Celebrating the legacy of the Ethiopian Patriots on Yekatit 12, “Ye_Sematet day”. By: Ewnetu Sime

February 12th, 2015 Print Print Email Email

Each year on Yekatit 12, “Ye_Sematet day” equivalent to 19 February in the Gregorian calander, Ethiopians pay tribute to the patriotic heroes and innocent civilian victims perished by Italian fascist armies between 1935 and 1941. This event is our enduring national history record of Ethiopian victory over Mussolini’s invasion. Participation in this type of celebration will allow us discuss our national pride, most importantly to recognized the sacrifices made by freedom fighters that kept Ethiopia as sovereign state. It is customary to remember them in the form of parade, wreath laying and patriotic speech, or prayer. These type of remembrance ceremonies or activities at very least serve us for four purposes. First, to honor and celebrate the patriotic heroes who died in defiance of occupation. Second, it is resistance stories of courage and remembering the distressing side of war that many citizens died and suffered in the hands of Italian invading armies. Third, it inspires us and teaches us the remarkable fight done against the enemy. Fourth, it helps us to pledge and to carry on their legacy to keep our country free from invaders.

Battles bring out both heroes and traitors among people. The traitors make the conditions of the battle easier for enemy and difficult for the freedom fighters. To cite one example of a traitor during the Italian invasion was Haile Selassie Gugsa. In Jeff Pearce’s book entitled “Prevail” states that Haile Selassie Gugsa who was a potential governor of Tigray was bribed by Italian with a million lire to desert to enemy camp and played dirty game against his country. Gugsa aim was to be civilian chief of Tigray under Italian rule. He collaborated with Italians with handful of contingent force. He provided inside information, and he was also used by Italians as propaganda tool. On page 162 of “Prevail book” stated that “In Rome, the propaganda writers inflated this to ten thousand men when they announced Gugsa’s defection, capturing headlines around the world…………. “The real coup for the Italians was that Gugusa brought along a Swiss Engineer named Fernand Bietry armed with unique plans for a road from Addis Ababa to Dessie about four hindered kilometers to the north. De Bono now had up-to-date and through survey of the region. “The traitor actions had impact on the fighter’s moral and progress.

On the contrary we had Patriot leaders such as Ras Abebe Aregay, Lt. General Jagama Kello, Lij Haile Mariam Mamo, and – many other brave citizens fought passionately against the fascist regime in Ethiopia. Ras Abebe was one of the wise patriotic leaders. He understood the effectiveness of guerrilla warfare and used it against the enemy. He frequently ambushed and raids the Italian position in close range of Addis Ababa. The Italians cannot guarantee the free flow war supplies and goods. Ras Abebe was so brave at one point he attempted to retake Addis Ababa city from fascist regime. On several occasions he lured the Italian army’s officials as he is interested to negotiate with them for possible defection in return for money and power. But his real strategy was to gain time, to regroup his fighters and to wear down the enemy in the process. As guerrilla fighter he had a “choice” to decide when and where to strike enemy. This method of engagement frustrated the enemy. It is evident that he and his fighters had the support of the people. People provided food, information about the enemy movements, shelter, and other supplies essential to maintain the fight.

Ras Abebe with others patriot’s leaders such as Dejazmatch Kebede Bizunehs, Geressu Duki other host of patriots were able to continue and to resist which will eventually and inevitably lead to victory. He is regarded the founder of guerrillas warfare in Ethiopia.

Another patriot who used hit and run against the enemy was Lij Haile Mariam Mamo. Growing up I remember a song/poem that attributed to him start like this:

ሀይለ ማርያም ማሞ የጦሩ ገበሬ
ፈረሱን እደሰው አስታተቀው ሱሬ

Another hero to be highlighted on this anniversary day is Lt. General Jagma Kello. Jagama Kello is known for his exceptional skill and courage during Italian invasion in 1935. After the war is over he joined the regular army and grew up through ranks and retired from the army with Lt. General Title. He is 93 years old man and now living in Addis Ababa. I listened the interview of Jagama with SBS Australia Amharic radio.


He explained how he became a patriot at age 15. Jagama was inspired by his cousin husband Wodago Goshu’s advice and decided to join the patriotic effort. His cousin husband Wodago said to him that I always hear about you that you travel with your brother- in- law to Wollega to kill lions and elephants. Now our country is at great risk we are facing an enemy bigger than those animals. He further explained to him the Italians are here not only to take our land but also they are going to eat us like animals. If you kill them, it will be above all noble things to do. He started his armed struggle against the fascist regime at his birth place area called Ginichi. Ginichi is located close to the west of Addis Ababa. He continued to tell his adventure during his fight at Addis Alem city where the Italian’s fortified military garrison and prison located. He explained that he got insider assistance from very brave lady Wezro Shoareged Gadle resident of Addis Alem and Ato Zewdu Tilhuan. Zewdu was one of traitor serving the Italian interest but was unhappy by what was going on around him. Consequently, he killed his Italian master and became a fugitive. He was one of the most wanted man by Italians and the search for him was intensified. With some local help Zewdu joined Jagma’s patriotic group. With these two brave informants assistance (Shoareged Gadle known as “Yewist Arbegna”) Jagama get closer to Addis Alem where the fortified Italian position located. Jagama led the attack on the garrison and wiped out the enemies and freed the prisoners. At that battle, Jagama was able to acquire superior weapons. This successful attack helped him to be in better position to continue his patriotic duties. Jagama explained why the Italian was not successful to instigate Oromo against Amhara resident in his area. He said that his uncle convinced the locals Oromo not to listen the enemy propaganda by telling them with very interesting example.

