During the military Derg regime of the ‘70s and ‘80s, when the motto of the day was “Everything to the Warfront,” Abitew Kebede, a prominent Afaan Oromo singer and song writer of the era was serving in the army. Abitew’s song Yannikoo, Afaan Oromo for ‘my thoughts’, which he wrote for his mother, first came out in the ‘80s and became an instant hit.
Oromo music has played a central role in providing alternative spaces for enunciating ‘the Oromo question’.
On June 4, 2015, renowned Oromo artist Haacaaluu Hundeessaa released an intoxicating single track, Maalan Jiraa. The song condenses within itself the story of the Oromo people with impeccable acuity, waltzing between stories of pain and pride, hope and despair. Full of anguish and self-doubt, Maalan Jira is a powerful probe into the modern Oromo condition and illustrated the complex dilemma facing the Oromo nation and its struggle for political emancipation.
Professor Donald N. Levine (June 16, 1931 – April 4, 2015), affectionately known to the greater Ethiopian community as Gash Liben Gebre Etyopiya, was a man I was graced to call my professor, and then also a mentor, and finally also a cherished father-friend. It is with immense gratitude and admiration that I offer these reflections on the kind of man and the quality of mind that I encountered in Gash Liben over the eight years that I studied and worked with him.