የካቲት 12 ቀን 1929 ዓ.ም. በማርሻል ግራዚያኒ ላይ የተፈጸመው የቦንብ ጥቃትና የአርበኛነት ተጋድሎ ሲነሳ ቀድመው የሚታወሱት የኤርትራ ጠቅላይ ግዛት ተወላጆቹ አብርሃ ደሞጭና ሞገስ አስገዶም፤ ግፋ ካለም የሐረርጌው አማራ ሰምዖን አደፍርስ ብቻ ናቸው። በተለይም በዘመነ ደርግ ሻዕብያና ጀብሀ የተባሉ ተገንጣዮችን ትርክት በፕሮፓጋንዳ ለመብለጥ ሲባል የአብርሃ ደቦጭና ሞገስ አስገዶም ስም የኤርትራ ተወላጆች ለኢትዮጵያዊነታቸው መስዕዋትነት የከፈሉ መሆናቸውን ለማሳየት እንደ አብነት እየተደጋገመ በየ መድረኩ ይወሳ ነበር። እርግጥ ነው እልቆ ቢስ የባሕረ ነጋሽ ልጆች ለኢትዮጵያዊነታቸው መስዕዋትነት ከፍለዋል። በዚህ ረገድ የጥቁር አንበሳው ጠቅላይ አዛዥ ሰማዕቱ ሌ/ኮሎኔል በላይ ኃይለአብ ቀዳዊው ተጠቃሽ ነው።
ሆኖ ግን በደርግ ዘመን እንደዋዛ የተጀመረው እነ አብርሃ ደቦጭና ሞገስ አስገዶምን የካቲት 12 በግራዚያኒ ላይ የተካሄደውን ጥቃት የመሩና ያቀናበሩ የተደረጉበት ታሪክ በግራዚያኒ ላይ የተካሄደውን የግድያ ሙከራ ያመነጩት፣ የመሩትና እቅዱን ያወጡት መታሰቢያ የታሪኩ ዋና ባለቤት የሆኑትን አርበኛ ውለታ የሚያስረሳ ስለሆነ መስተካከል ይኖርበታል።
በማርሻል ግራዚያኒ ላይ የተካሄደውን ኦፕሬሽን የጠነሰሱት፣ ለዚህ ኦፕሬሽን የማርሻል ሩዶልፎ ግራዚያኒ ኦፊሰር የነበረውን አብርሃ ደሞጭና የግራዚያኒ አስተርጓሚ የነበረውን ሞገስ አስገዶምን የመለመሉት፤ ጥቃቱን እንዲፈጽሙ የተመለመሉት እነ አብርሃ ደቦጭና ሞገስ አስገዶም ጥቃቱን ከፈጸሙ በኋላ ለዋሉት ውለታ የሚገባቸውን ለመክፈል ያሳመኑትና ከአዲስ አበባ ተሰውረው ወደ ሱዳን የሚሄዱበትን እቅድም ያወጡት በወቅቱ በነበራቸው ሥልጣን በጅሮንድ ኋላ ላይ በደረሱበት ማዕረግ ደግሞ ደጃዝማች የነበሩት ጀግናው አርበኛ ለጥ ይበሉ ገብሬ ናቸው።
ደጃዝማች ለጥ ይበሉ ገብሬ በሸዋ ጠቅላይ ግዛት በመርሐ ቤቴ አውራጃ አፍቀራ አምባ ማናለሽ ቀበሌ በ1885 ዓ.ም. የተወለዱ ሲሆን ከጥሊያን ወረራ በፊት የንጉሠ ነገሥቱ መንግሥት በጅሮንድ ነበሩ።
በግራዚያኒ ላይ የተካሄደውን የግድያ ኦፕሬሽር የመሩት ደጃዝማች ለጥ ይበሉ ገብሬ የግድያ ሙከራውን ያቀናበሩት ጀኔቭ የነበሩት ቀዳማዊ ኃይለ ሥላሴ በግራዚያኒ ላይ ጥቃት እንዲፈጽሙ ባስተላለፉላቸው ትዕዛዝ መሰረት ነው።
እደግመዋለሁ! በማርሻል ግራዚያኒ ላይ ቦንብ የመጣልና ግራዚያኒን የመግደል ሐሳብ የተጠነሰሰው በንጉሠ ነገሥቱ በቀዳማዊ ኃይለ ሥላሴ ነው። ታሪኩ እንዲህ ነው!
