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Roles of Liberation Fronts in tiring out Ethiopian Empire

The Ethiopian empire was formed around one and half century ago when countries south of the Abyssinian kingdom were colonized by Habashaa feudal lords. It was at the same time when Europe colonized other countries of Africa. Then Europe had advanced technology of the time for war and development. Abyssinia was not in a higher technological level if not less than some of the neighbors it colonized except for greater fire power it acquired from European colonizers. The colonized lost their sovereignty and independence. The colonizer more than committing genocide as it arrived; it also established the most crippling and dehumanizing administration on the colonies; plundered all they had, their land, resources, products and labor. It denied them their right to life, language and culture and tried to erase their identity. It is said “A gourd that time is with it breaks rock”. But it is only the wise that knows such a time is never everlasting. Oromo produced its first national political organization, the OLF with a defined goal to cut this time short.

The colonies did not accept subjugation meekly but fought with all they can local based until national liberation organizations were formed. It was after that that they entered into a formidable confrontation with the enemy as a national force. Among these fronts that of Afar, Sidaamaa, Ogden, Oromo, Eritrea and Tigray were in the forefront. The latter two were based on internal Habasha grievances. The enemy was the empire state headed by feudal class Amaaraa. There were also different types of strife within Ethiopian society. Some were class based others were regional. Many political organizations that claim to be multinational, though they are Amaaraa led and majority members identified as Amaaraa were formed based on class ideology. The Habashaa internally carried out the most devastating power struggle in which first the Darg and then TPLF came out as victors to control the colonial government. For the colonies no one of them is less cruel than the other therefore they have to dismantle the empire and get free. All those that stand against colonialism are friends while all on the opposite side that want to maintain the colonial empire are the enemies. Patriotic liberation fronts never waver to spell out the two positions, who friends, who enemies are.

It is after declaring their position that fronts begun cracking the empire. Though these days leaders are confused as to who enemy and friends are there cannot be struggle without enemy. The struggle begun and gradually Amaaraa led Ethiopian regime started to decline until it was given the final below by Tigray guerrillas led coalition. Amaaraa parties assuming to be multinational were defeated in the battle fields by TPLF. TPLF was the only Habashaa group that came out victorious. There were no genuine Amaaraa groups at the conference that formed transitional government except representative of the University, Professor Asrat Waldayyees. He fought to first put Amaaraa as a nation on the map with his eyes on rebuilding the empire for which his Amaaraa will be the vanguard. His “All Amaaraa” organization did not thrive probably as a result of Nafxanyaa descendants’ rivalry and half-heartedness.

This Nafxanyaa remnant group wants the emperor’s Ethiopia back forgetting that the present stage is reached because the colonial system is unable to sustain itself further. For own sake, it would be better not to rub salt on an old wound. Unless they negotiate for “let bygones be bygones” they have too much blood of the Oromo and others to answer for. The Oromo believe in rule of law and democratic principle of safuu not in Habashaa rule of might is right. The Oromo say “Trying to deceive the wise is inviting hate”. To stand in solidarity with the victimized is a matter of principle for the Oromo not inviting an old enemy to replace the new. The Oromo want good neighborliness not relations formed by oppression a century ago to return.

The struggle of Eritrean liberation movement amputated the part fixed by Haile Sillaasee, who got it back after Minilik abandoned to Italians a century ago. The Tigrawayi cousins of Eritrean Tigrinyaa that separately organized to liberate their country from Amaaraa domination were also successful but did not stop at Tigray as they initially planned. Finding a weakened Darg and registering the support of western powers, in particular USA they went for control of the whole empire. Amaaraa domination they complained about, crumbled with the Darg. After getting the upper hand and defeating all opposition moving in Amaaraa name they started repressions so that Amaaraa would never raise its head again. They showed open contempt for Amaaraa ability in challenging them. They even imposed on them a party of their creation, ANDM just like they did to the colonies with PDOs. That brought Amaaraa in level with the colonies.

