Every Nation and nationality under the empire is yearning for freedom from oppression probably except Tigray, which has freed itself but exported colonizer to others. It is half a century since the Oromo started struggle for liberation. The Amaaraa also have started to struggle for their unity and identity. Shekechoo, Sidaamaa and Gambeela were mowed down for demanding their denied rights. The blood of the massacred is still crying for justice to their respective nations. All others have unsatisfied grievances, which could explode at any time. Priority for the majority now is not collective concern but attending their immediate individual pain. There are those who do not feel the pain of each nationality they have collaborated in causing. They still want everyone to entertain their worst days under empire system as the good old days. But who are these people that want to impose on others their own dreams. Now every decision has to be made by one concerned. If there are common problems it needs the will of everybody to participate in the deliberation as equals. And every participant has a veto power on own interest. Therefore, the regional problem can be solved if only there are no self-appointed persons or groups that claim to have prerogative. Peoples have to meet directly. To talk about Oromiyaa, it will be good to understand the Oromo question, which is defined only by the Oromo for any possible negotiation.
Oromo question is about regaining the sovereignty on their country Oromiyaa and the human rights they were denied by alien war campaign. Sovereignty here means the supreme power and full right a nation has on own people and land, resources over and below ground and the natural environment in one’s territory, free from alien interference. By human rights here it is meant the recognition of a person for being human according to Gadaa constitution and laws, UN Charter and world conventions. A body that administers this interest on behalf of the Oromo nation is Oromiyaa state. The Oromiyaa state is led by a government formed for a limited period through election conducted according to the law. The government will have Caffee or a legislative Assembly, Office of the Luba with executive power and hierarchical bureaucracy filled with officials and professional workers used by the Luba office
The Oromo nation was deprived of its sovereignty in the 19th century, during the period imperialists shared out Africa among themselves, in the campaign known as “The Scramble for Africa”. The imperialist then took Ethiopia differently from other African countries for different geopolitical reasons. That was how they allowed Ethiopia/Abyssinia to invade independent countries around her and join their colonizers list. To enable her do that Italy, France, Britain and Russia provided her with massive weapons and military experts. Let alone dare crossing their boundary it was not able even to think, when both Oromiyaa and Ethiopia were armed with traditional weapons. It was after gaining weapons of mass destruction of the time that Oromiyaa was occupied and the Oromo turned into nation of serfs or “ciisanya. “Ciisanya” was a person having only one smoke emitting tukul and his labor freely exploited. Many of Oromo nationals were sold abroad and many boys and girls were taken home.
It was from among those they took home that they raised to high ranks changing their birth names and hiding their fathers’ names. Ras Mokonin, Fitiraarii Habtagorgis, Dajjaach Baalchaa, Fitiraarii Gabayyoo, Dajjaach Gabramaariyam etc. were Ethiopian officers known for their bravery and intelligence. Because it could expose Oromummaa their birth name and fathers’ name were never heard. Though his father’s name was never exposed Baalchaa’s name was left as it was give in “haammachiisaa” by Oromo Qaalluu after birth because he failed to fulfil the criteria priests wanted. Gathering captives and “ciisanya” they involved them in wars that does not concern them. Those that survived were never given equal treatment with their Ethiopian peers. Oromummaa was not a source of pride. Not only that of those recruited history of the Oromo nation as a whole was buried. Amaaraa language, culture and history was imposed on Oromo in Oromiyaa. Not only being sovereign, it even tried Oromo identity to be forgotten by generation that comes after occupation. World technological development brought changes to Oromo view of themselves. It raised the question, “who are we?” and surged forward with Oromummaa. With research and oral tradition, they got at home, they were able to learn that their fathers did not submit without resistance. With that they came across many Oromo heroes and heroines’ names in North, South, East, West and Center. They even came to know that there were many braves among enslaved Oromo with no match. Thus, they found evidences that the Oromo were not by nature cowards and ignorant as the enemy tried to inculcate in them. But for not knowing how to express it together, Oromo oppression has reached a point of exploding from over suppression. They now believed that Waaq did not create the Oromo to be servants for the Habashaa but were subdued by force. With that Oromo youth of the 60s were able to communicate and get closer. For the first time in order to present Oromoo oppression they were able to come out with a political organization with program. The organization they came out with was called Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). As a pioneer OLF contributed much to the political consciousness of the Oromo. But it is staggering before reaching its goal for several different reasons. Political leadership or political organization is required to articulate people’s grievances in a systematic way.
