Oromia: The country at the crossroads of history
By Leenjiso Horo
A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin, and culture is like a tree without roots.
This article is a general summary of the conquest, resistance, and failures, betrayals, and hopes for the future. Along with these, it also points out the lack of political homogeneity among Oromo political leadership, and activists about the Oromo political question and the goal of struggle. For the last 150 years, Oromo history is filled with betrayal, traitors, turncoats, and backstabbers. Because of this, Oromia today found itself at the crossroads of history. As a consequence of this inhomogeneity, many keep on asking the question as to which way Oromia. This articles points out the direction for this question.
The first question one may ask is as to how the Oromo democratic republic under the Gada system ended up in failure. One needs to understand the causes of this failure to understand today’s repeating failure and to prevent future ones. That failure of a century and a half ago still keep on repeating itself today. Here I am not discussing it but only pointing it out. Since the late 18th century, the Oromo people have been facing the failure of leadership that began with the split of the egalitarian democratic-republican Gada system. The country was divided into half: kingdom regions and Gada republican regions. With this division, the Oromo nation became weak. It is this weakness that became an opportunity for Abyssinian kings to undertake a war of invasions, conquest, occupation, and colonization of Oromo kingdom regions. The sad history of the time was that no Oromo kingdom ever united to fight against the Abyssinian war of conquest. Instead of unity, all submitted to Menelik one by one. Securing this, Menelik undertook the cruelest and vicious wars of conquest, occupation, and colonization on the other regions under the Gada system of governance. Having failed to learn this history, in 1991 and 2018, all Oromo political organizations individually rushed to join Menelik II created the then Naftegna regime, and the now neo-Naftegna settler-colonizer and its puppet neo-Gobanas regime.
The Oromo political leaderships of today have failed what Robaa Butta had told his French visitor Du Bourg de Bozas a century and a half ago after having defeated by Menelik. Here are his words: “Our hour has not come, but it will come. Perhaps our children will see the departure of the oppressor.” During the same period, Mooti Jotee Tulluu told Gobana Daaccee in protest as Gobana demanded his submission to Menelik in these terms: “Yaa, Gobana, Kun si’ii miti; yeroo dha. Yeroon keenaas hin dhufa” It means, Oh, Gobana, this is not you; it is time. Our time will come too. Here, what one has to understand from the statements is that Menelik’s Oromo defeat was a physical defeat, conditioned by the relationship of force but not by the will of Oromo people to fight. The Oromo people have never given up the will to fight. Not so long ago, General Waaqoo Guutuu the leader of Baalee armed resistance movement against the Abyssinian settler colonialism, its domination, and exploitation stated the same line of message in these terms: “Garbummaa hiddaan buqqifna, dadhabnu ilmaan itti guddifna.” Roughly translated, it means we uproot or root out colonialism. If we fail, we raise children to root it out. It was a statement made during the dark days. It is the testimony that the Oromo people had never renounced or given up the possibility of continuing the struggle for their independence, freedom, and justice and never consented to the Abyssinian imperial colonial rule.
As the statements further suggest, the war for repulsing the enemy is not over; it is merely suspended or put off until some necessary conditions are satisfied. Here conditions to be satisfied are the establishment of national political leadership that has patience, determination, and commitment to liberating Oromia, a national organization, popular national consciousness, nationalism, national unity, and a coherent military and political strategy for conducting the struggle for national liberation. It is only with the fulfillment of these conditions that mobilizing the resources of the entire Oromo nation for liberation is possible. Here, we need to remind ourselves what Chairman of Front for Independent Democratic Oromia (FIDO) Chairman Jaara Abbaa Gadaa has to say. Here are his words: “Biyya teenya kan diinaaf kenne Oromoo dha, nuy Oromoota, tokkummaa dhabuu keenyaan.” Roughly translated, it is the Oromo, it is us, the Oromo organizations who gave our country to the enemy because of our failure to unite or because of our lack of unity. This statement stands true today as it was a century and a half ago and since then.
From the above statements, what we have to learn is that the Oromo people did not consent to be part of the Ethiopian empire. The fact for this is the Oromo struggle continued from the date of occupation to this very date. For instance, The 1928-1930 Rayya Azabo resistance, the 1936 Western Oromo Confederation, the Arsi expulsion of settler Naftegnas from Arsi land, during the Italian occupation of the Ethiopian empire, and their revolt against the return of Haile Selassie from exile in 1941; the Bale armed resistance movement, Afran Qallo movement, the 1964 to 1970 the formation of Maccaa-Tuulamaa Pan-Oromo Association in 1965, The Latin alphabet based Qubee Afaan Oromoo came into being in the mid-1960s and the early 1970s with a phonetic study of the Oromo language made by Haile Fida, a brilliant Oromo scholar, revolutionary, and nationalist. Out of this study came the Oromo Language grammar book Hirmaata dubbii Afaan Oromoo in 1973 with Qubee and Oromo language grammatical rules. It was a groundbreaking scholarly work contributing to the struggle for the independence of Oromia, and it ushered the beginning of the disintegration of the imperial Ethiopian colonial empire of Menelik II and the death of its Amharic Geez script/Fidal used for Semitic language in Oromia. Qubee brought the irreversible and irreconcilable conflict between Ethiopia and Oromia. It made a geographical divide between Ethiopia and Oromia, political divide between Abyssinians and Oromo. Qubee alphabet, as we know it today, would not have been existing without the revolutionary work of Dr. Haile Fida, its adaptation by the OLF in 1974 and without Obbo Ibsaa Guutama becoming Minister of education during the short-lived Transitional Government in 1991 to implement it.
The 1973 political program of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) had called for the total liberation of the entire Oromo nation from Ethiopian/Abyssinian imperial colonialism, domination, oppression, exploitation, and for the establishment of an independent Democratic Republic of Oromia. The political program of 1973 as amended in 1976 reads as:
The fundamental objective of the struggle is the realization of national self-determination for the Oromo people and their liberation from oppression and exploitation in all forms. This can be only realized through the successful consummation of the new democratic revolution by waging the anti-feudal, anti colonial, and anti-imperialist struggle and by the establishment of the peoples’ democratic republic of Oromia (The OLF political program of 1976).
The 1976 political program amended in 1998 reads as follows in Oromo language/Oromiffaa:
Hundeen akeeka qabsoo kanaa mirga hiree murteeffannaa ummata Oromoo argamsiisuuf sirna Impaayera Itoophiyaa diiguudhaan, Oromia kolonii, hacuuccaa fi saaminsa jelaa bilisa baasuun mootummaa walaba Oromia dhaabee iggitii itti godhuu dha. Kunis kan mirkanaawu mirga qabutti dhimma bahee ummatni Oromoo mootummaa walaba isaa labsachuu yookaan ummatoota biraa wajjin tokkummaa politiikaa haaraa ijaarrachuuf murtii kennatuun ta’a (Political Program of 1998, V. Sagantaa Qabsoo, A. Akeeka Siyaasaa).
Roughly translated as: The fundamental objective of this struggle is the realization of the right of national self determination for the Oromo people by dismantling the Imperial Ethiopian system, by liberating Oromia from the colony, oppression, and exploitation and establishing and guaranteeing, authenticating the independent state of Oromia. These can only be realized, when the Oromo nation uses its own right in declaring its independent government of Oromia or decide to setup a new political unity with other nations and nationalities (author’s translation).
Furthermore, the 2014 to 2018, Oromo youth uprising was part of the historic Oromo resistance and uprisings.
With the conquest, Oromia entered the era of darkness. It is now over a century and a half since the conquest and colonization of Oromia. Immediately with the successful occupation of Oromia, Abyssinian settler-colonial society had achieved its goal of destroying the existing Oromo political and religious leaderships, creating a leadership vacuum and since then has been continuing in aborting the rise of new ones. The primary motive of Abyssinians in this colonization has been for the extermination of the Oromo people and access to Oromo territory and its resources, and to establish settler-colonial institutions and structures to control the conquered territory and its resources. For this, its aim was/is and has been first to destroy the legitimate leadership and then to abort the rise of a new one, and since continuously creating a leadership vacuum. The settler colonizer has been attacking the Oromo cultures, knowledge systems, and ways of life have been ridiculed, demonized, declared inferior, and irrational to be eliminated. Not only these but also the structural violence of Abyssinian settler colonialism continued to dominate the Oromo nation, destroying their political and civic institutions, religion and religious institutions, shrines, and cemeteries, and etcetera. Following these, it has been imposing to this date its colonial culture, language, and history on the Oromo people. It marginalized the Oromo majority in their homeland, replaced them by Abyssinian settlers who sought the elimination of Oromo and their connections to their land and history. One needs to understand that settler colonialism is a structure imposed on the colonized native population through domination, subjugation, and exploitation. Its objective is primarily the acquisition of territory and resources by the extermination of the Oromo population through political, biological, and military warfare.
The Amhara kings military campaigns against Arsi (1827 to 1900)
The first war of Arsi conquest began by Negus Sehle Selassie of Shewa (reigned 1813 -1847). He assigned this war of conquest to his son, Ras Darghe. Upon his death, Haile Melekot, his other son, became the Nugus of Shewa from 1847 to 1855. The war of conquest continued with Nugus Haile Melekot and his brother Ras Darghe. Upon the death of the king Haile Melekot, his son Menelik became Nugus of Shewa and continued the war of conquest. It was Menelik who was able to defeat Arsi at the end of 1886. Besides this, the Arsi resistance continued until 1900. According to Prof. Abbas H. Gnamo, “First, the responsibility of conquering of the Arsi was given to Ras Darghe (1827-1900), Menelik’s uncle.” (Conquest and Resistance in the Ethiopian Empire, 1880-1974, Boston: Brill, 2014, p. 151). That is a campaign of conquest of Arsi began by King Sahle Selassie of Shawa from 1813 to 1847. Following him, his son King Haile Melekot of Shewa, the father of Menelik II, fought Arsi from 1847 until his death. Prof. Abba H. Gnamo has to write:
“According to Atsma Giyorgis, the first king to organize an expedition against Arsi was Haile Melekot” citing Bairu Tafla the authority of Atsma Giyorgis and His work, P.543; ‘In the fourth year of his reign, he [Haile Malakot] led an expedition to Arsi. They [the Arsi] fought him hard and repelled him. He could neither kill nor take booty but saved himself” (ibid, p. 140).
