Oromo is a branch of people known as Kushitic. Kush is one of the oldest civilizations of the world. They are living in this segment of eastern Africa from Mediterranean to the land of the Bantu and Nilotic peoples from time immemorial. Being nomadic they had been migrating from north to south. When they wanted to return to the north, because their land and relatives were occupied by aliens, they have to organize a great army which reached its climax in the 16th century. With war waged against two empires Adal and Habashaa they were able to liberate their country and people. Habashaa king helped by European imperialist was able to colonize them in 19thcentury. With their struggle the Oromo forced the empire to recognize their right to national self-determination. Though with that a federal system was formed, still freedom recognized by the constitution is not yet fully implemented. For this reason, Oromo political organizations, be it to strengthen their country or to assure freedom of Oromiyaa have to strengthen their unity. Those that administer the federation should not rule by legitimacy from Minilik Palace but get new one from the people. That was what was observed in the past century. If peace is desired, with the federation relations between colonizer and colonized must be cut and new one created between peoples of the dying empire.
Though colonizer is not now physically visible it is their stack in the minds of their remnants. Propaganda that we have common history of freedom, heroes and symbols has to stop. Distorting their history and giving them identity of their enemies without their expressed will, amounts to contempt for the people that have lost so much to assert their difference from the colonizer. The past gave the region no benefit but conflict. History we have is that of enslaver and enslaved; heroes we had were enemies to each other and the symbols imposed on us are those that the enslaver carried to break us. Under existing condition no Oromo nationalist would willingly carry Ethiopian flag. Formation of EPP has no problem as long as it stays as one of the many parties. To be a democratic party it has to accept; the right of nations to national self-determination has to be reasserted by all unequivocally. Negotiation for forming a new union based on equality and will of all nations and nationalities has to be carried out. Then end of the empire state and beginning of a new union of trusting equals will to be declared and a new life begins. If that fails declaration of independence by the Oromo and all others is justified. Let us set priorities of issues and present them without bias and distortion. To continue living together, let chapter of lies end and new union created so that we march with trust.
The way Nafxanyaa system hopefuls view the Oromo is still in the 19th century. Let as tell them in short how Oromo view themselves. No one external to Oromo have the right to tell them who they are and with who to live. That there could be no one that can partition their country Oromiyaa and disunite the Oromo people any more, their confidence in the Qubee generation is very strong. It is oral tradition that shaped our initial outlook because we were denied developing our formal education system. Stories we were told by our elders around evening fire place and from each other had also a role. Those also came down hearing from their elders. Information we got from different writings since we learned reading and writing have enriched those for us. According to that Oromo are members of the Kushitic stock that from time immemorial occupied this part of Africa from Mediterranean to the equator, bordering with Baantuu and Nilotic peoples. There is no means that Amaaraa ruling class did not try to deny seniority Kushitic stock have in this region. Daftaraa stories giving them different origins that they came out of water, India and Madagascar was propagated everywhere. There were those that say they were begotten by Satan. They have even tried to make them forget themselves and be called “Gaallaa” the name they did not know. That was how it was picked up by international writers.
Recognizing Oromo were inhabiting this area earlier than all, person like Bates even writes: “The Gallaas (Oromo) were a very ancient race, the indigenous stock, perhaps, on which most other peoples in this part of eastern Africa have been grafted” (Bates 1979 in Gadaa Melba). They could be partners in ancient civilization of upper and lower Nile. Gadaa is considered as missing link of ancient Egyptian civilization. The socio-political system, Gadaa is an all-inclusive democratic system different from so far known in human history. The Oromoo believe certain functions are socially owned. Among those are Gadaa, Odaa (assembly ground), fiords, roads and markets (Ashannaafii Waddeessoo). Compare it to modern democracy. Because Oromo were cattle raisers they are subjected to nomadic life in search of grazing land and water. Whenever a party leaves other are left behind and lived on settler agriculture. Those were overtaken by more numerous and well-organized aliens. The more the herders moved southward, the more the northern neighbors expanded their holding following their footsteps. If the hypothesis that Zimbabwe ruins were built by Oromo can be proved, it means that was where they reached before they started the return journey.