ከማይጨው ሽንፈት በኋላ ንጉሠ ነገሥቱ ጀኔቭ ሄደው የኢትዮጵያውያንን አቤቱታ በመንግሥታቱ ማኅበር ፊት በየጊዜው እየቀረቡ ለማሰማት እንዲችሉ 15 የንጉሡ ረዳቶች፣ አገረ ገዢዎችና ሚኒስትሮች በጉባኤ ወሰኑ በሗላ ንጉሡ ጀኔቭ አቅንተው (በተለይም ፋሽስት ጣሊያን አዲስ አበባን ከተቆጣጠረ በኋላ) የገጠማቸው ትልቁ ፈተና፣ ፋሽስት ጥሊያን ኢትዮጵያን ሙሉ በሙሉ ስለተቆጣጠረች የመንግሥታቱ ማኅበር ውስጥ የነበረው የኢትዮጵያ ወንበር ለጥሊያን ተላልፎ መሰጠት አለበት የሚለው የአባል ሀገራቱ ውሳኔ ነበር።
በዚህ ጊዜ ኢትዮጵያ በሊግ ኦፍ ኔሽን የነበራት የአባልነት ወንበር ለፋሽስቶቹ ተላልፎ እንዳይሰጥ ለማድረግ ንጉሠ ነገሥቱ የነበራቸው አንድ አማራጭ አዲስ አበባን የተቆጣጠረውን የፋሽስት መሪ በመግደል የኢትዮጵያ አርበኞች አዲስ አበባን መልሰው ለመያዝ በመዋጋት ላይ መኾናቸውን ለማኅበሩ በማሳወቅና በገጠሩ የኢትዮጵያ ክፍል ብቻ ሳይኾን በዋና ከተማዋ በአዲስ አበባ ውስጥም አርበኞች ትግል ላይ እንደኾኑ ጥሊያን ኢትዮጵያን ሙሉ በሙሉ ተቆጣጥራ እየገዛች አለመኾኗን ማሳየት ነበረባቸው።
ባጭሩ ንጉሠ ነገሥቱ በዋና ከተማቸው ላይ እንዲደረግ ያሰቡትን ጉልህ ተጋድሎ ለዓለም በማሳየት ኢትዮጵያ በጀኔቭ የነበራት ወንበር ለፋሽስቶች ተላልፎ እንዳይሰጥ ለመከራከር ሲሉ ነበር የካቲት 12 ቀን 1929 ዓ.ም. በኢጣሊያ ንጉሣዊ ቤተሰብ አንድ ልዑል መወለዱን ምክንያት በማድረግ በግራዚያኒ ትእዛዝ በቀድሞው የገነተ ልዑል ቤተ መንግሥት (የአሁኑ አዲስ አበባ ዩኒቨርስቲ ቅጽር ግቢ) በተዘጋጀው የድግስ ፕሮግራም ላይ የሚገኙ የፋሽስት ከፍተኛ ሹማምንት በሙሉ እንዲገደሉ በውጭ ጉዳይ ሚንስትራቸው በብላቴን ጌታ ኅሩይ ወልደ ሥላሴ በኩል ወደ አዲስ አበባ ትእዛዝ ያስተላለፉት። [ ምንጭ፡ Campbell, I. (2007). "Yekatit" 12 Revisited: new light on the strike against Graziani. Journal of Ethiopian Studies, 40 (1/2), 135-154; Page 142]
ይኽንን በፋሽስት ከፍተኛ ሹማምንት ላይ የታቀደውን የግድያ ኦፕሬሽን እንዲያስፈጽሙ የታዘዙት ደግሞ አዲስ አበባ ውስጥ የነበሩት ደጃዝማች ለጥይበሉ ገብሬ ነበሩ። ልብ በሉ! ትእዛዙን ወደ ደጃዝማች ለጥይበሉ ገብሬ በጽሑፍ የላኩት ከንጉሠ ነገሥቱ ጋር በጀኔቭ አብረዋቸው የነበሩት የወቅቱ የውጭ ጉዳይ ሚኒስትር ብላቴን ጌታ ኅሩይ ወልደ ሥላሴ ናቸው። [ምንጭ፡ ዝኒ ከማሁ]
ብዙ ሰው አብርሃ ደቦጭና ሞገስ አስገዶም ከየካቲት 12 ቀን 1929 ዓ.