During his time of reign, Haile Melekot led numerous military campaigns against Arsi. However, every military campaign he conducted to conquer Arsi doomed in defeat. Finally, the war of conquest of Arsi left to his son, Emperor Menelik II. At this time, Menelik chose to divide and conquer strategy. For this, he fought Tuulama, first. In that war of conquest of Tuulama, Menelik resorted to the physical extermination of men, women, and children, then to the displacement, termination, forced dispossession of the land from them, and to the relocation of the population. Having accomplished these, then he erected Abyssinian settler-colonial society and colonial state on the Tuulama land. He defeated Tuulama with the help of Gobana Daacee, the traitor. Having defeated Tuulama, then, Menelik went on to the southwest and west Oromia. Gobana Daacee was instrumental in the conquest of these areas, negotiating with the Gibe and Wallaga Kingdoms terms of submitting to Menelik except for Abba Jifar, who voluntarily surrendered on his own. Abba Jifar was the only king who negotiated with Menelik for peaceful submission without resistance, and for this, he was granted full local autonomy and left on the throne as king of Jimma. It was only after his death in 1932 his kingdom was incorporated into the Ethiopian empire as a province. On the other hand, other Oromo kings reluctantly submitted through Gobana Daaccee for two reasons: firs he is an Oromo and second he had overwhelming military superior power of 30,000 to which each cannot withstand. Those kings who submitted through Gobana, Menelik degraded their position of King to “Dejazmatch, commander of the gate. For instance, Mootii Jotee Tulluu and Mootii Kumsa Moroda were demote to Dejazmatch.
Ever since the war of conquest, every Abyssinian colonial rulers including Abiy Ahmed’s Prosperity Party (PP) continues with the Machiavellian principle of divide and conquer policy against the Oromo people. That is, neo-Naftegnas clearly understand that the only way to maintain Oromia under the Abyssinian colonial grip is through the implementation of the policy of divide and conquer the Oromo people. Here is what the German Nazi leader Adolf Hitler has to say as he occupied France: “Our strategy is to destroy the enemy from within, to conquer him through himself.” Moreover, in Germany, the Nazis massacred the Jews in mass using the Jews themselves. Here is what the Nazi’s words: “We … are your destroyers… we can destroy not only your bodies but also your souls… It must be the Jews who put the Jews into the ovens; it must be shown that the Jews… bow to any and all humiliation, even to destroying themselves”(Primo Levi, 1986, The Drowned and the Saved, New York: Vintage International P.52).These statements stand true as to what the neo-Naftegnas have been doing in Oromia to the Oromo people. For the neo-Naftegnas to annihilate the Oromo people, control Oromia and its resources both above and below the ground, they have to destroy Oromo from within, to conquer Oromo through Oromo themselves. As stated above, Gobana Daacce and his Oromo cohorts were used by Menelik to divide and conquer Oromo. With conquest to rule Oromia, the neo-Naftegna settler colonizers created Balabbats, the colonial agents for ever Oromo
Gosa/clans, to destroy Oromo from within. The primary functions of Balabbat were: to collect taxes, to pass orders from the colonial rulers to the indigenous population, to maintain order in their respective rural communities, to take individuals who are wanted by the colonial authorities to court, and to collect bribes for the Nafxanya rulers. The balabbat system was dismantled by the revolution of 1974. However, in 1989 TPLF created OPDO, new colonial agent to be at its service. It was the cruelest and vicious organization in destroying Oromo from within on behalf of the TPLF. Following this in 1994, TPLF made the neo-Gobanists, the OPDO a regional “government” of Oromia to exterminate the Oromo people from within to conquer Oromo through themselves. At the overthrow of TPLF by the Oromo youths mass resistance, the OPDO-the colonial agent, pretended as if it was acting behind the overthrow of its own master, its creator. That is, of course, false. The sad story is that the Oromo people and their nationals in the diaspora rallied in support of OPDO, even though it was the one that had been instrumental in brutalizing, torturing, in the killings, and in the disappearances of hundreds of thousands of Oromo nationals to this date whose whereabouts are yet unknown. Its leader, Colonel Abiy Ahmed was adorned, glorified, feted, and showered with banquets of flowers.
The principle of divide and conquer Oromo did not stop with the above mentioned destroying Oromo from within policy. The Agenda for Peace, the democratization, and the federalization of the Ethiopian empire are others. It is designed to weaken, obstruct and defeat the Oromo national liberation struggle for independence. Since these politics appeared on the Oromo political scene, the Oromo political organization politically and organizationally fractured, fragmented, and in 2018 all went back to Oromia individually without uniting. The PP is using them to its advantage to destroy or neutralize and paralyze the Oromo political organizations and the Oromo people from within. Now in the year 2020, in Oromia, a new political trick, a “Transitional Government of Oromia” in the Ethiopian colonial empire, brought into being. Its purpose is to throw the Oromo people into confusion to divide, appease, neutralize, paralyze, and dismantle the Oromo people from within and to weaken the Oromo struggle for liberation in support of maintaining the Ethiopian empire. No in history, a transitional government has ever established in a colonial empire. Furthermore, just recently this year, in 2020, both Wayyanee and PP have created
Oromo neo-quislings, the turncoats, and sellouts in the diaspora in their respective images. Wayne created Ethio multinational Federalists Support Force (EMFSF) while PP created a very vicious organization by the name of Ethiopia Shall Continue (ESC) in the diaspora. Ironically, as they stated their political position, the missions of EMFSF and ESC are to maintain the Ethiopian empire that Menelik created. The groups took this position with full knowledge that Menelik created this empire by killing Oromo men, women, children, and by mutilating men’s hands and women’s breasts and ripping open the bodies of pregnant with swords slaughtering the unborn. Not only these, but he also reduced the Oromo population by half through extermination. Again, they have full knowledge of the genocidal crimes and crimes against humanity that the TPLF committed against the Oromo people for 27 years and the same crimes the PP is now committing. Despite all these, they are committed to maintaining the Ethiopian colonial empire. Along with this, their other mission is to politically destroy the Oromo unity, their aspiration for liberation, the Oromo nationalists, and the Oromo struggle from within Oromo. All in all, their mission is to destroy the Oromo people from within Oromo. The toxic individuals are supporting the use of brute force that has been and still is remains a primary function of the Ethiopian empire’s colonial policy under PP in Oromia against the Oromo people. Simply put, they are a conspiratorial groups organized to sabotage the Oromo unity and their national liberation struggle for independence of Oromia. These Neo-Gobanas’ organizations, in alliance with neo-Nafxayas, want the people to sit with folded hands and reconcile themselves to the oppressive position of Abyssinian settler colonialists. In rejection of this deadly poisonous political campaign of these organizations against Oromia and its people, the people have to rise in unity and fight, arms in hands, to assert their right to a free existence. However, here today, as always, the Abyssinian settler colonialists and their neo-Gobana apologists have been trying to resist the irresistible onward march of the Oromo struggle for national independence and their national self-determination. They are blind to see that the Oromo question is a colonial question. Because of their blindness, they are seeking to reverse what is irreversible, the Oromo people’s struggle for independence. The main goal of such groups is to harm the Oromo struggle from within in support of external enemy.
The fact is the Oromo people very well know their external enemy. The goal and intention of the external enemy, the settler colonizer, is well known to them. It is to crush the Oromo struggle. But what is unknown and unrecognized to the Oromo people is the mortal dangers of the internal enemy, the enemy from within. The enemy from within is deadly to a nation than the well-known and recognized external enemy. It was in this regard, the Roman philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero (0106-0043 BC) famously wrote:
A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear.
It was in this way Tuulama was defeated. Without Oromo galtuus and gantuus in the like of Ras Gobana Daaccee, it was impossible to defeat Tuulama. With the complete defeat of the Tuulama and the peaceful submission of kingdoms in southwest and west Oromia, Menelik get access to human, material, and financial resources for the next wave of war of conquest. With these, his next target of colonial warfare was towards the Arsi. His first expedition to Arsi was in 1865. Of course, the conquering of the Arsi was not an easy task for him. It took him years. He finally defeated Arsii in 1886, after uninterrupted campaigns for 21 years. Even after 1886, it took him continuous raids for 14 years, killing, burning villages, and looting, pillaging, and mutilating bodies. In R. H. Kofi Darkwah’s words: “….Of all the campaign, which Menelik conducted before he became emperor in 1889, perhaps the most sustained and the bloodiest were those against the Arsi” ( Shewa, Menelik and the Ethiopian Empire 1813-1889. London: Bulter and Tanner Ltd, 1975, P. 103). Menelik’s military campaigns were also met humiliating and shattering defeats after defeats. Many times, his military campaigns were forced to retreat in defeat and humiliation. Every time Menelik came to Arsi, he lost every battle until the end of 1886. Regarding this, Prof. Abbas H. Gnamo wrote: “At the height of the war against Arsi, Menelik’s forces were overwhelmed by Arsi warriors. He [Menelik] complained in one of his letters to Umberto [I of Italy] saying ‘We cannot fight horse against horse, spear against spear’ and urged him [Umberto] to send the promised Italian weapons rapidly” (Abbas H. Gnamo, op.cit., P. 144). Menelik defeated Arsi with the firearms he received from King Umberto I of Italy in exchange for the sale of Eritrea. It was on September 6, 1886, that he succeeded in defeating Arsi for the first time in their history. It was the use of smallpox as the biological warfare in addition to European provided military firepower that helped him in defeating Arsi. In this regard, Bahru Zewde has to write this:
Menelik’s access to firearms from Europeans, the resources of the previously incorporated territories were also pivotal in strengthening Menelik’s military and economic might. Apart from this, the incorporation and the assimilation of the Oromo elites on the one hand and the collaboration of Oromo individuals on the other were instrumental for the success of negus Menelik in Arsi (A History of Modern Ethiopia 1855-1991, Addis Ababa: Addis Ababa University Press, 2000, PP. 62-63).
