Strengthening What We Have

Oromo youth from all corners of Oromiyaa and from all walks of life, surged forward in the 60s to find ways and means of bringing an end to occupation of Oromiyaa. Oromo protests were then going on in all corners of Oromiyaa in different ways, for very long time. True to their Gadaa tradition they decided to take a uniting generational responsibility. For the first time in their history after the 16th century Oromo formed a movement in the name of the whole nation that could rally them in unison. They created a political organization with a national program, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). That opened the opportunity for all scattered struggles to gather under one front. Unless one can see the movement as a whole trying to explain it from a part could distort the whole picture. It took almost half a century to rally the whole population of Oromiyaa around the national liberation movement and two more decades for the world to give more attention to the Oromo plight. More Oromo are coming out to tell the world about their sufferings yet they need stronger political organization to be strong and effective.

Oromiyaa liberation movement had registered significant achievements since it was set on. It has sent shock waves and despairs through enemy camp and has continued to destabilize it than ever before. It is unfortunate that history of OLF is not yet consolidated in one document. As a result, we hear individuals and groups narrating it as they wished. It needs an official history from the organization or well researched document from historians. Otherwise because of the clandestine nature of the movement no single member, let alone a nonparticipant can tell for certain about the whole except generalities. Oromo revolutionaries include the unknown that perished on mission to alien camps. Oromo had several famous nationalists contemporary with OLF. Those nationalists had played leading roles in Oromo national awareness but were not necessarily members of the OLF. Therefore for all fairness to nonliving patriots, care must be taken when their names are mentioned until organizations or reliable documents verify their status.

The coordinator of the different clandestine and official nationalist groups, Baaroo Tumsaa might have known better than others for he was in contact with all of them. Now the coordinator is not there therefore it is better to leave the issues to the organization and historians and concentrate on present position of the struggle. For all purposes the consolidated and amended program of 1976 and 1989 and 1998 declared by undivided OLF were made public for all interested to know. It is said, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” There are those that dare to poke their fingers into something beyond their knowledge and distort history of Oromo liberation movement with good intention or for sinister divisive purposes. That has to stop. From whichever corner of Oromiyaa they were, those that led and died fighting for the common cause are heroes of all Oromo. The nation has to preserve their history in tact unblemished. For the moment one should not try to continue past generation’s controversies to avoid present generational challenges.

Since its formation the initial youth movement had been marred with clashes and hardships because of internal schisms and betrayals and external attack and infiltrations by Ethiopian and Somali governments and their mercenaries. But the objective of the struggle, the right of their nation to national self-determination up to and including independence was never questioned by Oromiyaan groups though involved in feuds. For about two decades great sacrifices were paid when change occurred in the empire state. Up to then all cadres were loyal to the Kaayyoo. Liberation fronts in the empire that include the OLF defeated the military junta and formed a transitional government (TG).

Some liberation fighters started to see TG as an end in itself; while others saw it as a beginning of peaceful struggle for independence. It was then that loyalty to the Kaayyoo began to show cracks that one can observe today. It reminds one of the trials of Jesus Christ we heard about while growing up. It was said that even the chief disciple betrayed him several times before the next ordeal started. Similarity of event with that of the OLF is stunning. Now new and old actors are seen negotiating with the enemy behind the scene on the essence of the Kaayyoo, which they are pretentiously swearing to protect on open Oromo forums. This is observed in particular among “Fidal generation”. “Fidal” is the Ethiopian alphabet.

Many have spontaneously bursting emotions that are not based on solid principle as to be sustainable. Standing in Oromo camp they vehemently clash with Nafxanyaa system advocates about lack of democracy in Ethiopia not about ending occupation of Oromiyaa. Their comprehension of Oromo question and their personalities are full of contradictions that they fail to understand the essence of Oromo revolution. Oromo revolutionaries have learned lots from their predecessors past relations. Even wise and brave personalities like Goobana Daaccee did not survive treachery of the Habashaa elites. No Oromo that allied with them had ever died honorable death. There are many rushing into their snares at present, leaving their nation in miserable conditions. Even now it will not be too late if they turn back creating any face saving device for past deeds for their people will not close their doors on them.

Leaving aside confusion among Oromo activists, achievements of the transitional period include, meeting of Oromo people in their old shrine Finfinnee after centuries of forced separation; remapping part of Oromiyaan territory and recognition of Oromiyaa’s interest in Finfinnee; official recognition of the right of Oromo to national self-determination up to and including independence; learning and working in one’s own language; officially introducing Oromo alphabet “Qubee” for working and schooling. It was only two decade before that the colonizer refused Bariisaa paper from using qubee. The qubee ushered the exit of colonially imposed “Fidal” and the declining power of the “Fidal” generation in the struggle and weakening of colonial grip. A more revolutionary, independent minded, daring and determined “Qubee” generation without colonial stigma is coming forward. The Oromo have potential that will be hope not only for Oromiyaa and the region but also for Africa. This potential includes productivity, culture, history and number as well. It is told that Wayyaanee is swearing to reduce and scatter this number and turn Oromo into a minority. The very thought is daydream and funny. It is good to be advised beforehand of the real panic that could follow when that experiment backfires.

