"Tïïyö mëër yi benhnhø man en" ("Make peace in this generation") - by Ariet Oman Ojullu
Ariet Oman Ojullu, a singer in the Mekane Yesus Anywaa Church in Gambella wereda, composed this song in 2016. She composed it specifically for her congregation to advise church members to love one another. At this time, there had been a conflict in the church over who would become next president of the synod, and, reportedly, some regionalisms amongst congregants played a role in the divisions.
“The way people are living is not really reflecting a godly life,” Ariet said. “I saw people are not loving each other. And, also, there is discrimination taking place everywhere. People say, ‘I am from this place, I am of this place, this place…all kinds of differences. They are [creating] discrimination [by saying], ‘You are not from this place, you are somebody [else].’ Even in our church here, in this congregation…people always have these conflicts with one another. So, this kind of attitude inspired me to compose this song. I want to address the message of love. We have to make peace among ourselves as a people of God.”
Ariet’s song is certainly applicable to Gambella as a whole (and the whole world, come to think of it), but she also specified that there is even discrimination in her church, which has all Anywaa members. When we think of discrimination in Gambella, we usually think of inter-ethnic conflict, but intra-ethnic discrimination is not out of the ordinary. My Anywaa friends have expressed to me some disappointment that they wish there was more unity among the Anywaa people. Some suspect that the government may have something to do with this, paying some Anywaa people to keep an eye on other Anywaa people and creating division. In what may be related, some researchers have observed that the government and NGOs have monetized peacemaking by co-opting and paying local leaders in the Ethiopian lowlands to mediate conflicts, which is regarded suspiciously by their communities. Intra-ethnic conflict also sprouts from resource scarcity: for example, Lul Anywaa coming to Gambella town might be regarded suspiciously by Openo Anywaa, who don’t want them to take jobs and opportunities. Of course, intra-ethnic division is hardly exclusive to Anywaa (in Gambella region, intra-ethnic divisions among the Nuer are even more pronounced), sprouting from regional loyalties, vying for political power, and, as always, competition for natural resources. On the flip side, subgroups of different ethnic groups have friendlier relations with each other: the Openo Anywaa and Thiang Nuer, for example.
Tïïyö mëër yi benhnhø man en
Make peace in this generation
Beenhnhe moi ööy ne tïme ni gwïëth
So the coming generation will be blessed
Näk mëër ba tïïyu i benhnhø man en aciëni man en pïï i beenhnhø mo ööy
If you do not make peace in this generation, God will curse the next generation
A with jiy ba dïdï ni ee nit ïme ni bung jiy këët mo ruu bäät piny kiper Jwøk gootø wëër ööy
If this is the case, people will die and be finished because of the wrath of God
Ki jïïu cøøn ee ni buc Jwøk opäängö ee ni wï juni nø ki margi jø paani nø ki margi manøgø ba tägi buc Jwøk aciel kiperu bëëtö
Do you think God’s kingdom will be divided according to tribe and nation? No, it will not be that way, the kingdom of God is one for all nations.
Dïcängï öö ngati manø ki ngati man kär dee gin mørø mo en ïtha kiyu mo raac këëtö
Gïna en ïtha kiyu time nibee mëër ni tïme no dwøga pwøc keere ji Jwøk
Today, let each one of us not hate one another but rather let us love one another and give thanksgiving to God
Credits and Bibliography
Ojho Ojullu Othow (coordinated and translated interview)