Gumii Paarlaamaa Oromoo (GPO)
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Who was Tilahun Gasasaa?
By Idaoo boruu
Tilahun Gessesse Negussie's original name was Ayyaano Guddata. I met Daandanaa Ayyaano Guddata in year 1963. The place was Bella Haile-Sellassie, the Imperial Body Guards (Ye Kibri Zebenya Hospital, at Guchii (Sagon)) Division in Finfinnee/Shagaar. He was in full IBG military uniform standing at the gate.
I saw Daandanaa (Tilahun) again after he allowed us into the hospital standing with Captain Sahile Dagago of Illu Abbabor and chatting in Afaan Oromo. Of course, I heard about him before too that he was a singer from Ammayya. My visual knowledge of Daandanaa/Tilahun at first glance did not give me sufficient knowledge about him except an impression with his physical appearance - a handsome guy with good physical stature.
Towards a Better Knowledge and Understanding of his story...
My Knowledge of Daandanaa Ayyaano Guddata in his native home
–Ammayya aka Torban Ammayyaa was one year later after
our first encounter at Bella Haile-Sellassie IBG Hospital. The next
better opportunity to know Daandanaa without military uniform
and this time more closely starts on Xirr 11/1957 EC. The day
was Thursday. The place was Gindo, the capital city of
To be precise, the route was this: From Woliso to Woncii, crossed
Ejersa Waangaa, Cittuu, Leemman, Qoliit Guddaa and Qoliit Xinna
rivers, finally we crossed
MEETING DAANDANAA “SHUBBISAA (vocalist/crooner)”
(At Gindo and Tullu Bollo he was known by the nickname Shubbisaa). January 11, 1957 was a special day in Gindo. It was lawless, disorderly, and every one was free to fight, to hit heads with dulla, to drink, to shout. Gun firings were sporadically heard in the suburbs of Gindo. There were many groups of women, men, and also of mixed gender dancing squads everywhere. The dominant one with countless crowds of gatherings was around Daandanaa Ayyaano. That was the day, and the time, I knew that the renowned artist was from Ammaya, to be precise, was born of Torban Ammayya clan of Oromo nation at a place called Gannato.
To make the matter short and come to the main point, Daanadanaa
Ayyanoo was born at
How did Daanadanaa Ayyanoo become Tilahun Gessesse?
Bal. Gessesse Negussee was a mikitil woreda gazh in Ammayya at the time Daandanaa (Tilahun) was a school boy at Gindo, the capital of Ammaya. He was christened by his God-father, Ato Asres Eshete who was the mayor of Gindo. Mr. Tesfaye Eshete, the first director of Ammyya elementary school who was the brother of Asres Eshete changed Dandanaa’s name to Tilahun. Before DAANDANAA (Tilahun) even finished his elementary school education his mother divorced from Ayyaano Guddataa. Ms. Geexee fled Ammayya as many divorcee women do, due to stigma and in search of freedom and new life. They say, Geexee Gurmu fled to Tullu Bollo and remarried to Mr.Asafa Fiixaa (later killed by the Derg), where Daandana was able to attend school and completed 4th grade. The marriage did not last long as Asafa Fiixaa had a land dispute with Ms. Askala Garedew’s land agent and in an incident of a shoot out, Ato Kurabachew Redda was said to have been shot by Asefa Fiixaa.
Subsequent to this incident, the first step-father of Daandana, Mr.
Asafa lost his legal case and eloped to the forest to be a shifta because
of the unfairness of the Kangaroo courts and justice system of
As they new each other in Ammaya Bal/Gessesse offered Daandanaa’s mother, Ms. Geexee, a job at his TAJJ BET. For the next three consecutive years, the mother and the son worked for him under the management of Ms. SIMEGN BIZUNEH, Bal. Gessesse’s only and legal wife known in wolliso and elsewhere. While working there Daandanaa was liked by the family as good worker. His mother pleaded to Bal. Gessesse to help Daandana go to school. The Bal. Gessesse allowed Daandanaa to go to school this time at Ras Gobana Dachii elementary school. Daandanaa’s name too was change for the third time and this time fully to Tilahun Gessesse.: First from Daandanaa Ayyaano, then Daandanaa Asafaa, and finally TILAHUN GESSESSE at Ras Gobana elementary school. Daandana was unable to attend school as life became miserable and harsh. In the month of October as usual, three Colonels were every year deployed to Ambo (then Col Jagama Kello Garo, today’s Gen Jaagamaa); to Woliso, Col. Angaagawu Haile Gobana of Baantuu (today’s Gen Angagawu); and, to Fiichee/Salaale Col. Haile WoldeGiyorgis Hirpo (Today’s Gen. Haile.).