This statement still stands true today as a century and a half years ago. Since the conquest of Oromia to this very date, the Ethiopian empire colonial rulers have been using the Oromo traitors, the betrayals of their country and people, the quislings, and the Oromia resources in fighting against the Oromo people to maintain Oromia in the Ethiopian colonial empire state. Today more than ever before, there are more assimilated Oromo elites, other colonial accommodators, and numerous Oromo individual collaborators with Habesha, fighting against the Oromo national liberation struggle for independence of Oromia. These Oromo have been fighting along with the settler-colonizers to maintain the Ethiopian empire, the empire Gobana Daacee helped to build. After years of resistance, bloody and brutal wars against Menelik’s wars of conquest, finally, for the first time in history, Arsi lost both the battle and war. With this, in 1886, Menelik called upon Arsi to make peace. Aannole was a historical place chosen for this occasion. It was a place whereby Arsi transfer power from one Gadaa rule to the other under the Gadaa System. The year 1886 was the year of transfer of power from the Roobalee administration to the Birmajii administration under their Gadaa system. Knowing this and the history of this place, Menelik pretended to make this place a place of peacemaking. For this, thousands of unarmed men and women taking children with them flooded Aannole. It was here, for the first time, Menelik got the opportunity to humiliate Arsi in resorting to the mutilation of the right hands of men and the right breasts of women, known as Harkaa fi Harma mural Aannole, against an unarmed people. In this war of resistance against the Abyssinian colonial conquest, Arsi did not lose only their independence, freedom, liberty, and land, but also lost millions of people in extermination and the living ones lost part of their bodies – men their hands, women their breasts. Some of those whose hands and breasts cut off lived even to the year 1950s and early 1960s. Arsi Oromo remember Menelik for his crude and vicious crimes of cruelty and brutality not only for killing men, women, and children, not only for the mutilation of breasts of women and the hands of men but also for his most infamously ripping open the bodies of the pregnant women and slaughtering the unborn and the newly-born ones. The question is: Who will ever forget the extermination of the Oromo population and its youths, children, elderly, men, and women by Menelik and the successive Abyssinian colonial regimes? Who will ever forget the ripping open of wombs of pregnant women and the slaughtering of the unborn? Such cruelties and brutalities are unparalleled in human history. These Menelik’s crimes of genocide and crimes against their humanity are the wounds in the Arsi hearts, minds, and bodies that remain unhealed forever, never forgotten, and will continue to live in the collective memory of the Arsi forever for generation after generations yet to come. Despite all these crimes, the PM of the Ethiopian empire, Abiy Ahmed, built a memorial park at the Grand Place for Menelik to glorify him, to adorn him, and at the same time to kill the current Oromo youths and the future Oromo generations to come.
Regarding this, Prof. Abbas H. Gnamo has to write this: Anole seemed to have been chosen to avenge Shoan losses and to teach a lesson to the Arsi who still resisted after their shattering defeat at Azule on September 6, 1886, the Arsi strong men and women were assembled under the pretext of concluding peace. All the men and women present, whose exact number was unknown, perhaps more than a thousand people were mutilated; their right hands and right breasts were cut off. As a further form of humiliation, fear, and terror the mutilated breasts and hands were tied around the neck of the victims who were then sent back home. (Abbas H. Gnamo, op.cit. PP: 157- 158).
After defeating Arsi at Azule, Ras Darghe wanted to camp in Arsi. However, his general advised him against as M.de Salviac recounted in these terms:
If you camp here, you are lost. The Arsi are like the grasshoppers; you could cover the ground with their corpses; you cannot exterminate them. They will come back, they will find you harassed and without munitions, and they will tear you to pieces (Martial De Salviac, p.352, An ancient People Great African Nation: the Oromo, Paris, 1901) translated by Ayalew Kannno, in, 2005.
The Arsi resistance and the Menelik’s campaign to exterminate Arsi did not stop with Aannole. He continued with the killings, bloodshed, dismembering of bodies, ripping open bodies of pregnant women, slaughtering their unborn and mutilating hands and breasts, and collecting booty until 1900. It has been said, at every campaign mutilation of hands and breasts of over 400 men and women, in addition to collecting booty were committed. Despite these, Arsi never stopped resistance to Amhara conquest. Throughout the wars of resistance, Arsi had many battle slogans. Here, Martial.de Salviac quote one of the slogans: “The Arsi dies, but does not at all back out” (An Ancient People Great African Nation: The Oromo, 1901, p. 352) translated by Ayalew Kanno in 2005. Again E. Cerulli reported Arsi slogan in The Folk Literature of the Galla, 1922, p. 88: “May we die, if we fear Darghe!” (Abbas H. Gnamo, op.cit. P.145). Furthermore, there were many slogans the Arsi orally had been passing on to their children for a century. Here are among the types of war slogans Arsii had been passing orally on to all Arsi successive generations by their fathers, and grandfathers, and local elders in Arsi. “Arsiin biyyaa ofiitii fi kabajjaa ofiitiif lolaa du’a!” It means, Arsi fight and die for their country and their dignity, and “Arsiin lola’a du’a malee horoma harka hin keennatu!” Meaning Arsi die fighting, never surrender. “Diinaaf jilbiifatuu mannaa lolataa du’uu wayya!” Means better to die fighting than to kneel to the enemy, are among many slogans. These and more are the types of war slogans that had been passing on to all Arsii successive generations by their fathers and grandfathers, and local oral historians, and local elders in Arsii. In the war with Arsi, Martial De Salviac wrote: “The Abyssinian army sustained cruel losses. Nowhere did they [Abyssinians] sustain such an enormous disaster as in the tribe of the ‘terrible and innumerable’ Arsi. This tribe by itself alone, was able to raise more than hundred thousand warriors and crushed without difficulty all enemy forces.”(M.de Salviac, op. cit., 352).
At Aannolee, Menelik cut off the right hands of men and the right breasts of women. Such a crime, cruelty, and viciousness had never been committed before in history. And so, the cutting of hands of men and breasts of women is unparalleled in history. The Abyssinians are the first in committing such inhumanity in the history of humanity. The Ethiopian empire’s settler-colonialists PM Abiy Ahmed’s erecting of the memorial statue and “memorial Park” for Menelik II is the endorsing of the crimes of Menelik. This memorial park is an insult to the countless bodies Menelik annihilated, and it is a demonstration beyond all doubt that another monster is here to replace Menelik. Hence, it is clear that PM Abiy Ahmed becomes the inheritor of Menelik’s legacy of crimes as his own. His action registers him in the same historic context with Menelik II.
Furthermore, in the defense against Menelik of Abyssinian from 1882 to 1886, in Arsi, every able man and woman took part. Regarding this, Abbas H. Gnamo cited P. Antonelli: “In Chilalo and Albasso Arsi women took an active part in the resistance struggle in May 1886, when the war arrived its climax.” Moreover, Gnamo has also to write: “[Arsi] Women who were not expected to engage in the war, the traditional preserve of men, joined the resistance when the war reached its highest point in 1886.”(Abbas H. Gnamo, op.cit. 147). Menelik felt humiliated, seeing women fighting shoulder to shoulder with men. It is because of this, Menelik not only cut off the breasts of women but also ripped open the bodies of the pregnant women and slaughtered the unborn and murdered the newly-born ones.
With the conquest of Arsi, Menelik went on to Harar in 1887. As he did in Arsi and elsewhere in Oromia, here too millions of people were exterminated. In 1889, following the defeat of Oromo at the Battle of Chalanqo/Calanqoo in 1887, Oromia is fully incorporated into Abyssinia constituting what is known today Ethiopia. That is the making of the map of the empire of Ethiopia was completed, Menelik became emperor, and Finfinnee’s name changed to Addis Ababa and made the capital city of the empire. And the Abyssinian immigrants flooded Oromia for land and resources, Amharic language imposed on the colonized peoples and it became the lingua franca of Menelik’s empire. Oromo political and religious institutions were made illegal, and this was the beginning of settler colonialism in Oromia. Garrison camps were built everywhere in Oromia. With the colonization of Oromia, Abyssinian successive colonialist regimes, imposed settler-colonial cultural, unjust economic, political, judicial, and feudal social structure on the Oromo people. The people were peripheralized on their own country excluding from politics and economics.
With the military occupation of Arsi, Menelik turned to the affairs of administering the conquered Arsi land through his military leaders. First, he confiscated the lands from Arsi and gave them to his soldiers who fought Arsi. Following this, Menelik and his successors, especially Haile Selassie, encouraged Abyssinians to move to the conquered Arsi land for land ownership and other benefits. Here, hundreds of thousands of Abyssinians flocked to Arsi for settlement. The settlement was a colonial land policy. The settlers were armed and given lands and legal protections. The protection included, among others, the Abyssinians serving in Arsi as governors, judges, prosecutors, lawyers, police officers, guards, office workers, tax collectors, and et cetera from 1886 to 1974 and performed many other oppressive and aggressive functions against Arsi Oromo. Besides this, the resistance of Arsi continued until 1900 and even to 1970s. With the Italian invasion of the empire, the Arsi Oromo expelled all Amhara settlers from Arsi. At this junction of history, Arsi was temporarily relieved from the Abyssinian colonial crocodile grip. With the return of Emperor Haile Selassie from exile in 1941, Arsi opposed his return, and the war against his return resumed. With overwhelming military power, he subdued Arsi resistance once again.
