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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Millennium for Whom?

Kallacha DubbiSeptember - 3, 2007 of the Gregorian calendar -

Historically, there are two main versions of Christian calendars - Julian and Gregorian. Both are religious by origin. According to the Julian calendar, it will soon be 2000 years since the birth of Christ. On the other hand, followers of the Gregorian calendar calculate that it has been 2007 years since Christ was born. Other religions and civilizations have their own calendars. For instance, in Islamic calendar, the Higira, today is Sha'ban 20, 1828. As another example, I will briefly introduce the Oromo calendar below.
In an eerie twist of irony, in just over a week, on the same day when USA commemorates the 9-11 victims, Ethiopia will celebrate a Julian millennium. This celebration comes about seven years after the rest of the world celebrated Y2K. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's government has already invested more cash on this single event than the Derg, annually celebrating its own rise to power, or Haile Sellasie celebrating his infamous birthdays while the people starved to death, literally. In this country, there is fondness to self-celebration without backing it with success of any sort. There is also a short memory to history; those who condemned the lavish birthday parties of Haile Sellasie and used this impropriety to rise to power later started more lavishly celebrating their own rise to power. And those who condemned the Derg for celebrating its murderous rise to power are now doing their own celebrations with even more glamour and cost. 16 giant LED screens have arrived from China and I also read that artist Beyonce will lead the New Year's concert with pop-star Janet Jackson and rapper 50 Cent. Lavish indeed for a country that ranks 170 out of 177 in the United Nation's Human Development Index. However, whether or not this millennium is a travesty or worthy event, whether or not this indeed is a good investment of the poor taxpayer's money should generate an interesting debate which I am sure will be instructive. For now, let us focus more on the use of the calendar.
As stated above, Ethiopia uses a calendar which was introduced by Julius Caesar in 46 BC and enforced a year later - hence the name Julian calendar. The Julian calendar uses a solar year with a regular year of 365 days divided into 12 months, and a leap day added every four years. In the case of Ethiopia, each month has 30 days; the extra 5 or 6 days mark an additional 13th month, a nightmare for civic and administrative calculations and international interactions. There are numerous stories of missed appointments and miscalculated birthdays. The calendar has other serious shortcomings.
The average Julian calendar year is longer than Gregorian, causing an error that forces it to slowly drift backwards in the calendar year and move out of alignment with the solar year. As a result, the real astronomical annual cycle advances by about 11 minutes per year against the Julian year. This error is accumulated significantly over time.
Also, the addition of leap days to the months every four years is inaccurate and ultimately confusing. In contrast, the Gregorian leap year rule is accurate. For Orthodox Christians, Julian has another problem. All Christian churches have a rule to compute the date of Easter by defining 21 March as a reference point. This date is known as vernal equinox. Since Julian uses the lunar calendar to compute the date of Easter, which must always be on Sunday, the error resulting from the incompatibility with natural solar cycle moves Easter far off its point in the calendar cycle.
So, Julian does not produce a precise match to the solar year. The Gregorian was invented to correct this erroneous scheme. This modern calendar was first proposed by Aloysius Lilius and decreed by Pope Gregory XIII, for whom it was named in 1582. Because of its recognized accuracy in time reckoning, it was soon adopted by most advanced countries of those days, mainly catholic, but Protestant countries also followed soon. However, Russia, dominated by a conservative Orthodox church, remained Julian until 1917. It adopted Gregorian after the Russian Revolution, which is also known as the October Revolution. Interestingly, the revolution took place in November in Gregorian, not October, but kept its wrong date even after Gregorian was adopted. Greece continued to use Julian until 1923. Clearly, countries with Orthodox Church domination resisted the more modern calendar much longer. But eventually all countries appreciated the accuracy and superiority of Gregorian, and adopted it even for church uses. So, by 1927, most of the Julian countries have switched to Gregorian even though some of the Orthodox churches have retained Julian for internal church uses. Ethiopia is the only country that still officially uses the outdated Julian calendar: it adopted what it clearly didn't own, and refused to drop it even when the entire world found the calendar to be faulty. Clearly, the Gregorian calendar has become the internationally accepted civil calendar. Here, for the record, the reader may be interested to know about the Oromo calendar, one that must be a source of pride to all Africans.
The Oromo calendar is based on astronomical observations of the moon in conjunction with seven or eight particular stars or star groups called Urjii Dhahaa (guiding stars). Each lunar day has a name, (Areeri Duraa, Areeri Ballo, Aduula Duraa, Aduula Ballo, Garba Duraa, Garba Ballo, Garba Dulacha, Bitaa Duraa, Bitaa Ballo, Sorsa, Algaajima, Arba, Walle, Basaa Duraa, Basaa Ballo, Maganatti Carraa, Maganatti Jaarraa, Maganatti Briifi, Salbaan Duraa, Salbaan Ballaa, Salbaan Dullachaa, Gardaaduma, Soonse, Uurruma, Lumaasa, Gidaada, and Ruuda). These 27 days of the month are permutated through the twelve months, in such a way that the 11 degree shift is accounted for in the solar cycle. Since the week (7 days) is strictly a religious definition with no astronomical connotation, the Oromo calendar has no formal definition for the days of the week. The 12 months are, with some regional variations, Cikawa, Sadaasa, Afraasa, Amaji, Guraandhala, Bitoteessa, Caamsa, Bufa, Waxabaji, Obora Gudda, Obora xiqqaa, and Birraa, which are integrated over a solar year.
Although the more accurate Gregorian calendar may be suitable in some societies, it also isolates the non-Christian populations of the country where such religious diversity exists. Certainly the Moslems and the Waqefatas of Ethiopia have no reason to celebrate this millennium. The Oromo calendar, a solar year with lunar months, has been recognized as scientific since it avoids religious influences, and would therefore be compatible with the Higira and the Gregorian calendars.
Controversies and legitimacy issues surrounding the extravagance of this Orthodox calendar's millennium celebration in Ethiopia, while the country is still registered as one of the poorest in the world are abound. But there must also be a serious question about keeping a dead and obsolete system in this 21st century, a system proven and unanimously accepted to be erroneous. In spending millions of dollars to celebrate a miscalculated millennium of essentially the Orthodox Church with public fund, the Ethiopian regime also demonstrates its insensitivity to the religious diversity and mood of its non-Orthodox majority population.


