By Ibsaa Guutama*
The Ethiopian empire had never had peace since its creation a century and half ago. Excessive repression had kept on creating havoc on the system. But always, those that open safety valve, arrive before it explodes and affects Habashaa supremacy. It was what happened from Tafarii to Mallas. All have pretended to proclaim laws that seem to allow people’s participation in governance. But, because equality of participation could shake their foundation, they have shunned from implementing. Promises they made to get time until they strengthen their power fades away, and oppressing peoples returns to where they were. They make efforts as much as they could to brainwash and make the people forget their identity. To enforce that imprisonment, torture, killings, kidnapping, to make disappear and banishing are their known practices. The Oromo with their revolution are defending against extinction aimed at their identity. But still, there are those that did not free themselves from its spell and are aiming their guns at their kin in defense of the colonial system. The effect of Stockholm syndrome will live with them until the total liberation of Oromiyaa. It is observed that, periodically, leading cadres relapse into such syndrome. In process of the struggle, many achievements, factual and pretentious, had been registered. But they are being chopped off. Oromo land had totally become commodity for the colonizer. They did not transfer control of Oromiyaa state to collaborators according to their laws. The said federation of equal states was formed. Oromos being majority is not reflected there. The central government works with Habashaa language, be it for administration or communication. By it, the system of simaabaloo (interpreter) has returned. Federal jobs are only for those proficient in the language. Generally speaking, the federation is fake structure. The objective of the Oromo struggle is to regain robbed independence and rights, become masters over one’s country and live in freedom, equality and happiness. But for different reasons, the struggle is weakening and plight of the people increasing in doubles.
Peoples who are not free live at the mercy of their occupier. A land that is not free is a colony. That colonialism has to end is universally recognized. It is the right and the duty of the colonized to struggle for its realization. All freedom-loving people have also legal and moral obligation to help in ending colonialism. The Oromo peacefully demanded for the recognition and implementation of their right to national self-determination based on that belief. They started armed and political struggle only after their peaceful demand for decolonization was rebuffed. They are rejecting waving alien banners, working with their language, following their orders and taking alien history as one’s own. They can no more tolerate being dehumanized and humiliated by their occupiers, and live under harshest oppressive rule of terror of the past century and half. Their demand for freedom is branded as terrorism, and the vanguard organization of the freedom movement listed as a terrorist. World powers did not condemn such act for its illegality. With that, the democratic principles they claim to uphold is pushed to second place against their national interest. That is why Oromo that had run to them for their lives are refused recognition, and their case remains suspended. The theoretical acceptance of the Universal Human Rights is stumbling when it comes to practice.
The cry, “Give me liberty or give me death,” is a revolutionary voice we hear from beyond the grave of American revolutionaries of centuries ago. The Oromo are echoing the same cry for liberty, for all that can listen. People fear death because they are afraid of losing the life they only know and the anticipated pain that comes before it. When that life is no more livable, and it rather is offering the most excruciating physical and psychological pain, the fear of death gives way for defiance. Revolutionary stamina starts to surge. Dread for the inevitable loses meaning. To face death fearlessly becomes most honorable than remain dehumanized and humiliated. They are the fearless who inculcate the love of honor in the minds of their people. Such are the people who sacrifice their lives so that posterity live with happiness and honor in freedom. They are such heroes who society mentions in its poetry, songs of love and valor. Children grow up bragging and singing their names. They become non depleted source of topics for writers and artistes.
Society honors the courageous. Organized courage gives more breadth and depth to that honor. It is the courageous that helps fulfillment of the Kaayyoo. Kaayyoo requires organization, determination and commitment. Struggle is not fad abandoned at ease. What one struggles for has to be something believed in, thought about and researched in depth. It must be accepted that the cause that lead to the struggle cannot be shunned before victory. That is why society respects those who take thoughtful steps before leading them into problem. An organization that favors that society considers as enemies has no legitimacy to lead independent national struggle. Occupiers have their own exclusive organizations, the Ethiopian government and its loyal oppositions. They require Oromo individuals and pseudo organizations only to legitimize their subjugation of Oromiyaa. Oromiyaa needs untainted vanguard to expose that sort of machination.
Though a physical majority, the Oromo remained a political minority in the empire. The enemy fears the possibility of Oromo potential power being tapped for Oromo’s own interest. That is why dispersing Oromo forces became one of the main targets of their enemies. They leave no Oromo organization operating alone be them economic, social or political. They spend lots to destroy even those far away from them. That is why the Oromo needs an exclusive independent organization of its own to counter such sinister move of the enemy. At present, there are no Oromo organizations with force in excess of its own needs. To be ignorant of this – is like the Oromo saying “She covers her head when she has nothing on her butt.” To form union with others on the basis of mutual respect for each other’s interest without jeopardizing the national kaayyoo is a cardinal principle in foreign relations of the initial OLF program. But primarily, it is everyone’s right and duty to commence struggle for own liberation. Alliance comes to fill in where there is a shortcoming and to form understanding. The occupier is a victim of genesis of its own history. Whim of the rulers overrides all citizen rights. That is from political genes that are never altered in long history of Habashaa state.
