Understanding problems Leads to Solutions
Oromiyaa is in crisis; repression, human right abuses of all sorts, evictions and famine are getting to be orders of the day. People are rising in all corners tired of being provoked by the colonizer every passing year. The way to freedom is taking longer than expected. The Finfinnee Master plan is only the tip of the iceberg; the plan to destroy Oromiyaa is very wide as the base of the iceberg. The Habashaa is planning to turn all towns that it initially built for defense purpose into independent islands in Oromiyaa. For this reason it will not stop with Finfinnee alone. That is why Oromoo youth are ready to pay what it may cost to abort the master plan and are giving their lives for. Rising with same demands and slogans at the same time demonstrate the indivisible unity of their people and are proving that to all in doubt. At the same time they are not only proving to each other their similarity in commitment and determination but also forcing the enemy to stretch out its force. It could stretch out itself only as long as it could cajole those that carry the gun for it. When the chagrin of being abused by the insignificant alien fires Oromo youth for more action that the enemy will panic and start to cut and run is not hard to figure out. What is required is to accept the challenge of taking through what one intended to do. If one wavers from one’s committed stand for no good enough reason, it could result in losing credibility and also hides the existing truth.
Now we see spontaneous uprising as it looks. Its fire will flare-up before it is suppressed by brute force. Brute force may silence people momentarily but we have seen that until the question of Oromo liberation gets response it never stops. A people that has so far lost everything, resources, rights, and honor and today the lives of its young cannot be scared by fear of threats and killings. The month of December is witnessing the united solid resistance by Oromo youth throughout the land, as much as it is exposing the fascistic behavior of the regime. Under age children marching to demand their rights are being massacred on every street of Oromiyaa, East, West, Center, South and North. Elderly are facing the same tragedy when they go out to rescue their young. Blood of the innocent is flowing with no end in sight. It is a national disaster that no person from Oromiyaa can be indifferent to. Now what is wanted is not to stand and suck ones lips in sympathy, but the time to gear all thoughts, resources, efforts and prayer towards the home front. Oromo organized national struggle started more than half a century ago. For more obvious than hidden reasons it is taking a long time to materialize. Spontaneous people’s resistance is advancing at the head of national leadership. From what we observe the struggle is going to be protracted. Therefore let us try to assess Oromo liberation movements if suggestions could come up to make them more efficient.
Questions like, why is Oromo struggle taking too long to reach its goal; why are activists losing confidence on each other, why is there no harmony between them etc. are always raised by believers and non-believers of the cause but no answer so far? These days, unless activities or knowledge, are updated regularly, it is possible to become obsolete. Even ancient Oromo used to say “One cannot remain with dirty hands and olden ways”. If shortcomings could be considered in good faith, the chronic problem concerning sluggishness might get a solution. this article is not problems arising from not properly implementing the constitution and laws and small stuff like personal characters, greed, selfishness, arrogance, etc but to see the basic causes. This is not forgetting that even for a cohesive, militant revolutionary organization, such struggle like that of the Oromo can be protracted. Here we are considering movements, which seem to lose their roadmap. For decades now Headquarters of Liberation organizations are based in foreign lands with conflicting national interests. Some fear that this might lead to possible hostage situation.
People’s movements cannot effectively be guided by remote control. This is an obvious weakness. Unless we accept this, things will remain puzzling for times to come. There are many that operate overtly and covertly to sabotage Oromo struggle and thwart it success. Such infiltrations should not be blamed for struggle’s sluggishness as much as own internal weakness. The world has lived spying on each other. There should be no wonder if Oromo is also spied upon. As the saying goes, when they said, “It is too long let us cut it, the snake replied don’t bother one coils oneself”. The Oromo seem to lose the power to coil themselves. Infiltrations though can be detrimental should not be presented as excuse for weakness. It is internal weakness that allows infiltrations by agents; if that gets chance it could be catastrophic for the movement. That could be prevented by sealing all possible pores in order to keep unseen hands at bay from meddling in ones affairs.
