We and Them

(Oromo and the Colonizer)

"You have no calf muscle how can you kick the ground boy?

You have no cooperation how can you hurt others boy?" *

Unbearable colonial abuse that included attempt to erase history, culture, language and tradition of the Oromo made people to rise in struggle. That is why while continuing the struggle for birth right, to adopt relevant principles from the Gadaa system should not be overlooked. When Oromo youth rose for liberation struggle their people’s kaayyoo and who enemies and friends are, were clear to them. That has been put down in the political program of their vanguard organization, the OLF. Then there was visible cairn between enemy and friends. Leadership prerogatives were also set. With time everything started to get murkier and jumbled up. Now there is hesitation to distinguish between friends and enemies; leader ship term and power limit, functionaries and members rights and duties became beyond definition. We are losing common understanding to whom to say “We” and “They”. Therefore it is incumbent on the youth that feel concerned about affairs of their people to start debating seriously. In olden days a Gadaa never outstays its term. Each incoming Gadaa proclaims new laws or proclaim the existing ones as its own. No one was above the law. That is a principle to be emulated. Now that the Gadaa legally and culturally belong to the youth, the duty to pull the nation out of the confusion rests with them. Those who can do this are those who are part of the process and are contributing to people’s struggle. How Oromo struggle is being handled by different quarters these days is worrisome. Hence everyone has to self-examine in good faith and come up with suggestions on how to find a solution. All Oromo leading personalities have duty and responsibility to help in leading towards that end.

Concentric circles

Those who considered themselves as “We” in Oromummaa can be seen as concentric circles. The small circle near to the center can be considered as the family. After that, it develops to “balbala”, clan, tribe and nation. It means the nation is the outer circle that embraces all. In each circle there could be points that refer to each other as “we” and “they”. In all circles there could be different points of character, faiths, counties and regions. Those differences are adopted after birth and can also be changed. For the wise the differences can benefit in overall strengthening of the circles; but in the hands of the evil they could bring catastrophe. At any level if points in a circle demand higher loyalty than the circle or the concentric circles it means something is wrong; it has to be fixed fast. If difference outweighs unity of the nation it will have disastrous consequence.

One is born with Oromummaa and it is not something one can wash away; its gene passes from generation to generation. Even with this truth Oromummaa is not surging forward to be the guiding outlook for all. Confusion and temptations spread by enemy propaganda is creating new version of legendary “Ladder of Arroojii” or The Tower of Babel where failed to the same language. Among activists there are those who are not self-conscious and also lack self-confidence. The people are great people that had share in pre-Christian civilizations. They had democratic culture if not the greatest, not inferior to any known so far. They are the biggest in numbers among those in the region. They have significant natural resources. No one will blame them for knowledge, skill, love of peace and bravery. No one preceded them in monotheism. But those that move in their name do not reflect all those qualities. Rather they humiliate Oromummaa by being despised rather than feared; be led rather than leading; show meanness rather than humility; rather than appearing graceful by coordinating own people, to replace it, they prefer gathering around them trifles that reperesent no one. For these reason visible and potential capabilities of this people is not utilized. What is to be done? How can it be possible to pull out from this humiliation? Those whose conscience cannot bear such humiliation have to think over. There is no alternative to putting ones house in order before stretching hands yonder.

Oromummaa embraces the circles of regionalism, faith, tribalism etc. For this reason it means loyalty to it has priority over all others for Oromo individuals. Any relation with all those referred to as, “They” should not contradict such loyalty. Otherwise it could result in separating from the hoard and favoring the enemy. Our colonizer is our enemy. For us enemy means one that puts individuals or nations under control or helps to put under control without their consent and orders on their body and resources at will and also denies their human and national rights and identity by forcing them to live under one with cruelty. Our enemy defiled our boundary. We are different in origin, language; country, vision, interest and objective. We are the invaded and they the invaders. We are the oppressed and they are the oppressors. We are kin they are aliens.

That is why it is said, if our being “We” is not guarded airtight we can never avoid abuse. This is the way Oromo view themselves. For the Habasha elites, present day Oromiyaa is their own territory from time immemorial; Oromo are invaders that came to this area in 16th century from uncertain origin that include rivers etc. Oromo had never had central authority so should not be considered as one nation. The do not deserve more than respect for their individual rights. These are ideas their ideologue daftaraa (clerics) inculcated in them for centuries and reinforced by chauvinist Nafxanyaa cadres of the present day. As a result they do not recognize the rights Oromo claim. This package is what Oromo in cahoots with them have accepted and abandoned the national question whose response could empower Oromo as an independent nation. That is why people say their move is doomed to failure.