In a continuous yearly raid on young Oromos to build Abyssinian
marauding army, and necessitated by the worsening economic situation
in the south as a result of native land deprivation, poverty
stricken Daandanaa aka Tilahun like all other Oromo youths of poor
farmers joined the Abyssinian army as a foot soldier and was sent to
Xabaaseen, Tegulat and Bulga Awuraja, Debre Berehan city to be
trained by the then commander of the 17th Imperial body Guard
Division-the late Col. Gebeyehu Duubee from Gimbi (died in August
1975 EC. At Bella Haile Haile-Sellassie later renamed
Contrary to the erroneous story among the Abyssinian circles, Daandana was not first employed by Hager Fiqir which did not even exist at the time Daandanaa joined the Imperial Body Guard’ Infantry Division. His employment by Hager Fiqir Theatre was 12 years after Daandanaa aka Tilahun served the IBG’s Musical band.
In early 1960, he was the only one invited to a high school graduation ceremonies in Shaggar/Finfinnee and always sung, however unrecorded, Oromo songs. Not as some people from the Oromo NTIONALISTS try to portray DAANDANAA as AMHARANIZED individual. To site one example, Daandanaa/Tilahun was invited to a graduation ceremony at Shimelis Habte Comprehensive secondary school in 1962 EC. The then president of the student council, the late Taye Morodaa (whose brother now works for the WORLD BANK in WDC) of Mulo invited him. The first music was in Oromo in praise of a Maruu Oromo local hero- a ‘shifta’ or outlaw by the Abyssinian version:
Baallami yaa gurraacha kicha
Maal wol hiikta Maarun tokkicha
Duutin haftu yaa Hinjigu kallacha
It was at this time that the then high school student councils of
Finfinnee: Taye Moroda of Shimelis Habte (later fled to Sudan and
returne home after the revolution and subsequently killed by the
DARG at Solee Wood Factory of Ras Tafarians (Jamican) center in
Shashaamanne); Abbomaa Mitiku Waaqo of Tafari Mekonnen (OLF founding
member, killed in the battle field by the Somali and Darg agents);
Dacho Gobana of Kokebe Tsebah, later of Prince Mekonnin (killed by
the Darg Qabale in 1977); Makonnin Bayisaa- brother of Dr Magarsaa
Baayisaa fled to Sudan, returned in 1975 and killed by the Darg
Qabalee, H.18, K.54 in 1978); Berehane W/Michael Kallacho of
Medihane Alem high school later of Kolfe Comprehensive H. S (killed
by the Darg Qabalee at K8, H25 in 1978) Fikadu Urgeessaa worra Gajja
of Nifas Silk Comprehensive H.S (now at Qaalitti prison under
Woyyaanee regime) and other Oromo students especially of Kokebe
Tsebah and Shimellis Habte in mass participation were beaten by
police when the grad ceremony turned into emotional situation. ON
THIS OCCASION, DAANDANAA/TILAHUN WAS LUCKY, HE GOT A BEAUTIFUL
ADAREE WIFE, BUT KNOWN IN Biblical paradigm as DELILAH whose true
name was Juhara Yosuf. That was prior to his next Amhara wife, who
was followed by the
Later in 1963 EC when the first mass graduation of Oromo students of Finfinnee High school enrollment in imperial history due to the GREAT JOB done by the WELL KNOWN OROMO EDUCATOR, the LATE Mr. GUDDATA MAMMO (who taught renowned Oromos like Dr Tilahun Gamta, Attny Goshu Wolde and others) graduated, the late DAANDANAA Ayyaano and Mrs. Bizunesh Bekele were the only artists who accepted the invitation to their hearts content and made the grad ceremonies beautiful with Oromo and Amharic music. Other artists turned down the invitation preferring to go to weddings of dignitaries at big hotels. Mrs. Bizunesh Bekele was also the only one who showed up as promised to Nefas Silk high school grad cermenoy after five others reneged on their promise.
Mohammud Ahmed-the renowned Guraagee artist, was also cooperative in many occasions especially for his performance at Menelik H. S in 1963 E.C after other three who promised to come never showed up. In 1963 EC., when Daandanaa/Tilahun was invited to the PMS (Prince Mekonnen High School) the school was engulfed in frictions between the Islamic student union and the Orthodox Christian students and on the other hand between the Oromo students Drama and Theatre Club led by Tarekeng Badhaasaa and Mulugeta Dhaabaa sponsored by the director, Mr. Guddata Maammo and Dr Dejene Arado of AAU university.
