Dej. Geresu Duki – the Unsung Oromo Hero Who Helped Defeat Fascist Colonialism in Ethiopia
Geresu Duki’s hometown Waliso had been the epicenter of the Oromo Protests in December 2015. The following is the story of Dej. Geresu Duki …
Geresu Duki (Garasuu Dhukii) was born in Waliso, in the National Regional State of Oromia in Ethiopia, around 1905; his father was ObboDhukii Gulummaa, and his mother Aaddee Warqee Elemoo. Growing up in the Maru locality in Waliso, Geresu Duki was known by the nickname Abbaa Booraa.
Dej. Garasuu Dhukii Gulummaa
By his early thirties, Fit. Geresu Duki became one of the army leaders of the resistance movement against the Italian Fascist colonial regime, which occupied all of Ethiopia, including Oromia, between 1936 and 1941. The Italian Fascist colonial regime converted all the people in Ethiopia to the class of subjects (i.e. second-class citizens) on their own country with the Fascist Italian colonial rulers as the first-class citizens, i.e. those citizens with real political and socio-economic power. All native farmers were subject to be evicted from their land at any time, and the land would then be given to Italian colonial plantation owners to grow coffee and other cash crops; other Italian colonial rulers went on to build factories, luxury homes and shops (such as the ones in areas known as Piaza and Kassanchis in Finfinne/Addis) on their newly acquired land. At the expense of the natives, they showed roads, luxury houses and factories, all owned by the Italian colonial rulers, as their contributions to drive darkness (i.e. poverty and backwardness) out of the dark continent.
During the five-year occupation of Ethiopia by the Fascist colonial regime, any Italian supporter of the colonial regime could go to any part of Oromia (and any other part of Ethiopia) and claim any land of the natives (who had been made subjects) for their own; any native (such as Oromo, Amhara, Sidama, etc.) who opposed the Italian colonial regime’s eviction was shot dead or thrown to prison. Those who protested these unfair living conditions were taken to the streets and murdered summarily in public, or were taken to remote prisons to languish and die. Another Oromo hero Major Abdisa Aga was one of those protesters in Ethiopia who refused to accept the Italian colonial system, and later got caught – he was taken to Mogadishu (then under the Italian colonial rule) and then to Europe. His fight to get his freedom back from the colonial grip exemplifies valor for all mankind.
Tefera Geresu Dhuki, 15-year-old son of Geresu Duki
It was this Fascist colonial regime, that was armed to its teeth with the latest modern weapons of that era, that the ragtag Oromo army of Fit. Geresu Duki fought against in the trenches, on the hills and meadows of the Waliso-Jimma corridor in Oromia as well as in the Omo region in the Southern State in Ethiopia – in cooperation with the British/Allies’ forces in East Africa. At the height of the war against the Fascist colonialism, Fit. Geresu Duki was able to mobilize an army of 55,000 Oromo men and women, including his own son, Tefera Geresu Duki (aged around 15 at the time), to liberate the region spanning from Waliso to Jimma in Oromia, and to the Omo region in Southern State in Ethiopia.
Soon after the completion of the war against the Fascist colonial regime in 1941; however, Dej. Geresu Duki’s decorated and heroic war achievements were found to be threats to the political power of the then imperial regime of Ethiopia. Because of this, Dej. Geresu Duki was banished to remote corners of the country – he spent his years humiliated on the land he helped liberate from Fascist colonialism. He finally died of a suspected poisoning case while he was under house arrest in Adama in the mid 1960’s. In those days, many heroes and heroines were denied recognition for their achievements during the war against the Fascist colonial rule due to the fear of their political influences against the then imperial rule; some like Dej. Geresu Duki were banished and lived the rest of their lives humiliated; others like Dej. Belai Zelleqe of Gojjam were executed summarily.
The following is an Afan Oromo biography of Dej. Geresu Duki.
Garasuu Dhukii (Abbaa Booraa)
In magnificent silhouette, Dej. Geresu Duki watches his army cross the Omo river into Italian territory (circa 1936-1941)