In “The New Scramble for Africa” and” The New World Order”

Where is our place?

Whether history repeats itself or rhymes we are now getting into the shadow of the 19th century. During that era nations of Europe and the Habashaa partitioned Africa in what came to be known as “The scramble for Africa”. Starting then the world has gone under several economic and political upheavals. Grouping into alliances, nations have gone to war twice. Unless they fear the possibility of total annihilation of humanity a third seems also a possibility. The first war exhausted many European countries. The matter seems struggle between capitalist countries for better advantage but it triggered a never seen backlash. Two camps, one led by Communist Party of Russia and another led by National Socialist Party (Nazi) of Germany were created. It means one left and another extreme right. Both do not fit into capitalist outlook.

 Fascist aggression led to World War II. Conclusion of the war led to liberation of colonies and the world divided into two camps, one that believes in free market and another in planned economy. But Oromiyaa remained a colony. That led to the Cold War for seventy years. The world was divided into two outlooks, socialism and capitalism. When capitalism came out victorious from that war its leaders promised that a “New World Order” will be formed. George Bush Sr. indicated America’s leadership in the new order. It was long before that that the phrase “new world order” started to be used. Most of those that mentioned it meant a world in which there is uninhibited freedom, equality, justice and peace. Oromiyaa had no doubt that she will, like all those who were liberated from under empires will get the opportunity to get her right to national self-determination realized. But what was promised and implemented did not coincide.  All the time Africa was the loser and this time too it is going to be caught unprepared, unable to break the spell of the old that reinforced itself with Neocolonialism.

The end of 19th century was a period when population of Europe doubled and technology highly developed. Big towns also multiplied. Slave trade was banned. With interaction of events the style of life also started changing. With the change, demand for more industrial products grew. Blind competition of industries also made products more than the surrounding demand.

 Available raw material failed to satisfy the new competition to produce more. People also started to starve for vast land. Unless ways are found to release it, condition created had reached a level where it might burst and put European countries into crisis. Missionaries, agents and explorers that were deployed earlier started informing Europeans on the conduciveness of conditions in the continent for marketing. Those were fooling Africans and acquiring plots with useless tokens. They were also encouraging internal strife and clashes with neighbors disturbing traditional relations. Because that happened ahead many chiefs were looking forward to win alliance of those coming from across the sea. New weaponry (like machineguns) were invented during that century. Steam engine was invented and medicine for malaria, quinine was discovered.

Confident of their acquired power, Europeans agreed at Berlin Conference (1884-85) to occupy Africa, not only peacefully and through treaties but also by force. That was known in history as “The Scramble for Africa”. Places each of them occupied earlier were also recognized. They were few African chiefs that were able to purchase old model slow to use musket guns.

The newly invented weapons were forbidden to be sold to Africans but Habashaa was able to purchase or receive as gift from buddy colonizers. Advantage Habashaa got by it was demonstrated at the Battle of Adwa and occupation of Oromiyaa and its neighbors. Steam engine simplified transport on rivers like the Congo. When they started to occupy Africa as planned they also shipped more weapons and military advisors to the king of Shawaa to invade countries at its South.  The country that was not affected by the scramble was Liberia that was already controlled by American slaves.  

The human needs that existed in the world then are still around. Technologies that created efficiency for communication and transport like the internet are shrinking the world.  Because population growth has come increasing, to feed it there is a heated competition. We now observe when their corporations from all direction compete to grab land. Today those who are foraging in Africa leering at each other are not only from Europe but also include Asia. They do not think to be able to come out from economic crisis they are into unless they make efforts on the way they are now on. Africa has still raw materials, cheap human labor and vast tracts of arable lands that the wealthy of the world crave for. Their spies from all directions are jamming the way. If they believe it would enrich them modern chiefs of Africa have no consideration for honor of the people or their own.

These shameless dictators are willing to sell Oromo land to whoever pays more. For that reason people are getting more impoverished and more uprooted after land grub by transnational corporations. The hurry of these grubbers for high yield and quick return has made the use of environmentally dangerous chemicals for the purpose very extensive. As a result it was reported that creeks and rivers used by animals and people for food preparation and drinking are polluted. The case of Qooqa Lake is much told about. The money-hungry rulers are also maliciously restructuring the Oromo to deny their majority status. They are in particular are settling other ethnic groups on their lands after evicting them under the pretext of town planning and investment.  

