Oromo Political Tradition and Ending Aliens Fears
By Ibsaa Guutama
Oromo are a known big people made unknown. They started rising by their own effort despite several machinations and suppressions to keep them down. They were those that had been freely exploiting their labor and resources and sucking their blood at will that wanted to keep them down for ever with help of quislings. Those are members of the old and new colonial administration; the occupation army and those marketers that lived enriching themselves taking advantage of Oromo peasants’ lack of information. These even dared to brand Oromo as cowards until recently. Oromo’s fall did not destroy the essential democratic elements of their culture and tradition. The tried culture and tradition to replace those of the victims did not go deep into the bones. It might have confusing effect on the minds of the weaklings. The Oromo are not afraid that empire might return but of the revenge trying it may provoke. No one can hide the Oromo anymore. Oromoo is nagaa, Oromoo is araaraa. No danger from their side is to be expected, for if not forgetting, forgiving is in their culture. Oromia will be open to all aliens that come to live and work in peace but only Oromians can own her. That is why Oromo protesters said “Oromia is for the Oromo”. It is up to the Oromoo living everywhere to take the mission and vision of national struggle to Oromo neighbors and the whole world undistorted. No situation is permanent; it is now to stand by ourselves.
The diaspora Oromo community has difficulty to relay the call and objectives of Oromo youth at home to the world around them. Even slogans carried on peaceful demonstrations throughout the world and presentations made on every forum about national aspirations, life in the country and bravery of her heroes and heroines are seen being watered down and messages of youth protest at home distorted. Lack of energy and courage, abandoning national kaayyoo and compromising interest of ones people in such numbers have never been seen among Oromo community and students in diaspora. For many years diplomats had been asking “Do the Oromo know what they want”. The Oromo know what they want, but their messengers lying abroad had been equivocal and communicated in the way they understood body language of their clients rather than delivering what their people desired. The diplomats were thus right; those they meet were pretending to represent their people while working against it in cahoots with adversaries. That is why they are shy or in denial to talk about “independence” to the face of the enemy while their people are openly calling for it.
To cover up their lack of self-confidence and the courage to fight out alone, they all try to hide under some sort of alliances or patronage. For this they have irrelevant instances and theories. Their people want not philosophy of state and government or their comparative study but freedom to shape own destiny by themselves. You either stand with your people in struggle or with the enemy with your philosophy. If fighting for liberation did not arise from own internal feelings and it is pushed and steered from outside the result to be achieved and the country so liberated cannot be one’s own but that of the one that pushed for it and steered it. For most Oromo the desire to be free is genetic and started from deep down though historical accident from which they are to recover soon became an obstacle to cherish it.
For years, pretenders had been feeding false information to the world, because they had lost contact with their people to feel the lava in the making. They are voluntarily running to colonial shackles while the braves are trying to break out of it. They were as surprised as aliens when Oromo protest led by the Qubee Generation erupted in all corners of Oromia. Had they got the slightest human pride this could have put them into shame. The youth clearly know what they want; they are demanding the oppressive colonial system of Ethiopia to end. But Oromo opinion makers in diaspora are divided in understanding this Oromo question. As opportunists as they are they fail to distinguish Amaaraa as a people and the Amaaraa that was head of the Ethiopian Nafxanyaa system. Only the latter is visible to them because it is there where their enslaved hearts are. Amaaraa as a people are now fighting an exclusive war for their identity and Amaaraa national interest against Tigaaruu. The Tigaaruu are humiliating them by calling names and referring to them as people without “Habboo” (Stamina). As a wronged people and as neighbors, they deserve critical moral support from the Oromo in their fight against the aggressor. They can be formidable if they stand against aggressors together as independent African peoples rather than dependent oppressed and oppressor.
On the other hand, Oromo have issues with Amaaraa as Ethiopians. Amaaraa as a leading Ethiopian group had caused the occupation of Oromia, which is still ongoing. Oromo struggle is one of the major contributors in eroding the myth of all inclusive “Etiyophiyaawiinnet” (Ethiopianess) causing Amaaraa led Nafxanyaa system to roll down from political height it enjoyed for over a century. Now Amaaraa is in neck to neck struggle with the other Ethiopian group, the Tigrawayi. High class Nafxanyaa remnants want to give this struggle of a people, to Ethiopian Empire. They want to use it for reviving the dying empire rather than for freedom of the Amaaraa people. Tigrawayi are occupying Oromia in the name of Ethiopia but they are abusing Amaaraa in Tigaaruu’s own name. They have reduced Amaaraa traditional status to that of second class citizens. They have taken away from them their western fertile lands like Wolqayit Xagadee and more.