Structure of most African political organizations after the 60s is based on Communist model of Congress, Central Committee (CC) and Politburo or Executive Committee (EC). Theoretically the Central Committee was meant to enhance democracy, efficiency and collective leadership. But in practice it ended up as a rubber stamp for its chairpersons that usually turn dictators. Most that adopted it tended to be dictatorial. Oromo organizations have suffered from the same sickness, despite their having their own Gadaa structure to fall back to. Gadaa is based on Gumii or Caffee and Salgee model. Gumii is the Congress of the nation and Salgee is Executive Committee formed from nine members of the ruling party (gogeessa) Luba, including the Abbaa Gadaa (Abbaa Bokkuu). It is the highest authority in Oromiyaa responsible for achievements and failures. Traditionally there is no CC between Salgee and Gumii.
The Salgee was responsible to the Gumii and subject to dismissal by it. Politburo is responsible to the Central Committee. The Central Committee is nominally the highest body of the organization representing the Congress when it is not in session. Its regular and extraordinary meetings can happen only if the chairperson wills. That of the Kora is also the same. Starting from Stalin politicians have used KG and EC to marginalize one another. Had it functioned according to the initial objective dictatorship could not have found a leeway. The same practice is repeatedly observed in Oromo organizations. Though criteria for membership are established, by law it is presented in the manner the caller designs. It has also never been called in legally given time. For that reason one elected only for two years can remain in power for decades. That is one of their weaknesses, a hornless CC, a cliquish EC and a partial Kora. To make corrections and avoid autocracy, one has to go back and improve traditional stEgypt ructure if necessary and use that.
The other question is why the Oromo organizations are not successful like those of the Tigreans? The major Habashaa nationalities are Amaaraa and Tigrawayi. They have been together since their ancestors crossed the Red Sea and settled in Africa. They had together formed a state after displacing the indigenous Cushitic speaking Africans. Since then they had been through the ups and downs of political history including changing hands in governance. Both used to have common centre for religious affairs, propaganda and information in Alexanderia Egypt. In all their history no one of them had willingly submitted to the other. Therefore rebellion was a usual internal common practice. Their struggle mostly is to snatch central power from each other not to be independent from each other. It is all the same to this day .Tigray and Eritrean rebellion of the last part of 20th century is a continuation of that political tradition. That is why the nature of their struggle with that of Oromo liberation movement was different. Theirs was question of internal grievance and that of the Oromoo is a colonial question. They are kin and kith with advantage of having information on each other’s operations, access to Habashaa infrastructure and a claim to the power structure. The Oromo are terrorized aliens trying to liberate themselves from shackles of colonialism and claiming their human rights. They have no interest in overthrowing the Habasha government and replacing it. It does not mean there is nobody that entertains such idea to derail the struggle for independence.
TPLF abandoned it separatist demand after capturing the Ethiopian Empire. Though Eritrea claimed theirs to be colonial question, high land Eritrea had been part of Habashaa state, administratively, religiously, culturally and linguistically from time immemorial. It is their right to coin their problem in a manner that fits their people’s interest. They were granted independence without much legal wrangling thanks to TPLF coming to power. But the surprising thing is when their President denies the same right to Oromiyaa, a historically separate entity and alien to them. What is the motive and prime interest behind that denial? They know that Oromiyaa was the victim of the Scramble for Africa. Did the true relations they had with Habashaa and the short lived indirect rule flashback? That be as it may, it will be wrong to compare Habashaa internal struggle, their failures and achievements, with that of the Qinyi Gizat (colony) of Oromiyaa, as they used to call it. Even Minilik saw Oromiyaa differently, when he signed the Addis Ababaa Treaty of 1896 as “Emperor of Ethiopia and the Gaallaa Countries”. ‘Gaallaa’ was a derogatory term for Oromo.
