Had it not been for the remains of ancient civilization from Mediterranean to the Cape, Africa might have been considered as a continent where human evolution is not yet complete. At the turn of the nineteenth century swarms of individuals and groups with different missions, religious, espionage and scientific preceded the scramble for Africa. Seeing it at the ebb of its civilization they wanted to group it with gorillas and chimpanzees they found around.
This justified the later aggression as a civilizing mission for Africa’s own sake. With their coming several mentally hybrid Africans were molded in their schools and armed them with tools fit only for imperialist economy. There minds were grafted to act unnaturally. These are leaders since the colonizer packed out physically. But they have never been able to create stable polities. Insurgency and coup d’état are the norms for changing government. For Africa to be stable it has to be restructured on pre-colonial foundation. Therefore colonial structures must be dismantled and a new Africa has to be rebuilt based on the will of its peoples. This task cannot be accomplished by the mentally grafted or the “hyphenated”. It requires independent minded sons and daughters who feel the pain, the grief and happiness of their people. In this article our particular focus would be mentally grafted Oromo.
When “evangelical” missionaries and scouts started to flock to different parts of Africa in the 19th century peoples of the continent had their own indigenous religious, political, social and economic systems. Nations and nationalities of Africa had their own states or states under formation and territory each recognized for the other. Their socio-religious establishments were messed up by missionaries that gained support of weak rulers. Their politico economic system was broken up by the forces that colonized them. The proselytized and those enticed with exotic gifts were ready to collaborate with the new comers for better life after death and luxurious life on earth. Heroic Africans did not give up their rights without a fierce fight. But because of the already started cracks and superior war machines alien forces were able to subdue them mentally and physically.
Many of those who refused to be ruled by aliens, the strong and the beautiful, were sold into slavery to overseas and African markets with the help of collaborators. The rest were turned into landless serfs, domestic slaves or large estate helping hands. Freedom of movement and all other civil liberties were muffled. The tradition of collaboration started then is still harming the struggle for freedom.
Traditionally Africans maintained their differences with relative harmony and had local ways of solving conflicts. The colonizer introduced the policy of divide and rule, by which it sawed the seed of conflict that is ever to stay. Suspicion and hatred so created is still impending the move to independence. Under the circumstance no viable united resistance could be materialized. Initially the colonizer helped one against the other to eliminate the possibility of collusion. After they destroyed each other the ones left were crushed despite their pledged allegiance and total submission. The invader trusted no enemy person with strong personality and independent mind. That was how African egalitarian system and humane values were destroyed with the advent of colonialism. These were replaced by master slave relationships brought from monarchies. Natural development of African systems also ceased then.
Despite all the mishaps there were always the few rebels that kept the hope for freedom and independence kindling. The conquerors had used the cross and the guns to force Africans abandon their cherished traditional ways and replace it by their own. National laws were erased and replaced by slave drivers commands. Source of income were controlled so that the colonized will not become economically self sufficient. The disarmed and disenfranchised were forced to give free labor and the major portion of their produce. Production and maintaining order required skilled manpower. Instead of importing expensive labor force from overseas and far off lands schools that brain wash, as well as manufacture clerks and technicians that could enforce the will of the masters were locally opened.
The mother tongue and indigenous structures were mostly suppressed and replaced by those of colonizer. What ever we see remaining to day from indigenous heritage are those preserved through oral tradition by communities that did not have formal education. That be as it may knowledge of reading and writing had unintended fringe benefits. It introduced the learner to revolutionary ideas that used to float in the free world. That inculcated not only the desire to be free but also the existence of several options. The world is not monolithic. In all societies there are those who show concern for human wellbeing. Those disseminate revolutionary ideas and express their solidarity to the oppressed of the world. Revolutionary ideas developed from western reality even if better are yet foreign.
The new men and women that the colonial education machine manufactured were fully and partially alienated from their roots. Many of them were uncomfortable with ways of their ancestors. The masters’ ways were the only ones worth emulating. They were only the few that realized there is no way to be treated equally what ever intellectual and cultural barrier they may break. At best they may be called évolué or assimilado.
They were those few that organized freedom movements throughout the continent. In several cases those who paid the sacrifice for liberation were marginalized and hand picked leaders put at the helm of power to continue on the masters’ foot steps. In other cases revolutionaries that liberated their countries were pan Africanist that tried to reverse every thing colonial. Those got some encouragement from left leaning political organizations of the west and the Sino-Soviet blocks. But the system colonialists left behind were such that any deviation could be met by counter resistance. It is the mechanism put in place then that is triggering chains of coup d’états, disunity and vacillations that are destabilizing Africa since then. The empire of Ethiopia remained intact with support of big powers that created it. The Ethiopians are still in control of their colonies. Governance has violently changed hands without affecting the colonial nature of the empire. All usurpers came to power and maintained same thanks to support from overseas. Otherwise the empire would have given way long, long ago.
