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The Chronicles of the Harari Heritage Centre - Toronto
PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2004 10:42 pm Reply with quote
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The Chronicles of the Harari Heritage Centre

March 7th of 2004

Those avid followers of the annual soccer tournament were crushed on March 7th of this year when the decision was changed from the previous February 10th decision to host the event in Toronto. That was the precise time in which the split occurred between all Harari?s. When the news reached the HCO board members, they were both disappointed and confused. So they attempted to contact the HSCF in Atlanta and they were told to wait for a brief period of time while the matter was resolved. However, in the end regardless of how much the HCO or the other afocha?s and individuals were concerned, they stood glued to their march 7th decision.

Now isn?t it amazing how such a simple decision taken to change the venue of an event has affected the lives of thousands of Harari?s? Whether the event is held in either the east or the west, it is our duty as Harari?s to make sure we remain as one people in order to benefit our country. We are not ignorant of our current situation back home with the shortage of water in Harar. Most of our people live below the poverty line, without an income to support them because of the shortage of jobs or the lack thereof. Exceptions are to the few who receive money from their families or receive money from funds set up around the world. By realizing this we must try to provide aid through jobs or create a source of income for those who need it most.

The time we are in now may seem like a time of chaos and constant disputes but it should instead be a time of acceptance and forgiveness. If every individual attempted to do as much as they can, how far would our people go? Just imagine. Only then can we truly care for ourselves and realize the oneness of our people and the richness of our history.

The Harari Heritage Centre

If we were to talk about individuals who attempt to do as much as they can in the same sentence as our community centre, we cannot leave out Imran Ibrahim Ghalib and Afendi Abdi Waber. They are one and the same because without them the circumstances would have been quite different. They were an example and gave themselves and jeopardized their own houses for the sake of this centre. If we dare to question that then let us ask ourselves, who at this time would take responsibility at a bank for the payment of a mortgage knowing that your own house and families? security would be at stake?

These two men sacrificed more then we were all able to, but we can all contribute in our own way to this centre and help pay off the mortgage. That would be completing our duty to our people, and our kids by giving them a place to learn and socialize. After that we can begin to help wherever our people may be attempting to set up a project or a centre. However, today let us start here and be a part of history in the making. This will bring us together. Insha Allah we will be more giving to one another, help one another during rough times and become closer in the process.

The Return of Abdusamad Abdosh

The decision that our legendary musician Abdusamad Abdosh made to return to performing after more then 40 years that amazed us all. Especially to those who have heard him singing live or on cassette. Allow me to briefly explain how the incident occurred. In the past Abdusamad Abdosh and his band were very active in entertaining Harari?s. Their main goal was not to keep it home based but rather make their music well known by playing at weddings and parties for the first time. People used to sit quietly and just listen to his music without conflict.

However, they began to wonder how far music would take them in life. Eventually they quit and began to focus more on school fearing that music was a waste of their time. Today his reasons for returning were that he felt we were not in a place we should have been or had the potential to be in; Rather, he felt that we were wasting our time bickering with one another without worrying about our individual responsibilities here towards each other and towards those back home. One day he came to a meeting where we were discussing our current issues and how to pay off the mortgage. Adib made a comment about how he?d be honored to entertain for us during our summer event but that he felt enormous pressure from outside of Toronto.

Perhaps it was Adib's speech, or a decision made long ago that couldn?t have lasted forever, but Abdusamad Abdosh felt both moved and inspired to do what he did best for years, entertain us with his love for music. The addition of Adib and Aba Sule just created a phenomenon, not just because of who they are but also because of their initial goals to take on this project. Their first goal was to bring people together through music because we know how much music and sports unite the human race. Their second goal was to give the profit made from the party to the Harari community centre. This house shall be an example and a story that will be told for years to come. By teaching our children our Deen and culture we secure our future.

O people of Harar don?t be followers, especially to those that make false claims as if they know themselves. As humans we need to live with one another, to socialize and learn from one another, not to cocoon ourselves away. In reality those who are not aware of their surroundings are not completely aware of themselves. It is obvious how much our history is renowned and in dire need of attention. The concept of respecting elders and the close ties with family is always highlighted in our culture. That is what we hope to establish and remind others of in our community centre and Insha Allah this house will be an example to all of us in every country outside of our motherland Harar. And may Allah guide us to reach our desired goals.

A Crucial Part of Harar?s history

Harar was a piece of land that imperialist nations were in competition over. However, today we realize her people have forgotten about her. She?s thirsty for our knowledge as much as we are thirsty for her water. But we have forgotten. So let us be reminded.