Monday, September 03, 2007

OLF Stand on the UN decision on Ogaden

Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) is confident that the humanely decision and step taken by the United Nations (UN) to investigate the terror and extermination facing Ogadenian people will encompass all issues that will result in a lasting solution to the region.

The UN decision to send its higher delegates to have first hand information on the barbaric actions of the Ethiopian government, Tegrian Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF), against innocent people of Ogaden is applauded and expected from any peace loving group. At the time when TPLF government’s harassment of civilian is continuously exposed by independent media outlets, the intervention of UN is both historically and legally a requirement.

The step taken by UN to send about twenty of its experts from WFP, WHO, UNHCR, UNDP and legal professionals to gather information on the extent of damage on the region by the dictatorial regime of Melles Zenawi will be a big hope for the powerless people of Ogaden. It is also needless to mention that this investigation requires a very high courtesy. The ever increasing protest of Ogaden people and the reaction of different international bodies on the action of Ethiopian government indicate the importance of the issue. Specially, eliminating Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) has been used as a pretext by TPLF (Woyyane) soldiers to kill and torture civilians.

Generally the investigation of UN delegates should focus on the act of Ethiopian government that target to abate the economic and social infrastructure of the Ogaden people so that they will live with horror and fear. To materialize this Melles Zenawi government is using its military force to indiscriminately killing villagers; destroying their settlement; burning families with their house; group raping of girls and women; forcefully resettling people to control their movement; denying access to transportation and communication; indiscriminately imprisoning, torturing and harassing the people without any guilt are the main complaints presented by the Ogaden people.

At the moment the TPLF government is running here and there to defend its barbaric deed. No wonder if dictatorial government like TPLF that does not have any feeling for human lives would not apologize for its action. This is of course the main reason that UN is convinced to appoint its delegates to investigate the issue.