With Haile Selassie’s return neo-Naftegnas boasted to humiliate Arsi Oromo in these words:
Mataa amaamaa maree,
Dugda kombortaa baree,
Miila gambeellii baree,
Maal taata yaa Arusii amma Janhoy galee.
In Amharic, Janhoy means His Majesty. Again, resistance restarted in 1967 in west Arsi just a few years before 1974 revolutions. Before a full-scale resistance takes place, the military overthrew the emperor. Since colonization, Arsi Oromo had been punished by the Ethiopian empire settler colonizers for their consistently fighting against them. They denied access to education and healthcare services. They were not allowed to join the army, police, security, even guards and cooks, and any position in the empire until the late 1970s. For the Amhara, Arsi Oromo were, are, and have been the most suspected, feared, and hated the Oromo population. The Amhara express this suspicion, fear, and deep hatred of all Oromo in these terms, among many others: “Gallan maaman qabiro naw.” Meaning, to trust Galla is after having buried them. “Gallanaa sagara iyyaadaree higamal.” Meaning Gala and stool stinks as they stay longer. They mean by this, an Oromo even if they befriended with Amhara, they would never give up fighting for their land and their rights. “Galla Sawu naw inde?” It roughly means is Galla a human being? Galla is a derogatory name the Amharas use for Oromo. Since Arsi fell under occupation in 1886, it was a few years before the 1974 revolution Kagnazmatch Bekele Ogato, an assimilated, Christianized Oromo, and a stooge of the Haile Selassie’s successive Enderases in Arsi, a Balabbat of Xijo/Tijo, was appointed to be governor of an Awraja. Still, after a century and a half, Arsi have not forgotten and will never forget the crimes, the cruelty, and the viciousness of their conqueror Menelik II and crimes of the successive Abyssinian colonial regimes of the Ethiopian empire against them. These crimes, cruelties, and viciousness committed against them are in the collective memory of all past, present, and future generations.
Since the colonization of Oromia a century and a half to this very date, the Oromo people have been unable to afford adequate, appropriate support to live ordinary and valued lives in Oromia. Because of this, our people have lost a typical value of life best meets the needs of everyone in Oromia. And, this has followed by poverty, neglect, discrimination, exploitation, and oppression. That is, with the occupation of Oromia, the colonialist force denied our people the right to their land. The land is necessary for life. To deny this right of ownership and access to it is a denial of life, property, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.
It is to this effect, the American Declaration of Independence of 1776 states the following:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
The fact is, since the conquest of Oromia to date, the successive Abyssinian settler-colonial institutional practices have been and still are implementing a policy of physical extermination, displacement, termination, relocation, erasure of culture, language, and identity. And it has been following a policy of effectively repressing, co-opting, and assimilating. Assimilation has been a poisonous means that every settler colonizer used throughout history against the colonized people.
Here, one needs to understand the distinction between colonization and assimilation. Colonization is the settlement of the members of the colonizer on the land of the conquered people. On the other, assimilation is the colonization of the mind, soul, and psyche of the individual members of the colonized people, in the spirit of the colonizer’s worldview, its narrative of history, culture, language, psychological makeup, and political outlook, among others. Colonizers assimilate individual members of a colonized people for the simple reasons that assimilation robs individuals of their history, of their sense of belonging to their nation in the real sense, of their sense of firmly standing for the goal of their nation. Furthermore, it robs their self-esteem, and so such persons remain emotionally attached to the system of the colonizer. The assimilators work against the interest of their people on behalf of the adversary of their people. They harm their people and their interests. As we have been observing, assimilation has been well alive among many of Oromo elites and political leaders as it was among Jews and Native Indian Americans a century ago.
America’s settler colonizers had scripted the phrase in Americanization of Native American Indians in these words, “that all the Indians there in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him and save the man.” The Abyssinian settler colonizer followed this script in the Ethiopianization of Oromo. To this effect, neo-gobanas are the victims of the settler colonizers’ policy of Ethiopianization. Throughout its occupation of Oromia, the colonial settlers have been killing all Oromo there in the Oromo through assimilation. Kill the Oromo in a person and save the person has been their goal. Today, it is those Oromo nationals whose Oromoness/Oromummaa killed in them. Their sense of the distinctiveness of the identity of Oromo is neutralized and stripped off; Oromo tradition, cultural ethos, belief, psychological makeup, values, and commitment to Oromo political and ideological unity, commitment to the struggle for the independence of Oromia, and interests, were killed in them. It is these groups that have been exterminating, dividing, persecuting, and jailing our people across Oromia on behalf of settler colonizer. Such persons speak the Oromo language but have resentment towards the Oromo people and their struggle for liberation because there is no Oromo and Oromoness/Oromummaa in such persons. By birth, they are Oromo, but deep in their heart, in their soul, and their political outlook, worldview, and beliefs, they are Amhara/Abyssinians. They are and were Oromo nationals who accepted Amhara’s narrative of history that Amhara is at the center core, with one country, one people, one language, one culture, one religion, and with Amhara identity. These are the neo-gobanists. Hence, for these reasons, assimilated persons by their very nature stand against the interests of their people. Such persons, rather than fostering Oromo unity, cohesion, cooperation, solidarity, and the objective of their people, they undermine all of them. These are things Oromo traitors have been doing to the Oromo people since the colonization of Oromia to this very day. Hence, the assimilated persons or neo-gobanists appropriate and imitate Abyssinian narratives of history, politics, and culture, where such behavioral action is more evident in their upward mobile and acquiring wealth, and various rewards. The fact is justice and morality in the neo gobanists have been destroyed and replaced with the worst type of collaboration with the enemy, betrayal, and abandonment of humanity and one’s country, political goal, and people. They talk about Oromia and about the crimes the Abyssinians committed against the Oromo people but they never say Oromia is a colonized country. Instead, they preach about maintaining the Ethiopian empire through “multi-national federation,” democracy, “Transitional Government of Oromia” in the Ethiopian empire, “fair and free elections,” peace and harmony, equality in the colonial empire. They resort to these mantras because, in their view, Oromia is an integral part of Ethiopia. The reason for this is, Assimilators are in tension and conflict individually within oneself. They put their one leg on the Oromo side and the other on the colonialist or empire side. This means they live a split existence.
The new rise of Oromo new leadership
The rise and growth of new leadership and nationalism began in the 1960s and 1970s with Bale resistance movement, Maccaa Tuulamaa Association, Afran Qallo, and then with the establishment of the Oromo Liberation Front. This condition gave rise to nationalist civic and political organizations. Following this, in urban and rural areas, resistance began. The struggle was and has been values-driven, with principle, vision, and purpose. What mattered the most was the nationalists with lived experience of the colonial system organized and led these organizations. With the formation of the OLF, for the first time, the political program of struggle came into being. Its activities were concerned with the purpose and direction to take. The decisions made were consistent with Oromo values, vision, and aspirations. They were motivated by what is to be best for the dignity and inalienable rights of the Oromo people, the right of Oromo nation to self-determination. This struggle addressed the real needs of the Oromo people for liberation from colonial occupation.
The leaderships of these organizations have passion, vision, leadership quality, and a deep understanding of the issues which affected our people and our country with colonial occupation and its consequences. The organizations were here for our people who have been and are at risk of extermination, discrimination, and exploitation. These leaderships knew from their own lived experience that the Oromo people were and as to this very day have been isolated, dehumanized, and marginalized.
For this, the Oromo struggle begun with the purpose of dismantling Ethiopian empire colonialism, its structures, its institutions, and its practices to break down the walls of colonial occupation, exploitation, expropriation, dehumanization, and oppression from Oromia. Here, the clear objective of the Oromo national liberation struggle is and has been for the restoration of Oromo territory and the usurped and lost national sovereignty.
The Oromo nationalists conduct the struggle within the UN recognized framework. This means the struggle is based on a strong foundation which includes clearly stated values, vision, definition, and principles of the struggle of the colonized nation. It follows the commitment to the purposes and principles contained in the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1514 (1960) as it is stated: “All peoples have the right to self determination; by virtue of that right they may freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.”
Montevideo Convention (1933) on the Rights and Duties of States a sate as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications:
(1) A permanent population;
(2) A defined territory;
(4) Capacity to enter into relations with other states; (5) Natural resources adequate to ensure its economic and political independence.
The Oromo meets these sufficient conditions of being a sovereign state under international law. Hence, the international community has no option but to recognize the Oromo struggle for independence to establish the Democratic Republic of Oromia should the Oromo people declare it.
Our struggle takes a combination of armed resistance and peaceful mass resistance. In this struggle, if the colonial regime chooses a peaceful means of resolving the conflict, we will also do it in kind. On the contrary, if it resorts to violence, we will take up arms against it. Peacefully, among other things, include, freely speaking, writing, organizing, rallying, and free movement and free access to mass media and resources to implement the right of national self-determination. This right of self-determination is, truly and honestly believed to be the best way for the colonized and oppressed nations and nationalities to exercise their inalienable right, the right to determine their destiny and seek justice for their cause through a referendum. “Self-determination of nations,” Karl Marx wrote,” means the political separation of these nations from alien national bodies and the formation of an independent national state.”
The principles of the Oromo national liberation struggle are: 1. Always to be loyal to and stands up for the people; 2. Secularism;
- Popular sovereignty;
- Avoidance of unprincipled alliance;
- Establishment of centralized command structure to coordinate activities;
- Centralized united leadership;
- Popular national consciousness and Nationalism; and 9. Unity of purpose, mission, and goal.