There are still hardline chauvinist remnants of colonial army members who think the Ethiopian Empire will flourish again, unable to distinguish fantasy from reality. Were they not enjoying the loots from colonies on Amaaraa name and buying them enemies, when Amaaraa were suffering from needs, ill treatment, poverty and hunger? What do they now want; to recolonize Oromiyaa and others and plunder it using that same name again? That will never happen. Amaaraa as a people have now the opportunity if they choose to lead stable, peaceful, free and happy life side by side with other peoples. The remnants and their worshipers want to lecture about unity and Ethiopianism to those that made things happen. But where were they when many gave their lives for freedom and human dignity? Where were they when regimes after regimes terrorized the civilian population? Where were they when so many became victims of Red and White terrors and their bodies were thrown around like dirt? Why do they not understand from experience that their model of Ethiopianization of the colonies has failed? Why don’t they listen to other people except their own echoes? At least why don’t they pretend to respect feelings of Oromo that joined them? Now they want to ambush and sabotage peoples’ victories.

Let alone reoccupying Oromiyaa, these people cannot even defend their country against the enemy by themselves. Their bravado is that of a cat trying to imitate a leopard. For this reason, today they are trying to rally Oromo minions for their own purpose only to turn them on Oromo tomorrow. It is clear from their daily statements that they did not change the attitude they have about relations between Oromiyaa and Ethiopia from those of yester years. Even seeing this, there are those that have dependency syndrome or those ashamed of being Oromo for a reason that hurry to get thrusted on it. That be as it may priority at present is not their unity or Ethiopianism but peoples’ freedom. Amaaraa and Tigrawayi are both Habashaa, they have never stopping power struggle between them from time immemorial. What makes the present different is that Tigray wanted to be great without the other. It cut Amaaraa territory nearer to it as stepping stone to have border with Sudan that may include Nilotic people’s land and a part of Oromiyaa in western low lands. This seems a crazy idea but this people are crazy not to believe ongoing rumors.

In addition to big powers the Tigrawayi were helped by Eritreans, Oromo and other’s organizations in grabbing and consolidating power starting May 1991. After the Darg a Transitional government was formed in which all liberation fronts mentioned above participated as coalition members. But coalition members were kicked out, as they did to Goobana a century ago. This is failing to learn from the past. In the first place, believing them was naiveté for these ones are also Habashaa just like Amaaraa were. The coalition broke down in less than two years and Tigrawayi with make-believe surrogates monopolized power. They replaced the Amaaraa in running the empire with the usual Habashaa heavy handedness and cruelty.

Liberation fronts in particular, Oromo and Ogden liberation fronts continued wearing down the rule of Tigray Liberation Front as they did to previous regime. Despite its having international support it could not suppress the demand by the colonies for freedom. To weaken them it grabbed their land, killed their leaders and the youth, imprisoned the masses as much as they can but could not stop people’s protest. This TPLF did, not alone but with help of collaborators of each nation. Now the struggle is taken over by the whole people. The sad thing is minority Nilots, around Oomoo River, Gambeela and western border lowlands who are vulnerable to extinction were displaced and their land over taken for mining and commercial farming.

Many like Sidaamaa, Tsamaay, Shekechoo, nationalities in Gambeela, etc. had protested against abuses and harsh rule of TPLF but were met by killings, imprisonment, disappearances and exile to the level of genocide. That did not stop the struggle for freedom but is continuing to weaken the empire state under TPLF. Beneficiaries of the empire in particular transnational corporation do not want to see the liberation fronts because the fronts firmly stand for their peoples’ interests. All political or economic dealings have to be with representative of the peoples not colonial dictators’ .That does not give them free hand as with the comprador or the colonizer, which have the same goals as theirs. However liberation movement they thought are done away with only mingled among their own people. They are the people.

The Liberation fronts will be there in order to see to it that peoples’ opportunities will not be derailed like it happened after Minilik, Tafarii and Darg’s fall. They have to be there to guide the people through maize of fraud, deceits and other difficulties. Such difficulties could be caused by national activists over greedy for power or those in service of foreign powers. Liberation fronts have the experience and long standing, commitment and determination. In short they have built unrivalled goodwill. When we talk about liberation fronts, we are talking about the kaayyoo of the nation that they uphold and their political program and the promises they laid down in there.

When we say OLF we meant the original organization that went out so that the spirit and dreams the Oromo have for establishing independent democratic republic Oromiyaa become realized. That is the irreversible goal of Oromo liberation movement. Leadership and members may distort or even betray this original thought. Human beings can err but the people will not throw out their organization because of them but rather correct or uproot them. In Oromo political tradition all leaders including the Abbaa Gadaa are subject to recall but the system remains there for it is the reflection of people’s spirit. The same should hold true for the Oromo liberation front.

