By: Itana Gammada
April 14, 2020
A people under colonial occupation have a maximum of two choices, either stand up and fight for their freedom and dignity or accept humiliation, subjugation, victimization and perpetual slavery. Throughout human history, colonialism has never been an option. Rather, oppressed people worldwide make the necessary sacrifices to achieve their national objective and fulfill their destiny. It is important to bear in mind that the colonized and repressed people do not remain here for perceived beliefs or temporary economic, piecemeal material gains, but for a fundamental national freedom. They stand for justice, democracy, and human dignity that guarantees their future existence in peace and progress.
For these fundamental reasons, people who have fallen under colonial occupation or slavery will fight against any colonial hegemony. For the last one hundred fifty years, the Oromo people have been subjected to state terrorism, violent atrocities, physical destruction, humiliation, plundering of their resources and mass uprooting under the successive Abyssinian (Ethiopian) regimes.
Since the late 19th century, the Oromo have been locked up in a fight against the Ethiopian colonialists, whose main tenet is to expropriate their land and brutally suppress them, while exploiting their resources at will. Despite the colonialists’ attempts to stifle their national struggle, the Oromos have never accepted Abyssinian colonial entities (Nafxanyaas) in their territory. Rather, they have put up stiff resistance throughout the entire occupation period and continue to do so to-date. But the Oromo people were unable to end the Abyssinian colonial domination in Oromiyaa for many reasons:
For one, as history has shown, occupying or colonial forces cannot penetrate and subdue any nation, regardless of their military might, economic power, or sophisticated security network, without the collaboration of internal betrayers to support and guide them. In order to bring about the occupation of the Oromo nation, the Abyssinian colonialists from Emperor Menelik, II to TPLF/EPRDF effectively utilized treasonous Oromo collaborators.
Reason two: Emperor Menelik did not single-handedly colonize Oromiyaa and the South. The successive Abyssinian colonial regimes obtained high-tech weapons, in addition to economic, political and military support from European and US allied. The Oromos had no such support, so these global colonial powers have always maintained a vested interest to support the occupying regimes and have been changing the battle fields in favor of Ethiopian regimes, even starting from the rule of Emperor Tewodros, II up until the current Prime Minister of EPRDF/Ethiopia Prosperity Party (EPP), Abiy Ahmed.
The most glaring historic evidence is in the case of Walloo Oromo, known as the Rayya. The Raya Azebo nationalists’ armed uprising against the Ethiopian colonial rule with the objective to liberate the Rayya nation (Rayya-Rayyummaa). Several books containing documented reports which reveal that in the 1940s, the Raya people made innumerable sacrifices in their anti-colonial national liberation struggles. In the book, The Raya People’s National Identity Question and The Government Response, Alemu K. Reta and Sisay M. Addisu wrote about this brutal war and the bravery of the Rayan shown in battle. Having already suffered under successive Abyssinian emperors’ wars of occupation and repression, Rayans had to put up a serious armed resistance against Emperor Haile Selassie’s regime in 1941, which lasted for three full years.
During this period, the Rayya people fought against Abyssinian occupation and scored many victories over the powerful armies. According to documented sources, the Rayans were a very organized, well-trained, disciplined anti-colonial guerilla group who were able to withstand the combined Ethio-British armies for years. Comparatively very small in number, they fought with steel-like unity and determination and were able to take the entire Raya region under their control. It was at this point that Emperor Haile Selassie desperately sought air support from the British government, stationed at the Red Sea base in Aden, Yemen to bomb the Rayya defense positions in order to rescue the collapsing empire. The British government, which was equally worried about the rebels gaining ground, responded immediately, ordering the Rayan’s positions to be bombarded. With well-coordinated Ethio-British ground forces led by Lt. Col. G. Johnson and General Abebe Aragai carrying out ground war operations on one side and bombing Rayan positions on the other, Rayans faced two great armies and fought a brutal war.
Hundreds of thousands of innocent people were indiscriminately massacred. According to the records, the British air force from the base in Aden unleashed 116 rounds of bombardment on the insurgents’ positions, annihilating the entire region. Finally, the uprising came to an end as Rayans were overpowered and subdued in December 1943. The imperial rule was restored and the Rayya land was occupied again.
Even though Oromos had a history of national betrayal from Gobanaa Daacee to the present ones, it has never been imagined to be of this magnitude, to the extent of forming such huge chains of collaborators to present day.
So, when the TPLF were preparing to take over the empire, there was a necessity to quickly create a trojan horse; the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) to use as the primary tool in their greatest scheme – occupation and eradication of Oromo people. The OPDO, who are devoid of nationalism and national allegiance, allowed themselves to be used as tools to facilitate the TPLF/EPRDF genocide programs: mass murder, mass uprooting, land grabs, resource theft, and varying forms of terror and torture. They were serving the regime as a channel by which the tyrannical EPRDF could dig their claws deep into the Oromo nation’s arteries, and suck dry its wealth, ruining the lives of Oromo masses.
As history has shown us time and time again, the enemy within is more dangerous than the perceived outside enemy itself, and our people did not fully grasp that concept. In reality, without OPDO’s help, the TPLF/EPRDF could have never stepped one foot on Oromo soil.
