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The Macha-Tuullama Welfare Association

Date

Event

1960 A coup d'etat to topple the Haile Selassie Monarchy failed.  Oromo officers (such as Taddasaa Biru, Jaagamaa Keello, Waqejira Serda, Dawit Abdi and Major Qadida Guremeysa) loyal to the Emperor were instrumental in failing the coup.  And yet they were suspected of disloyalty and subjected to discrimination by the authorities.  Such a policy not only angered Oromo officers, but also encouraged them to be involved in political activities.
24 Jan, 1963 In the early 1960s several self-help associations mushroomed in the Empire.  Among such self-help communities of the time were the Shawa Tuullama and Jibaat and Macha in Shawa.  These two merged and formed the Macha-Tuullama Welfare Association (MTWA).  MTWA was formed in accordance with Article 45 of his Imperial Majesty's 1955 revised Constitution and Article 14, Number 505 of the Civil Code of the Ethiopian Empire as a civilian self-help association.  Its logo, designed by Haile Mariam Gamada, wasd the Odaa (sycamore tree), the symbol of freedom and self-administration.  Haile Mariam Gamada also coined the name of the Association.
May 1964 The Macha-Tullama Welfare Association (MTWA) was permitted by the government to function as a self-help organization in the Shawa region.  After this permit, MTWA's leaders started mobilizing the Oromo through public gatherings. 
23 June, 1964 The Macha-Tuullama Welfare Association became highly publicized and gained members in thousands.  This was triggered by the politically charged speeches of General Taddasaa Birru delivered at the regular meetings of the Association.  This was after his meetings with the Prime Minister, Akelilu Habete Wolde, and other high officials at which the Prime Minister took Taddasaa for an Amhara and shared secret state policies with him that restricted non-Amhara to high posts in all government institutions and those entering higher education institutions.

Public rallies and meetings were organized in villages, towns and cities in several parts of Oromia where the Association leaders and cadres spoke.  The government was particularly disturbed when persons like General Taddasaa, who they took for an Amhara or considered Amharized for all practical purposes not only openly identify himself as an Oromo but articulated his people's position and dissatisfaction with the government.

1965 The top leaders of the MTWA and the Baale rebellion met secretly and discussed how best to coordinate their activities.  The man who was instrumental in bringing the two movements together was Ahmad Buna, a school teacher, a long time member of the MTWA and one of the founders of the Oromo Liberation Front in 1974.
15 May, 1966 The MTWA organized a mass gathering at Itayaa, in Arsi.  Haile Selassie's government did everything to prevent the meeting from taking place, but to no avail.  It's estimated that as many as 100,000 Oromo peasants from the Arsi region might have participated in that gathering, which was a turning point in the short history of the Association as well as in modern Oromo history.  Haji Robale Ture, one of the leaders of the Association, stated that as "streams join together to form a river, people also join together to be a nation to become a country," calling on the Oromo to strengthen their unity and create their own country.
1966 The government security force confiscated Mamo Mazamir's "History of the Oromo" when they searched in house.  Mamo Mazamir was an Oromo student in the Addis Ababa University (Haile Selassie I University) Law School and a member of MTWA.  In addition to writing history, Mamo prepared a plan for a new government, a new constitution and distribution of land among the landless tenants.  
1966 The MTWA opened more branch offices all over Oromia.  Tesfaye Degaga established the Association's branch office in Sidamo province.  Abba Biya Abba Jobir and Dr. Moga Firissa established the Jimma branch office.  Abera Yemer opened the office in Wallo.  Shaykh Hussein Sura and Haji Adam Sado set up the office in the Baale region.  In Illubabor and Hararge, the offices were established by Dr. Jamal Abdul Qadir and Qenzamach Abdulaziz Mohammed, respectively.  Astede Habte Mariam, the only woman within the highest policy-making Board of the Association, formed the Wallagga branch office.
15 Oct, 1966 General Taddasaa Birru stated at a meeting in the town of Dheera in Arsi that the political goal of MTWA was to restore the inalienable rights of the Oromo people.  He went on to say that the Oromo had nothing to expect from the Amhara rulers, and they would have to depend on themselves.  
Feb 1967 Terrified by the Oromo national consciousness, both in Baale and Finfinne, a government conspiracy led to the explosion of a hand grenade in an Addis Ababa cinema.  The regime immediately placed the responsibility at the door of the Macha-Tuullama Welfare Association and the Association was immediately banned.  Several of the leaders and cadres were arrested and brought to trial before special court in February 1967.   
1968 The government persecuted leaders of the MTWA.  Among the leaders, Mamo Mazamir, was sentenced to death by hanging while others, such as Haile Mariam Gamada and a few others were believed to have died from poisoning, later.  General Taddasaa shot his way out when colonial security agents went to arrest him at his home.