The Greeks called those in lower Nile and all black people “Ethiopia”. There were no people calling themselves by that name. It was a joking nickname “the burned face”. The Kushitic were among those people and probably the first to be called by that name. Greek historians using the name Ethiopia for Kush had written several information. The first people to call themselves Ethiopia after European advice were the Habashaa. After that they claimed all history about Kush. Th all ways narrated 3000 years comes from there. As long as they see benefit in it, they do not stop from distorting or stealing any history.
Starting probably from at least the 12th century the Oromo started to push back and liberate their compatriots. In Gadaa Hiriyaa (peers) replace each other every eight years. The Luba Gadaa comes at the end of such shift to for government for eight years. There are five of such Luba parties the rule the nation in turn. Each Gadaa shows its best to bring more gains and protect the nation. It was the Gadaa that arrive at historic moment in the 15th century that was given the task to start pushing back the enemy and liberated the occupied land and members of the nation left behind long, long ago; with massive campaign that reached climax in 16th century starting from Madda Walaabuu. They were able to free most occupied land and free their compatriots referred to as (Oromdur meaning ancient Oromo). Oral tradition tells that Odaa Nabee was one of the ancient centers liberated. It was then that they found their Capital at Odaa Nabee and ritual spots for legislation at Dhagaa Sadee and Handoodee Tumaa adjacent to present Qaallittii in Galaan Land. Head Quarter of central command of the 16th century campaign was told to be Odaa Nabee. There was preceding prophesy for that. The campaign stopped only at the border with Beejjaa, Agawu and Tigray.
In that war they defeated two empires, Ethiopian and Adal. In the 19th century their northern neighbors formed what is known as Nafxanyaa system equipped with modern fire spitting weaponry and expertise. Europe did that to create a partner is Africa to help it in a phenomenon known as the “Scramble for Africa”. That the Nafxanyaa system committing genocide reduced population of the occupied by half is registered by many European observers of the period. Can’t even the idiot imagine the enslaved captives of war of occupation that were driven to Adwa in mass as pack animals and died on the way, their termination never reported? Existence of persons in the 21st century that applaud that action and boast about it shows only the insanity of those persons. The whole bunch of “Forces of unity” have exposed themselves as good for nothing chatter boxes. They need to helped by mental health experts. The invaders governed with iron hand imprisoning, killing, kidnapping the people and looting and plundering to destruction the occupied nations and nationalities. They were engaged in an ending project never directly producing wealth but squeezing the productivity out of the occupied population. That went on for a century suppressing uprisings in different corners of occupied countries. That went out of their hands suddenly and the effort they are making to return to it is making them laughing stock.
The Oromo started to rise with scattered but well-articulated social and political objectives starting in 1960s. Amaaraa individuals that call themselves progressives did not raise their voice against oppression and abuses against the Oromo. Those that claimed to be socialists only said that the national question can get solution after conclusion of class struggle. Though that was style of the period the determined Oromo not being deceived by that went ahead with liberation struggle. The OLF finally came as a pan-Oromo political organization with a concrete program for independence of Oromiyaa, vowing to make an end to that Nafxanyaa project. Many counter movements were launched but they could not stop march of the liberators. That is why Nafxanyaa system hopefuls still blame the OLF for all their misfortunes and lose of their land and serfs. In 1991 guerrilla fighters overthrew the last Amara government and took power. With that Oromo country, which was partitioned into parts were reunited under the name Oromiyaa. Those involved in struggle from different nations and nationalities came together and drew a charter for a transitional period.