The story of the Oromo people’s national struggle against colonial Abyssinians has been written with the blood, sweat and tears- lives even, of the heroes and heroines at the various battle fields and liberation war fronts. From the very first colonial incursion into Oromo territory to the present time, Oromos have defended the fatherland with bravery to achieve the desired national objective. The battles of Abyssinian colonial aggression at Aanolee, Abichuu, Amballaqq, Baalee, Calanqqo, Horro Guduruu (Korkor), Hambaabbo, and Qobbo, to mention just a few, are all reminders of the Oromo people’s love of freedom in which millions of martyrs have laid down their lives. Oromo people have lost and still are losing millions of members of their nation, while fighting successive Abyssinian tyrannical regimes for the sake of freedom and independence. The national struggle continues.
The continued occupation, traumatic destruction, land grab, genocide wars, carnage, and terror in Oromiyaa are still a horrifying reality today and continues accelerating at an unimaginable speed.
Panicked by the demise of the TPLF and the success of the Oromo revolution under the tainted leadership of the EPRDF party, they began to conspire to calm the struggling Oromo youth in order to subvert the revolution. Through tricks, deceit, and maneuvering within the party, the EPRDF decided to bring forward a seemingly Oromo face, the so called “Team Lemma.” They selected from the OPDO party to fill in this group and thereafter, they constructed an illusion of change within the party system to protect and restore the existing criminal regime. Abiy was easily able to walk into the vacuum to become prime minister, because even though the revolution was a successful one, there was no well-organized political leadership for the emerging popular revolution at that time. Convinced by President Lama’s inspiring nationalistic public speeches and trusting Team Lama, the Oromo people had supported Abiy Ahmed believing that he was one of them with the hope that he would deliver the necessary solutions for their national cause.
But, as soon as the party consolidated its power, the neo-Nafxanyaa colonialists administration led by Abiy Ahmed, has began to undermine Oromo nationalism, history, culture, languages through a defamation campaign while praising and glorifying the Ethiopian emperors and dictators who have committed genocide on Oromo people and other Southern peoples in the empire, propagating the Abyssinian supremacy. The prime minister is now making every effort to take us back to the Nazi-style imperial rule of Menelik II, a cruel, barbaric and deadly era. The wholesale of the ongoing wars in Oromiyaa – glorification of emperors, dictators, the attempt to clone the ghosts of Menelik and Haile Selassie, campaigns to distort Oromo history, culture, language, educational genocide, mass uprootings, and the dismissal of Lemma Megersa from the Oromiyaa state presidency — are all designed to stop Oromiyaa from being a sovereign nation.
To abort the victories that came by the blood, bones, and heavy sacrifices of the heroic Oromo youth and patriotic nationalists, now the children of invaders (Nafxanyaa) and their puppet clientele are now unleashing terror, torture, mass murders, targeted assassinations, stifling civil movements, imposing command posts throughout Oromiyaa— virtually putting the nation under siege. This ongoing genocide shows that the EPRDF is even more determined to fulfill the Abyssinian dream of destroying Oromiyaa and to eradicate the Oromos in order to restore and eternalize a single state of Ethiopia, while erasing all nations and their identities within the empire. Instead of giving in to a single Oromo demand, the Prime Minister is repeating the heinous war of eradication carried out by Meles Zenawi with more brutality and systematic liquidation methods. So once again, the reign of terror and carnage is on the rise as the dimensions of the total destructions, carnages, mass killings, and atrocities are expanded, particularly in the regions under command posts Wallagaa, Gujii, and Boranaa. Once again, the Oromo youth, activities, nationalists, and political leaders are re-filling the notorious concentration camps in Oromiyaa from which they once had almost emptied when the TPLF was ejected by a Qeerro-led revolution.
For eight months now, there has been unspeakable destruction, terror, total blackouts of internet, and all means of communication networks are non-existent in these regions of undeclared command posts. The federal army, federal police, and “special forces” are deployed, conducting mass murder, to completely destroy everything, in the region of Wallagaa in particular, aerial bombardment, burning crops, homes, schools, coffee trees, and other life-sustaining resources in an attempt to wipe out the remaining traces of resistance from Oromiyaa.
The Oromo people understand very well what has been happening to them for the last 150 years by the successive colonialist regimes. All of the colonial conspiracies, maneuvers, twists, and turns are made to subvert the Oromo national struggle but it should not take over our attention from pursuing our national objective of fighting for national self-determination.
For a century and a half, nations and nationalities were held together by the successive Ethiopian colonialist regimes through genocidal wars. But now it has been broken down by the power of our people who are determined to never back down from their goal.
The historic mass uprising in Oromiyaa five years ago has provoked unprecedented courage and determination by the Oromo youth who were the most successful in the history of the Oromo people’s struggle, which became extremely inspiring for the nations and nationalities within the empire.
Ethiopia is an empire under which many nations and nationalities are suffering unbearable repressions. There has never been any historical evidence of a colonial regime reversing itself or reforming its character, and willingly relinquish its power to realize freedom and democracy to its oppressed. It is highly implausible. The only solution to get rid of colonialism or imperialism is to decolonize it.
