Recently another organization with Oromo name has appeared. It will be remembered that last year an organization claiming similar vision with the present bearing the name of Oromo liberation front was declared. The statement both gave to public media seems as if they were written by the same scribe. The current organization now calls on the Oromo people saying “We have risen with new vision, new tactics of struggle to empower you to pull out from the paralysis in which the struggle is in. To get the objective we designed for the struggle to empower you realized let us heat up the struggle hence forth”. Is it to empower Oromo or Ethiopians? It might think that people might have forgotten what those before it said or it itself might have forgotten it. To remind it further there are organizations formed inside the country with the same vision. It is good to see programs of OPDO, OFDM and OPCO and identify similarities and differences. There is also OBDN (Oromo national democratic movement) in recent history. All say they will struggle for Oromo rights within Ethiopian union. How they go for it might possibly have difference but difference of presentation in splitting words into details does not change the end goal.
What they think will make them different is probably type of the pack that came together and their leaders. Studying their individual background might give one a clue. But for now that is not our concern. Rage and grudge can also make one miss the big picture. We do not also go into assessing that. What we are out to show now is that the struggle for which Oromo sons and daughters came so far paying immense sacrifices in the four preceding decades is not for objectives they are presenting. At the end of their statement the general call they made to Oromo organizations saying “We believe that ending more than a century old subjugation of our people should be of a paramount interest than dwelling on trivial political wrangling … Thus, we call upon all of you to join hands with us in strengthening our camp to intensify our legitimate struggle and put an end to sufferings of our people.” If this was taken as addressing also the True OLF Oromo people should not be deceived by it. The difference OLF has with them from this presentation is very big and the way it relates to them will also become different. It will not be the same with relations they are going to have with those they consider their differences are trivial or those they do not have differences with.
The way OLF looks at the Oromo people, the kaayyoo of their struggle it believes in, the suggestion it presents as solution, in short its vision is different from theirs. OLF believes that the Oromo was an independent nation, a country that had separate territory from the colonizer and one that have difference in history, culture, tradition and language. Its political objective as asserted on its political program is to establish a Democratic Republic Oromiyaa. If any one says that the OLF did not have the intention for territorial independence but only popular freedom it would be denying what was concretely put into writing. Probably then their pen did not reflect their minds. OLF had also stated in foreign relations section of that program, that “It will work to bring about where possible political union with other nations on the basis of equality, respect for mutual interest and the principle of voluntary association.” Such a policy was formulated with those who now say they lead a new organization and can not be subject to denial. The Oromo have a background of democratic culture known as Gadaa. For this reason no body can lecture it about aspirations it has for equality of human beings and for peace. It is something in the genes. But they will not trust to aliens their right to independence.
The meaning OLF attaches to the right of self determination is also different from theirs. OLF does not take this right as depending on changing names of the empire. It does not also accept what they said the nature of the empire has changed had Wayyaanee not refused to change its outlook The Habashaa built empire could change only when the people it is built on are freed and become independent, not because the colonizer named itself People’s Democratic Republic or Federal Democratic Republic. From what it presented in writing this new organization intends to build federation without dismantling the empire. OLF believes that considering federation, confederation or independent state come only after the right of Oromo to national self determination is realized.
OLF had never said to the Oromo that it knows what is good for them. It only said that they have to get the chance to freely decide on what ever they aspire for. Nationalists that had been paying the ultimate sacrifice for half a century and are continuing to this day are those that had been agitated by those who now say they are struggling for its reverse. Some are disabled losing their limbs and others are subjected to life long debilitating decease. Today they are saying you have been dead for us, you have been crippled for us and we shall take what ever you have achieved so far to enrich the multinational struggle we are going to make for right of the enemy and others. Where about of bones of those fallen heroes and heroines, and even who their names be are not known. Because they cannot rise and defend their spirits that responsibility is left to their comrades that stood firm with the kaayyoo they have fallen for and to the young generation of liberators…
The struggle that the new organization claims to open a new venue in Oromo struggle has nothing new as mentioned above but a boring repetition of what has already gone before it. Members of this organization are not free from the causes that so far paralyzed Oromo struggle. It was under their watch that it started wavering. That means they knowingly left it to stagger. Despite the political program they vowed to implement with so many comrades dead and alive, they deny that they had never struggled for independence of Oromiyaa nor would they struggle for it now. They were only for peoples civil rights. For them the Oromo people have have no difference from their neighbors. All have no citizenship but are subjects of the rulers. For this reason they have no exception for the Oromo but struggle for all to have equal citizenship right. They had made it clear that the struggle for all not for the Oromo alone and are swearing like colonizers to amend the definition given to national self determination by an international body. , “…forgetting others rights in particular that of the neighbors and struggling only for ones own will not achieve sustainable achievement. …we have given new interpretation for the struggle Oromo is waging for its own national self determination so that it enables them to struggle for all other persons and nations (translation: writer’s). The right of nations to national self determination is proclaimed by law. To change or amend is the right of the body that made it not that of politicians intoxicated with self interest.
During the Darg members of OLF were persecuted, imprisoned, tortured and killed as narrow nationalists. These one are also showing the propaganda they are planning to release to brand OLF cadres in the same manner. As they say, “… we go apart with the stand on the right of self determination by forces that see its definition narrowly as realization of independent country alone. These people try to bring together what do not look alike to strengthen their position. For people brought to submission by force neither an outlook of a dictator or a democrat can stop them to demand for independence. For example they say “…when we remember the efforts made to implement federalism without democracy like it was tried in former Yugoslavia that culminated in horrendous bloodshed that took place in the aftermath of its breakup, we are afraid that Wayyaanee’s policy could possibly lead to similar debacle ” (translation: writer’s).
After the demise of Marshal Tito the nations under Yugoslav federation practiced rotating leadership. But that did not bring change on Serbia’s being an empire. What could have made difference are not individuals that lead but the consent of the occupied on structure of the state. It was absence consent that caused blood shade. It is not because nationals of Tigray understood democracy less than them but because Wayyaanee cannot be democratize because it is at the head of an empire. Because they benefit from it they are not willing to dismantle. It proved that empire cannot be democratized unless dismantled. If dismantling peacefully is refused it could possibly lead to spilling blood. The new Oromo seem to believe that if empire changes its name, the status of people’s rights automatically changes. It is enough to observe from what is taking place in Catalina, Quebec, Scotland and Wales that colonial state administration’s being democratic cannot change the aspiration of nations to be independent.
Those who now say that they have new vision have hand in said paralyzing of the OLF. In similar manner in the breaking up of the faction called Jijjiirama from OLF Shanee Gumii. They are also the ones that pushed General Kamal Galchu to his present position only to give up on him later. The mishaps reached here with protracted machination of paralyzing OLF. Because it is built with blood and bones of brave Oromo, OLF is not uprooted like they thought. The program they came up with is not new. For this reason it is not necessary to design new tactics to tackle it. The right to engage in what they like individually or by forming association is inalienable right of human beings. For this reason to go on any route of their choice is their right. To present their petition to become Ethiopian citizens as long as they are accepted also is their right. But, to bray belittling struggle of Oromo people and of those struggling for independence as non existent will be considered trespassing. The people have to know the difference between those claiming to struggle for it. The question that why all of the activists do not move together, must be based on that knowledge. Those who have little difference but believe in same kaayyoo can coordinate their struggle putting aside their little differences. For the time there is no other solution for those that have big differences in outlook except endeavoring to reach their declared goal in their own way. But over time one that realizes the existing truth may correct its stand and join the correct line of liberating Oromiyaa.
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.