For the Oromo right or left, separatist or unionist, crossing a boundary line without having a formidable rear is not of benefit. It is only one who does not have confidence in his own people who does that. One who does not have strong rear negotiates only for surrender. For all fairness, the initiative to resolve this age-old conflict should have come from the victor, not the victim. So far, the norm is denial of all Oromo claims by Ethiopian governments, organizations and individuals. Some assert to have more claims over Oromiyaa than Oromo, and others even deny the existence of the nation called Oromo. Their political socialization is centered on the supremacy of Habashaa. Their rulers that came down changing hands came brainwashing their people with that outlook. That is their leading outlook even today. That contradicts the Oromo cardinal democratic principle, “Gadaa (government) is common; Odaa Assembly is common; market is common; road is common; water is common,” or democratic governance and rule of law.
News, interviews, commentaries or even scientific reports etc. broadcast over TV, radio, newspapers and the likes have all targets. And that is to brainwash listeners by presenting lies as truth. One becomes tense considering if the lies become true and doubting one’s own judgment. That puts one in terror, always living with nightmares. One suspects even hissing of wind as their agent. That is fanned by foreign supporters as the right step towards democratization. They are the ones that sell them skills and tools of terror. At a time when life is getting bitterer for majority in that country from lack of food, drink, clothing and shelter, they claim that high economic growth is registered. That is face saving device to escape blame from their taxpayers for supporting human rights abusers. Such manipulation by the colonizers used to be countered by organizations standing for interest of Oromiyaa. But now, they have lost their balances and staggering. It is the hope of all patriots that they solidify their organizations and break out of their shells the fastest possible. Till then, whatever is said by enemy media and agents is sheer propaganda. It is enough to know that they are only trying to put spell on peoples and stay in power longer.
It is encouraging to see Oromiyaan youth breaking through the myth of empire’s divinity and getting organized with Oromummaa as their leading outlook against all known odds. Oromummaa upholds national democratic governance and universal human rights principles. That is why the enemy will be after them even if they remain silent. It seems they have understood better than their elders. At this time, when what was built over forty years started to fall apart, it is better to start thinking big and magnanimously. The sprouting of despicable parochial and clannish mentality in between has to be nipped fast in favor of One Oromiya. They have to raise their political consciousness and arm themselves with all means of modern information systems. All, that have the ambition to control Oromiyaa, may come up with something like “EPRDF” again. It is good to take into consideration whatever is taking place in our surrounding. There are several actors working around there. Temporarily, they may kill or revive at will. But it does not mean events in nature are predictable and so controllable. It is one who is conscious and prepared that can make use of it. For this reason, it is essential to encourage education of children. It is the literate that can recognize relations of the self and its surrounding.
Wayyaanee had told of empires history being only a hundred years old and different from that of Habashaa. That was to hoodwink the colonies. Today, they are starting to talk of the thousand years; but too late after it was shaken from the foundation. It shortened the shackle unintentionally. Muslims are protesting against government interference in their religion. No one could tell how a group known as Al Abash came on the scene. But that has created special phenomenon. Most Muslims are Oromo, but those all over the empire have risen together. Several from Orthodox Christians have also rallied in their support. Most of those are Habashaa. Those that provoked this to happen might have never thought it would end in this way. Wayyaanee seems to see only advantage the label “terrorist” could bring. Background checks on those who under this situation stand with Wayyaanee needs to be done. One that does not stand for right of others will not stand with that of one’s own nation. If rights of minorities are denied because of race, gender, faith or any other orientation could lead to standing with oppressors. At present it is not visible if anyone has exclusive control on this movement. It is possible that many such dynamics are taking place in society. Their outcome might bring good fortune to some human beings. To be aware, follow up and analyze to know trends of events is essential. Struggle for free Oromiyaa does not mean to move blindfolded without knowing what is taking place in the surrounding. In short society is like messed up thread. When one tries to pull out an end the unexpected starts to be pulled at the same time. To think actors will commands nature is not in natural order.
The Oromo have gone long distance to reassert their identity. They travelled through tortuous roads and trying times. Their leading organizations were wounded badly and healing is taking more time than expected. The suffering of the people under natural and manmade calamities is ever increasing. The humiliation and contempt by the enemy has continued as usual. After half a century when we should have discussed about reconstruction of the fatherland we still are lamenting about alien oppression and subjugation. Even to shorten that there is lack of showing urgency. Usually those that wait for chance to befall them behave in that manner. Otherwise it will be only the numbed and paralyzed that fail to react fast to what is happening in this magnitude to ones nation. Any normal being cannot afford further delay in responding to the devastating situation that is pushing the nation to extinction. No whatever consideration should be greater than national emergency to deserve priority.
International relations are not stagnant. All those involved in political struggle are required to update their records so that their movement reflects the ever changing phenomenon. One might have drawn ones plans on relations of yesterday. But unexpectedly those who were enemies can become friends today. International relations are fluid rarely having predictable trend, driven by national interest of changing times. They are such trends that have some effect on activities in a neighborhood. That is why actors usually postulate different scenarios to weigh possible consequences it might entail. Leaders of societies and organizations are expected to have plan B for all possibilities. An organization that did not prepare alternative outlets for any eventuality will remains stuck in mire of its own making.