What does the condition in Oromiyaa look like before the beginning of organized struggle? Oromiyaa is under enemy occupation for more than a century. The enemy did not control Oromiyaa easily. It got maimed, bled, and died to capture it. The Oromo has paid more sacrifices than it in self-defense but was not fortunate; it was defeated and fell under it. To avenge it’s lose and fulfill the objectives that led it to colonize Oromiyaa (the plundering of Oromiyaa’s labor and resources); the alien used mercenaries, collaborators and advice and material and technical support from overseas colonialists. All Oromo land was declared colonial governments land. After that it distributed it to fighters and workers called Nafxanyaa that came with it. It ordered that those who were on the land live according to the will of the new land owners. A country cannot be separately seen from its land. Therefore a people evicted from their land are devoid of a country. A nation is known as a nation when it has a territory under its control. The Oromo has been robbed of their country and so their nationhood is denied to be seen as a segment of another nation.
The colonizer destroyed the economic, political and social structures Oromo had and spread its own. It also facilitated for the free use of their labor. It forbade Oromo from practicing their religion, culture, tradition, administration and language and imposed on them its own. Oromo we see today is a product of that oppression not yet fully reversed. Oromo identity is in the twilight zone however one tries to assume. That is why the enemy kept on denying their identity and confused them with its evil spells and made them turn against themselves. In short, the Oromo lost their independence and freedom. The enemy dehumanized and made them seen up on as subhuman. To fulfil its objectives it used excessive force, killings, imprisonment, kidnappings, rape and torture. It denied the Oromo human rights and justice. Thus staying under colonial rule for more than a century, did not cause the Oromo great physical harm alone but also psychological damages. The fear of further damage is making some to stoop for the enemy as if it could spare them. Many try to distance themselves from problems in Oromiyaa to get acceptance from aliens as good citizen, when Oromo youth are being butchered for demanding human rights for the Oromo.
Human beings are said to be free by birth. Having been denied their liberty, they cannot remain docile forever. For this reason Oromoo started organized liberation struggle with OLF as the vanguard, defying all the above mentioned oppressions. The kaayyoo in its political program, the struggle it waged to make Oromo plight recognized by the world, the sacrifices it paid, and the achievement it registered has made it spirit of the nation in spite of its temporal weakness. It is that sprit in present day Oromo youth that is refusing to be subjugated. The resistance and sacrifices we see and hear today from all zones of Oromiyaa is the assurance of continuation of the struggle started by their predecessors. At the beginning, members and leaders of Oromo liberation front came from Ethiopian student movements. This time Oromo resistance is an independent movement unmarred by enemy pollutant. The soft heart for Ethiopianess in the first movement is Waaq willing will be not a problem for the new generation. They should know two word, unity and democracy which aliens use it to mislead Oromo youth and the world.
The Gadaa system had experience of using similarities and differences for strength of the nation. For this reason the naïve may be incited to make errors for the time being, that should not worry the people. Better to go back and revise their fathers’ experiences. Unity that Nafxanyaa offspring talk about is the external unity with Habashaa elites as the center. No one hates unity based on respect for each other’s legitimate interest. There is no one that could claim vision of unity for African peoples than Oromo activists. African peoples are siblings for each other, including the Habashaa. They are their elites that unity denies them personal advantage that keep the peoples apart. It is only unity based on negotiation of equals that can create viable unity. All have to be free for any treaty. Therefore independence of Oromiyaa is imperative. Oromo nationalists say an empire cannot be democratized not they dislike democracy which is their culture. Even to try, a partner that favors it cannot be found among Habashaa parties. Culturally Habashaa government is formed with one strong man at the center. Asking to get democratized may be taken as my culture is better than yours. It will only be wasting Oromo manpower, resources and time in vain, that is why they oppose it. One has to struggle to create unity where everyone’s identity is respected according to one’s culture. If the struggle slows down because of this, it is not because the idea is bad but because some members of the leadership lack consistency and perseverance
For many Oromummaa is only a mask which will be taken off if it is paying. Oromo liberation movement was supposedly started by those with relatively liberated minds. Later it was observed that there are some that retain elements of past abuses. They are such ones that are making noise of the struggle’s being on the wrong truck and the need for corrections. Making corrections mean abandoning the belief that the occupation force is an enemy; and suggesting, joining and begging it to democratize its country. To get accepted they say let us take oath to be loyal to the constitution and alien leaders and renounce armed struggle under any circumstance. That means let us register as servants and struggle for leftover offices and relishes like in the time of Kings. It is not alien to alien negotiation; it is begging to be instruments in ruling the empire. That is an indicator of Oromo weakness we have been talking about.