The world is now ready for a new world order. The arrival of the new order will usher the destruction of the old order which had so far hogtied liberty. The development of technology and the shrinking of the world as a result have revolutionized the way people interact. Human right issue has been brought foreword as a corner stone of the new world order though not yet acclimatized. The right of nations to national self determination has become a part of united nation’s document. The world is in transition. The hazy picture of this phase is affecting many in their judgment of this historic phenomenon. Some even openly lament about “the good old days”. For Oromo and all liberation movements the good time is yet to come. Now is the time to hammer the iron while it is hot. Many opportunities and tremendous material and man power were lost from hesitation. This one should not slip again by distraction of saboteurs.
Liberation movements are taking more steps backswords than foreword. What went wrong? It is high time that all involved pause and try to answer this question. Libration movements are the product of their people’s political, social and economic situation, which for the Oromians is a colonial situation. The purpose of a liberation movement is not only to bring freedom and independence to the nation but also to free the mind that has been ensnared by alien negative socialization. To do that self destruction generated by working against ones own interest has to stop. External forces penetrate only a body that lacks strong antibody. Feeble minded and myopic individuals fail to see the big picture of a nation and so judge it from the small blaze on their side.
Lack of resources is another factor that is hindering progress. Resources of the nation are fully controlled by aliens. The enemy vigilantly watches that national organizations get no access to any type of resource. That is why some demonstrated fierce competition for the uncontrolled resource in the Diaspora. The nation is purposely denied self sufficiency and impoverished by design. Ethiopia is praised as opening her doors for free market. But that freedom stops at the door of Oromo merchants. Oromiyaa has to be free to release her potentials and the productive forces.
Successive generations are being affected with damages caused by colonialism. Rehabilitation requires great effort. Colonizers have shaped Africa to serve their purpose even when they were not around. So called countries, opinion makers and leaders of post colonial Africa are entities of colonial makings. They are territories they curved out and the persons they manufactured in their own schools for their own needs. That is why most lack analytic mind to understand major and minor contradictions in society and how to handle them. The very few capable went against colonial interest early and were nipped in the bud. Those were Africans liberated before the liberation of Africa. The leading opinion makers in Africa are now the mentally grafted or “hyphenated Africans” favored by overseas interests. Their mission is to sabotage Africa’s effort for self reliance. For the Oromo, Oromummaa has certain accepted legal and ethical standards known as safuu. Most mentally grafted pseudo politicians cannot even distinguish between ash and flour, let alone understanding such higher thought like Oromummaa. Oromummaa is bigger than this petty minded “thinkers” could visualize. By hammering on petty differences they are weakening the fabrics of the nation.
A liberation movement cannot be free from internal and external pressures. Internally there are certain weak links in society. Those are prone to negative charges of the colonizers. Enclaves from rival territories were curved out to form separate and hitherto unknown entities. By it several nations were broken up into different territories. For instance, Oromiyaa was shredded and integrated into enclaves of other territories. Traditionally groups had codes of conduct honored by every member of the region. War was not the only option to resolve conflicts. There were inbuilt mechanisms for peaceful resolution of misunderstandings. But those mechanisms were destroyed by external forces. Now each country has a piece of territory of one or the other under its “sovereign state”. Unless all agree to go back to pre-colonial boundaries lasting peace would be unthinkable. This requires deliberation of all African peoples’ assembly. To leave this task to the mentally grafted would be as good as leaving it to the colonial parliament.
The struggle of the colonized would necessarily be protracted. Many who started the struggle had alighted on the way unable to take any more hardship. There are still others who want to take down the movement with them instead of descending alone. In an effort to cover up their intentions they create unending commotion so that freedom fighters remain at odds. Others are in cahoots with the enemy and foreign agents and so want to play to their tune. All the preceding defects and many more are obstacles that keep real freedom at bay for Africa. Those, whom many had hinged their hope on, were drunk with power after liberation and brought more catastrophes to humanity than freedom.
