Trends towards creating understanding among Oromo Political Groups

No normal thinking person could understand how Oromo liberation movement started to fall apart. None of the splinter groups had come out with strategy different from the mother organization they broke away from. At most some had sponsored tactics that most thought undermined the basic kaayyoo. To get that through they unleashed ferocious campaigns against each other while the enemy is at their threshold. After all what happened, which should not have happened at all, it seems some have started to realize the looming danger. They have also seen first hand that ones ego or ones primary group and bowing to alien pressure alone could not pave the way to primacy. It is commitment to the common cause, open mindedness and trust from comrades that could earn respect from aliens and friends. All nations give priority to their own national interest. To take Oromiyaa differently could be detrimental to the very existence of the nation.

All problems started within the vanguard organization, OLF.  The OLF was the first political organization that brought Oromo political movements under one objective and one banner. It is credited for arousing national consciousness to higher level. It gained love and respect from the Oromo for understanding the kaayyoo of the nation and sacrificing so much for its achievement. On the other hand it also awakened the enemy which had so long taken for granted that Oromummaa (Oromoness) will never resurrects.  

 In the process OLF leadership almost lost grip on its own organization and confidence of its own members. The classical art of divide and rule started to creep in from fully unidentified corners. Splits took place at all stages of its development. What ever happened did not unanimously awaken it to pause and reexamine the way it had been doing things. As a result it became more porous to infiltrations and sabotages.  Comradely spirit that existed at the formation of the Organization started to wane even among closest peers.

Allegations of non transparency of operations became rampant. Different interpretations were fed into the mouth of individuals to further create divisions not only among comrades but also other nationals. The enemy has already started giggling by the success of its agents in pushing the Oromo almost to the verge of being divided on backward issues.

Oromo liberation movement had internal enemies as it has external ones. Internally, there were those who collaborated with the enemy for lack of faith in their nation, those who have no stamina to fight, the opportunists that have no principle in life, those with low level of political consciousness, and those that had ideological unity with the enemy. All these had been campaigning to discredit the OLF, for they know in that name lies all that Oromo is dying for. It is probably realizing this that different nationalist movements are set in motion to bring feuding groups together. The enemy is not indifferent to this. It is also sponsoring its own groups of jaarolee (peace makers) to deepen the feud in the name of peace.   

These days there is also some concern being shown within the RECENT divisions of OLF. Calls being made for groups and non affiliated old members to put aside their differences and find ways and means of recuperating the ailing organization could be starting point. This could be realized if the nationalist forces within groups come out successful in the ongoing tug of war. Movement for healing the ailing organization is also involving leaders that were once upon a time looked upon as icons. It was reported that they were meeting at Washington DC under the name groups of ‘founders’ and senior members of OLF. It is not clear if this was extension of recent The Hague (Holland) meeting.

The “founders” are mostly affiliated in different capacity with one or other splinter group except with one. It rather seemed “birds of the same feather flock together” type. Therefore they cannot claim to be neutral. They should have first called upon peers with whom they had severed relations for long time directly and asked for their input rather than last minute selective approach. No body suspects that they do not know better than this on how to clear accumulated doubts. It is not enough to convince oneself of ones own good intentions but requires convincing others about genuineness of those intentions.

Such tendencies of pulling the fallen-apart to one center are positive signs and have to be encouraged. When the move is generated “internally” it has more chance for viability than external effort.  Flashback of past ill feelings that led to breakups should not be given a chance to occur. It is incumbent upon actors to prepare the ground work for clearing all doubts before any official conference is scheduled.  Those who offer their service for such noble cause must make sure that they are not bringing with them any unwanted baggage from the past.

Unity of liberation forces of Oromiyaa is what all good thinking organizations and person have in mind. That is why ULFO was formed. But different problems, in particular that within OLF has crippled it. Strong OLF could have contributed to strong ULFO. Severed relations have to be mended to re-engage each other for the common cause. Any national missions of good-will must be able to stimulate change from the inside rather than trying to impose it from outside. Sometimes it requires long and tedious engaging to be trusted.

Most nationals are affiliated in different capacity with one or other splinter group at present or in the past. Therefore, as said above, one rarely claims to be neutral. But one has to deal with what one has in solving common problems. Groups and individuals should be taken for what they present themselves. One may ask questions to clear any doubt from past history that might have come lingering. Unjustified suspicions and grudges should not remain obstacles to unity. Any approach in which good faith is questioned cannot produce result. Therefore transparency is the panacea.

All groups and individuals that are willing to reexamine their stand and reunite the movement have to answer the calls for unity from where ever corner it might have come. Starting from low level encounter counseling could develop into higher level step by step. The first meeting can be that of few (at least three) representatives that could discuss on venue, method and level of next meeting and possibly identify agenda items.  Such gradual upward move can help by providing opportunity to create trust among groups and individuals before the substantive issue is tackled. Nationalists that have confidence from all sides can be called upon to help in the effort as well as witness the process.

Coming together of groups and individuals assumes that all have realized the existence of alternatives to the ways they had been handling relations. They have also noticed that trying, to intimidate by ganging up in numbers and to outsmart others by trickery and black mail does not work. The Oromo of old said, “Gamna gowwoomsuun jibba barbaachaa” (to cheat the wise is inviting lose of respect). With such exercises people are rather infuriated than intimidated, more deepening the gap. This has to be a lesson for future relations.

The correct way is the way of rule of law, doing things according to established rules, regulations and laws. What is good for a nation is good for organizations as well. The OLF had a constitution and rules of operation. Rewards and punishments are supposed to be handed out according to them. Strictly following ones own rules and regulations curb spontaneity and double standards, there by avoiding serious consequences. Any breach by the leadership will create more havoc than it would by ordinary members. That was why transparency is called for. So far lack of transparency and undermining the rule of law has led to contempt, splits, divisive rumors and infiltration by saboteurs.

For all involved in the liberation struggle their goal was supposed to be liberation of Oromiyaa. All relations and differences have to be subordinated to this lofty goal. But because of narrow minded and hypnotized politicians minor differences have overtaken the common goal. By using sensitive primary relation and confused by alien influences they have tried to rally unaware individuals for their own selfish ends and there by derailing the liberation movement. People may realize such machinations after damages which are costly to mend are done. To be a politician does not mean to lose honor and lack principle. It does not mean to lie and flip flop at every turn in front of friends and enemies alike. Unless truthfulness and openness is practiced among comrades, unity of purpose will be unthinkable.  OLF is greater than any individual member. All are obliged to bow for its rules not it to their whim. There can be only one OLF.

Much time is wasted on past grievances that have no significance for the present. If they have to build a bright future nationalists have to build on achievements of the past putting aside past grudges. This requires selflessness as well as purposefulness. What is needed is action oriented, uniting, engaging and inspiring leadership not self dragging, divisive and despair sowing spineless individuals. For the sake of the nation all have to give up hate mongering past petty habits and come out to positively engage each other for the grand common cause, the national kaayyoo. The enemy is out there already, devastating the people without mercy alleging they are members of the OLF. If this does not weigh on ones conscience nothing would. It is not from where a leader comes but his/her genuineness, tested unflinching commitment to the nation and ability to deliver what he/she promises that has to be taken into consideration. For a freedom fighter loyalty to Oromummaa must supercede all other loyalties and relations. Only then can one be considered a pan-Oromo activist. Let us not give up on each other for time has much in store. Tomorrow is always expectant. 

Long live one OLF
Long live Unity of Oromo liberation forces.

Ibsaa Guutama
January 2009

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