Book prompts campus protest
Hundreds of Addis Ababa University’s Oromo students protested against the sale of a book which they said was a “distorted” history of the Oromos at the book fair being held at Sidist Kilo campus.
The students on Wednesday morning boycotted class and gathered in front of the University president’s office to protest the book by Prof. Getachew Haile which contains works and analysis of Abba Bahriy, an Ethiopian Christian monk who wrote about the history of the Oromos in 1593.
The students said that the book is “a gross distortion that defames the history of the Oromos” and asked it be removed from the fair where it has been on sale starting from March 25.
The student’s representative talked to Prof. Andreas Eshete, who reportedly told them that he was sorry and agreed to assess the complaints against the book and take necessary steps.
Shortly after the protest, the book was removed from the booth where it has been on display.The book that triggered this protest is a new editon and translation into Amharic and English of the work, Zenahu le-Galla, a Geez study of Oromo society and Oromo migartion into central Ethiopia in the sixtenth century.A brief description of the book states that the author of the text, the monk Abba Bahriy, was an eye witness to this migration and himself fled homeland of Gamo when the Oromo overran and destroyed it.
Professor Donald Levine writing the introduction for another editon of Abba Bahriy’s book said that it is a text “that harbor’s biased and perhaps offensively pejorative statements which today’s critical readers have little difficulty putting into context as well as errors due to lack of information which subsequent scholarship corrected.” But it is also “a text that provides our first written documentation, for example, of the fundamental division of Oromo society into all-encompassing moieties (Known then as the Borana and the Bareytuma) and of the remarkable gada system of governance as well as the ritual character of the butta wars which formed the medium of Oromo expansion, ’ according to Prof. Levine.
( In the picture. Prof. Andreas and other participants at the launch of the book fair on March 25)