Oromiyaa is one of the countries of the continent colonized by proxy during the scramble for Africa. The Habashaa (Abyssinians) are of the same color but different history from the nations they conquered. The racist among them may contest the color issue. The Oromo speaks the Cushitic while the Habashaa speaks the Semitic language. The Habashaa were monarchic while the Oromo were republicans. One is autocratic while the other was egalitarian and democratic. One believed in the virtue of arms while the other believed in the rule of law. In short they are different people with different backgrounds and world outlook. There is no denial that they shared history of the last hundred years as masters and slaves, rulers and ruled and even as in-laws and companions. There is also no denial that they are Africans. But their leaders had never been inward looking. All peoples of Africa are abused, impoverished and neglected by their own leaders and the world. So also are the Abyssinian people, though incomparable to the colonized.
After the end of Italian occupation Oromiyaa was nearly liberated. But despite their legitimate demands and substantial support from progressive elements in Britain, the conservatives won and colonialism was re-imposed on Oromiyaa. It is now around four decades since the Oromo started organized resistance for independence. Since then much has been achieved with great sacrifices. More communities are now aware of their plight though mixed in response. The measuring stick for members of international community to intervene is their own national interest. The Oromo did not so far show them unequivocally of being in control of its own movement. Only one who is in control of itself can affect the interest of others. With a single majority population in the Ethiopian empire much more was expected from the resistance movement. It is unfortunate that still people are being harassed, tortured, imprisoned and killed in great numbers in the name of resistance by numerically insignificant minority. Oromo organizations are disabling themselves from effectively defending the nation. The tradition of “my interest, right or wrong” may change soon. World powers are being questioned by their constituencies, on the moral justification of helping dictators that flagrantly abuse human rights. New world order is hopefully ushering new policies.
Why are Africans unable to be effective in defending their wellbeing? Does it have any thing to do with DNA as some want to attribute? NO! It has nothing to do with being African or Oromo. They need nothing more than ancient monuments and democratic governance of the past to disprove that. Any race or nation with the same mishaps would act like that. The century old brainwashing and dependence is the culprit. Mind accustomed to command have difficulty to adjust to democratic practice. Under alien command Oromo are known for excellent performance in any field. On a level field they fight more against each other than against their enemies. That is what the mentally grafted were designed for. They are like marionettes responding to invisible strings pulling them.
There are those that refuse to be free even when destiny had freed them. They are seen kowtowing for the invaders in a despicable shameful manner. They had already deified the masters and so taken them as invincible. Some who initially seemed firm start to relapse into dependency syndrome with age. Then they wag their tails at little gesture from the enemy. They make it seem as if all the sacrifices, imprisonments, tortures and deaths of African youth made for liberation was in vain. The struggle for liberation subjects to humiliating demands and challenging pressures from competing interests. Some are not politically conscious to do so, while others are mentally grafted to short circuit the real issue. One who is not conscious does not comprehend relation of oppression and the oppressor and agents. That is where one has to look for the answer to seeming awkwardness of Africans. It is also there that the hyphenated African comes in to exhibit a wrong picture of the genuine one.
The people are still resisting even when self proclaimed leaders show indifference. They are determined more than ever to be independent and free themselves from humiliation of ever being kicked around by aliens. But the mentally grafted leaders had made going around alien offices with their briefcases a way of life. That have failed to bring any change but more exposed the people to unjustified repression. When the Ethiopian emperor fled his empire defeated by Italians many resistance movements were created independent of him. The emperor then used to go around European courts claiming those movements shamelessly. The same model is getting repeated now.
That was the way things came and that is how it is going on. Africans are caught between humiliation and pride, commitment and resignation. The enemy is out there well organized to destroy them. As nations they should assert their rights to independent sovereign states and compete with all others on the same level. Nations of the world are now talking about global economy, protection of the environment human rights and technological development. It is unfortunate that Africa and Oromiyaa in particular are not playing a role in that debate. Instead they are engaged in skirmishes to knock out each other. That means they are not yet focused even on the enemy that stands between them and their legitimate place on world forum let alone defending their interest as one among world states. .
Democracy and rule of law are part of their tradition. Using it, they could cleanse their system from toxic pollutants rival colonial elements sprayed them with. They well know that boasting about their forebears cannot relief them from their home works. Gadaa was a politico social system that gradually evolved out of ancient Cushitic civilization. Its principles are as valid as it were in ancient times. Oromiyaa is tired of exploitation, human right abuse, and dictation by aliens. That is why Oromo liberation movement was set in motion. Humiliation of being considered as second class citizens in ones own land could stop only with the formation of independent republic of Oromiya. That cannot come by wish or with magical wands of others but by own sweat and blood.
