When we talk of Oromiyaa we talk about the once upon a time free and independent country where many come to visit, trade with or take residence in it. One for which millions gave their lives in her defense. Country of heroines and heroes and numerous braves. And at another time a dependent one that lost its independence with neighboring African countries like, Jibuuti, Somalia, the Sudan etc. As a dependent country it has no choice than giving its freedom and the best it had for the invaders. A proud people which were reduced to serfdom overnight. With the invader many came to enjoy what Oromo have lost. Now informally the occupation seems to end. There are many descendants of the occupier and those engaged in different trades that came with its permission left behind and live in peace with natives. They have the right to live where they found themselves provided, they obey Oromo laws and become no tool of external force. The same is advised to Oromo that live in other countries. There are many Oromo and others that took citizenship or residence of other countries of the world and claim equal rights with those that were there before them. Such Oromo cannot be loyal to Oromiyaa as much as they are for their new country. The same have to apply to aliens living in Oromiyaa as well. There shall be no especial treatment because they are Habashaa or not.
Every time we look into Oromo problem let us not shy from looking deep into nature of the society. There is no other society in the surrounding that has more uniting ingredients than the Oromo. Despite, dialect variations for staying apart forced on them for more than a hundred years it did not take them much to catch up to each other in communication. That indicates how deep their history, culture, tradition and language were. They had not only physical distance for that long but they were forced to forget their identity and erase all that remind them about it. Their land was taken away from them but they didn’t lose its memory by clinging on it. It is the love and reverence they have for land and the natural environment that they did not run away from it even under cruel serfdom. Though legally disowned they kept it as a part of their bone. That is probably why they say “Lafti keenya lafee keenya” (Our land is our bone). And that is why evicting them is genocidal. All that is memory left from the humiliation as a result of continuous dehumanization and brainwashing.
The brainwashing has left some damages on individual outlook on existence. Some have taken that their being free human beings is done with. Those are the types Malcom X calls “House Niger”. No one can convince them of having different existence from their masters. They spend their day barking at Oromo nationalists spiting all distorted information they are stuffed with by their mentors. The second are those that believe in having separate history from the colonizer but have no confidence to stand alone without being surrounded by spirit of their old masters. These seem under strong “Digimti” (spell) of Daftaraa. The third are proud “Birmaduu”, that have self-confidence with liberated mind and take Oromummaa as their only guiding principle. They believe in the right of all nations to national self-determination up to and including independence. They believe in unity of free Africans with them in it as equals.
So far there is no Oromo political organization that has articulated the vision of Oromo nation better than the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). The OLF, at the very beginning of its creation did not envisage only Independent Republic Oromiyaa but also the possibility of the willing, to form a union based on principles of equality, freedom and democracy. That is the vision the enemy hates to this day; the confidence of the Oromo to be independent and their claim of unity on the basis of equality and freedom. They do not believe that Oromo have any land to declare independent and people with right to be free. They have such ridiculous
thought which are often expressed by Habashaa in particular Amaaraa activists. Oromo modesty not to claim more is not appreciated by aggressors that keep on pushing them. The Oromo say, “Haqaa guddaan udaan fidaa” (too much wiping brings down shit).
The Oromo need the original OLF that speaks for them and them alone, without divided allegiance. Oromo cannot rely on organizations or individuals with divided loyalty. Even all other organizations with Oromo names that joined the opposite camp will be listened to if there is one strong party loyal only to Oromummaa. Aliens are afraid of Oromo because of their numbers and their resources and their culture of tolerance and Safuu (ethical values). They do not believe even those that joined them for they could not understand what is there they don’t have they want to get from them? That is why their service time is usually short and humiliating. The genocide on Oromo and the curving out urban centers from their surrounding rural area of the national state by all colonial governments is to reduce their numbers. That was how one leader of EPRDF publicly vowed to turn majority into minority. Therefore, not only with aliens they embraced, they work on setting Oromoo against Oromoo on character, tribe, creed etc. But because Oromo have several means of handling contradictions like araaraa and ilaa fi Ilaamee it will be a waste of effort for divisive elements.
When it comes to present day Ethiopian empire, on the ground Oromo relation with Ethiopia did not conceptually change from the day of the emperors. With peoples struggle the federal constitution is proclaimed. Some adjustments were made to administrative superstructure based on it. Legally the federal system is not fully practiced. However, most parts of Oromiyaa have come under one state administration. But they are governed by agents of neo-colonial government. They are allowed to use their language for work and education. Now the pending question is about the federation which if not solved in time could have far reaching consequence for peace of the region. Progressive forces have accepted sovereignty of nations, nationalities and peoples of the empire. They are only the ones that give power to any one individual or group. Source of sovereignty used to be seat of power or throne. That is gone with old Ethiopia, trying to bring it back remains wish of reactionaries.
