“When the hands of the creator of all things created the large Central African Jungle, she took a rag from Him and threw onto the Mountains on the Northern end of the Lake Rudolf: so Kaffa was a woodland full of gloomy beauty”, as Mac Gruhl described the landscape of Kaffa.   Tilstone Beke describes the power and the strength of the Kaffa people, the King and the Kingdom prior the invasion and destruction of Menelik II and his brutal nobles as “The King of Kaffa was more powerful and richer than all the rulers of the whole of Abyssinia”.   Another evidence that proved the power of the Kaffa Kingdom [source:www.mfa.gov.et] 1554-1562, Oromo migration advanced north, overrunning most of Shewa far as Gondar and Wollo. The Oromo began to settle in the areas they have overran. The Mecha-Tuluma clan spread out across the south, and the west. The advance by Oromo continued to the west and southwest. Though in 1800s the Oromo migration advanced to overran and invade, expand to capture and settle on the land that belonged to the Kaffa Kingdom and went as far as the Gojeb River, they were halted by the powerful Kingdom of Kaffa. Though they migrated as far as Shewa, Gonder and Wollo and settled, the powerful Kaffa Kingdom and people stopped the Oromo from penetrating Kaffa Kingdom. Thanks to those forefathers of ours who were brave and protected our homelands and passed it to this generation. The truth being the above-mentioned facts and history has been documented, why the Oromos and others try to rewrite fake version out of the blue and confuse the young generation about our history. As has been mentioned and documented “Jimma never belonged to Oromo”. The funniest part is that on today’s Ethiopia, at the back of the Kaffecho people, without getting their permission, some authorities had annexed Kaffa Zone to Oromia and published a map indicating as a true history. Young children are being taught in schools this fake history. If one feeds repeatedly a fake information in the minds of children, they will be growing up with what they have been taught and will believe that it is true. Whom to blame? The children or those who are feeding the wrong information or the people who preferred silence instead of stopping and coming forward and challenge the wrong doers? That is what is happening in today’s Ethiopia. For one hundred years the Kaffechos are not reacting whatever happens and even if it affects their lives. What is wrong with them God only knows. Their homeland has been annexed to Oromia and no one dare to come forward to question why. Jimma has been taken from them, no question? The fertile land had been given to investors and the investors in return should have developed and the development should have changed the lives of the people, but that was not the case. Instead the farmers are working to the investors at a minimal wage that even couldn’t support their families. In some parts laborers mistreated in day light. Why are the people blind folded and don’t look around.  Recently, when the unique Kaffa Coffee Museum’s foundation was laid by President Girma Woldegiorgis at Bonga, the first thing Oromia authorities run to get a media coverage. The surprising part is that the so called Kaffecho authorities didn’t care and no one was bold enough to say no.  When all these mischiefs were done, all Kaffechos prefer silence and are submissive. Are you guys dead alive but not buried?  Our forefathers were symbols of Lions and tigers? Who did steal that spirit and strength? Don’t make them ashamed and bring shame to yourselves. You are eating the same food they did eat, the same land they were born, the same water they drunk. They left fertile land with vast forests. They paid huge sacrifices for the freedom you enjoy today sleeping on the fertile land they poured their blood. Unfortunately laziness had flourished on that fertile land. Most Kaffechos spend their time going from house to house and take ten rounds of coffee and satisfy themselves or go twice or three times a week to nearby market places and enjoy “tej”.  The old and the young including women had developed this culture.  Others who come from all corners of the country work hard and change their lives within a year. Look at the Amhara settlers at Gojeb, the Kambatta settlers at Bita Genet. Why are Kaffechos are not progressing is partly due to their laziness. They are in their comfort zone and blame others. Why those young and educated Elites could not create awareness and educate the people to work hard and improve their lives? Thank God, due to the “inset” resistance of the climate change they are not affected by drought. That is a blessing, otherwise it would have been the Kaffechos who would have gone starved.

