Ethiopia: Patriot Geresu Duki

October 31, 2018 Africa , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS



Alem Hailu G/Kristos



Dejazemach Geresu Duki was born to Kenazmach Duki Debusa and the daughter of Sodo’s gentry Werke Elema in June 1905 at a place called Maru, 104 kilometers away from Addis Ababa.


In his childhood, apart from going to a priest school, he did attend ecclesiastical education. As Geresu had a deep passion to serve his country becoming a soldier, coming to Addis and joining the ranks and files of soldiers under the Ministry of Defense, he served his country for seven years.


Dejazemach Gebremariam Gari, who closely observed and admired Geresu’s bravery, introduced him to Emperor Haile Selassie “This is a daredevil young boy, who could serve you with loyalty. Never miss him by your side.”


Assigned in the palace, Geresu was made to work there. In 1933, as per the Emperors’ decision, he was transferred to Wello to work under the crown prince Asefawessen. The crown prince, who saw firsthand the military prowess of Geresu, accorded him the rank of a captain with the responsibility of running the Ambasel’s military wing.


After a year, the crown prince once again gave a promotion to Geresu taking into consideration his all-round effectiveness. Soon, Geresu became a major. The crown prince entrusted him with the responsibility of commanding the army in the Wello province. He was also given instruction to mobilize the army to Ambalage to join Ras Kass Hailu deployed there, and quickly reached his destination.


However, the fascist troops were using banned poisonous gas on top of being armed to their teeth with modern weapons. As such, many of his troops were martyred. Many of the Ethiopian patriots could not withstand the attack mounted by the Italian troops. During the days of engagement Ras Kassa witnessed and appreciated Geresu’s military strategy and heroism. He informed the Emperor about the military feat of Geresu. By way of admiration the lionhearted Gersu received a belgig Artillery from the hands of Emperor Haile Selassie. As it proved difficult to withstand the fierce assault fascists mounted, the crown prince and the Emperor returned to Addis Ababa enjoying a protection by the army led by Geresu.


When the Emperor opted for a diplomatic mission to voice his compliant to the league of nation, Geresu returned to his birthplace Maru to fight the invading troops staunchly. When he reached there he faced two challenges.


The first one was the divide and rule propaganda fascists were disseminating that “as your enemy is the Amhara ethnic group attack the Amharas rallying behind the Italian troops.”


The second challenge was people’s fear that “We shall be objects of attack since Geresu will use his Artillery for offensive or counter offensive purposes.”


Geresu, who heard about the aforementioned concerns, used wisdom to circumvent these pitfalls.


Approaching residents of the locality Geresu persuaded them about the reality on the ground. He told them that “Our enemy is an enemy that aspires to colonize our country and enslave us. Its sole ambition is stripping us of freedom. It sure will militate against our cultures and religions. It is to drive a divisive wedge between us, it claims the Amhara is your enemy. Both Oromo and Amhara are children of Ethiopia. We must not backpedal and be misled by the enemy’s propaganda and the allurements it offers to draw some credulous Ethiopians to its fold. As we remained undivided on religious and ethnic lines for ages, we have to stubbornly resist our territorial integrity. Let us chase the enemy out of our country with its tail between its legs.”


He made a point driving home the aforementioned sentiments parallel to organizing and mobilizing people.


In 1937 close to 100 well-armed Italian troops led by a traitor began heading to Geresu’s house. Geresu got the information in time. Carrying his Artillery and along with 10 fighters that were carrying rifles, he ambushed a hill top called Kero. After assuring the enemy troops had got in a noose, he wiped almost all of them out.


Genene Bedane, Bekele Benti, Dechasa Gullema, Hordofa Gulema, Mekuria Temechachew showered disarrayed troops with bullets. Valorous Maru residents too held them captive with spears and sticks. Enemy troops had left behind many rifles, bullets and Artillery. People from Maru, Sodo, Welisso, Chebo, Ameya and Dawa, who heard the victory, conflated with Geresu’s army.


Fascist troops who heard about this uprising and defiance to subjugation began fortifying their military muscle with modern arsenals including fighter jets to circle Geresu. But this too proved futile.


Seeking another approach, they sent a monk called Muse Kestengaw (the arrow man). He was an Italian held captive during the battle of Adwa and who stayed in Ethiopia for over 40 years. When the Italian troops once again invaded Ethiopia, undercover, he began spying for the fascist troops. Accordingly, claiming that I will broker peace between invaders and you, he was tipping fascist troops with key and strategic positions such as where patriots ambushed and how the landscape could be challenging. He was helping fascists bombard the footholds of patriots both from the earth and sky. The famous patriots Dejazemach Gebremariam Gari, Ras Desta Damtew and Ras Abebe Aragay were made subjects for such booby traps.


As the saying goes ‘forearmed is forewarned’, while Muse was in a similar mission to inflict harm on Geresu and followers, Geresu detained him. Allowing him to pass through all due court process, capital punishment was passed on him.


Fascists who became infuriated by this punishment opened another wave of stepped up attacks on the Jebat front lead by General Martin. The engagement that lasted a daylong inflicted heavy damage on enemy troops. Casualties on the Ethiopian side were also high.


At the end of the day, patriots led by Geresu took the upper hand. Once more innumerable arsenals of fascists were left behind while many troops were held captive. A similar fate fell on fascist troops in engagements held in Enchebet, Dawa, Chetu and Delele fronts. Frustrated by the defeat fascists massacred 18 innocent Ethiopians under the pretext “You are spies of Geresu.”


Vexed by this atavism all Ethiopians from both genders and even those who wrongly became double agents joined Gersu’s army. In a short period of time Geresu’s troops swelled. As an infantry, coming to the front line Geresu was fighting fearlessly. This won him respect from patriots and citizens.


One patriot lauded Geresu with a war song:



When Artilleries and launchers were swallowing

Gun bullets the sizes of a big toy

Geresu was serving a master of ceremony boy


Excited by Geresu’s deed, Emperor Haile Selassie made the following speech to patriots “It was with great satisfaction we have been watching the victory you have been registering organized under patriot Geresu Duki. That is why we entrusted him with the task of leading the army deployed in the Welo front.”


“Geresu, pressing ahead with your valorous deed, try to liberate Jimma. We know that for you the art of war is the art of Gena Chewata (like a chess game). In subsequent confrontations Geresu passed through before reaching Jimma, 1,700 fascist troops were held captive. Also 500 vehicles, many thousand rifles and 2o heavy and medium arsenals were found left behind.


After the enemy was defeated Geresu gave the order to enemy troops those that gave hands must not be killed. This way he began to peacefully administer Jimma and its environs. Among the lulu heroes that fought standing by the side of Geresu in the five year period of occupation were Dejazmache Genene Bedane, Dejazmache Bkele Weya and Kengnazmach Tefera Geresu.


After serving his country in different administrative positions in the rank of Feteawrari and Dejazemach, and also after working in the legislative organ, he passed away at the age of 60 in 1964. (Source/The Association of Ethiopian Patroits’ Publication).





Alem Hailu G/Kristos

A published poet, novelist, editor, translator of masterpieces, literary critic, playwright and journalist from Ethiopia. M.A holder in literature, Addis Ababa University.

Looking for a traditional publisher of a collection of poems. My novel: ‘Hope from the debris of hopelessness’.

Editor review


  1. Roman October 10, at 03:17

    I thank you so much for writing this book. Word can't describe my gratitude ?

  2. Ziad January 13, at 11:18

    Wow! my Alem that was a brilliant read. Could you please recommend an Ethiopian book or books with a collection of short stories like this. I would really appreciate it!


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