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Oromo Struggle in the era of Corona

Oromo give great value for freedom. Words like “birmadummaa, bilisummaa walabummaa” interchangeably show freedom and independence, not to be dominated by another. In English independence and freedom have different meanings. In the process of struggle the word “walabummaa” has started being used solely for independence. Take it in any way there is nothing Oromo loves more than independence and freedom. Oromo liberation Front reflects that. It is formed to regain the lost independence of Oromiyaa and freedomof the Oromo people. It has gone far towards registering significant achievements sometimes being betrayed, sometimes tricked and at other time stumbling. Whatever remained of “OLF” now seems severing the mission of Oromummaa and kneeling down for Ethiopianism.But the suffering that caused OLF’S creation is not yet removed. We are going to see if Corona era brings any positive or negative change to it.

OLF faction that clung on the initial Kaayyoo designed by fallen heroes was OLF TA (QC).Powers that have interest in Oromiyaa had started before 1998saying OLF is divided into two, pro peace and pro violence, even before OLF knew about it. That means they have already started internal schism for they know they cannot destroy it externally. Group that formed TA was presumed violent. TA was small but it was enough to put a check on early abandonment of initial Kaayyoo. But negative forces are now successfulin derailing itnot OLF, sprit of the nation.What the enemy hates and wants to destroy is the name OLF and its original political program. But the Oromo are keeping it alive through memory of their heroes celebrated every April 15. Long live the memory of Oromo heroes through the Martyrs of Shinniga!

With internal conflict one of the names they coined for each other was OLF Shanee. Name calling, ONG Shanee is what is being used by top to bottom ruling party cadres in campaigning against it. The enemy is now focusing on the name OLF (ONAG). One they are calling ONG Shanee will not survive their campaign unless it changes its name. The nearest to the initial organization now on stage is only it. Because the true OLF was engraved in the minds of the people no one can destroy it. Unless this one clings on national Kaayyoo come what may or changes its name, they will not allow it to be them and live. For Ethiopianists no one can be Ethiopian lecturing about Oromo interest.

That shows the need to understand for anyone who is proud of Oromummaa that it has first to negotiate formally before jumping into the Ethiopian bandwagon. Hence Oromo cannot be minion of Ethiopia but its rival. Now, danger is focusing on two names on the political stage, OLF and Jawar. Even if they change its program several times, they will not be acceptable to them unless the name OLF (ONG) is erased. Both are hated not only for their name but for the possibility of bringing Oromo interest forward. However, much Ethiopianist Jawar might be, his name, his capability, and slogan they attribute to him, “I am Oromo first”, scares traditionalist Amaaraa activists. One has to deny the essence of Oromummaa to be accepted by them. There is no assurance that those that claim to be organized wouldn’t do that.

The era did not come with Corona alone but also humiliated Oromo nationals whom people had high expectations from. It exposed that they were only hollow stalks that were mistakenly taken for juicy cane. The condition that organizations with Oromo name placed themselves in and attitude of the ruling party do not seem convenient for them to wholly satisfy interest of Oromo youth. Even though this Korona era might be able to paralyze all, relatively the ruling party has more advantage; it is feared not to flex its muscles on the people taking war with Corona as a pretext. When it can move anywhere, opposition groups and those concerned about the people have been ordered to stay behind doors. That will be the norm during this Korona era for legal Oromo liberation movements. Even without emergency law, summary killings and mass imprisonment are said to be freely practiced. However, Corona is a cataclysmthat nobody knows how and whom it is going to cut. Good to say, “Save Us!”

This is an era when natural and social sciences have developed to a level never experienced in human history. That will put us into shame, for being helpless when fellow human beings are wiped out in front of us by microscopic COVID 19 and waiting with nothing to say when our turn may come. This is more shameful than the shame the gun put us in for this requires only brain. It isn’t forgetting the first responders on the fore front line of defense.  Most of us have retreated to protection of our homes in fear of the space and air outside it. We are terrorized by our closeness that we are being forced to keep our distance lest we become each other’s unintentional killers. In Oromiyaa and its Capital Finfinnee the rich are non-Oromo though source of their wealth is from Oromiyaa. Oromo are the poor in their own country. Look around you wherever you are, who owns the wealth you see around? How many of the houses, story buildings, luxury cars, belong to legitimate owners of the country?