Now the Ethiopian EPRDF is replaced by another Ethiopian party, prosperity Party (PP) which did not dare to call itself Ethiopian openly. It is to fool nationalists, otherwise it is not less Ethiopian than its mother organization if not more. It wants to say I am Oromo in Oromiyaa, Amaaraa in Amaaraa etc. Attitude of its leader is worrying. He is envious of his authority to Biblical proportion. He dislikes Oromo organization, Oromo investors and Oromo youth and Oromo elders as meddlers in his assumed power base. It was his party that called those elders ungrateful for allowing them walk home before their death. He also expressed his disgust with Oromo elders who “avoid death for themselves but push the young to die”. He is afraid of their experience and wisdom which they can impart to the young, Qeerroo nemesis of his party.
Persecution of educated Oromo, investors and “the petty bourgeois” is EPRDF policy he has implemented starting from very young age. That is what is feared, that the chicken may come home to roost. That was the agenda for collecting “birds of the same feather” from low and highland to form Prosperity. He with his peers had taken many ups downs, spent much blood and sweat but to destroy Oromummaa but did not succeed. At an era when majority is unemployed, when life became mor frightening than death, when threat became useless, when world information is in everybody’s pocket, what sort of contempt is it, to think of forcing Oromummaa on its knees? This is the time to sit down and assess oneself. Oromoo are not what they were, now they have started thinking not only about freedom of oneself alone, but also that of neighbors as well. The Oromo are merciful they know how to forgive those that erred against them. One can present
oneself without holding grudge and being transparent. The Oromo are now too politically conscious to be fooled by alien and “bandaa” propaganda. One has to stand for justice which is the way of freedom or with injustice which is the way of enslavement; there is no middle way. The way of justice is the only way that takes out Ethiopia from perennial crisis.
The present Ethiopian government will be the last government to practice old Ethiopian political tradition. Ethiopian government had never been democratic or could it soon become. EPRDF tried to pretend as one but failed. It cheated on the constitution, used the process it provided but short-circuited it. The outcome was a dictatorial government. Dr. Abiy cannot be different for he came to power using the same procedure. Though he cannot change the nature of the system that caused his rise, he had so many pressures, like those that supported him to come to power, relations he formed with international community, prophesy he may still think will materialize, and the Nobel prize he won, those made him act differently so far from his predecessors. But since the infrastructure he is using is dictatorial he cannot help acting that way. One should not criticize him for being dictator but for pretending not to be one. Let him be whatever he likes, but let him make stop to summary killings of Oromo, be impartial and secular in governing, sincerely believe in the rule of law, unless it is an ongoing project, he should not plan new one.
Therefore, all talks about the constitution and his power expiring are untraditional and unprecedented political exercise by those fledgling dictators called opposition. The solution is not looking for face-saving device but to act like dictator he is. He has to suspend the constitution, dissolve parliament and rule alone till next election. Since he cannot stay in power in that way for long, he has to set election in short time. Proving his being Nobel Laurette, he may act like a magnanimous monarch, by giving back power to peoples of Ethiopian empire; let them do whatever they like with it, thereby decolonizing Ethiopia. Oromo struggle for national self-determination will then get final rest by signing a treaty with new Ethiopia. By withdrawing from the election, he can he can use the opportunity to correct mistakes he possibly did in the past years. He will then remain celebrated.
Political crises are not strange for Ethiopia. Whenever the throne shakes crisis was resolved by force. All Ethiopian leaders from Tedros to the present lived and ended with crisis. Some of them claimed to have written constitution for name sake. But no one of them respected those and entered into crisis because of them. Therefore, what one encounters in Ethiopia is political crisis not constitutional because there was no tradition of rule of law. It was over confidence, over ambitiousness, over greediness and contempt for the people they govern that tempts leaders to ignore human and Devine laws, leading to crisis. Today, raising constitutional shortcoming as cause of crisis is to give it weight among international legal community who may not believe their Nobel laurate would make the other silly errors. If not for that the attempt will be made to resolve the crisis by force as usual only to lead to another crisis.
Trying to control Oromiyaa from the center had made them overlook fifty years of struggle causing withdrawal of people’s support and fueling Oromummaa. Oromummaa that became a formidable challenge to all colonial thinkers and reactionaries is young and indomitable result of Oromo civilization renaissance. It was crisis forced by Oromummaa that gave birth to the present government. Fed up of too much oppression the people rose in unison and launched what was known as Oromo Protest. They asked in one voice for trampling on birth rights and plunder of resources to stop and asserted “Oromiyaa belongs to the Oromo”. As long as human rights are not respected no one can sit on other’s shoulder in peace.
