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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ahmad Taqi Sheikh Mohammed Rashid (May 14, 1940 - September 6, 1974) was an Oromo nationalist.

Early life

Ahmad Taqi was one of the sons of the prominent Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Sheikh Bilal Choree. His mother was Mariyam Ahmad Hajji Salih Diimaa. He was born at Chirrati (Belbelti), in the Habro District of Hararghe province (modern-day Habro woreda in Mirab Hararghe Zone of the Oromia Region). He was the third child in his family. In his early ages, he was educated in Islam and Oromo history by his father. Being well educated and well known, his father could spread his beliefs even if the then regime banned such nationalist thoughts.

When he was only 15, he moved to Gelemso town with his elder brother Muteki Sheikh Mohammed (Muttaqi Sheek Muhammad). He lived there by working on wholesaling and trading in coffee. Throughout his career, he supported the poor and especially students of the area.

The beginning of his Career as an Oromo Nationalist

Later on, he came to know General Taddese Birru, one of the founders of Mecha and Tulama Self-Help Association, and who was under house arrest at that time in Gelemso. Tadesse and Ahmad Taqi began to teach the people that they have a right just equal to that of the landlords of the area, and being an Oromo is not a curse but a virtue to love. On his frequent travels to Dire Dawa and Addis Ababa (Finfine), he was known by famous Oromo nationalists like Baro Tumsa, Jarra Abba Gada, and Ali Birra.

His Introduction to Elemo Kiltu

At last, the Haile Selassie regime was brought down by the 1974 Revolution. Ahmed Taqi had helped Taddese Birru escape his house arrest, bringing him to Addis Ababa by night. And at his stay in Addis Ababa, He knew the activist Elemo Kiltu (also known as Hasan Ibrahim), who returned from Syria to launch an armed struggle against the government. Elemo told Ahmad Taqi the idea of coming to Gelemso and Ahmad Taqi accepted it.

The Armed Struggle

In May 1974, Elemo went to Gelemso, and made necessary arrangements to launch the armed struggle against the oppressing regime of Haile-Selassie. He visited Sheikh Mohammed Rashid, the father of Ahmad Taqi, and the sheikh advised him to begin the struggle in the mountains of Guba Koricha (50 km north of Gelemso).

Elemo went with an army of 19 persons to Guba Koricha in June 1974. Then, he and his forces started to take measures against the rural landlords. They fought against the defenders of Mulatu Tegegn who was harassing the Oromo tenants to force them to pay high tributes. The guards of Mulatu killed Hajji Omar Khorchee instantly. The rebels killed Mulatu Tegegn, a notorious landlord, and all his men at a place called Hardim. The dead body of Mulatu was brought to Gelemso. The supporters of the government were very angry and they vowed revenge. Government started to detain suspects for the case. Ahmed Taqi was one of the suspects as he used to preach national pride and self governance for the Oromos.

Ahmad Taqi escaped the arrest, and went to join the Oromo freedom army led by Elemo. As he was a merchant, he went with handful of money that might support the army for living needs. He met Elemo at a place called Bubbee (33 km away from Gelemso town on the top of Bubbe mountain). The necessary arrangements were made on the leadership. Elemo was chosen as the chairperson and Ahmed Taqi was made the commander of the army.

The army of the Oromo freedom fighters began more actions, more war and more resistance against the government forces. Ahmed Taqi was given a nickname "Hundee" by the army. But the name has long been used by his father.

The military junta of the Derg who seized power from Haile Selassie sent an army led by General Getachew Shibeshi. At the presence of the public, the then administrator of Harerghe, Colonel Zelleke Beyyene, vowed to destroy Gelemso if he could not kill Ahmad Taqi.

The search of both continued. And finally, on September 6, 1974 both armies met each other at Tiro (26 km East of Gelemso). Ahmad Taqi was killed at noon, and Elemo assumed command, continuing to fight the government forces with his few men until sunset. Finally the government forces managed to kill Elemo with mortar fire. Only three persons of his army survived the battle. Two of them are still alive.

The Prophecy of the father of Ahmad Taqi

The father of Ahmad Taqi heard the martyrdom of his son and said "My son is not dead. His blood is a seed to the future freedom of the Oromos. A seed will be a big tree one day. One day, the name Oromo will be known all over the world". So, as the sheikh said, the name Oromo is a pride for Oromos today. And Ahmad Taqi is still remembered when the Oromo freedom struggle is mentioned.

Ahmad Taqi was never married. But he has so many relatives and fans, including his elder brother Muteki Sheikh Mohammed.

[edit] Ahmad Taqi and Elemo in Art and Literature

1.The famous singer Ali Birra made Ahmad Taqi immortal by singing for him. In his song, in a very metahporic way, Ali Birra says:

"Yaa Hundee Bareeda- Yaa Finxee Midhagaa". (Hundee is Ahmad Taqi himself)

2. Theodros Mulatu, a well known Amharic novelist, used the movements led by Ahmad Taqi and Elemo for his book Akel-Dama, (the Bloody Land). However, Theodros is criticized for attaching the movement to EPRP (Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Party, commonly known as "Ihaappaa")

3. The Canadian based Oromo singer Elemo Ali praised the martyrs of The Battle of Tiro in his album titled "Oromiyaa" which was released in 1992.

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