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Professor Martha Kuwee Kumsa: Unsung heroine and iron lady! September 10, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist

 

Professor Kwee kumsa, inspirational Oromo woman

“Even though my imprisonment was limited to the radius of the prison compound – Ethiopia itself was a giant cell.”

Martha Kuwee Kumsa is an Oromo born in Ethiopia where she worked as a young journalist in the later half of the 70’s. She was separated from her three young toddlers, tortured and thrown in jail where she remained incarcerated without charge or trial for the ten years of the 80’s. She was released and brought to Canada through the intervention of Amnesty International and PEN International. She has chosen social work as her mid life career change and now teaches Social Work at Wilfred Laurier University.


(Jun 17, 2006)
Martha Kuwee Kumsa is standing in front of her social work students at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo. Out of the corner of one eye, the Ethiopian-born woman catches sight of a man in uniform lingering in the hall. She continues her lecture, but her heart beats faster and her breathing becomes heavier. Then she gets a clear view of the man — and it’s a university security officer, not a soldier come to drag her away. She relaxes.

“It’s amazing how the brain works and the body responds,” the soft-spoken Kumsa says of the triggers she has learned to cope with over the years.

Martha Kuwee Kumsa of Kitchener is at home in Canada, but still has strong feelings about her native Ethiopia. For years she had long dreadlocks, but two months ago she cut them off in a symbolic gesture.

Terror, struggle, pain and grief have all been part of a long journey in which she lost her husband, her home and sense of security.

Two months ago, in an act symbolic of those losses, she lifted her dreadlocks and cut them off.

Kumsa, 51, who now lives in Kitchener, had let her hair grow since moving to Canada and starting work on her PhD. This spring, however, she decided a woman her age shouldn’t have hair down to her buttocks.

Kumsa knows now, however, that there was more to the haircut than that. In Ethiopia, women who cut their hair are often in mourning.Image

Martha Kumsa was born in Dembi Dollo, a small town 800 kilometres southwest of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, near the border of Sudan.

The youngest daughter of a Presbyterian minister, she was named Martha after the Christian nurse who delivered her. The name she holds close to her heart is her middle name, Kuwee, the name of a heroine in Oromo history. But Kumsa wasn’t allowed to go by Kuwee in Ethiopia, where the Oromo people, the largest ethnic group in the country, are still struggling for equality.

Read more at source: Professor Martha Kuwee Kumsa: Unsung heroine and iron lady!

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