Justice Prevailed: Long live Nagelle Borana
The Gujii Zonal administration has been ordered to restore the original name of Nagelle Borana. Previously, ardajila reported that mysteriously, Nagelle Borana Hospital name board was found whitened one morning. Before this incident, several other institutions name board has been changed by removing the word “Borana” from descriptions. However, this action was challenged by Boran society. The challenge has bear fruit and Gujii zonal administration has been directed to include the word “Borana” in every appropriate places. Authorities have emphasized that the land belongs to Borana-Oromo and any change to indicate otherwise is not acceptable. In addition there is indication that the Oromiya regional authorities are looking for the person/s responsible for this action.
This victory could have not been possible without the determination of Borana elders who worked hard to bring about this issue to attention. The society commends their hard work and wishes them good luck on continuing struggle for justice, the first one being returning Liban under Borana Zone. In addition, the Borana society is thankful for the federal and Oromia zonal authorities who helped justice to prevail.
Boran community divides its land in to four major parts, Saku, Waso, Dire and Liban. While Saku and Waso are located in Kenya, Dire and Liban are located in Ethiopia. Although all the regions have important role in the life of Borana society, Liban is significant. Boran people say “Lafa libeeni angafa” meaning “Liban is the eldest of all the land”, signifying the importance of Liban in the life of Boran society.
Nagelle Borana is one of the historical and traditional places for the Borana community in particular and Ethiopia in general. It is located in the current Liban wareda of the Guji zone in the southern oromia region. The literal meaning of Nagelle Borana is ‘peace for Borana’. This originally comes from the prayers Borana’s customarily do every time their pray to their God. Boranas like to mention the geographical areas as they pray. Also their prayers include the water wells, animals, people and everything around them. As elders lead the prayers, others follow by saying “Naggee, Naggee, Naggee” which means peace, peace, peace. So the name Nagelle is derived from the word Naggee. The town of Nagelle Borana is regarded as a reflection of Borana community value, which is peace, love, and respect for all.
The name is not only limited to the values the Borana people has, the town itself is located in the center of Liban, where Borana perform their traditional rituals every year. For the world it has extreme historical significance that goes back to the First World War where British forces drove out the Italian colonizers. In addition to that, in the 1980s when the forces of General Ziad Barre invaded Ethiopia, his forces besieged the outskirt of Nagelle Borana and massacred children, women and elders of Boran society indiscriminately. However, later, they were beaten by the national defense and significant contribution of the local people.
Despite this significant traditional and historical importance the town has, there is a movement by some group of people to change the name of the town to destroy its history and the attachments the Borana people has to the town. Especially, the 2005 zoning of Liban Wereda, which is predominantly occupied by the Borana people, under the Guji zonal administration has negatively impacted the name of the town. The Guji zone administrators who don’t have any significant link to the history of the city have been taking measure to change the name of the city since the town has come under Guji zone. The Guji Zonal administration has been attempting to change name of schools, letter headings, offices and other major institutes. Interestingly, in this process, the pattern shows that the only word altered is “Borana”. Thus, changing the name “Nagelle Boran” to “Nagelle”.
As a continuation of the eradication of the Borana name from the city name, Last year the Nagelle Borana Hospital name board was found whitened out by unknown people. Up to now, no one has claimed responsibility for this deed. Interestingly, the Guji Zone authority has not commented on this issue yet. However, the Borana community and other concerned citizens have voiced their opposition through several means. Although it is not confirmed, several Nagelle Borana residents allege that the Guji Zone authority might be responsible for this unjustified act. It is interesting that the name of a major institution like Nagelle Boran Hospital could disappear overnight without the awareness of the zonal authority.
As the name indicates, undeniably, Nagelle Borana belongs to Borana. Despite this fact, since 2005 it has been administered by Guji zone rather than Borana zone. On the other hand, Bule Horaa (Hagere mariyam), which is mostly populated by Guji people, has been included in the Borana zone. Although the exchange was proposed to ease administrative burden, the residents wonder to why they have been under different administration than their fellow Boranas or Gujis, respectively. While both Nagelle Borana and Bule Hora residents are equally unhappy of the exchange, the Nagelle Borana residents have been experiencing numerous hostile moves towards them from their administrators. At one time, the Guji Zone administrators have pushed hard to change the name Negele Borana to Nagelle Gumii, Nagelle Guji, or Nagelle anything else but Borana. In contrast, up to now there is no major or minor threat posed against the identity of Bule hora from the Borana Zone administrators. Then, why Guji Zone administrators are too hostile towards the identity of Nagelle Borana, which existed since the town was established?
It worth to note that Bule hora has been enjoying a great deal of development under Borana Zone administration. One of major benefits Bule hora received as part of Boran zone is the opening of Bule Hora University. With the university at their vicinity, the local people are benefiting from several opportunities the university has been creating to them. These include creation of job opportunities, business attraction, easy access to higher education and more. According to the locals of Yaa’bala (Yabelo), and other parts of Boran zone, most of infrastructures aimed at developing in Boran zone have been diverted to Bule hora and they feel that they are left out of the budget allocations. Contrary to the development of Bule Hora, Negelle Borana town does not show any noticeable development as part of Guji Zone administration. Instead it is not only the development of the town that has been hindered but also its identity has been threatened day and night since it became part of Guji Zone.
Within last few months, there was an informal request from Guji zone to return Bule hora under Guji Zone. Similarly, the Boranas has shown a desire to get Negelle Borana back under Borana zone administration. For most Boranas the zoning of Nagele Borana, Bule Hora and the surrounding weradas under Guji zone and Borana zone, respectively, is not helping them in terms of development and fair administration particularly for Nagele Borana town. Actually, people are wondering what type of administration has been eased-off with the particular exchange. Thus, they believe it is time to stop the experiment of easing off administrative work, which did not benefit them, and return the territories under their respective zones.