Unrelenting attempt to annihilate a peace-loving people: the Oromo case in point
Author: Falamata Biyaa
The Oromo are one of the most ancient peoples on earth. Their history goes back to the time of the Pharaohs. They occupy an ancient historical land. They are the Cushitie people mentioned in the Bible. Not only the Oromo own long and proud history but are also one of the most peaceful peoples. Enlightened social anthologists are working tirelessly not only to preserve the Oromo culture of ‘Nagaa’ and ‘Gadaa’ but also hope that the Oromo world-view can actually be an answer to the global search for a model of humanity that can save mankind itself from its shortsighted self-obsessed individualism that is threatening to destroy planet earth.
The Oromos lived in a sovereign nation for a long time, but unfortunately they were caught up in the scramble for Africa in the 19th century. At the time of their conquest, it has been estimated that the Oromo population was reduced from estimated 10 million to 5 million, in prolonged resistance against the intruders. Unfortunately, having paid a heavy sacrifice, the Oromo lost the battle. Continued to struggle for their freedom, it took the Oromo nearly a century to recover from the debacle and restarted a national effort to regain their independence under the leadership of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) in the early second half of the 20th century. Prior to the formation of the OLF, the Oromo fought against the colonizers at different places, including Raya in the north and Bale in the south just to mention few examples. Thanks to the OLF, the Oromo are reawakened and have undergone a national renaissance that is short of a miracle. Today, the Oromo people, some 40 million strong, from all corners of their land (from Raya to Borana, from Wallaga to Harar, from Wambara to Bale) are singing from the same page – free Oromia. A spectacular revival of human spirit by all accounts.
Notwithstanding the misfortunes of being colonized, a significant historical fact that needs to be cherished is that the Oromo continue practising, to a different extent and authenticity, their own ‘Gada’ system, their own language, religion and most above all enjoy (so far) a unified territorial integrity. The ‘Gada’ system is fundamentally egalitarian democratic government. The Oromo ‘Gada’ gives hope to those who aspire to institute democratic tradition in Africa and elsewhere. If the Oromo declared independence today they could immediately restructure their governance from state to local levels seamlessly. In fact, it would be the first African solution to an African problem holding the entire continent of 1 billion people in abject misery. This ‘Gada’ system is contemporaneous to the Greek democracy, and in fact some consider it to be the origin of the Greek democracy and by extension the democratic system that the west enjoys today. Watch this video clip [and you get some idea of this old but still timeless tradition].
The divide and conquer strategy of Menelik II very quickly gave way to divide and rule by Haileselassie. The military Derg did not have a clearly different strategy but to continue the divide and rule. Haileselassie divided the Oromo country into 11 different administrative provinces known as ‘Xaqilay Gizat’ [provincial governance] and the Derg changed the name to ‘Kifle Hagar’ [administrative region]. The Derg regime grappled with the Oromo question and other nationalities question for five years and yet again divided the Oromo country into five separate ‘Beherasebs‘ (meaning five different nationalities). How absurd? Fortunately the Derg regime was brought down by the joint efforts of different liberation forces before it had implemented its sinister plan.
TPLF’s total control over Oromia
The TPLF regime, supported by the Amhara political elites, albeit with some ambiguity, and its surrogates have another idea but with the same end result in mind – destroying the Oromo people to gain unfettered access to the Oromo country and eventually overpower the Oromo people into extinction. The first step taken by the TPLF regime was to weaken the OLF. The TPLF regime was not alone in this venture. It is aided and abated by the West, in particular the USA. A great deal of people will know the diplomatic, technical, military and financial assistance the West is giving the TPLF regime to sustain it in power. Suffice to point out that Ethiopia is the largest Western aid receiver in the world. For example, the total USAID and state assistance to Ethiopia to date in financial year 2015 is reported as $173,482,763. 00. This sum, of course, does not include the intelligence and military assistance that the fascist Ethiopian state is given by the West. The West is, once more, making a strategic error in propping a dictatorial regime.
As things stand, the Oromo suffer under the most inhumane subjugating colonial system on earth. Simply put, Oromia is made hell on earth by Tigray colonisers. The whole country is a giant prison. For every 5 Oromo person there is one informant and the TPLF rulers have not made it secret as they have legally instituted the so-called ‘gox’ and ‘gare’, and now ‘shane’. The ‘shane’ refers to 1-to-5 controllers. The entire system is suffocating and not conducive for any independent thinking. The Oromo people are living in a police state worse than in any time in their history under colonisation. For instance, according to the International Crisis Group (2009), the Ethiopian state has one million paid security agents in Oromia alone. Every person residing in the country and any visitor from abroad must be registered and known by the local state official at all levels. Read this pdf report. [courtesy note: this is a large PDF document and may take long to download]
The TPLF controls the entire economic activities in the empire through its Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT). There is no question as to the excess wealth the TPLF has amassed through robbery. The TPLF uses its ill-gotten economic power to protect its gains through sheer violence using brute force against anyone standing in its way. For example, nearly 99.9% of the official as well as hidden jailhouses and concentration camps population in Ethiopian empire is Oromo. All most all are political prisoners. Their political mistake is being born Oromo. (Refer to ‘Because I am Oromo‘ by AI, Oct. 2014).
