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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)

Categories: City Journal
  1. April 4, 2009 at 9:09 am

    Really exist a etnic conflic in Ethiopia? Are the oromo pople discriminated? Some of my ethiopina firends tell me that in the past dont exist this conflict, but exist with this government. I dont know what really happens.
    Anyway. I answer We must destroy a book with untrue issues?

  2. setit
    April 4, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    People who claim to stand for democracy need to understand that they cannot forcefully push away ideas they don’t like just on that basis alone. If Aba Bahrey or Professor Getachew wrote distorted accounts of Oromo history, too bad. You read the book. You write a commentary about it or even a book to show what is wrong with it. You don’t ask that the book be gotten rid of. That is just backward.

  3. April 4, 2009 at 11:00 pm

    I read and appreciate your blog. Please, contact us; I would like be in touch, when we move to Addis in the late summer.

  4. April 5, 2009 at 8:07 am

    Dear Anatoly
    Thanks for reading my blog. Many apologies for the delays. I just sent you an e-mail
    I hope to be in touch.

  5. Juru
    April 5, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Prof. Andreas Eshete is a failed leader in AAU who’s screwing the instituation to please politicians. He has been dragging the future leaders to hell for so long. Shame on him!

  6. bitew
    April 5, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    It is their write not to read a book that they believe is destorted. But, It is undemocratic to deny others who want to read that book. It is a shame to the university professor who failed to tell them that their action was wrong.

  7. Selamawit Bekele
    April 13, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    We cannot change history because we don’t like what was written by an eyewitness accounts of the time. If we do that then let’s take all the historical records that are not to our liking and burn them. People have the right to correct what they believe to be untrue and provide rebuttal. In this case the protestors not only try to take away the rights of others to read the book but also turn upside down the democractic concept they believe have origins in Oromo. What happened in this case will not go away because people protested the sale of the book but will invite others to buy it from other sources and read it. Where is the Woyane democracy that people make a big deal of it?


  1. April 7, 2009 at 3:44 pm

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