The Oromo have broken shackles of colonialism and have started shaking off the dust of slavery to be free. Those who are accustomed to sit on the Oromo with out-stretched legs, did not lose their hope yet. They are convinced that Oromiyaa was primordially created for them. It was principle of Abbaa Gadaa folks for the Oromo to unite with peoples of Africa that believe in equality and democratic principles as long as their national rights are respected. If that fails the Oromo must be prepared to declare their independence. The Oromo had demonstrated by carrying out Oromo revolution that nobody can threaten them for their identity and that no one can impose on them others identity. They have shaken the empire from its foundation, except pulling out and discarding it they have no part of it to save. The youth of the 1960s that has ignited Oromo revolution are now above their late 60s and are phasing out. Even if there are those who are clinging and staggering with the struggle the responsibility to give it continuity is that of youth of this period. To transfer Baallii (authority) and receive it in time is demand of Oromummaa. Incoming Gadaa can change or amend laws of outgoing ones. It is up to Qeerroo and Qeerrantii of the Qubee generation to raise Mogge Lamaan Diimtuu high and march to victory. The following issues among others are pending awaiting for their actions:
1. The federal government has to give up its claim over Oromiyaa land and return it to legitimate owners, the Oromo
2. interfering in Oromiyaa education has to be stopped
3. Establish independent and transparent civil service for Oromiyaa.
4. Dismantle the old imperial structure and form a new union with the willing or declare independence
5. Get organized in Gadaa model at every hiriyaa level and be prepared to defend your birth rights to life and happiness. Oromiyaan Haa Jiraattu!
Oromiyaa was occupied by force led by Shawan king Minilik, helped with manpower and material by European colonizers staring the last decade of the 19th century. That force was called Nafxanyaa. The leadership primarily was composed of Shawaa Amaaraa feudal class and coopted Habashaa nobility; rehabilitated slaves like Habta Goorgis and Baalchaa Abbaa Nafsoo. Both slaves, their native origin and fathers’ names (Diinagde and Saafoo) were never officially revealed until fall of the last emperor. Habta Goorgis’s first name was Qusee. Balcha was left with his native name because he could not be baptized discriminated as told, for losing his genitals when he was captured as a kid. There were galtuu tribal chiefs like Goobana who joined the Nafxanyaa ranks enticed by smart Minilik with material gains and share in fame. That is why Oromo traitors are called Goobana like Quisling of Norway. Today that is presented as Oromo participation in the corrupt and criminal Ethiopian system
Rank and file Nafxanyaa had been recruited mainly from Abyssinia but many were added from defeated peoples during the Southern March of Minilik’s army. The Coptic church marched side by side with the army blessing its evil acts. There is no distinction between her and the Nafxanyaa. That is why millions of Oromo flee her and joined other religions. Non-Orthodox Christian recruits were forced to get baptized and forced to learn Amharic which only the Coptic church teaches. Knowledge of Amharic became major criteria for getting government job. That was why government offices became monopoly of the Amaaraa. That is why Orthodox Christians are referred to as Amaaraa
by natives of the South. Though church and state had come down leaning on each other, the church was expected not to discriminate between her flock. The saying, “Is deacon not enough to be confessor for the Oromo?” (La gaallaa Nafs abbaat daqon mach annasa) shows such unevangelical discrimination. Unless there is a body that cleanse her from her being Nafxanyaa. In Oromiyaa the Ethiopian Orthodox cannot be viewed outside the Nafxanyaa system as she stands.
Even though majority of the Nafxanyaa are Amaaraa proper, it was not the members alone but the system that was Amaarized to hide its intake’s origin. That structure has come down to this day. As long as one is absorbed into it, one automatically becomes Amaaraa and get detached from own people. Their names, language and style of life are all changed. Up to the time of the last emperor the Amaaraa were proud of their superiority. Now that has changed. The Amaaraa are claiming they never monopolized political power in Ethiopia. They assert that there has never been oppressed and oppressor in the empire. They have started to disown the assimilado and give them back to the people they stole them from. What are they thinking when denying what people that had directly suffered their abuse are still living? How can you reach agreement with people that deny what is very clear? Oromiyaa by tradition is a democratic country. Human rights which includes freedom of religion is protected. Interference by any state federal or otherwise is not allowed in the way Oromiyaans worship. State and Church are separate.
That there were individual Oromo that rose to fame in the Ethiopian political system is obvious. Because Obama rule US, Kenya did not participate in US governance. Oromo as a nation also had never been represented in governing Ethiopia. Abiy’s coming to power after Haayila Maariyaam of Wala’ita leading Ethiopian party (EPRDF) without hiding being Oromo is the first in Habashaa history. This did not go well with Amaaraa elites. The tradition which was to be bound by Amaaraa straight jacket is broken. Amaaraa ruling class used to recruit capable persons from natives and even led the empire in their name. Oromo people were ruled with iron hand without any mercy. They were deprived of their land, resources and honor for more than a century. Now the Amaaraa system is crushed. The colonies are on the gate of freedom. Federal system mostly based on language but in the case of Oromiyaa on territory was formed to divert inevitable danger of violent separation. But it was not based on free will of the people. Either a new union on the free will of the peoples will be born in the Horn of Africa or all will go their ways. Only those that have nostalgia for the slave days clinging on the Nafxanyaa system. The preceding is history of Nafxanyaa formation in nutshell.