Amaaraa Tigray conflict should have been left as Ethiopian internal conflict; but the Amaaraa are forced to assert for national identity as Amaaraa. That disrupts their long standing colonial imperial claims. Yet, some are still daydreaming about it. When the day dream stops pan Africanism starts. Now it is not the time that Oromo dance with them the dance of Etiyophiyaawiinnet. But some Oromo “Fidal Generation” in capture-bond state, in the diaspora are joining that dance at this late hour. They can dance with whoever they like but to irresponsibly give false information under Oromo cover is an unforgettable crime on the Oromo nation. Majority Oromo are saying “We are not Ethiopians”; to declare the revers for some personal benefit does not help regional peace and stability. Runaways are always suspects and their credibility remains under question. The Oromo Qubee Generation is determined to take their struggle to the finish with strong spirit of Oromummaa. Solidarity with the oppressed against injustice is in order but to bring through back door system seen out through front door is treacherous.
That be as it may, the more TPLF stays in power the more worrying the political situation is getting. It gives rise to different speculations by those that had read lots into history of political turmoil. Some say genocide is looming, civil war is inevitable and others say the end for Ethiopia is nearing. Some of us have seen how two regimes before TPLF had fallen and how their after mass was filled. Nature does not tolerate vacuum; it will be filled with whatever is around, bitter or sweet. In both cases they were filled with provisional administrations of those who had arms and organization. Both ended up as authoritarian regimes. In the first one the army turned against the system supporting peoples’ protest. In the second an outlaw took over power. The structure of administration is now changed and makes believe multi-party system is established. The core leadership of the army now belongs to the ruling party of one nationality group, the Tigrawayi. Therefore the possibility of it turning against its own party is farfetched unless that party is fractured or its patrons will. So, how would the vacuum gets filled if TPLF falls all of a sudden; we have to push and see?
Oromia has never been free of being victim of genocide for hundreds of years, in particular the last thirteen decades. The colonial war that started at the end of the 19th century has been reported by historians and journalists that Oromia’s population was reduced to half its size. All regimes since then had had their shares in the crime. The present regime is the most vicious of all of them. It is using sterilization, castration, and other techniques in addition to summary killings, torturing, and imprisoning to reduce Oromo population. Selectively killing intelligent and promising young Oromo directly aiming for the head and heart is common place.
Thus to say genocide is looming is failing to understand the life that the Oromo had been undergoing since the occupation of Oromia. It is not looming, it has been there for long. The culprits had always been protected by big powers because they had always served them as agents and so never been accountable for their crimes. If that is the only way it could fulfil their mission they are not bothered if the whole population is wiped out. Oromo never stooped in the face of death and torture but kept on protesting and exposing the criminal nature of TPLF to whoever has human feelings. No genocide cases at Den Haag International Court of Justice can be a match for those going on in Ethiopian Empire now. Leaders of Yugoslav, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sudan etc. did no greater crimes than the Ethiopian present and past rulers. Double standards seem to shame no body. The protest has even reached the Olympic village when a marathon silver medalist, Fayisaa Leellisaa, showed the crossed arms, symbol of Oromo peaceful protest, not only to the Olympiads but also to the whole world that watch the event from afar including outer space. TPLF’s genocide is well exposed by the event.
In Oromia there will be no cause to be afraid of civil war. For those who had doubts, the Oromo protest that is going on for over 9 months should have stood witness for Oromo high discipline. Oromia is diversified in ethnic composition, religion and political outlooks. But no aliens were victims of rage despite many being members of the oppressor groups. Even Tigrawayi are enjoying Oromian hospitality when their relatives are killing and tormenting Oromo nationals; they were not even leered at. Oromo had strong traditional rule called safuu that protected the innocent and the unarmed. Oromo Qubee generation has shown that they are true to that tradition.
