Looking back

Looking back to the tortuous road Oromo liberation came through one can understand how time flies. All started underground hidden from friends and enemies sight. The objective was to form an organization to fend off servitude, humiliation and degradation. Activists used to disseminate their idea with hand written fliers and oral messages. With change of time they used alcohol duplicators, and stencils.  Computer printers are a recent history. Distributions were done by human errands. Now fax mills, wireless printers, copy machines and the use of internet as a vehicle of communication had changed efficiency and effectiveness of agitation and broadcasting. The words blogging, twitter, face book, cell phones were beyond imagination of the pioneers of Oromo struggle.  In that way they formed an organization they named Oromo Liberation Front and set a goal for it in a political program. Then the process of fending off oppression commenced. They were farsighted; no one has aimed at disproving their visionary guidelines except for the pusillanimous revisionists. Let us live to imagination of readers how meetings were conducted, how many paid their well being, parts of their bodies and their lives for the cause and how may dropped out to reach where Oromo revolution stands today?
All the tools used mentioned above were advanced for their times. Technology is developing too fast making old tools obsolete. The grandmother of this writer who died in the 60s only heard about telephone and never used it.  Now her great grand children in the jungles of her county use cell phones, though their material life still makes them envy of the old life they heard of.

Therefore it is imperative for the old warriors to involve the quick minds of the youth to catch up with technological development as well as to change people’s life for the better. That requires from the oldies a plan to phase out. It is not any passer by Badhaatuu or Badhaasaa that take over from the retiring but disciplined comrade members in struggle of a concerned organization. In independent Oromiya the basic Gadaa principles were defended by the whole nation. Each new Gadaa may change or amend the laws but not the system that enabled that. Now too no member or members of a leadership should think that they are the only trusted custodians. There should be time limit to put their house in order and transfer authority to legitimate others.  Accept that the people are guardians of the Kaayyoo.

Oromo liberation movement which includes OLF and all that sprouted from it is failing to respond to demands of the time. Many point to several factors as a cause. It is obvious that many external forces have interest in Oromiyaa. For that reason the negative pressure those can exert would be tremendous.  But that cannot be presented as the main cause. Lack of material wealth, experience and consensus are also no more problems as they were long ago. On organization level the main cause is internal. The failure to keep ones house clean and sealing all pores that let in polluted air is to blame.  Ones that happens it would be difficult to know who is upholding the kaayyoo, who is anti kaayyoo and who is an enemy agent.   On peoples level colonial experience has made it docile and much is left to get full consciousness. That is why it is not complaining much about its organizations and the oppressor. Absence of political organization from its side during trying times is still overlooked by the people with patience.  As a rule they have the responsibility and duty to be present by its side and help it pull out on its own bootstraps rather than waiting for another savior. Tafarii’s WWII model can serve no more.

Leaders of such a huge and beloved movement have to be daring and risk taking. They have to stick to principles not what others would say. That quality is supposed to make them different from the mass they lead. The basic constitutional element of the OLF is independence of Oromiyaa. If that is compromised it will no more be OLF but something else. That should not be an issue to shy off from. People are killed, imprisoned, banished, flee and fail to reach their destination and tortured because of OLF. Leaders have to lead properly or declare their inability to go further and resign. It will be sinful to drug ones feet until the movement for liberation is dead or marginalized.  The recent verdict on more than 40 members of Oromo organizations working with the colonial government is enough indication of what an Oromo has to deal with. No wish or sabotage can erase the aspiration of the people for independence and neither beseeching nor surrendering can soften the heart of the enemy.  Not much is expected from those that walked out with defiance and came back with tails between the legs. Their own past will haunt them for there is no statute of limitations for manufactured blackmails TPLF has is store.

Internal or external enemies may try to destroy the OLF perhaps they could make activists ineffective but as far as the kaayyoo is concerned it is out of their reach. It will remain engraved in the hearts and brains of Oromo individuals. Incompetence, wavering and lack of commitment and magnanimity are temporary glitches.  If the present leaders fail to respond to the nations SOS call they only make themselves good for nothing. OLF the great Oromo political institution has become sprit of the nation separate from individual members. Genuine Oromo political organizations that uphold the Kaayyoo are showing inclination towards unity and understanding. This writer has tried to analyze what he observed on Oromo outlook in his book, “Prison of Conscience” (page 358-360).

The Oromo have a core from which they do not stay far off even if they are mad at or detest each other. They do not go away from the idea of liberation of the nation. Even when fooled or forced by personal troubles and external pressure, deep down they will never get peace of mind by ignoring aspirations of their nation. For this reason it would be better to know each other more. Factions that had seceded from OLF if not in form, in content they did not abandon the basic program of the liberation movement. For this reason to converge at a point is in order. All have seen that Oromo people show no sympathy for brothers at each other’s throat. Those leaders that the issue concerns have to get out and welcome each other rather than dragging their feet. If all come together with transparent move and in good faith that will be a victory for the freedom movement.  At such a moment, when the organization is kicking for survival, any group or individual that tries to create schism in any one of them would be considered messenger of doom, working for the enemy. And let it be known that they could hurt OLF no more than it is already hurt except their own names. 

 Today new trends in social movement among Oromoo Badii (Oromo dispersed abroad) are observed. They are approaching problems in piecemeal. The movements called” Afaan”, “Madda Walaabuu Media Foundation”, “Oromo First” are examples of these.  There are shortcomings in Oromo society that could be overcome by establishing viable institutions. Social institutions now formed and all others in the making are insuring that the spirit of Oromummaa is being kept active, ever expressing itself and ever being listened to. But they do not replace political organizations, though their product will be of great political value.

Therefore there should be political organizations to utilize them. The new institutions emphasis on professionalism, efficiency and skill is a quality to be emulated by political economic and social organization. Old tools and sinister manipulations are no more effective. That could bring a natural death for those that try to reuse them at such advanced stage of human knowledge. The young people involved in social movements should try not to reflect their party affiliation in their new movement if they have to be trusted by all irrespective of outlook. It is their individual right to join any organization of their choice and influence it from inside.  Otherwise they need “Joshua’s trumpet” to crack it from outside. 

Any fantastic idea they have in mind needs to be tested against experience of the struggle. They have to ask themselves how the struggle begun and what were its strength and weaknesses? It is from that point that the youth can claim its right of succession.  Systematic succession is a process that depends on understanding of two groups, the outgoing and the incoming.  The other is snatching power by force.  One has to be careful not to be misunderstood of which process one is talking when declaring “This is our time, leave way!!” Trying to snatch constitutional power by force tantamount to trying to destroy the institution with its ideals. OLF has turned a spirit of the nation; no soul can destroy it and the kaayyoo for which it stands. The enemy knows that instead it is trying to destroy any Oromo capable to provide leadership to that spirit whether one is a member of OLF or not. All revolutionary youth should join organizations and struggle to revitalize them from inside instead of lamenting from the outside. At this crucial period it not age that has priority but revolutionary sprit to liberate oneself and the nation.

The recent rally against “Beddellee Beer” sponsoring promoter of genocide shows how effective modern means of communication could be. It is easy to bring together people of similar outlook in a short time around an idea. That should be a lesson to Oromo political organizations that fail to feel their surroundings and their implication for the future of Oromo liberation movement. A simple glance back to the tortuous road they came through could have shown them that time flies and cannot stand to wait for them.  The movement is now not as clandestine as it used to be for the eye of a modern man is becoming Waaqaa’s eye that much cannot be hidden and the tools and distribution system no more archaic as it used to be over five decades ago. This is the perfect time to lead the people to its desired goal and shame infiltrators and saboteurs.

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
January 2014

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