Oromiyaa people’s land is still Ethiopian governments by its law. It dislocated whoever it wants and sells to whoever it wishes and gives to whoever it likes. It brought people from its country and settled them on fertile lands, supposedly expansion lots for over populated Oromo areas. Oromo are getting dislocated more than under the previous regimes and forced to homeless status. Some are subjected to cheap labor for which they were purposely evicted from their land. Their land is polluted by chemicals and their children and domestic animals are getting atrophied and themselves being exposed to impotency. Greedy investors are pouring money into Neo-Nafxanyaa coffers. The Nafxanyaa evicts Oromo farmers from any land those ask without any consideration to continued existence and wellbeing of the farmers. Does such situation give peace of mind to any sane Oromo or humane peace loving human beings? Can any Oromo remain indifferent spectator or enemy collaborator at this time of national catastrophe? It is a challenge for Oromummaa and humanity.
Freedom of expression, assembly and forming associations are no more rights but generosity of the colonizer which are nonexistence. Abuse like being killed, tortured, and being subjected to exile have come exceeding those of the past and no abatement is in sight. The right of nations to national self-determination is a human right. Though past Ethiopian regimes have accepted this by signing the UN Charter, they did not include it in their constitution. The difference the present one has with them is that it has included in its constitution. But when it comes to practice it is as adamant as its predecessors. It did not take it from heart but to fool the world and fake Oromo activist that is looking for excuse to join them.
There are those that say the oppressive condition that was there when the struggle commenced is no more there. They want to tell us that improvements have taken place in Ethiopian administration and world situation has changed. But abuses that caused the struggle only kept on augmenting for the Oromo and never decreased. It is true that the world has advanced in technology. Good for the Oromo, they will use it for their struggle. Ethiopia is still an autocratic empire just as before. Oromiyaa is still ruled not by its own will but with that of the alien. The world is also a world where the oppressed are fighting for their rights more than they did before. For this reason there are no improvements that encourage abstention from the struggle. Therefore unless it is inferiority left in the mind, there is nothing that will make one change gears of the struggle that is ongoing. Those that have decided to be Ethiopianist and those that are speculating to be one, cannot fool the oppressed people with this but themselves. Those that say better to warm heat of the struggle from afar should know they cannot avoid the cold unless they go near to the fire.
There are also those that say because the Ethiopian government is too strong they cannot overcome it for lack of friends to call for help. It is essential to win friends. One cannot kneel or rally for the enemy for lack of friends that could come for alliance. One defends oneself as mucha as possible and accepts the result. To win friends is based on one’s strength. Someone befriends the other only if there are mutual benefits from the relations, not for the comfort of next life. No one will waste ones time with those that cannot protect, deny or affect ones interest. To be worthy of that requires leadership that is not wavering and is committed.
On what does strength of Habashaa regime lie? Answering this question may unlock its secrets. Oromo are at least seven folds more than them in number. They are far apart in natural resources. They are never blamed for lack of gallantry. They have shown that in all battles fought against the enemy. Because of the terror they had been under since occupation many of their members are enriching enemy camp for lack of self-confidence. The Habashaa had never defeated the Oromo without rallying Oromo that lack self-consciousness. Oromo that are not politically conscious, lack self-confidence to go against the status quo. They may start struggling with anger but when the anger cools off they start regretting and return to their previous sub human position. The solution is pulling oneself out of the shock caused by enemy terror for generations.