We can enumerate several reasons why things happen faster than those we experienced. But it is enough to know possibility of change in velocity of events so as not to be caught unaware. Therefore whatever we intend to do should have a timeline. Let alone that of third parties patience of own followers has limits. These days’ activities of governments and organization can be accessed every minute. People are eager to know counter performances of their side. No one appreciates indefinite inaction. If there is problem it has to be transparent for the concerned. Nationals could rally to help only if they are kept informed. Nationals have to show their difference with the enemy when criticizing their organization. It will be more productive if they show concern for the continued independence and proper functioning of the national organizations under this precarious circumstance than focusing to get through ones ideas and suggestions only. Beware, everyone has ideas.
We have talked much about problems the nation is facing. Lamenting of the past may not be helpful to duties we have on hand. Outrageous happenings are being reported these days by different non organizational media. Oromo people were attacked first in the West and now in the East. As liberation force no one showed up to defend them. Much is told about OLA-Qeerroo engagements here and there. That was good and exciting. But it could have waited until witness reports were heard. Otherwise it would put all claims in doubt when one is absent from grand engagements. Attack in the West was not taken as a warning. Otherwise it should have prepared one for any next challenge. That could have enabled even for the name sake, to present oneself at places like Mayyuu Muluqqee where the Oromo are subjected to untold sufferings, dislocations, hunger and cold. Hence it is better to shut up until one is organized enough to raise morale of the nation. Let one speak louder through action than words. To speak loud is good when done by the well organized and are ready to face challenges.
As a nation the Oromo is in deep crises. The invaders are continuing the war on identity and viability of the nation. Oromo activists have lost their compass and going wherever the tide takes them muttering as if intoxicated. Those that have shown a glimpse of hope seems to take a nap and never heard from since their congratulatory appearance. By the time they come out of it with an idea there is a possibility of it being out of date and obsolete. Even deflections cannot be out ruled. Different attributes like, power struggle, incompetence, wavering, or lack of commitment to the struggle may be given to delays. It is up to activists to show if they have the essential ingredients to stay in circulation. Those that stand for independence of Oromiyaa had said much on their difference in principle from all others. But that is yet to be seen in practice. Many that last year lectured us on the kaayyoo OLF was advancing as strong have already started telling that it is weak and outdated. But it was the same OLF. It is even mending itself for better. If there is no different mission it will be like keep on blowing bellows where there is no fire. Be it OLF or its critics unless they show result immediately, it is said “Salt, be palatable for your own sake …”
The condition in which Oromo find themselves gives no time to rest. It demands revolution and revolutionary. The whole atmosphere has put the nation in a difficult complicated situation. Though to show an impact on national struggle is not too late, conditions are that we may not say it will never be too late. People expect one solid revolutionary leadership to appear on the stage the soonest possible. Any further delay is only to call more devastation to the nation and fragmentation to its social, economic and political organizations. Trudging and giving undue weight for other’s opinion do not help to respond to such situation. Measure taken to defend people’s rights is to save live not to destroy it. It will be weighed by its benefits to human and nation’s rights. Any damage, that could have been stopped but for one’s inaction, is to remain bothering one’s conscience. It will be only one unified, determined and revolutionary leadership with commitment to liberation of Oromiyaa that can mend the past defects and bring about renaissance to Oromo civilization and trust to the leaders.
To conclude, sufferings of people of Oromiyaa are rising to genocidal scale. Those that are expected to be by their side at this crucial period lie far off beyond the oceans. Those that yesterday said together that Oromo and Habashaa oppression are different in kind are today saying there is no particularity of Oromo plight. Because of this they have turned aside to look for general solution. The struggle is becoming uncoordinated just like before the sixties. Uncoordinated struggle becomes parochial threatening unity of activists. The cry that is not responded to by those concerned is shaking the atmosphere. Inaction prolongs suffering of the people and destruction of the environment. No Oromo organization worthy of the name can stay aloof when Oromo are indiscriminately massacred like it is being done in Anniyyaa today. Organizations are needed to lead the people solve problems they cannot tackle individually. If an organization has more problems of its own, it is going to be irrelevant for what it was created. That is why selflessness and resoluteness to override entangling red tapes are demanded from leaders. If all leaders could only show their selflessness, a trait mostly attributed to them, there is no reason that the organization cannot pull out from the cog mire it finds itself in. No problem is great enough to curb one from ones determination. The legend of Diggaa Saaqo a contestant that did not have bull to sacrifice but demanded to spill blood by tradition for a right to a Hora (salt pond), slew himself to keep the Hora for posterity. That may serve as an example for the present situation. Leaders should not hesitate to say “No” to any form of intimidation, which tries to derail them from the revolutionary course. Finally, Oromiyaa shall overcome occupation and conspiracies attached to it. Inaction shall not be our habit. Forward with our braves!
Source: Gubirmans Publishing