ም. በፊት በዱር በገደሉ ሲንከራተቱ የነበሩ አርበኞች ይመስሉታል፤ ይህ ስህተት ነው። አብርሃ ደቦጭ ከወረራው በፊት ከተፈሪ መኮንን ትምህርት ቤት ከተመረቀ በኋላ አዲስ አበባ ውስጥ ሲኖር ለጥሊያን መንግሥት ሲሰልል ተገኝቶ በሀገር ክዳት ተፈርዶበት ግራዚያኒ አዲስ አበባን እስኪቆጣጠር ድረስ በእስር ላይ የነበረ ሰው ነው። ግራዚያኒ አዲስ አበባ ሲገባ በስለላ ሲያገለግለው የነበረው የፋሽስት አገዛዝ ከእስር እንዲወጣ አድርጎት መጀመሪያ የዲቦኖ በመቀጠል የግራዚያኒ የፖለቲካ አማካሪ ኾኖ ተሾመ። ሞገስ አስገዶም ደግሞ የግራዚያኒ አስተርጓሚ የነበረ ታማኝ አገልጋይ ነበር። ሞገስና አብርሀም ንጉሠ ነገሥቱ ላቀዱት አላማ የታጩት በወዳቻቸቸው በተለይም የትምህርት ቤት ጓደኛቸው በነበረው የበጌምድሩ አርበኛ በስብሐት ጥሩነህና በሐረርጌው አማራ በስምኦን አደፈርስ ታማኝ የፋሽስት ጣሊያን ታማኝ አገልጋዮች እያሉ ነው።
በዚህ ኹኔታ በስብሐት ጥሩነህ የተመለመሉት እነ አብርሃ ደቦጭና ሞገስ አስገዶም ፊታቸውን እየተሸፈኑ በመግባት ስለ ኦፕሬሽኑ ሥልጠና ይሰጣቸው የነበረው በመርሃቤቴው አርበኛ በደጃዝማች ለጥይበሉ ቤት ውስጥ ነበር። አብርሃ ደቦጭና ሞገስ አስገዶም የቦንብ ጥቃት የፈጸሙ ዕለት (የካቲት 12 ቀን 1929 ዓ.ም) መነሻቸው የደጃዝማች ለጥ ይበሉ ቤት ነበር። [ምንጭ ዝኒ ከማሁ ገጽ 141] ከዚህ በተጨማሪ በግራዚያኒ ላይ የተወረወረውን ቦንብ የገዙትና ለአብርሃና ሞገስ እንዴት እንደሚፈታ አሰልጥነው የሰጧቸው ታላቁ አርበኛ ደጃዝማች ለጥይበሉ ገብሬ ናቸው። [ምንጭ ፡ Greenfield, R. (1965). Ethiopia፡ a New Political History. FA Praeger; ገጽ 240]
ደርግ ግን ንጉሡንና ደጃዝማች ለጥ ይበሉ ገብሬን ማውገዝ እንጅ በባለታሪክነት መጥቀስ ስለማይፈልግ አስራ ሰባት ዓመታት ሙሉ እነ አብርሃ ደቦጭና ሞገስ አስገዶምን ሲያስታውስ ሲከርም በግራዚያኒ ላይ ጥቃት እንዲፈጸም ትዕዛዝ የሰጡትን ቀዳማዊ ኃይለ ሥላሴንና ጥቃቱን ያስፈጸሙትን ደጃዝማች ለጥ ይበሉ ገብሬን ስለውለታቸው አንድም ቀን እንኳ ስማቸውን ጠርቶ በበጎ አስታውሷቸው አያውቅም። ከደርግ በኋላ የመጡት ፋሽስቶችም የቀጠሉት ደርግ በጀመረው መንገድ ነው።
ልብ በሉ! ደጃዝማች ለጥ ይበሉ ገብሬ በግራዚያኒ ላይ ለመፈጸም ያቀዱትን ጥቃት ለማድረስ በወዳጃቸው በሰምዖን አደፍርስ አማካኝነት የመለመሏቸው አብርሃ ደቦጭና ሞገስ አስገዶም በግራዚያኒ ላይ ቦንብ ለመጣል የታጩት በወቅቱ የግራዚያኒ የማይጠረጠሩ ታማኝ አገልጋዮችና ግራዚያኒን ከሚቀርቡ ጥቂት የተማሩ ጥቁሮች መካከል ስለነበሩ እንጂ አርበኞች ስለነበሩ አይደለም። በኦፕሬሽኑ በመሳተፋቸውም ዳጎስ ያለ ገንዘብ በደጃዝማች ለጥ ይበሉ ገብሬ ተከፍሏቸዋል።
ደጃዝማች ለጥ ይበሉ ገብሬ በግራዚያኒ ላይ የተካሄደውን የግድያ ሙከራ ከመሩ በኋላ የእረኛ ልብስ ለብሰው ራሳቸውን በመቀየር ከአዲስ አበባ ስለወጡ ሳይገደሉ የቀሩና ቀሪውን የፋሽስት የወረራ ዘመን ከነራስ አበበ አረጋይ ጋር ሆነው በአርበኛነት ሲፋለሙ የቆዩ ከግራዚያኒ የግድያ ሙከራ ጋር ተያይዞ ስማቸው ከሚጠቀሱ አርበኞች መካከል በሕይዎት የተረፉ ብቸኛው ሰው ናቸው። [ምንጭ: Campbell, I. (2017). The Addis Ababa Massacre: Italy's National Shame. Oxford University Press; Page 243-248.]
