The Fictitious Professor Feqadu Lemessa (Tolessa Gurmessa)
By Tolessa Gurmessa
If you are an Oromo, you probably heard about the fictitious professor who started writing Oromo’s history over the internet. If you are an Oromo scholar, you probably were pulling your notebooks out to see if you have his name on your peers’ list. Or you might have called friends back home to find out if a person by this name existed.
We couldn’t match the infamous internet professor to a real life person–breathing, talking or perhaps writing history. The only close match we found was the Academic Vice President of Dire Dawa University, Dr. Fekadu Lemessa. Pay attention here. The internet historian’s name is spelled “Feqadu,” and he is a former Adama University professor and writer. You would think you would know someone like professor Feqadu Lemessa. Right? He writes about stuff (I have no idea what it is about but it could be history.) If you were once Adama University student, you should remember him well, because he taught you–probably shared his writing skills and tips with you too. Never mind, there were no students when professor Feqadu Lemessa was teaching at Adama University. Nobody remembers him. The staff of Adama University doesn’t remember him either.
Do you want to punch me yet? Okay okay, calm down! I will get to the point. The former professor from Adama University does not exist. But you are in luck. I tried to dig some information up for you. Since we could not meet a person who has met professor Feqadu Lemessa, we were left with speculation. I am going to mention a name not as a confirmed but as a suspect who might have been posing as the fictitious professor.
As most of you, writers probably know, it is not an easy feat to publish articles on authority websites. I am not saying salem-news dot com is an authority website, but they probably want to be recognized as such. This website’s editors probably did not do their readers a justice. They did not confirm the identity of the author who claimed to be a historian–refuting other historians’ perspective. The author biography states that he is a former professor at Adama University. Nothing was mentioned about his current whereabouts. They did not do an internet search to see if a person by this name existed. My conclusion, salem-news dot com is not a credible website.
Then how did this fictitious professor get on that site? Think. Does he work for the “news” site? Ahhh…why didn’t I think of that? No worries. Now you are thinking about it. Let’s go to the said website and try to spot a suspect. Do you think you will find an Ethiopian staff on there? Yes. Yes, you do. His name is Kiflu Hussain. Darn! You are in luck again. I would guess you can take the investigation from here.
On July 20, 2013, Kiflu Hussain wrote about Jawarism (I’m an Oromo first) on ECAD Forum, where ‘ethiopianism’ is preached. He shared his take on an article written by Awoll Allo. He cited from Merera Gudina’s book to refute some of the assertions made by Mr. Allo. He also complained about one-sided stories. I guess he didn’t realize he was giving the other side of the stories. Or, maybe he did not think he was that credible. Do you see anything wrong here? I don’t. Just like any other Ethiopianist, Mr. Hussain has a right to share his opinion.
Fast forward to July 28, 2013. Viola! An article titled “History 101: Fiction and Facts on Oromos of Ethiopia,” appears on salem-news dot com at 19:21 hours. This article complains heavily about the story told on Al Jazeera being one-sided story. One hour later (My Twitter time stamp shows 11:31 PM EST), Kiflu Hussain posted a link to the article on his Twitter feed.
This does not say Mr. Kiflu Hussain himself wrote the article. But he might have had a role in publishing the distorted article, from a fake professor. Did he write to the editors about the article being from a credible author? Did salem-news dot com allow a pseudonym? We will see. But Mr. Kiflu Hussain has got some explaining to do. Don’t forget he also agreed with the fictitious professor on Press TV article.