The uncle told the people: here is grain of white Teff and black Teff and mix up. Once it is mixed up we cannot separate them back to white and black teff. Oromo and Amhara people lived together for generations. As we are not able to separate the “sergegh” grain, we cannot separate Amhara from Oromo. He told them we are one untied Ethiopian. His explanations were very effective, and prevented the killings. Jagma is an Oromo origin but understood the true meaning of Ethiopianess. He served Ethiopia’s best interest as an Ethiopian hero. He gave unquestionable sacrifice for freedom, national unity and integrity of Ethiopia. This gracious man has demonstrated a true nationalist stand. He believed that Ethiopianet is first and other things such as birth or buried places or languages are all a coincidence for him.

The modern guerrilla warfare has surfaced in Ethiopia in 1960 and 1970s by several fronts such as EPLF, TPLF, EPRA etc. This time through so called ” liberation front” insurgency against the regime in power. They were guided by Marxist Leninist Socialist theory . This marked the beginning of civil war in Ethiopia. As most readers are aware, since TPLF come to power, they formed a totalitarian government and created a breeding ground for ethnic intolerance to disunite Ethiopia. They implemented the divide and rule strategy under disguise of ethnic rights ideology. They became the worst ethnocentric regime of the 21th century. They eroded what passed to us by forefathers.

Yekatit 12, 1929 (Ethiopian Calendar) is the day the Graziani armies went on rampage of murder and arson throughout Addis Ababa. As we commemorate this horrific massacre, we are recognizing all Patriotic leaders who fought for five years against fascist Italian army. We owe them to continue to hold the Patriots deeds high, and at the same time to maintain the freedom handed down to us. We also owe to the future generation to retell the history of the past. We are morally obligated to respect and commemorate our patriots on this date. This 78th year anniversary of Mussolini invasion and Yekatit 12 are more than celebration. It is our own history and it tells us who we are and where we came from.

We Ethiopians also had fought with Italians on March 1, 1896 at Adwa (The Battle of Adwa), in which the aggressor was resoundingly crushed. In both battles the patriots were ill equipped and have very limited means. Nevertheless, they had the will to fight and resist protecting our beloved country. We are not forgetting the freedom that has been given to us by forefathers and ancestors, so we could not let the 78th anniversary of “Ye_Sematet day” pass by not celebrating. We must continue to commemorate this day and should not be squandered by the enemy cheap and ignorant analogies.
Long live Ethiopia!!

  1. Negash
    | #1

    Long live this spirit of the anti-colonialism and ethiopiawinet!!
    The TPLF is ding all it can to kill this spirit in Ethiopia.It has banned and criminalized Ethiopiawinet and calls it chauvinism. The late TPLF ethnic chief Meles Zenawi, had ridiculed the anti-colonial struggle of Ethiopians as the struggle against civilzation and modernization. This assault of Zenawi and his followers on Ethiopia and Ethiopiawinet is attributed to their family background. Zenawi hails from the banda (traitor)family that served the Italian fascist rule in Ethiopaiin the 1930s. Meles Zenawi and his family were ostracised by the community because of their service to the Italians and had hard times. Meles Zenawi developed his fascist and anti-Ethiopia feelings early on his life. It is believed that Meles Zenawi`s deep and intense hatred towards specially the Amharas (the group the TPLF has declared the main enemies of the Tigrayans) had its roots in the ostracization and humiliation his family had suffered in Adwa.

  2. Zemedu
    | #2

    This is one of the legacies the TPLF dislikes and downgrades. The TPLF leaders have a shameful personal heritage and consider the pride of Ethiopians as their symbol of shame,degradation and inferiority.The TPLF dismiss this source of national pride as Amhara myth and colonization.

  3. Tazabi
    | #3

    Now the history of Ethiopia is given a new “fictional” tone.When Weyane came to power in 1991,Ethiopia’s history was reduced from 3000 to 100 years.After 23 years of Ethnocentric dictatorship,the Tigryan elites again officially reduced Ethiopian history to 40 years,i.e,”Ethiopia as a united country,started its existence when the TPLF was established 4 decades ago.” Therefore,according to present day leaders,”the blood shed and sacrifice of Ethiopian fore fathers and mothers to defend the country from all kinds of foreign invaders for thousands of years, leave alone YEKATIT 12,are insignificant compared to what TPLF fighters paid for.”This what exactly the PM hailemariam said on Public TV just yesterday.What a shame,that we Ethiopians allowed such anti Ethiopian forces to insult and trash the blood and bones of our ancestors that kept Ethiopia as the only non colonized nation in the so called 3rd world.The question is how and when are we going to restore Ethiopia’s true history and place in the world?