Based on these nationalists promote strongly, passionately, and wisely the cause of their people who have been under the yoke of colonial occupation, domination, and exploitation. They advocate for social, political, and economic change in the lives of their people. Their struggle were driven by systems and people focus.
The nationalists conduct their action in a way that is mindful not to add to the discrimination, abuse, neglect, exploitation and oppression experienced by their people whose lives have become marginalized through institutionalized thinking and practices. They have gone beyond human rights and take what is honestly and truly believed to be best, as well as what the Oromo people need to look like, into account before taking action.
These nationalists were and are socially and politically active on the human rights issues and the issues of deinstitutionalization and valued lives for people with lived experience of deprived of their resources. The nationalists promote this aspect of advocacy action through all its activities. We are stronger when we unite and work together. We are weaker when drifting away, disunited, and work alone. The OLF strives to network well- in solidarity with our nationals and our nationalist allies of other nations and nationalities with political and social justice movements with whom it shares values, vision, and understanding of the national cause of each other’s respective peoples. Through all its decisions and activities, the OLF promotes, advocates, and defends, and celebrate or value diversity, tolerance, acceptance, compassion, justice, fairness, equality, and respect for the human dignity of all, in Oromia.
John Adams’ speech in support of declaration of independence from Britain stated:
Before God, I believe the hour has come. My judgment approves this measure, and my whole heart is in it. All that I have, and all that I am, and all that I hope, in this life, I am now ready here to stake upon it; and I leave off as I begun, that live or die, survive or perish, I am for the Declaration. It is my living sentiment, and by the blessing of God, it shall be my dying sentiment, Independence, now, and INDEPENDENCE FOREVER.”
This statement equally speaks for the Oromo heroes and heroines who had sacrificed their precious lives in this Oromo liberation struggle for the independence of Oromia from the settler colonial empire state of Ethiopia. The phrase “independence now, and independence forever” is and has been the Oromo nationalists’ motto of struggle since the resistance to colonial occupation began till now. And so, we the living must also take oath in the motto of Independence of Oromia now, and Independence of Oromia forever. Struggle for national liberation is a zero-sum contest. It means there is no negotiation on the independence of Oromia.
As it is stated in the preceding paragraphs, from the date of conquest, occupation and colonization to 1991 the structural violence of Abyssinian settler colonial crimes continued with the domination, demonization and, dehumanization of the Oromo nation. This condition has subsided between 1991 until 2018.
Since Abiy Ahmed became the Prime Minister of the colonial empire, the Oromo people are once again subjected to structural and physical violent forms of repression, elimination, as well as dispossession, land appropriation in the pursuit of bringing back the “former great Ethiopia” of Menelik II. He erected statues for Menelik II and Haile Selassie in the residence of the prime Minister. Under the Prosperity Party (PP) the pace, scale, and intensity of campaign of elimination of the Oromo political leaderships, political and civic organizations have surpassed that of all past Ethiopian empire colonial rulers. That is, under PM Colonel Abiy Ahmed’s colonial administration, the Abyssinian settler-colonial violence has against the Oromo political leadership, political organizations, and the Oromo people has increased many times fold. Following his predecessors, his policy is to destroy, to liquidate, to neutralize or paralyze the Oromo political, civic, and business leadership so as to create political leadership vacuum in Oromia. To effectuate this, the Prosperity Party adopted the Oromianization of the war created by the TPLF/EPRDF as its policy. It means fighting Oromo with Oromo. The purpose is to create conflicts and tensions within and among the Oromo people. The Oromianization of war is PP’s war against Oromia and its people, using Oromo resources and the assimilated Oromo nationals whose consciousness of being Oromo killed in them and used against their country, their people, their nationalists’ organizations, and their struggle. Oromianization of war means using Oromo nationals to spy on the Oromo, to diaspora based Oromo nationals to politically fight against the cause of the Oromo people; to hunt Oromo nationalists down, to round them up, to disarm them, and to detain, to arrest, jail, torture, and to kill them on behalf of their masters, the Abyssinian settler colonizers. To achieve these and other goals, Spies, the death squad, special force, and Command Post have been created and are roaming across Oromia. Moreover, in attempting to neutralize and paralyze the activities of local Oromo youth protesters and activists across Oromia, the regime of Colonel Abiy Ahmed has authorized a covert payment of 30,000 Birr to each secretly created spy youths to service as informants. In addition to these, today, more than ever before, many hodgepodges of petty Oromo activists are organized in the diaspora to politically fight against the Oromo struggle for independence in support of the colonial regime of PM Abiy Ahmed.
Here what has to be understood is that throughout the occupation of Oromia to date, persecution and violence against the Oromo people have been not only legitimized by the successive colonial governmental acts and decrees but also encouraged at Amhara civilian level. Since 2018, the tide of anti-Oromo hysteria in the Ethiopian empire within neo-Naftegnas has reached its climax seeing the weakness in the Oromo political organizations and their fragmentation and hoping to reverse the Oromo question for independence through shouting and bravado. This neo-Naftegnas anti-Oromo hysteria encouraged the Abyssinians to undertake the Oromia-wide pogrom of violence, destruction, and round-ups of the Oromo nationals along with colonial government-organized reprisal for assassination and kidnapping implemented throughout Oromia. Indeed, since 2018, Oromia has been made a war zone more than ever before. Hence, there is a dark cloud hovering over our country under the Prosperity Party (PP) regime of PM colonel Abiy Ahmed.
Oromia at crossroads
The question is: What made Oromia stack at the crossroads? Is it because of colonizer or because of the Oromo leadership? The answer this question is simply not because of the colonizers, but because of the Oromo political leadership.
From the above, it is easy to recognize that Oromia is a country at the crossroads of history in the struggle looking at signs as to which road should it go: the independence road or the federalist road. It began in 1999 with the fleeing of leadership from the Oromia to exile to Eritrea. The fled to exile itself leadership brought “Agenda for Peace in the year 2000 to be a loyal party for competing in fair and free election. The core elements of “Agenda for Peace” that Shanee accepted and agreed to implement are: the acceptance of Ethiopian constitution, the territorial integrity of Ethiopian Empire, the renunciation of armed struggle, the demobilization and disarming of the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA). Agenda for peace was a promotion of renouncing armed struggle as a method of struggle for liberation in order to participate in the Ethiopian elections. It was over this, after a long debate, the OLF split in 2001 into two political camps: the Oromia Independence camp and the Ethiopia democratization camp. It was the beginning of the war against the political objective of the Oromo liberation struggle. The objective: the independence of Oromia. Following this, in 2002, Shanee launched armed attack on OLA in the Southern Command to forcefully disarm it in order to implement a part of “Agenda for Peace” as it promised to Meles Zenawi. Having milked all concession, Meles asked Shanee to go on Ethiopian TV and Radio to apologize in the sincere expression of remorse to his regime, government, and the people of Ethiopia for any action it had taken against or anything it had said or done against his government. In addition to this, Menes Zenawi told ABO-Shanee to unconditionally admit that the leadership of OLF committed offenses against the Transitional Government of Ethiopia. And that this leadership of OLF has no defense, justification, or excuse for behavior that has wronged the Transitional government of Ethiopia and the Ethiopian people. Furthermore, Meles told ABO-Shanee that even after its return, his government would not guarantee its leaderships and members from any lawsuit that may be brought against them by any citizen of the empire. With this, having achieved his intended goals, Meles Zenawi threw ABO-Shanee under the bus. ABO-Shanee was humiliated.
In humiliation, Shanee made another political shuttle, a new political journey. This time, it turned to Kinijjit, also known as Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD), a monarchist Abyssinian political organization, and to Ethiopian Peoples’ Patriotic Front (EPPF). Then, the Ethiopia democratization camp/ABO-Shanee followed with the repeal and replacement of the OLF Political program of 1998 with the political program of 2004 in 2004 at Bergen Conference, in Norway to attract CUD and EPPF to its side. Then, following this, another danger of the OLF Shanee begun with the formation of Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (AFD), on May 22, 2006, with the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) and the Ethiopian People’s Patriotic Front (EPPF), the Abyssinian organizations that the Oromo people have irreconcilable interests with; no shared beliefs and no common goal with the Oromo people. The alliance was based on the need for the democratization of the Ethiopian empire. Immediately with the formation of the AFD, Shanee ABO, with the support of CUD and EPPF, and Eritrea filed a lawsuit against Qaama Cehumsa of the OLF on July 19, 2007, at the Fourth Judicial District of the State of Minnesota against Qaama Cehumsa of OLF (TA-OLF) over the use of the name of OLF, its logo, and its flag. The lawsuit alleged that the name OLF is Shanee of OLF’s trademark, ABO is a business entity. And so, it argued that TA-OLF in using the name OLF, its logo, and its flag violated the “Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act,” and interfered with the “Prospective economic advantage” of ABO-Shanee. After hearing the case, the court dismissed the case, and so TA-OLF won at the court. Shanee ABO lost the case in a shameful and humiliating way.
