Sidaamu Daga Budu Battala
Connecting Sidama People

The Sidama’s New Year, Fichee, is under threat by External Forces

Fichee is peaceful festival of Sidama people and the biggest event of the year. During transition from old year to the new, holding grudges against others or even cutting tree is forbidden. The Fichee eve involves crossing symbolic arc to signify completing this purging process before starting a New Year. 

Some may argue Fichee is safer today than ever since it’s inscribed as intangible world heritage. But Fichee is under threat.

Here is why:

Fichee is survived thousands of years because it is inscribed in people’s hearts and minds. This pillar is now being eroded quick and fast by forces including that seeking to subdue the Sidama people.

Today, residual elements of TPLF (Tigray People’s Liberation Front) and untouched SEPDM (Southern Ethiopia People Democracy Movement) is a biggest threat to the Sidama people and its identity. Loosing foot holds elsewhere in the country, these two criminal groups are teaming up to regroup and revive in Hawassa areas  where they own large factories and usurped farm lands by displacing thousands local Sidama farmers by force. The ongoing ‘kill and crush’ the Sidama people is now spilling over to endanger the Fichee itself.

SEPDM is mere control tool to oversee the TPLF interests in the Sidama and other areas in the south.  Their dangerously anti-Sidama stance is shocking. They orchestrated Looqqe massacre of the May 24, 2002 and have committed numerous atrocities against the Sidama people in past 27 years.

During weeks and days that led to this year’s Fichee event, SEPDM tried to sabotage the Fichee celebration in an attempt to plant a wedge between the Sidama people and other Ethiopians to thrive on hate-mongering which they miserably failed to this date. They set strict guidelines that will limit Sidama people’s movements in the Hawassa city during the celebration.  They also warned printing offices not to print anything related to the Fichee. They tried to characterize the great people of Sidama as violent and unbearable. They did other similar actions to disrupt the celebration outrageously in the heart of Sidama land.

Behind the screen they have also dispatched online army to the social media to label Fichee as intolerable practice.

Hate Facebook post by TPLF/SEPDM army 1

Hate Facebook post by TPLF/SEPDM army 2

Hate Facebook post by TPLF/SEPDM army 3

Hate Facebook post by TPLF/SEPDM army 4

These online army members amplify these incidents and feed their followers. In today’s world, where more than 65% of world population get their news from social media, these subtle looking Facebook posts travel far and fast than talks in conference rooms about how great the Fichee is.  

To provoke and incite physical violence during celebration, they did not need all-out war.  Few trained troublemakers on the Hawassa streets were able to trap unsuspecting few Sidama youth to be involved in minor skirmish and in ensuing chaos, the army members and snipers started shoot and kill order. Many killed and wounded were Sidama victims. Some of victims are students at their learning campus who were by no means in the vicinity of violence. These incidents were reported by amplifying the message to liken an ethnic conflict, the victims are non-Sidamas or Wolayitas, the Sidamas are killers and other Ethiopian should confront them, which is what they exactly wanted.  

Wounded event goers getting medical care. Many graphic images are not shared here for safety of viewers

The streets of Hawassa were once again swarmed by heavily armed soldiers of AGAZ. Their viciousness is not strange thing to 'Hawassians' and many event goers and city dwellers were overwhelmed by flashback of their past brutality. Not clear if this was in response to the incident of the eve or part of larger plot by SEPDM and dying TPLF.  But their presence during Fichee celebration sends yet another disturbing message about the Sidama people and their beautiful Fichee.  

The AGAZ army monitoring the Fichee celebration

These practices of synonymizing the beautiful Fichee with violence is devastating news to Fichee celebration in the long term and there will be no stopping if TPLF and SEPDM left to live another day. The Sidama Ejjeetto are countering these evil messengers in every possible way. But that alone may not be enough.