Abdissa Aga, the unsung hero
Minas Halefom is a young Ethiopian artist who graduated in political science. Even if he is a graduate of political science, his desire for art is always a source of inspiration to his day to day activities.
Two years ago, Minas was heading home. While he was in a minibus, he listened to a radio program about Abdissa Aga who fought Fascist Italians in their own land. This story had rung a lasting message in his mind to do something about this great Ethiopian hero. Thus, he decided to write a graphic novel.
Historical sources indicate that Col. Abdissa Aga was born in Welega, Oromia. Abdissa had joined the Ethiopian Army when he was 14 and fought against Fascist Italy in 1936 in Ethiopia. However, while he was fighting the invading force, he was captured and imprisoned in a concentration camp on the island of Sicily in Italy.
As to Minas, for most Ethiopians, the heroic deeds of Abdissa Aga was remembered in a reading comprehension passage of one of the old Amharic students’ textbook. But the story in that book was very brief. For this reason, it had been tough to young students to know more about Abdissa.
Minas said, we Africans prefer to praise the story of the West (the whites) while we have our own history. “If Abdissa Aga had been someone from the West, his heroic deeds would have been pronounced across the world, and film producers could have produced several movies.”
The story of Abdissa Aga is very impressive and something tempting. When he had been in prison, Abdissa met his Yugoslavian friend, Captain Julio who was also a prisoner. When the two guys were in a concentration camp, they had been discussing ways of escaping out of the prison.
Luckily, they were able to escape secretly with other dozen prisoners. Some days later, Abdissa Aga and his friends returned to the prison to help other prisoners escape.
Abdissa and Julio, followed by other friends penetrated into the camp successfully and released all the prisoners and fought the Fascist forces. This successful penetration and release of other prisoners had new blood to Abdissa and they were able to defeat their common enemies. This act had terrorized the Fascist forces. Abdissa`s fame grew in the lands of the Fascist itself.
The Italian forces tried all their best to capture Abdissa Aga but it was not effective. When they failed to capture him by force, they attempted to appease him by promising appealing positions. However, he did not accept their offer.
According to Minas, the heroic deeds of Abdissa Aga need more attention and more focus. It is not only the heroic deed of Ethiopians. It is also the heroic deed of Africans. No one believes that a single African fought Fascist Italians in their own land. But, this is the reality. This is our identity. “We have great heroes who fought not only for the freedom of themselves but also for others. This is what I have tried to show in my graphic novel.”
The Ethiopian Herald Friday 7 February 2020
BY LEULSEGED WORKU