Modern war campaigns in Africa did not come openly with war ships and trained soldiers. They armed their domestic running dogs that are now threatening, torturing, imprisoning and killing poor nationals that ask for their birth rights. When it comes to their interest protection of human rights is pushed to the rear even by those who claim to uphold it as a fundamental principle. Instead those that fight for their rights are registered as ‘terrorists” and marginalized wherever they go though at their heart of hearts they were not. Be it as it may it have not been possible to stop those who are fed-up of injustice and rebel against oppressive governments. This time people’s movements are swelling and exploding in all corners.

The sparks that went off from fire that a young man, Mohamed Bouaziz ignited on himself in Tunisia on December 18, 2010 spread all over Arab countries. That was named “Arab Spring” as some say in attribute to previous similar movements in the world. Others say it is in expectation of something good to come out of it for spring is a season when one sees plants sprouting and flowering and everything becoming beautiful. For all eventualities questions raised do not seem to be limited to Arab boundaries, it is becoming contagious disease. Middle Eastern region still did not get stability. With this movement regimes in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Yemen were changed but no good has come out of them yet. There were those that were added to the previous once before they are able to come out of the crisis. Revolution that started in Ukraine is one of those that were added.

People’s movements are cause among others by excessive poverty, human rights abuse, corruption, and abuse of power. In general excessive oppression forces the oppressed to choose death over life. That is what is seen everywhere. When people can no more bear abuse and rise, it will not be easy to suppress. Therefore the movement has to come out victorious. Many times peoples’ victory is snatched by the cunning that present themselves as their allies.  That is what happened in Ukraine. Had it been concluded in peace Crimea may not have the excuse to secede.

Though Ukraine and Russia had the same root they see each other as separate nations. There are many peoples in Ukraine. Ethnic Ukrainians are said to be 78%, Russians 17%, Belarus 6%, Crimea and Tartars 5%. There are many others with lesser numbers. Ethnic Russians live in east and south Ukraine. Because Ukraine was part of USSR its economy has strong relation with that of Russia. But it has started to see towards Europe since independence (1991). It seems they have been dragging so far because there seem no consensus among the people of Ukraine.  Russia is also not comfortable with NATO at its gates. It seems the contradiction that could arise is feared by all sides.

The people of Ukraine had many times been demonstrating and over throwing governments because of too much abuse, unemployment and despair. This time also it had started movement that came to be known as  Euromaidan. The uprising got open support from western powers. Instead of becoming peaceful it ended in armed clashes. Because of it the elected president was forced to flee the country to Russia. The West received what called itself “Provisional Government”, with open arms. The rising Ukrainian nationalism has frightened the Russian ethnic group. The new Ukrainian cadres seem to overlook their marginalizing Ukrainian Russians.

The Russian Duma decreed that the president give protection to Russians in Ukraine when necessary. Next people of Crimea declared their independence from Ukraine and applied to join Russia. Russia responded without wait that it has accepted their request. Crimea had been under Russia from the 18th century to 1954 before its administration was transferred to Ukraine. Western powers have declared Russian and Crimean action as illegal and took measures to punish Russia. But so far they did not show intention of using guns. The two powers, Russia and the West have started confronting each other. The condition is raising questions whether the world is moving towards cold or hot war? Both have no advantage for peoples of Ukraine for it could mean being battle ground for two powers.

America has been leading the world since the end of Cold War. Now Russia is rising from hibernation to assert that it will not be bystander when its interest is meddled with and also that it will not recognize the provisional government of Ukraine. If that trend continues it would mean unipolarity of the world is going to end. Even now five countries had formed association of emerging economies known as BRICS (acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). People have already started to imagine what a new bipolar world would look like. People of Ukraine who have Russian ethnic organ are refusing to recognize the new government. Right wing parties like fascists are threatening to attack Russians, Jews and Communists. With that the fate of Ukraine is getting problematic. Crimea had already been severed from its body.

 Would Russia turn its back from the relations it had been forming with the west if it has to compete for leadership on global level? Couldn’t that makes it turn towards Asia, South America and Africa. It is not in the custom of the world to share benefits without one interfering with interest of the other. The “New World Order” envisioned by George Bush Sr. at the end of the cold war may change its form.

           In this commotion created by the powerful where would we Africans in particular, the Oromo put and see themselves? If they can decide on that they could also understand in common as to where they are heading. Before demand from others to respect their peoples’ rights they have to believe that their people have the right of ownership over their countries; in Oromiyaan case over Oromiyaa. If we accept that they have the right they are demanded to demonstrate with determination to respect and get those rights respected. Acceptance of supremacy of the rule of law by adopting democratic system must be the fundamental principle.