Economy is the base of power. That is why Oromo are stripped of their economic birth rights. That is how political power is resting with plunderers and their stooges. We say the virus knows no discrimination. But those that have water, soap, enough space and enough food at home have more chance to follow instructions of health professionals and try to keep Corona at a distance. Not the Oromo. The lack of those and other materials essential for living caused the Oromo to rise for liberation. That gave birth to OLF. Even today what is reached at is only the courage to say I am Oromo first in public, Oromiyaa is for Oromo, and pride in Oromummaa; the resources are still far off. When these are obvious there are minions that tell us of being free and brag about it. All whom left-overs are thrown for, are not paying attention to starving of the people.

The Oromo remain vulnerable to the decease as they are for political abuses. That is the inevitable predicament of the Oromo. They have no access to the said amenities. Therefore, creativity and the determination to survive are required. By those, the imbalance created by riches must be overturned by Oromo brain. Much is expected from nationalists to make sure that our people will not die for lack of information of the new phenomenon. When one sees the constitution and laws of Ethiopia It seems government structure is democratized. But the truth is because inbuilt Nafxanyaa system did not enable that to function as expected it did not produce the benefit of own land, resources and the right to independence. Oromo did not get. According to Ethiopian tradition of centuries now genocide level imprisonment killings and destruction of environment is going on preempting Corona. Edicts or fatwah are being passed by Abrahamic religious fathers concerning COVID 19. Let us hope the Waaqeffataa will come out to pray to Waaq for Araaraa in addition for that of corona, to spare people of Waaqa from ongoing genocide.

Even if they did not yet use their full potential the Oromo have come a long distance with their national liberation struggle. During more than a century under occupation their cultural values had been contaminated so much that it had created in many indecisiveness in action. Lack of commitment, indetermination and wavering by many had been a trait in causing their struggle to drag when they should have done better. For some the natural Oromummaa and the superimposed Ethiopianism confuses them that they lose the essence of being themselves. OLF founding fathers had defined the national Kaayyoo and goal of the liberation struggle. Struggle fatigue and incompetence has pushed some to pull out of the struggle with excuse of changing times in particular globalization. They conveniently threw away the vows they made with their fallen comrades. It was up to them to pass their banner of Oromo patriotism to the young generation without distorting the national cause and history of the nation. But they succumbed to selfishness and enemy baits.

Unless leaders have additional qualities to that of their people it is difficult to advance in the struggle with strangers. Oromo had laws for all relations with human beings and nature. Laws, natural and human ones though are sacred to be broken can be amended. So, leaders should have wavers when dealing with aliens with different legal culture. Traditionally Oromo approach everyone from safuu (ethical) principle. When some encounter those that do not culturally observe safuu they are placed in awkward situation. They either capitulate to demands of others or they feel insulted and tend to be violent. Unless all sides in a conflict understand the others ethical standard, resolving it will be difficult. For some to behave aggressively is a cultural attitude which is not understood by them as offensive to the others. That is how Oromo see the different discourses of Amaraa elites over the various media. The Oromo are enraged by insults and lies. On the other hand, Amaaraa elites contest not about truth of a report but for the truth being presented publicly.

Such traits that do not have effect on principles can be compromised. But not national Kaayyoo which requires firmness from all nationals. Safuu can be used only with those that accept “Ilaa fi Ilaamee” (genuine dialogue) not with self-conceited arrogant. Oromo never demand what are not theirs, as much as they do not allow others to trespass on their rights.  The conflict between Oromo and those benefited from occupation of Oromiyaa at present is more structural than direct visible exploitation. Despite land reform and introduction of federal system, the Oromo are not yet in control of their resources and destiny by enemy design.  What we see on paper and exhibited facades are only diversions from what are going on in reality. To make peace with the Oromo all traces of Old Ethiopia structure has to be cleansed and replaced by agreed upon new one.