For OLF The Nafxanyaa system is its enemy not the Amaaraa people, but these hopefuls wanted to rally the Amaaraa by presenting OLF as enemy of the people not as that of the Nafxanyaa system. Loss of rights of the Oromo and their sufferings are not their concerns but the comfort they get from their land and labor. The OLF registered several achievements against all odds. Among them, asserting that independence is a right for Oromo, Oromummaa being an outlook that can unite Oromo and clarifying the possibility of uniting with nations and nationalities that have the will to unite on the basis of equality respect for each other’s interests and recognizing the right of nations to national self- determination up to and including independence. At its weakest point its fight was overtaken by youth power under the name Qeerroo and Qeerrantii starting with peaceful struggle in 2014. The contribution to youth protest by OMN can never be overlooked in Oromo history of resistance. Of course, its youthful Director General Juwar Mohmad has become arch enemy of Nafxanyaa hopefuls since he declared he is “Oromo first” on Aljazeera in 2013. Now two names are frequented in Nafxanyaa condemnations OLF and Juwar. They never considered them as entities sprouted in the Ethiopian empire but as external invaders. After five years of peaceful protest and heavy sacrifice the youth forced change in the ruling party of the Ethiopian empire. But they did not return property looted from Oromiyaa and did not ask compensation for those sacrificed.
Some changes have been achieved by Oromo youth movement. When a system is overthrown by struggle being better than the overthrown alone is not enough. Questions that led to its overthrow should be answered and a better condition needs to be created. It is necessary to ask oneself if the change achieved balances the sacrifices made. Friends of the oppressed have to be careful when praising the group, leaders and their history that were cause for lack of freedom that ignited the struggle without formal reconciliation taking place. Because they refused to respond to their questions, the Oromo people have got rid of three governments in the last fifty years. Each came promising to respond but start mimicking the previous in no time. As long as traces of the Nafxanyaa system are not completely erased this will go on repeating itself. That remaining so whoever comes to power the moment one enters Minilik Palace one is sure to be swallowed by his ghost.
Encouraged by youth pressure some Oromo and Amaaraa elements in EPRDF conspired and overthrew their creator the Tigraaway group. They later tried to form a ridiculous group they called “Oromaara” but did not taste good for the people. Many said, how can they form unity with the Amaaraa, when they not yet recognized the right of the Oromo to national self-determination and their sovereignty over Oromiyaa.? Now Oromo party led by Dr. Abiy Ahmad Ali is at the helm taking over power from TPLF. He has promised to lead only for remaining term of EPRDF, yet glorifying Nafxanyaa Palace past and recent heads. Such stands do not sit well with their colonies; to be raised at this time makes him biased for one group. For peoples that were Ethiopian colonies to be Ethiopian is something that comes with negotiation after which they may take if they will or leave if they do not. When a people stop its drive for independence and says let us form a union based on equality and free will, to talk of Ethiopia being eternal means its offer is not appreciated. Unless this is corrected it may cost more than the previous one.
What is being done does not seem to give oneself for solving problems that had come down rolling but is how history should remember one. For that reason, massacres of mothers, children and the elderly are not given attention. People brought this change by rebelling against EPRDF. A General Election is expected within the remaining term of EPRDF. It concerns all the four now leading. For the sake of peace people had allowed EPRDF to lead for a transitional period for the remaining two years of its term. What is expected from a transitional government is to see to it that supremacy of the law is observed without aligning with any side and pave the way that takes to democracy with peace and stability. This government did not take power with genuine election. Just like those preceding it, its legitimacy is from Minilik’s Palace, colonial heritage. For legitimacy it has to facilitate for next election to take place in time. There are still members of Oromo Liberation Army who did not join the peaceful struggle. The clash between them and Federal and State Governments’ forces is causing heavy lose on peaceful civilians in Oromiyaa with the heaviest in Wallaggaa and Gujii. There is no meaning to peaceful struggle, if efforts are not made to settle that conflict in a peaceful manner according to Oromo tradition. The raising of our cups in jubilation for Dr. Abiy’s winning the Nobel Prize for Peace should not remain only name sake.
When as a guerrilla organization it came strengthening its muscles, TPLF started to build political organizations that can serve as underlings. Finally, when it is nearer to defeat the Darg it organized those into organizations that have no teeth and suffering from mental illness known as Stockholm’s syndrome, to represent Amaaraa, Oromo and the Southern Peoples and named them ANDM, OPDO fi SEPDM. It gathered those and forming a coalition known as EPRDF and captured power. It has also drawn a plan to transform EPRDF into a solid political party. After thirty years things did not go as it calculated. Those developed teeth recovered from their illness and came out. They over threw TPLF and captured EPRDF leadership. TPLF created them as fake entities but never thought they will overpower it and so now is refusing them cooperation. They are forming Ethiopian Prosperity Party (EPP) from national organizations already created in their images to replace EPRDF. EPP seems to inherit “EP” from EPRDF and EPRP with their characters. If it is created now, it cannot replace EPRDF legally.