In 2014, after years of negotiation, TA of ABO influenced Shanee of ABO to sign for unity in Berlin, Germany, with the condition that the OLF National Congress will be held within six months or a year to elect new leadership. Shanee of ABO agreed and signed, however, it reneged on this in a month after it signed the agreement. The unity collapsed. After this, in 20015 it formed PAFD with non-Oromo organizations. Again, in 2018, ABO-TA called upon ABO-Shanee for unity before going back. It rejected and rushed back home. Now, in 2020 ABO-Shanee itself split. With its split, it opted for the establishment of the “Transitional Government of Oromia,” instead of for unity and independence of Oromia. Oromia is under colonial occupation. It is wrong to call for establishing a transitional government of Oromia while still, Oromia is under colonial occupation. The purpose of the transitional government is to divide the Oromo people. Hence, such a call must be rejected by all those who aspire for the independence of Oromia. It is time to call for unity of nationalists, Oromo political organizations, and the Oromo nation on the objective goal of the Oromo struggle for total independence of Oromia. Establishing “Transitional Government of Oromia” while Oromia is under colonial occupation is a pseudo-Transitional Oromia government. Its purpose is none other than only to serve the colonial empire. It is of no use for the Oromo people and the struggle for the independence of Oromia. From the above, it is clear that the difference and confrontation between the Oromia independence camp, on the one hand, and the Ethiopian federalization camp, on the other, put Oromia at the crossroads of history. Here, it is clear even though the OLF has grass-root followers, its political elites and members could not agree on a definite, consistent political position and goal. Their political vagueness, vacillation, and disunity have been typical to this very date. It is this confrontation that weakened the national struggle and brought internal fragmentation that is similar to the fragmentation and decline of the 19th century that encouraged Gobana Daaccee to collaborate with Menelik II and became his instrument of conquest, occupation, and colonization of Oromia. Today’s condition is similar to that of the 19th century. The nationalists are fragmented, divided, and weakened, and consequently, the Oromo liberation struggle became weaker, and with this, the Oromo national liberation struggle has entered into a state of stagnation. By being divided ourselves, we have become our own worst enemy. And these put Oromia at the crossroads. Hence, Oromia at the crossroads of empire federalism and Oromia independence. So, there are two-lines of struggle within Oromo political organizations. The difference between the two is irreversibly in contradiction and so irreconcilable. The Oromo nationalists and revolutionaries choose a multidimensional national liberation struggle that involves armed, political, and diplomatic, peaceful mass resistance, economic boycotts, refusing to pay taxes, and more. Hence, multidimensional struggle, including armed struggle, is the Only Viable Form of Struggle to be undertaken by the peoples under colonial occupation to win their freedom and independence.
The independence road leads to the liberation of Oromia from the colonial Ethiopian empire occupation to the establishment of the Independent Democratic Republic of Oromia. On the contrary, the federalist road leads to retaining the Ethiopian colonial empire in the name of federalism and democracy. Throughout history, empires have come and gone. And, no empire has ever been federalized or democratized along with a country that established an empire. Hence, Ethiopia being an empire, can neither be federalized nor be democratized. The fact is, Empire federalization is a suffocating, oppressing, cruel, and sterilizing workshop for centuries of tyranny.
On the contrary, the federalist roaders reject the method of nationalists’ struggles and choose a nonviolent form, pretending to follow the footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi’s example. At the same time, these federalist roaders reject Mahatma Gandhi’s advocacy itself. Mahatma Gandhi struggled for the independence of India through non-violence. In this non-violence, he established Quit India Movement against the British Colonial Empire. This Quit India Movement forced the British colonialists to leave India. Mahatma Gandhi also supported and advocated for the armed struggle of the colonized people for liberation. As it is well known, Mahatma Gandhi is known as the symbol of the nonviolent that led India to independence through nonviolent struggle. He, however, supported armed struggle against colonial occupation in the absence of a favorable condition. Here are his words: “I do believe that where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence. ….. I would rather have India resort to arms to defend her honour than that she would, in a cowardly manner, become or remain a helpless witness to her dishonour.”
In the Ethiopian empire, there is no favorable condition to resolve the colonial question and has never been. Hence, choosing a nonviolent form of struggle is cowardice. Under such conditions, choosing nonviolence is a willingly and cowardly encouraging the Oromo people to remain a helpless witness to their dishonor, to be under the colonial humiliation, and to stay under colonial conquest in the name of federalism. The only option the Oromo people and its nationalists have is a road of independence, liberating Oromia from the Ethiopian colonial empire. Standing at a crossroads is confusion itself. At the same time, choosing the wrong road will affect Oromo’s future significantly and irrevocably. Choosing federalist road is to reverse the course of the Oromo struggle for liberation. In the Ethiopian empire, there is no favorable condition to resolve the colonial question, and never has been. Hence, choosing a nonviolent form of struggle is cowardice. Under such conditions, choosing nonviolence is a willingly and cowardly encouraging the Oromo people to remain a helpless witness to their dishonor, to be under colonial humiliation, and to stay under colonial conquest in the name of federalism. The only option the Oromo people and its nationalists have is a road of independence, liberating Oromia from the Ethiopian colonial empire. Standing at a crossroads is confusion itself. At the same time, choosing the wrong road will affect Oromo’s future significantly and irrevocably. Choosing the federalist road is to reverse the course of the Oromo struggle for liberation.
Now, to answer the question of the choices, one has to ask what the Oromo question is and has been. The Oromo question is and has been a colonial question. Oromia is a colonized country for the last century and a half to this very date. Ethiopia is an empire created by Abyssinia. Oromo struggle is a national liberation struggle for justice against injustice. In the struggle for national liberation, Liberation Fronts organize on the principle of the right of a nation to self-determination. And so, the Oromo national liberation struggle. The Oromo struggle is and has been a liberation struggle against Colonial occupation, domination, oppression, subjection and exploitation, and its unjust and evil system. Above all, a nation under colonial occupation has no alternative other than to fight for its freedom and liberation. The Oromo’s fight is a fight for the independence of Oromia and the survival of the Oromo as a nation, as a people, as a community, and as individuals. It is a struggle for peace, justice, and stability for themselves, for the region, and the world. Here, the Oromo struggle does not target specific people, nations, nationalities, communities, persons, or a person. Its target is the system of Abyssinian imperial colonial occupation -the Ethiopian colonial empire, and its instruments of the war-the army, the police force, security apparatus, bureaucracy, its webs of spies, and the death squad. These have to be fought out. It is for these reasons that the Oromo people have been and are fighting since their occupation a century and a half ago. It is a struggle for just cause.
In concurrence with this just cause, the UN General Assembly Resolution 2649 (XXV) Article (1) states that it: “Affirms the legitimacy of the struggle of people under colonial and alien domination recognized as being entitled to the right of self-determination to restore to themselves that right by any means at their disposal,” and also in Resolution 3070 (XXVIII) Article (2) states GA [General Assembly] “Also affirms the legitimacy of the peoples ‘struggle for liberation from colonial and foreign domination and alien subjugation by all available means, including armed struggle.”
The Inconvenient Truth Then and Now: The failures and betrayals in the struggle for independence
The failures of the leadership in the Oromo struggle: Since the last a century and a half, the Oromo people have lost opportunities for independence. There were four opportunities arouse for the Oromo political leadership to unite against their enemy. But all opportunities were lost because of the failures of the leadership. The failures to unite are the dark side of the Oromo struggle. The failures are because of the lack of a homogeneity of political thought among Oromo political activists and political leadership as to the Oromo question.
The first opportunity to unite against Menelik of Abyssinia was lost as he was advancing to conquer Oromia. The second opportunity arrived and lost was during 1935-9141. The third and fourth opportunities successively again arrived in 1991 and 2018. All were lost because of the Oromo political leadership failure to unite.
In this struggle, the Oromo people had both Opportunities and Obstacles. The first opportunity lost was failure to unite against Menelik’s conquest. First Tuulama Oromo political leadership failed to unite against Menelik, instead one allied with Menelik to fight one Gosa against the other. Because of these, Menelik was able to conquer Tuulama Oromo one by one. This open the door for Menelik to other regions. The second opportunity came to the Oromo political leadership to unite was during 1935-1941 when the Ethiopian empire was dissolved because of the occupation of the Ethiopian empire by Italian. During this time, Tuulama leadership supported Ethiopian empire rulers in fighting Italians. Maccaa Oromo formed, in 1936, Western Oromo Confederation and at the same time Arsi expelled all Amhara settlers from their territory. The dark side of this period was the Oromo political leadership had failed to come together to unite and declare independence from the Ethiopian empire. The third chance was in 1991, when the colonial government of the Ethiopian empire collapsed. This situation provided an opportunity for the Oromo political leadership of Oromia to unite and declare independence, or at least take control Oromia. However, because of political leadership of the Oromo political organizations failed to form a unified organization against the TPLF, TPLF had the opportunity to enter Finfinnee with its combat effectiveness. Allowing the TPLF to enter Finfinnee and control Oromia was the Oromo political leaderships’ tragic failure of monumental proportion in the modern time Oromo history. Furthermore, trusting of the TPLF and the encampment of the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) by the OLF political leadership at the height of the conflict with the TPLF was another tragic failure, a one-way suicide trip to annihilation. Here, the political leadership of the Oromo people once again failed to unite and therefore lost an opportunity to control Oromia. At the time, there were five Oromo political organizations. All became rivalries to each other. The TPLF, got opportunity to control Oromia and expelled all Oromo political organizations and their political leaderships to Finfinnee. The fourth opportunity arose once again in 2018 with the collapse of the TPLF. This time too there were five Oromo political organizations and their leaderships failed again to unite to declare independence. The TPLF’s puppet, the OPDO took over the empire along with neo-Nafxanyas. Explaining such conditions, Karl Marx wrote: “History repeat itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.” This is true with the Oromo political leadership. It was tragedy failing to unite at the dissolution of the empire in 1935 -9141 but in 1991 and 2018 failures were farce. This a testimony to what has been happening to the Oromo since their colonization to this very date. In this regard, paraphrasing George Santayana, Winston Churchill has to say this: ‘Those who fail to learn from the mistakes of history are condemned to repeat it.’ Again this is true with the Oromo political leadership. Furthermore, Vasily Klyuchevsky, a Russian historian, has to say this: “History teaches us nothing, but only punishes us for not learning its lessons.” Here, what is clear is that the Oromo political leadership for a century and a half to date failed to learn from the mistakes of history, and consequently, the cycle is continually repeating itself.
