The matter of Oromo Liberation
Seriousness of the Oromo in demanding for their independence has started to be felt by all that have interest in and hatred for independent Oromiyaa. As a result, scared internal and external forces are rushing to extinguish the fire of freedom. For them independent Oromiyaa means losing the opportunity to, plunder more, cheap and productive labor force as well as their best fighting machine. Against all odds Oromo revolution has raised political awareness of the colonized people to a level of no return to slumber. The colonizer for a long time had denied existence of Oromo resistance. Darg, the government that replaced the emperor ended without mentioning OLF by name. Wayyaanee had no choice but to accept Oromo national question and subverting it on implementation when possible. Oromo movement that was started by youth of that revolutionary generation has continued with more vigor and commitment. The enemy has also renewed its genocidal campaign using hired hands from inside but is unable to put brake on it. To leave in peace without fear or threat, Oromiyaa needs to be independent. Now, no Ethiopianist hoodwinking and collaboration or cacophony of the adversary and saboteurs can stop the new generation’s march to become free.
The days of old Nafxanyaa system are gone never to return. Monopoly over gun by the new adversary is a temporary matter. Therefore for those that have nostalgia for colonial system and those that were collaborating from lack of self-confidence or from xenophobia, time is against them because they are now living in a world that favors free and productive peoples not parasites. A system that brings occupation to an end is going to replace the hitherto existing archaic one. The right of the Oromo to national self-determination up to and including independence is not negotiable. No party, group or individual from Oromiyaa has the right to take national interest to a bargaining table. It is only free Oromiyaa that can receive those that are willing to be partners in negotiation of any sort, including how to live as good African neighbors. The bottom line for it is mutual respect for each other’s rights and interests. They are only free people that can make such choices. Therefore the ensuing clash will be between those that want independence and those that want to remain under modified colonial rule and their colonial allies, unless differences are fixed in time.
Another point to be realized is that it is only the Oromo that can decide what is good for them. No messing up in others affairs by chauvinists and the bully can anymore be tolerated. Oromiyaa being colony decolonization takes president over all options and promises. For Oromo individuals, if they wish so, it is their right to unite with the colonizer. But they cannot be equally loyal to Oromiyaa and Ethiopia at the same time; they have to choose side. They will not be unique in forming union with an adversary. To cite an African example, there were Eritreans that fought for union with Ethiopia when others chose independence and took to the mountains at last. They had even office in the Piazza of Finfinnee until 1962. One was legally registered with Ethiopian government and the other was registered in their people’s hearts.
As one famous anecdote goes, there were Eritreans, some unionist and others not. The unionists were packing to leave for Shaggar in fulfilling the slogan “Itophiyaa wayika’aa moot” (Ethiopia or death). The non-unionists tried to cajole the others to change their minds but in vain. Then they bade them farewell with a remark “Go, you will get both Ethiopia and death!” As predicted most were humiliated or tortured and eliminated in the hands of Ethiopians under false allegations. But those that chose independence came back with victory. All that run away to Ethiopia from own nation had met the same end before they could change their minds. Nobody is immune from the same fate. Not even great Goobana Daaccee.
The Oromo have at present a problem of separating the unionist from the independence camp. Even OPDO is trying to be nationalist when it was made to be unionist and collaborator. Oromo “unionists” and collaborators are vocalists and manipulators. They can camouflage under every shade. They have slowed down progress of the struggle but failed to win the hearts of the silent majority that is craving for independence. Collaborators have no honor to protect as a result they are seen passing in silence when Oromo people’s identity and honor are attacked by agents of their buddies.
Some Oromo politicians are not capable of originating political ideas. For that reason, they are relentlessly working on hijacking the mainstream struggle and changing the course. As a result, the anticolonial struggle got vulnerable to sabotage by infiltrators and opportunists. Oromo youth since the sixties have not come sacrificing for servitude but “walabummaa” (independence). These days the word “walabummaa” is seen being taken out of most Oromo discourses. For some it is safe and tactically expedient to avoid. But tactics without declared strategy are empty words. A fight for independence demands taking risks safety is not the priority. When walabummaa is the strategy tactics can be drawn only if one has strong and effective Oromo rear. What worries many is “political correctness”; not expressing an idea that their mentors do not approve. Still for others it is personal lack of conviction to be free.
