Defying the System: The Forgotten Rebellion of Abbaa Xoonee in Wallagga
The 1950s and the 1960s were crucial periods for the general African situation because it marked the advent of decolonization and eventual independence of the majority of the colonized peoples of the continent. At this time the pressure of independence and selfdetermination attained by other African countries and peoples has also been felt among the subjugated nations and nationalities in the empire-state of Ethiopia. In the 1950s and 1960s, several peasant rebellions took place in Ethiopia against the feudal regime of Emperor Hayla Sellase. Some of the major reasons of these turbulent rebellions in addition to conquest and subjugation of the last quarter of the nineteenth century included the imperial land and taxation policies as well as administrative injustice perpetrated against the peasant populations of the core regions and the peripheries. It was in the decades that followed the expulsion of the Italians from Ethiopia and the return of Emperor Hayla Sellase to power in 1941 that some of the rebellions such as the First Wayane Rebellion, the Gojjame Peasant Uprising and the Bale Peasant Revolt had occurred. All these discontents were suppressed by force of arms in which many lives were lost. It is significant to note that these rebellions have been more or less extensively dealt with by many Ethiopianist scholars. Moreover, the 1960 coup attempt led by the two brothers, Mengistu and Germame Neway has also been treated properly by the same writers. But unfortunately, the armed rebellion of most of the Nilo-Saharan peripheral peoples in western Wallagga which took place in 1945 E.C (1952/53 G.C) has been forgotten. This paper attempts to highlight the causes and the consequences of the Abbaa Xoonee rebellion. It will explain who Abba Xoonee was and what had happened to him when the rebellion was put down. It will also pay tribute to Abba Xoonee for he challenged the feudal oppression and exploitation exercised by Hayla Sellase’s regime on his people without any social and economic benefits in return. The paper is largely based on oral sources, such as folklore and poems supplemented by some written accounts and
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