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History of Oromo Writing and the Contribution of Dr. Mohammed Reshad November 1, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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???????????Toltu Afaan booksHirmatadubbii afaanoromoAfaan Oromo is the ancient indigenous language of Africajioota Afaan Oromookemetic alphabet (Qubee)qubee durii fi ammaa

Sheik Mohammed Rashad  was a very prominent scholar celebrity among the Oromo people.   The alphabet he prepared  developed from the Latin and is easier to use. One particular advantage his alphabet has, it can be typed using English typewriter.

The second group of students who travelled abroad for studying include all youth who by their own free will decided to travel. They were not sponsored by any government or non governmental organization. They had no scholarship grant. They did not know where to go, what to study, for how long, and what the expense was. The only thing they had  was the desire to learn.  They travelled on foot; crossed  borders and  reached  a neighbouring country. From there, only a few got the oppertunity to reach a destination in the Middle East. A number of those who travelled on foot did not even cross the border. Death was  their fate, because of hunger, disease, or attack from wild animals.  Most who traveled in this way were Muslims  and among them who successfully completed his studies and contributed a lot to his people was Dr. Shek Mohammed Rashaad.

Sheik Mohammed Reshad was born at Laga Arbaa, Carcar district, West Hararge zone in East Oromia. At school age he started learning Islamic education from his father who was his teacher. Rashad was a fast learner who completed basic and intermediate education in a short period of time. He was a nationalist who rejected the suffering of the Oromo under the repressive Neftenya regime. When he grew to be a teen ager, his father allowed him to travel to learn and seek knowledge. One day, he decided to travel with his friend. They started their journey on foot from Laga Arbaa.  Along their way they have travelled through many villages and towns, but he mentions only two i.e. Chiro and Harar. When asked why he mentioned only the two his answer was as follows. “When I reached the town of Chiro I saw Abyssinian soldiers performing their routine parade. I saw a similar thing in Harar too. At that time, I thought the enemy soldiers subjugating the Oromo were encamped only at those two places and one needs to get rid of those soldiers to free the Oromo people. Therefore, I decided that I and my friend should travel abroad, meet with Muslims, explain the situation of our people, ask for arms, get armed with fire arms and hand grenades, return back home, one of us to Harar and the other to Chiro, set an agreed upon date and time, launch a pre-emptive attack, finish the enemy army and liberate our people. That was what I thought to accomplish at that young age.  This makes his purpose of travel abroad a dual one: education and politics.  First he crossed the border and entered Djibouti on foot. From there he crossed the Red sea by boat and reached Yemen. From Yemen he travelled through the Arabian Desert and finally made it the city of Medinah in Saudi Arabia where he settled for some time. During this long travel, he faced many difficulties and obstacles some of which were undoubtedly fatal. Had it not been for the help of Allah he would have not reached his adult hood to tell the story. Following a brief period of stay in Saudi Arabia, he travelled to Syria where he started his studies. Upon completion of his studies he was congratulated but was seen off without a diploma or a certificate. Because of this and the counseling he received from his friends he travelled to Egypt where he got registered at Al Azaar University. He continued his studies and graduated with BA and then MA degrees. His major was religion but he has taken several courses in sociology, psychology and counseling, logic and linguistics.

Dr. Rashad was not only a scholar who proved himself with his knowledge, but a nationalist who showed himself with what he did for the nation. At the University of Al Azaar there was a department where foreign languages were taught. Among the courses one was the Amharic language. He could not believe his ears when he heard it first until he confirmed that it was true. At that time, he prepared an official request and presented it to the department to include Oromo language in their courses. His request was denied and he asked why it was denied. The answer given to him through an indirect body was “Because the Oromo language has no alphabet.” He got the answer from an indirect source. It won’t be difficult to guess what this has triggered in him. He felt very bad and decided that all his efforts so far were for himself the rest should be for his people. He believed that the Oromo language should have an alphabet and must be a written language. He took this responsibility upon himself and began his work towards the goal. First he studied the efforts of Aanniyyi and Danniyyi and the work of Bekri Saphalo. He analyzed both and tried to understand the pros and cons of both alphabets if used for Oromo language. Finally he set three fundamental criteria to fulfill before any alphabet can be chosen. The three criteria are:

1)      The alphabet should completely represent the Oromo phonemes

2)      The people who can teach it should be available easily and everywhere

3)      Typewriters and printing press must be readily available

Both alphabets were found not to fulfill the criteria. The Arabic alphabet could not fulfill all the three. Its symbols do not represent the entire phonemes because it is short by eight symbols. It means it does not have symbols representing eight sounds which are currently represented by: “ /C/, /CH/, /DH/, /G/, /NY/, /PH/, /X/ and /Q/. Because of the Oromo accent and the presence of sounds loosely close to them we can disregard the last two i.e. /X/ and /Q/ To explain the six sounds for which the Arabic alphabet has no symbols nothing is better than the example produced by Dr. Rashad himself. It goes,  ask any Arab to pronounce the following sentence: “Dhagaa caphsii cirracha nyaadhu” and see for yourself that he/she cannot. Similarly you cannot write that sentence using the Arabic alphabet. Symbols can be modified to represent those sounds but no typewriters or printing presses are readily available for use. Because of this reason the Arabic alphabet as it is cannot be chosen for Afaan Oromoo.

Source: gulelepost.com

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