  4. Kibrom
    | #4

    I have heard from a reliable source that the TPLF leadership will soon decide to remove the monument of the martyrs of yekatit 12 in Addis Ababa.The reason is the TPLF leaders say the nations, nationalities and peoples see the monument as the symbol of Amhara colonization and oppression. This argument of the TPLF is the same as the one they use to remove Emperor Menlik`s statue at Arada Giorgis (colonization and oppression). The TPLF leaders are alspo planning to erect a huge statue for their late leader Meles Zenawi in Addis Ababa.

  5. Kush-Kush
    | #5

    I partially agree with the point you made and I am very much puzzled of why you didn’t mention Abraham Deboch and Mogus Asgedom? What was the main reason for the Grazian’s army’s rampage in Addis Ababa? I know it and you know it better than I do. When you pass history, please pass it as it happened. Those patriots you mentioned were not for the cause of the massacre. Those two young Ethiopians, Abrahman Deboch and Mosgus Asegedom, were and bravely tried to kill Graziani and they were successful because they wounded Graziani. It was a victory for the resistance movement. Please sir, those two young valiant are our heroes and will be remembered in our history forever. Yekatit 12 is the Martyrs day and those two braves Moges Asgedom and Abraham Deboch will be remembered from generation to generation.

  6. ethiopiawi
    | #6

    whta is surprise me is the war which has take place b/n two brothers
    the ethiopian army then and ethiopian reble fighter weyane.

    so every one is bleeding to death every part of mothers crying
    for their kids .

    today they think every ethiopian are senseles cold dead in memory
    and they taling them that we have killed your kids come for the funeral
    and its 40 years .

    for those mothers that 40 years is stil fresh .

    people are just wondering what you are doing is insane its like
    out of this planet so cruel.

    for your achivement lets call it if you have even the nerve
    and the intelegent it should be the national day reconciliation between
    you and ethiopian people .

    and you inviting to mekele to come and celebret wow maddnnes.

    the suffering of tigrai people is the suffering of the rest of ethiopia
    when you cellebrat every ethiopian must participate in well manered.

    since its posted i even never look in to it.
    becouse that did not represent us.

  7. Zeray
    | #7

    It must be the EPLF that should celebrate the 40th anniversary of the TPLF because the former attained its goal of Eritrean independence with the tremendous sacrifcies of the Tigrayans. Tens of thouands of Tigrayan farmers and youth were used as canon fodder to create the independent Eritrea and crown aite Isaias as president for life time. The immense sacrifices of the Tigrayans is due to the fact that the Eritrean leadership of the TPLF had not cared for their lives.

  8. dagmawi
    | #8

    Today the bravery ethiopian mother who send her kids to fight for the bloving country in somali war 1969 in those crucial years after they deafited the somali
    army they came back home to see their family what a happy day for locals and for thecountry but soon again the dictator mengistu called all the army to face the brotherly war against shabia and weyane.

    this young boyes they went back again to the war not long
    the poor family informed that two of their boyes are dead.

    when the father hear about his kids he was shocked
    after a week he also passed away.

    today the 80 years old mother left alone living in a very littel cottage

    what a sad.

    this is just one how about the million untold.
    you cellebrating but they are crying.

    you only cntrolled millions ethiopians gurroro and eroro.

    but the emotion you have no control they just holding it.

    you sitting in a parlament with hundered of them
    but you do not know how many how they feeling .

  9. Darewos
    | #9

    While Ethiopians remembered and honoured the martyrs and victims of the Italian invading fascist forces on Yekatit 12, the members and followers of the TPLF celebrated the 40th anniversary of the ethnical fascist front the TPLF. The policies and crimes of the Italian and TPLF fascist forces against Ethiopia have similarities. The TPLF has copied its divide and conquer tactic from the Italian colonialists. Moreover, the TPLF uses the map the Italians used (with some modifications) to control and exploit Ethiopia.he 4oth anniversary of the TPLF would better be celebrated by its founder and former master, the EPLF. The EPLF had used the Tigrayans as cannon fodder and attained its goal of Eritrean independence through the sacrifices of tens thousands of the poor farmers and youth of Tigray. The Tigrayan casualities were very high because the EPLF used them in the front lines of the major battles fought in Eritrea. The other reason for the high casuality was that the EPLF cared less about the lives of its Tigrayan fighters. This is also the crime of the Eritrean TPLF leaders that recruited the Tigrayans and offered them to their EPLF masters. The slave-master relationship between the Eritreans and Tigrayans had cost the latter a lot. Therefore, the abused and despised Tigrayans do not have any reason than ethnic affiliations to celebrate this anniversary. The TPLF leadership is still Eritrean and the Tigrayans are their foot soldiers.

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