo people become aware that what ought to be dear to them is not what they have borrowed but their own ancestors religious and cultural values, we can certainly anticipate some exciting and wonderful opportunities for the return of Oromummaa. Now, the truth has been erected some what partially, no unhallowed hand can stop the development of Oromummaa even when the Tigrean persecutions rage across Oromia. The Greek, the Russian and the Abyssinians Orthodox congregations may combine, the Agazii armies may assemble, the Tigrean puppets installed as prime minister and president may defame Oromummaa as narrow nationalism, but the truth will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it penetrates every ignorant's heart and sounded in everyone's ear.
The return of Oromummaa
Since the Abyssinians incorporated Oromia into empire Ethiopia in early 1900s, more than 14 decades have passed. That means, the Oromo people have had nearly 140 years to observe what it means to lose self respect caused by the lose of their identity. Nonetheless, despite the persecution and the opposition it faced all along, Oromummaa survived amid all the hangings that have raged, and amid all the ridiculing, the insulting and the defamation they had to endure.
During these trying times, many of the missions launched by the Europeans and the Arabs benefited greatly causing some Oromos to finally gave up on themselves and join the philosophy that arrived from Arabia and Europe. Lacking the necessary knowledge on how to deal with these new immigrating religious values, those who surrendered early on helped both Christianity and Islam to yield a foothold in Oromia and elsewhere in empire Ethiopia. However, the 1974 revolution has helped the Oromo identity to revive at limited degree even when many seem uninterested to hear about their identity. Despite all these however, very few men and women worked diligently and helped all those who were discouraged to realize that it is possible to turn the key of true revolution. As the result, Oromummaa is slowly ascending out of the steepest slopes of the Habasha defamation.
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