They were the fearless and enlightened few that took to the mountains to advance the objectives of Oromo liberation. Much was achieved by those few among sabotages and different obstacles. But the desire of people was not fully satisfied. Majority people were reserved from getting involved for fear of consequences and the propaganda of enemy’s invincibility. Now when the oppression reached unbearable level their fear of death and bodily harm gave way to courage and looking death into the eye for life makes no difference than it. That is how Oromo protest movement started. Torrents of blood are flowing making it more difficult to turn back and keeping fear far off from field of struggle.

The Amaaraa protest also followed unable to stand the Tigrawayi contempt and abuse as told. They tried to abide by the system and presented their petition in a tradition common to both but were rather subjected to rejection, humiliation, imprisonment and killings. Tradition is broken and trust is lost between old Ethiopian companions. Amaaraa’s preference to march cladded with Ethiopian clock covering the Amaaraa ones is now making them pay for that negligence of own identity. There were non-Amaaraa intellectuals who push the Amaaraa to drop that name for Ethiopianism. So they advanced a theory that states there are no people called Amaaraa. That leads to saying; there are only one homogenous people in group known as Habasha, Tigrawayi.

As a result when Tigray youth got organized on own name Amaaraa ones abstained from doing the same putting their hopes on the government and multinational political organizations. That put them out of balance. Now narratives are changing, Amaaraa are consolidating their unity and deciding to fight back the TPLF in its own way. That is the start of Amaaraa protest. Since then hundreds are being sacrificed for Amaaraa identity and freedom. For them to get liberated all freedom loving peoples are by their side provided there is no flashback of their ambition to reestablish the Imperial rule in which their elites were sole dominant power. Ethiopia, recently adopted from old Kushitic origin had kept the Axumite Habashaa together. It was also tried to impose by force on nations and nationalities they occupied a hundred years ago. Now, its continuation depends on either both renegotiating living together or Amaaraa and Kushitic nationalities around them like Agawu, Qimant etc. willingness to continue using it. In general the region has to try growing out of international bickering and start thinking about Pan Africanism. Get rid of negativity of old relations and start with new sister and brotherhood spirit.

Thus the struggle for freedom by liberation movements of Ethiopian colonies caused the crumbling of the old system and one that followed it. Both systems were led by Amaaraa feudal lords and elites. A junior partner the Tigrawayi took over and tried to make the best out of the empire including Amaaraa land. It behaved like a classical colonizer that plundered all it could to build its own country. The Amaaraa were under an illusion that the colonies would remain under their (Ethiopian) control forever. For this reason they did not even provide proper drinking water for old Habashaa capital Gondar. Tigray with in the last quarter of a century was provided with networks of first grade roads, air ports, several universities; electric and water supplies for drinking and irrigation; social services like health centers and school; factories; mines and ground and air defense system that are never seen before. Now they are ready to join their Tigrinyaa brothers across Marab that has all the outlets of old Abyssinia with Amaaraa excluded. Tigray Tigriny rumored for decades is going to be a reality when the present never surfeited leaders depart. This is not surprising for it is only resurrection of Yohannis IV and Aluulaa’s domain.

Now the Amaaraa the biggest of Oromiyaa neighbors are left to deal with Oromo and others on equal terms. The status of the empire is slowly changing but surly, thanks to the sacrifices made for liberation. In particular at this period Oromo and Ogden liberation fronts have special thanks for cracking the empire system. Itophiyaa existed before the empire, she can still live as before in peace if she wants. Horn of Africa is going to be a region of equals and free peoples. Descendents of old colonial army will not be treated differently from other people; they can participate with equal rights as individuals in liberated colonies. For all political social or economic matter they are considered as bona fide members of the nation of their birth or naturalization unless they shun that by themselves. If they say they cannot leave on equal terms with their former serfs it is their right to ebb with Ethiopia. The Ethiopia that puts them on heads of other peoples can no more be there. Since there is no one that will live in slavery any more, it is better not to try disturbing peace. It is said, it is not possible to live in the past; if there is peace the region is enough for all that want to live as equals with all.