There were “Fidal generation” members that were pursuing their individual interest when the struggle for Oromo liberation was going on. There was nothing wrong in it, for everyone has the right of choice. But problem comes when one tries to make whatever was done then void. Had it not been for the sacrifices of Oromo martyrs, political awareness of today could not have been achieved. Those that have stayed away from the struggle until their adulthood could not have jumped on to the bandwagon for gain and fame but for that sacrifice. Oromo protest of today is only continuation of the past which the second in line, the Qubee Generation has taken over. As long they did not help the enemy by any means or harm compatriots by killing or spying for the enemy, late comers are welcome. Trying to hide history of Oromo heroes to cover up own guilty conscience is more shameful than that. The question should not be when did one join the struggle but what did one contribute since then? Did one strengthen the struggle or did one divide the Oromo more? Did he join for fulfilment of national duty or does one have alien mission for sabotage must be the question?

Now, some reactionary swindlers of the Fidal generation are joining the struggle thinking the main ordeal was over and they could get the opportunity to blend in. So they blended in, but no sooner than they arrived they started to condemn everything, right and left. They are hungry for attention, not by doing something better but by belittling others. They could cling on any idea that sees popular. That is why they are prone to influence of enemy agents. They stay only until they realize Oromo struggle is not as rosy as they thought but can involve protracted suffering. Already many are frustrated that Oromo protest did not pull down TPLF to pave the way for TG in which they could play leading roles.

Many members of the Oromo youth in most cases the “Qubee” generation are trying several means to advance the struggle for independence of Oromiyaa. There are selfish, power mongering and enemy agents and that are trying to distort and sabotage those good intentions. Distortions and character assassinations are among their trademarks. Such saboteurs approach the issue by seeming more radical and nationalist than anybody on the forum until they turn public opinion away from the correct line of struggle. The criteria to sift the pretenders from true revolutionaries must be tangible results they show. However genuine one seems if what they say and produce do not match it must be a losing enterprise to be avoided. Time, money and energy should not be wasted on losing projects.

Saboteurs of all colors do not want independence of Oromiyaa to be realized. The spear head and icon of Oromo drive for independence is the true Oromo Liberation Front. That is the headquarters that the enemy is swearing to destroy. It is not interested in individuals that quit the institution that advance the Kaayyoo of independence. Had it wanted individuals, it could have received on red carpet veterans that volunteered to join it. Empire lover Oromo have to know that the empire is not theirs and their love could make them join Goobana. On the other hand OLF is theirs, hopes of their people is hinged on it. They should be aware that OLF does not belong to any group but to the whole nation and to them as well. OLF may have leadership difficulties today but aspirations and dreams of the Oromo people can never give it up. Empire lovers should not be afraid of independence for they have much to gain from it than from alien empire.

For those that believe in independence there is no alternative kaayyoo to what was laid down by OLF original political program. On the other hand there are those that do not believe in independence of Oromiyaa. Those are of two categories; one is those that believe Oromo have no right to separation from Ethiopia. The others believe the Oromo question can be resolved peacefully within democratic Ethiopia. With this later one, the independence group can walk for a distance. Since the final judges are the Oromians, to struggle together and enable them to decide for themselves is in order. With this understanding all can move towards that end in the manner convenient for each. However for them the goal does not end there; the job of pushing the kaayyoo to conclusion shall continue even after people decide what they want. Till then policy for alien relations can be drawn together. Other fields of cooperation, economic, diplomatic and social can also be considered.

The skirmish before liberation reminds one an Oromo parable. A husband and an expecting wife were chatting about their wishes. The husband said he would buy, mow the meadow beyond and saw barley; sell the harvest and buy a pregnant horse with it. The wife joyfully said I will then ride the horse to my parents to give birth to our child. The man was furious and yelled, are you going to make my horse miscarry and kicked her on the belly causing his wife to miscarry. The land was not bought, there was no harvest, the horse was not bought but they lost an unborn child and their love. Arguing about independence or dependence before Oromo are empowered to implement their rights to national self-determination is being like the man that bought horse in his thought. Or, there could be an intention to sabotage them from practicing that right. It would be better to bring back to reality those that are living in fantasy.

When we talk of OLF we are not talking about actors and situation the organization finds itself at certain period but about the objective or Kaayyoo it espoused. That is what Oromians clearly expressed of upholding at all occasions. The Kaayyoo, qubee, and the symbols it introduced, Odaa and “moggelaman diimtuu” (two borders red) banner has become symbol of Oromo national resistance irrespective of political outlook. The struggle for survival of the OLF that started after the fall of the transitional arrangement has even got more acute since. There were even times when groups were tempted to seek brand patent from alien government over OLF and its paraphernalia had it not been thwarted by a revolutionary group. Let us hope the time will not be far off when OLF will be taken over by the appropriate generation.

No new political organization can thrive as long as OLF is there with its lofty national agenda. Therefore it is advisable to concentrate on forming social organizations that could be of support for the nation in its drive towards liberation. When something starts to decay from the top that new sprouts come from below is a natural order. Many not understanding this instead of strengthening OLF are going up and down to destroy it. It is like the Oromo saying, “Seeing the looseness of curved horn dogs flock after it thinking it will drop for them.” Because OLF has strong base it will not drop until the body it is attached to dies out; it will keep on thriving.

