Every coin has two sides. The industrial revolution created easy way of manufacturing and changed people’s way of living. Because of that revolution trade expanded more to cover the whole world. That created more demand and market for manufactured goods. The demand for industrial raw materials and larger markets in industrial countries triggered the colonial ventures. Sources of raw material, cheap labor force and markets had to be controlled for European economy to be vibrant. That was partly how the “Scramble for Africa” set in. These days much is told and observed about world economic crisis. It is making developed countries nervous just like it did in the 19th century. Many attribute NATO’s invasion of Libya to this nervousness. As a result they are coming to their senses in recognizing that people should free themselves from oppressive and abusive dictators by all means even if it meant violence; with help of “the willing” if need be. They visualize the ease with which they can deal with shaky novice to satisfy their needs by resources they can lay their hands on. The benefit may be reciprocal. All in all the end result must be access to the lucrative Libyan wealth over which Kaddafi’s regime had total control.
The Libyan revolution may be viewed by different groups differently. For many of the young men and women that went into the struggle in good faith without any training it is a sacrifice worth paying for liberty and human dignity tramped upon for over four decades by a dictatorial regime. For those that assumed leadership of the rebellion it is an opportunity to take vengeance for ill treatment they suffered in the hand of their former boss. Some among them could have a hidden mission in collaboration with foreign powers. For all those involved in accelerating the class and tribal contradictions it was a hope to get lucrative return from Libyan wealth for their crumbling economy. For some of these it is also revenge against Kaddafi’s independent outlook and dictatorial arrogance. For Arab aristocrats Kaddafi is a sacrificial lamb offered to calm down “Western Spirit” to spare them from so called Arab Spring that is out to destroy their archaic system. For black Africans in Libya it is an unprecedented massacre for a people who are there to seek asylum or sell their labor.
For African nations NATO’s manipulation to involve itself in African affairs is a harbinger of worst to come. The theory of sovereignty was developed in Europe to resolve long standing problems between nations. It has served its purpose up to this point and is no more a sacred formula to curve and fence a territory against all others. The seemingly invincible global system or new world order has to globalize all problems including problems of human and peoples rights and give solution if the market has not to be disturbed. That was said to be the rational behind war on Kaddafi’s regime. In that case globalization is not a monster that came to silence human voice but to magnify it. What is said was usually not what is done. But this time that word and action has coincided was reported daily thanks to western media that moves with the dominant current reflecting its position as mouth piece of the powerful.
Africa still remains partially virgin and has many resources to offer. It is still incapacitated by its leaders who are partners with predators of the world. It was contact with such clients that helped Europe to invade and enslave Africa during the period of imperialism. Now Trans National Corporations of the period of globalization have more such clients trimmed to their desires. So with their help they have started to gang up against African countries that show any sign of independence. That is taxiing stage; the lift off is yet to come. All African leaders have lots of anti democratic behaviors that alienate them from their own people. Therefore there are many possibilities justifying a shakeup.
The Industrial Revolution was at the core of flourishing European empires of the 18th through 20th centuries. The need for raw materials and materials that can be converted to cash like slaves, precious metals and stones, ivory, civet, coco, coffee etc had made Africa the victim of the then colonization by internal and external forces. At present growing population and manmade and natural calamities and unbridled greed are creating shortages in consumer goods which own resources alone cannot satisfy. That has already caused the wealthy to go around the world looking for land and resources to grab. Where family planning cannot help, denying to some the means of survival and keep down population growth is encouraged. For example control rather than eradication of malaria is emphasized. That also seems why the problem of famine is not tackled from its roots. And research in tropical deceases and tuberculosis is not patronized as it should be etc.
The other solution is finding pretexts and starting wars. All the wars in the world between groups are fought with industrialist weapons. That is income for defense industry. We have also seen how unessential wars are generated by big powers. That was not done without a purpose how ever many may cry of it being unjust and irrational. All the wars have wiped out millions and destroyed infrastructures. For some it is a disaster for others it is creating job and investment opportunities. The European war on Libya was said to be in protection of civilians. Which bullet or bomb spared civilians in the past seven months, Kaddafi’s, rebels, or NATO’s? Who can stand witness unless the dust settles? The settling of the dust will not be very soon. There are many who had to settle scores for long time to come. Who is going to pay for all the NATO expenses? Some body has to foot it; in this case Libya or Western tax payers. Thousands were killed to make less heads to share the vast Libyan wealth. National deposits in foreign countries are frozen until who should get what is determined by those countries.
True to his pan Africanist stand Kaddafi had put Libya at the center of African unity. That is where it geographically and historically belonged. NATO’s hatred for him is on the verge of destroying that relation. Rebels (NATO?) refused to listen to African solution with their ears turned towards Europe. African leaders that visited to suggest peaceful transition were repulsed and humiliated. Even UN did not give weight for their concern. There were many Africans who had been hired in different sectors of Libyan economy. There were also those who run away from sub Sahara dictators on their way to seek asylum somewhere beyond the seas. Rebels have harassing, torturing and killing those black Africans without mercy alleging they were Kaddafi’s mercenaries. There was nothing except the color of their skins that denied them to be categorized as “civilians” for which NATO took responsibility to protect. The racist attitude of some Libyan Arabs that was tamed by Kaddafi is now getting wild.
