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Oromia: The origin, the evolution, the meaning and the implementation of self-determination

Posted: Muddee/December 25, 2010 · Finfinne Tribune | Gadaa.com | Comments (27)

By Leenjiso Horo* | June 2008

There has been confusion within certain sectors of the Oromo nationals as to the concept of the right of nations to self-determination. This confusion has led to the difference within the Oromo nationals, particularly since 2001. To be exact, the difference is on the principle of and the right to self-determination of colonial peoples, and the means of implementation of this right. First and foremost, one needs to understand the origin, the evolution, the meaning, and the implementation of the concept of the principle and the right of nations to self-determination.

The concept evolved over two centuries ago. Its distant origin lies in the U.S. Declaration of Independence and in the French Universal Declaration of Man and of Citizens. Both declarations laid out the concept for the principle of self-determination. The U.S. Declaration of Independence of 1776 laid out the conceptual and basic philosophy of government, upon which modern concept of self-determination rests. It reads:

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the Earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

In the same spirit, the French Universal Declaration of Man and of the Citizen of 1789 states, “Men are born and remain free and equal in rights;” and it further says, “The aim of all political association is the preservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights of Man. These rights are liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression.” It was in this spirit that Abraham Lincoln stated: “No man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent.” It was these ideas that embedded in the two declarations that had enhanced the rise of popular national consciousness in Europe. In particular, the influence of the French Revolution was instrumental in rising nationalism against European empires of the time, such as the German, Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman, and Russian empires. This rise of popular national consciousness and nationalism in turn promoted the concept of self-determination as a political principle, and fostered and encouraged national uprisings and armed resistance against these empires. With this, various national independence movements against these empires emerged in Europe. To contain these popular armed resistance, national uprisings, and hence the demand for independence, empires forged alliance one against the other. For example, the German, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires forged alliance against Russia, Britain and France which caused the World War I. However, it was only after the World War I that the right of national independence from the empires came to be known as the principle of national self-determination or the right of nations to self-determination.

Ever since, the political concept, goals, and principle of the right to self-determination remained a very powerful tool. American president Woodrow Wilson, in his support of the right to self-determination of the people under the occupation of German, Austria-Hungary, and Ottoman empires, put the phrase in this way, “No people must be forced under a sovereignty under which it does not wish to live.” His contemporary V. I. Lenin, the founder of modern Russia, further put a stamp on it by stating “the self-determination of nations means the political separation of these nations from alien national bodies, and the formation of an independent national state.” Lenin further argued that “self-determination cannot have any other meaning than political self-determination, state independence, and the formation of a national state.” As it is internationally recognized, the interpretation and, as it is conceptually understood, the fundamental principle and the core meaning of the right of nations to self-determination is the formation of a new state by the people under colonial or alien occupation or domination. Here, the central point is this: self-determination denotes the end of colonialism, the end of foreign or alien occupation, and the creation of a new state. And so, it has been interpreted as a right of colonized peoples to independence from a colonial rule.

After the World War I, the implementation of this principle of self-determination had become instrumental in the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian, German, Ottoman and Russian empires, and the concept set in motion for the disintegration of the British empire, the empire that earned the nickname, “the sun never sets on the British empire.” And yet, it, too, not lasted long. Indeed before long, the sun sat on that British Empire, too. The Austro-Hungarian empire was carved up into Austria, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia. The German empire had lost its holdings of Estonia, Lithuania, Finland, Poland and etc.; the Ottoman Empire had lost Greece, the Middle East, Aden, North Africa, the Persian Gulf, the Caspian Sea and etc. Russia had lost Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia, Georgia and etc. Hence, from the remnants of these empires, new countries were created. Of these empires, none was democratized; none was maintained. Basically, after the World War I, self-determination rose to the greater prominence and wider recognition as a political-philosophical concept.

