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Sidaama wisdom over Hawassa for Oromia to emulate

Photo credit : Yohanned Ayele

Yohannes, Ayele
September 5, 2020

Sidaama, an old province in par with thirteen others, was unjustifiably reduced to a zone. The Sidaama nation is not only demographically higher than others in southern Ethiopia but also endowed with natural resources and possesses a higher level polity. It is well known in history for the bravery of its warriors. The most fascinating aspect of Sidaama culture is their kindness and accommodative behaviour. It is easy to find ease of mind among the Sidaama folks, young and old, if you care to reciprocate without reservation. When you approach a Sidaama native you hear a phrase which you would love to know the meaning of. You will certainly be humbled by the meaning of the phrase: “Dawoe Bushshu”. The literal meaning is just “Welcome”, but internally it means “let me die before you do”.

There is an almost endless list of things to say about Sidama; but the subject of this opinion piece on  Sidaama is about how the new National Regional State (SNRS) handled its new administrative status vis-a-vis its beautiful Capital. Hawassa is a cosmopolitan City. This attribute of the City has given it the advantage over other regional cities to draw a large flow of investment and the in-migration of best talents from all over Ethiopia. Besides the comfortably accommodative host society the fact that Amharic continued to become the City’s medium of communication created ease for the flocking business people to live and work in Hawassa without the obligation to learn  Sidaama language for everyday use.

The reason for the decision to elect Amharic as the official language in the City follows the adoption of Amharic as a working language by the SNNPR, a Region which speaks 56 languages in contrast to the single language regions of Somali, Afar, etc. During the tortuous march to Sidaama statehood there were widespread anxieties about the fate of non- Sidaama in a new SNRS. It is expected for Sidaama Regional State to make Sidaama language the official language of the State. As the State includes its Capital Hawassa, the bulk of the population of which is Amharic speaking non-Sidaama, the Regional State fell in a dilemma: Enjoy its right of using Sidaama language as an official working language and  respect the right of non-Sidaamas to continue to use Amharic for official purposes. The magic for the expansion and wealth of Hawassa within such a short time is nothing but in- migration from everywhere. Had the Sidaama Region been too rigid to exercise its right about language then the consequences could harm not only the non-Sidaama residents but also the Sidaama Region itself. Investment would decline and unemployment would rise as a result. Non-Sidaama residents could leave the City degrading its economic power and attractiveness.

Sidaama officials became realistic and aware of the merits and demerits of installing Sidaama language as an official working language in Hawassa and made a wise and courageous decision to retain the language status quo in the Sidaama Capital Hawassa. The wisdom of Sidaama could be adopted in similar cities in Oromia in order to avoid the tragic violence that is very easily triggered against non-Oromos.

Related Read : The Rush to Make Awassa a Symbol of a single Ethnic Group and a Milk Cow for a Few Ethnic Zealots Must Stop

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  1. Yohannes, You are violate the Humane righties of Sidama nation..Sidaama Regional State like the others State of Ethiopia there Owen state language thate is sidaminga. In Sidama Capital Hawassa sidaminga is official language. Aware of the merits and demerits of Sidaama language as an official working language in Hawassa is not baseness of you it is baseness of Sidama nation.

  2. Yes we sidamas are Ethiopians and we have no dilemma on it.and every one who comes to us is one of us so he should not bother.let me raise some points-1-we believe language develops through love and art so we don’t want to oblige anyone to speak and use sidama language.2-we stuggle for dignity and we got that.3-we are absolutely Ethiopians and everyone comes to us also comes to part of Ethiopia so nothing to bother. Finally we are trying to give service in any language we can including we are open to anybody who have idea ,capital and etc to develop sidama as well as ethiopia.


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