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Oromia-Ethiopia: Can Oromummaa and Ethiopianism Be Reconciled?

Posted: Amajjii/January 15, 2012 · Finfinne Tribune | Gadaa.com | Comments (18)

By Asafa Jalata, PhD* | Ayyaantuu.com

This paper critically examines how the duality inherent in the concept of Ethiopianism shifts back and forth between claims of a “Semitic” identity when appealing to the White, Christian, racist/ethnocentric, occidental hegemonic power center and claims of an African identity when cultivating the support of sub-Saharan Africans and the African diaspora while, at the same time, ruthlessly suppressing or destroying the history and culture of non-Semitic Africans of the various colonized nations, such as Oromos. Successive Ethiopian state elites have used their Blackness to mobilize other Africans and the African diaspora for their political projects by confusing original Africa, Ethiopia, or the Black world with contemporary Ethiopia (former Abyssinia) and at the same time have allied with Euro-American powers and practiced racism, state terrorism, genocide, and continued subjugation on the indigenous Africans who are, today, struggling for self-determination and multinational democracy. Exposing the racist discourse of Ethiopianism and liberating the mentality of all Africans and the African diaspora from this “social cancer” must be one of the tasks of a critical paradigm of Oromummaa. Developing Oromummaa (Oromo culture, identity, and nationalism), the Oromo national movement engages in such a liberation project. Those intermediary Oromos who have been joining the Tigrayan or Amhara camps as collaborators have promoted Ethiopianism at the cost of Oromummaa. Those diaspora Oromo elites who are claiming to change the program of the Oromo Liberation Front are part and parcel of these subservient forces that have perpetuated Ethiopian colonialism and political slavery.

The critical and thorough examination of the essence and duality of Ethiopianism demonstrates the negative impact of this ideology on the processes of identity formation, state building, and development in the Ethiopian Empire. Ethiopians/Abyssinians or Habashas consider themselves Semitic and suppress their African-ness or Blackness by claiming their racial and cultural superiority to Blacks in general and the indigenous Africans they colonized in particular. Successive Ethiopian state elites have used the discourses of civilization, race, culture, and religion to justify and rationalize the colonization and dehumanization of the indigenous Africans, such as Agaos, Oromos, Ogaden-Somalis, Afars, Sidamas, and Walayitas, and have selectively utilized the politics of African-ness or Blackness without actually practicing this aspect of Ethiopianism. The duality of Ethiopianism and the politics of building contemporary Ethiopia as an empire on the foundation of racial/ethno-national hierarchy have prevented successive Ethiopian state elites from building a viable country. Consequently, Ethiopia has remained one of the most impoverished countries in the world and has become infamous for its recurrent famines and a series of internal and external wars and massive human rights violations.

Full Article (Ayyaantuu.com)

* Asafa Jalata (ajalata@utk.edu) is a Professor of Sociology, Global Studies, and Africana Studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.He has published and edited eight books and authored sixty refereed articles in regional and international journals and several book chapters.


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  1. ebisa

    Jan 15, 12 at 12:44 pm

    Like to say thank you

  2. Muhee

    Jan 15, 12 at 3:29 pm

    The Abyssinian elites want two things from Oromos. They want to exploit the resources of Oromia. Oromia is their prize in their struggle. To get Oromia, they need Oromo foot soldiers who take orders from them and kill Oromos who pose a threat to them. The foot soldiers can not be their servants with Oromummaa. That’s why their next target is Oromummaa. Oromummaa is their enemy.