The grad ceremony was divided and a separate date was set without
the school’s approval. THREE CONTENDING PARTIES: The ISLAMIC Club of
Tahaa Mubarak (later Killed by the Darg and Kelil Ibrahim (now
professor of Islamic Affairs in
On that occasion, Daandanaa sung NOT A SINGLE AMHARIC SONG as Daacho Gobanaa announced that the graduation ceremony first in Afaan Oromo then repeated in Amharic stating that was sadly enough the graduation ceremony was divided by the chauvinist machination. Out of a total of about 2500 student, 515 participants as per ticket sales were presented. Guests that were not ticketed were not counted. Of course, there were male friends, female fiends, families of graduating class, Indian teachers organized by the Chemistry teacher, Mr. P. Kush and Oromo Ethiopian teachers as organized by Baayisaa Abbaa Wollo, Maths teacher and Dr Dereje Arado, who is at AAU now, then records head of the high school under the director, the late Guddata Mamo, Vice director, GEN. Amin Hannah of WAFDIST EMMIGRE during Jamal Abdul-Naser’s Egyptian Revolution, and the 4th Police Station of Finfinnee security police sent by the then Maj. Yadate Gurmuu (later Gen. Yadate Gurmu of Finfinnee Police Head Qrt).
When Daandanaa/Tilhun and Buzunesh completed their performance the remaining performance was overtaken by Fiqaaduu Urgeessa of Worra GAJJAA from Awash Malkaa Qunxuurree of Aabbbu clan. Unfortunately, we never expected organized hit gangs who on their own accord boycotted the grad ceremony were outside waiting to attack those who left the school yard after the show. The security guards never informed us of this possible incident.
On leaving the school compound Daandanaa (Tilahun) was meted out with rains of stones and suffered stone beating from behind the school fence. The gangs spared Aadde Bizunesh Bekele. Daandanaa/Tilahun sheltered himself in the business premises of the late Mr. Tadesse Argawu (killed by EPRP in December1977) Patrice Limumba Photo shop just in front of PMS.
Two police officers living near by the school: Crpl. Gizawu Hordofaa
(now works for Ameuchi Metal Works co.) and Crpl. Shuumii Nagaa
(killed by EPRP at H6 K.11 in 1978) who were both in uniform just
leaving their post of duty opened fire on the mob and spared
Daandanaa’s life. Daandanaa was taken to Gen. Tadesse Gabree
Hordofaa’s house that was just across from the school and then the
kind general ordered his son Solomon Tadesse who just returned from
American Field Service stay in the
Some of the malicious police officers who were deployed to keep
peace and order who undoubtedly were ill informed about the division
on the graduation ceremony and other matters within the school
connived with the violent hooligans’ acts and were enjoying music
inside the hall. DAANDANAA/Tilhaun suffered GBI at the hands of the
chauvinist disorderly thugs. Regardless, he participated in the next
graduation ceremony of
At the TTS, although the graduation ceremony went amicably unlike the one at PMS, Daandana sung Oromo and Amharic songs sparingly. In short, seen from his cultural activities at his school age in Gindo, Ammayya and later in the IBG division, DAANDANAA was not a person who sold his identity beyond the pressure and enforced norms of the social and class system under which he lived. He was just acculturated like most of us and if those are things to be accused of, then all of us is guilty of not being overtly in defense of our own cultural and natural rights as Oromos.
Hence, DAANDANAA AYYAANO/Tilahun Gessesse does not deserve any attacks neither from the Oromo Diaspora who accuse him of selling his identity nor the wanton distortion of his ethnic origin and natural identity from the Abyssinian circles who, knowingly or unknowingly, strive to de-Oromonize him and claim that any thing good done in that wretched country is the works/achievements of Abyssinian origin.
Finally, I wish to reiterate my ode to Daandanaa Ayyano Gudetta aka Tilhun Gessesse Negusse:
1. As the source of information, Primarily I am personally indebted to Ayyaantuu website for letting me know about the untimely death of the celebrated/renowned Oromo/ Ethiopian artist Dr. (Hon.) Tilahun Gessesse Negussee (born Daandanaa Ayano Guddataa).
2. By the same token, I appreciate the stellar tribute made by Ethiopians all over the world. It is heart –wrenching and poignant.
3. However, the purpose of my article is to all intents and purposes, is to express my condolence to the families and friends of the beloved artist and set the record straight The lies concocted by those Abyssinians in their warped vision that they want to write him a false birth certificate, as an Amhara. Far from it, he was a full blooded Oromo nothing more, nothing less!!
DAANDANAA/Tilahun Gessesse Jeenatni Kee Nagaan Haa Ciisu
MAY DAANDANAA Ayyaano/ Tilahun Gessesse’s soul REST IN PEACE!
MAY THE ALMIGHT GOD COMFORT FAMILIES, FRIENDS, AND FANS OF DAANDANAA AYYAANO GUDDATA AKA TILAHUN GESSESSE NEGUSSE!!
Idaoo can be reached at email@example.com
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