እኒህ በግራዚያኒ ላይ የተካሄደውን የግድያ ሙከራ የመሩና ያቀናበሩት አርበኛ የሕይዎት ፍጻሜ የሆነው መንግሥቱ ንዋይና ግርማሜ ንዋይ የተባሉ የሰው ደም የተጠሙና የሰው ስጋ የተራቡ አውሬዎች በ1953 ዓ.ም. በካሄዱት የአርበኞች ፍጅት ነው። ከግራዚያኒና ከሙሶሎኒ ግድያ የተረፉት ጀግናው አርበኛ ደጃዝማች ለጥይበሉ ገብሬ «ለውጥ ለማምጣት ተነሳን» ባሉ ባገራቸው ልጆች በአዛውንት እድሜ ላይ ሳሉ በማረፊያቸው ታኅሣሥ 7 ቀን 1953 ዓ.ም. ያለ ፍርድ በግፍ ተረሸኑ። ከነመንግሥቱ ንዋይ እርድ የተረፉት የደጃዝማች ለጥ ይበሉ ገብሬ ጸረ ፋሽስት የትግል ጓዶች የሆኑት እነ ራስ መስፍን ስለሺና ደጃዝማች ፀሐዩ እንቁ ሥላሴ ደግሞ እነ መንግሥቱ ኃይለ ማርያም ያለ ፍርድ እጅ እያወጡ ፈጇቸው።
ዘላለማዊ ክብር የማይጠፋ ሥራ ሰርተው ላለፉ ለአይበገሬው ጀግና ለደጃዝማች ለጥ ይበሉ ገብሬ!
The provocation of the Fascist force which occurred in 1934 between the Kingdom of Italy and the Ethiopian Empire was used by Benito Mussolini as a pretext to invade Ethiopia. The case was brought to the attention of the League of Nations to censor the provocation but to no avail. According to H.E. Ato Tekle Stadik Mekuria, the famous historian, ironically the Italians rushed to the August assembly to complain to the League that Ethiopian forces have killed their soldiers and thus need to be compensated according to the following:
On the Ethiopian side, this outrageous demand was dismissed right away. The Ethiopian Government instead took a conciliatory move of resolving the problem through mediation, but the Italians planned to avenge the defeat it encountered at Adwa and was fully prepared to colonize Ethiopia. Instead the forces of Fascist Italy pursued with the undeclared war to invade Ethiopia through Korahe (Quorahee), where the gallant famous Ethiopian hero, Dejazmach Afework Wold Semait ,was defending the territorial integrity of his country. At the onslaught of the Fascist army, Umar Semter joined Afework Wold Semait in repulsing the invading enemy force until the enemy used a repeated airplane attacks and a mechanized force to force itself into the Ethiopian territory.
After the defeat of the Ethiopian force at Mai Chew and the retreat of the Ethiopian forces, the road to Addis Ababa for the Italians was unhindered and thus the Italians moved quickly over to Addis Ababa. That was the time when Ethiopians from all corners of the land created a group resistance force to engage the Italians in a guerrilla warfare. Umer Semter who had organized a force of his own was freely moving in the Ogaden and attacked the Fascist force at their posts. Against all odds he traveled in the territory and assembled able bodied Somali combatants much to the surprise of the enemy. Umar had amassed such a strong force that at one time moved to Gorbele where the enemy force had a strong fortification causing the death of many Italians.