The enemy had stuffed people of the colony with its propaganda of being undefeatable and all knowing. That means erasing them requires strengthening their political consciousness through rigorously educating. Enslaved mentality could not easily vanish unless the concerned willingly try to change. The strength of the colonizer emanates from these weaknesses of the Oromo. Otherwise all Habashaa regimes and in particular the present one has more internal weakness than all the previous ones. To weaken the enemy nothing external is required; the Oromo have to only pull back what is their own, man power and resources. If the enemy camp dwindles one’s own will get strong. Fearing to belong to one’s own does not spare from death. How many collaborators in OPDO are killed and how many are discarded by the master for assumed feeling of Oromummaa? Whether you are OPDO member or an Oromo in the street you cannot be spared if member of the enemy feels you smell Oromo. If the sward is an answer whether you believe or not believe, why don’t you welcome it at an honorable arena? Unless strong resistance is put in place the enemy will continue to cull the strong and the leading from among the Oromo and destroy them.
Oromo do not need alien practices to be human. Oromo unity has to be based on their ancestral heritage, the principles of Gadaa democracy. That has to be practiced down from county up to region to make difference with autocratic system of the alien. That has to start from social and political organizations from cell to the highest leadership office. It is clear that historically the Oromo had organized themselves in moieties, gosa, qomoo, balbala etc in order to strengthen this system of democracy. To give attention to the inner circle helps to strengthen the outer ones. It could give citizens breathing space if the strangle at the center is relaxed. That has to be restudied in a modern setting. Any social group should not show superiority over the other outside rules of the law and constitution. They can have difference in, weight and volume; tallness and shortness; richness and poverty; knowledge and ignorance etc. but all individuals are equal before the law. This is an outlook that cannot be overlooked when Oromo strength is considered. Rule of law is indispensable for Gadaa system. Oromo had only Gadaa democracy not autocratic system ever. Any one that tries to adopt even an element of it should have no place in new Oromiyaa as it was in the ancient.
The shock of colonial terror is greatly contributing to the difficulty of imagining oneself independently operating from the old masters. Hence many Oromo are still in that shock to believe in their own capability. There are also those who knowingly run to colonizer’s camp fearing the risk that may befall because of the struggle. The coward and greedy might run away from here to there, ignorant of what is awaiting it at that end. The enemy brags only as long as it could rally galtuu or collaborators, otherwise it is of no significance. It is Oromo weakness that makes it seem strong. Instead of snatching away from the enemy that exploits the potential they have some Oromo are running after it expecting for leftovers from what it plundered.
Thus many Oromo are victims of colonized mentality which makes one slavish. Otherwise Oromiyaa has the manpower and resources even to liberate the region. More work is required to raise people’s political consciousness to come out of this artificial weakness. To pass ones’ weakness to the next generation and make the enemy seem strong is a sin without absolution. To compare history of Oromo struggle against those that are different and not weighing it by its own strength and weakness is possible to lead to a wrong analysis. Some develop self-contempt, contempt for their nation and their organization by wrongly understanding the whole picture. Despite their rich and fabulous culture some Oromo elites’ that know not themselves and have no consideration for the morrow have started to imitate aliens in everything and even have started giving their children alien names. There are also those that give priority for Habashaa language in unexpected places.
To conclude, effect of terror Oromo were subjected to for generations by colonialism; underdeveloped capacities and political consciousness; impoverishment from denial to use own resources; adopting alien structure incompatible with theirs; easily adjusting to wherever one retreats and forsake problem areas; weakness to protect oneself from enemy infiltrations and failure to identify turncoats among them; lack of commitment by leadership to the national kaayyoo; deficiency of determination to implement organizations’ program and constitution; loose spirit of brotherhood and comradery between members, are in general among areas where panacea could be looked for organizational weaknesses. The suppressed people are breaking out and rushing towards liberation and are yearning for leadership. If all Oromo become politically conscious no minority can push them around without their will. The awakened is not afraid of a situation where death and life has no difference and so is rebelling come what may. To awaken the still sleeping is duty of the nationalist. That could be achieved through hard work not by wish. Be what might, victory for independence struggle is inevitable, justice is on Oromo side.
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!