Libya is a land of tribes kept together by strong central authority. Like all tribal societies they have internal contradictions though they have shown zeal to stand against external common enemy in the past. Who knows why General Abdul Fattah Younis was killed. Was it international conspiracy or tribal conflict? What ever it might be the common hatred that had brought them together against the ruling family seemed to have postponed the problem to post Kaddafi period. Seen from this angle the possibility of rebel turning against rebel, tribe turning against tribe to avenge their own and for share of spoils and Libyans against NATO countries for national interest cannot be written off.
The wheel of Arab revolution has started to revolve, at places it might meet obstacle from external interferences while in others the same type of interference might accelerate it. Overall Arab autocracy is shaken from its foundation and no one can take for granted docility of the Arab subjects anymore. That be as it may the world had in this era openly sanctioned the use of violent means of struggle against oppressors more than any other time. Even if not given official support no more are revolutionaries openly condemned be it in Yemen, Saudi, Bahrain or other Arab countries friendly to the West. Whatever the motive, we see Western Governments raising their voice and imposing sanction against certain governments that violet human rights and refuse to listen to their people. This is part of West’s declared democratic values and principles. It is only weakness of the oppressed that failed to rally international support not globalization or other excuses. African peoples’ own wheel has to keep on rolling to get librated from past colonial and neocolonial shackles as well as modern invasions.
No country that now are winning international sympathy had been oppressed, abused or humiliated than the Oromo, a nation that claims 30 million strong populations in East Africa. This is partly due to confusions disseminated by some of its leading elites that change gears with out the gradient changing. Such feel more responsibility to oppressors of their peoples than to their compatriots and comrades. They conveniently put aside even the priceless sacrifices they are witnesses to, made by heroines and heroes of the people. In addition to this they raise no voice to expose infiltrations by subversive elements they are more experienced with.
To avoid extinction the time for Oromo forces to correct past mistakes and make their house in order is now, when the world has no excuse to abandon them or silently observe their predicament. It only needs widening ones thinking horizon and showing unflinching commitment to the people’s cause on part of national revolutionaries. Whatever is right needs a group’s determination and consistency in implementing it. To waste time in giving undue attention to internal detractors only makes one to lose the big picture of national liberation and regional peace. The Oromo at home is cornered and left without choice than turn into a dare devil. Once cornered the alternative is to rot or fight to death. All will be forced to follow the maxim “Give me Liberty or Give me Death” told to have been said by the American revolutionary Patrick Henry.
The next round of colonization will not be as crude as the past ones. It will be as subtle as the strategy of Libyan revolution, appealing to the oppressed majority. That approach may release African peoples that had been divided and entangled for two centuries for direct service of imperialist forces. For those oppressed by local dictators the time is now to turn the heat on aggressors and keep the present international momentum and restore ones dignity and honor by asserting ones right as human beings and as peoples. The liberation of Oromiyaa even if it could be as nominal as other African countries is over due. Before getting rid of the first colonial yoke the third round has already set in. Its land and liberty are being grabbed again by overfed marauders.
The people are being famine and decease ridden, harassed, imprisoned, tortured, exiled and subjected to all types of abuses in their own homestead for being Oromo. For the Oromo nation the life of peace and democracy was their tradition until external interference jeopardized it. A group has been imposing its will on the nation for unbearable length of time without legitimate grounds except for sheer force. Those who produce on Oromo land and export it to feed their own people when the Oromo souls go hungry have overtaken their holdings. The Ethiopian Empire is slowly turning into banana republic; those Caribbean countries where foreign investors in banana plantation decide the fate of the people and their government.
Libyan revolution has two messages. One is that the powerful do not need the cooperation of African Union; it showed that they are guided only by their nations’ interest. Therefore there is nothing that could hinder them from re-colonizing Africa. The second tells that the powerful had accepted the ability of oppressed peoples to rebel against dictators and overthrow them by fighting with all means available to them.
Nothing will be more urgent than fighting back before cultural and physical extinction. The west and Oromo have similar interests in democratic values and principles. Other than that the world has ethical and legal obligation not to overlook the Oromo case but help in earnest. It is obvious that only those that can help themselves get help from others. Let all unite to bring an end to this endless scaring nightmare that befell the nation. If all nations rise independently and on equal footing liberation of Oromiyaa could be liberation and stability of the Horn of Africa including Abyssinia. Precedents are already being set, the Arab Spring in particular Libya has set a standard. Selfish and brutish dictators are facilitating the re-colonization of Africa thereby pushing the continent and themselves into cog mire from which to pullout could be a lost dream. They cannot hinder the struggle for justice but vanish by themselves.
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.