 Oromiyaa is under enemy occupation for over a century. To get free from this occupation the realization of the right to national self-determination without pressure and threat from third party is essential. There could be benefits and interests to be affected by such change. It is not only saying that international law supports us but that more efforts and sweats of her children are required must be realized. Struggle that is conducted with determination and commitment will not lack allies. Otherwise to think of winning favors by only petitioning the powerful would be like appealing to the master that ordered the plunder of ones property to help in recovering it. Such a petition remains a report on mission accomplished and audit on the messenger. Most rulers have similar interests and character. Respect for human rights is not their priority.

Democracy means a system of government a people establishes with its own free will. For that there is no one model. Even the structures that westerners follow are different from each other’s and that of the ancient Greeks. We Africans will also form what is convenient for us with consultation of each of our peoples. To revisit the ancient Gadaa model can also have advantages. People that claim common identity could negotiate on equal level with the surrounding peoples if only it could be free to stand in unison. Otherwise it can only be called the subservient not the willing. It is referred to as the dependent not the independent or the free.

Concerns of peace and interests of peoples of the world are to be determined by equal level negotiations. If it proceeds that way there will not be possibility of saying what is yours is mine but you scratch my back I will scratch yours will be the norm. However someone will buy what is available in the market even if one has doubts that the seller was a thief or plunderer. It is up to the genuine owner of the goods to get rid of the plunderer and make ones products available to the customer. Interest of the customer is to get service from whoever is available.

 That being so the principle of equal opportunity for all should not be neglected. That means one determines one’s own destiny not others determining for one. One of the problems of Africa is lack of leaders that believe in themselves and whom those they lead also believe in them. All are those that collude with the wealthy of the world in plundering and tormenting their own people and not determined to maintain balanced relations it ought to have in the world.  For that reason peoples of Africa have to come to the front and put in the proper order their rights and relations between them. The union should be union of the peoples. African union that exists now is more international than African and   advances special interest than the common good.

Numerically the Oromo are big people. They are people with proud history of civilization. Oromiyaa has over surface and under surface untouched resources. There are no people in the region that are more productive than them. For those that sell or buy Oromiyaa is a big market.

There is big opportunity for those that need to invest their wealth. Her people love peace and justice. It has the culture of Gadaa (democracy) and rule of law. It is also open minded to education and products of technology. There has never been complaint on its bravery and wisdom. The Oromo have stronger centrist culture and tradition than possible influence of radicalism that could have come to them through believes and outlooks introduced after their dispersal and colonization. Blaming Oromiyaa otherwise is scaring tactics of perjurers and conspirators. It should be shame for such great people of Africa to remain gagged under occupation for a century. Asserting ones worth saves from perennially being teased as weak and spineless by handful brigands.

The Oromo has to make efforts to get its proper share under what is going in the world at present. So far they have preserved their language and identity under many ups and downs. To regain what is lost and lay foundation for the future is a very urgent task. Though liberation movement of the Oromo seems stunted it is showing progress in different directions. Institutions that add strength are sprouting. The Madda Walaabuu Media foundation Voice of Oromo, Afaan and OMN are good examples. These new projects are Oromo treasures that should be supported, encouraged and protected at all times. The OLF is also making efforts to recuperate. To come out as dependable force positive input is expected from nationals. It has to be an organization that assures continuation of kaayyoo to the future and a leadership that can maintain the movement within the country. Individuals are human beings they can get tired, die, betray or desert.

An organization is founded after deep thought and consultations to advance people’s aspirations and having majority behind it until it accomplishes its mission. A political organization is not an ad hoc task force for self-help. It is better not to have it unless it is tightly built, has all information of the surrounding and conditions at its fingertip and have leaders and members with responsibility and accountability and be one operating with strong discipline.  An organization must be able to roar in the mountains and valleys of its country. For that to be realized all nationals have to rally. People want their organization to be among them.  People’s organization that stays out of a country for long becomes alienated. For a refugee let alone to say I will lead you it must be safuu (unethical) even to think of it. The faranjii say “There are permanent interests not permanent friends in politics”. This is a cardinal point of their foreign relations. How would Oromo activists take this? Permanent interest of Oromo people is freedom, being sovereign on one’s territory. Digressing from this to fulfill alien interest is contemptible and humiliating. Friendship can be negotiable not freedom. Criteria for friendship is respecting each other’s interest, relating to each other as equals and with respect. If one we refer to as an enemy today fulfills that criteria to be friends is normal in political practice. Oromo have to do everything they could not to be victims of the new Scramble for Africa as in the old.

 Though it may not be possible to keep it at bay at least to get the actors recognize their legitimate interest is essential. No power can stop renewal of world order. Let anyone lead it, Oromo have to be awake and enable themselves to be ready to snatch whatever it may offer. The struggle to find our place among sovereign nations shall continue.

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
March 2014


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