Those that work for walabummaa can draw various tactics without compromising the National Kaayyoo assuming they have disciplined organization and grassroots support. Those that clandestinely work for union with the colonizers should not talk about it being tactics for liberation. Movements shrouded in secrets and not transparent to the nation can be source of great political debacle. In Oromo tradition selfishness and showiness are not admirable qualities. Those that have such qualities will find excuses to circumvent national ethical standards for their own self glory. If that is not achievable in national context they will have no shame to accept offer from the enemy, which they start praising as good friend. They believe they can fool their people; but the silent majority is not foolish but tolerant.
The struggle has now become for two end goals; independent Oromiyaa and democratic Ethiopia. One is either in the first or the second, there is no middle way. To reach both has a process that must be clear from the very beginning. Democratizing Ethiopia does not need to be Oromo. Its advocates had already accepted their Ethiopian identity. It had been tried and failed before. Since it has come back the struggle as then becomes between Ethiopianists and Oromiyaans. There are also dropouts now as then. Oromiyaan struggle and betrayals did not start this century or this decade. It is a continuous process from previous era. The struggle has come growing and sharpening adding more elements, determination, commitment and knowhow and its good will is indivisible. There are those with personal issues that want to disconnect the present from the past. Despite that, this generation continues to march under the Kaayyoo and the banner which millions of heroines and heroes have fallen with. The role of Oromo quislings in the occupation and oppression of Oromiyaa will not be forgotten. That is the defect continuing to haunt the Oromo unless fixed.
Oromo political struggle started as a unified entity. Much time, energy, wealth and life have been paid to keep it undivided. But, helped by external forces, the forces of disunity are getting successful in weakening and dividing it. It now requires new attention from Oromo revolutionaries. Committed political leadership is indispensable to defeat and dismantle the occupation fortress. The tactics of the enemies are getting clearer by the day. Their strength and weakness are transparent. Their plateau top fortresses are broken and become open market places and they have nowhere to hide. Whether they like it or not, the indigenous shall be the sovereign over them. Urban residents as citizens of Oromiyaa will enjoy better privileges and assurance than when they were under Habashaa colonial rule. Towns, being part of their country Oromo will not vandalize them. Do they choose autocracy over democracy?
The strengths of the enemy, if one can call them strengths, are mobilizing the most shameless, shallow, opportunistic good for nothing persons from all part of the empire and smear the good name and stand of the Oromo people publicly. They are waging a psychological war to demoralize and dehumanize the Oromo with gossips and words from malicious bootlicking intellectuals. As the saying goes empty vessels make the most noise. In all other aspects they are weak unless they get help from beyond the oceans. Without that they know they are never match for the Oromo. But even that will not be their monopoly anymore. The Oromo have survived despite greater campaigns and attacks by immense fire power and “Asmat” (voodoo) by renowned dabtaraas for over a hundred years; their morale cannot be broken by present day ignorant riffraff.
The struggle for emancipation of the nation has to get off the ground by concerted efforts of those that stand for liberation. It is only them that can save the nation by bringing back the lost rights, sovereignty, and national honor. Boundless magnanimity and selflessness from leaders are required to mobilize patriots. On the other hand unionists have ceased the anticolonial struggle. Now they are working hard to bring about a transitional Ethiopian government in which they will have seats and share in colonial power and plunder. In all the commotion of the diaspora from Ethiopian empire this objective is clearly visible. All meetings under Habashaa name, Oromo or other name and wriggling of TPLF agents are all about how to sabotage national struggles and form transitional administration for Empire Ethiopia. Their leaders are bunch of losers that are waiting to take advantage of sacrifices made by Oromo youth. That was what all the hullabaloos of Ethiopianists were about.
Oppressed peoples like the Oromo are fighting for their right of national self-determination up to and including independence. They are not interested in harming legitimate interest or rights of others. Genuine revolutionaries are not against Oromo nationals forming different organizations; but insist on tolerance and understanding for each other. All should not necessarily gather under one organization but have coordination of efforts. Let all go their way if it could really take them anywhere. When we talk of Oromo ones heart automatically goes to Oromo in Oromiyaa. But now good numbers of Oromo are found in the diaspora. Most have taken citizenship of a country in which they got asylum. They are forming families and producing children. Not only as source of material and intellectual support for Oromiyaa but they must also be considered as kin that need to take care of themselves as well.