What is “Addis Ababa Master Plan” all about?
Genocide is the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular nation or ethnic group. The TPLF has not made its intention to eliminate the Oromo nation straight after it came to power in 1991. Since then, the Tigre elite class is engaged in a slow deliberate genocidal act against the Oromo nation. The Oromo are imprisoned, tortured, exiled and deported from their villages and towns in thousands not for what they have done but simply for being Oromo. The nominal federal state of Oromia is deliberately being blundered and stripped of its natural resources for the purpose of enriching TPLF’s ruling elites and its cronies. Oromo farmers are forcefully removed from their ancestral land and their social fabric is being dismantled.
More recently, in a premeditated act of genocide, the TPLF regime has declared war on the Oromo nation by splitting the Oromo nation into two chunks by carving out a new region out of Oromia under the guise of the so-called “Addis Ababa Master Plan”. The ultimate goal of this “Plan” is not only splitting Oromia into two parts but also to join the new region with the state of Amhara in the north and the southern regions in the south. By so doing, the TPLF would deprive Oromos from a vital national resource of their own historical capital city, that the Oromos lovingly call by its pre-colonial name Finfinnee, and plunge the Oromo nation back to the dark ages. In addition, TPLF is not only interested in Finfinnee. Nearly all of the main cities in Oromia are disconnected from their surroundings under the pre-text of “Special Administration”. A nation disconnected from its cities is disconnected from civilization. A society disconnected from civilization is exposed to a slow gradual withering away and eventual death.
The situation of Palestine today is very similar to the situation in Oromia, divided into two parts and plunged into despair. If TPLF is not stopped the fate of east and west parts of Oromia will be similar to West Bank and Gaza. No territorial integrity, no hope for a viable independent state of Oromia in the future. Hence, the battle of survival of Oromia has truly reached its climax right now.
On the other hand, some might argue that the expansion of Finfinnee is meant for economic development of the whole of Ethiopia. The Oromo people have lost the sense of Ethiopian nationalism long ago. Their colonisers also have not considered the Oromo as Ethiopians and respect them as equals. The Oromo is always wanted to provide human power to the wars that the Ethiopian regimes have created with neighbouring countries and to suppress liberation movements, ironically including the liberations movements of the Oromo. Oromia is wanted to provide the Ethiopian ruling elites with abundant resources to sustain their extravagant life styles. When the Oromo raise issues about their rights they are stripped of their false Ethiopian garbs and end in prison as enemies of Ethiopia. It could, in fact, be argued that neither the Oromo developed Ethiopianess nor their colonizers did consider them as Ethiopians in the first place. For the Abyssinian ruling class, the Oromo are subjects to be exploited and enslaved. And Oromia is their source of income. For the majority of Oromos the word Ethiopia can only conjure the sense of agony and misery. There is no doubt that the surgical removal of Finfinnee plus a huge chunk of Oromia is purely political and if there is an economic benefit, it would be for the TPLF and its surrogates. But, at what cost and at who’s expense? Is it even legal? What about the environmental cost? More importantly what about the human rights of the Oromos? For a detailed analysis of the “Master Plan” refer to an excellent evidence-based rational analysis by Tsegaye Ararsa (2015).
History is awash with examples of minority colonisers annihilating the indigenous majority. For instance, North America was populated by Native Americans and was decorated by ancient civilisations before the European conquerors came onshore. Today, we can see the aftermath of the tragic devastation from Canada to Mexico and Peru. The Aztec empire of Mexico extended its power throughout Mesoamerica in the late post-classic period. The Inca Empire of Peru was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. Another chilling example is the case of the Australian aborigines who had a thriving population with history of thousands of years of occupying most of the habitable regions of Australia before the time of the arrival of Europeans. The Aborigines are believed to have arrived in Australia from Africa and Asia 40, 000 years ago. Today, the Australian Aboriginals constitute only 2.7% of the entire Australian population. Most of the indigenous groups of people all around the globe (including the Oromo) face extinction due to the unyielding systematic marginalisation by the newcomers. The Oromo predicament that is unfolding in front of our eyes too needs to be understood in the wider historical context of human history.
Evidence for Oromo political organisations’ unpreparedness
A quiet steeliness is a quintessential Oromo character. Nonetheless, there is no guarantee that this patience being tested to its limits does not run out. Anyone who carefully observed the annual Irreessa ceremony will not fail to notice that the Oromo are very civilised and highly cultured. They show their anger in a peaceful demonstration of their beautiful culture in a very dignified manner in the face of existential threat. If there is any humanity in the bones of the Abyssinians no one should wish ill these peace-loving, most beautiful people on planet earth, let alone meticulously designed to eliminate them altogether. The depth of TPLF’s depravity is so low; it is difficult to imagine what they have in mind for you. If you observe their behaviour towards the Oromo people you would risk losing hope in humanity itself. Their sinister plan is so difficult to imagine one might self-deceive by thinking surely they will not do that. If there were some Oromos who still think like that, the only logical conclusion would be that they never fully understood the nature of the enemy that is hell-bent on destroying them forever.
