“Individual biases and petty complaints may not be enough to establish ones excellence.
Show the people by your deed what better tools you have to lead them than the other group,
show not its weakness but your strength,
not its region or religion but your inclusiveness,
not its lowliness but your high moral ground,
not its tribalism but the strength of your nationalism,
in short you have to show them first your virtue not it’s vice”
for they also know what you know about it.
Traditionally a child sixteen years of age is mature enough to observe what is going around him/her. Therefore any person who is fifty years and above at present was mature enough to have experienced conditions under which the movement for Oromummaa started. The clever can even observe things before that age. This is to say that there are living witnesses for Oromo life which was worse than the present in some aspect. It was kept in total darkness until the revolution of 1974. Comparing the situation in Oromiyaa then and now no one can deny the significant progress made in political life and outlook of the people. Then people were not able to express themselves in their own language in public. Foreign languages were imposed to be used as medium of communication in all aspects of Oromo public life. They were referred to by a name which was forced on them. One can claim only as belonging to a hamlet otherwise to mention the name Oromiyaa and Oromo had consequences. In general they had no right to claim any thing as human beings let alone as members of a nation. They have traversed very arduous roads and through several obstacles reached to arrive at where they are now. What does the situation look like now? Let us briefly look at it. Could their movement be reversed?
The world had never lived without change. It is never destroyed but one fell and the other rose. When the super structure experienced turmoil the infrastructure continued shading its skin. Governments are keeping on changing today as they did in the past. But civilization has come improving and humanity continued progressing beyond horizons never reached before. The Oromoo thing cannot be different. Oromo is just rising and only starting to jog after dusting itself not yet sprinting in full speed. It is this raising its head that is panicking the enemy. There are elements of the colonized who are not yet fully convinced about their potential to push the change with full gear despite their achievements to date.
Oromo has casted away the derogative name given it by aliens and forced them to call it by its own name. It has managed to get recognition that using its language is a birth right and dropped foreign language forcefully imposed on it by aliens. Its country which was partitioned into so many compartments was reconstituted as a unit and so has become a part of the world map. Children have started to learn in their own national languages. Afaan Oromo is now used as the language of state administration throughout Oromiyaa. It has also been possible to show that Oromiyaa have its own separate colors. All these were achieved with immense sacrifice of struggle waged for over a century. But still the symbol of colonial power is flying over Oromiya. Though much remained to be desired major elements of national identity are realized during the last half century. The move towards the remaining rights is being made in slow but sure way and never abandoned. Oromo liberation movement commenced at a time when information was scarce and even that was mostly monopolized by the colonial state. Now we are in information age where internet has revolutionized communication. There is no nook that the aggressor can hide its atrocities. No one has full control on unstructured information. That is to the advantage of Oromo struggle. In the past Oromo was pushed around from ignorance. Its caution at present is like of the dog that said “utuu beeknuu huba waliin nyaanna” meaning, “knowingly we eat with trash”. Present day Oromo knows the lies and treachery of colonial elites and cannot be cheated by empty promises.
The problem is now not lack of information but individual determination and commitment. Instead of assessing what they have so far accomplished and prepare for the next step towards the goal they had set at the initial stage, those who were taking part in this movement are seen hobbling and paralyzing each other. After traveling such a long distance and subjecting so many gallant daughters and sons to give their lives, some attempted to change the sacred course of the struggle. The blood of martyrs is crying and the tears of survivors never dried. Unfortunately for the recensionist the nation refused to flinch from the pursuit of one kaayyoo, the kaayyoo of freedom and independence. No reinterpretation of the political program could change this fundamental understanding. Unable to move with the current of bilisummaa there are also those who are trying to halt it and adjust it to their old orientation. However, the obstacle placed to halt it is slipping away from underneath.