From the first African migrants it is easy to learn what identity crisis could mean. Many of those are now trying to trace their roots for psychological and historical satisfaction. They are human beings that historical accident brought them to foreign land to live under dire conditions. They have participated in building the country in which they found themselves and contributed in blood, sweat and knowledge. But still they are being looked down upon by those that reached there first. Most present day Oromo in diaspora may have no problem of knowing their roots. But concerted action is needed to pass it to following generations. Therefore building strong union of world Oromo community can be one of the solutions. Formation of North America Oromo community was taken as step towards the right direction. But when this lesser task did not materialize how could one trust if a bigger difficult task can be successful?
Every activity in diaspora is carried out according to the law of the land where they are registered. That makes them legitimate, responsible and accountable to members and foreign governments. Therefore community based social organization is preferable and is reliable than multi-organizational gatherings. In particular to include political organizations in such formation is inviting partisan bickering that had been fracturing Oromo political struggle to this day. Membership to community organizations is based on individuals that present themselves for social relations. For this reason it is easier to keep community organizations neutral and common to all nationals irrespective of political affiliation, region or creed. Its mission and vision should cover what could be done not what should be done. Though there could be overlaps, division of functions between political and social organization have to be defined. Individuals are expected to leave their other organizational jackets at the door of community organizations. All Oromo conference that includes organizations and individuals can be conducted on ad hoc basis to discuss on state of Oromummaa and other matters concerning the nation. Its resolution could be implemented by organized participants. This should be a conference called by consensus of elites not by groups or individuals that try to outwit the other for whatever reason.
Oromo of all walks of life and in all geographical areas are still searching for the best way to get answer to the Oromo question. Movements like Oromo conferences or conventions, group meetings and seminars are being organized by activists, religious and civic societies. Brainstorming is going on in all corners. If the outcomes were not predetermined something good could come out of them. Strong independent political organization is needed to make use of the results. Social conferences could help in pointing out what caused the paralysis in Oromo independence movement? With this opportunity they can also suggest common ethical standards (Safuu) for Oromo interactions. All economic and social activities have to contribute to political empowerment of the nation not further weaken its already staggering political movements.
The present generation is the inheritors of principles of Gadaa ethical code or Safuu. They have to revise, develop and live by it. Let us hope the social movements, with patience and tolerance towards each other will bring forth fruitful output. If they are successful they can maintain cohesion among Oromo diaspora and help strengthen Oromummaa outside Oromiyaa and act as its external voice. In the struggle to be free, if all practicing different faiths, political orientations and professions act together, they can hasten Oromo liberation. But forming different conferences or conventions without absolute need for it is ridiculous. It indicates that there are defects in human relations and contributes only to wasting Oromo meager resources. All those that sincerely feel responsibility for the people and show concern for survival of the nation have to critically evaluate their actions; and do the right and honorable thing before divisions created between groups and individuals go deeper to divide members of the nation in the diaspora.
This semester, two Oromo gatherings are scheduled to take place in US. Allegations have already started circulating; supporters of one accusing the other as being sponsored by bodies that have no good name among the Oromo public. The allegation could be true or it emanates from lack of goal transparency or there is clash of personalities. It would have been preferable if they could merge their projects. Short of that it is good if all concentrate on their own schedule only and try to cool down their fans and leave to the results to prove them. They must know that bickering between groups could result in jeopardizing national harmony. So far, many such engagements had contributed in the weakening of Oromiyaa independence movement. It had fractured the diaspora into region, religion and age groups. In some cases it was purposely done by those that had alien mission to execute. Let us hope that these ones do not deserve the same label. This writer is commenting with the assumption that activists in both groups are dedicated to the liberation of Oromiyaa; he may be wrong. If that is not true there is no reason why many of us who stand for national Kaayyoo bother with bunches of Ethiopianists in Oromo clock? We have fought the original enemy and we can fight any that question our rights to independence. Let Waaq forbid, his assumption being proved wrong. As free people there will be no reason to bit around the bush than declaring one’s true intentions.
As for liberation of Oromiyaa, nothing short of strong disciplined political organization or solidarity and selfless leadership can drive it to the finish. Therefore Oromo politicians have to start thinking how to cleanse their mind from any consideration other than carryout duties and responsibilities incumbent on them. If any group could contribute towards this in good faith it is welcome. All who really want Oromo to be one among free peoples of Africa should be able to shelf their differences, suppress their egos and set an interim distance they can cover together. Formation of independent republic Oromiyaa and joining democratic Ethiopia are questions that get answers only when self-determination of Oromiyaa is realized. Till then nothing hinders all to coordinate their efforts and pay the sacrifice it requires for its fruition. This can be done if the name labels they carry have Oromummaa at heart. They can have common agenda for internal and external relations. However unity might be advantageous, merging organization will not be necessarily essential. Each can moves with one’s own pace. Mighty organization can be formed by few effective people that can mobilize great followers. Those that have similar outlook need no negotiation but understanding.
