Open letter to Pastor Tolessa Gudina: DENOUNCING your HATE SPEECH directed against the Oromo People

By: Ogessa Duri

Pr. Toelessa, you claim that God only knows “Ethiopia.” The fact is that in the original the term translated into “Ethiopia” when the Hebrew Bible was turned into the Greek, is “Kush.” To this day, the original manuscripts bear the reference to “Kush,” and not Ethiopia. Apparently, despite your claim of scholarly religious study, tagging your name with the inescapable title of a “Dr.”; you display both utter ignorance and a well calculated campaign of hate against Cushitic identities and languages you name and disparage through your denouncement delivered under the pretext of a religious sermon.

You also claim that being Oromo or identifying oneself as such is the violation of the first of the Ten Commandments: “I am the Lord, your God.You shall not have false idols before me.” You claim that native identities are akin to worshipping idols which, hence, a violation of this Biblical law. This is probably the worst of a long list of other assaults and insults you have declared against the Oromo people and their heritage under the pretense of preaching the Gospel for years now. You are telling an entire nation of millions who never chose to be born to an Oromo family, but only through the “will of God,” the order of nature, that it is a cardinal sin to be what they are created to be; and to speak the language they learned from their parents to speak. You are employing a sinister and deceptive ploy of using people’s sacred reverence of God to demonize the Oromo people, their language, culture, and history. There is no time to enumerate the heretical and pernicious nature of your claims, its theological fallacies and the spiritual deception you are concocting with this line of interpretation of the Sacred book. In fact, the only proper way to view you your words is as a direct assault, by a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a religious extremist preaching hateful politics. You may claim that your words are prophetic, speaking truth, however, the only truth that can be gleaned from your words is that you are malicious and devoid of any insight that can build up life. Your work practically promotes the development of denigration, denial and hatred against the Oromo and against one another.

The Oromo are a great people with a solid clear understanding of who they are, and where they come from, having beautiful culture, possessing profound dignity for their heritage, and displaying nothing but generosity to all their neighbors with which they share the Ethiopian system. They are not oppressing or terrorizing any other ethnic group politically, nor have they forced their language or culture on others. They have never tried to degrade, demean or dismantle the ethnic identity and heritage of others. However, all of these atrocities and more have been committed against them. To this day, the response of the Oromo is to seek freedom, justice, and respect for their God given rights to live and prosper on their land and in mutual respect with others. However, this respectful and prosperous coexistence is only and only ensured if their identity is not denounced in the manner you shamelessly did and continue to do; their language is respected in their native land, their right to elect their own leaders is ensured, and they are allowed to benefit from the resources that they toil to benefit from perpetually. In order to achieve these noble, “God given” rights, they have been struggling every imaginable form of dispossession and tyranny for over a century. And it is truly disgusting to see you as a religious person that leads an Amharic speaking church to diminish this great nation’s desire to embrace and assert their identity, cherish their language, culture, and values. You are in effect inciting and propagating the hateful sentiments and derision that already exists between some corners in the society against the Oromo. In order to seal that with a false divine stamp, you also label self respect and dignity as idol worship.

Pr. Toeless Gudina, aren’t you born from Oromo father and Oromo mother, yourself? Didn’t you grow up speaking this language, nurtured by an Oromo community that raised you? Were they also worshipping idols when they did those things for you? Have you no shame when you insult the very God you claim to speak for who created you as Oromo? Didn’t the first preachers that brought the gospel to you speak to you in Oromo language? Weren’t the first protestant churches out of which you emerged among the Oromo. Wasn’t a dignified Oromo, one of the pioneers who planted these churches, and advanced the message of the Gospel, after claiming freedom from slavery, translate this very Bible you use into the Oromo language? Are you saying he too was an idol worshipper? How can millions of people who only want to live in dignity as Oromo be so reviled by you, and your God? And who is this God you worship? Is he same God that loves the Oromo people? Or is he filled with hate towards them too like you are? How can you as a pastor supposedly preaching the God of love be promoting hatred and bigotry for the Oromo nation among your Amharic speaking listeners and followers, and the entire Ethiopia? How can you promote prejudice through subtle malice and cynicism, and using supposed divine authority? The questions are endless that can be posed to you and you will continue to confront, but it is not the purpose of this statement to write them all here. So we rest it with our utter disgust for your attacks against a people that never harmed you or any one else for their identity, beyond seeking the respect of their own.

We, as Oromo Christians, just like you, would like to make clear to all that listen to you that the days when the Bible or Christianity is twisted, and used to enslave Oromos is long over. It has come, and it has gone. The Oromo nation has survived the worst forms of blatant attacks from religious hacks like you innumerable times and instances in the past. It rejects this attempt as well, and the nation will make sure that you and those like you who promote injustice hiding behind the pulpit and the Bible will not succeed. It is tragic that you, a native Oromo, have become such a tool for forces of evil in this world, but you are not the first one, nor will be the last. Remember, for every Tolessa, there are millions of Oromos that have practically rejected your propositions, and will continue to do so. They will continue to work to end the endless sins of dispossession committed against their heritage and the heritage of many other people groups in Ethiopia in the name of “God.” We would like to vehemently assert our outright rejection of your hate campaign against the Oromo people, and demand that you immediately stop using the pulpit, and the name of God, to spread malice against a peaceful nation. The Oromo are created equal to all other peoples and their heritage deserves the same respect and honor. Your work and the efforts of those who, through deception try to keep the Oromo mind forever enslaved will not succeed. We demand that you apologize for all the hateful and disparaging words you have declared in this instance and many other instances against the Oromo nation. We strongly urge you to realize the damage you are doing to the truth and innocent people with blatant lies and distortions. We demand that you refrain from promoting this sort of hate speech through the pulpit against the Oromo or any other people or language in Ethiopia or anywhere in the world!

With regards,




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