Umer Semter-The Hero of Ogaden( Dejazmach), Known as the “Lightening Force of the Ogaden Desert.”
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
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