All Oromo were Waaqeffataa. Their Gadaa system separates spiritual and temporal living. There were no persecutions for deviations from religious tradition. Retaliation in that aspect was left to Waaq. In general, among civilized society, to have freedom of belief or not to believe according to dictates of one’s conscience is a human right. But in this world to be discriminated and hated for one’s religion is common place. This so because many claim to belong to a religion but don’t live it. Because spiritual things do not require reason, if not at gun point, you may take it or leave it. Let us see a bit of experience Oromo went through. At certain period of their history alien religions were forced on them and also voluntarily taken. Whichever alien belief they took, colonized Oromo had no problem among themselves though the colonizer wants setting them against each other. In Abyssinian history Orthodox Christianity and Islam were arch enemies; still, that is lingering over to the new millennium. “We are Amaaraa and Islam” is swearing phrase showing at most enmity. They don’t even share the same table for eating. Oromo converted to Amaaraa religion were expected to follow suit.
It was only in the 60s that General Taddasa Birruu and Arsii elders broke the taboo by slaying and dinning together on same meat. That might have costed many lives but unity of Oromo grew ever stronger. For Oromo both religions are their own and protecting them is of mutual interest. Therefore, religious conflict that Amaaraa elites want to instigate cannot pass gate of Oromiyaa. When we say Oromo people are sovereign in all aspects, we mean it is subject of uncontested rights in Oromiyaa. Oromiyaa is country of believers. In accordance with their culture and tradition all religions are given equal protection. A people can protect its freedom of religion only if it were politically independent and free. Oromo struggle for liberation is all inclusive.
So far, there is no system more democratic than the Gadaa system. According to it all human beings are equal and have freedom of thought and self-expression. Freedom of choosing own religion as such is now internationally recognized right. Many religions have followers in every country of the world. Upholding what they consider as the only true faith, believers in different countries did not destroy boundaries between their countries. This had been tried at different eras by some fanatics but was not successful. For example, many Roman Popes have tried to bring Europe under one rule and shaded so much blood several times but failed. The same with middle East countries concerning Islam. Though nationalism and religion can be supplementary for those that understand them in depth, they have different missions. Religion has to be used in religious places for spiritual relation of individual human being with supreme being and politics is temporal relation of human with humans to make life here as comfortable as possible. There were many religious wars intra and inter religions. But finally, they are boiling down mostly limiting themselves to living in peace in own country with religious tolerance. Let their nests be cozy for them.
When we say freedom of Oromo people it means, their freedom of thought, freedom of faith, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom to be viewed with equality without discrimination, freedom to enjoy fruit of one’s labor etc. Amharic speaking Oromiyaa neighbors are meddling in Oromiyaa affairs with religion as a pretext, defying these freedoms. Their religious fathers helped the nafxanyaa system to occupy our land, enslave or turn us into serfs and tried to exterminate us. Though Oromiyaa lost half of its population then and the genocide continued over more than a century, the Oromo still survive. This time the same is continuing under eyes of the world knowingly shut. Innocent Oromo, babies, pregnant and elderly are being butchered in mass daily. The colonizers converted us into their type of Christianity with mass spraying of baptismal water by force. They set us against our own monotheist religion, “Waaqeffannaa”. Waaqeffannaa has lived being persecuted as foreign worship (Baa’id Amilkoo). Islam also came out of being looked down up on relatively, mostly by sacrifice of Oromo Muslims. This writer remembers his solidarity participation in the grand protest demonstration (March, 1974) that started in Markaatoo Anwar Mosque and ended in Parliament. Protest song he remembers was, “Islam, Islam, min taayyebat, ka sawu bataachi ye hoonebbat”(why is Islam dehumanized). The level we see today was not easily arrived at. In Oromiyaa religious self-rule is still lagging behind a bit.
Now, many have taken Coptic Orthodox sifting it from Amaaraa impurities and it is now their religion irrespective of how it came to them. Oromo built all the churches in Oromiyaa with their sweat and resources. Therefore, they have to take them over and train their own clerics in their own language and as it fits Oromo psyche and culture. That Church was pro-colonialism and anti-all religions; now we want it to become anti- colonial pro liberation and equality of nations, languages and religious tolerance and cultures. We no more abstain from intermingling with our siblings of other creeds and eat from the same table. We are Oromo with long standing civilization to be bothered by petty differences. We are Africans, we have to work towards African unity first strengthening our base.
The Amharic speakers are also Africans but unable to detach themselves from backward past autocratic past. Because they do not have common tribal base to claim, the model on which they are formed needs to be studied. Still, they consider Oromiyaa as their private property and also want superiority in the two great religions in Oromiyaa. In particular they take Orthodox Christianity as their monopoly. They don’t take Oromo as full-fledged Christians. Their saying, “La ‘Oromoo’ nafsi abbaati diyaaqon machee annesee” (a deacon will not be insufficient to be Oromo’s confessor) indicates this. They consider Oromo declaration of freedom from their dominance as tempering with original theme of Teklehaimanot’s holly seat. That is true, no reason for Oromo Orthodox to accept dogma set by Bishop Teklehaimanot, which imposed Amaaraa dominance spiritually and temporally. Even Tigraaway, who had worshiped with them for centuries are refusing their version and going back to Kasaate Birhan Abbaa Salama’s teachings. Oromo accepts only what mentally liberated nationalist Oromo Orthodox Christian fathers accept with their free will. We hope Amharic speakers will come to their senses and accept other neighboring African peoples as equals and siblings. War mongering of the past is out of date.