If EPP is formed EPRDF has to dissolve. Then, who is going to transit the government. EPP is going to be born not as national organization but as Ethiopian organization freed by the Amaaraa. The Amaaraa do not want to change old relations concerning Ethiopia. Organizations calling themselves multinational do not protest being swallow by EPP because they have hands in it. EPP for the time being can suppress or destroy Oromo and other national organizations because it has guns and cash. Because its objective is to make Ethiopia “great again” it will not stop until it habashaanize all colonial peoples. For this reason, it means danger is hovering over countries of nations and nationalities and the nascent federation. The base of present constitution are nations and nationalities. EPP person are those that fan Ethiopianism, who are also building their party accordingly. Henceforth Ethiopia will only be built anew according to the free will of nations and nationalities not as per the desire of EPRDF rebels. Therefore, nationalists that stand for freedom and equality must get ready to stand against coming possible danger. The base of present constitution are nations and nationalities.
It seems steps are being taken towards developing a One-Party system. One party system cannot reflect interests of federation; its nature pushes it to dictatorship. Architects of EPP were leading cadres in TPLF/EPRDF, the schizophrenic organization. In its public face it believes in multi-party system, while in practice it was allergic to any other party that wants to compete with it. That was why it messed up with election and got 100% vote. Thorough out its rein it had full control of legislative and executive bodies that was what gave it chance to plunder the federal states without impunity. Their experience in governance comes from Wayyaanee doctrine. Hence, it is difficult to believe they could be different. TPLF leaders whom nobody can claim to be more Ethiopian than them have accepted the separate identity nations and nationalities have from Ethiopia proper. The present leaders of ODP, an Oromo national party preach about absoluteness Ethiopian unity and its being eternal. Oromo organizations are forced to work with this reality. It is now imperative for those who value their identity to hold hands to fight for their equality and freedom in unison. They may create organization similar to Echat of the 70s to coordinate their struggle for justice, equality and freedom. It is necessary to find a way of keeping away own nationals from temptation of sprouting into new Goobanaa. It is now time for Oromo and other oppressed youth to get organized underground. All our old enemies should know that we forgave for whatever was done to us in the past, but did not forget. We should not allow our neighbors to come back to us with similar deeds changing features. Whatever should happen must be approved by free will of our peoples.
Now in first week of September 2019 Oromo organizations including ODP are reported to form an umbrella structure. How this works with ODP which is campaigning to form Ethiopian organization to replace the EPRDF is to be seen. Is it going to leave the others alone or try to force or wheedle them into its circle? If it is successful to form the party it will no more confuse the Oromo as an Oromo party. Do the Oromo remaining parties and individuals have common Kaayyoo or how are they going to defend Oromoo interest and achievements so far registered? If this question is not answered in common OLF spirit will ever be there to advance Oromo aspirations.
What is to be done?
What is to be done?
The Ethiopian empire existed for more than a century with colonizer and the colonized, oppressor and the oppressed. Whenever the empire is near crumbling the Oromo comes to rescue. The Amaaraa do not transfer power to an Oromo unless he becomes them. During Iyyaasuu Qusee saved the empire for them. She was to get scattered during Haile Sillaasee had it not been for the Oromo. During EPRDF interference by Team Lammaa is keeping her alive. All those done the Amaara have never been grateful. Rather they deny that no body oppressed the other. It seems that they are saying “we do not regret for what we have done and it is right to repeat same”. If they do not accept truth about atrocities of a century and half by a system they had created, that will make it difficult to continue going together. Oromo organization have to take unwavering stand on this attitude of Habashaa elites. They also need to take clear stand on Oromiyaa Ethiopia historical and future relations.
