The few Oromo that got access to education facilities were those selected few that the colonizer wanted to fill the gap left by expatriates. All native languages were band and only Amharic was sanctioned to be used in public addresses and work. Government jobs require literacy and proficiency in Amharic. For that their Habashaa Priest Schools were big suppliers of man power making it almost impossible for others to compete even for janitorial work. An Oromo person then must be outstanding if one has not to be condemned to more menial labor for life. Over and above that thousands of children of the colonizers were sent abroad to known schools for training next generation of colonial leadership. The Oromo had paid for them in form of tax, tithes, free labor and quarter of their produce. But things did not go well for them as planned. Spontaneous resistance of the downtrodden denied them continuation of old Nafxanyaa system. Those are now the ones that want to distort history and create from exile “Ali Baba stories” about themselves and their kings. Oromo should not lend ears for such unproductive stories. When they refuse to recognize exclusive right of the Oromo to Oromiyaa there is nothing to talk about. Oromo have no obligation to enter into story telling with anyone but to get back their country with their sweat and blood.
At this junction, there is no need to discuss on assumed history for it cannot solve the problem in hand.The problem in hand is a matter of life, freedom and human diginity. What is urgent is how to alleviate the agony of peoples that are suffering oppression, lack of freedom and undue exploitation in their own countries by occupiers. It is a question of regaining lost rights and human diginity. Remnants of Nafxanyaa descendants want to occupy Oromo revolutionaries with unverified events like “massacres at Baddannoo and Arbaguugguu”. It was Oromo Liberation Front that was accused by the incumbent rulers of throwing dead Amara bodies into Hinquufnee ravine. That organization had denied from the very time that it had no hand in it. It also condemned such cruel deed and unethical exposure of dead bodies for purpose of propaganda. And they demanded for an investigation by independent party. Because they know that it was not done by OLF, no one of them showed interest to push that to arrive at the truth, but to use it occasionally for sinister motives. But they are going on passing judgments, them being both judge and attorney. Had they tracked and brought the abusers of those they claim to be their relatives, it would have been great contribution to human rights rather than using it to saw seeds of hate.
Doing so they think will tarnish the good name of the Oromo nation. The Baddannoo episode is a heinous crime committed by those that brought it forward. Those responsible had to be tracked and brought to justice. Oromo are known as marvelous fighters in battle fields. Oromo tradition rules that killing unarmed men and women is safuu and shaming. That is why it was condemned as an act of cowardice. These are legal questions not a topic for propaganda debate to which Oromo revolutionaries should not lend ears to but cooperate with whoever is interested to dig out the truth. On the other hand the struggle for self-determination of nations is a different process with different result and should not get mixed up with manufactured criminal accusations. Whatever the result of criminal investigation may be, it does not affect the right to independence of a people but individuals responsible for it.
As to historical atrocities committed against the Oromo they are recorded happenings. Calanqoo and Aannolee are only tips of the iceberg. Genocide has been carried out in every corner of Oromiyaa. Those of Walloo, Tuulamaa, Maccaa, Jimmaa, Geeraa, Soor and Gabbaa, Arjoo and Najjoo and all others are to be brought forward if need be. Genocide started by the first wave of Nafxanyaa never stopped with each succeeding regimes. For instance the massacre of Oromo ranks and file by Hayila Sillasee’s commanders Immiruu and Atnaf Saggad in the 1930s at Guyii and Buunnoo Baddallee can never be forgotten. The burning of houses with woman and children in Areroo during the 1970s was only yesterday. All got their commands from the same Head Quarter. These are all documented. Those of Watar and Hawaas also happened only two decades ago. Historically killings, burning alive, mutilating are tactical models of governance for Habashaa ruling class. For this reason one should not think that these whiners, given an opportunity would be different from the rest.
The legacy of their emperor that pulled them out of destitution and immersed them in pond of wealth and power they never imagined was also the destruction of life, freedom and property for his neighbors. Nostalgia for their past and the love for their emperor cannot change his image as murderer of children and woman and cutter of hand and breast. Why would one try to rub pepper on old wounds? If push comes to shove the Battle of Adwa between two colonizers should not pass without a note. Truth should not be lost ignoring details. Both colonizers deployed for the war fighters already assimilated into their system from their colonies. Both were armed with whatever they could amass at that time.
