Eulogy to Gujo No’ora

13 Jul

The giant of the Sidama elders and one of the vanguards of the Sidama demand for regional self-administration, Gujo No’ora passed on.  We are deeply saddened by the news of the death of one of the bravest and wisest Sidama elders.  Gujo No’ora, from Hula, Sidama is a prolific speaker, an oral historian, and a civil rights activist.  

In one of the meetings held in Sidama Cultural Hall in Hawassa some 15 years ago, Gujo No’ora stood up and narrated the history of the origin of the Sidama people more succinctly than an educated scholar could ever do.   I remember some of his words like today: He said in Sidaamuafo: “Xa yanna manni Sidaamu hiikkini dayinoro buuxe diaffino. Sidaamu Gibixete  gobaani dayino. Hatenne gobarra bi’re birqiqiti Sidaamu dhage borreesante worantino yinani.”  This is amazing oral evidence regarding the origin of the Sidama people passed from generations. Very few of our elders today are able to narrate the historical origin of the Sidama people as Gujo No’ora did some 15 years ago and perhaps before and after that.  His account of the origin of the Sidama people is backed today by several anthropological evidences.  “Gibixe” is  Egypt and  “Birqiqi Sidaamu dhage”  refers to the history of the ancient Egypt and the role of the Kushitic (Cushitic) peoples in the ancient Egyptian civilization, as well as the Kushitic civilization of the present day Northern Sudan. If any one of you have any chance to visit Northern Sudan today, you observe  among the ruins of the ancient Kushitic kingdom, more pyramids built by the ancient  Kushites than the number of pyramids you can find in today’s  Egypt.

Yes, Gujo No’ora account of our history was accurate. Most Kushitic peoples that live in North Eastern Africa today originated around Southern Egypt and Northern Sudan and migrated to the various areas they occupy today following a major climate change that led to desertification of the Saharan region thousands of years ago.   

In tribute to the fallen lion of Sidama, Gujo No’ora, let us visit what history has in store about the origin of Sidama and other Kushites.   

The first known ancient Kushitic state was the kingdom of Kerma that appeared around 2600 BC and that ruled all of Northern Sudan  and parts of Egypt. Incidentally, both Pharoanic Egypt and Kush excreted significant influences on one another to the extent that the 25th Pharoanic Egyptian dynasty was purely Kushitic.  Ancient historians describe the people who lived around South of ancient Egypt and Northern Sudan  people with black skin, and curly hair exactly like the Sidamas, the Afars , the Somalis and the Oromos.  

 After the Kerma Kingdom, Kush attained its greatest power and cultural energy between 1700 and 1500 BC during the Third Intermediate period in Egypt. During this period Egypt was occupied and dominated by the Asians called Hyksos. However, when the kings of the New Kingdom in Egypt, threw the Hyksos out of their country, they conquered northern Kush and brought it under the Egyptian rule.

Nevertheless, when the New Egyptian Kingdom collapsed in 1000 BC, Kush again arose as a major power by conquering all of northern Sudan.  Following the reassertion of Kushite independence in 1000 BC, the Kushites moved their capital city farther up the Nile to Napata. The Kushites then invaded and conquered Egypt and formed the twenty-fifth Pharaonic dynasty in the eighth century BC. Kushitic Kings Kashata and Piye (or Piankhi) were the first two Kushitic Pharaohs at the helm of the 25th Egyptian dynasty. The third Kushitic pharaoh was King Taharqa (more like the true Harqa’s of Sidama today). The 25th Egyptian Kushitic dynasty lasted for about one century and there were five Kushitic Pharaohs at its helm.

The Kushitic dynasty in Egypt came to an end with the Assyrian invasion of Egypt in 671 BC. The Assyrians, and later the Persians, forced the Kushites to retreat farther south. This retreat south eventually closed off much of the contact that the Kushites had with Egypt, the Middle East, and Europe. When Napata was conquered in 591, the Kushites moved their capital to Meroe right in the heart of the Kushite kingdom. Because of their relative isolation from the Egyptian world, the Meroitic Empire turned its attention to the sub-Saharan world.  

The majority of the remaining Kushitic peoples are believed to have left Sudan since the decline of the Meroitic Kush civilisation in the 4th century AD and began to live along with already existing smaller Kushitic groups throughout North East Africa. The North East African Kushitic peoples live currently in Sudan (Beja), Eritrea (Saho and Afar), the present day Ethiopia (Sidama, Oromo, Afar, Agaw, Ogadeni Somalis, etc,), Somalia (most Somalis), and Kenya (Rendille and Sakuye).

That was what Gujo No’ora would have liked to describe had he had written evidence spanning various Kushitic groups. He is rivaled only by Wena Hankarso of Duuba in Dalle who narrated the history of Sidama to virtually to every single European historian who has written on Sidama.

Gujo No’ora is an indomitable lion of Sidama. When I write this phrase I am holding my tears back. But then a man does not cry and Gujo No’ora had probably not cried ever! He has joined eternal heroes and heroines of Sidama in heaven: Wogara Qa’miso; Baalichcha Worawo; Lanaqamo Naare; Taklu Yota; Ashe Hujawa; Fiisa Fichcho; Yetera Boole; Gawiwa Siriqa; Shila Harqa; Rooda Utala; Wola Gosoma; Tumato Tuula and many others.

I was told that when the Prime Minister of Ethiopia held talks with the Sidama elders in Hawassa at the wake of the foiled general elections in 2005, Gujo No’ora handed over the Sidama cultural cloth, Gonfa to the PM and asked him to honour his promise to grant the Sidama people regional self-administration. He passed on disappointed as the PM did not keep his promise.  It is up to us who are left behind to ensure Gujo No’ora’s quest for Sidama regional self-administration is realized sooner than later!!

May his soul rest in peace !!

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2 Responses to “Eulogy to Gujo No’ora”

  1. ARARISSO LEDAMO July 14, 2012 at 7:30 am #

    he is our hero fother gujo and also model for sidama genaration.we must be shamed of what we know about sidama and how far our knowlogy could anlaysis where we came from.thank you hawassa tesonke.

  2. habte July 14, 2012 at 5:59 pm #

    He was amazing person, recently i watched his video battling for sidamas’ constitutional right with P/M who was insisting Sidama elders to accept his personal attitude with his puppet Shiferaw Shigute. thank you Hawassa Teesonke to post his Eulogy. May his legacy spark upon us.

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