People’s oppression does not stop because leadership did not reach in time. Because OLF got weak many groups watching the growing oppression started to get organized to stand against it. Even the enemy camp started to create organizations for the Oromo to cool down their anger and derail their liberation struggle. One that came out viable among them was that created by Tigray group the OPDO. There are also Oromo groups that that accepted the Ethiopian Constitution and organized under it as Opposition. All those are not able to replace Kaayyoo laid down by OLF. But it is said, “one leaps the way one was hurt”. Oppression of the people has increased and reached intolerable level. But deciding to die defending themselves against evil all the people rose in unison with rage. It embraced all that came to it in support. The people were not as divided as organizations formed in their name. All that came to them were made part and parcel of the people. Taking the initial Kaayyoo put down by OLF and strengthening their unity more than ever marched together like they did in the 15-16th century. With that it has brought in enemy’s camp change that was never seen before. Oromo son has climbed to Ethiopian Empire power without being asked to drop his Oromummaa. Now the Ethiopians have no time to argue about profile but are looking for any one that they could set against Tigrean over lordship. Oromummaa is not contemptible for the time as long as their other criteria to be Ethiopian Chief is met.
Oromo people did not go into struggle with full force but had been warming up for it. Now they are moving in toto raising their arms to regain what had been snatched away from them. All have started to get together in social groups to practice Gadaa system to acquaint themselves with past challenges and knowledge. That is one of the symptoms for Gadaa returning with renewal. It will be inevitable that OLF will also get out of the quagmire it was thrown into and be part of people’s movement to reach its goal. Then all that left it would return. Oromo objective of independence and freedom will also hit its goal. Oromo means people. People do not shun people. Just like their name they will live in peace and happiness with all. Bickering over small dispute has to stop. Any arising problem will be resolved with “ilaa fi Ilaamee’ (art of dialogue). Oromo democracy is not democracy that majority imposes its will on minority. All decisions were passed only with consensus. It is such characteristic that makes it different from hither to existing democracies. Th Oromo believe that even the smallest community like Baiso, Karo, Kwegu, Maawoo etc. with population from 500-100 have their own territory and deserve respect and protection from bigger neighbors. The Oromo have no hatred for aliens but for abuses. It assures all that dictatorship will not be born from Gadaa heritage but democracy.
Liberation of Oromo means liberation of all its neighbors and beyond. Oromo hirelings being used as instrument of oppression by the colonizer will stop only then. It took the enemy long time to recognize the name “Oromo”. However, but when they talk about Ethiopia among themselves, even though they have proclaimed in their laws they won’t include Oromo and other colonies in their thoughts. Even if they include they take them only as something like star orchid. At heart, they know that Oromo are not Ethiopians. To mention few instances, in his letter of 29 October, 1862 to Queen Victoria, Teedros took Oromo being aliens on the same level with Turks. Minilik presented himself in his “Treaty of Addis Ababa” as Emperor of Ethiopia and “Oromo” countries. Whom do they want to tell them than their hero butcher kings. The Habashaa ruling class have used the Oromo for over hundred years. Oromiyaa became base for life of this ruling class. Oromo’s coming out with question of sovereignty threatened their luxurious life style. It is when plundering by force as usual is becoming impossible that they started to change tactics.
Now they are saying, in building the empire, the serfs and slaves and the masters have equal accountability and responsibility. Taking away all their land, denying their identity and oppressing and abusing them for over a century is forgotten. Discrimination between Ethiopia and Oromo country they call “Gaallaa Mareet” is taken as never existed. They chose narrating false history over asking for pardon for wrongs done and offering for discussion on future relations. Even had the story was true, it cannot over ride t a birth right; the present generation can say, “I will not live with anyone without my free will”. There had been no relation formed based on free will between Ethiopia and Oromiyaa so far. It is another question to say it can be formed in times ahead? Unless we bring to the same level our understanding for political concepts, democracy, bilisummaa and equality it will be difficult to create accord. The Habashaa conquered Oromiyaa after bloody war and kept it in the same way. Do they want to repeat that again? Time has changed, arrogance and greed has to be curbed for safe passage.