So far we are continuing being persecuted for failing to show commitment and determination for cause of Oromummaa in unison. We had never seen when those that abandoned us in misery and run to those we call “They” flourished. It is only when the similar are put together that they become adorable. We are told that peoples of the world have become interdependent more than ever. However we are not told that every one of them gives priority to their own people’s interest. To amass more power and profit all advance by crushing the weak and never say “Oh my!” and help them up to walk them. Be it to get upper hand or to scape being stampeded those that have advantage are those that have strong unity and are well prepared. Now no one has to tell us how we organize ourselves and methods we use for our struggle that is our own part. We started our struggle because we believed that Oromo should first be liberated before entering competition with the world. It is only one that dares to distinguish between “We” and “They” that can get ready for it.

Instead of raising their own people’s level of consciousness so that they get their proper place there are many that chose to align with the enemy and improve own profile. So far many nationalists have tried in earnest to reveal the existing truth. Even them they tried to whisper through conspiratorial gagging and could not thunder as they were expected. The rest instead of magnifying and passing this frail voice preferred to murmur to themselves. Many Oromo worry about public opinion despite losing their country, honor and their identity. They do not realize that the public has no opinion for one who has nothing. That does not mean they are not angry, rather they are living with suppressed rage. Unless they release that, they will continue being played upon by a minority.

Therefore their solution is to rise from where they have fallen and shake off the parasitic enemy. Unless all roar and shout together for the abuse they are suffering from and deny others quite sleep no one will pay attention to their suffering. Only those that feel the pain of contempt and humiliation are outraged. There are those that ducked saying “You bend and make time and missiles to pass over you.” But missiles were sent down from above. It is only by actively standing against missiles that one can fend it off. To shit on oneself for inescapable death is to live with shame. The nation’s shame is honor for the enemy. It will continue shaming Oromo by dismantling, dispersing, impoverishing and dehumanizing them unless they awake in time and counter it. .

Habasha propaganda of brainwashing they grew with seems to have gone deep into the minds of most Oromo intellectuals than all they got from higher institutions of knowledge. Higher cadres that are entrusted with responsibility for the struggle were disoriented by changing conditions, pressure from different interest groups, personal problems and others. Oromo liberation movement emanated from the problem the nation was in. To learn and work in afaan Oromo was achieved by the movement. To have own letters (Qubee) was started by it. It is by the movement that many benefits were registered. All benefits achieved by Oromo liberation movement cannot be exhaustively told. These were registered by the braves whose bones are scattered all over Oromiyaa and never seen a grave. Did Oromo mothers stop giving birth to heroes after them? Those that want to exploit Oromiyaa’s resources without impediment are relentlessly attacking the movement from different direction to get political dominance. For them to stupefy Oromo and mount it just as before, the liberation movement must be destroyed. For this they are coordinating alliance from in and out. Unless liberation movement is led from where the problems are victories so far registered could be reversed. To save the movement from perishing is the duty of all Oromo.

But how can that be realized? First and formost it must be observed that organizational laws are not distorted to fit individual or group interest but implemented as they were intended for. Organization that tries to reflect interest of segment of its membership to satisy an individual or clique desire is an interst group or private association and cannot claim to be a political organization. Therefore its failure as a political organization is predetermined. Enemy that controls Oromiyaa is working day and night without rest to retain it longer. On Oromo side we do not see similar effort being made. If this practice remains unchanged the Oromo would always remain victims. The risk of challenging an enemy and dragging foot on defense could be more damaging than not challenging. It requires working hard day and night in greater force than the enemy to be worthy of the name liberation front. That could be achieved only if activist go to their roots and live according to own constitution and laws rather than imitating aliens and shun democracy. So far, except on paper Oromo did not produce practicing democratic organizations. Even its oldest and so far the best of all their organizations is not yet up to the standard this great nation deserves.