Every nation, nationality and people in the Horn are ready to defend their freedom and independence. Abyssinians are no more the only Christians in this corner of Africa to gang up Christians of the world against those they called them heathens and Muslims. This is an era of interests; you satisfy them and buy friends or dissatisfy and buy enemies. Because Abyssinians had been in power for over a century they were entrenched in diplomatic circles of the globe and had advantage over their colonies in that aspect. Now the world’s mode of operation is changing for New World Order and so center of influence will also change making theirs obsolete. If they continue to show their traditional resilience the Oromo shall overcome all hitherto existing difficulties.
Though Amharic speaking Muslims are oppressed in their country, when they cross over to Oromiyaa many of them are seen showing some feelings of importance because of speaking Amharic. They should not try to use on Oromiyaa the arms of colonial empire state, which denied them protection in their own habitat. In Oromiyaa they can live as equals, no more no less. Oromo that are Orthodox Christians are refusing alien religious dominance. They accept their nation’s assertion that Oromiyaa belongs to the Oromo. To assure that the nation has raised arms to contest. Mosques and Churches are becoming sources of instigations. We have witnessed how recent attack on Gondar minority Muslims by Faannoo generated rage in other regions. It has to be realized that the assault of a religion here will have reaction somewhere. Amaaraa elites are playing game with human lives. For them it is creating agenda for others to possibly distract them from their political and economic objectives; others have to be awake to fend off such machination.
Nafxanyaa descendants have no care for independence and freedom of peoples except for own superiority. They have greed like their ancestors to grab what is not theirs. For this reason, tactics they designed are those that create conflict between peoples, killing and dislocating their own people indirectly, and blaming other peoples like the Oromo; create misunderstandings between religions; burning Churches by themselves and blaming other religions and burning Mosques and propagating that they are Christians that burned them to provoke retaliation by Muslims. The have gone on for long provoking conflict between peaceful peoples in so many unbelievable strange ways. They try to fool people claiming Taabot has dropped from the sky hiding them in the bushes beforehand. They then claim the spot for the Taabot in the scheme to grab Oromo land for Amharic speakers. Such practices can be stopped only if believers in particular country take over control and responsibility of religious affairs. There is no chipped freedom. The Oromo can say they have freedom only when they put under own control all those belonging to them. Survival of nafxanyaa system remnants as a group depends on them maintaining superior position like they had under nafxanyaa system. Otherwise, they are going to be smashed into their component parts. They see benefit only in regional turmoil than in peaceful stable situation.
Taabot was introduced to Oromo as spirit with life, not as symbolic manmade tablet. Priests have come down for long years deceiving the Oromo, saying Taabot wanted that and this and getting all they wanted out of them. Taabot was a tablet on which person called Moses wrote directives told him by God and gave it to people of Isra’el. They say only the words came from heaven not the tablet. What was not dropped then, from where did Amharic speakers brought to rain them now? The funny thing is that it does not drop in their country. Trying to use such tricks today, when information is ample it would mean undermining Oromo intelligence. And using government arm is only reinforcing that insult. Majority followers of big religions in Oromo country are the Oromo. They built and support their living with Oromo wealth. Let alone giving new privileges they could even relocate previous ones according to their relevance. Oromo by nature and culture are centrist never extremist. But their enemies push them to be extremists. So far, they have failed. Let us hope Oromo patience and tolerance shall not be exhausted.
There is no reason for Oromiyaa religious establishments to be controlled by aliens. It is their country and only Oromo will should matter for how institutions operate in Oromiyaa. If Oromiyaa’s policy allow external nations can have missionaries with especial permission. But Mosques and churches in Oromiyaa belong to congregations of residents there. Recent movement of Oromo Orthodox Christians to cleans their church from colonial traits are commendable; if they don’t waver, they need to be encouraged. This is not only in the interest of Orthodox Christians alone, but concerns the interest, freedom and collective security of all Oromiyaans. Unless you have national freedom, you cannot protect your religious freedom and other interests. Objective principle to be followed has to be, no alien is allowed to mess in Oromiyaa affair under any pretext be it that of religion.
Siblinghood that comes through any religion, should not compromise independence of Oromiyaa, freedom of thought and expression of each and all Oromo and freedom of Oromo people in general. To strengthen Oromo unity, and understanding difference between what they have individually and as a people, care has to be taken by vigilantly keeping them legally separate, that one interest does not contaminate the other. Believers in independent or federated states have right to form union with those in other independent countries or in federated states. However, such unions should not contradict sovereignty of own country. Independent Oromiyaa with multi-faith and interests is inevitable. We should have the determination to safeguard this common Oromo land like pupils of our eyes. And together pass her to our children, a wealthy peaceful and stable country; where differences are tolerated and they can live in freedom and happiness with Oromummaa wielding them together. Then only can African sister and brotherhood materialize for them as free, equal and happy people. Let freedom of worship flourish! 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!