Furthermore, Umar was left alone to engage the enemy at another Italian fortification of Al Buur. At Al Buur the Italian fortification had six battalions of force. Umar, seeing the strong force of the Italians retreated to assemble additional force to face the enemy squarely. It took him five months to be ready to engage the enemy. Umar in 1930(Eth.Cal) saw the strength of his force and proceeded to Al Buur and launched a lightening attack. The massive Italian force was incapacitated. He then moved to Shilabo. When the enemy heard his whereabout proceeded to Shilabo and opened fire on the force of Umar and a very fierce battle was conducted. In the hand-to-hand battle Umar fought heroically. Since the enemy force was big in number and well-equipped Umar decided to retreat to Gurlegube. At the war in Gurlegube Umar was wounded with six bullets. The Dejazmach was then not able to continue the war. He was taken to Hargeisa and later to Kenya who used to be under the British crown then and ended up in Britain for treatment. Dejazmach Umar stayed in London until the end of the war.
Thanks to the heroic Ethiopian Arbegnoch ( Freedom Fighters ), Ethiopia won the war in 1941 after five years of engagement . Upon his return to his motherland Umar was awarded the title of Dejazmach and bestowed with Victory Medal and Medals for five years struggle from His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie 1st .
The wound from the six bullets did not heal and thus was being treated by several doctors in Harar but did not fully recover.
He died at the age of 65 on March 17,1936 ( Eth.Cal) and was buried at the presence of His Imperial Highness Prince Makonnen Haile Selassie 1st ,the Duke of Harar, the son of the Emperor, who was the Governor General of Harerge Region and other dignitaries with full military honor. Dejazmach Umar Semter was one Ethiopian hero that Ethiopia was proud of. He left a legacy of Ethiopian bravery. May his soul rest in peace.
Long Live the heroic struggle of the Ethiopian people !
Long Live the spirit of Arbegnenet !
Long live Ethiopia !
Ambassador Alemayehu Abebe Shenkut
Afework, as a man of the ordinary people, did not take him long to convince the residents of the area to be vigilant and wait for the up coming incursion of the enemy. His mission was so convincing that he had assembled a force to be reckoned with. Much to his disappointment he did not have enough arms, to arm his followers. The motto of defense was use what ever is at your disposal including swords and machetes since there is nothing Hollier than that of defending the territorial integrity and the God given sovereignty. The group of people who stood by the Grazmach was small but all determined to die for the cause.
Initially Afework was assigned to govern JIGJIGA and when it was feared that the Italians are using Somalia as a stepping stone for their incursion, he was transferred to Korahe.
At a meeting of Ethio-Italian administrators and officers to resolve border issues of misunderstanding in the border city of Wolwal, the Italians took the liberty of formatting confrontation whereby the leader of the Ethiopian delegation namely Fitawrari Alemahehu Goshu and few others of his group were killed. The Italians after having provoked the scrimmage and killed the Ethiopia officials demanded compensation for the damages caused. When Ethiopia refused to be considered the belligerent, the Italians then started beating the war drum. It was after this incident that the Emperor assigned Afework to Korahe, a province vulnerable to Italian aggression.
Afework in Korahe with the few of his followers built themselves a bunker to accommodate about 1500 of them. The shelter was only used whenever the Italian planes attacked in Korahe.
During engagement Afework showed that he was not only an administrator but a born worrier. He had only one Oerlikon artillery to his name to chase the Italian planes. It was only he who could operate the anti aircraft machine. When the enemy planes flew over his head, it was only him exposed in the open to chase away the planes.
An English journalist named S.L. Steer, who witnessed the war in Korahe, said that when the enemy plane attacked, Afework will go out of the bunker and chase the planes.
Another witness, namely G.L. Frusci, disclosed in his book that in spite of the fact that the border patrols are small in number they were determined to fight to the last.
Even if the bunker was not sufficiently ventilated it was habitable and highly protective.
Grazmach Afework although assigned to administer the area proved himself to be a front line worrier. He showed his courage and commitment to defend his country as a true son of Ethiopia.