The past system was a Nafxanyaa system. There are those that say that system safeguarded the country’s unity and assure her freedom. It is true that that system has relatively safeguarded unity and freedom of Ethiopia while dismantling and enslaving Oromiyaa and the other colonies. Nations and nationalities are now organized in a federal system as equals. That was not free gift but earned with their blood and sweat. Therefore, all present members of the federation have to enter into covenant to abide by constitution that created it. As long as that is not changed, all have to struggle together for implementation of rights and duties listed in it. Ethiopian empire has to become history. The right of national self-determination had been constitutionally guaranteed for all nations and nationalities. However, Nafxanyaa system hopefuls have still issues. To continue living together as equals respecting each other’s interest need clarity of all doubts. To repeat the right of nations to national self-determination has to be reasserted by all unequivocally. Negotiation for forming a new union based on equality and will of all nations and nationalities has to be carried out. Then end of the empire state has to be declared and a new life begin. If that fails declaration of independence by the Oromo and all others is justified
We may be soon going to be in post empire situation. With this recognized, we have to show willingness to discuss on how nurturing what we have on hand and we can continue to live together accepting each other’s separate identity. For the Oromo, the right of nations to national self-determination up to independence is a recognition they earned with their struggle, so is not for negotiation. EPRDF is said to crash national organizations of its make and form Ethiopian Prosperity Party (EPP). If that happens just like it crashed national organizations formed in its own image, there is a possibility of pounding countries of nations and nationalities into one and create different structures out of them. That will be dream realized for Nafxanyaa system hopefuls. It could also mean going back to colonialism. Therefore, before they lose their countries again, each organization of nations and nationalities, has to strengthen one-self and each other and hold hands to face all dangers together. It is said “One that did not know from symptoms will not understand even if directly told”.
It requires understanding for all to close old chapter and open new one. Peace and reconciliation could happen if they concentrate on common relations sparing history, heroes and symbols they individually have for their surroundings. Because they did not officially participate in discussion that made the present constitution it will be difficult for the Oromoo to say it is their constitution. But they have accepted it and moved on for the sake of peace and stability of the region until it is possible to contribute their input. Groups that support past system did not like how the constitution was structured, and its objective of recognizing rights of nations and nationalities. They contend that they are the only ones that know how this empire has to transit. They never ask themselves why Amharic speakers alone say that and what they can do if others refuse what they say? If the mind that was formed by fuedo-colonial system is not updated it will remain obsolete and unfitting for the 21st century. There are among them those that reflect that situation and are trying to keep peoples apart with propaganda so that there cannot be peace unless history is reversed. Talking about something five hundred years ago have riddles it comes with. If we start mentioning that there will be no limit to our discussion; the so called 3000 years and what the role of each of us in it is going to be raised. History is not something they hire some with chicken heads and make them blabber about. All have history with deep roots. Therefore, all have to focus on situation we are in at present and search together for solution fitting all.
If history is what they wanted to hear so what? They are observing that it is no more possible to suppress peoples’ voices with weapons. Maintaining peace and creating understanding among each other is better than wasting time on a dream that can never be realized. Oromiyaa is Oromo country. There are people of other origins that live among them. They are there because it is more comfortable for them than places they came from. As long as they respect Oromiyaa laws there is no body that could touch them because they are their African siblings. Let alone for those under them, Oromo have tradition of extending their support for those far off when their human rights are threatened. Therefore, nobody should try to meddle in Oromiyaa affairs taking them as excuse. Oromo organization should work with those that feel they are aliens in Oromiyaa to clear doubts being propagated from outside. Anyone benefitting from Oromiyaa has duties as one has rights. That duty demands loyalty to Oromiyaa constitution and defending her from any external attack.
So far peoples on both sides had never been asked what they wanted. These days it is getting difficult to separate between those whose cacophony is for self-interest and for genuine peoples’ interest. It is possible to present the issue directly after the election and ask peoples what their interests are. It is a must to accept people’s judgement on matters of peace and reconciliation. At present Oromo and other nations are in own countries under a federation. The role of leaders at all levels is to get peoples’ rights respected. Oromiyaan haa jiraattu!
(to know more read works concerning history of, Mekuria Bulchaa; office of culture and truism of Oromiyaa; Isheetuu Irranaa; Taabor Waamii; Dirribii Damissee; Gadaa Melba, Yilmaa Dheeressaa, books by Habashaa historians)
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!