The Oromo know themselves as a nation whose identity is different from Ethiopians and that Ethiopia occupied them breaking them by force. Ethiopian registry also knows Oromiyaa as their “Qiny gizaat” (Colony). Present Ethiopian groupings do not want to visit their archives for verification. Oromiyaa for them is part and parcel of Ethiopia from time immemorial. Wrong premises lead to wrong conclusion, that is their problem. They are presenting descendants of early occupiers of Oromiyaa and those that went to Oromiyaa for different reasons and are living among the natives without communal territory. What they fail to understand is that immigrants do not have the legal right to deny sovereignty of natives on their country. The Oromo look upon persons willing to live with them as their own offspring. Except for the ungrateful few with nostalgia for Nafxanyaa system majority live in peace sharing whatever the environ offers them. There had been no threat to life and property of peaceful residents of Oromiyaa greater than that to the natives. Unless one alienates oneself nobody even notices that one is alien. Those that think differently are only those that hope return of Nafxanyaa system. That has now become history. Ethiopians have their own country as Oromiyaans have their own. If they go to each other’s countries it is required to live according to law of country they went to.
There are some that had been away from their country for a long time and speak Amharic and claim to be educated campaigning against Oromiyaa and the Oromo. They say to have made so many studies among them about governance and languages. Their study showed them that Oromo is not a nation; there is no something called Oromo country or Oromiyaa; that Qubee is not more convenient than “Fidal”. The whole issue is about business. If Oromiyaa remains subservient to Ethiopia they can get especial treatments through their connections; for those that have patented works especially on improved “Fidel” and Amharic language Oromiyaa staying under Ethiopia opens for them bigger market than in the mother country alone. They have already concluded that unless Amharic get superiority, they cannot break through the Qubee wall. The worst thing about these people is that they are appealing to Amaaraa nationalism for their own individual benefit. It is not their concern if Amaaraa and Oromo clash for they will not share the pain from distance. They cling to “Ethiopia name” because they are not sure to which nationality they belong except for being distant descendants of the colonial army commonly known as Nafxanyaa and having hatred for the Oromo.
Present conditions in the Ethiopian Empire are not the same with the past. The previous leaders lost the rein to internal struggle and are staggering unable to control even their surroundings. However, the stand many of them have on the empire is no different from the far past. One that mounted on the saddle of empire and is troubling people for last three decades ago is group of Tigrean ruling class. Because of its selfishness let alone sharing power with Amaaraa as before, they have looted what it had, and also put under question ownership on its surrounding area. The greater part of Ethiopia is Amaara. It was Amaaraa that completed empire building started by Yohaannis. Amaaraa could not save even Tigray while crying for Ethiopia. Its destiny is not becoming better than the colonies. Its rage on junior partner can be clearly seen.
It has become over four decades since Oromoo raised questions of sovereignty and reclaiming rights taken away from them. They use armed and political struggle for the purpose. Nature forces neighboring African peoples to live adjacently forever. For this reason, Oromo have repeatedly made statements that they give priority for resolving conflicts peacefully. However, they will never give up willingly their birth rights and their country. They will decide without alien interference on relations they will have with neighbors and on the way, they choose to live. That is why they are paying dear to get the right of nations for national self-determination realized. They will continue paying more sacrifice to guard what so far are achieved to respect the memory of those that paid their lives for them. There are those whose guts have melted, that say how long should blood flow, rather better to take whatever the enemy throws for us and live. One will not prefer begging what belongs to one from aliens over dying, unless one has birth defect. Some are born without honor and have no principle and know no “safuu’ to be trustworthy. They never complete what they started for they have no commitment for any cause.