Because of the intensity of his fire the Fascist force had all along suspected that the Grazmach had about sixty or so Oerlikon at his disposal. But in reality he had only one Oerlikon and four types of machine guns. The rest of the guns used by the soldiers were outdated.
At one time the Fascist force launched an attack on Grazmach Afework’s garrison with six battalion of troops, 150 vehicles, 9 tanks and 20 iron clad cars. In order to face these challenges of enormous Fascist force Afework demanded that additional force be sent to him. Upon his request , the Ethiopin government sent him an enforcement force of only 600 soldiers much less than what is needed to contain a great number of enemy troops. To sum up, what the Grazmach has requested and received was not sufficient to repel the big and sufficiently armed group of the enemy.
On October 23/1928 (eth.cal.) the Italians deployed about 20 light fighting planes to Korahe where the Grazmach was stationed. The planes were dropping hundreds of bombs on him and his troops. But Afework with his one OERLOIKON artillery gun sent them to where they came from within a 30 minute engagement as Mr. Steer put it in his book.
In the course of the war Afework goes around his troops and tried to boast their morale by telling them that through their struggle Ethiopia will remain free from being the subjects of King Emmanuel of Italy. He was telling them that it was better to die on the field than see Ethiopia colonized. He used to tell them that they have lived there under one roof, eat the same food and when and if the time comes and there was a need for us to die that we will all die here together. His agitation was so strong that the troops resort to war cry songs.
After the first day of bombardment, the Fascist force came back the next day, October 24/1928, with a larger contingent of planes and bombed the village indiscriminately by which time the only anti aircraft machine that Afework was using was insufficient to repel the invaders. Afework, the only man with the only one Oerlikon could not chase away the planes. He became vulnerable to the Italian planes and was wounded severely.
In the meantime, the Italian force composed of Italian infantry accompanied by tanks, the Arab troops, the Somali troops and the traitors( the bandas) marched on to Korahe to capture the capital city of the province. In spite of the sever wound he encountered he was adamant about not giving up the fight.
On October 25/1928 the day after he was wounded, Afework’s condition got worst and was not strong enough to fire his gun. The day his gun was silent gave news to his unconscious state of affair. Later in the day Afework lost a great deal of blood and was found face down on his gun signaling his death.
The silence of his gun revealed to the people at large that their hero was dead. When he died he was only 30 years old.
The death of the Grazmach in the battle field was informed to HIM Haile Selassie I . Within 14 day of his death the emperor awarded to the Grazmach the title of Dejazmach, posthumously. He is one of few persons given a posthumous award. Tradition has it that the young worrier is addressed as “ Afework Wolde Semaut, Dejazmach”. The title comes right after his name and not before as all cases.
Ethiopia is blessed having such individuals who willingly engage the enemy against all odds. Ethiopia salutes Afework and his like who are willing to sacrifice their lives for the love of their beloved country.
Soon after HIM Haile Selassie I, inaugurated a statue for the gallant worrier on his cemetery at Ogaden. A school and a hospital was also named after him.
Ambassador Alemayehu Abebe Shenkut
During the five years of resistance, when I was between 4 and 6 years old, I wandered in the jungles of Merhabete and its surroundings with my father Dejazmach Abebe Shenk’ut’ and my mother W/o Lak’ech Mekit. I had unforgettable experiences of the time, four episodes that always glitter in my mind. The experiences were so horrid that the scar they left on me did not cure over the years.
One relates to the fact that my father Dejazmach Abebe Shenk’ut’ was wounded more than six times while he was fighting sometimes in collaboration with his brothers Dejazmach Teshome, Lij Haile, Lij Yinesu and Lij T’ilahun, and sometimes on his own. The worst one was the day he was shot by an enemy machinegun around his thighs and his arm pit. He bled so profusely that no one believed he would survive it. This piece of information had reached the enemy camp and, convinced that it was the right moment to apprehend Lij Abebe, the enemy intensified its pursuit.