  3. hikaa

    Jan 15, 12 at 4:53 pm

    True oromos need to be deligent of what G7 and its colaborater ( TRAITORS ) is doing in order to distroy oromuuma. I remeber when the jijirama group came to my city and told us what we wanted to hear and collected enough money not knowing their hidden agenda realy deceived us. We true oromos, we like to see postive progress in our quest for freedom and justice. For so long we expected progress in the field of our struggle. Not seeing any noticeable or concret result from OLF forced us to stay on the sideline. We felt hopeless and helpless as a result we were manipulated and in the process we got hurt. The current development in the jijirama group further made the situation worse. Other oromo factions need to calpitalize on the development and revitalize oromos and lead to some sort of progress. Just writing and talking will not do the job. As much as they like to write, they also need to show some committment in the field of military success. What divided us more than anything is lack of political as well as military successes. Our leaders need to weak up and have sense of leadership chairisma. They need to realize that they can not controll the fight by remote control. They need to reside in the oromias jungle and show oromos that they there to lead oromos to the victory. We had enough of their bickering over who suposed to be on the top or bottom. Be on the front line like our oromos students are doing right at center of the fight. Like Dr. Jalata articulated, our enmenies have so many venues to distroy us and they are equipped with all sorts of weapons. They work day and night to come up with new ideas on how to divid us and make us weak in every front. On our side what are we doing to fight back except saying and writting our enemies did this and that ?. It should have been them who were supposed to camplain not oromos. We should work hard and do better. Shame on us oromos.

  4. Gara Mulata

    Jan 15, 12 at 6:11 pm

    OLF was a true political front for the last 40 years. It had both independence and democracy elements working together when in agreement, and correcting each other when in conflict. How did the independence and democracy elements come to exist in OLF?

    The independence clique was the revolutionary youth organization of the time; articulate in political ideology and swift in political decisions, it needed the well-known democracy base of the Oromo (breakaways of the Macha Tulama) to establish itself as a viable organization. The OLF has thus been a Front in its true sense, but not completely a liberation organization.

    The dilemma between forming the Front (Oromo unity) and acting like a Liberation organization has hampered its progress. TPLF and EPLF never had this issue to the extent that OLF has had it. EPLF and TPLF eliminated their own rivals within their organizations from early on.

    because of that, TPLF and EPLF were agile in political decisions, but OLF has had been too slow, but OLF has been more democratic than EPLF and TPLF.

    The issue about agility seems to be over. The democracy and independence camps within OLF have now separated for good making the Daawud OLF irrelevant. Anyone wanting to fight for democracy, join Kemal OLF. Anyone wanting to fight for independence, join Dhugaasaa OLF. No need to dance back and forth between democracy and independence to create confusion.

  5. Anoole

    Jan 15, 12 at 7:28 pm

    Pleas! stop! Stop! Stop!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! from G/Kamel Galchuu. He will do better. The other leader confused. Need to be focuse on your enemy, not on your brother.
    Thank you

  6. gadaa Visitor

    Jan 15, 12 at 8:33 pm

    Dr. Aseffa is a hypocrat. He was promotting aliance aka AFD and now he is coming up with such an article. I disagree with what Gelichu did, now people like Asefa coming out with defense of Oromumma just non sense. I think Dr Aseffa need to learn him self core of Oromumma.

  7. Aron

    Jan 15, 12 at 11:03 pm

    Be ethiopia poltics be ene astyayt tilk kum neger sertewal biye kemasbachew
    1,atse Tewodros.
    3.Dr/negasu.The next you.
    Ahun ersew ye yazut menged betam yemyabrtatanew

  8. qero

    Jan 16, 12 at 12:39 am

    thank you for the nice article.

    In you article you mentioned the following sentence;
    “One Amhara can force one hundred Oromos into submission or subordination.However, historical evidence indicates that until they allied with Europeans and obtained modern weapons, Habashas saw Oromo fighters as their nightmare.”

    From this sentence there is big thing we need to learn that is “diplomacy of the oromo people” we are exceeded in diplomacy back then and today too. While wonyane goes to china, India, and other country, our diplomacy where is it? does not even convince one country and make a friend, why we could not become allied with big countries like US , china, Europe etc. Instead of still thinking to make alliance with the people used to oppress us. If our diplomacy is working our people will get the weapon and will win the struggle. Gobena exceeded in diplomacy not in force, 1991 again we were exceeded in diplomacy, still today we are exceeded in diplomacy. There should be a way to make our diplomacy work. At least we need to use the following ways;
    Minilik he gets weapon by giving our land, Woyane gets support by giving our land, if we really work hard we are the one who can be trusted to be friend. So let us strengthen our diplomacy.


    Support the people!!!!the true leader!!!


