Response to Faisal Roble’s Rattling Hullabaloo Over Figru Tolosa’s BahirDar University Remarks
By Ali [Sheikh] Ahmed Abdi
“Inaad doomanaysaan kolkii, gabay la doonaayo
Hal duwaaya dulucdaad rabteen, looma daawado e
Adoo xarfaha sii daawadayoo, tii macna leh doortay
Waa in midhihii lagu daabacaa, ha is dabooleene…,”
(Abdullahi Ma’alin Ahmed-Dhoodan)
It was late in the evening when I first received Faisal Roble’s letters filled with complex trepidation that he released to the public through social media a few days ago. The first letter appeared on his Facebook page and was written in the Somali language, and therein he made a pledge that he will publish the English version entitled ”Bahir-Dar: Torturing Somali History” on Wardheernews.com, a site he founded and where, often, he is too fond of filing his usual follies.
As I continued to pore over them again and again, I found that this cultured man, Faisal Roble, for some reason best known to him, took the trouble of making an abhorrent outcry forewarning against what seemed to many a fictitious ogre evolving from the Amhara region. A monster whose intent is to invade and exterminate conclusively, the Somali nation in the Somali region of Ethiopia. Spine-chilling reading indeed, God forbid! Although the entire texts were not seminal enough to call for a swift rebuttal, I felt compelled to do so. Once more, I rewarded myself the chance to re-read Faisal’s tawdry construction, which failed to present the external reality in a true light. From the tranquility of my own analysis, I decided to counter his arguments with a concrete proposition based on fact to de-construct his rattling and uproarious discourse. In so doing, I prefer to focus on the starting point of my diagnostic review of Faisal’s letters, though I felt the one in the Somali version had more information than the English article, or perhaps my Somali reading habits are more careful than my English reading. Thus, on the evidence I shall provide here, the reader of this article should be able to judge whether Faisal could be considered competent or simply acting on his ego, in order to weave a tale of deception.
I found out that the contents of both letters exhibited Faisal Roble’s nervousness over someone’s opinions shared in the grounds of Bahir Dar University during the annual graduation ceremony of 2019. Although he apparently tried to conceal his real motif (egocentrism) the practice of singling out his target (Mustafa Omar) for unmerited blame using scapegoating and duplicity, remains crystal clear for anyone, who had the time to peruse Faisal Roble’s baseless propaganda notes. Thus, both letters indicate Faisal’s failure to separate his emotional compositions from actual reality, which reveals his innate trait to undermine other people’s points of view when they differ from his own.
On Saturday, July 20th, 2019 a delegation composed of clan leaders, religious leaders and regional government officials led by the Deputy President of Somali Regional State of Ethiopia ended their journey in Bahir Dar, where they received a high-level reception hosted by community members and senior government officials from the Amhara Region. The objective of the trip to Bahir Dar was to attend the graduation ceremony of Bahir Dar university students, as well as to join the inauguration of the new president of the Amhara regional state, who replaced the recently-murdered Amhara regional president.
This was the entire theme of the Bahir Dar event. It was neither a state-led interdisciplinary, scientific conference intended to re-write Ethiopia’s history, where Somali’s role of history in the horn of Africa was undermined or deceptively misinterpreted nor a legal review of Bills that have been passed by the Houses of Parliament that corrupted the history of the Somali nation in Ethiopia or where the Somali regional president intentionally declared assents to the Bill. The long and short of it is if the Bahir Dar trip had any purpose other than that stated above, let my learned friend come right out and tell us the truth behind his divisive article ‘Bahir-Dar: Torturing Somali History’, even if it is not polite or pleasant, call a spade a spade.
In his letter, Mr. Faisal pointed out a man he named as Figru Tolosa, claiming that together with him, they used to write opinion pieces to the Ethiopian Review newspaper—a paper in which both of the founders were hereditary members of the Shewan Amhara aristocracy, a club he adored in the past but from which he has now apparently distanced himself. The Ethiopian Review was just a news and opinion paper published both in English and Amharic. It was first launched in 1991 by Hailu Indashaw who took the role of publisher, and Elias Kifle who become the editor, similar to the Wardheernews paper. Therefore, it was neither an academic publishing house nor a notable scientific journal of periodical publications envisioned to supplement the empirical findings or invention of a new philosophy of science.
Although both Dr Figru Tolosa and Faisal Roble were contributors of opinion pieces to this newspaper, Faisal's letter posted on his Facebook page lamented that he used to overcome or beat Dr Figru Tolosa, ‘Xiligaas aniga runtii ka adkaa…,’ while Faisal here identified himself as the victor, I find the very proposition outrageous when he avoided including this information in the English version. The question that began to form in my mind is that if the claim of the victor is true why did he omit this point from his article?
