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Friday, April 25, 2008


Arge is a rural market in western Oromia, located at about 750 kms away from Finfinnee. It is connected with Qarsaa, a small western town near the Sudanese border, by a rough dry season road. The road is very narrow and dusty, especially at this time (March) of the year. On either side of the road are dense coffee plants and tall grown trees.

It is not common to see cars on this road but horses, mules and donkeys. And when there is a car, like today, it is difficult to see far ahead because of the dust that follows the car. It takes too long before the dust disappears or settles down. Because of the vegetation, there was no strong wind to take it away.

When I arrived, there were not so many people. Then not long after that people started pouring in from every direction. They were from all walks of life. It seemed everybody knows every one. Many greetings with warm hugs and kisses. Also close hand shake and long chat.

People were moving in every direction. Some were in a rush while others walked slowly in search of this or that item. There was not any form of label or indication of direction which shows where to get this or that item. But people who sell similar items tried to seat or put the items next to each other. This way they formed a sort of arranged placement. However, because an individual had more than one or two items, placement of items became haphazard giving a mosaic appearance.

A particular exception to the haphazardity was pottery, handicrafts and animals. These had separate areas. Pottery items were placed on the northerly edge of the market. Metal tools were at about 50 meters away after pottery products on the same direction. Because of two things, it was very easy to locate the blacksmith huts. One was the sound when the specialists hammer the metal into a desired product(s) and the other was a unique smell the charcoal they burn releases into the air. The smell was not disgusting. The charcoal was from a tree that they call bahaa from an Olea family.

Some where to the west were animals. Oxen must have been in a great demand for there was a big crowed around. There were fewer mules and donkeys than horses. I have not seen even a single camel in the market and neither for that matter in the surrounding areas. "Where there are horses there are no camels", said an old man answering my question with surprise. There were more female and children where the scene was dominated by sheep and chickens than with any of the other animals.

For many the purpose of going there was far more than buying or selling. The market was also a venue for meeting or hearing news of friends from another end. For some it was too long to visit relatives from a distant village. But now each contributes his or her share of shortening the distance. One, who failed to go there, had to send greetings through neighbourhood or else face the pressure of abandonment at least until next market day.

Recently Arge has started attracting attention from the big as well as the small, the rich and the poor alike. Like the general merchandise, the price of salt has increased 1000% across the country, and even worse in the capital of the country. But bargaining has made the picture different and unique for Arge. But there have been many more reasons for the popularity of Arge. As bargaining between the empire keepers and the local heroes is ever intensifying, Arge also has come to be the venue for many to hear the news of their own borns, the local heroes whose whereabouts is untraceable.

But the most interesting bargain I saw was in the case of those buying tobacco bread. It was locally made crude tobacco bread used for smoking. The smoking apparatus was a pipe prepared from dry a gourd.

The seller, a man, measured the bread by finger. Then the buyer, also a man, held the other end of the bread and tried to get more and more into his hand. The seller held the bread with one hand and a sharp knife with the other. He aimed the knife against the surface of the bread to slice just apiece. As price was already agreed, the buyer tried to increase his catch while the seller tries to reduce the out going share at a knifepoint. Here bargaining was more of action than words. It was very short but intense and full of action. Tension eased immediately the cut was made. And it was a peaceful one.

At the end of the day, said an old man watching the action; every thing goes to its destination.

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Ergaa Qe'ee

Ha naa dhufu
Fuulli kun bakka dhimma Oromia fi Oromummaa irratti haala bilisa taheen yaada wal jijjirruu fi marihanuu dha. Yaada gorsaas tahee yaddoo dhibdee Oromia fi Oromummaa irratti qabdu kabajaan simannee siif keessumsiifna. Irra caalaa garuu dandeettii afaan Oromoo barreessuu horachuuf toora kanaan yaada wal-jijjiruu kan fedhu hundaaf ulaa banuun fedha. Ani gama kiyyaan hiree kanatti dhimma bahuun qabxiilee Oromia fi Oromummaa irratti rarra’an irratti tokko lama jechuuun fedha. Akeeki koos, orma caala hubannaa fi ejjennaa tan mata koo of –qoruu fedheen. Ormis utuu akkas yaalee, fuula kana akkasumas marsaalee Oromoo biro bilchinaa fi ogummaan dhimma itii baane humnaa fi qabeenya (yeroo fi dandeettii dabalatee) waan biyyaaf faayidaa qabu tokkorra oolchuu dandeenya jedheen yaada. Kanaafuu, ofirraa eegaluu kooti. Harraa eegalee, barruu adda addaan fuula kanarratti dhiheessuu yaala.

Barruuleen dhuhaachuu malan qabxii adda addaa irratti kan xiyyeeffatan yeroo tahu, waliigalatti afaan Oromoo akka diriirfatuuf gahee akka nam-tokketti bahuun narra jirun raawwachuuf carraqa.

Tole, yeroo kee fudhattee hanga kana fuula kana doowwachuu keef hedduu galatoom. Yaada qabdus asumaan yoo lafa nuuf keessa galatni kee walabummaa dha jednna.

Alamu. Yaad karaa Oromia2008@gmail.com naa erguu dandeessa