Reviewing The Past Repeatedly To Tackle Present Difficulties

Changing times requires changing tools of operation and management methods; in other words changing tactics and strategies. Absiinian regimes have come down improving their modus operandi by improving on the weak points of their predecessors. They are faster in adopting new technological tools from across the seas for plundering and repression than for positive development. Though they introduce short lived radical methods to look more benevolent than the regime they over threw they never messed with the central theme of the empire that defines their relations with all their colonies. Liberation movements were not able to cop up with changing time and methods of the colonizer. The need for change must be recognized to be ahead in time and organization if the war is to be won. But such changes should not contradict with their kaayyoo, for that could amount to suicide. Changing kaayyoo is not essential for there is no problem with it; but the way some view themselves is in a problem. Understanding the essence of the struggle which is the need to regain lost rights to ones identity, may be difficult for those that are still in colonial trauma. Though hard to define simply one can say, kaayyoo is principled objective that reflects national dream for unity, liberation, peace and a life of happiness to eternity, which each Oromo has at heart; thus changing kaayyoo could be changing ones identity.

It had been over a hundred years since Absiinian autocratic system was transplanted to democratic Oromiyaa. With it immeasurable damage was caused to life, property, environment and the human mind. Each time new Ethiopian regime came to power this damage is aggravated with the introduction of more sophisticated overt and covert tools of oppression. The regimes have more advantage to adjust their methods to changing situation because they use state resources at will. But more vigilance and getting ready when the political conditions are ripe could reverse the situation. In particular at this point of world history when the objective and subjective situations are conducive for human freedom much time should not be wasted talking about internal gantuu and galtuu rather than firing up the struggle for independence.

The objective of the liberation movement is not only liberating the country but also the minds that had been enslaved. That has proved to be the difficult part of the struggle. Many individuals show what psychologists call “Stockholm’s syndrome” where by victims sympathize and even defend their captors. Understanding this helps to understand nationals that had been placed under such spell. For some it may be point of no return but at least others could be saved from taking the wrong humiliating trip. Oromo liberation movement had so far registered immense achievements despite the innumerable obstacles placed in front of it.

Ethiopian regimes never realized from history that the days of their empire are numbered. It would have been better if they show remorse for their ugly past deeds and dismantle that ruthless monster they created a century and half ago. That was what the Darg and Wayyaanee failed to see. Their promises and revolutionary thinking lasted only until they have firm grip on power. Empires originate from needs in the mother country, greed and arrogance of their rulers. Both states of mind do not seem to go away from Absiinian ruling class psychological make up and tradition of dependence on others’ sweats. Be them the incumbent power or aspirants their intention is to cling on the empire system and retain it by all means available to them. The very thought of democracy makes such minority regimes and parties shaky, insecure and paranoid.

The OLF joined TPLF in a transitional arrangement without changing its political program in 1991. The transitional period was a testing period on which the future of the empire state depended. As declared on its charter Oromiyaa was to establish its Caffee which can guide the way ahead. TPLF breached the charter and aborted the transition preferring the continuation of the empire system and denying participation of the colony which might have bade adios to the empire system. Since then OLF proper has tried to settle differences peacefully without giving away its right for independence. It has entered into discussion only with those that recognized the right to national self determination; it may be logical to do so in the future as well.

Thus hope of peaceful decolonization of the region was cut short by intransigence of Habashaa elites. TPLF proved the inability of Absiinians to disentangle themselves from their autocratic past. No other group, it was assumed, can be expected to have better vision than those that came fighting in the name of justice and liberation. But it was a wrong assumption; they were only “a serpent under innocent rose flower”, to borrow from Shakespeare. Greed and deception are in political genes of all. Still Oromo are wooed to there trap under different guises.

So far OLF is the best independent political organization Oromummaa has produced. No tongue sticking, finger pointing can change that. Its political program was based on Gadaa principles of freedom, equality and liberty. During all the years of conquest no benevolence has ever been shown to give back rights they snatched away by force of arms by ancient regimes and there had also not been gestures by colonial elites of later days, to enter into negotiated settlement with the colonized. Peaceful approach failing, OLF through its sole efforts and unreserved blessings of the Oromo people, raised the banner of freedom for the world to reckon with. The objective of OLF is not to overthrow Wayyaanee but to liberate Oromiyaa. It expects more than article 39 of its constitution with whose mention alone the blood of all Habashaa oppositions boils. Oromo with slave mentality are seen rallying behind them instead of struggling for own liberation in alliance with oppressed peoples.

Elites of the fallen group cry of their forefathers breaking their bones and spilling their blood in preserving the empire for them. But never mention the blood spilt and the atrocities committed to wipeout, destabilize, dislocate and enslave the natives. They remember a drop and forget the torrent of blood. History cannot be forgotten but the wrong doings can be forgiven if all sides come to their senses to write a new chapter together on the bases of mutual understanding. In the Ethiopian case even the new generation that had nothing to do with abuses of the past is heard irresponsibly justifying what was done to the colonies. That is what is undermining peaceful coexistence, stability and freedom of the region. That is why nationalists say alliance with such groups is detrimental to liberation of the oppressed nations.