Lij Abebe had to move from one locality to another, on horseback and on a traditional stretcher, supported by his wife on one side and his soldiers on the other. While trying hard to hide and recover, he once rested at the Jema River side in a field of wild banana trees under a huge oak tree. The enemy troops started shooting at the vanguard group and were fast approaching. There was commotion as they quickly removed the tents and crossed the Jema River to occupy a strategic corner and mount a defense. In the commotion, I had been forgotten. When they were aware that I was missing (MIA), T’egaw Ayele, one of the foot soldiers of Lij Abebe turned to look back in the direction of the place they had just evacuated. He saw a woman kneeling down on all fours over me, thus covering me with the intention of giving me away later on to the enemy. He quickly came to us with his gun on his shoulder, kicked the woman with his foot away from me, grabbed me with his right hand and ran into the Jema River. We had dived a couple of times when a grenade thrown by the enemy exploded very close to us. Fortunately, nothing happened to us and we safely joined our troop. Our troup managed to reorganize a defense and set the enemy troops back. We understood later on why that woman was hiding me under her; she had been hired to hijack me and keep me with her until the enemy troops reached to hand me over to the enemy. The calculation was that since Lij Abebe had had serious injuries and was unlikely to engender another child, the prospect of his only son being harmed would oblige him to surrender. They did not know that Lij Abebe would never surrender even if the enemy threatened to kill his son. As for me, the experience remained a nightmare, especially every time I see a big oak tree.
The second experience I had was at a lowland area known as Belbelit during a fierce fighting with the enemy. My father had left me in custody of Ato Addissie, one of his relatives. Ato Addissie was carrying me on his shoulders and moving around when the confrontation got worse. I could hear the bullets whistling by and every time I heard one, I asked him to turn me around. He put me down and tried to help me cope on my own but I clung to his legs and would not let go. As the shots got closer and fiercer, Ato Addissie shook me off his legs and ran for his life, following the other patriots. Shots from both sides turned the place into hell. I ran around not knowing where to hide. I believe the bullets were flying over me, not a single one caught me, though. After a long horrifying moment, I sat under a bush and fell fast asleep. I had not slept for a long time and must have been exhausted. I had no idea how long I slept. When I finally saw light and woke up, the fighting was over and there was not a soul around. I was at the same time shivering with fear and starving. I ran around wildly guided only by my instinct when Providence came to my rescue in the form of a woman. She was carrying a sac full of cereals on one shoulder. She saw me from far away and came to me. She quickly recognized that I was the son of Lij Abebe and understod that I was missing in action. She picked me up, flung me on her other shoulder, took me to her house, fed me and kept me with her for three days. She then identified the village where Lij Abebe was to be found , she took me over and handed me to my parents. I was thrilled. Today, the sight of a bush brings a flash of the terrible fighting and the stampede of people in every direction.
My third childhood experience is not only sad but also funny. During a fierce battle I told someone, I do not remember who, that I wanted to relieve myself. The situation was one where the enemy was getting the upper hand and retreat was in order. There, as a result, was no one in a position to accommodate my request. That was a difficult moment when dear lives had to be saved. I, on the other hand, was extremely pressed and the pressure was getting to my head. I found myself in a situation where I could no longer control the urge to relieve myself. I begged and implored but no one listened to me. Identifying a corner and finding relief was totally out of question. I was left with no choice but to release it all on my frocks – my “teferi suri”, one that was tailored for my small size. I was smeared with my own excrement which soon started trickling down into my feets. I stayed that way all day long and when our army positioned itself in a strategic position and put up a staunch defense thereby checking the advance of the enemy troops, they got me rid of the smeared trousers and cleaned me up.
National Association Partisans of Italy
Your Excellency Mr. Gianfranco Pagliarulo, President of ANPI
Your Excellency Mr. Fabrizio De Santis, ANPI President of the Province of Rome
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On this historical occasion which demonstrates commitment of the National Association Partisans of Italy (ANPI), to its objective of continued defense against historical revisionism' I like to recall the 2010 ANPI slogan which reads "I am a member of ANPI because the resistance is not only part of the past but is still present in current times."
On this day I like to express in person and as President of the "Ethiopian Patriots Association”, which was established 83 years ago, during ·the fascist occupation for coordinating the armed resistance within Ethiopia with the Government in exile, my rapport in absentia.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Italy in its long history had illustrious children who had excelled in arts, science and battles. Italy has also pioneered and lived a glorious tradition of democracy. We are all indebted to Italy for all these and more.