OLF, the vanguard organization had come down breaking apart at different times. It was a happy event when recently factions that broke up decided to work under one management until a General Assembly democratically constituted and genuinely reprsentative sits to unify them. It is hoped that leaders will give priority to unify the grass root so that “we and they” that could emanate from narrow mindedness will not persist among OLF members. Honarable people will not replace truth and openness with self defense. If the peace process goes as agreed, there is no reason that it could not come out successful. For that the National Council and those with executive functions have the responsibility and accountability. All hope that good faith shall prevail to take them through to victory. It must be known that leadership that cannot take this opportunity and correct irregularities to bring back the rule of law cannot lead this great people to victory.

That be as it may, the desired result may not be achieved unless old habits change. Those are what led to divisions and failures. But we have no immediate alternative than trudging with what we have. But if what we trudge cannot caryy on we will will not lack a solution. What should be done? It needs no less than a revolution to put things back in their right perspective. There are some that wiggle their tails when it is strong and hate even to see it with their eyes and call names when it is powerless. For any one that calls oneself a nationalist to hate OLF is to hate oneself. From one that loves Oromummaa what is required is work not grudge? Any leadership must cooperate to get the struggle back to its place, without being distracted by alien relations and personal predicaments. Liberation movement is not going to stop until freedom. But because leadership is limited in time, their policy should not be to satisfy their present ego alone but one that would be useful for the future as well.

This Gadaa belongs to the youth. Hate, weakness and meanness of some individuals of the past Gadaa should not be passed as heritage to the succeeding ones. How can we make stop to this? Oromummaa cannot be built on hatred. Our heroes perished for love. We hope our children will follow their example. They will rather strengthen the weak among us, empower our strong, straighten our crooked and lead us with “ilaa fi ilaamee” (orderly discussion) than finishing off what we have come dragging. It is independence that assures Oromiyaa belongs to the Oromo. Unless one holds fast to kaayyoo of independence it is not possible to be people with freedom and master of own country, except a “Maxxannee” or dependent people.

The Habashaa had convinced themselves that all colonial peoples have abandoned their identity and became them. That emanates from the few people that showed more cooperation to them than to their own people. They broke the colonies using them and are still continuing to use such collaborators to break them. There are those that knowingly or unknowingly nourish the terrorist enemy camp saying, there is no more Ethiopian than We; we are the stem not a branch to be pulled off; armed struggle is of no benefit to us but peaceful struggle etc. There are lots of naïve that say bravo to this. Enemy that say go for it are also as many. Oromo have only parasites to shake of and have no stem to get pulled off from. For Oromo it is a traditional policy to peacefully resolve conflicts they have with anyone. But their independence is nonnegotiable for whatever. To fend off anyone that comes with evil intentions is a birth right. In history empires have never been dismantled peacefully. The Oromo say we had been fooled by the so called “Gaallaa Gabar” (Buffer zone Gallaa) of olden days and shall never be fooled again by their new version.

The youth have to repeatedly ask themselves the question, why are Hagos and Irgaxe harsh on Tolasaa and Birbirso, in what ways are Hagoses better than them that they became their masters in their own country? The answer may be they are harsh because they are aliens; and they are better because they have the guns. Being alien comes with history; to be free from oppressors the solution is to disarm them. There are kin that tremble when the Tolasaas ask for their rights saying they will provoke the enemy to get harsher on them. What more can an enemy that is already erasing them more to frighten them than it already did? The Tolasaas had already realized that fear cannot be the solution and declared “they will never sniff us again”. If they are not accepting that they are of inferior race, any Oromo person ought to have determination like the Tolasaas. Those that have never imagined living away from their masters cannot visualize the difference between honor and humiliation. The brave and cowards are distinguished by that. The courageous are not afraid of death. One that is not afraid of death does not accept dehumanization. For that reason one does not obey the enemy.

To seem different from past regimes Wayyaanee has inserted articles in its constitution recognizing the right of nations under the Ethiopian state to national self-determination. That is a human right recognized by the world not to be denied for any reason by any one. But Madrak condemned it. The Wayyaanee accepted nations’ right to national self-determination though it did not recognize their colonial status. The group that was overthrown is still lamenting about policies Wayyaanee have for nationalities as regionalism and intention to divide the people of Ethiopia. When they say the people of Ethiopia they have in mind Amaaraa and Tigrawayi; if these are strengthened they believe the cacophony of the colonies is not a big deal. They did not understand that Wayyaanee had recognized those right not because it favors the Oromo but that was the only way to keep the empire going for the time under the circumstances. The OFC also said they believed Wayyaanee is only lying and would not put it into practice, so we agreed to scrap article 39 to join Madrak and befriend aliens. Woe to those that with any chance compromise their nation’s interest.

