By Tadhi Liban
Mr. Sora was born in 1940 from his father Mr. Jarso Sabo and mother Mrs. Safoy Jarso in Borbor locality, present Borana Zone (years in the document are in Gregorian calendar). His exact date of birth was unknown, as the family did not keep a written record. He had four brothers among whom he was second in birth. He grew up in the family home through the process that every Borana child undergoes.
A Borana child grows up looking after the family livestock from a tender age to adolescence. At around six years, the child looks after kids and other young animals such as calves within and around a homestead. Masculine gender is used here to illustrate the process (it applies to feminine, as well, before marriage of a girl). As he advances in age, a young boy or girl drives the animals, first goats and sheep and later cattle, to grazing sites away from home. By the time he is nine years old, he can look after cattle not far from home. Mr. Sora Jarso grew up in his family home through this process until he was around twelve years old.
In the late 1940s, Emperor Haile Selassie I gave educational opportunity to children from pastoral areas like Afar, Somali and Borana. Under this condition 34 boys came from Borana region to Addis Ababa for education in 1947 and were admitted to Medhane Alem Boarding School. In 1952, 31 more boys got similar chance as their predecessors. Mr. Sora Jarso was in the last group which was admitted to the same School as the predecessors, in September 1952. After he completed grade 9 at Medhane Alem, the Ministry of Education closed secondary level education there and dispersed high school students among other boarding secondary schools in Addis Ababa.
Under this arrangement, Mr. Sora and his compatriots at secondary level education were transferred to General Wingate Secondary School to complete grades 10 to 12. In the new school, he became a prominent athlete in inter-school athletics competition. He was a record holder, at the time, among the school competitors in 100 and 200 meters events and broad jump. The school had a tradition of selecting from the students a young boy whom they called a “head boy”. The criteria which qualify a boy to this position were demonstration of leadership qualities in social life and activities in the school. Mr. Sora was elected as a deputy head boy in the school.
After completing grade 12 academic education at General Wingate Secondary School, he got a scholarship to Romania for training in physical education. He carried out the study for four years and returned home with a bachelor degree in physical education with emphasis on athletics.
On return home he was employed by Ethiopian Sports Commission where he worked for three years. This was the period during which internationally renowned Ethiopian athletes like Abebe Biqilla, Mammo Wolde and others out shined in the world athletics competitions. Mr. Sora was their coach at home and in international competitions. He left the Commission on his own free will and became a teacher of physical education at Menelik II Secondary School in Addis Ababa for two years. He left the School and was employed by Haile Sellassie I University (the present Addis Ababa University), where he worked as an instructor and Physical Education Department Head for around 30 years. He was retired from the University because of age and started living normal life among close friends and associates. Even in retirement life, he did not give up participation in sport activities as one of the organizers and judges in athletics and other different sport events in the country.
At the work place he was well mannered, resourceful, hard working and cooperative with superiors, colleagues and subordinates as well as students he used to teach. His advice and participation was sought by organizers of sport-events in the country. In his spare time, he never hesitated to share his knowledge and experiences in the field with them.
Mr. Sora had attributes that could qualify him as one of the greatest social mined human beings. He loved people by whom he was reciprocally loved. Within his capacity in providing service or assistance, he was almost always by the side of a person who faced a problem or challenge. This unique behavior made him popular among close friends, associates, at work place and neighborhood. University and college students from his homeland in and outside of Addis Ababa used to come to his home during weekends and relaxed there and used the facilities within as that of a guest house.
The current inflation in the country is so high that a person with limited resources can hardly make ends meet. Mr. Sora was a pensioner. What he used to collect in pension every month could hardly cover anything beyond routine daily expenses. Before his death, he got ill with prostate gland and his Doctor advised him to undergo a surgery. The Borana people in diaspora heard about his ailment; as they knew his financial status to meet the pending medication, they raised money on their own initiative and covered full cost of the surgery. So did his friends who resided in Addis Ababa and Borana Zone.
In domestic life he never got married; he remained a bachelor throughout. He had no offspring left behind, even outside of marriage. This status often mentioned by his relatives and friends with profound pain and remorse.
A few years before the end of his life, he started complaining about complex ailments such as arthritis, moderate hypertension and later prostate gland. He underwent a surgery for the prostate ailment at the Korean Hospital in Addis Ababa. After discharge from the Hospital, he seemed to be recuperating well at home other than complaints about limited inability to control urine in which his doctor was helping him with medication. At home he was eating meal almost normally and talking with visitors in relaxed manner. However, on September 14, 2013 morning, he got up from his bed and started walking toward living room. He collapsed on the corridor and when aid arrived to lift him up, he had already passed away. The immediate cause of his sudden death was not known as no autopsy was carried out on the body. He was entombed on September 15, 2013 at Hanna Mariam Church at Kotobe area in Addis Ababa, in the presence of many close and social friends and people from neighborhood.
An Association of Sports Professionals, of which Mr. Sora was one of the founders, organized a remembrance day on October 12, 2013 for four past renowned personalities in Ethiopian sports movement. They were Ydineqachew Tessema, Laqew Yigiletu, Tequame Wolde Tsadiq and Zena Wube. The organizers invited the families and friends of the persons in question. It was reported on the occasion that Mr. Sora was one of the initiators of the idea of the remembrance day. Unfortunately, he passed away three weeks earlier before the event. The organizers included his name as the fifth member for the occasion. The organizers who knew him very well as physical education instructor, and one of the active participants in sport competitions in the country, described his role and contributions to the invited guests. In the report about him, it was mentioned that, one of his hobbies in the sport profession was keeping records of the winners of athletics competitions in the country and outside in the world. In confirmation to this, there was an event that I witnessed. Two days after his death, a person whom Mr. Sora had closely known in the sport activities came to his home with a bag in hand. As the person told the people in the house, he went to Shashamane area, in Oromia Region, to facilitate athletics competition. Before departure to the area he met with Mr. Sora at his home recuperating from the surgery. Mr. Sora told the person to fetch him the outcome of the competitions. When the person came to Mr. Sora’s house, as per their prior agreement, he saw a tent stretched outside. He asked the people around what it was for. They told him that it was because of Mr. Sora’s death. He literally fell on the ground because of disbelieve of such a sudden occurrence. He told the people that he brought the results of the competitions in the bag he was carrying.
The organizers gave a globe made of glass on which the respective names of the persons, in consideration, inscribed to the families/friends who were invited to the occasion. I was invited to the occasion and received the award for him to hand it over to his immediate family.
Mr. Sora’s Tomb Inaugurated on 27th October 2013 by his close friends