Be them, those who are hobbling each other or those who try to put impediment in front of the movement did not realize that the movement is progressing independent of them. The movement is part of the world’s movement for liberty, equality and independence. The world is refusing to accept double standard in the treatment of human beings. It is every ones demand that human rights provision that had been put on paper by UN after World War II should not remain a window dressing but implemented. That is asking for new outlook and new structure, a new “World Order”. To be free and independent is a natural aspiration of all human beings that no one can erase. To be free and independent means to be masters over own resources, thoughts and relations. It means to be free in the pursuit of happiness. Oromo demands o be recognized as bona fide members of human society as of right and as an entity. For the Oromo the right to national self determination up to and including independence is at the core of that demand.
It is the denial of all said rights and in particular of economic right and the right to life and fruits of its labor that prompted the Oromo to rise from where it has fallen. The wheel that started to roll can never be stopped by external forces without the free will of the people concerned. The wheel and those supposed to guide it have same and separate lives. That is why the wheel has continued to roll despite the crises that paralyzed the activists. It has been long since the colonial system decayed and started to crumble. It will not stop kicking as long as there is life left in it. Colonial system formed by the Habashaa Empire will not have fate different from all the colonies established by big empires. Inhabitants of the American colonies were members of British society but that did not justify the continued reign of the empire over them. Inhabitants of Oromiyaa have more causes than those colonies to demand for their independence. Unity of activists would have saved a lot to minimize the harm that the last kicking of the enemy could cause.
That the Oromo are being killed, imprisoned, banished, and in general being terrorized indicates that the colonial system can never be stable again. That is why it is continuing to terrorize Oromiya and commit genocide against her people. Yet it could not win the heart and mind of the people be it with its sticks or its carrots. Freedom lovers are in the majority. Therefore resistance to alien domination has escalated more than ever. The outrage that emanated from cruel treatment is strengthening covert and overt resistance. Thousands of surrogates are dispersed throughout the country on promise of sharing plunders. But they could not deliver what the alien wanted. The alien force that monopolized the gun does not trust even those who with the name of Oromo including the surrogates accepted Ethiopianess and sworn to be loyal to its constitution. It is daily pushing the noose on their neck. For the enemy the only good Oromo is “the dead” Oromo. It is killing daily but it is not able to silence them. It is failing in all its effort even without full-fledged armed resistance. Had those who call themselves activists made themselves fit to give the resistance shape it would have been possible to minimize the harm being incurred.
Oromo people had been waiting with cocked ears hoping to hear something from exiled OLF. It is not those who lead it but the principles embodied in its program that made the OLF their favorite. It is the goal it vowed to lead them to, that inspired every one. That goal is a goal every enslaved want to reach. That is the goal they still expect the OLF to lead them to. But they will not be distracted from their goal if OLF is ready or not. What they want is already articulated enough by it. People will never submit to the oppressor like in the past. In the past the sight of a gun holder used to send panic among the populace. Now it has refused to flinch to all the modern war gadgets that the enemy wields. They are guarding their hard won achievements and look forward to register more victories. The colonizer has no legal or moral grounds to remain perched on Oromiya. The legitimacy it claims originates from the gun not from popular support or historical root. For this reason its fate is to pack up and go like all colonizers of the world before it. The when and how depends on the will of the colonized. The old adage “if there is a will there is a way” works for the Oromo as well.
At present Oromiyaa is on fire. She is in turmoil being terrorized directly and with under hand by the colonizer. The style now is to set Oromo and its neighbors and Oromo and Oromo against each other. The Oromo is a grand people. Any one in that surrounding that tries to look down upon it with contempt and provoke it tantamount to passing verdict on future relations. It is to abandon responsibility to the future generation. We all belong to traditional societies that give value to the blood of their kin. Those who encouraged them are those who do not remain around for ever. It is their people who are going to live facing each other for eternity. An entity that claims to have its own personality cannot say it does not know of its accountability for it acts. The role of Oromo elders will be to remind this if there are those who are not aware of consequences.