For the Oromo there is no solution unless the empire is dismantled. Ethiopia became empire after she colonized independent peoples to the south of her kingdom by force. It was that realtion that made her empire. Let the empire be dismantled means let that relation cease to exist. It means Ethiopia and her colonies become independent of each other. Ethiopia cannot continue as empire if Oromiyaa become independent. Independence of Oromiyaa can come through peaceful negotiation or armed struggle. If the conflict is not resolved soon in any way the suffering of majority people will continue. It requires bleeding, getting maimed, get imprisoned and dying for it today, for future generation to lead a better life tomorrow.

The lack of common understanding on the relation between Oromiyaa and the Ethiopian state is the root cause of suspicious and murky relations between Oromo activists. Individual weakness, selfishness, arrogance and others are secondary. It is only possible to get rid of the road block if that gets clear. On this issue transparency is required from all sides. Deceits must be made “safuu”. The people must clearly know the difference between joining colonial government with Oromo name as loyal opposition and struggling independently for independence of Oromiyaa. If two horses were saddled facing south and north, to say “If you mount on the left or right side destination is the saddle” is absurd. The saying may literally be true only for one horse.

Loyal Oppositions say the Oromo can live as Ethiopians by being given political power commensurate with their numbers. This assumes the creation of new structure and relations to replace the present one. That demands a transitional period where all organize their own base. If one believes in this the possibility must have been negotiated before surrendering. But what they wanted is something that appeals to nationalist ears, not what they believe in. They know that the idea will not be accepted by the colonizer. Let alone folks that have no culture of peacefully transferring power, no body willingly gives up what one had sweated for, maimed for and died for. Hence even thinking about it seems having the intention to join them in blundering Oromiyaa as Ethiopian loyal opposition not going beyond that. Otherwise they should have joined true nationalist to dislodge the invader by all available means and become masters of their own destiny. Their policy is based on fear and so capitulatory; for this reason it cannot substitute the ideal heroes are dying for.

“We” means, we the Oromo. We and our colonizers are the oppressed and the oppressor. For this reason until such relation is changed they are our enemies. How can we see an Oromo person that joined them with excuse of democratizing Ethiopia differently from one stupefying Oromiyaa? What about from Wayyaanee? Oromo, like Wayyaanee may assign underground agents like TPDM not loyal opposition. Such types will have objectives and where to report; they will not be those that remain wherever they find comfort.

To choose sides is ones right. But that needs to go out of oneself and see if that choice does not affect Oromoo interest. Can the Oromo really look for answers to their question in Ethiopia before getting independently well organized and liberating themselves? Is the colonizer an enemy or an arrogant friend? If it is an enemy it cannot go away without violent means. For those that take it as an arrogant friend non-violent struggle may be tried. Is it not deceiving oneself to stand with a system that did not disarm itself, strengthens its prisons daily and one that continuously abuse its own people and talk about peaceful struggle? The Oromo are against the colonial system. Why do our politicians want us to target only the TPLF? Any one aspiring to control the empire maintaining as it is, is no less an enemy than the TPLF. Let it not be overlooked that singling out the TPLF could lead to allying with chauvinist Nafxanyaa groups. Any group that takes power represents the empire Nafxanyaa system to deal with. Can it be considered struggle at all let alone peaceful struggle to willingly work with such an enemy? Let us ask ourselves again, before we start turning guns against own people.

It is naivety for one that has no strong Oromummaa rear to expect winning competition for power within empire’s structure without the will and support of aliens. To believe that you could win in enemy camp without that support, with Oromo name, is to make fool out of oneself. Even if there is an alien that is willing to support, it is one that expects bigger return from the benefit. That Oromo struggle is in difficulties because of weakness of actors can put those lacking determination into despair. That should not be an excuse for Oromo to run away from their own self. Oromo question could get answer only when those that asked try to see it in light of Oromummaa. Let it be debated in circles wherever Oromo are. There is no reason for such discussions not to lead to fruitful results. If so they may stop using region, tribe, and faith as a measurement to interpret the world. The youth should not get entangled in passing phenomenon. If there are elderly that try to transmit hate and narrow outlook affecting the young they will be only the cursed ones.

