Towards Transformation of the Empire

However strong and invisible they may seem, when the time comes dictatorial governments are seen crumbling as if they are standing on clay feet. Each succeeding administration assumes it is stronger than the previous not realizing that any one that is not elected by the people in a free and fair process is destined to fall unexpectedly. If he is not derailed by evil eye, the way Dr. Abiy started is promising. We are in a period of social and political upheaval because of what happened in EPRDF. It was unthinkable for the creator of EPRDF to slip down so fast and dishonorably. But one should not be fooled that all its tentacles spread for thirty years could be plucked out as fast as its fall. The Abyssinians, Amaaraa and Tigree had never transferred power to each other willingly. Because of that one that had been in power will not go away silently but use all plundered resources horded while in power; they are irrationally stubborn. This time an independent third-party actor the Oromo youth (Qeerroo) has appeared on the political stage threatening to transform the empire. It weighed heavier on the ruling government and party affecting some internal change to EPRDF. Qeerroo’s appearance on stage has shown the world that the Oromo is no more the timid that used to be driven by the occupiers as they like; but a force to reckon with. Struggle for Ethiopia and her colonies is between the two antagonistic Habashaa groups. For that reason, Oromo have to monitor each one’s movement cautiously. To outsmart each other there could be several mob provocations at different times and places. For that reason, Oromo without being tool for anyone, have to strengthen their struggle and fend off the enemy and its chattels before crossing port of entry. Irrespective of race, nationality or religion mobs do not have minds of their own but that of a remote controller. Commotions are said to be conducive to hooligans and saboteurs. Such are also the time when the enemy tries to smear the good name of the blameless. Lessons from Wayyaanee drama of 1991/92 at Baddannoo should not be forgotten.

Therefore, the situation we are in, has to be understood in that way and necessary precautions taken in all our steps. In particular all eyes of the vultures are on Oromiyaa and wisdom and courage are required from the Oromo not to fall again. In general, our region is at a critical moment where a crawling revolution that started in 1974 is aiming at transformation of Ethiopian Empire from age of dictatorship to that of rule of law, independence and democratic freedom. The tag of war between oppressor and the oppressed is continuing with flow and ebb motion. The struggle is not limited to local forces alone; global interests are also involved. For the oppressor and their supporters, it is a losing battle but much damage has to be expected before its total exit. The ongoing neighboring states attack on Oromiyaa from all directions creating much damage to Oromo life and property can be cited. In particular the life of our people in Eastern Oromiyaa is being wasted daily challenging national solidarity. Why is genocide level massacre of the Oromo people everywhere being passed in silence while minor incidents in Oromiyaa are taken out of proportion? To raise about it is taken by some Oromo as a challenge to Oromo led EPRDF rather than a reminder to it. The pain is too much for genuine Oromo to keep silent.

Because EPDRF is now led by Oromo nationals it has blurred the distinction between enemy and friend. Oromiyaa is under occupation by Ethiopia. Therefore, the Ethiopian government is supposed to have legal and moral obligation to protect them against third parties. But it did not show concern for the past five months. It even seems that EPRDF is calling neighbors for alliances in destroying Oromiyaa. Could it be a way of controlling Oromo population growth? Is it from economic or political or both interests that the Oromo are left to suffer in particular in North, East and South? How wide is the conspiracy if any? A keen observer could see double standards in responding to emergencies of different nationalities. Be that as it may, much wavering and confusion is yet to be seen from so called forces of democracy and liberation. But no one can stop revolutionary current put in motion by quest for freedom. The aim of Oromo struggle was to dismantle the Ethiopian Empire and raise free nations from under its ruins. But paradoxically, it was Oromo freedom movement that saved the empire from collapsing. The outcome could have ushered freedom and unity not only for the peoples of the region but also for the whole of Africa as well. There could have been chance of dismantling boundaries and relations set up by colonizers far and near. As an ancient African Civilization, the Oromo could make great contributions towards that end. African Union must be union of free peoples of Africa not sympathizers of colonialism. Such union can be started by nations and nationalities of the Horn of Africa. But they ought to be themselves first. If there are good faith and the will, Oromo organizations can hasten Pan Africanism.

OLF the only independent voice for independence of Oromiyaa is being condemned as the sole enemy of Ethiopian domination. Seen as the cause for where we are in political relation in the empire, much credit goes to it for bringing about the present political change. But it has to overcome its weaknesses to be worth of its mission. First of all, the broken parts of OLF even if it were good for nothing morsel, has to be integrated. It is due to human weaknesses and lack of selflessness that they move with same name and same program claiming to adhere to same Kaayyoo. That is also confusing people. It has to recover from that position to be a politically viable force. The healed OLF and other organizations with Oromo names, even if they have difference in outlooks can have common denominators based on Oromummaa. For that reason, they can deliberate and agree on ethical (safuu) points and other issues that the people could uphold in common. Gadaa system is a system that can serve at all times. A system may not remain stagnated at a point; there will be change. Elements that had served in the past might be out of date at present. That is the law of nature. Because of that what should be focused on are basic ingredients that cannot be diminished, like satisfying hunger and thirst, living in freedom and the likes. If we go down into details they will be, communal participation in general; respecting human rights and natural environment; rights of self-expression and forming associations; freedom of religion; separation of state and religion; limited terms of office and supremacy of the law.

