Qubee is not for discussion

Qubee is not for discussion

Mootii Baarboo (PhD), May 1, 2018

It is mind boggling that non-Oromos in Ethiopia attempt to advise Oromo people how to deal with their affairs. What does it mean, for example, when other people try to tell you how you should live, manage your finances, and what or how to dress for public meetings? I would say that when people, uninvited, offer advice about what one should do with their life or which script to use to write their language, this is an infringement on human rights.

It is a fact that Oromo and many nations and nationalities within Ethiopia have been denied their fundamental rights of practising their cultures and languages under previous Ethiopian regimes, in particular under the Haile Sellassie and Mengistu regimes. It was not that long ago that afaan Oromo was prohibited in Ethiopia. During the Haile Sellassie regime, speaking the language in public places, let alone writing it, would get one labelled as illiterate, at best, and at worst a narrow nationalist. It is not an exaggeration to state that afaan Oromo had very few sympathisers who would argue that it should only be written amongst the non-Oromo elite. However, suddenly we have begun witnessing β€˜pseudo sympathisers’ who cry wolf for afaan Oromo to be written in the Ge’ez script because of lame reasons. One such person is β€˜Professor’ Fikre Tolessa who, like a mad dog, frets all over the places.

The reasons Fikre and his die-hard centrists are shallow, but I don’t intend to delve into the nitty- gritty of phonetics and the phonology of the Oromo language and why it should or should not be written in one or another script. This decision was already made over two decades ago at a conference that took place in Finfinne. Even if the decision had not yet been made about Qubee, it would be unfair on any one to try to impose their wishes on Oromo only because β€œthe Ge’ez script had been used in Ethiopia and therefore all languages should follow suit”.

The Ge’ez script is almost always accepted as an indigenous writing system and it is part of our culture. But, was it really invented in Ethiopia by Ethiopians. Scholars on the subject disagree about this and it is a subject of much debate as to why the Sabean script (as the Ge’ez is also known) was adopted to write the Ge’ez language, Amharic and Tigrigna. Aside from the issue of the script being or not being indigenous, one would ask if it is really the most effective way to write Amharic, let alone afaan Oromo and other languages in Ethiopia. A case in point is the various attempts made in the past to do away with the script or to reform it in order for it to be a more effective mode of writing Amharic. I am certain that the professor is well aware of the deficiencies the Ge’ez script has even for writing Amharic. So, why does he continue recommending the Ge’ez script for afaan Oromo? He knows the hidden agenda for his regurgitation but I would note some of the reasons his friends put forward when they support his idea.

The first reason his supporters give is that not using the Ge’ez script for writing is the same as dividing the country. They believe that all Ethiopians should use one script – and that is Ge’ez. This concept of using β€˜one thing’ by all Ethiopians in order to be authentically Ethiopian is not a new phenomenon for we have been through previous regimes when speaking and writing Amharic was the requirement for employment and full participation in political, social and economic life in Ethiopia. But speaking one language or using the same script is neither a guarantee for unity nor a reason for the cessation of nations and nationalities in Ethiopia. If using one script could guarantee unity, Eritrea would have never seceded from Ethiopia.

The other reason is the opponents of Qubee do not declare explicitly their β€˜cultural superiority’ fantasy which they want to impose on Oromo. They do this to compensate for the miserably failed Ethiopian language policy which had been formulated to Amhara-ise Oromo. The children of those rulers now reappear by the back door to tell Oromo to use the Ge’ez script. Yes, the Oromo can choose and use any script in a way that suits the purpose of writing. But it is only the Oromo that chooses how to use it’s language. And, choose their script, they have.


2 Comments

  1. GALATOOMI Obbo MOOTII B. FOR SUCH LAST WARNING ⚠ TO Oromo ENEMIES AND IDENTITY LOST OROMOS THAT:
    IF IT IS NOT TO PROVOKE FOR ANOTHER DISINTENTEGRATION CALL BY ” UNITARY CAMP” EITHER BY MAD DOG MAN- FIKIRE TOLASAA OR OLD REGIME – LOVERS, QUBEE IS NOR FOR DISCUSSION , IS A SACRED SANTO !

  2. The same people who want Annolee memorial destroyed want also Qubee destroyed. Those people are “ilmaan haraamuu” who have lost their identity and Minilik settlers.
    Qubee is written by blood of thousands of our martyrs and will remain so for as long as oromos can remember them. However, it does not mean that Qubee can not be improved. For example, we can scrap all double letters in a word. Double letters are convenient for teaching and learning but not always practical and simple. Since letters and language itself are “conventions” we can make our own conventions to trade convenience for space, time and simplicity which means one written word having several meanings depending on CONTEXT like in English, or having to use umlauts as necessary. Example, Annolee can be written Anole, Qubee (Qube), Dachaasaa (Dachasa), Galatoomaa (Galatoma),Kitaaba ijoollee (kitaba ijole). Mana daadhii deemanii farsoo gaafachuun qaanii dha (mana dadhi demani farso gafachun qani dha). Farda daamaa (farda dama), Damma nyaanna (dama nyana). “Dama” has different meaning depending on context. Reader is expected to understand the meaning in each case.

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