Both sides were organized to their best ability relatively. Ethiopian army lived on plunders of communities in particular that of Walloo and Tigray. Numerically Ethiopian Army was more than five folds that of Italians. Organization, tactics and luck do not depend on color of the skin. That black officers thrashed out their white counterpart was true. When Walloo Oromo cavaliers jumped over gorges and attack the non-expecting enemy the Habashaa wanted to attribute it to St. George. The contempt and dread mixed feelings they had for the Oromo did not make the Habashaa recognize their skill and bravery. Rather the prayer of the king and queen were taken as the sole victors. While praising the capability of African officers and followers on one side we never forget among the defeated (Askaries) were numerous Africans with more white tacticians than the other side. On both sides the colonized were forced to give their lives for a war that does not concern them. Those blacks on the opposite side left from the mayhem at the battle field satisfied the kings craving for cutting limbs as usual.
Victory in war front should not hide the habitual genocidal patterns of the emperor committed here and elsewhere. Adwa might prove that given equal opportunity there is nothing like superiority and inferiority between blacks and whites in any field as racists on both side want us to believe. Because one of the colonizers is black and of African origin it should not be overlooked that he has no difference from the other as far as colonial brutality and enslavement of Africans are concerned. Therefore the great deeds of African fighters deserve to be praised. But that should not have been extended to glorifying a person that has participated in the Scramble for Africa with rivers in his colonies permeating blood where ever his war machine reached. Many have made fortune by writing and reporting about this emperor whom they have glorified as pearl of Africa. But the very honest few only used a drop of ink on the plight of his colonies.
History is remembered so that past mistakes will not be repeated. But from the way these rabid individuals are coming out today it is clear that they feel no guilty conscience for their past. As a result let alone reasons for their downfall they do not recognize that they had fallen. For them history is not the ups and downs human beings passed through but what their nafxanyaa ancestors coined for them. For this reason this group is very dangerous for the region and the continent if not for the world. During their competition with European powers to colonize territories their leaders were advised by foreign experts to claim up to Lake Victoria as their own. That was how Abyssinia started to plagiarize all past history told for Ancient Ethiopia as imagined by Greek Historians. Socialized into a system created based on false claims they started to believe that all natives of said territories were invaders. Therefore they have to pack and go or serve them as migrant workers without pay. Would it be smartness or naivite to claim those that disclaim you? What a fantasy? It is with such dream that they started to worship the memory of their king for his ways they think are the only solution to regain the lost empire. Oromo activists should not dwell on such illusions. There are other more concrete threats to attend to. Their response against injustice must be well taught and purposeful like they did in the successful campaign against Baddallee Beer. Nafxanyaa descendants’ narrative on Aannolee and Calanqoo showed that their sanity is beyond repair. Their creating fantastic resume for their emperor and the praise for his cruelity only add up to that. For Habashaa ruling class, killings, burning alive and amputating are but norms in governance. Therefore this whining group could not be different if chances befall them.
All those that went to Ethiopian empire’s schools had been forced to learn about the glorious colonial wars ad nauseam. By it they believed they had successfully erased from Oromo minds the atrocities committed against them. Now they want to tell them the then untold story of their emperor as if Oromo appreciate to know more about him. Unfortunately for them, just like their parents, Oromo parents had also kept on reminding their children about their past during fireside story telling. It is up to those children to shape their future. Nafxanyaa spell is broken and can never intimidate them again. The death and burial of Emperor Minilik were hidden from public knowledge by their forefathers and then church leaders. Why should they want to mourn him in public at this moment if not to provoke public rage that was avoided then? All comes from the contempt for his victims for not smashing down his statue at Birbirsa. Those people have all the legal rights to regain Political seat of Gullallee tribe that his statue displaced. They deserve a magnificent memorial Galmaa on that spot.
Royalists and ‘communists’ of Ethiopian Workers Party had now become strange bed fellows in lamenting Nafxanyaa loses and bashing freedom fighters for it. The terrors they were party to or victims to are being put aside and smaller events are blown up for selfish ends. They are passing their contagious disease to young Ethiopians not to create understanding with their peers in other nations for a better continent. Their blood boils when they see Oromians, Tigrawayi, Sidaamaa, Walaa’ittaa etc. officially use their language in their own country. Such chauvinists must be distanced by the nation they belong to if peace with neighbors is appreciated. Oromo are known for peace loving, bravery, generousity and ethical value known as Safuu. In their colonial experience they encountered people with tradition incompatible with theirs. From fear of marginalization and lose of self-confidence as result of repression some nationals are seen in self-denial. It may take some time for these to come out of the trauma. It was to stand against such dehumanizing oppression that Oromo revolutionaries rose to reinstate Oromummaa.