As is well known, during the long Abyssinian war of conquest of Oromia, Oromo faced two choices: submit or fight. They fail to unite to fight. While some Oromo regions accepted to submit, Arsi Oromo and Harar Oromo rejected to submit. Their choice was to fight, to hit back the enemy by all means within their power in defense of their country, their dignity, their future and their freedom and independence. In this war of resistance, in Harar and in Arsi, in both places people fought in unity, with determination, and as a unitary entity not as isolated ones. Their leadership neither submitted nor ran away, or went into exile. In this war, Arsi fought four kings of Abyssinia from 1827 to 1941- Sahle Selassie, Haile Melekot, Menelik, and Haile Selassie. The formation of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF in 1973, brought this unity as a unitary entity back to the Oromo people as a whole. The OLF’s leadership choice of death over living at Shinnigga, in Ogden, desert, on May 15, 1980, for unity and political goal of the Oromo people by rejecting the Somali military demand of them to be identified themselves as Moslem or Christian reaffirmed the Oromo oneness, their unity, and their goal of struggle for independence of Oromia. The group that came to leadership in 1999 has failed to learn from both unity and commitment to the struggle. Instead, it fragmented the OLF and its members to this very date. Moreover, allowing the TPLF to enter Finfinnee in 1991 was the collective failure of all Oromo political leadership.
The gantuu/betrayal of the Oromo struggle for independence
Prof. Hamdessa Tuso described the meaning of gantuu as a metaphor. He wrote:
Gantuu is metaphor that the Oromos use in identifying those who betray the cause they are expected to defend. ….a gantuu is a character that runs away from an expected role – he has the intention of harming the original cause, which is he is expected to defend. The equivalent term that accurately describes the social phenomenon of gantuu is quisling (The Social Construction of the Oromo Galtuus in the Ethiopian Empire: Past and Present, 2020, P. 26).
Simply put, gantuu means betrayal, traitor, sellout, or turncoat. Throughout recorded human history, treachery and betrayals have been amongst the worst offenses people could commit against their country and nation. Such persons are self serving traitors and collaborators with the enemy of their country and nation. Here, it is clear that gantuu violates trust and loyalty. It is disloyalty to the people’s cause, a breach of trust to hurt the cause, hopes, and expectations of the people. History has shown time and again that there have been betrayers and betrayed. Among history’s most infamous
Betrayers/gantuus from the days of biblical times to the present day here are a few names: Judas Iscariot of Israelite who betrayed Jesus, Benedict Arnold of the U.S., Marshal Petain of France, Vidkun Quisling of Norway, and Gobana Daaccee of Oromia. And in today’s Oromia, the OPDO is the most notorious and treacherous organization that collaborated with TPLF for 27 years in exterminating millions of the Oromo people and responsible for the disappearance of hundreds of thousands of Oromo nationals and now in alliance with neo-Nafxanyas in the name of PP, both of which are the enemy of Oromia, the Oromo people and their liberation struggle, et cetera. In Oromia, their names are synonymous with betrayal/gantuu and the notorious collaborators with the enemy of the Oromo people and their cause.
Prof. Hamdesa Tuso put “galtuus” as “the political behavior of those Oromos who betray their own people to gain some political/material benefits in the Ethiopian Empire” (Tuso, Ibid, P. 1). They are and were political parasite/maxxannee of the successive Ethiopian empire colonial rulers. Further, he distinguished the tradition galtuus from the contemporary ones represented by OPDO and now PP in these terms: “The nature of more recent Oromo galtuus is different than the case of Ras Gobana. The more recent galtuus are, generally, more educated and better informed regarding the contemporary world system. They are groomed through modern educational system, which is anchored on the Habesha cultural worldview” (Tuso, Ibid, P. 28).
Without going into details, in my view, both Ras Gobana Daaccee, his associates, and OPDO, the now PP are not only galtuus but also gantuus. Both are the embodiment of these two characters. And both groups were organized by the Oromo enemies. Here, Gobana Daacce and his associates were organized by Amhara political leadership while the OPDO was organized by the Tigran political leadership, TPLF. Both betrayed the Oromo people and their cause to join their enemies. In this sense, both are the Abyssinian Empire political parasite in the betrayers of the Oromo people. Now, the then OPDO and the now PP as galtuu and gantuu has three jobs that it has been accomplishing. As a colonial puppet agent, its one job is killing, slaughtering, imprisoning, torturing, and maiming Oromo nationals and committing genocide, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity against the Oromo people on behalf of its successive Abyssinian colonial masters. Its second purpose it to remove psychology of liberation and establishment of free, sovereign, independent people’s democratic republic of Oromia from the minds of Oromo people. And its other job is and has been living off Oromo people, enriching itself, robbing and embezzlements of Oromia and its people while giving back nothing in return. The hard fact is that our people have been the victims of this political parasites-the human leeches of yesterday’s OPDO and today’s PP.
Along with this, the question may be raised as to how is it possible for Abyssinia a poor and small country with a small population, to invade, conquer and colonize Oromia- the largest, richest, and most populous country in the region- and still maintained it. The answer is found in gantuu, Gobana Daaccee and his associates.
Using this definition of gantuu not galtuu, here below, I will identify betrayal in the Oromo struggle led by Dawud Ibsa. The Oromo people expect their political leadership to unite to defend Oromia, its people, and their cause. From this point of view, one can describe that Dawud Ibsa’s leadership in the OLF is and has been a history of failure and betrayal. Here below are the work of betrayals/gantuus:
The first person to abandon his people’s expectation of defending his people and the county was Gobana Daaccee, and the second is OPDO. Both allied with the enemy in fighting against their people and their country in enabling the enemy to conquer and colonize their country. In the first case, Gobana helped in the conquest of his own country and the second case, OPDO has been helping to maintain its conquered country under the colonialist rule.
In addition to the above, One can describe Dawud Ibsa’s leadership as a history of failure and betrayal. What makes his leadership betrayals from the standpoint of the Oromo people’s expectation are the follow. The purpose his leadership and other Oromo political elites’ betrayal of the Oromo cause is to remove the psychology of establishing a free, sovereign, independent democratic republic of Oromia from the mind of the Oromo people in favor of Ethiopian empire democratization and multinational federation to maintain the empire Menelik created. In order to achieve these, he and his leadership undertook the following actions:
First: Since their colonization, the Oromo people have been fighting for independence. Until all that Dawud Ibsa did in 1999, Oromo’s political leaders did not give up their combatants, their country and their people and go into exile to hostile countries. People expect their political leadership to be among them both in bad and good times in their country and fight for liberation. Leaving for exile by abandoning one’s freedom fighters, the country, and the people is a betrayal/gantuu of the cause.
Second: The “Agenda for Peace of 2000 was agenda of guntuus. This “Agenda for peace” called for disarming of the OLA in favor of free and fair election in Ethiopian empire. It stated the need for the democratization of the Ethiopian empire in the interest of globalization. It was agenda of a promotion of renouncing armed struggle as a method of struggle for liberation in order to participate in the Ethiopian elections. It started a war against the political goals of the Oromo liberation struggle- the independence of Oromia.
Third: At the Bergen Conference in Norway in 2004, the 1998 political program of the OLF was abolished, repealed, and replaced. Bergen Conference, in Norway, was gantummaa.
Fourth: the formation of Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (AFD), on May 22, 2006, with the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) and the Ethiopian People’s Patriotic Front (EPPF), the Abyssinian organizations that the Oromo people have irreconcilable interests with; no shared beliefs, no shared values, and no common goal with the Oromo people. It was the alliance with the enemy of the Oromo people and their political objective. Obviously, aligning with the enemies of the people is a gantumma. It constitutes giving aid and comfort to the enemies.
Fifth: With the formation of the AFD, ABO Shanee, with the support of CUD and EPPF, and Eritrea filed a lawsuit on July 19, 2007, at the Fourth Judicial District Court of the State of Minnesota against Qaama Cehumsa of OLF (TA-OLF) over the use of the name of OLF, its logo, and its flag. The lawsuit alleged that the name OLF is OLF-Shanee’s trademark, ABO is a business entity. And so, it argued that TA-OLF in using the name OLF, its logo, and its flag “violated the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act” and interfered with the “Prospective economic advantage” of ABO-Shanee. It was the work of quislings. OLF is not a business entity, but it is a liberation front. Accordingly, the Court ruled in favor of OLF-TA and dismissed the lawsuit as frivolous and baseless.
Six: People expect their political leadership as a unifier, not a divider. The OLF leadership under Dawud Ibsa divided the OLF, its leadership, its members by introducing a political position that is hostile to and in contradiction to the Oromo cause, and their struggle. Since 2001 to date, uninterrupted attacks have been launched by ABO-Shanee against the Oromo struggle for national liberation from colonial occupation, against their common dreams of freedom, dignity, justice, and peace, and their unity, and against prioritizing collective interests over individual interests. These attacks have been in the name of the Agenda for peace, federation, democratization of Ethiopian empire, and today in the name of the Transitional Government of Oromia in the Ethiopian colonial empire to maintain this colonial empire. Hence, his leadership is an epitome of national betrayal/gantuu-the cause of the Oromo people for national liberation struggle.
Seventh: The exotic name Transitional Government of Oromia in the Ethiopian empire is the gantuu’s agenda. It is a negation of the Oromo aspiration for the establishment of a free, sovereign, independent people’s democratic republic of Oromia. Never in the history of an empire or colonial empire had that a colonized people have ever established a transitional government while still under the colonial rule. This so-called transitional government of Oromia is simply a recycling of the former Agenda for Peace of 2000 to throw confusion and doubt among the uninformed and innocent Oromo nationals as to the cause of Oromo national struggle.
