By Ibsaa Guutama* | January 2013
After more than a decade, two factions of the OLF informed the public that broken pieces of the OLF were being put together. That is a legitimate measure that shames all fake collections. It may need some time to fully get fixed and operate with full capacity. Therefore, they may need to take time out from activities in public until they come out on how they will reorganize their house. This is the chance not to repeat past mistakes. Things to be done have to be prioritized. Both might have separately plans in pipeline. All may need to be closed and start anew. Patience and perseverance are required until the final delivery in this phase is ready. Our patriots that gave their lives for the cause were not guinea pigs. The delivery is hoped to send a message that their sacrifice in not to be mocked at any time by any group. It is of no use to pay attention to those Malcolm X call “House Negros” for they prefer to die serving their masters’ than getting free. The onlookers expect systems of operation and information dissemination different from what had nauseated them in the past. The struggle for independence cannot reach its goal with haphazard way of handling. Spontaneity and blinding force of habit have to be abandoned if efficient and effective action is to be taken. For that, the Oromo independence movement may require to carry out a revolution on itself.
There are myriads of sponsors on how to handle the Oromo questions out there. But, all boil down to two choices. Should Oromiyaa be independent or dependent? If the answer is independence, it is only the OLF policy that could get one there. Many questions could arise on the motive of the activists from the start, the viability of the policy, the ability of the Oromo to coordinate their efforts, etc. The struggle wants believers in the national kaayyoo. Vacillators and cowards cannot carry out such a great task. One has to join the independence struggle accepting all the risks it involves and invigorate it, change it and lead it. If one has the determination and commitment, one should struggle for it and do not expect power to come to one on a golden plate. One has to see the cause, not individuals, whether those who had stayed firm or those who had turned against the struggle. At this crucial moment, skepticism becomes sickness. The leadership for now is expected to come up with honest assessments and proposals that will make them different from the others and their own past. Progress could be achieved only if participation and understanding of members are raised. Rallying Oromo abilities, expanding discussion forums, enrolling youthful force, and to raising organizational and national consciousness are assignments long overdue. Public interchange with opposition is not a priority for now. All pending question on national and international policies could be answered when internal consensus is assured on the drive towards unity of purpose and a new clear road map of the struggle is laid down.
Many are heard criticizing the OLF policy as out-of-date and ineffectual. Yet, they do not ignore it and go their way. In truth, all take it as being an obstacle for their disabling mission, selfish ambitions and colonial domination, according to camps they are deployed from. Therefore, they have to denigrate, dishonor and destroy it. The Oromo are persecuted en masse because they have become conscious of their rights. If the oppressor gets excuses, that is a blessing in disguise. If not, it will create one, whether OLF is there or not. It cannot be interpreted otherwise than meanness, lack of patriotism and petty partisan interest to blame actions of the OLF to be the mother of all EPRDF persecutions. It amounts to justifying the most inhuman ruthless sadist dictator for its continued attack on humanity. Performance of a national organization can be criticized in its own context, but not to justify the enemy’s excuses. Despite recognizing the right to secede, Wayyaanee is persecuting Oromo nationals alleging they instigated secession. The world is changing for the better, but the Habashaa Empire for the worst. That is why organized national resistance is essential to stop this brute force. Any other suggestion amounts to capitulation.
Oromiyaa is still under occupation, whatever changes introduced regarding culture and language are controlled by the occupier and serves its purpose. It is only when Oromiyaa is free from occupation and Oromiyaans are masters of their political, economic and social life and their own destiny that change becomes real. During the 1974 revolution, many non-Habashaa had rallied behind Habashaa elites’ call for turning Ethiopia into a democratic country, where human and individual rights are respected and all live in equality and freedom. Bu, they were betrayed and put to gallows. Had they spent that determination and commitment to the liberation of their nations, they could have taught Habashaa activists a lesson to be emulated. By rallying behind their call, they exposed their treachery which is clear to present-day Ethiopianists.
Nostalgia for the past is still popping up. There are, among senior OLF leaders, who advocate for Ethiopianization of the Oromo struggle they run away from four decades ago. They try to cite the original constitution as having link to it. They do not differentiate value of the main paragraph that asserts the major objective of the struggle, and the proviso article under foreign relations section that indicates only a possibility after realization of national self-determination.
It is only a free people with power to be reckoned with as an entity that can enter into relations with other free peoples of its choice. As Oromo saying goes “Eenyu si dhungannaan hidhii muxeessita?” (Why do you protrude your lips when nobody offered to kiss you?). The OLF is so far not able to free its people from colonial shackles. That is not because of the policies it drew, but failure to form strong organization that could match that of the enemy. It was also failure to uphold traditional Oromo value of freedom and independence. TPLF had the same policy as the OLF until it got the strength to dictate its own terms. It was only after liberating own people that it changed its policy to ‘PDO (or EPRDF) unity.