War against occupation will not stop to free Oromia if peace efforts fail. There should be no slightest doubt that Oromo would be lured to give up on their kaayyoo of freedom. Oromo holds “Nagaa, Araaraa and Walabummaa” (Peace, Calmness and Freedom) above everything else. As asserted several times by many, Oromo have a culture of pulling everything to the center; no religious or political extremism could thrive. Even those that infiltrate may momentarily be successful to paralyze Oromo activity not to push segments to the extreme. Oromo don’t rush but have the propensity for weighing new demands against common interests. That is why an Oromo can assert that there can be no civil or sectarian war in Oromia but anticolonial war. As for in Ethiopia proper, since their culture is settling scores by violent means one cannot guarantee that there could not be civil war. It has to be hoped that if such thing occurs in Ethiopia, it will not overflow to Oromia.
The objective of Oromo struggle is to dismantle the empire. But to say, it could be the end of Ethiopia is preposterous. It is not freedom of the colonies that ends it but the abandoning of it by those that initially adopted the name, the Habashaa. Oromia was not even under them when they first got the name. If they keep or abandon it is their business. It does not concern the Oromo. What concerns the Oromo toppling the empire from over them? The colonies have recognized clear distinction between themselves and the colonizers. They no more accept any alien over lord; they want to be masters of their own destiny. Therefore future cooperation of peoples of the Horn of Africa will be on terms of the so far silenced, not on terms of oppressor groups. Nobody can have particular claim than any good neighbor could from another. If one nation has legal issue against another international courts are there to arbitrate; no need to raise arms. All people need peace; peace flourishes in environment of freedom and self-reliance. All will be better off if they recognize each ones separate identity and territory rather than raising unresolvable controversy.
All people have their own psychological setup. Once they accept that for each other, there should be no issue or enemy that should be excluded from negotiation table for the sake of sustainable peace and stability in the region and beyond. Nothing is more appreciated than settling conflicts peacefully. Therefore all peace loving peoples that have stake in Ethiopian Empire have to come in peace as equals and negotiate on how to phase it out. Habashaa may have many distractors from Oromo and other learned mercenaries; they may include them on their side of the negotiation but they cannot be taken as negotiating partners. They can use them like they used Aliis in the past. The last Alii served the figure head emperor to keep the Habashaa kingdom intact. But when their man was ready to take over he chased Alii back to Oromia accusing him of being foreigner and informed Queen Victoria of Britain of his success.
So far Oromo youth have shown that they are true to “Peace and Araaraa” tradition of their ancestors. This assures that there cannot be civil war or danger on people because of ethnicity, creed or political outlook. Therefore, there is nothing to be afraid of Ruanda and Somali type sectarian conflict in Oromia. Oromia is Oromia with deep rooted democratic political culture, not any other country. Oromia is land of believers, partly Muslims, partly Christians and partly Waaqeffataa etc., but wholly Oromians. Caliphates have come and Caliphates have gone in the Middle East, but nothing to be afraid of has occurred in Oromia originating from them. TPLF has been spreading fear of Muslim extremist infiltration through Oromia. Large number Oromians are Muslim. This is not a cause to be marked as suspects for there are several countries with all people Muslims, yet not terrorists.
Already TPLF has been hired by US as a partner to fight such extremists in the Horn. TPLF takes Somalia as killing ground for majority Oromo youth in its army. Many have perished and never reported to family. Despite that adding Oromia to terrorist menu it believes will extend its employment contract. It found Oromia an easy prey. It kills them at home as terrorist and recruits and puts them in harm’s way to be killed by terrorists. Oromia fends of extremism not because some powers need it but to safeguarding its own interest. It must be known to all, that let alone TPLF, no greater force can stop what comes through Oromia except with Oromian cooperation.
War or protest against genocide and oppression is not a civil war. It is a war of liberation by nationals against alien forces, which all Oromians, (Oromoo and non-Oromo), must join hands to defeat it. The international community in particular the big powers that lead collective security have the responsibility to stop genocide in Oromia and the Ethiopian colonies. Instead of speculating about imaginary terrorist infiltration through Oromia, they should have taken it as moral and legal duty to stop their terrorist partner now engaged in ethnic cleansing in the Ethiopian Empire. By hook or crook TPLF has to go before it wipes out humanity. Oromo and Amaaraa are fighting to get rid of it, though their objectives for that may differ. For Oromo it is acceleration of the anti-colonial war. For Amaaraa it is assertion of Amaaraa identity which so far was hidden under Ethiopian clock. For both, how to make TPLF’s exit damaging less should be of common concern.