As an organization the struggle that OLF wages first is to give Oromo rights mentioned above; then it is to establish independent republic Oromiyaa. However, it believes that it is the sole right of the Oromo people to decide on the way they want to lead their lives in the future. It is possible that different Oromo groups can have different suggestions. Therefore, all have the chance to present own suggestions for the people to choose from alternates. Be them aliens or friends they have legal obligation to abide by people’s free will. To stand against people practicing this right will be taken as arrogance and criminal act. As long as any people believe in their unity and ask to live together no one has the right to stand against them. It may be proper to ask how those who had been together go apart and what type of preparation is required? But that should not be actions which block the right of national self-determination.
The Oromo will not give consideration for those that try to make them doubt their choice and separate identity in alien language by calling them “Zaranyaa and gosanyaa” (racist and tribalistic”). For Oromo independence is a right. They will not give attention to those that do not respect for this right. Those that want to reimpose Ethiopian superiority on them are enemies. To ask for creating relations is one thing; but those that start with propaganda that Oromo interest is wrong has to ask themselves as to who they are to say that? For Habashaa to present themselves as having rights to decide on how Oromo has to lead their lives is only arrogance. Even if they take the existing federal system it will be with Oromiyaa state not with stronger federal hand. This may not go down with chauvinists. The existing constitution also needs to be renegotiated.
OPDO leaders said they have addiction to Ethiopia. Though they did not express it in this way there could be others that have similar addictions. Those that have addiction must be left alone to quench their craving or put in rehabilitation but should not be condemned. If supremacy of the law is guaranteed and the right to free self-expression is recognized for all, there is nothing that necessitates fighting. It will be good for all if there is condition in which one can go around and peacefully express oneself and share ideas with people. Those are all in the constitution of the empire. For this reason, the solution available is facilitating for practicing rights of assembly, freedom of self-expression and speech. If there is one that says that one will not solve problems unless blood is spilt he/she is insane. And if one says one will not recognize group rights one is only a warmonger. He is one that thinks Oromo cannot choke in return if choked. Oromo love peace. But they will not submit to one that denies them the right of sovereignty over their country and their identity.
According to the law EPRDF is one of the Ethiopian parties. It claimed to be elected by people and is in power. Since it represents the force that occupies Oromiyaa, its chairman being Oromo does not erase EPRDF being the enemy. For Oromo question to get answer it is the one with whom to negotiate and as well as against whom to struggle. It will be advantageous if the Ethiopian Empire can hold fair and free elections. It is easier to negotiate with democrats than with dictators. However, empires have never been democratized but dismantled. Ethiopian state had been around for a long period. But its system was a system lead by one monarch. Though that was changed the system that came after it however they pretend to come through election they were administration of one party. Those parties are controlled by one individual. The present party EPRDF could not free itself from Habashaa political culture. One that created it and have real power is an organization that abandoned Habashaa tradition called TPLF (Wayyaanee). TPLF/EPRDF jeopardized the general election and also turned the party into one-man dictatorial rule. Therefore, what they call democracy is fake. Because they are not willing to dismantle the empire they cannot democratize. The people are waging a movement that will uproot oppression once and for all for they can no more bear it. With that skirmish is happening in the organization. It has appointed a person who came with popular pressure as its chairman and the Prime Minister as well.
Peoples of the empire are not asking about the next election. All want the PM to chase out TPLF before that. To demand for chasing out TPLF means demanding to dismantle EPRDF. There are those that are preparing to turn Ethiopia to the days of the emperor believing that to be inevitable. A big Tawaahido monk even dared to come out cursing article 39 of the constitution. That means the oppressed that reached here paying sacrifice that demanded blood that flowed like flood are being looked upon with contempt. Therefore, it is only the struggle the Oromo started towards liberation that can give hope to peoples of the empire’s dream for democracy. Autocratic and democratic systems do not fit into each other. Unless people who desire to live in democratic system with equality denounce autocratic rule the two systems cannot exist side by side in the same camp. If all people could wage internal democratic struggle it would be easier for democrats to unite. It would only be deceiving oneself to talk about freedom and equality with dictatorial mentality.