It may be wise to satisfy certain diplomatic requirements. But fear of negative attitude by international community should not hinder one from demanding what is just and lawful for one’s people as long as there is no clear and present danger to humanity. Upright and neutral diplomatic community should stand against benefit of oppressed society. If it does it will be only greedy corporate vulture blinded with self-interest lacking consideration for wellbeing of humanity.Peaceful resistance is first choice of Oromo struggle but any other means as a right is not off the table. The powerful and the technologically advanced are perpetually preparing for defending their rights using available means even from the space.Therefore, no type of resistance will ever be out of fashion at any time and place. If a people first of all believe in itself, keeps its unity and maintains strong organization it will not take consideration of who said what as a priority when it comes to ones right.

When Amaaraa activists asserted that Amaaraa is the maker of Ethiopia,all those that wrongly thought they have become Ethiopians took it as offensive. And they started attacking them as chauvinists.  But the Amaara activists were expressing what they believed, nothing to do with chauvinism; it is the way they see things. For them that was assertion of the naked truth. The problem is that non-Amaaraa have been assuming things wrongly. They have put the cart before the horse”. For claiming building the empire they should have distinguish role of contractor and coolie first. Negotiation to be accepted as equal partners, should have preceded. Any partner to be, should try to understand the cultural differences in outlook when dealing with others. The following paragraphs may elucidate some points about Ethiopia. 

First, people of Kush referred to as Ethiopia by Greek Historians existed beyond Egypt with Meroe and Napata as its center. It was led by rulers known as Cadences and Pharaohs. That was the true Ethiopia named by Greeks which had more than 800 years BC. That is a civilization whose heritage all black people could claim more so the Oromo.

Second, Ethiopian empire recognized by UN is the one now existing. It was formedby technical and material help of European imperialists some hundred thirty years ago. Since then it is led dominated by Amharic speaking force known as Nafxanyaa system. Before the last emperor officially registered the adopted name from the true Ethiopia, the world mostly used the name Abyssinia (Habashaa). This is the legal person nations and nationalities are concerned with. This has a constitution, a covenant it entered as a response to their demands.

Third, the other Ethiopia is one that exists in Habashaa mythology. This tries to whitewash the true nature of the Ethiopian empire. The small kingdom perched on the highland is overlooked and the brainwashing of years brought forward. It is this myth that is against freeing peoples suppressed under it and becoming obstacle to smooth transformation of the empire to as it was a hundred fifty years ago. For mythologists the empire is said to be over three thousand years since its creation. They also say it will be there for eternity Its rulers’ origin is claimed to be the sexual relation of King Solomon of Israel and the Queen of Saba/Sheba. Some say it was rape, while others take it as manipulated consensual. Cities called Saba existed in Arabia and Kush land.

Arabs have similar legend of a queen and Solomon relation.  All Habashaa kings with exception of the few were claimed to be descendants of the son born from that sexual relation. History it claims is mostly plagiarized from true Ethiopia. It is myth because it turns people, we know their genealogy being African into Solomonic by anointment of a priest. The foundation of this myth many believe were laid down in thirteenth century AD by Ottoman empire and Coptic Church of Egypt under them. Their Beta Amaaraa cronies were given Law and Chronicle of Kings (Fitiha and Kibira Nagast) as told. That was how one third of the kingdom was placed under administration of Egyptian Pope until 1959, when a new Ethiopian Amaraa Patriarch was consecrated in Cairo in presence of Ethiopian emperor.  

In reality Ethiopian empire was formed by occupation of kingdoms and republics to the south of Abyssinia beginning the end of 19th century. To change that relation, liberation fronts were formed by different colonized nations and nationalities. Among those was “ONAG” (OLF) the most hated by Habashaa activists. Struggle of those fronts have forced many changes in political, economic and social relations created by the occupation.The Oromo nation may forgive all atrocities committed against it from King Tedros II to all Nafxanyaa systems after him to this day for the sake of peace and stability of the region. But it can never forget for they serve as input for today’s planning and as lessons for protection of the future. Despite that, Nafxanyaa hopefuls are still clinging to the myth. Now the last stage seems to be reached. At this stage opinions are observed divided among politicians leading the struggle. Therefore, the last battle could be devastating with traitors and heroes facing off.