The Oromo dream for freedom and liberation. Their songs, poems and way of life tell this dream in abundance. The Oromo dream to be free from bondage of slavery and live in a free democratic Oromia once more as their ancestors had lived before the annexation of their homeland by a neighbouring Abyssinia, supported by European powers and now maintained on them by the same support. If you want to kill a dream you kill the youth for it is the youth that dreams. The young not only are able to dream but also act bravely to achieve it. link
The TPLF fascist regime has been provoking and annihilating Oromo youth unabated for well over a quarter of a century. The TPLF has deliberately targeted the Oromo youth. See BBC report, which is one of hundreds of such a ferocious acts that go unreported, on such a brutality.
Nearly once a year, on a regular basis, the TPLF passes legislation or a policy decision or set fire to the forest or uproot Oromos from their land in a premeditated move and anticipates reaction from Oromo students. Once the students are provoked and call for peaceful demonstration, the reply from the regime is to unleash the Agazi force (Agazi special force is modelled, trained and acts exactly like the Gestapo, which was extremely feared Nazi secret police force during the second world war), in order to terrorise, murder with the authorisation of shoot to kill, and torture and rape young girls. The regime uses all sorts of war machines, including mass raping of girls as a weapon of war. The Woyane regime must be alone on earth for using bullets and bombs against primary school pupils. Now, I hope you can see why I am not convinced if the Oromo have clear and profound insight into the nature of the enemy. Do not take my words for this and read the following short report from Amnesty International describing the cruelty of the TPLF against the Oromo in a graphic terms.
This brutal racist enemy should not be allowed to shoot and kill school children at will, but the Oromo must make sure that when the Agazi disembark from their military tracks, they face a well trained bulky muscles of Oromo Jajjabee freedom fighters that can fight fire with fire. The rule of self-preservation tramps every rule in the book. The main question is where are the Jajjabees when the Oromo nation needs them most? Who should be accountable for their absence from the field of the struggle? In this regard, this round of revolution could not have erupted at a worst time than now.
Unless the Oromo understand that the end goal for the Abyssinians is to eliminate the Oromo people from the face of earth, they continue to tinker with the problem from the periphery. The Oromo political organisations with a bona fide stated goal of liberating Oromia are infiltrated by the same enemy that is perpetrating genocide against the nation. Now, I am afraid, this statement will lead to the Oromo media outlets banning this article. If so, I also suspect that the so-called free media are also inflicted by the same condition. In addition, the most opportunistic members of the Oromo diaspora have sold their souls to the devil for the sake of a lease of a plot of urban land and nominal economic benefits here and there. The same enemy buys some of the so-called leaders of Oromo organisations and the organisations are paralysed and converted to zombies. It is crucial for the survival of our nation that the status quo is understood and changed urgently. If not, we are about to witness a human tragedy of epic proportion, systematic annihilation of a proud nation of Oromo. Back to the drawing board and reorganise. Cleanse the Oromo camp from the enemy within first. An enemy within is worth a thousand outside, is it not? Carry on the same and pretend all is well at your own peril.
The Oromo nation is at a crossroads. Sink or swim. The enemy that is stalking the nation has no parallel in its brutality. The declared long-term goal of the enemy is to eliminate the Oromo. The hidden hands of the enemy that is all-pervasive and can be found everywhere. Open your eyes. It is up to this generation to stand up and say NO. Say no, we will not die in vein or allow you to destroy us. The Oromo have the right to live and we will fight for our survival. Saying no in words alone is not enough. I have no doubt the Oromo are one of the most peace-loving people. BUT for peace be prepared for war, as the cliché goes. Peace is not given, just like freedom, but it must be won. Words must be supported by deeds. In fact, say little and do more, for action speaks louder than words.
The Oromo must commence critical thinking and debate in earnest wherever they live, at home or abroad. Ask the difficult questions of transparency and responsibilities. Who is responsible for our weaknesses? Who is responsible for our disunity? Who is responsible for the withering away of the tools of our resistance? Where is the leadership when we need it most? The answer to the above questions, to a large extent, lies within us. A simple message to Oromo leaders right now is “lead or follow, or else get the hell out of here!” to quote a military motto from an American general Norman Schwarzkopf.
It must be clear that there is a limit to everything and the Oromo people are pushed to a corner where there is nothing left for them but fight back. The Oromo struggle for survival seems a never-ending stretched-out battle. This peace-loving giant of a nation is considerate, but should not be taken for a fool that is ready to sign its own death sentence. So, what is next? It appears we are heading for an Oromia wide civil unrest. The bloodthirsty Agazi army is swimming in the blood of innocent Oromo school children. We are in the eve of the birth of a new nation and we shall never let the blood of our children spill in vain.
Let me end this writing by these lines from Emiliano Zapata: “For it would be better to die once and for all than to suffer pain for all one’s life. … It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees!” Oromia shall be free!