Italy and Ethiopia, both members of the League of Nations, went to war in 1935. Ethiopia was the first victim of fascist occupation and the first country to be liberated from the yoke of fascism. The Ethiopian memories of the 5-year fascist t occupation demonstrate how barbaric and callous fascism was, to the value and tradition of Italy and the whole of humanity. The unleashing of chemical warfare, on poorly armed soldiers and civilians, the massacre or 30,000 Addis Ababa residents in three days, the demolition of the centuries old Debre Libanos Monastery and hundreds of its priests, the numerous photographs sent by the Black Shirt fascist soldiers to their families showing them playing football with severed heads of dead Ethiopian patriots. photographs of brutalizing men, women and children are well documented. Marshall Graziani was the culprit in all these. He is also remembered as the butcher of Libya.
A recent document, acquired by the Library of Congress., testifies that Marshall Graziani was the one who oversaw the preparation of a chemical agent he dubbed as the “special liquid” (different from mustard, chlorine and phosgene gas), in Italian Somaliland, that annihilates combatants civilians and animals engulfing in fire, when it is sprayed from airplanes. He was the first to use it in the Ogaden, then in northern Ethiopia and later civilian communities throughout Ethiopia for terrorizing the population to deter support to the partisan warriors.
Marshall Rodolfo Graziani and friends have evaded international justice and those who built a monument for Graziani were acquitted for charges of “Apology for Fascism”. At this juncture, I like to recall what President Roosevelt said when Mussolini and henchmen had tried to escape justice by resignation during the last year of the war and prior to the Nuremberg Trial.
"Mussolini came to the reluctant conclusion that the Jig was up. He could see the shadow of the long arm of justice; but he and his fascist gangs will be· brought to book and punished for their crimes against humanity. No criminal will be allowed to escape by the expedient of resignation . So, our terms to Italy are still the same as our terms to Germany and Japan; unconditional surrender."
Suffice it to say the Ethiopian patriots Association position is still in the same thinking.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We proudly remember one of our late association members, Colonel Abdissa Aga, who as partisan was captured in Ethiopia and taken to Italy, broke prison and joined the Italian partisans and fought with them. The depth of relationships between our two organizations is written in blood and sweat.
Please allow me to repeat with you, ANPI’s 2010 slogan, “ I am a member of ANPI because the resistance is not only part of the past but still present in current times.”
Lidj Daniel Jote Mesfin
President of Ethiopian Patriots Association
Ametsegna Washa- translated to mean the “Defiant Cave”- is a huge cave situated in Northern Shoa, Menz district with two chambers and a big lake. In 1940 the Italian Fascist force was surveying the area and observed a contingent of Arbegnoch from a distance. The Arbegnoch group was led by one of the Shenkut brothers (namely Dejazmatch Teshome) and civilians who were camped nearby the cave.
Some three hundred Merhabete Arbrgnoch broke free from the Fascist Italian encirclement and proceeded to Jemma to join the rest of the troops of Dejazmsch Abebe Shenkut. In spite of the opposition made by Dejazmatch Teshome and a few of his followers, the overwhelming number of his followers and the civilians of the area decided to enter the cave out of desperation in the hopes that the Fascist force would not follow in pursuit.
Erroneously, they thought, they could easily defend themselves and the enemy would eventually abandon its wish of subduing the Patriots. It is estimated that over five thousand people, herds of cattle and all sort of grain were transported into the cave through the torturous terrain. Family units settled around a fire at various locations inside the cave as warriors fended off attacks at the entrance of the cave. On Easter Sunday the patriots conducted the religious rituals within the cave and numerous oxen were slaughtered to break lent.
All efforts by the invaders to flush them out of the cave were in vain. The enemy decided to take the most heinous measure – the use of poisonous gas. It transported barrels of poisonous gas to the top of the cave entrance, suspended the barrels from the top of the cliff to reach the mouth of the cave and shot the barrels from a distance with canons. The gas permeated the cave and poisoned those sheltered in the cave. Thousands perished and some became delusional as they fired on their own compatriots until they were overpowered internally.
Instead of dying in the cave, Dejazmatch Teshome bid farewell to his parents, sister and other relatives and made plans to escape. He jumped out through the mouth of the cave with 267 of his daring followers in the middle of the night in spite of the incoming fire from the enemy. A few including Dejazmach Teshome were badly wounded but survived the daring escape from the cave. Those left behind were all victims of the poisonous gas and died as they sat around the fire. The remanents of the victims – fathers, mothers and children - are still evident in the cave, scattered for all to see. In 2015, the Association visited the Defiant Cave and laid a marker in remembrance of the tremendous loss and sacrifice that took place at this location.