What any subjugated nation desires is liberation. The Oromo had shown this through several scattered uprisings since occupation. Uprisings in Raayyaa, Walloo, Shawaa, Baalee etc. can be mentioned. Petitions to Western governments by Eastern and Western Oromo can also be examples. When grievances of the masses big and small that are piled up and suppressed start getting released no part of societal organizations’ will be spared. Work place, roads, markets, security establishments, religious shrines etc., all will be jeopardized for they are part of the dying empire. Old and new ideas will start clashing. So that the unexpected does not come and destroy the good, all have to start thinking about it. Habashaa elites remaining stuck on old outlook cannot turn the wheel of history back words but could make the struggle more severe. No power can stop the movement now taking place in the Horn of Africa; those that stand aside and claim it does not concern them instead of correcting themselves are going to rue. Until structure and thoughts of the old empire are uprooted and replaced by something new enduring stability should not be expected
A legally registered social movement that started locally but exploded on to the national level and beyond was Maccaa and Tuulama Association (MTA). There was no corner of Oromiyaa that it did not touch. It intentionally attracted high school and university students to raise high the torch lit by the elders. It was a period when the young had more information and external influence. The existence of Maccaa and Tuulama helped them understand the
Oromo question and blend it with new ideas they acquired from around the world. Maccaa Tuulama was band and many of its leaders imprisoned and some also killed.
The MTA initial objective was community self-help. It planned for advancement of education and communication, like literacy campaign, school building, road and bridge construction. But that these alone cannot solve the Oromo question of respect for human rights, equality and freedom were observed by some of its members. That the Oromo have more political, economic and social grievances were openly discussed. That was what led to its banning. This was the time when the whole world youth were in revolutionary mood. Ethiopian students were part of that great movement. It was the time when majority student body went left. It was a time when one of MTA leaders, Brigadier General Taaddasa Birruu was in the same debating panel with students like Walalliny Makonnin. Walalliny was known for his paper “the National Question” among other deeds.
Out of the despair from fall of MTA and progressive movement of Ethiopian students Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) came out strong. OLF was led by students who were mostly leaders or activists in university student union. Most members of OLF were high school and college Oromo students. Its amended Political Program was first declared in June, 1976 and second in May, 1978. There, the fundamental objective was stated as realization of national self-determination for the Oromo people which can be realized by decolonizing Oromiyaa and establishment of people’s democratic republic of Oromiyaa. Now Oromiyaa is said to be one of the federated states with self-administration. But legally the land and resources are not yet under their full control. Therefore, its administration is similar to the old balabbaat system where the Abbaa Qoroo is there to enforce collection of taxes and do local services as an arm of his masters, the Nafxanyaa. Without full control over land and resources of Oromiyaa the Oromo cannot claim ownership over Oromiyaa.
Darg initially declared land belongs to the people. The amendment, land belonged to the government passed unnoticed until it started resettling people from the north as it liked. Land owning system in the colonial mother land should not be confused with those of the Southern peoples including Oromiyaa. In the former land belonged to the community from time immemorial. In the later It belonged to the colonial state for more than a hundred years. Before the Darg, the emperors allowed community leaders to retain ¼ (Sisoo) of their communal land and took ¾ for themselves. The Darg took all of it. It was tremendous sacrifice of Oromo peasants that forced the land reform. But they were cheated. Therefore, the struggle for Oromo land has to continue. Land in Oromiyaa belong to the Oromo people. Its distribution, maintenance and transfer will be decided by the people directly or through their representatives. Each Oromo person has to be entitled freely to a piece of land in Oromiyaa. Thus, the land question is still pending.
Another issue that was being raised by Oromo struggle for the last fifty years is their education. The teaching of language has so far helped the colonizer in brainwashing Oromo kids. By it, Oromo language was diluted and the nation was almost near to extinction. But with their struggle the nation was able to survive and Afaan Oromo becoming working and education language. However, the way education is handled now still make it vulnerable to declining. Education in Oromiyaa at all levels must be under the control of Oromiyaa state. If the nation has to survive, aliens (government or individuals), should not be entrusted with intellectual development of one’s young generation. If the Oromo opt for forming union with others the role of the union government should be only providing technical aid, setting minimum standards for certain subjects and support for development of minority language which may not be able to stand by themselves. For now, the question of education is another pending question awaiting action.
At present there is no demarcation between party and civil service. The Oromiyaa ruling party now overlaps with the federal ruling party. This gives chance for undue interference of federal government in the internal affairs of
Oromiyaa. Therefore, recruitment and administration of civil service has to be independent from party and transparent to the public. Strong and impartial civil service can give assurance for continued protection and peaceful life. If security forces like militia, intelligence and police are left under a party, civil rights and freedom of other parties and civilians can be threatened. Therefore, creation of impartial civil service is another question to be given attention.