The Oromoo started organized resistance not before trying other options. It has begged the emperor to relax the land holding system and give some concessions to the people. But he procrastinated on the reply. That led to his overthrow. The Darg that replaced him promised to recognize Oromo’s rights as a people. Its minimum program was hoped to be a step towards fulfillment of that promise. As a nation 99% of its population were members of the oppressed class. Darg’s promise was to overthrow the ruling class and replace it by the oppressed. Class war they were told can erase all minor social and political differences like national oppression. Some joined the Darg as tactic to advance their ideology, while for others it was a quick access to power. Still for others it was an escape from the struggle for national liberation. That is how they all joined wolves in sheep skin. By entering a covenant with them they waged war against their own people branded as narrow “nationalists and anti-revolution”. Antisocial riffraff elements were organized for the campaign. That signaled whom the Darg was going to embrace.
The few who saw no difference between masters persisted in their struggle. No sooner than the new master established itself as a power, did it start to use those riffraff to eliminate the intellectuals that initially propped it. These realized that they were on the wrong side after it was too late. But it had already warned them that “revolution devours its own children”. Many paid with their lives betrayed by people they called comrades. The Darg and all that compete for control of the empire considered these Oromo intellectuals as aliens interfering in their affairs. These were intellectuals who abandoned their people for what they thought was a higher cause. Assuming higher than own size is one of the follies of the mentally grafted Africans. They took themselves as cosmopolitans and so above talking about local grievances. But, for the alien they were no more than pets that help in studying their kinds in the wild.
The Darg exited and Wayyaanee entered. A transitional government was formed together. Some past controversial issues were settled. But when it came to dismantling the empire the new ruler was no different from the previous so the coalition falls apart. There are some who suggest trying this already failed way all over again. The justification they present is the existence of a changed scenario visible to them alone. The situation in the world, in particular the advancing globalization is cited as if it makes liberation struggle obsolete. In particular the mentally grafted Oromo talk as if Ethiopian transitional arrangement of 1991 were not tried in an era of globalization. They know the era is not against human liberation. Its target is market not people. The world is even expecting a new world order that gives chance to peoples so far under privileged. To fight for ones rights is in line with any change to come. Every change must be antithesis of the status quo. It is rather colonial relations that are obsolete. With it erased, all Africans of good will can join hands to build a new Africa, where no people is superior or more important than the others.
Because of their own lose of self confidence the mentally grafted want to discard liberation struggle as out of date venture. They have lost stamina to continue the walk and the modesty to silently retire. As a result they desire serving as compradors for the remaining part of their life. As partial fulfillment of this desire they are ready to sabotage the struggle in which they spent a good chunk of their lives. They have lost pride and so do not feel the humiliation of becoming second class citizens. Rejected by those in power, they jump for alliance with “crown hopefuls”. For instance, it was a taboo for Oromo revolutionary to officially speak in the enemy’s language or adore its colors. But now that taboo is broken. Close friendship is forged with those with nostalgia for the emperor’s fourteen Governorate Generals; those that oppose the right of nations to national self determination (which even the Wayyaanee cannot ignore lip serving it), “qubee”, (the Oromo letters) and those who insist Amharic has to be lingua franca.
For the mentally grafted Oromo, to deny colors being symbols of colonial oppression is not difficult and signifies nothing. What matters at that time was to be seen with the “crown hopefuls” and scare those in power, who they expect would give them better offer than before. Even if this tactic fails, the fallen group will at least consider forgiving them for what they have so far “erred”. They are ready to present to who ever gives better offer the name Oromo liberation Front (OLF) on silver plat cut off from its body politic. In return they demand no more than being accepted as Ethiopian opposition party. If accepted they feel no shame to pledge allegiance to the empire and all its paraphernalia. And then, the name OLF will be replaced unceremoniously by a name fitting for an opposition.
In history Habashaa’s Ethiopia had never tolerated opposition even from its own nationals. Places for opposition were (Ambaa) mountain top prisons. The present regime had also proved time and again that it cannot be different. It has drawn a constitution all alone when it could have invited independent national organizations to participate. Constitution was meant to define relations between peoples and rulers and peoples and peoples for whom it was said to be intended. But Wayyaanee marginalized many from participation. Much foreign aid in terms of money and expertise went into its making. Many concepts of democratic constitutions of the world were included. It is an eclectic document. The question is not from where by whom or how it came to be. But the eyebrow is raised for its exclusion of significant national and multinational forces. In particular the exclusion of independent Oromo organizations signifies that Oromiyaa was not yet a partner but a colony. The problem is not in the papers produced with the help of foreign counselors, but foreign councilor’s promotion of the paper irrespective of its implementation.