Statements and approaches by elites from the colonizer nation are full of deceits and deceptions. To knowingly take a fake position and attribute it to a whole organization or people demonstrate only how the colonizers want to solve differences. There had been Oromo that had put themselves under alien tutelage and command avoiding discipline. Those were called “galtuu” or “gantuu” respectively. The enemy had no legal or moral grounds to claim such misguided individuals to prove partnership of a nation in its long history of autocratic rule.

Despite the historic backdrop there are still national groups that want to surrender the struggle for independence. But Oromiyaa is not Habashaa sticker but a self reliant nation that struggles for independence. For this reason those who prefer a dependent life are rejected as rotten eggs. Nationalists had to ignore them and march on with the national kaayyoo. Such phenomenon does not worth a minute of the liberation struggle albeit to save them.

Nowadays opportunists, snitches and ill wishers are rushing forward to erase, cripple or derail and the movement with all efforts they could muster. Some pretend to be concerned about the “lagging behind” of the liberation struggle and come up with failed models. By it they disseminate their poison into the national struggle to create doubt if the struggle is at all going on. Liberation struggle has numerous obstructions. OLF is only four decades old; they have to remember that it took more than eight decades for ANC to achieve its goal. They want to point their fingers to individual patriots who even today stand lofty above them with morale despite long years of tortuous life of struggle. They suggest starting organizing from the scratch as if infrastructure of the movement was not laid down, built and cemented with blood and sweat of martyrs long ago. To revolutionize is one thing while to dismantle and build anew is another.

OLF is still a living vibrant organization. It has fire tested leadership whose determination and commitment cannot be questioned. OLF has never claimed to be a perfect organization. It has obvious surmountable defects and difficulties. Instead of rallying behind it and helping it surge forward, some join the enemy in discrediting their genuine efforts. The enemy is after them because it recognizes their agenda as the most dangerous to its evil schemes of domination. Purposely or accidentally to join the enemy in persecuting them shows their meanness rather than humiliating the national organization. All the hullabaloos we observe being written and spoken about the weakness of OLF are nothing but missions to sabotage the National Kaayyoo by agents provocateur. Compared to these ‘paper tigers’ those involved in the recent schism deserve applause for the benefit from their desertion outweighs the damage it caused. They have revealed the decease that was internally eroding the OLF in particular. Now it is easy for those that believe in independence to get back together.

The question of Oromo political future could be a topic of national debate. It could be between pro independents and unionist or other positions if any, though it means resurrecting what has ended in the 60s. Not half heartedly as opportunists and renegades try to lie about the truth despite the vow they took with their dead and living comrades. As long as it remains a debate within the nation and the final judges are the people it could remain healthy. Beyond the national forum it will be considered denying sovereignty of the people and betraying its trust.

Phrases and words like “national self determination”, “referendum” are usually seen genuinely or intentionally confused. Though OLF had been struggling for the independence of Oromiya, it is the Oromo that at the end decide on their choice. Through their universal right to “the right of nations to national self determination” by a national referendum they will determine their destiny. That right is an instrument which helps advance to ones goal. It is not the end but the means to an end. Thus objective of the struggle is something beyond the realization of the right of self determination “independence”, or otherwise. A people must be free to defend and use its right to national self determination other wise it had been a while since TPLF recognized the right for all. We have examples of the process of national self determination from Eritrea, Sudan, Kosovo, East Timor, Quebec etc. and we are going to learn more from Scotland soon.

OLF will not stop agitating for independence, rain or sun it will remain party of independence. That is its difference with kaayyoo quitters and diluters. It should not have been necessary to discuss this issue at this juncture of our struggle. But the distracters always bring forward issues that are not relevant and timely thinking that it might justify their revisionist agenda. Independence or union if said process is followed it will be the end for empire state. A democratic setting that allows for freedom of organization, self expression and above all the rule of law could be the outcome. If so armed struggle becomes irrelevant. That is a good dream.

True nationalist have now witnessed what the whistle blowers have tried to warn long ago. It is now incumbent upon them to rally around the kaayyoo, strengthen their organization, reassess their tactics and strategy and focus on the real enemy not on their shame. By making their program public they can assure their neighbors that they stand for their interest too.

They have to convince the world by asserting unequivocally without faltering that they know what they want. Their presentations should not be based on the assumption of what others like or want to hear but on their own program and sincere conviction. Their stand on national harmony, regional peace and stability and international relations or current world order must be clear. Independent Oromiyaa will be guided by the salient principles of Gadaa democracy that uphold “ilaa fi ilaamee, nagaa and araaraa” (dialogue, peace and reconciliation). All must know that the struggle will open new opportunity rather than create worry for neighbors. Nothing is more crucial than creating strong organization, unity and above all winning trust of activists and supporters. Organization that cannot reach members and supporters in difficulty is a loser.

Honor and glory for the fallen heroines and heroes; liberty equality and freedom for the living and nagaa and araaraa for the Ayyaanaa of our fore parents!

Ibsaa Guutama
March 2012
Ibsaa Guutama is a member of the generation that drew the first Political program of the OLF.

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