Tribute to Nigussie Roda Utala

1 Aug

Nigussie Roda Utala was born from his father Roda Utala and mother Wochale Chamara in February 1957.

Niguise Roda Utala completed his primary school in Hache Norwegian Luthern Mission primary school in Bansa. In his quest to advance his education, he joined Birru Woldegeberiel Junior secondary school in Kibremengist town, in the former Jemjem sub province of the present day Oromia region. However, his secondary education was abruptly interrupted following the Ethiopian revolution in 1974, which promulgated a law enforcing a nominal return of land to the tiller. Opposing the repressive rule of the military regime,  Nigussie and his father had subsequently joined an armed resistance movement that was operating in border areas of the former Bale province, in Oromia and and Sidamaland immediately following the 1974 revolution.   

Nigussie Roda Utala continued to fight the Derg (military junta) with untold bravery together with Yetera Bole, Hagos Utala, Argata Gunsa, Agegnew Yetera, Amare Gunsa, and other Sidama heroes for three years between 1974 and 1977. In 1977 he joined the Sidama Liberation Movement led by Woldeamanuel Dubale and contributed immensely to shape the movement in terms of mass mobilization, dissemination of the movement ideology to the masses and supply of weaponry for the armed struggle.

In 1980 Nigussie Roda Utala, together with other Sidama freedom fighters travelled to the neighboring Somalia on foot for 30 days to receive military training to liberate the Sidamaland. He and other Sidama freedom fighters received 6 month military training in Gerbahare province, in Dolo district, Duse Mereb military camp in Somalia in 1980.   After receiving military training on both combat and command skills for 6 months, Nigussie served as deputy commander of the 2nd division of SLM’s 2nd military Birgade which was led by Hagos Utala. Nigussie led the SLM military division in battle fields in Haroressa, Bansa, Harbagona, Dalle, Hula and Hawassa and accomplished several military victories over the Derg regime and gallantly liberated a number of districts and sizable Sidamaland from the military regime. He was an accomplished and respected Sidama freedom fighter.   

In addition to this, in a battle that took place in Bale province in Gensobo district, Worka town, Nigussie Roda Utala captured two Derg soldiers alive with their weapons. He dismantled the Derg military camp in Hogisso town killing a number of Derg soldiers.

In 1981 when SLM launched a counter offensive in Gura and Offorso areas in the former Jemjem sub province  to neutralize attacks orchestrated by the Derg through the local inhabitants, Nigussie participated in lighting night attacks that liberated areas stretching to Iya river in the said province.

Following SLM’s change in the strategy of the liberation struggle, in early 1980s, Nigussie’s father Roda Utala was killed in the battle field by the the Sidama bandits. [Alas! bandits continue to kill the true sons of Sidama even after 30 years of Roda Utala’s assassination!]

After the assassination of his father by the Sidama bandits and in his determination to carry the message of the fallen Sidama heroes and heroines in the battle field forward: “Ninke reyinumorono  sharronke reytonke” translated as “ even if we die the Sidama liberation struggle should never die”, Nigussie decided to travel back to Somalia to gather further support for the liberation movement. However, by  then the Derg regime had fully controlled areas between Sidama and Somalia including parts of the current Oromia region, Oganden lands occupied by Geri, Gura, Germude, Dawed and the like he was forced to travel 59 days on foot through  Harar province to reach his destination in Somalia.

He was an invincible freedom fighter who shouldered uncountable responsibilities for the liberation of his people.  Simply put, he was a brave Sidama freedom fighter.

Nigussie Roda Utala was the first person in the history of the Sidama people to broadcast the SLM’s  political  propaganda in Sidaamuafo from Somalia.   

Nigussue Roda Utala paid immeasurable sacrifices fighting against national subjugation, oppression and humiliation of  his people by the military dictatorship.

To retaliate Nigussie’s countless victories against highly armed and sophisticated military in battle fields, the Derg regime bribed few Sidama bandits to expose the whereabouts of his father Roda Utala who was then brutally murdered together with his younger daughter in Welle Hangala Farmer’s Association in Haroressa district in 1982. Nigussie’s father and his daughter were buried in the same grave by the bandits and Derg soldiers. His mother was badly wounded with rounds of bullet but survived and is alive to date to witness the ordeal of the family, which is aggravated today by the loss of her heroic son.  

Despite the ordeal he has endured, Nigussie had never given up his struggle against injustice on the Sidama people.  The brutality of the military regime including mass murder, cutting the breasts of Sidama girls, cutting the private parts and chopping the heads of Sidama men and hanging them on rural village markets to terrorize the rest of the population, never forced  the Sidama heroes like Nigussie Roda to succumb to the fear of death; instead it galvanized the struggle for freedom in the scale never hitherto witnessed in the nation’s history.   

Nigussie Roda continued his struggles for the liberation of the Sidama people while residing in Somalia until 1990, when the Somali government was overthrown. Following, the political turmoil in the country, he fled to Kenya where he lived until 1991. After the dawn fall of the brutal military regime in May 1991, Niguissie Roda Utala returned back to his beloved home land, Sidama, and continued his peaceful political activism in SLM.   He continued to serve as the head of the Public Relations Department of SLM until the EPRDF regime incarcerated him for two years in 1993 together with Yilma Chamole and Menkir G/ Mariam for alleged illegal mobilization of people for antigovernment activities. After being released from jail in 1995, Nigissie Roda Utala continued his peaceful struggle for the right of the Sidama people through active participation in citizen political awareness campaigns and participated in nominal elections  every 5 years.

While actively advising and working to the realization of the Sidama demand for regional self-administration, spearheaded by the gallant Sidama youth today, he succumbed to his illness on July 26, 2012. Nigussie Roda Utala was 54 years old, married and a father of 3 boys and 3 girls.  

We thank all who shared our sorrow on this day

From his comrades and families  

The three most important things the current generation shoud  learn from the history of this Sidama liberation icon:

1)      Resilience and perseverance,

2)      Selflessness and commitment to national cause

3)      Understating carefuly that the Sidama had and will always have their own share of bandits!


5 Responses to “Tribute to Nigussie Roda Utala”

  1. salela August 11, 2012 at 12:51 pm #

    we the young generation lost a man.

  2. salela August 11, 2012 at 12:52 pm #

    we lost a man

  3. woshicha woxe February 8, 2013 at 1:13 pm #

    we should struggle to share his legacy.

  4. goble May 22, 2013 at 1:49 pm #

    we will wine not emmedetly but deffinetly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. goble May 22, 2013 at 1:52 pm #

    NINKE REYIINUMORONO SHARRONKE DIREEYIITANNO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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