When they saw that the EPRDF government cannot stand against it, and that the Protest also lacks leadership Oromo within EPRDF known as “Team Lammaa” joined the people’s protest. By that action it was able to provide leadership and divert it from its victorious course. With that it forced EPRDF change its leaders. The changed government instead of responding to peoples’ grievances started to mend the empire and making it conducive to mount. It rather began to suppress Oromo more, raising up and dusting those they defeated with fifty years of struggle and honoring; getting rid of wealthy Oromo and impoverishing them. Just as usual it started to kill Oromoo nationalists summarily, harming and imprisoning. Camouflaged as Oromo, it is trying to accomplish what TPLF failed to do. The Oromo matter thus went back where it started. Believing the changed government supported change favorable to the people, many nationalists that used to exert pressure on OLA group that remained in the mountains to join peaceful struggle; more of those are now sending warning not to take a foot. Killings because one is Oromo alone has brought that change of sides.
All rulers after the emperor are autocratic at heart though they have constitutions for face-saving in relation with third parties and also deceive the fool. They never even tried to imitate pretention of TPLF to simulate democracy, because they chose to become continuation of Minilik’s old Ethiopia. Though their heart knows the truth, Amharic speaking Nafxanyaa system hopefuls started to protest declared Oromo taking over Ethiopian power without hiding his backbone. They said Oromo has no legitimacy to be “taranyaa” or next in line. The same group accuse Oromo of being “zaranyaa”. Zaranya is one favoring only own nationality. What can we call them opposing Oromo taking power as Ethiopian? Internationalist? In that case “zaranyaa” could mean one who refuses to submit to Amaaraa superiority. If that is so, Oromo nationalist will be proud to attach that adjective to their being. When they say “Zaranyaa” from Nafxanyaa camp all have to know that it is a code word for Oromo.
Knowingly or unknowingly there is nothing the changed leader did not do to empower them. Unless the empire is dismantled and replaced by union of the willing all that come to power cannot abandon the objective of keeping their old colonies under them. On paper they have pretended of assuring the colonies of equal treatment by forming federal system and recognition of the right to national self-determination. But their nature does not allow them to carry that promise through. Therefore, the colonies are not de facto federated states but second-class members. Power people relations in Ethiopia remained as they were under the emperors. The political crisis talked much about therefore, remains internal affairs for the Habashaa. To associate with non- Ethiopians, they have to erase from their mind Ethiopian superiority. If they like to live together, they need to accept that superiority is something to be shared among all peoples. Nations, nationalities and people have sovereignty in their areas. Federal government will have such sovereign power that they agree to give it from their own. Any declaration contradicting this is unconstitutional and violation of peoples’ rights. The Oromo individuals in government are only Habashaa made and have the same colonial mentality. It is their ambivalent position that is bringing havoc on Oromo nation. The have made themselves straw and straw has no embers.
In Ethiopia written constitutions began as gifts from rulers and went on till this present constitution. Justice was also assumed to flow down from above. The “Federal” constitution is also a gift from rulers though Oromo freedom fighters had initially contributed to the idea before they were betrayed. It was the thought in Transitional Charter that fertilized the constitution. Despite that, for the sake of peace they have taken it as starting point to end hundred years of subjugation. Therefore, it is assumed that forces representing Ethiopia
and all old colonies have to sit down and negotiate on how to implement it. As to the crisis facing the present government, they need to settle it by themselves whether politically or by force as was their tradition.
The controversy on legitimacy of the present government is only hangover from old Ethiopian kingdom mixed with modern aspiration of constitutionalism. It does not reflect this period of liberation movements or the New World Order. Now the game is changed. It should have been how to make peoples that had been oppressed for more than a hundred years and those that had been oppressing them live together in harmony, not about who among the groups aspiring for power according to the old system, shall we raise and pull down. We should not look for panacea only in the constitution given us by TPLF/EPRDF but in what the just solution should be? Principle of the constitution had problem it aimed at to solve. Suggestion expected should not fall short of that. Trying to renew Old Ethiopia system would also be inviting trouble from majority. The way of the present transitional government did not produce the expected result. Therefore, a method of transferring power to peoples’ representatives the soonest possible has to be devised. To find solution before more blood is spilt is wisdom. It requires good faith and selflessness. That will settle, let us hope, problems inherited from old Ethiopia once for all. The non-Ethiopians will negotiate with any ones saved from the political and Corona crisis. Until then they have to keep safe from COVID 19 and also be ready to defend their freedom as not to be fooled again. They have to consider using all forms of resistance, civil disobedience, withholding taxes etc. and making Oromiyaa ungovernable without will Oromiyaans. For now, Oromiyaa demands withdrawal of all alien forces and bringing to justice those that killed any unarmed human being. Oromiyaan haa jiraattu!
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! Oromiyaan haa jiraa