What must be understood from this is that since 1999 until now, Dawud Ibsa and his associates have failed to understand the impossibility of democratizing a collapsed or collapsing empire. No empire in history has ever achieved democratization or federalization. In regard to this, Professor Hamdessa Tuso wrote:
I will argue that the dream of democratizing Ethiopia must come to the end – democratizing a collapsing empire is an impossible mission. I will further argue that all Oromos have to confront the cruel reality that the Habesha ideology of dominance is insurmountable within the imperial system. It is very clear that the efforts to democratize Ethiopia since the 1960s has failed miserably (Tuso, op. cit., p.54).
Abyssinian Settler-colonizers have been greatly assisted by the disunity and fragmentations of the Oromo political organizations, political leadership, elites, and activists. All failed to learn that Oromo in unity is strong and withstand the enemy by force. They failed to learn from the Arsi’s fight in unity against the successive Abyssinian kings-Sahle Selassie, Haile Melekot, Menelik, and Haile Selassie. It was only Menelik who was finally able to conquer Arsi. The conquest was helped with the massive fighting force that he was able to conscript into his army from the conquered Oromo regions and Oromo resources he was able to amass from these regions. In addition to these, he also used smallpox as a biological warfare, military firepower and political and military advisors he received from the European powers. Not only this, Dawud Ibsa and his cliques failed to learn from the unity displayed by the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) leadership under Magarsaa Barii at Shinniga. They chose to die rather than betray each other, the organization, the people, and the cause of the struggle.
The way forward
The question now is as to what are the lessons-to-be-learned from the successes, the failures, and the betrayals. We have seen the Abyssinian conquest and its cruelty against the Oromo people and the weaknesses within the Oromo political leadership that led to the conquest of Oromia by the Abyssinian colonialism. And we have seen what had happened to the Oromo people under colonialism. We also show the rise of the new generation of Oromo political leadership in the 1960s and 1970s. This leadership laid out a strong basis for the activities concerning the purpose, objective, goal, and direction of the Oromo struggle, the colonial question. The decisions made were consistent with Oromo values, vision, and aspirations. It was a generation motivated by what is to be the best for the dignity and inherently inalienable rights of the Oromo people to self determination. Hence, this struggle addressed the real needs of the Oromo people for liberation from colonial occupation and to establish the independent democratic republic of Oromia.
Without understanding the Oromo history of past greatness, then their split into kingdoms and Gada regions followed with the history of colonial subjugation, domination, exploitation, subordination, dispossession of lands and resources, and without knowing the successive Oromo struggles against the colonial occupation, we may never know who we are and what for the Oromo struggle is and has been. We owe it to ourselves to learn about the truth. To do this, first we must recognize the past and the present failures and betrayals/gantummaa. We must recognize the failure of Oromo leadership to unite during the war of colonial conquest. And also need to recognize failures to unite during the dissolution of the empire 1935-1941 and its collapse in 1991, and again now in 2018. The failure of the leadership to exile itself in 1999; we must recognize the failure of bringing “Agenda for Peace,” the Agenda for the democratization of the Ethiopian empire of 2000 that split the OLF and the repeal and replace of the OLF Political program of 1998 in 2004. Then, following these, the danger of the OLF-Shanee Formation of “Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (AFD)”, on 22 May 2006, with the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) and the Ethiopian People’s Patriotic Front (EPPF), the Abyssinian organizations that the Oromo people have irreconcilable interests with; no shared beliefs and no common goal with the Oromo people. With this “Agenda for peace,” the high hopes of the 1970s for the liberation of Oromia began fading. Even though the OLF has grass-root followers, its political elites and members could not agree on a definite, consistent political position. Here, elites’ political vagueness, vacillation, and disunity have been typical to this date.
The Oromo struggle should take a multidimensional form of struggles-armed struggle, political struggle, diplomacy, economic boycotts, refusing to pay taxes, roadblocks, peaceful demonstrations and so forth etc. These must be used uniformly throughout Oromia. Through their struggle, the Oromo heroes and heroines had made significant achievements against the Ethiopian colonial empire, as indicated in the previous paragraphs. Today, these achievements stand on the great foundation of the historical records of untold grief, pain, dedication, bravery, courage, and sacrifice of millions of Oromo masses and the revolutionary freedom fighters. These achievements were at the cost of blood, shed by thousands of best sons and daughters of the Oromo people. These heroes and heroines are the greatest and immortal martyrs of the Oromo generation in the Oromo national liberation struggle for independence.
Today’s Oromo generation of the 21st century, the Qubee generation, has to follow the example of their predecessors-the 1960s and 1970s generation. Those generation took up arms against the colonizer. Armed struggle is much as relevant now as it was then, and even more so. Here it is required of this Qubee generation the establishment of national political leadership that is committed to the total independence of Oromia, not to the federalization nor the democratization of the colonial empire, and to unite in strong national liberation organization, and uphold the unity of members, the unity of objective and the goal of the struggle.
It further needs to engage in multidimensional forms of struggles, including a coherent military and political strategy for conducting the armed struggle for national liberation. Hence, the conscious unity of our people and nationalists are the key to this national liberation struggle for independence. It is now time to abandon the federalist road and take the independence road. Today, millions of Oromo have schooled and had a chance of achieving the goal of uprooting the system of the Ethiopian empire settler colonialism. However, it failed to follow its predecessors. Instead of taking up arms in the like of its predecessors, it chose to face the enemy crossing empty hands. In history, no country has ever been liberated through peaceful demonstrations of crossing hands. As stated above, the called for “Transitional Government of Oromia” in the Ethiopian colonial empire is the political agenda of reformist, pacifist, renegades, and capitulationist Oromo nationals. It is a Trojan horse whereby those who want to undermine the Oromo struggle are waiting to attack the Oromo unity, the Oromo people, and Oromo nationalists from within.
Today’s calling for the Transitional Government of Oromia in the genocidal Ethiopian colonial empire is a resurrection or recycling of the former Agenda for peace of 2000 that split the OLF in 2001. Moreover, the call for the Transitional government of Oromia in Ethiopian colonial empire, the federalization of the Ethiopian empire, democracy, fair and free election, harmony and equality in the Ethiopian colonial empire clothing oneself with the OLF name is a sellout of the struggle for independence of Oromia for which so many heroes and heroines sacrificed their precious lives for generations. Hence, to call for such a government while still, Oromia is under Abyssinian colonial occupation is the betrayal of the objective of the Oromo struggle and the betrayal of the Oromo heroes and heroines, the gallant sons and daughters of the Oromo people who had sacrificed and still sacrificing their precious lives for the independence of Oromia. The purpose of this so-called government is to divide, neutralize, and undermine the unity of the Oromo people and their nationalists and to obstruct, weaken and defeat the national liberation struggle. They serve as propaganda and disinformation tool of the empire organized to confuse the people. It is a dangerous political trap laid out in the way. The federalism and democratization of the Ethiopian empire and the Transitional Government of Oromia in the Ethiopian empire are all political tricks to confuse the Oromo public. These are the political scheme of Federalist roaders of the Ethiopian colonial empire. Such schemes must be rejected by all. Here, we should critically re-examine and review the OLF’s political programs of 1976 and 1998 with respect to the declared aims and goals of the liberation struggle, the understanding these programs represented, the mindsets, values, norms, and the expectations of the Oromo people who supported such struggles for liberation.
For a century and a half to this date, the Oromo people have been fighting against Abyssinian settler-colonial occupation to restore their lost liberty, justice, freedom, and independence. These are the Oromo’s inherent, inalienable, and imprescriptible rights: the rights to be the masters of their country. This right is non-negotiable. For this, the Oromo’s will and determination to fight have been and are at the core of defeating the enemy. To this end, we need unity, and leadership with determination and commitment, a strong political organization, an invincible military might that fights efficiently and effectively in order to break the enemy’s will and cripple its capacity to fight. To do this, first, the national liberation front, through direct political and military actions, must control the will, perception, and understanding of the enemy’s support base. The control of these will make the enemy impotent to act or react as the national liberation front pushes forward. This means, taking initiative away from the enemy. In the end, the enemy surrenders to the forces of national liberation. This is the only way to go in the national liberation struggle. We must understand that denunciation and condemnation of PP, though important, by themselves, are not enough. We must fight it. We as a people must embrace the armed struggle. We must defeat the enemy in open and tenacious combat. For this, now is the time to be united, organized, armed, and fight. Finally, the sacred goal of the Oromo people is and always has been the establishment of the People’s Democratic Republic of Oromia which is a sovereign independent state. We have to fight for it. It is time to remind ourselves and adopt the words of revolutionary scholar Dr. Haile Fida: “the conscious, organized, and armed people win.” To this effect, now the time is right. It is our time to fight. For this, it is time to rise up, to stand up together, to organize, unite, arm ourselves, and wage a war of national liberation struggle against the colonial occupation of Oromia- our land, our country.
Now, more than ever before, it is time for unity. In unity, we must follow the glorious history of our freedom fighters who had fought and fallen in this war of Oromo national liberation struggle. Today, because of them, our people stand tall and proud. This Qubee generation must follow their example. Those Oromo heroes and heroines of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s fought with determination, grace, faithful, diligence, courage, and bravery for the liberation of Oromia. They had a clear vision, mission, and goal for the independence of Oromia. The nationalists of the Qubee generation have to unite on a clear mission and with a clear goal in this national liberation struggle for the liberation of Oromia from the Ethiopian colonial empire. It is time to reject the revisionists call for a “Transitional government of Oromia” in the Ethiopian colonial empire if one wants to fight for the independence of Oromia. In this struggle, if the Oromo people, unite no one can stop them from achieving their goal. If all Oromo nationalists united under one objective goal, Oromia should not be standing at the crossroads of history. It is time to abandon crossroads and take the independence road. It is time to move from protest to challenge. It is possible in unity. Let us integrate our struggle, our vision, and unite on a common goal. We are stronger together in unity. Therein lies victory.
Glory to the Fallen Oromo Heroes and Heroines!
Oromia Shall be Free!