  9. qero

    Jan 16, 12 at 10:50 am

    Hi Hawwinee Barii,

    Let us get back to work, let all of us, all organizations and others support the people. there is no time, let us turn our effort to the enemy. there is a saying, “walala offii gorefatanii bekka offii kununfatanii wallin jiratu ykn hojatu jedhama”.


    Support the people!!! the true leader!!!


  10. obsaa

    Jan 17, 12 at 4:18 am

    Thank U prof for your eloquent article. May God bless U. Never give up fighting enemy by your pen. A pen is mighter than a sword.

    To: Hawwinee:

    Your comment is always about the three OLF factions. You are continuously playing the old game of aggravating the division among oromos. It is unquestionable that U are one of the neftegnas who are still struggling to further divide us. I advise U. Donot waste your time. Oromos, though they have differences, can still live and work together. we have an indiginuous democatic system((Gadaa) and culture. That is why OLF leaders , though they have different ideology, were still struggling together to liberate the oromo people from centuary old oppression.

    We oromos have to flourish this beautiful culture of tolerating each other.

  11. time/yeerroo

    Jan 17, 12 at 12:51 pm

    Thanks Prof. Assafa and let me and let me add also this comment: Like Jesus has broken the power of dead that was trying to hold him in under the cave and librate him self and declare life to his body, we have to break the power of strong man that wants us to live under his cruel rule and we have to declare liberty once for all for our nation who are still waiting for help . Slavery must be broken poeple has to brith the freedom, cushtic poeple are under gun rule , have no right on their land and pushed out of thier territory and thier belonging is owened by non of thier desendants. We rebuke this evil ruler and we denounce also its act of false democracy.

  12. qananii jaalat

    Jan 18, 12 at 12:43 am

    As a intelectual and as author you have been articulated about the greatness of your favour party by saying that there is no in need of multiple party,ruther u tried the party of ur dream shane group who were winging and misleading a nation for 4 decades and trade by the name of oromummaa,as I know the role of intelectual is to reflect and convey the truth and logic with out siding and biasing to one group whom he loved,he must be independent and convey his article in a way that to provide solution for the opressed and great nation under seige a of wayyane regime if u are siding this group betrayed the nation to wild wayyane escaped to europe ,if u think and depend on this group u are wrong the reasult is only empty words,nothing else.try to resaerch agin and articulate the true and a logic to the nation.ruther than confusing.

  13. Jote Boru

    Jan 19, 12 at 11:26 am

    I praised Dr. Asefa Jaletas article posted on Gada.com last month with the title Oromia-A national crises ,open Dialogue and building national consensus in which he correctly analysed the problem the Oromo struggle has faced and the internal conflict which paralized the OLF.But the same person now put all crimes on the Habeshas and condemn General Kemal Gelchus OLF faction for cooperating with the Habesha group lead by Berahnu Nega G7. We have been hearing at least for forty years what Dr. Asefa is now trying to tell the Oromo people as a new finding. The Oromo people is fed up of such history which implies the superiority of the Habeshas and the weakness of the Oromo people. This is simply to cover our leaders weakness to do their job properly.
    So, Dr. Asefa and others please tell the truth and not rewrite what we have been hearing for the last forty years and encourage those who are trying to find ways of an end to the woyane regime. I appreciate Kemal Gelchus group for exposing those who luck courage to come to the reality.

  14. wallin

    Jan 19, 12 at 3:15 pm

    pls do not post/share such commentaries on your website. These are just waste of time and courage for fueling alternative option. We had enough of problem and historical description. We need an act not just century old analysis at the time the world looking for a minute solution we do not need an hour problem description.