Some nationalists stand for forming independent republic Oromiyaa and declare their independence but with proviso for possibility of forming a union based on free will of African nations and nationalities. Some others say we can democratize the empire and continue to live together as equals with our colonizers. Some Amharic speaking elements of the colonizing nation want to continue as it is only with some reforms. These ones claim myth cited above that the whole territory had been theirs from time immemorial while the rest are only their “gabbaars” (serfs) or late coming invaders. Therefore, any change to the empire has to be based only on their will. Solution they present to resolve regional conflict is not based on existing reality but on ancient myth dugout from its grave.

The independents believe in the right of nations to national self-determination. They reject democratizing of the empire for empires have never been democratized but dismantled. Some cite, though UK used to reign over the vastest empire it still remains democratic. Britain as a kingdom had gained democratic status before it occupied most countries of the world and formed its empire. It did not democratize the empire but settled back to its democratic basic unit, UK, after dismantling the empire.It left the colonies go their own independent way. It only left a loose voluntary relation known as Common Wealth of Nations. Its original component parts Ireland, Scotland and Wales, had long history of British throne changing hands between their monarchs.Now they are complaining of imbalance and want to secede from UK. These are not colonies but rival monarchies forming UK. Nationalism of a people can never be subdued however long they had stayed together. The Ethiopian empires problem cannot get solution until that is recognized.

In Ethiopian empire all imperial institutions are damaged beyond repair by national struggles. Mythologists are only left with the church, which had its origin in Egypt like the Solomonic concept of the monarchy. The church is facing challenges from inside starting long before the down fall of the monarchy. Forces of reform, some aimed at the dogma and others only at the administration are under way. “Tahaddisoo” are examples of the first and afaan Oromo speaking branch of Ethiopian Orthodox church is the other. This one is more infuriating to them because it is going to demystify the Solomonic Sabaa thinking coined by its pioneers. Non-Amharic speaking believers have come out challenging using alien language to speak to their God. They should have been appreciated for not rejecting the colonial church totally, though their nation rejected colonialism.  To their credit they have declared that they have no intention to divide the Synod but to have its afaan Oromo speaking branch working in cooperation with their political counterpart, state of Oromiyaa. It will have benefit for their type of Christianity if they stop tying it to a people starting from now.

As long as feeling of superiority is deep in Amaaraa mind, mythologists will have problem of accepting Oromo believers genuine demand. The church should be taken as international in outlook not narrowed down to belong to the Amaaraa alone. They should have taken service of the church for humanity beyond the Ethiopian empire. Simple reasoning should have told them that no language, culture or ideology of a people could have any legal or moral ground to be imposed on modern people. Amharic and Amaraa history and culture will not be different. If it continues with that belief, God forbid, it will finally find itself only in a museum. 

Officially the Ethiopian government is secular and republican. But there are times when it unconstitutionally behaves like, aristocracy, autocracy and theocracy. It is in the process of taking shape. Tax payers are not all monotheist or believers. Ethiopian constitution is designed taking that into consideration. Hence, Government officials should practice their faith in own temple, not from office all tax payers paid for. This is a principle of secularism. This administration is a self-proclaimed transitional government but its behavior is not different from its distant past predecessor, which used to act as if it is everlasting. Even if we take ignoring its missionthat it is the reformist it claims, the base for its reform should be from administration immediately preceding it not from a century or more ago for reformist does not mean reactionary. But its mission is only doing daily routine of governments until it transfers power to elected government.Contrary to that it is expressing nostalgia for mythology of imperial past. Therefore, there is no hope for it to democratize Ethiopia or answering the Oromo question. All Ethiopian rulers that denied their land, resources, independence and freedom are Oromoenemies. To glorify their tormentors in their face is an insult to theirintelligence and sacrifices they made to come this far. Oromo question can be answered only by those that denounce the andimperial past and having vision for fraternity, equality and freedom of peoples of Africa. Be it the present government or any people, have no legal or moral rights to determine on the destiny of the Oromo or any other people. 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!

Ibsaa Guutama

April 2020

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