By the same token, Mr Faisal deliberately evades to mention to his audience, the ‘how?’ and ‘in what way?’ he used to vanquish his oponent, Dr Figru. What was the central theme of the debate with his contending fellow? Here I found that the conclusion of his entire claim of triumph over his rival lacks dialectical reasoning, in that he did not mention who were the characters designated to make the ruling between the two. Faisal should either delete the letters once and for all or else resurface to tell us how he triumphed over the man he regarded as his rival. In the event he fails to do so, then readers are left wondering if what he has written is actually true.
One thing Mr Roble failed to reconcile in his argument is that Figru Tolosa’s opinion is not a sacred sphere of ‘Deity in absentia’ that indulges a divine green light for retelling the Somali nation’s history in entirety during that one event. It was and is as trivial as he opinionated, however, it became a myopic vision when used as an indicator to gauge president Mustafa’s epistemic state.
Nevertheless, in a positive spirit, the message of maintaining distinct ethnic cultures (Somali) within a country with genetic heterogeneity is fine-tuning, but what is not fine is the polarization of the specific views of Dr Figru and his other colleagues that give rise to such insolence. Faisal’s uproar is not dissimilar to his usual blatant criticism against President Mustafa Omar. Perhaps it is a matter of priority for Faisal Roble to settle some of his past personal grudges against President Mustafa, which could explain the saddening reality that seems to be taking a heavy toll on Faisal Roble’s earlier intellectual discourses.
One thing I do know these days, particularly since Mustafa Omar became the president of the Somali region is that Mr Faisal Roble really knows full well how to disown skillfully his inconsistencies and easily forgets his personal opinions of the past. One very handy example is the hate language he used to describe the Oromos’ youth ‘Qeerro’ in 2018. Faisal resoundingly libelled “Qeerro” as a regional terrorist group determined to destabilize Ethiopia. On the contrary, exactly a year later, he started skillfully using preemptive deflection strategies in a bid to re-write those destructive remarks he made earlier against the Oromos’ Qeerro.
I have often questioned whether Faisal’s worries on why Mustafa disappoints the Oromos now are out of charity or just another clever tool to incite inter and intra-ethnic hatred. The nexus between Faisal Roble’s self-anointed responsibility and assurance to safeguard the Somali nation’s history, as he always claims and the glaring inconsistencies of his emotional articles is very narrow indeed. Perhaps the purpose of these articles are to regularly provoke heated debates and controversies, which are all well and good if they can lead to positive outcomes where some middle ground can be discovered or at least opposing points of view can be heard and appreciated. However, this does not seem to be the case at all.
Regardless of the camouflage and Faisal Roble’s attempt to align himself with the spirit of the time, the fact remains that he may never change his apparent disdain towards the Oromos. And yet, it seems he employs this tactic to exploit any chance to denigrate President Mustafa Omar’s image as a mere protagonist of ethno-nationalism and anti-federalism; a point constantly used these days against some of the leftist Amhara politicians.
This is the same tactic most emotional writers use to skip between attacking and withdrawing, so as to keep their targets wobbly and off-balance with a desire to undermine their position and drag down their confidence. Perhaps the reason could be that these same writers are governed by powerful egos that expose them to distress and self-conflict, which they do not have the foggiest idea how to address internally. Since there is no measure of physical rationale, compliance or consideration sufficient to redress or fulfil their reservations caused by their condition, they go on the offensive having little or no provocation.
I bet, whenever the opportunity arises, Faisal will not waste the tiniest bit of his time to re-kindle his erstwhile feelings of loathing against the Oromo nation. I was taken by surprise when I saw his rattling uproarious messages against the remarks made by some of the speakers in the graduation ceremony of Bahir-Dar University where Faisal accused President Mustafa over the personal remarks of one or two participants in the ceremony. Believe me, I could not help smiling to myself because the pretext of Mr Roble’s radical hullabaloo was all so diminutive and of course foreseeable. Alas, did he not know that freedom of personal opinion is a natural right of every human being and freedom of thought and expression is nurtured in places of learning?
In conclusion, from the recurring themes of these letters, it seems that they are spiteful, unjustified concoctions that depend on using a baseless ploy on the one hand, while making a mountain out of a molehill from an individual’s opinion on the other. All of this seems to reveal Mr Roble’s intention to dishonor the good reputation of the current President of Somali region (Mustafa Omar) by engaging in a blistering character assassination of the man once Faisal himself regarded as the best of his bosom friends.
History should always be open for debate in public discourse, owing to the fact that invariably, historical accounts are perceived through the lenses of apparent winners and losers, that are subject to conscious and unconscious bias. While we are unable to change history, it is important that we strive to hear different sides of the stories that have shaped our nation and peoples, being as mindful as we can about bias, in order to draw out wise lessons that would propel us forward towards a more peaceful, just, tolerant and equitable society.
Ali [Sheikh] Ahmed Abdi is a PhD Student of Security Studies, Doctoral School of Military Science at the National University of Public Service in Budapest. Hungary and can be reached at Email: Dhagaweyne3@gmail.com