One’s neighbors are one’s honor. They are the ones who first respond when emergency calls. Therefore, neighbors cannot remain taking distances for long. In the past a northern neighbor called Abyssinia or Ethiopia, helped by Europeans spoiled good neighborliness. It occupied and denied independence and freedom. It sold them into slavery. It took away their land and resources and made them destitute. It erased their leaders and strong men; and muffled their culture and language. To forget and forgive this, lost sovereignty and dignity has to be restored. The occupier never bothered about peace, development and stability of the region. That is what flared up Oromo struggle. Be them the people or Oromo freedom fighters have wider vision than them. Long lasting unity of African peoples can be achieved only when the last bastion of colonialism, the Ethiopian empire is dismantled. Such truth cannot be stated in their presence without being branded as “Zaranyaa” probably meaning racist. Oromo people did not cross borders and enslave other people. They have never hated people for who they are. They have never abused or despised others for racial differences. They never said they are superior to others and called them uncivilized. Are those that call Oromo racist and had done to the Oromo all the above or the Oromo that are racist? Does love of freedom and independence make one racist? Some losers even try to accuse OLF and those that love freedom and independence as enemies of Ethiopia, while their history proves that they were the ones that betrayed trust of comrades and their “mother land” at every turn.

For Oromo it is their culture to live with their neighbors in peace, siblinghood and equality. There could be no peace until all recognize others being different from and not subservient to them. The name Ethiopia (burned face) does not intoxicate the Oromo as it does them. They take it as a magic word that entitles them to be masters of the region. Be it the name or how to live together with free will should be presented for negotiation. As Ethiopia we have lived for one and half century as oppressed and oppressor. As Abyssinian or Amaaraa and Tigree we can start discussing about our being neighbors. The Nafxanyaa system did not serve us fairly but prompted us to hate and despise each other. However, it is still lingering in the minds of some to create obstacle for peaceful transition. They may try to use some Oromo to hit back the Oromo as in the past. But growing unity and nationalism of the Oromo has lessened that danger. All those that think of collaborating with the enemy know the consequences that could befall them from politically conscious people.

Oromo have politically formidable Gadaa civilization behind them. Using that in building oneself could help regaining lost personality by update it. Oromo can live with federation or confederation with those that are willing and respect each other’s interest. The enemies accuse the present federal arrangement as” ethnic or language” federation with the intention of splitting Oromiyaa into pieces as they like. Bye the way, who forbade ethnic group with one race, language, history, and culture from having separate country? They are crying against the map that OLF had adopted from its formation as if borders had been transgressed. If we are talking about true unity we must categorize people according to their free will. Walloo and Raayyaa are Oromo countries. People that live on the plateau be them Agawu or Habashaa know perfectly whose land they are. And even refer to them in derogatory terms unlike northern greedy politicians. However, that cannot be a point to spill blood for, it can be determined according to peoples will. Nafxanyaa hopefuls blood boils when they see Oromo flag which Oromo registered several victories and paid so dearly flying them. Oromo said nothing when they brag carrying the flag which Nafxanyaa forces that committed genocide against them were flying. Whether they wear it as clothes or as embroidery or cover the whole parade with it, it means nothing for the Oromo. It is not their flag. To hear when they say the genocide committed at Asulee /Annolee in 1886 was originated from recently published fiction by an Abyssinian is more painful to minds of nationals than memory of the genocide itself. How can such denial of history help build trust among each other? They should not undermine Oromo’s oral tradition, which is for them more reliable than written history.

Amputating body parts did not stare with Minilik. Before him Teedros and Yohaannis has practice same on Northern Oromo. It means that had become Habashaa ruling class culture. Before denying what is being told it would be better to go and enquire from the people whom the tragedy had befallen. Possibly they could find their grand or great grandchildren. When memorial is erected for the one that cut breast, what a contempt is it to condemn erecting one for his victims? Annolee memorial should rather be a reminder of cruelty in the past and encourage dialogue as to what should be done to prevent similar happening from being repeated in the future. That only brings peace and reconciliation with neighbors not denials. Let us take what has advantage for all of us and what exists as they are and empower Dr. Abiy to establish the “Rule of Law” so that we can dialogue without raising arms against each other. Establishing peace, freedom of self-expression and respect for human rights for now hangs on his security and strength.