What all Oromo national should know is that the nation has gains to defend and develop. There are also goals to be reached which will be appreciated if common efforts were made to achieve them. Hearing the complaint of this writer about division in diaspora Oromo elites, an Oromo intellectual reminded him of duality in Oromo outlook, the moieties. If that was the case it should have been conscious design of the community. But this one emanated from rivalry based either on lack of confidence in each other’s capabilities and or on individual egocentric desires. In short, it does not seem to reflect the national tradition of duality. What both promise to achieve are copy cut paste of the other and it is not the objectives that are in competition but groups that sponsor them. Let us hope they would change from the rivalry mode to cooperation one and create the traditional harmony of duality without unessential duplication of efforts.

Problems facing Oromiyaa are multifaceted. There are shortages in all fields that no two groups, two mass media, two NGOs etc can solve. Genocide is now the primary problem threatening the nation for extinction by different means. They deny aid to the sick and hungry; sterilize and castrate Oromo women and men under guise of family planning; chase away to drawn in high seas, imprison, torture and kill; open war on innocent farmers; suppress Oromo language and culture; pollute drinking waters and subjecting residences to die by hazardous waste. These must stop.

If safuu becomes the rule among Oromo nationals it will be a great achievement for the nation. Traditionally Oromo are very careful in their choice of words, badmouth is safuu. If it is used it was among closed circles of peers. They may also be allowed only on particular ceremonies, like Buttaa, where they are officially taken as normal. Now every day is turning to Buttaa day and people exchange insults without consideration of age of audience or circle. Vicious attacks are being directed against individual opinion leaders. Oromo social media are infested with narrow minded nationals and enemy agents. Their attack on opinion leaders can affect individuals behind them and possibly create rift in society. The individual person is sacred and should not be violated. Many of us have to learn our right to self-expression comes with duty of respecting others right of inviolability of the human person.

The rule of law we demand from rulers is also expected from us. Defamations and lies are illegal and unethical. To insult someone in public is unforgivable rudeness. It is only the riffraff that try to get fame by humiliating others. To hate someone and rally others to join one in hate is sinful. Lack of strong organizations denied our people teachers of ethical standards and political socialization. In absence of that suspicion of collaboration with the enemy becomes greater and even worst in gossip mongering circles. For this reason many suspect each other of being fifth columnist and enemy collaborator. This is situation that developed after 1992 breakup of TG and has politicians responsible for it. Though the Oromummaa base is solid several antisocial deviants were unleashed to contaminate the social atmosphere.

Let alone those above Gaammee levels the Gaammee knows that no one is without imperfections. Such weak points are what the enemy is hunting for. They will be presented through agents so much distorted. Sometimes it becomes hard not believe. But wise nationals will always uphold as a principle to give ones compatriot benefit of the doubt at all times. For unsubstantiated accusation to affect one’s judgement is organizational weakness. A community whose information is based on rumors cannot expect to win a battle let alone a war. Oromiyaa has several resourceful individuals. Such individuals are treasures of the nation who have to be cared for and protected. Instead of accusing and humiliating each other with songs, poems and narrations, using that to expose and make the enemy despair are praiseworthy.

Political and civic, economic and professional and religious organizations have all reason for their formation. Their first duty is to their primary chores. Other relations or interaction are secondary. If one cannot perform one’s primary homework, it is better to dissolve and join others to make a difference rather than making up appearances for organization existing by name only. It will be of no use crying, “Unity of Oromo organization!” when no difference can be shown under the circumstances. It could rather make it ineffective and stagnant. Only leadership of determined revolutionaries free from all biases and clannish mentality can make difference in national emancipation struggle to victory. Leadership is not numbers but independence, resourcefulness, courage, integrity, determination and commitment of individual persons. It is such a leadership that the nation needs to cultivate and develop.

Oromummaa is our driving force, the language with which we express ourselves, our identity, our unity, our liberation, our independence and pride. All those are ingredient parts of our Kaayyoo. We have to cling to national kaayyoo if we considered ourselves as one among equals and free peoples of the world. The Oromo nation has achievements attained by blood and sweat of its children. Oromo have nationals that advocate for it and tools like social media that served as voice when they were voiceless. All said are their valued resources that are to be protected whatever their shortcomings and negative propaganda against them may be. Above all Oromo have a Kaayyoo which is the source of all their hopes to be free and independent. Those could be realized only if they have strong political leadership.

Politically refreshing and strengthening the vanguard organization OLF and all that are committed to the Kaayyoo is assurance for realization of national hopes and dreams. Socially helping the sprouting of relief and rehabilitation organizations, efforts to create healthy society and organizing the majority force, women and youth and expanding education for all need to be encouraged. Even if gossips and wild allegations were true, struggle for independence is unstoppable. To stand on the side of the enemy and attack a compatriot is safuu. All that moves in Oromo name is the concern of all nationals because Oromo honor, lives and material wealth are involved. Long live independent 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

March 2017

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