Startled by blooming Oromo consciousness the self-styled “Ethiopianists” desperadoes are getting berserk and going after Oromo nationalists with rage. They started naming names simply because Oromo youth reasserted the known position of their revolutionary predecessors that they are “Oromo First” not Ethiopians. They instantly started trying to rally the world alleging Oromo being terrorists. They are evil doers that project their own bad habits of hate on others. One has to always bear in mind that no people is bad as a people. Only a select group of parasitical nature that originated from a people can turn bad. This writer has gone to most corners of Habashaa land. All the indigenous he met were kind hospitable beings though some were victims of their own elites brainwashing that all other people in the empire are not “children of humans (ye sawu lij)” (i.e. slaves) and so not their equals. This mind set did not leave them even in exile. Even then the locals do no harm to strangers that went to them in peace. Because of few Nafxanyaa descendants, the people they claim to belong to should not be demonized. That people had lived in poverty and destitution with false glory. Those who now try to talk on its behalf had never gone back to share their loot with it but consumed it alone.
People to people are going to live as neighbors for eternity. If there are those that need treatment they are the weeds that germinated among such people. The empire they built in their names is crumbling for it was ungodly. The peoples are rising to reinstitute their lost rights and pride. Together all African people will rise in freedom. One should not also forget that there are individual Nafxanyaa descendants who as Oromians sacrificed for liberty, justice and equality of the colony. Those have accepted that they are equals to their Oromo compatriots and that their destinies are intertwined. Their ancestors might have come from somewhere far off but they are born there and know no other land. To work and die for its liberation is a duty like it is for a native Oromo.
The task for Oromo activists is not engaging in unending rhetoric with those that have bittersweet memory for their feudal-colonial past but to take the fight for their freedom to the finish. In victory of a just war there is a glittering hope for the oppressed everywhere. So getting more organized to advance the just cause than ever before is advisable. It is said barking dogs never bite but in desperation one never knows. Ignoring them while yet being vigilant and devise a means that will handle such problems without bogging down oneself from the major task for any eventuality. The young are coming forward to advance the national kaayyoo of Oromummaa. Oromo of all ages have the duty to support them and watch their back. The young are trying to find their own way and deserve encouragement and support. Being youth can make one hot headed. To watch over them with patience and give them benefit of the doubt is appropriate.
Any campaign against the young concerning their region, religion and tribe must be nib in the bud. Oromo by tradition had no extremism. Any accusation on that basis is a false alarm that needs to be countered. Oromiyaa is the land of believers. Each faith has to be respected and protected by all. Oromo have language and culture, like songs, dances, arts, sport etc in common. To respect, protect and develop them is a national pride. Any group that advocates against them cannot be considered a friend but an alien agent. At this trying period internal bickering need to be postponed if not eliminated. “Citaa mana keetii hin ajjeesin kabi; hamaa nama keetii hin ajjeesin qabi” should be the maxim for this moment. Let all know your determination that you want only what is yours and that you are ready to pay whatever it requires getting it.
Oromiyaa belongs to all Oromians. Her soverienity is irrefutable. Those that have the legal right but do not want to live in independent Oromiyaa in freedom and equality are free to find their own alternative. But they should know that they can no more come back apointed by far off authority over Oromiyaa. The legacy of their lords ends where restoration of the rights of the colonized begins. Oromo revolutionaries are not naïve to expect those rights can be reclaimed with arguments but by one’s physical and mental strength. All in the empire know that victors never willingly give up their gains unless overwhelmed by a capability stronger and organized than them. Tasks for Oromo revolutionaries are getting more organized to liberate their beloved country Oromiyaa and establish a system where human rights are respected, law is supreme and every one lives in freedom and with equal opportunity in the known Gadaa tradition.
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!
Ibsaa Guutama is a member of the generation that drew the first Political program of the OLF.