If peoples of Africa strengthen their unity they can be hope for each other and all black race. It is essential to recognize that groups have their own culture, tradition, language and style of life. To separate and adopt elements that connect us and those that make it essential to depend on each other, will strengthen not weaken us. To make acceptance of equality of peoples a priority can serve as starting point of unity. One putting the other under control without his will, deceit, lack of transparency in relations between each other could only keep us apart rather than pulling us together. We can get solutions in common only if we can put issues that relate to history of the Ethiopian empire on the table and ask what is better for us? Otherwise the benefit of trying to present the history in distorted way would only lead to mistrust.
Today’s freedom could stop carried over yesterday’s slavery but cannot go back and erase it. Those that were master and slave recognize each other’s yester day’s status. To say a house that the slave built for the master and master lived collecting rents on it, is our common home that we built for each other will be naked foolery. It cannot be denied that the slave has put his blood and sweat into it. But blood and sweat is not paid for benefit of the slave but of the master. Today the master is in problem because the slave rebelled. As a result, he has started to say that they did both right and wrong together and have equal responsibility and accountability with intention of sabotaging the freedom the slave almost grasped. For that the master is trying to present as evidence the different wars the slave participated in and demonstrated gallantry. The slave participated in those wars not from love of a country but was driven to them by force. Let as see one of those wars:
Oromiyaa, Tuulama to Booranaa was occupied 1886-1896. The Battle of Adwa was in 1896. It is unlikely to say in ten years she was molded into Ethiopia and entered into battle travelling over thousand miles over whelmed with love of country. Wounds inflicted on the Oromo and others did not heal and people did not come out from trauma of war by that time. Whatever done was done by the slave drivers whip from behind. Oromo say, “Sirba Giddii kan mangistii” (Forced dance of the government) when forced to do what they are not willing to do. Minilik and Italians were then contemporary colonizers. They had different agreement between them. Abrogating treaties and clash between forces are not new for the world. What is new is the clash being between a black technologically backward country and technologically advanced white country. Both have recruited black fighters from countries they recently colonized. When on the Ethiopian side the colonizer and the colonized are both black notwithstanding color discrimination on Ethiopian slaves; on the Italian side the colonizer is white the colonized is black. The era was when blacks who were sold earlier and scattered all over the world were raising their heads and seeds of pan Africanism were being sawn; and Africa was being shared out among imperialists. To see defeat of the white was joy for all of them. It lifted the morale of those that fell under slavery. Mistaking the true nature of the conflict many took it as anti-colonial war against a colonizer.
The Battle of Adwa as being source of pride for black race it has also some covered up shameful deeds for the black. All captives of Minilik’s war with southern peoples like the Oromo were turned slaves and used as pack animals and domestic servants for Habashaa warriors. One can only imagine the abuse on those pretty little girls by them. White captives from the Battle of Adwa, were handled with care and respect, while a hand and a leg of each black captive were amputated and left in the field without any help. That they were crying for water until death put them to rest is documented in registry of history. That was not strange practice for rulers of Ethiopia. Teedros and Yohaannis had also done that on the Oromo. That was on text books of Ethiopian students, like “Ethiopian history” by Taklatsaadiq Mekuria. Minilik had cut breast and hand of Oromo he defeated on tree branches on road side. The Annolee and Asulee case can be cited among others. These days there are those that demand the destruction of memorial for victims of Harma Muraa Harka Muraa of Annolee. Why didn’t they destroy all these years the memorial erected in the center of Oromiyaa for the person who committed all the crimes. Are they not remembering him for achievement of that deed? How can such double standard be corrected?
How can a mentally sane person be proud of the likes of Minilik that committed genocide? Unless it was by force, how can one imagine the possibility of Oromo marching in the campaign that he was leading? That has now turned history. It does not change the life we are leading now and that of the future. We better try building trust. To lie to each other on identity of Oromo can be obstacle for that. There for if Ethiopians could keep their history to themselves, and stop irritating the others, they can negotiate on things that are useful for both sides. Otherwise, can’t it show that bringing their man-eater kings and praising on square common to all indicate that their offspring as well have similar cruelty characteristics? Oromo can have relations only with those that come for peace and reconciliation holding green grass.