In conclusion, the aggressive and merciless brutal invaders continued to revenge and abolish the once powerful Kingdom of Kaffa.  The boundaries that bundled by the Gibe River on the north, Bedele on the east, the Omo River on the south, the Kingdom of Gera on the north, Maji, Gimira and the Masongo on the west were downsized. This ancient, most rich and powerful Kingdom lost its power and fell on the hands of the despotic and brutal nobles Ras Wolde Giorgis, Ras Tessema and others. The most tragic revenge was the confinement of King Gaki Sherecho at Menelik Palace chained and his hand tied to a hand of a fellow innocent Kaffecho for 22 years.  What crime had he done, to pay such a heavy price? Why did they need to chain his hand with somebody’s hand?

Another important thing to point out is that the author of the Amharic sub-title was the so called Professor Lapiso. The way this so called historian wrote was a degrading and an insult to the Kaffa people. The world had recognized the title King or Tato. Even Menelik did not deny the status of Gaki Sherecho as King of the Kingdom of Kaffa. How come Professor Lapiso Delebo wrote stating the one who calls himself a king “አፄ ነኝ ባይ”? Who is he to judge the Status of Gaki Sherecho? He has no right to downgrade nor question the King’s title or status. It is unacceptable. Kaffechos had the right to question this so called historian. Does he know when Gaki Sherecho was captured and the Shewa nobles or mercenaries tried to chain him with ordinary chain, he refused and commented that: “Menelik is a King, so do I” and pulled out his gold chain instead? That King Gaki Sherecho was a King and his title should not be abused. What is more, none of the Kings of the surrounding Kings resisted and gave hard time to Menelik, be it north, south, east or west except the proud and brave hero and the people of Kaffa Kingdom, who resisted and fought for the freedom, while others surrender their land and freedom without any resistance. Kaffechos should be proud of King Gaki Sherecho. Had it was not for the traitors, the victory would have been reversed? Kaffechos have to be proud of him and celebrate his contribution because he led and fought to the end not to betray and humiliate his people. How do we honor such heroes? In the middle of Bonga, there is a so called square. In that small square, a corrugated iron sheet coffee pot and coffee cups were erected. (Shame on those who initiated that idea). It is true that Kaffa is the birth place of coffee. If that is meant to symbolize and show the origin of coffee, a better design should have been chosen to show the custom and the culture of coffee ceremony of the Kaffechos. Even the coffee pot used in that part of Ethiopia is unique than the rest of coffee consumers use. A statue of a war hero among the forefathers would have been a comparable choice. Kaffechos should open their eyes wide and look around. Isolation and silence will not help development. While the rest of the country is benefitting in every direction, be it education, economy, and infrastructure, the one left way behind are the Kaffa people in every direction. A statue had been erected for Atse Tewodros in the middle of the city (Piassa) in Gondar.  Same goes to Oromia to celebrate their heroes one way or the other. When one travels to the Southwest, nothing to see except the natural gift. The ancient Palace that was unique (had which used to have seven gates and security guard assigned at each gate had been completely demolished by Menelik army and no ruin is left to show its existence. Foreign and native historians had written about the King’s heroism and appreciated him and the Kingdom. I hope others will continue to do research and write in the near future. The Kaffechos give no recognition to their own brave heroes such as their Kong who gave his life for them. Recently his grandson had been crowned with a fake nickel crown in Bonga.  Is that a recognition to the price King Gaki Sherecho paid for the freedom of Kaffa? Is this meant to reinstate the Kingdom? Do the people of Kaffa know why such a shameful drama orchestrated?  If they do, had anyone questioned the whereabouts of the real gold Crown that Menelik took off from the head of King Gaki Sherecho?  King Gaki Sherecho sacrificed his life and died in exile for a good cause: not to hand over the freedom of his land and people. That great and powerful ancient land was the home of Gaki Sherecho and Engineer Kitaw Ejigu and others. No harm in demanding the rights and equality of the people. The people are on extreme poverty. What should be done to develop Kaffa? At the beginning of this article, a foreign writer had nicely described the landscape. He saw what the native people could not see. “በእጅ የያዙት ወርቅ ከመዳብ ይቆጠራል እንደምባለው ነው”. It is time to work hard and change the lives of our people.   To be continued:-

Fantaye Meko

Reply: moderator@kaffamedia.com