The struggle may require armed resistance or peaceful political struggle alone or both to reach the interim destination. After that as to which direction to take, the people have to decide. Unless such understandings are created no one should be blamed for attacking the other for they are becoming adversaries not companions. Today the colonial power is weakened beyond repair. To ally with such dying power for Oromo nationals amounts to hating their being Oromo or they are alien hirelings. At this time when the nation is nearing victory many galtuu (minions) are coming forward with empty promises. The case of OPDO figures could be cited. OPDO was systematically disabled from birth. It is colonizers weapon and doesn’t have its own volition. It can never be Oromo organization as it stands.
There could be loose people in the ranks of OPDO that talk without thinking. Even then most talks are guided by alien bosses. They can discuss about nationalism and obstacles to development, enough to be topic of discussion for those that want to give them benefit of the doubt from own wavering or dubious stand. No genuine Oromo nationalists will take them seriously except the naïve and those with Ethiopianist inclinations. It must be said again and again that OPDO as an organization is not Oromo’s but Tigraaway’s marionette not its Frankenstein wretch. It is maneuvered by invisible string of the puppeteer, TPLF. For OPDO to assert Oromiyaa’s constitutional right is to expect marionette to act without the puppeteer. But it must be known that what OPDO utters is only what EPRDF/TPLF approves. If not it will be a declaration of war against the mother party. But it is not, because it has no brain of its own to take independent stand. Otherwise it should have withdrawn from EPRDF for attacking Oromiyaa and opened all prison gates to let political prisoners out. If it could do that history will absolve OPDO from all sins it hitherto created.
In the diaspora Oromo have several community association, religious institutions and civic and political societies for at least quarter of a century. But progress in their growth doesn’t commensurate with capabilities of Oromo lying abroad. So far they are not able to create well-functioning local communities, harmonious faith institutions and effective civil societies. Fixing these should be a test for viability of any higher endeavor.
Oromo nation is now in a critical situation where pretenders seem to outmaneuver patriots confusing Oromo question. They present it as if Oromo do not know what they want unless they formulate one for them. The name of Oromo youth is used for this confusion as if the youth has different question from the whole nation. From behaviors of some cadres many are afraid if Ethiopianist eggs are not being incubated by Oromo hens. The forces of liberation have to develop critical thinking to question why things are done in certain ways by friends or enemies. They should not applaud for all contradictory statements. Our destination is yet far off; many may leave us on the way. Only those those dead on duties are praise worthy. There are many obstacles to overcome; ignorance of actors; individual ambitions; enemy infiltrations and forces of reaction. The Oromo are believed to be capable in handling those. They believe they could present themselves to third parties as equals if only they are sovereign over territory that they can defend. Oromummaa cannot be built in the air and in a situation lacking homeland to fallback to.
TPLF has objectives. To attain them it will use any means at its disposal. One such means is the emergency proclamation. Aim of the proclamation is to disable the Oromo from protesting against it and to eliminate and reduce Oromo numbers with that pretext. Numerous Oromo nationals that it could lay its hand on are driven to Nazi like concentration camps disabling them from participating in any sort of movements. This is in addition to those that go to established prisons. All top Oromo leaders of loyal opposition parties and several of their cadres are in such prisons. Thousands of Oromo nationals have disappeared and killed in the streets. Several farmers are massacred indiscriminately on the streets and in the fields by armed militias trained, equipped and led by TPLF. Thousands were not dislocated before standing their ground to defend their families and their land gallantly with arms snatched from the enemy using sticks and stones. TPLF’s campaign will significantly reduce circulation of numbers of able bodied nationals. The proclamation in that case is achieving its purpose. But ultimately it will be a failed plan. All the monarchs before it had tried ruthlessly, by cutting limbs, breasts and tongues. But the Oromo is still there with greater numbers than all its neighbors including the butchers. To wipeout Oromo for good has proved a wasted effort for colonizers. For Oromo revolutionaries there is nothing greater than the matter of liberation of Oromiyaa. That is why they should keep on reminding about it until the Kaayyoo hits its goal. Long live independent Oromiyaa!
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!