Advancing our struggle in whatever way, it is good to try and adopt certain aspects from the Gadaa system. For example, in the Gad system much attention was given to raising children. In society children are divided into age groups and given roles. Education, work and different physical exercises were given according to “hiriyaa” or peer group. These peer groups are referred to in many places as dabballee, foollee (gaammee guddaa fi xiqqaa) qondaalaa and Raabaa Doorii. There is no reason why raising children teaching culture and discipline should not be practiced in that way now. The Wayyaanee had divided Oromiyaa in structures called ganda, garee, gooxii and “one for five”. Above that there are also zones and districts. Formal education is under the government. Since it is a constitutional right to develop ones culture; to give informal education in a traditional way is a right. For this reason it is possible to advance the development of one’s culture and identity in that way. The future of Oromo nation is its children. If possible the hiriyaa system can be organized in already existing structure. Wherever it is not possible a parallel structure to the existing could be built. If societal development is officially forbidden one has to take it underground just like the political one. Those that head structures are citizens of Oromiyaa; safuu can be invoked on them for they are also embraced.

“They” who recognized the rights of the colonized peoples have put them in their constitution. It is up to those (We) that claim those rights to get them enforced. The OLF participated in the Transitional arrangement believing it will be fulfilled peacefully. “We” were cheated. We were denied and expelled. Since then the gap between us and “they” is keeping on widening not narrowing. We had worked with them dying and being imprisoned; by doing so we proved that so called peaceful struggle doesn’t work. To talk about peaceful struggle with dictatorial governments or those that do not abide by the rule of law amount to committing suicide. There are people who even if they have seen what happened still advocate for it. The genocide committed during peaceful protest against so called Finfinnee Master Plan did not scratch their minds.

Just to note as a passing remark, Finfinnee was the center of Oromiyaa where people lived in happiness tilling land and raising domestic animals as well as entertaining cattle brought to her hora (salt water) from all parts of central Oromiyaa and producing offspring. She has never stopped expanding since occupation. Rulers that came since went on adding portions to her. Not only by law has she also increased but with market influence as well. When she was occupied native Oromo were evicted and she was divided into military camps. Later she was incorporated as the citadel of colonial government in which Oromo is left with nothing in her. She was Amaara town until the demise of Darg. Though she is still speaking Amharic it is told that the surrounding area from which Oromo are again evicted are distributed among Tigrawayi hoard. It is not known when the language will be switched to Tigrigna. But how long should Finfinnee remain alien to Oromiyaa?

The purpose of so called Master Plan is only to legalize Finfinnee’s fait accompli swallowing of the surrounding towns. Except for occurring at a time when the wounds are new and people have started to join hands conscious of their Oromummaa, it cannot be separately viewed from the struggle to become masters of own country. The so called Master Plan only exposed the contempt the enemy has for the people. Earlier they chased us out saying it is not yours and we sacrificed so much people and resources as a result. It did not take them long to tell as to get back just to wheedle us. But except for the name we were not given any thing in it. Now they came with what they say Master Plan. Be it as it may, provocation that is agitating us for Finfinnee should not make us forget our higher goal. For us Finfinnee is part of Oromiyaa; though we are lamenting for her today we do not see the struggle we make for her differently from that we make for our Oromiyaa. For them what they are doing now is exploiting the resource so far untouched and assuring the transfer of hub of Oromiyaa from Amaaraa to Tigraawway with expanded radius. Not only Shaggar but they are also plotting to make all towns in Oromiyaa remain Habashaa islands in Oromiyaa. What are Oromo doing?

There is enough experience that, there are those trying to cajole the Opposition pretending to be friends simply to buy time for the Wayyaanee, not to empower them, just like the transitional period. From the political conditions in the world all preferred an empire lead by minority for their own national interest not for independence of the oppressed majority. This situation can be changed only with struggle of the oppressed. In this Oromo struggle could play a major role. As long as there is Oromoo liberation movement no party competing in Oromo name against multinational parties under empire system will get attention.However long it might take with determination and commitment they will not fall short of their desired goal. There will be no friendship between “We and They “until Oromiyaa is liberated.

Ulfinaa fi surraan gootota kufaniif; walabummaa, walqixxummaa fi bilisummaan kan hafaniif; nagaa fi araarri Ayyaana abboolii fi ayyoliif haa tahu

Ibsaa Guutama

Email: (if you would like a response) Invalid format.


A value is required.