People must understand that freedom and democracy can never be achieved by joining the occupying enemy and expecting unrealistic outcomes. This stems from the chronic ignorance that is the nature of colonialism and considering the notion of “Ethiopian democratization” is counterintuitive and this case, detrimental to the cause. Ethiopianism does not lead to a flat unitary state by forced integration only with the wishes and conspiracy of EPDRF/PP or “medemer”, who wants the Oromo people, and other nations and nationalities to abandon their history, culture, heritage, and national identity and to accept only Ethiopianism indefinitely. This will never be accepted by the conscious, determined, and freedom-seeking people in general and the Qubee generation in particular.
The ongoing genocidal wars in Western and Southern Oromiyaa are a well-planned act of genocide with an aim to destroy Oromiyaa and to eradicate the Oromo society and to deny the means of survival for the purpose of opening up the living territory for the Nafxanyaas and their clients.
These unspeakable atrocities are being waged in many parts of Oromiyaa, particularly where the command posts, federal army, federal police, and special forces in Wallagaa, Guji and Boranaa are conducting acts of genocide. Oromos in these regions are singled out for a severe punishment and are under siege with and imposed state of emergency coupled with all communication networks restricted or shut down altogether. Consequently, people are suffering under unbearable conditions as they are forced to live in isolation from the rest of the world, with genocidal targets on their backs. The Oromo population are under an endless mass starvation as production of food, interruption of businesses and mass transportation are being prevented by enforcement of oppressive laws by the regime. Starvations and abject poverty in Oromiyaa have already claimed the lives of millions and there remains incalculable damages to Oromo society and beyond.
This is especially shocking for Oromiyaa, the land that used to be called the bread basket of the Horn of Africa and enjoyed an abundance of almost every resource. The open genocide war in Wallagaa, Guji, and Boranaa is for no reason other than they refused and continue to refuse to accept the rule and supremacy of the Abyssinian, which is bent on destroying the Oromo nation.
In essence, this war is undoubtedly a revenge war meant as retaliation to annihilate the remaining regions of Oromiyaa for the dissolution of the people and the nation. At this catastrophic time when COVID-19 is devastating the whole world, the Ethiopian government is busy conducting war on the Oromo people - to eliminate first armed groups in Wallagaa and Gujii, then to deal with the pandemic afterwards is cruel and inhumane.
In such a catastrophic situation, there is an urgent call to every nation and nationality to make a collective readiness plan for all of the occupied and suffering people in this empire to be united and fight in order to put a stop to the EPDRF/PP’s genocidal programs. Freedom, independence, and dignity can be achieved only when the people decide to overcome personal or group agenda and work together under a common interest and principle. The Oromo have every right and power to use any means necessary to defend the fatherland and protect their national interests from the enemy’s onslaught. It is time to pay the necessary price and be united, to rise up and fight to make the Oromo nation a reality once more. The big question is, if the Oromos who are under occupation, do not decide to unite and fight for their very survival and dignity, who else will? At this time, indifference to the Oromo cause is not only a betrayal, but is suicidal in itself. No war can be won from fragments of political groups or a society in deep contradictions with one another and miserably disorganized. On the part of Oromo political organizations, failure to form a united front is yet another missed opportunity. Instead of focusing on participating in the coming meaningless “Ethiopian Elections”, the priority should be given to defending the inalienable rights of the Oromos to national self-determination. The Oromo people’s freedom is neither negotiable nor something to be compromised.
The Oromo revolution has already transformed into a popular people’s struggle, which is a turning point in the history of the Oromo national struggle, thanks to the courage and determination of Oromo youth who resolutely stood up against the murderous TPLF/EPRDF regime. But, the conspiracy to subvert such a historic victory is very well underway by the cold-blooded, vicious Abyssinian neo-colonialists and their tools, who are conspiring day and night to sabotage the revolution. On the other hand, the colonial partners and global powers that support the EPDRF regime are well aware of the genocide and atrocities the regime is committing, but have no desire to stop it because of the empire’s strategic location for political, economic, and security purposes regardless of the regime’s vicious repressiveness. In the nature of war that the Oromo people are now in, unity and determination are the only decisive weapons that are available to them to stop the genocidal programs and the criminal acts of the regime and its internal collaborators. During World War II, the allied armies of the United States, the East and West had the will and power to stop the Nazi war of extermination and save the nations and people of Europe from total ruin. So, nations and nationalities in the empire should understand that with this they are on their own to fight the fight in order to free themselves. Genocide is the greatest act of war against the people and must be fought by all justice and freedom-loving people with a collective force to stop the perpetrators at all costs.
For the Oromos, it is not a choice but a requirement to stand up as a people to halt the ongoing war of extermination in the Ethiopian empire. The choice is to either continue enduring the suffering, humiliation, killings, uprooting, deprivation, and eventual total extermination of their people or to hold on to the principles of freedom and independence until the goal is reached. Only a peoples’ determination and persistent resistance against the enemy can bring a true and lasting freedom, independence, dignity and real democracy.
Unity is power! Victory to the oppressed people!