Hakalla Amale was the first woman to be converted in the Kambatta Hadiya area. She is remembered for her strength in enduring persecution in the early days of the church.
She was born in Kaburbaya, Ballessa, Hosanna Shoa, Ethiopia, to Amale Kassamo (father) and Faysse Lamonko (mother) and spoke the Hadiya language. She became the third wife of Ato Jate Malegu who kidnapped her and forced her to marry him. His first two wives had given him only daughters and he trusted that Hakalla would give him sons. In fact, she bore him three sons, Assefa, Estefanos, and Eshetu.
Hakalla first heard the gospel from her uncle’s son, Shigute Dadda, and came to faith in Christ at the age of eighteen, the same year she gave birth to her first son. She learned to read the Bible,–a very rare achievement even for men at that time. Her family on both sides tried to force her husband to divorce her because of her faith, but he refused because she had given him a son. Hakalla was beaten with hippopotamus leather and forced to chew that same leather as a sign that she would deny the faith. But she would not deny Christ. In the late evenings, her brother and Shigute visited her to pray and strengthen her faith.
While Hakalla was pregnant with her second son, the persecution increased. The village elders came to her home, forced her outside, and demanded that she deny Christ, threatening to curse her if she refused. On that particular day she was preparing a traditional medicine which people believed made labour and delivery easier. In their presence, she drank the medicine in the name of Christ. The men then cursed her. Hakalla was willing to die rather than deny Christ. Later that day, she gave birth to a healthy second son and the people saw that the power of Christ had overcome the curse. Hakalla was then ordered not to communicate with her neighbors at all. In spite of this the number of believers kept growing. When her relative, Ato Aba Gole believed, his conversion eased the persecution. Later, her husband believed. Hakalla witnessed in her own village and often walked or traveled by horseback to distant villages to witness and preach.
Hakalla is known for her strong witness in her family which led her husband, children, and grandchildren to Christ. She was the first woman to serve when the Dubancho church was established. A strong advocate of women’s literacy, Hakalla traveled to Lemu, Kambatta, Shone, Sike, Wolayta, and visited many congregations even as far away as Ambo and Addis Ababa to teach women to read. She was a strong support when the women’s group was organized and she was invited to join the Women’s General Assembly at the national level to give her testimony. She was also the only woman with strong enough faith and determination to be allowed to enter prisons. She served Christian prisoners by traveling long distances to take them fresh food. She was also a model of hospitality and entertained many Christian guests and students, as well as some of her persecutors. Even in her old age she led the women’s prayer group in the local church. She wrote a song: “Lord Jesus, my heart is longing to be with you” (“Wedante Yesus hoi libey yinafkal”).
In her eighty-fifth year, she told her children one day that she felt ill. Two days later she passed away.
Interview by author with Hakalla Amale.
Eyewitness accounts by Assefa Jate (KHC church leader and son of Hakalla Amale) and Ato Kedamo Mechato (KHC pastor).
This article, submitted in 2002, was researched and written by Belaynesh Dindamo of the Kale Heywet Church Women’s Office. This article also appeared in the June 2016 issue of the Journal of African Christian Biography. Click here to read the Journal.