Remnants of high class Nafxanyaa and the galtuu are already hovering to jump over the carcass in the name of the peoples and save the empire. But nothing can be viable without will of the peoples. Any system that comes after Wayyaanee has to maintain rights so far registered by peoples, through their protracted struggle. The right of nations to national self-determination up to and including independence is the major among them. This is not the making of TPLF as some chauvinists want to present; but what Oromo gained through their sacrifices. Short of this there could be no peaceful transition; Oromia is not going to cooperate to be recolonized. The principle enshrined in Wayyaanee Constitution article 39 is not to be glossed over but ways of implementing it fast sought. The regimes that came after the emperor recognized that unless responded to the Oromo question will put the empire in perpetual turmoil. But they did not sincerely respond to it but pretended to do so. Both cheated the Oromo and focused on strengthen the colonial system under new guise. That is why the irreversible damage has occurred now. To continue further cheating the Oromo and other colonies could boomerang and destabilize the homeland of the colonizer.
There could be several ways towards peaceful transition. One is defeating the enemy and taking back ones country by force. Another is forcing the enemy to negotiation table. From TPLF’s nature the first one seems more realistic. But if by divine intervention the system crumbles without warning, personally this writer feels that it will be imperative that “An All Peoples’ Conference” is called to reduce alien fear of retaliation that arise from Oromo side. Such a conference must be held under supervision of UN. All political organization so far known can send delegates to the Conference for smooth peaceful phasing out of the “Ethiopian Empire”. That assumes, some sort of transitional arrangement that will give the opportunity for all, in liquidation or reconstituting process. The conference convenes not as Ethiopians but as peoples of the Horn of Africa.
In the meantime efforts could be made to heal the wounds of the colonial period. If after all these years of trials and tribulations there are those who want to maintain the empire state, it will be a waste of time to spend energy on such a conference. For those that demand for change and are against the status quo ante, holding referendum is the only democratic solution. The Oromo are not ready to give up an iota on the gains registered earlier and expect more returns for the sacrifices they made during the last twenty five years. What must be clear on the outset is the difference between Ethiopia and Oromia. One is the occupier and the other is the occupied. That is the basic concept that needs to be adjusted in Habasha basic thinking to form future relations differently from what used to be. The separate identity Oromo have, from all others cannot be erased by trumpet blowing and hullabaloos. The Oromo have become as fearless as they were before occupation and more determined and awakened. They are clearly showing that death is preferable to living under servitude.
Hence forth to refer to them as Ethiopians without their expressed will, is considered as indignation. To claim Oromia to be Ethiopia anymore is repugnant. That identity was imposed on them by force a little more than a century ago. Those days are now almost gone except the stigma. Now a common forum to peacefully disengage is required. If peace gestures for disengagement are not accepted the struggle will continue whatever it may cost. To push towards such a decision is irresponsible and is possible to lead to war of attrition and mutual destruction. The Oromo are fighting for freedom and will not succumb to intimidation deceit by neocolonialists and give up on their national rights any more. The colonizer is striving to add to what it had, those snatched from the oppressed. Oromo have no problem from Amaaraa people in Amaaraa land; they are only Nafxanyaa remnants who have nostalgia for the past they heard from oral history that create problems. Except for being Orthodox Christians they don’t even know from where their ancestors were recruited for the colonial campaign. It was Oromia that fed and bought them up but they are betraying her for ancestry most had never known. For Oromo they are Oromians but they have to fight for her not against her to deserve it.
The Wayyaanee is trying to wipe out the Oromo from the earth’s surface for demanding their rights. Their homestead destroyed, their religion blasphemed, their kids slain, their women abused, their land robbed, they are being subjected to cruelty that is hard to bear for human beings. If we the Oromo offspring are not able to do anything, at least their sorrow, their heroism and hardship they are bearing should always be on our lips. Let us announce and preach about them wherever we go, let us sing for them variety of songs of praise and valor. The enemy will torment us for the time, but for certain, its blowing away like dust is inevitable. Oromians and the wrong done to them are now in the open. No one can hide them anymore. As for all that betray the cause for which they are fallen we can say only let the bones of Oromo elderly, kids and the youth spear them. Long Live free and independent Oromia! The oppressed shall triumph!
Honor and glory for the fallen heroines and heroes; liberty equality and freedom for the living and nagaa and araaraa for the Ayyaanaa of our fore parents!