  15. Gadaa Ganamaa

    Jan 20, 12 at 4:56 pm


    Here again Dr Assefa is fighting hard to keep the status quo. He is out of touch with many oromos. Don’t they think that oromos are fade up with there so called articles perpetuating regional and political divisions? Oromos don’t need story tellers. Most of the youth understand what happened to us in the past and what is happening under the current regime. We didn’t expect from people like Dr Assefa much of historical and cultural lecture. We wanted them to lead and deliver if they can go beyond empty rhetoric of oromummaa, sabboonumma. People were ripe and more than ready to embress even independent Oromia. See what is happening now: as the time goes Oromos are getting disenchanted with the slogan of oromummaa, sabboonumma and bilisummaa. I think Dr Assefa and his colleagues still might think the morale of Oromo youth for independence is as high as before or even getting better and stronger. They have taken Oromo people forgranted. they failed to recognize that people are after action with less regard for personalities or political organizations.We are tired.We are fade up with meaningless talks. Anyone who is concerned about our daily life, past and future have to go few miles beyond sitting and writing. Beyond political preach and monthly/annual sermon.Most of the time we deceive ourselves. If we can make honest and thorough assessment, our leaders including Dr Asefa have done practically nothing. But they are always the first to clime whenever “something good” happens.they are more concerned about creating personal cults…maqaan isaanii bifa garii hintaaneen akka ka’u hinfedhan..mormii dhagayuufis bakka hinqaban..hinhayyaman…Still they preach us about Gada system. It is by the grace of God we are here where we are especially after 1993. I think it’s only the Oromo youth, with no leader, who are emotionally making emphatic attempt to make our case. They are the one who deserve the credit for what happened specifically after the mid 90s.


  16. Naatolii

    Jan 23, 12 at 10:51 pm

    One of the few Oromos I have enormous respect is Asefa Jalata. He is one of the first few pioneers, who published several books about Oromos early own. All Oromos owe him enormous respect and gratitude. My admiration for him will never change under any circumstances.
    However, I have some reservation about this article. The historical account of his writing is accurate if not the first one, but the wisdom of his timing very troubling. Now the debate within the Oromo polity is not about history but politics. How this one article advances the political discourse underway among the Oromos and the stakeholders. One can learn from history to shape the future but using historical account to advance political discourse is utterly non-productive or destructive and bread stagnation. “History cannot travel backward in time but forward” One thing I am sure is the Oromo people politics is different from twenty years ago or even ten years ago.
    Los Angeles

  17. goban gergo

    Feb 3, 12 at 3:21 pm

    I debet on Asafa article that it was the same as Dr mahamad shamsaddin megalomats article who was fight Amhara Oromo or any ethiopian people for egyptians blue nile stratege.
    Oromo is the one, the most part of ethiopia .alomst all the history of ethiopia is belongis to oromo people.Oromia district can not represent the oromo people. it is prepared by TPLF schollars. the most natural resource of oromo not included in oromia .out of oromoia ,the rest of oromo people not oromo ?
    professor of sociology ? you agreed on African scrable, ethiopian scramble and oromo scramble ? then you will get billons dollar by selling your people.
    Reconcilations are very easy .ithe 20 years forcefull social transation relativly fail to creats strong diffrent identity .it limted to the doctirne of hate one tribe to other because this people knows that they are indogenise and the same people .it is only propagand of horn of African scramble. when the truth exposed, it do not take time to reconcile

  18. Ethiopia Today

    Feb 11, 12 at 8:47 am

    I respect all your opinion even though there is a lot I don’t agree with. Most Ethiopians (I can not say all because there are some of you who feel otherwise) are proud of their culture, identity, history, etc. This is not because of the “duality conspiracy theory” the writer tried to imply. It’s because we have a lot to be proud of. Every country has something to be proud of. Ethiopians don’t look down at other people as the writer has tried to portray – we just love our country! We know the challenges we are facing as a country (famine, political tensions, etc.) but that wouldn’t dampen our optimism about the huge potential and future that we have as a people. Oromos feel unique in that they have Gadaa system in their culture (a democratic tradition). That “sense of uniqueness” doesn’t make them bad or it shouldn’t be held against them.

    Any sane person at this time and age will not aim for “racial” superiority over another race or group. Ethiopia is a country of 80 million with multiple ethnicity. We have all been victims of poor governance and lack of democracy. With time and effort, we will see an Ethiopia where all its citizens will feel respected. Who knows when that time comes – some of you might be ardent fans of the “Ethiopianism” credo! A true democratic system will ensure the respect of everyone as a human being – not because he/she is an Oromo, Tigrean or Sidama. Just because he/she is a human being! Within that kind of system an all our cultures will flourish.