Dr. Abiy is an Oromo. Though his party has Oromo name it is a member of Ethiopian mother party, the EPRDF. History of his party shows that it was created in Habashaa land for Habashaa use. For more than 27 years it had been assessed, analyzed and synthesized by Ethiopian leading party so that its members not dare to raise their head and question authority of the TPLF. The partnership still goes though the servant master relation seems to change. This relation is what raises the Oromo question whether he is loyal to them or if Oromo interest is his priority? It seems, his leadership of Ethiopian party and his Premiership takes precedence over his position in ODP and that makes to which interest he gives priority obvious. Otherwise he should have done for Oromiyaa at least half of what TPLF had done for Tigraaway. Leading a peaceful transition requires neutrality among warring parties. Oromo consider themselves as rivals with Ethiopians throughout their history. They had been struggling against Ethiopian colonizing forces before they joined the peaceful transition. Since then how much neutrality did the Dr. demonstrate? Structure has big influence on an organization. Until the structure that Ethiopia has spread over the colonies is dismantle any one going into it can never think positively about Oromoo and other colonies. Despite that the Nafxanyaa, old and new complain of being marginalized by “those that took the turn”, meaning Oromo. Oromo thus are being accused unfairly because of ODP leadership.
Oromiyaa today is not at peace with herself. OLF faction led by Daawud Ibsaa have entered into misunderstanding with the government for matters not clear to the public. The armed part of this faction for unknown reason did not accept civilian command. For this reason, the Daawud group have severed its relation with it and the force has declared its independence from the Headquarters. Some doubt if that was some sort of a drama. That being as it may, what concerns the Oromo is the terror taking place in rural areas by clash between Ethiopian Government and the rebel Oromo Liberation Army factions. Oromo being majority population that is assumed to be reflected in Ethiopian federal army and police. The population where fighting goes on is Oromo. The armed rebels again are assumed to be totally Oromo. All in all, the majority casualty of the conflict are Oromo. To seek for reconciliation rather than revenge is by any scale to the advantage of Oromummaa. In matters of national interest every son and daughter must be selfless to spare the life of each and every son and daughter. In such conflict nobody can win. There is no certainty if Oromiyaa is not attacked by another side. If that happens who should they fight? To realize this after so many have been wiped out on all sides will be sorrowful. Let all sides come to their senses and work to bring an end to the suffering of our toiling masses. That there is going to be competition for power is clear. How proud can authority gained while Oromo children blood is flowing make any one. Though they accuse them of monopolizing power, contempt they show them is despicable. It is good to be careful not add to that by showing contempt for each other.
Amaaraa elites have started openly to say Oromo has no country to claim in Ethiopian empire. Relations they believe, they should have with the Oromo is based on that outlook. Their cadres’ cacophony on issues like land, language, education, religion is proof for that. When issue of Oromo freedom is mentioned what comes to their mind is when they claimed to free slaves, then they sent them out without share of slaves’ own labor. They believe, even if the Oromo are freed, since they have no country, they will live in ours according to our dictates. It is only what they determine for them, no self-determination for the Oromo. Oromo counter claim that they have more land in the empire than presently recognized by the Ethiopian constitution drawn to appease them. Unless that attitude of denial is changed it will be difficult
to negotiate for continuing to live together. One has to agree on common starting point to reach agreement. Could they change their nature to do that? This Oromo are not those their fathers told them as “naïve, animal, illiterate”. For instance, they know that the tabernacles are replica of Moses’ not the true one, but that it is made from wood they have read from their own books. Can’t telling to such people that it is dropping from the sky; it refuses to move etc. make them going low than expected? Why are their leaders quite about it?
At this period of the region’s history, whether somebody likes it or not, there should be nothing unnegotiable. If they are willing to live as equals respecting each other’s separate territory, interest and peoples’ right for national self- determination the necessary contract can be negotiated. Otherwise taking the matter to the people for final decision will be in order. The Oromo want freedom from subjugation, hunger, disease and unemployment at any cost. That could be achieved only if they take their destiny into their hands. Oromo are not bound by history, culture and tradition of old Ethiopia. They will be obliged only by culture, tradition and covenant of the new union they are going to form together voluntarily. Therefore, forming the union or declaring own independence are also pending.
The youth must get ready to tackle all pending issues as summarized at the beginning of this article. The road ahead is shorter than those passed but can be more difficult. The enemy is making the last kick for its life of luxury in Oromiyaa. All its parts, political, economic, social and religious are called to arms. Only firm, determined and committed stand alone can bring them to their senses. It is wrong assumption, as it is partly greediness and partly ignorance that is driving them to such madness. The Oromo should keep their calmness as usual. They should not be the first to transgress on others rights. Yet, their readiness should be that of a panther. Let us hope these African brothers will realize that they are in arrears in their apology for sins of their fathers. Simple acceptance of this will rain peace and calmness over the region. Denials will only keep us apart. Oromiyaan Haa Jiraattu!
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!