Self-determination is an inviolable right of nations. Those that cross that and say we know everything for you are those that have bad dreams. The Oromo consider aliens that took residence in Oromiyaa and lived respecting its laws, as Oromiyaans. In political life they have equal rights with the Oromo as individuals. If they form communities and ask to teach their language and culture there will be nothing that hinders them. But external hand will not be allowed to interfere taking them as excuse. Two sovereigns cannot exist in one country. Oromo are sovereign over Finfinnee as natural part of Oromiyaa. Majority in the town could be from any ethnic group. That means they came and lived in Oromo country but did not bring their country and replant it there. As for the unlawful possession of emperor’s warlords, revolution of 1974 has taken care of. Transfer of Finfinnee to Oromiyaa does not change individual city dwellers property relations. Because Finfinnee is the capital of Oromiyaa and center of Oromo culture, rights that will be bestowed on her as a big city will not be less than any similar city in the world. Those that now oppose the Oromummaa of Finfinnee even if they are allowed to take it, how can they access her without the permission of Oromiyaa? Where would they throw their garbage? From where can they get their food, water and power? Oromiyaa can live without Finfinnee but Finfinnee cannot live without Oromiyaa. Menelik’s warlords built their camps evicting and killing the tribes of Gullallee, Galaan, Eekkaa etc. It must also be known that there can be accountability for that.

The aura of change is in the air. In this phase of our history no half way reform is expected. Our past with Ethiopia is miserable. We need total new vision for the future of our region and our continent. Those that have nostalgia for their past can entertain it in their own territory, not in congruity with Oromiyaa. All colonial empires are gone except the Ethiopian Empire. Even that is only kicking to recover from its deathbed. The brainwashing of over two hundred years of false history and grandeur fed to generations has left traces of chauvinism and nostalgia for “the good old days”. Oromo, with their revolution had uprooted three Ethiopian regimes. Hence forth no wiser and stronger government than those could come. Nafxanyaa system hopefuls and their minions will not stop trying to sabotage the struggle for transformation. In general, there could be no “Forced dance of the government” as before. Nothing henceforth can be done without the expressed will of the Oromo people. To claim people, they used as beasts of burden to carry their cooking and brewing utensils and war machines to wars that did not concern them, as if they were equal partners in building the empire is nothing but foolery and questioning intelligence of colonial people. The Oromo nation had never been praised for the gallantry some of its braves performed. Still contemptible “name calling” is not yet totally erased. That be as it may, even if what they are saying is true what matters is what the people want to be at this very moment, not what others want them to be.

Since human being started to contact each other from different parts of the glob they have intermingled and bought and sold commodities from each other and also settle among each other and carried on their lives. What was necessary was recognizing sovereignty of those that welcome them. The situation in our surrounding is the guests arrived by force and refused to go out claiming the house and owner belonged to them. It is demand for correction of this that is setting peoples against each other now. Heirs of the guests felt it right to defend their ancestral legacy and refused to leave right or wrong. So, the occupation continued. The disinherited could bear abuses no more and rebelled and swore to fight until they recover all lost rights. Aliens have to take their hands off Oromiyaa and stop unnecessary provocations. If they are willing to accept sovereignty of all colonial peoples and have the will to live together as equals, it may not be necessary to demand for status quo ante. They don’t beg anyone for their rights.

The challenges to Dr Abiy and his group are immense. All those that believe in the benefits of realizing his promises have to throw their unreserved support behind him for their realization irrespective of his Ethiopianist outlook. Until then the new phase we are in, is not yet enough to discontinue Oromo demand for independence of Oromiyaa. Ethiopians are claiming Oromiyaa as their God given territory not a colony or “qiny gizataachin” as they used to call them. From their war cries the only reason why they support the change is the hope that Dr. Abiy will put away Wayyaanee for them to replace it. The Oromo can take that as contempt and see no common ground for negotiation unless they take the ongoing change as a chance to bring about democratic relation to the region through peaceful struggle. If there is change of attitude the Oromo may be obliged by their tradition to give chance for peaceful settlement of conflicts. Much was talked about Amaaraa Oromo solidarity as of recently. But good faith is not properly reflected. They were utterances of those that do not represent the nations, for temporary political advantage. Otherwise genuine solidarity between these two could have meant guarantee for peace of the region. Lingering Nafxanyaa thinking and mistrust from past relations have to be overcome for such solidarity to be realized. Ethiopian government led by Dr. Abiy has said it will make the field conducive not for armed but for peaceful struggle. When it is possible to struggle for ones cause peacefully, it is only the insane that choose armed struggle. But that does not be taken as denying armed struggle as a right of the oppressed when peaceful means fail. It is incumbent upon all peace-loving persons to support and give protection for this leader as long as he makes efforts to fulfil his promises. Let all come around a table with issues that led to conflict. The junction we have reached today is not one that will hinder us from our original Kaayyoo. Opportunists may try to mislead them to get applause from the mobs. However, nothing can happen without free will of the Oromo nation. There is nothing impossible for a revolutionary. Oromo Qeerroo and Qeerrantii will not quit peoples’ Kaayyoo startled by stampede of reactionaries. 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 forefathers!

Ibsaa Guutama

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