When the colonizers began to divide up Africa in 1884 during the Berlin conference, the only African nation that was included in the conference was Ethiopia.

The main reason Ethiopia was included was because they were chosen to be the Christian example in Africa. Therefore Ethiopia received the chance of a lifetime, to rule Harar.

However, the British?s only requirement and agreement with Ethiopia was for them to take Gey. The English were ruling the Egyptians and they gave an order for the Egyptians to move out of Gey. This would ensure an easy take over of Harar for the Ethiopians. The Egyptians before leaving gathered 56 elders and asked them if they would mind appointing Amir Abdullahi Mohamed Bini Abdul Shakur as their king in Harar when they leave. The council of elders agreed upon this on February 19, 1885.
On May 20, 1885 he was declared king. Egypt then began to evacuate and Harar began to rule independently. Suddenly, Ethiopia attacked and sidetracked the Harari?s from their goals. The Ethiopian military began to come towards Gey with the help of Jibrul in 1886. However, the Harari military stopped the opposition and the Ethiopians were defeated at Barqa. The Ethiopians returned disappointed and began to immediately ask for help from the British, Russians and French for new weaponry. Once they received the new shipments they returned with 50,000 soldiers and new weaponry.

This was known as the battle of Chalanko that took place on January 26, 1887. The harari people fought as vigorously as they could with what little they had remaining, proving that harar was a strong military but just lacking the weaponry. Due to the advantage that the Ethiopians had, Gey was defeated and taken over. After Harar was taken over, corruption began to take place such as beating of innocents and turning Masjids into Churches. Older scholars were restricted from traveling for fear of spreading Islam and creating an anti Ethiopian movement. This both angered and annoyed the people of Harar. One of the elder scholars then made an appointment with Menelik. He said that war is never stable, sometimes we lose and sometimes we win but the rights and culture of Harari?s must be maintained.

The older scholars who were brave enough to face Menelik were:
Al Qadi Abdullahi
Al Sheikh Ali Abubakr
Garad Abdurahman Kinawak
Al Haj Yusuf Berkhadle
Garad Ahmed Abdulwahab
Kabir Muhammad Amano

Menelik complied with their demands.

The British then returned expecting to get their end of the deal but Menelik refused causing a rift in Ethiopian and British ties. In 1913, during the rule of Illiasu, he established a military in Ethiopia consisting of Somalians. He was also an ally with Turkey and Germany, which angered the British and French. They created a conspiracy, which secretly removed Illiasu from the government, and he disappeared. In 1916, Zauditu took rule and Haili Sellasie was next in line to rule. In 1930, Haili Sellasie became king and was ruling both Ethiopia and Harar. Britain returned once again hoping that a different ruler would lead to a different answer but once again they were denied. His reason was that he was born in Harar and could not give up his country.

Britain then went and made an agreement with Italy and asked them to take over Ethiopia and hand over Gey to them. In 1936, Italy captured Ethiopia and they also refused to hand over Harar. Claiming that Harar was abundant and the land was fresh and smelled pure calling it the ?Swiss of Africa?. However the Harari?s saw how they benefited from the Italian colonization. In five years, roads and Masjids were built, and rights were granted.

The English finally decided to attack Gey themselves and remove the Italians. So, the British brought back Haili Sellasie who had escaped for five years after the Italians had taken over and the Italians were ousted. Britain then returned all of Ethiopia to Haili Sellasie except for Harar. Haili Sellasie asked the British how he could get Harar back and they told him the only way would be through public support. Sellasie paid certain Harari individuals and they began to take Sellasi?s side and give him support.

Aw Ibrahim Gatur and his group were against the false claims that Haili Selasi was one of them from Harar. They refused by saying that he is from Godjam and not one of us. When this news reached Haili Sellasie there was a warrant for the arrest of Aw Ibrahim Gatur but he managed to flee to Djibouti. The British were then forced to give back Harar to Ethiopia. Since then Harar has constantly been in struggle.

In conclusion, remembrance is a duty. We must commit to memory our history, and most importantly our martyrs who died for the sake of our country in the battle of Chalanko and Barqa, those who died in prisons during the Hanolato movement and the 1977 war. Allah Yarhamhum Rahmatal-Abrar Wa Yudkhilhum Fasiha Janaatih.

Izer /Abdusalam Feki
Toronto, 2004

~ If not us, who? If not now, when? ~
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