After his defeat at the battle of Maycawu Haayila Sillaasee complained in his book that “Gallaas (Oromo) attacked us from the back”. Does that show love for Ethiopia? Modern Ethiopia is country of Amaaraa and Tigree yesterday and today as well. If one focus and listen when descendants of Nafxanyaa discuss about “being Ethiopian” at all times one could prove that. Their heroes are the likes of Minilik and Teedros persons that mowed down the Oromo and humiliated the survivors. Whenever they celebrate their anniversaries, it is a little short of tears as if these kings were dead only recently. With that we also get the opportunity to mourn our compatriots they mowed down. Their activists wrap themselves with the banner that the army of genocide was flying when it invaded Oromiyaa and expect the Oromo to march with them. We do not share, one country, one flag, common heroes, one common history to be proud of together and we do not have common feelings with which we could cherish the same past memories. Not only as class but also as nations, we lived as, enslaver and enslaved; ruler and ruled and oppressor and oppressed. However, we have lived together known each other’s ins and outs to some extent. We have lived together as individual friends and wife and husband; In general, even if you call us “Aramanee” (Heathen) many of us have the same religion with you. Could all those become bridges for future intercourse? Even if they could, they will not be reasons for continuing sucking our blood. For all purposes, let us put aside our vengeance and try as equal African peoples and form relations of which the black be proud of. Oromo do not discriminate human beings for skin color. But they say, “Hokkoon gara ofiitt haatii.” (The hoe throws towards herself).
Above it is tried to show our difference and our commonality. If we could stop trying inserting lies into our relations, there could be lots that enable us understand each other. For example, we are in the same geographical area with the same climate and weather. Those could sometimes get sever and unless tackled together it can be difficult to do it alone. We have rivers that flow to each other. It can be beneficial to use them with joint plan. We can pass through difficulties in our region if we recognize and respect each other’s rights and interests. When the Oromo say something why should Amaaric speaker jump to say “I know for you?” Unless one become them, can’t there be development? Can’t there be relations unless one is them? Can’t they exist unless they exploit Oromiyaa? If peace is wanted in the region they have to change old thinking. Oromo question is for regaining their stripped sovereignty and rights and live with abundance and happiness. Those could happen only if they could realize their right of nations to national self-determination up to and including independence without any obstacle put on their way. The questions what types of relations will they have with neighbors and with whom will they live forming union are questions that should come only after that? Let them be free first.
Some quarters have started to flatter the Oromo. They do not see Oromo actions as they are but interpret them to fit their interest. They push the Oromo to see the world not as it is but as they want it to be seen. For this reason, if Oromo raise questions outside criteria they put down for them they are given adjectives like narrow, tribalistic, secessionist or terrorist. From among them TPLF/EPRDF proclaimed OLF terrorist. Since then it is imprisoning, torturing, killing and abusing any Oromo that it hates as member of OLF. That is why the Tigree official stood witness of all prisons speaking afaan Oromo. Though what surprised him was the failure of the assimilation policy. The mark of all enemies of Oromo is condemning and demonizing OLF. That is why they attack it from all direction through inlets they get in order to keep it weak and divided. With stick and carrot, they have caused few dropouts from among malignant tumors of national struggle. There are still those who lament about the drama TPLF performed twenty-five years ago concerning massacres of Arbagugguu and Baddannoo despite individual Amaaraa that witnessed the act standing witness that OLF had no hand in them. This could also be TPLF tactic for diversion of the issue. Whatever they do, Oromo do something because they believe in it and will brag about it; hiding is safuu. The weaklings in OLF, unable to stand against enemy machinations with discipline are seen falling under them. OLF is an organization formed with the will of patriots and heroes and heroines. It should not be assessed by wavering, dishonorable cadres that have abandoned the Kaayyoo. There are those that intentionally or from ignorance want to divert the objectives of OLF taking these cadres as a reason. The true OLF is revolutionary. It will not turn back from advancing Oromo interest. Oromo independence, unity of Africa, and peace and calmness of the world are always its objectives. Long live Oromiyaa! Let Bilisummaa flourish!
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!