However, the decision of UN which authorizes the delegates to investigate and report their finding on the ongoing problems of Ogaden people alone will not solve the fundamental problem of the region. At this point OLF would like to inform UN and its delegates that based on the outcome of the investigation it is important to include a remedial action where by Meles Zenawi will be held accountable for the problems.

These is due to the fact that the minority TPLF government has been doing similar inhuman actions mentioned above on the people of Oromo, Sidama, Amhara, Gambella, Southern Nations, Affar and Tigray. This is evident through continual protest of all peoples living both in Ethiopia and abroad. Therefore, a thorough investigation of such similar problems will help to find a fundamental solution for the whole people in the region. For example similar to Ogaden People the government cadres are carrying out extrajudicial killing, torture, disappearance, and imprisonment on Oromo people with a pretext of destroying OLF.

As a result, it is OLF’s stand that the decision of UN to study the situation of Ogaden people should be extended to investigate those problems facing all people living in Ethiopia and neighboring regions. The dictatorial government of Melles Zenawi is legally and historically held responsible for all instability of the region. Without a complete and full scale investigation, information from only one region will not help to bring a lasting solution and this will later indicate a weakness in the UN approach to the problems.

Oromo Libration Front
August 30, 2007

Commemorating Ethiopian Millennium as a Day of Sorrow for the Oromo People

A statement by Oromo Parliamentarians Council -

The TPLF/EPRDF regime who boasts to have brought good governance to the peoples of Ethiopia has discriminately left Oromo prisoners in jail and arresting many more while many non-Oromo prisoners are being released. What is more disturbing is that the regime is constantly harassing the rest of the Oromo people by the name of celebrating the so called Ethiopian millennium to be celebrated on September 1, 2000 Ethiopian Calendar.

The year 2007 however, is a year of sorrow and grief for the Oromo people because it is the year where:

• Over 40, 000 Oromos are suffering of torture in Ethiopian prisons such as Kaliti, Maikelawi, Zeway, Nekemte, Dhidheessaa, Harar Jaarsoo, Mekele, Adwa, Bure, Zaraba Gidaf, Gimbi, Robe;
• Several Oromos are killed in prisons and their bodies are thrown to the jungles such as Gaara Suufii and eaten by wild animals;
• Oromo students have been dismissed from schools and became a burden to their families for the sole reason of expressing their concern for their suffering people;
• many Oromo parliamentarians who tried to speak for the people they represent were continuously intimidated by the government security forces and are forced to leave the country, while many more are under arrest and even brutally murdered;
• Many Oromo military officers, judges, diplomats, journalists, and other government officials defected to several countries opposing the suffering of their people;
• The TPLF/EPRDF government created and fuelled conflict among various Oromo clans such as Borana and Guji, Borana and Garri, resulting in enormous loss of life and property;
• The TPLF/EPRDF concocted conflict between Islam and Christian faith and made them fight each other for the first time in the history of our country;
• The killing, arrest, and harassments are more intensified in all corners of Oromia at this moment when the celebration of the millennium is already underway.

The Oromo people have nothing to do with the so called Ethiopian millennium. It is neither our heritage nor our culture. For the Habeshas attempting to force the Oromo people to celebrate their own festival amounts to insulting us, Oromos. We do not share anything together. While they are dancing, we are in jail, in refugee camps, and in the Oromian jungle in search of our freedom.

Therefore, the Oromo Parliamentarians Council has decided to commemorate the Habesha September 1 as a day of grief in which the Oromo people are subjected to the Habesha prison every year starting from the year 2000. We call up on all the Oromo people to remember this day every year by the following activities:

• Visiting the prisoners and their families by taking gifts as much as possible.
• Helping those who have been released from jail morally, financially, and materially.
• Signing petition for the release of all Oromo prisoners and for the evoking of the death penalty passed on some Oromo prisoners.
• Since this day is a day of grief and sorrow we ask all Oromo people that they should not go to any festival or recreation. Everyone should surpass this day in grief and by visiting prisoners and their families.

Freedom for the Oromo people!

The Oromo Parliamentarians Council
August 27, 2007

Map of oromia

Map of oromia