Old Nafxanyaa descendents have to stop ganging up in Finfinnee in want of reestablishing the empire again. They can remain in Oromiyaa as Oromiyaans or as permitted to reside aliens. Finfinnee is Oromiyaa and Oromiyaa is Finfinnee we talk about ownership not interest. It is one of the regions where genocide and ethnic cleansing took place extensively by the aggressor. The fight against colonialism and oppression is to liberate and reinstitute justice to whom injustice was done. Denying Finfinnee not to be Oromiyaa is condoning the eviction of the indigenous since it was occupied to the present day, the ethnic cleansing and in general crime committed against humanity. Unless it is controlled by Oromiyaans it is going to remain a launching pad for colonial expansion. Finfinnee will never remain Alien Island in the heart of Oromo Sea.

The population of Finfinnee at present is the beneficiary of the gains from those crimes. Oromo struggle will certainly liberate Oromiyaa in totality. Because of the ethnic cleansing Oromo may be minority in Finfinnee now. All that legally and fairly acquired property need to be separated from fraudulent ones and one person one vote principle respected for all. If neighbors and the world want to verify that decisions reached are those of the people and holding referendum become essential and the Oromo by chance vote for federation, Finfinnee cannot be separated from Oromiyaa. Therefore it cannot be automatically be the federal capital; it ought to be reconsidered. The descendants of the original dwellers have the right to get land or compensation for the lost heritage. Historic places and shrines have to be restored. All rights to live and develop property legally acquired have to be respected for present residents of all urban centers of Oromiyaa.

They are not only descendents of the occupation army but also many individuals from the colonies live in Oromiyaa urban centers. Those had been selling their labor, skill and produce to the population. The fate of the Oromoo and that of the southern peoples are intertwined. They had lived interdependently as good neighbors even before they were colonized. There were also those they had comradery relation in anti-colonial war. This doesn’t mean there were no those that collaborated with the colonizer and lived by extortion and looting innocent Oromo. However the Oromoo will not stop supporting peoples of southern Ethiopian empire without distinction in all their efforts of survival. Despite this, if there are ones that stand with their enemies they should be ready to face the consequence and blame no body for actions freedom fighters may take. Oromo is a nation related to all geographically, culturally and historically; their enemy is from far north; many know they could not even go and live and conduct business there. Peace and friendship with Oromiyaa have advantage over all others. Join Oromo in liberation struggle; work and invest in Oromiyaa without bad feelings. They should stand for sovereignty of Oromiyaa as Oromo respects theirs.

As already said the Amaaraa are getting organized as a nation. But there are arrogant third parties that want to mess up things so that the empire does not phase out peacefully. There are those that try to remind the Oromo, the Darg period through which they passed with bitter struggle and great sacrifice. Words like, narrow, secessionist, hate monger, divisive are coming back even today thinking they could demoralize Oromo freedom fighters that are so far persistent. It is only Oromo that see themselves in the context of Ethiopianism that could be demoralized by their cheap propaganda. There saying “Propaganda is more routing than an army” is their guiding principle. They are ranting thinking they could scatter the Oromo with cacophony. That could be an obstacle to the chance of calling nations under the empire to sit and deliberate together about their future. Forming several organizations in anticipation of having a sit in a conference like the 1991 should now be out of date. The deliberation will be between peoples not political organizations. Political organization may be asked to facilitate that. In this conference there will not be negotiation about sovereignty of free peoples but their peaceful co-existence. That is the demand of undistorted Oromo protest. Political organizations can facilitate the meeting, but they are the people that should directly meet and deliberate and negotiate.

Liberation fronts are as relevant as they were in the past. Infiltrations, sabotages and weak leadership might cripple them. But their name and the cause they stand for are so strong that no pretentions, distortions and freelance activists that are responsible to no group or body except their own self can substitute them. The bottom line is the colonized must be decolonized; the mentally or physically enslaved must be freed. Still fronts are expected to play a vanguard role among all other national groups. Kaayyoo of Oromo liberation movements are the forces behind Oromo protest.