What is being done is to distract the Oromo from its road to freedom and peace and engage it in minor skirmishes. They may draw away its attention for the time being but the journey that started from being fed up of oppression has no where to return. The goal aimed is nearer and the journey relatively shorter than it used to be. For this reason provocation encountered will only irritate it but cannot divert it from its set goal. From its surrounding be it in number, ability, courage, or wealth there is no one that can claim to exceed it. For this reason, if not the unjust no one in the right mind could justify the denial of freedom to Oromiyaa. For the wronged to get justice, for the enslaved to be free and for the afflicted to get happiness is a natural order. No one can stop the wheel of history from rolling unless for a while.
The colonizer is wooing the fool national with Oromo wealth. There is no broken penny piece brought from its country for the purpose. It is enticing him/her with the fool’s own. It may take the silly time until he/she becomes self conscious and regret. Until then he/she can be deployed as a crueler enemy than the colonizer. The world does what it does for its own interest. Therefore to expect compassion is naïveté. As long as its interest is not jeopardized it will not stretch a helping finger for a burning soul. A good example of when interest is affected is Zimbabwe. The opposite is that of Oromiyaa and Ogadenia where the situation is by far worse than what is alleged in Zimbabwe. There is no enough report on Oromiyaa and Ogaadeniyaa but by tripling that of Zimbabwe one can imagine the true situation there.
For this reason to know what the interests of the powers of the world and device how to tackle it accordingly was the expected. But one side chose to wiggles its tail at their sight for no obvious benefit. It seems their struggle is focused on getting the favor of these powers rather than on the liberation of their own people. What these did not understand is that all appreciate and give attention for those who have pride in themselves not for running dogs and self humiliating bunches. Oromo earned attention not because of paralyzed organizations but for what it is and the potentials it can mobilize. For now there is no one among these organizations that has developed the strength to hurt the enemy. OLF got attention not with the condition it finds itself now but because of the kaayyoo it advanced. It is that kaayyoo that some aliens are aiming to destroy. Through internally motivated short sighted individuals and groups and through infiltrates it was tried to destroy the OLF and through it the kaayyoo. But being the spirit of the nation to destroy the kaayyoo is beyond the power of a mortal. They may be able to paralyze the organizations of that name but the name OLF will live overcoming all evil machinations.
In short the enemy is nervous about Oromiyaa. This nervousness of the enemy shows the strength of Oromo movement. Those who are expected to clear the way have become crippled. Until they enable themselves and give pattern to the flow of the struggle the movement for freedom will not stop. Giving headache to the enemy from all directions shall continue. Those who die dying, those imprisoned being imprisoned, those who are exiled being exiled the process will continue and legitimate survivors will never present their freedom for bargain. They will crawl in through available openings and scatter enemy camp.
For this reason all who claim to be nationals of Oromiyaa have to realize that they could earn respect from enemies and friends if only they respect themselves. It is only the struggle for freedom that could earn them respect. To be considered as one among peoples of the world is only possible if the land of Oromiya, its vegetation and its people etc. achieve their freedom. It is only a free and independent people that can live in peace and happiness. For this reason all that call themselves Oromo liberation activist have to transcend their ego and try to unite and give shape to the national freedom movement. Otherwise the wheel of struggle will not refuse to move without them, it will continue turning until the nation is free. Strong political organization is indispensable to lead to the ultimate political power. But a nation can have civic movements and other social activities that could keep its hopes and the spirit of freedom alive. It can improve its productive skill while holding hands to pave the way for the final battle.
While so called activist leer at each other with belligerence and are busy splitting themselves into tribe, region and religion, enemy’s bullets are not considering these differences but decimate all without discrimination. They can save something if they stand in unison and kill and get killed together but it will be a shame to stand alone and face the same fate without harming the enemy. In addition to putting Oromo unity under question their behavior also raised doubt of their having common enemy. Their outlook and struggle has become inward looking. Their language has no other words to express different dimensions except cliquish jargons. Let them all ask themselves, who is Oromo’s enemy? There is no Oromo that has no tribe, region and religion. Divided it has never got its identity recognized. It got attention only after rising together in a social movement known as Maccaa Tuulamaa and as a political movement under the name OLF. Be them those who adopted divisive models as political tactics or those who are enemy agents their demeanor tells a lot. Among them is the danger of denying the Oromo for no benefit, the majesty it achieved through concerted struggle. To radicalize differences is only playing into enemy hands. Parochialism is not compatible with the age and the struggle for national liberation.