OLF had many well-written documents concerning Defense, Economy, Social, Political and Discipline. But most of them remained on paper. The gossip, that reports did not meet deadlines and that insubordination existed were very likely. The general membership started to hear about their organization, not directly, but from rumors. All the symptoms show that part of the leadership was either not capable of carrying out its duties or it did not believe in the independence of Oromiyaa from the beginning. But, OLF has become “Ayyaana” despite all internal and external machinations it has survived so far irrespective of the actors. Be it as it may, it is not high powered delusional words and phrases that could bring peace and araaraa to the region, and open the opportunity to various alternatives for the Oromo to choose from, but only the liberation of Oromiyaa. Even the monkey, as told, knows that the thorn on her butt has to get cleared to attentively sit and treat other parts of her body. It is only if one gives a free space to oneself that one can freely negotiate.
Building strong organization needed highly conscious loyal membership, full heartedness, determination and commitment to the cause of the people. Under a situation where members are not made aware to follow up leadership activities, derailment of the kaayyoo could not be a surprise. That is what is observed from problems that descended piling up to this day. Strong organization cannot be created by a group infested with halfhearted, vacillating and sluggish individuals who are not willing to mobilize Oromo abilities. In one of the recent interviews on VOA, questions raised on this issue were left unanswered. Why the OLF did not perform well should have been given honest assessment by both sides. There was clear failure in implementation, not defect in policy. How can one say the fruit is sour without tasting it?
Bilisummaa, nagaa, araaraa, safuu and onnee (Liberty, peace tranquility/reconciliation, ethics and courage) are cornerstones of the Oromo Gadaa outlook. Bilisummaa for the nation, nagaa and araaraa to earth, heavens and human beings, maintaining safuu between nationals, and onnee to defend what one believes in, are great values inherited from the Gadaa democratic past. It is only challenge to these values that forced Oromo youth to armed struggle. Otherwise, peacefully resolving conflicts is an Oromo golden rule. True, OLF has a vision that transcends generations. It is a vision for free people and independent country. It is a vision based on burning basic human desire for freedom, peace and tranquility. It is a vision for an interdependent world with mutual respect and equality. Therefore, the fire will never go out as long as the people remain enslaved. No local or global change, and no amount of philosophizing can undermine this fact.
The nascent OLF fought against very powerful occupation force and its allies, and those that claim a vast Oromo territory. Internal strife had also its role. Squeezed between such forces, the struggle became more of survival of the movement rather than demarcating a piece of land as a liberated zone. On the other hand, it had liberated millions of minds that will never accept living anymore as second-class citizens in their own land. Liberating ones land piece by piece is one form of struggle and should not be taken as the only model. Taking all one’s own, at one go, should not be ruled out.
The ANC of South Africa was able to get rid of apartheid after 82 years (1912-1994) of struggle. The struggle was between two racial divisions, the whites on one side, and black and colored on the other. The colonial masters had long left the country transferring political power to their kin and kith raised in South Africa. ANC’s struggle was thus struggle between South Africans, though of different colors and origin. It was a struggle to change racist policy of governance and establish majority rule. Both sides accepted South Africa as their common country. In the case of Oromiyaa, it is a struggle between the colonized and the colonizing occupation force. The struggle being waged by OLF is not between Oromiyaans, but between the occupied and the occupier. This may be painful to hear for those that are benefiting or those whose mouths are watering to benefit from the colonial system at expense of subjugated peoples.
Therefore, South African and Oromiyaan case are two different types of struggle. Oromo are experiencing external colonial apartheid, not internal one. The Oromo are never known to discriminate between human beings in general, and Oromiyaans in particular on the basis of race, creed or ethnicity. If any is heard, beware it is a setup. Those who want to continue their allegiance with colonial motherland are free to do so, but they cannot be loyal to both at the same time. All those who claim to be Oromiyaans have also the obligation to support struggle for liberation of Oromiyaa just like many British and Dutch descendants supported ANC from sense of justice, for they know no other land than where they were created and raised.
The recent memorandum of OLF factions had been received by those who look forward for the independence of their country with great joy. It may need some time to wholly get fixed and operate with full capacity. Until then, every step of their journey towards unity must be guided by wisdom. Oromo politicians had lectured and sworn over public media for several years. Now, what is required is concrete result, not talks and empty promises; not repeating the past allover again. The process of integration requires much effort and considered actions. What is good for leaders is good for members. Therefore, consolidating the grassroots first, or at the same time, becomes a must. Oromo youth has great responsibility to carry through the struggle for the independence that their seniors had set in motion. Free Oromiyaa and then you can fight for Pan-Africanism. OLF is the vanguard of the Oromo struggle; it is the producer of thousands of national heroes and heroines. There is no Oromo home that is not touched by it. That is why Oromo enemies hate it. It is the duty of true sons and daughters of Oromiyaa to defend it, renew it and nourish it. Do not accept to be a nation without heroes and heroines.
Patience and perseverance are required until one emerges with a resolution and action showing the renewed road-map of the struggle. For many years, all were developing systems of undercutting one another. If not consciously erased, that can be carried over to the present phase. They have to reexamine their yester years and try to disentangle themselves from old habits of spontaneity and blinding old habit. A measure no less than a revolution is required to make the liberation movement Oromo in thought and deeds. Upholding Oromummaa together is the panacea. The leadership and the general membership must be on a revolutionary footing, not to run to enemy camp, but to cleanse their august and beloved OLF from old habits, infiltration and slothfulness.
* Ibsaa Guutama is a member of the generation that drew the first Political program of the OLF.
Source: Gubirmans Publishing