Therefore when we think of the protest in all corners of the empire let us not forget their engine is peoples’ desire to be liberated, as articulated by the liberation fronts and broadcasted by media and other methods. That is why even in absence of Oromo Liberation Front, the resistance flag with two red edges, the sun and Odaa at the center on green background and morning star on tip of the Odaa it introduced half a century ago have been taken over by movement of the people as a national resistance flag. They are those that ordained and died carrying it that led the nation reach this level of political consciousness and the victories registered so far. To it Oromo of the Qubee generation added the crossed hand, raised above the forehead as symbol of peaceful resistance in memory of a martyr that first used it, as told. Their peer Fayisaa Leellisaa introduced that to the world and it is being emulated by many.

The resistance flag has a different role; it is not adversarial to the ancient Oromo colors of black, red and white. That is history; the present one represents the ongoing sacrifices and victories. After independence the nation will have the right to choose a flag that suits it and the one not chosen will probably head to the museum. Oromo enemies had never showed so much hate for the name OLF, the resistance flag, and Oromo Qubee to any other name or symbols of any group. They hate OLF because it is independently created by Oromo to be exclusively national and solid in principle. They hate the flag because it is the symbol of independence and struggle for Independence. At a time there were even those that suggested for a faction to get patent over it with sinister motive of sabotaging its universality. But it failed utterly. They hate Qubee because it disentangled millions from alien cultural and linguistic spell; above all, defiant generation of Oromo, cultivated by Qubee has come into being without their brainwashing to which the “Fidal” generation was subjected. It upheld the national Kaayyoo OLF fought for, hoisting the resistance flag high.

No one can separate the liberation fronts from the peoples they are created for. They are Sidaamaa, Afar, Ogden, Oromo, Gambeela, etc. The same is true for TPLF; Tigrawayi should not be blamed for embracing it, but for not reprimanding it for human rights abuses in their name. They are the only ones that know what is good for them. After much sacrifice of human life and wealth, liberation movements have destabilized the colonial empire and brought politics of the region to the present level. However much lovers of the empire hate them and however much mentally not yet liberated enemy running dogs and quislings’ canvas against them, they cannot alienate them from their peoples. Even the sleepers will be activated and continue to lead their people openly or clandestinely until the universally recognized “Right of nations to national self-determination” is realized.

No one, liberation front or activist will decide for the people. The people themselves will determine their destiny by referendum. OLF’s objective is to take them to victory through that process to enjoy freedom and the fruit of their Waaqaa given resources. This is the objective for which OLF was organized from day one not Wayyaanee influenced. The Oromo have advanced towards their goal; no force can turn them back to any previous position. Oromiyaa is for Oromo what her future internal structure and system of administration will be is up to her people. Those that dream to recolonize her may think of taking her back to “Governorate General” or “Xaqlay Gizat” one, really? In what better position are they to be able to turn the wheel of history back than their fathers? Corruption and greediness have hindered TPLF from implementing its constitution. Otherwise there is no any previous regime that had identified the chronic problem of the region, national oppression. Its corruption started from the first day of office. The whole organization has become what it accuses individual members with, “Rent Collector” for the last twenty seven years. It has decayed from the root to be cleansed; even if not pushed its collapse is inevitable, like its predecessors, unable to carry its own weight. However any power that comes after it should be one that builds on the achievements like Article 39 of TPLF constitution not one that reverses it. Oromo fight TPLF for being head of the empire and for abuses it commits against humanity not for being Tigrawayi. They do not choose between masters but embrace the friendly.

TPLF is Oromo enemy representing the major enemy, the Ethiopian empire system. It and the empire as instruments of oppression have to be the last. To bring peace to the region the Ethiopians must get off their hands from the colonies. Since it seems there is no body that has agenda of suppression, Amaaraa’s fighting for own identity and freedom can be an opportunity to strengthen the force of peace and stability in the region given situation remains constant. The mutual solidarity they express now should not be mistaken as giving up the objectives they struggled for half a century. Respecting each other’s will is the key to future relations. Oromo is a nation not “gosa” or “Ethiopian”. They take this as demeaning and denying their identity. If there is understanding they can take corrective measures for wrongs done to each of them by third parties. No one in the region is justified to grab land belonging to another or use force against unarmed peoples. Sovereignty of each nation and nationality over their land and resources is inviolable. Eternal glory to our martyrs that gave their lives for freedom and independence! Let democracy, understanding and peace reign over our region. Long live Oromiyaa! Long live Pan-Africanism. Forward with our liberation Fronts!

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
September 2016

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