OUR FORGOTTEN HEROES
Fikre Tolossa, Ph. D.
countries in the world honor their heroes and commemorate them
eternally by erecting statues, naming streets, parks, schools,
universities and all sorts of institutions in their names.
Ethiopia has failed in remembering her heroes in all spheres of
life and fields including statesmanship, military, scholarships,
arts, literature, music and sports. It would be too long to list
all the great Ethiopian personalities from antiquity to the
present. Even the heroes of the last 150 years who have not been
recognized and honored are myriads. To mention just a few of the
heroes that deserve a memorial among the heroes who contributed a
lot to Ethiopia even in recent times are:
Negussie, Kebede Micahel, Tsegaye Gebre-medhin, Gebre-kirstos
Desta, Iskender Bogossian and Assefa Abate for the arts, Abebe
Aregay, Geressu Duki, Abdissa Aga, Zerai Derres, Melaku Beyan,
Moges Asgedom and Abraham Deboch, for patriotism; Aleka Kidanewold
Kifle, Desta Teklewold, Aleka Atsmegiorgis, Gorfu Gebremedhin and
Tessema Gitsew for scholarship, and Abebe Bikila and Mamo Wolde in
stated earlier, the above-mentioned names are only a few of our
heroes. One has to form a committee to identify the most
significant ones and make a list of at least our major heroes.
number of concerned Ethiopians have been working on the idea of
erecting statues for three of our great patriots who made great
sacrifices for Ethiopia; namely Moges Asgedom, Abraham Deboch and
Siemeon Adefris. A committee consisting of prominent personalities
such as Professor Richard Pankhurst, Former Ambassador Zeude Retta,
Former Ambassador Zewde Hailemairam and Major Haile Gebre-Slassie,
Olympian Gold Medal athlete, among other important figures, has
been established to this end. But who are Moges Asgedom, Abraham
Deboch and Simeon Adefres?
Asgedom and Abraham Deboch were young heroes who were lived in the
Italian colony of Eritrea. When Fascist Italy invaded Ethiopia in
1936, they deserted the Italian colony and joined Ethiopians in
the struggle against Fascism. When the Fascist General Graziani
was observing a public festival on February 12, 1936, Moges
Asgedom and Abraham Deboch threw hand grenades and wounded
Graziani. As a result, Graziani killed thousands of Addis Ababa
residents indiscriminately and mercilessly. He even went to the
extent of burning innocent people alive in their own homes. The
two brave young men were transported out of town by another daring
patriot, Siemeon Adefres, who owned taxicabs in Addis.
the Italians searched the houses of the two, they found the
Italian flag bayoneted and pinned to the ground, while the
Ethiopian flag was flying honorably. This infuriated the Italians
Adferes, risking his life, took them far from Addis Ababa and took
them to Debre Libanos monastery, from where they fled to the
western border of Ethiopia. Unfortunately, they died a tragic
death at the border. Simeon too, was caught by the Italians,
tortured and killed for helping them escape. Thus the three young
men sacrificed themselves for a noble cause.
were outraged. The true nature of Italian Fascism was exposed to
the whole world, and the numbers of partisans increased. Partly
because of this, Ethiopians intensified their struggle and
inflicted heavy damages on the brutal invaders. Consequently,
Ethiopia’s independence was expedited.
patriots, Abraha Deboch, Moges Asgedom and Simeon Adefres were
almost forgotten for the last 70 years by the people for whose
love and freedom they sacrificed themselves. The recent
initiative to honor and remember them by erecting their statues at
the site of the incident and the massacre around Addis Ababa
University is a noble and commendable act. All patriotic
Ethiopians should cooperate in this effort.