Oromo’s enemy is the empire system that colonized them. All those who voluntarily swore to be loyal and defend constitution of the colonizers have put themselves in a situation where they will be duty bound to shoot at their brethren. One who is ready to shoot you is an enemy. The “opposition” status they accepted is also in anticipation to mount the Oromo in the name of the empire if things go wrong for the incumbents. Oromo struggle is with their enemy. They open war and make peace as well, with a body that has the rein of the empire in its hands. Being an enemy of the present government does not make one automatically a friend of the Oromo. A friend is one that recognizes the colonial status and the right to independence of Oromiyaa. Oromo loves peace more than any thing else. History is a witness that it also knows how to play with force when aggression knocks at it door. To stand together in the struggle against the enemy could be possible only if we agree on who the enemy is. Otherwise to claim standing for a kaayyoo will be fooling each other. For this reason they are only those who keep away from what is detrimental to Oromoo unity, those who have clear stand on freedom and independence of Oromiyaa and those that agree on who the real enemy is, are those who can move together. The past is past a little criticism can put it into the museum. What matters is to join hands in good faith and make up for the lost time. How many are ready for this? How many can shade their habit of smear propaganda based on district and religious denominations?
Oromoo freedom movement is progressing and expanding irrespective of the actors. To keep on complaining about the weakness of organizations is time consuming. It would be beneficial to add fuel to what is already ignited. Though necessary to give shape to the movement’s journey it does not mean that the wheel of history does not roll without those organizations. The Oromoo is on reliable course more than any other time. It cannot be denied that OLF has the accountability to see the struggle through. The coming together of those who started the OLF may give shape to the movement for freedom and independence. But those being part of the problem many do not see this suggestion as a viable solution. It is true that it would be far fetched unless there is magnanimity from one of the sides and with humility take the first step towards nagaa and araaraa. There should be no personal pride that must not be given up to alleviate the suffering of the people. Otherwise Oromiyaa is pregnant with demand for change. The situation will certainly give rise to those who can lead her.
The condition in Oromo organizations is appalling. In some there is no purposeful unified leadership. Breaking into functions whose motives are not clear and lack of energy and clear demarcation between the core and periphery is becoming marks of left and right. If this problem is not solved the question of national leadership could remain in limbo until the situation brings forward new leaders. Concerning others they have yet a long way to go. To establish legitimacy is time consuming. It needs to convince the people by showing their difference in vision from the old block. Individual biases and petty complaints may not be enough to establish ones excellence. Show the people by your deed what better tools you have to lead them than the other group, not its weakness but your strength, not its region or religion but your inclusiveness, not its lowliness but your high moral ground, not its tribalism but the strength of your nationalism, in short first show them your virtue not its vice. To destroy a part of you is to destroy your whole. Be careful, otherwise you will concur with the enemy of the nation in that aspect.
Oromo struggle has come a long way; the wheel of freedom is still rolling vigorously. This wheel may be slowed but can never be turned back. Activists of the struggle lack strong unity that could harm the enemy. It will be of great service had they united for the common purpose. Their role would be to give shape to the already glowing movement. The struggle has never been as reliable as it is now. The fire must be kept on burning. The plight of our people must be clear to the world. Its consciousness to fight disease and ignorance must be accelerated. Its access to new ideas must be facilitated.
Intellectuals and the youth have a big role to play in that aspect. Every national should not be politician. It is a non-partisan service that is required at a time like this. To waste time complaining about weakness in organizations will not benefit our people that are being wiped-out. To shorten the life of an enemy that is unable to extract itself from the quagmire it put itself into and is shooting at every passing object, this is the time to come to each others alliance. Much has been done when every thing was dim; to surrender during this age of “informational revolution” the hand that is freed then is unthinkable. The movement of Oromummaa shall continue with more vigor.
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 forefathers!
Ibsaa Guutama is a member of the generation that drew the first Political program of the OLF.