Since then the rulers have proved that the constitution was produced not as an instrument to curb their totalitarian greed. It rather served “democratic” leaders of the world to present as evidence to their tax payers that they were supporting a new democratic state. The opposition and liberation movements became more vulnerable since the promulgation of the constitution. By joining the opposition list no one will make difference. OLF is the nemesis of the empire state. For that reason the very name does not fit into the list. Instead it would mean endorsing the atrocities and injustice being perpetrated against Oromiyaa and all peoples of the empire state. Despite this being crystal clear some are conspiring with aliens. They want the nations to bow down to pressures detrimental to their interests. They think their own weakness and ignorance should justify the struggle of this great people to change its course for fear of foreign reprimands. What else can be from mentally grafted Africans? They sway with all blowing winds. No one can tell where they stand, in nationalist camp or in alien ones? Why not openly declare?
The mentally grafted thus have no principle to stand fore except temporary slogans. They can easily be swayed by the political climate and deception of infiltrators not withstanding the hangover of past alien hypnotic education. Such problem will stay until the organization cleanses itself from impurities and archaic thought from alien schools. Then only would the graft get plucked and clear and clean Oromo national movement is achieved. It is when selfless leaders with determination and commitment take the reign that the kaayyoo reaches its goal. Now narrow minded double hyphenated actors are trying to take over people’s struggle and divert it to serve alien interest. They were members of the young generation that initiated the liberation movement and still paying heavily. This being the truth we do not deny the existence of few mentally grafted youth, the reflection of elders that are mentoring them. This will not stop us from paying our gratitude to the youth that are holding high the kaayyoo of national liberation.
Two political models are distorting the outlook of certain Diaspora politicians. One is Hayila Sillasee’s model of imposing exile rule over patriots. The other model is Wayyaanee’s transitional model that invited unheard of organizations while excluding those with years of struggle. So instead of going back home “through Baale or Boole” for armed or peaceful struggle to bring change, part of the Diaspora is sitting and waiting for similar opportunity to arise. At all forums one hears resolutions calling for national reconciliation and formation of a transitional government; and beseeching international community to exert pressure for their return. Others are being enticed by PDO baits of land. As a result the ranks of surrogate organizations like OPDO are swelling with people in a new “Land Rush”. Many Oromo are joining aliens in grabbing land from which Oromo are evicted, in particular in and around Finfinnee. Involved members of some functions do not feel existence of clash of interest for their comrades’ interest concurs.
Others who are afraid to be branded as land grabbers are looking for a face saving device to join the Habashaa political system. To help in that mediators and facilitators are mushrooming. The committed few are the only obstacle on their way, vowing to expose their traitorous acts.
Africa which was heading the world in advancement is now at the bottom of the ladder unable to disentangle itself from colonizer woven web. This web includes the production of mentally grafted or hyphenated Africans. Trade marks of this hyphenated Africans are close personal relations with colonial authorities, nostalgia for colonial system under which they were nurtured, lack of self confidence, cowardice, deceptiveness, selfishness, inconsistency, irrationality, non committal and flip-flopping. Because they are mentally grafted they can not take clear stand on any issue. Their waffling is what is stymieing the national struggle. They promise but they cannot deliver. They are proved losers. This phase of the struggle led by mentally grafted Africans must end by dismantling colonial structures and building a new Africa based on the will of its peoples.
No empire in history has ever changed through reforms. It was only their fall that freed nations imprisoned under them. For democratic Oromiyaa to be realized the Ethiopian empire must end. Sovereignty of Oromians over their country has to be recognized. All nations in the empire big or small have equal rights to national self determination. It is only if they are free that they can decide on their destiny. Peoples of the empire and many more can join in a union if they so will. There should be no one nation to decide on their fate. The same is true for all Africa. It is a possibility for a united sate of Africa to be established based on the free will its entire people. Unity of dictators maneuvered by old colonial masters can never be African unity. All dictators have to go for they are mentally grafted and so their soft heart for colonialism is not suitable for African dream. The Habashaa people that have never had a say in the way they were governed, will get the opportunity to elect leaders of their own choice freely. In their names many crimes were committed.
With mentally grafted leaders gone, past grievances can be mended and they can join their brethren to rebuild Africa with all its deserved glory. As long as colonialism and neocolonialism persists the struggle to liberate the peoples of Africa shall never stop. Unity of hyphenated African leaders shall be replaced by unity of its peoples.
Long live Pan-Africanism!
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.