Interview

“I wrote it with the purpose of unfolding the history of Oromo legends” Author Zufan Urga

A book titled “Dannaanee hanga Finfinne” meaning “From Denane to Finfinne’ outlining Brigadier General Tadesse Biru’s biography was published and launched last October on the 100th year birthday commemoration ceremony of the general, one of the most celebrated Oromo heroes.

The author of the book, Zufan Urga, was born and raised in Addis Abeba. Zufan is an entrepreneur in the publishing and advertising industry and runs a company called “Bale Printing and Advertising.” Besides her publishing works, she is also an expert in web design and advertising.

After her book was inaugurated in the presence of senior politicians, including Shimelis Abdissa, President of Oromia regional State, Addis Standard’s Getahun Legesse managed interview Zufan about her book.

Excerpts

Addis Standard: What genre is your book? And tell us about its gist.

Zufan: The book is a history book as it narrates the life of Birg. Gen. Tadesse Biru. It recounts his life history from the start to the end. The primary purpose of the book is recounting the untold stories of Oromo heroes. It tries to rewrite the intentionally buried and systematically neglected history of the Oromo. And to serve as a stepping stone for further research and criticism. Again, I believe that readers can learn resilience and commitment from the life of Birg. Gen Tadesse Biru.

Addis Standard: How did the idea of writing the book came, and why General Taddese Biru?

Zufan: Actually, I had a long dream of writing history of Oromo heroes. However, I apparently wrote Tadesse’s as I was advised by a man called Hunde Kebede while I was on a trip to North Shewa Zone. I believe that there are plenty other heroes whose history should be inked. And I have a plan to do so. However, there was a fear of failure inside me. I also questioned my ability to complete the book, but I developed confidence after I writing the book. I spent about a year planning how to write the book. Secondly, there are lots of giants in the history of Oromo. It is confusing which to select. I completed the book in five years.

“…[Tadesse Biru] wished to give education to the Oromo people and he worked to expand schools. He has understood the value of education in enlightening a given society.”Zufan

AS: What does the title of the book ‘From Denane to Finfinne’ comprehend?

Zufan: Denane is a place where Tadesse Biru was imprisoned by Italian forces in Somalia when he was 14 years old. It is a place where he started struggle. Finfinne [Addis Ababa’s Afaan Oromo name] is a place where he completed his struggle. The title of the book is taken from this journey of General Tadesse.

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AS: Tells us then about General Tadesse Biru, How do you describe him?

Zufan: General Tadesse is a personality with greater concern for his nation. He has the ambition to resolve societal problems and strive to achieve it as well. For instance, he wished to give education to the Oromo people and he worked to expand schools. He has understood the value of education in enlightening a given society. He believed that an educated person can be independent and confident. I was also inspired by Tadesse’s history and started to focus on expanding schools. Oromo scholars can derive a lesson from the commitment of Tadesse Biru and decide to serve and support their community. One can also learn how to develop confidence in ones culture and tradition.

AS: What witnesses and sources did you used?

Zufan: First of all, I went to Tadesse’s birthplace to reach out to people who personally knew him well. I have interviewed friends and colleagues of him. All the witnesses are coworkers. I also had access to documents from embassies [in Addis Abeba] and different files from heritage centers. I was also able to obtain his personal diary. Thus, all I wrote the book based on reliable sources.

AS: In how many languages is your book available?

Zufan: Currentlyit is available in two languages – Afaan Oromo and Amharic. I also have a plan to provide a copy in English language.

“…the first problem was my self-critic. I had doubt about my ability to complete this book.”

AS: What are the challenges you faced in making the book?

Zufan: The first problem was my self-critic. I had doubt about my ability to complete this book. Secondly, shortage of sources as the materials written on the history of Oromo are limited in number.

AS: Who the distributor of the book?

Zufan: Currently, General Tadesse Biru Foundation is the sole distributor of the book.

AS: What things does the General Tadesse Biru Foundation do?

Zufan: the foundation mainly focuses on education. In addition, it hosts events such as running race, question and answer competition among students, photo gallery, and so on. It focuses on educating women, training teachers and distribution of clean water. Currently, we are working to expanding our services. We are constructing schools in the birthplace of General Tadesse Biru. We are committed to completing the projects under way.

AS: Lastly, do you have any message you wish to comprehend?

Zufan: I urge everyone to serve his/her community in the knowledge and skill he/she has. May I also urge others to support our foundation technically and financially and stand with our foundation. Anyone can contribute his/her skill, knowledge and property.

AS: Thank you.

Zufan: Thank you, too.

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