All in all, between the World Wars I and II, the right of nations to self-determination entirely remained as a political principle. With the formation of the UN in 1945, after the World War II, its Charter formally adopted the right to self-determination. The Charter states, “All people have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” Later, Article I of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) both adopted the same exact language and exact wordings of the self-determination as in the Charter of the United Nations. A century and half later, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the UN heavily drew upon the Universal Declaration of Man and of the Citizens. It stated in its preamble that it upholds the “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of the freedom, justice and peace in the world.” Its Article 1 states: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” With this, the principle of self-determination has become not only a political principle, but also a human rights principle. Once again in 1960s and 1970s, the right of nations to self-determination had become instrument of struggle in the hands of African and Asian nationalists in dismantling the British, French, Portuguese and Dutch empires in Africa and Asia. In 1989, it was again used in the dissolution of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia.

As all international organizations, UNESCO also recognized the concept of right to self-determination in these words: “The principle and fundamental right to self-determination is firmly established in international law.” With this, the principle of self-determination has acquired a new dimension as an international legal principle.

Today, the international community has adopted the right to self-determination as a political, as an international legal and as a human rights principle. Recently in 2008, a population of 2 million, Kosovo used the political, international legal and human rights concepts of right of nations to self-determination in unilaterally declaring its independence from Serbia, without the consent of Serbia or the international body. It must be clearly understood, without a shadow of doubt, that the recognition of a state or states is not precondition for one to declare one’s state independence from alien occupation. Montevideo Convention (1933) stated that “the political existence of the state is independent of recognition by other states.” That means a new state can come into existence before it is being recognized. A recognition by other states simply means a willingness to deal with as an equal member of the international community. In other words, international relations always follow independence. Hence, since its formulation, the right to self-determination has become and remains a powerful instrument for both political, human rights and legal struggles against all forms of injustices.

Between World War II and the Cold War, the prevailing view was that only colonized peoples and territories entitled to have the right to self-determination. However, since the end of the Cold War, a new condition has been created. To accommodate this new condition, another new meaning, a new tier was added to the traditional concept of self-determination. The reason given for the addition of the new meaning was that the plain meaning of self-determination, as it has been historically understood, does not address the problems of the indigenous minorities and other minority communities within states.
Hence, the contention has been self-determination, as historically constructed and practiced, is denied to peoples other than the entire colonial populations. The argument is that self-determination, as internationally accepted, only recognizes the right of peoples, nations under classic colonization and illegal military occupation, or recognizes the right of unjustly annexed nations or people to establish a fully independent territorial political unit without the consent of the colonizing state or without colonial constitutional authorization.

To extend the concept to cover indigenous minority nations, minority communities, national minorities, and minority nations within an empire, some international legal scholars and human rights activists divided the concept of self-determination into internal and external self-determination. The two concepts are still fundamentally different. But, it is these two concepts that some Oromo nationals, within the Oromo national struggle, have failed to grasp. And so, it is critical to note and understand the distinction between the two. The difference is: external self-determination is defined to mean self-determination from external occupying power. That is, the core meaning of external self-determination, or national self-determination, or self-determination as we know it, is the establishment of sovereignty, separate statehood, independent nation-state, and sovereign people. External self-determination, as properly known as self-determination, has its legal definition and implementation in the United Nations General Assembly. The United Nations, in the General Assembly Resolution 2625 (XXV), proclaimed “the establishment of a sovereign and independent state … freely determined by a people constitutes modes of implementing the right to self-determination by that people.” This article makes it clear that what is to be established is a sovereign and independent state. And the method of implementation is by free will of the people. And the implementers of the method are the people who raised the question. That means the colonized people have the right to establish a new, free and independent state with new political, economic, military and legal orders that are separate and distinct state from the colonizer state. Hence, self-determination is about territorial and political sovereignty. And so, it is the supreme inalienable natural right of every colonized nation and nationalities, to have their right, the right to full and complete independence. To this effect, the UN General Assembly Resolution 3034 (XXVII) reads, in part:

Reaffirms the inalienable right to self-determination and independence of all peoples under colonial … and other forms of alien domination and upholds the legitimacy of their struggle, in particular the struggle of national liberation movements.

Here, the purposes and principles of the Charter of the UN are to establish peace, stability, and security among the peoples of the world so as to avoid wars and conflicts. But, the colonized peoples do not stop fighting for their independence from the alien power only to please the colonial power and its supporters. The UN knows that, if people are occupied by alien forces, there will not be peace, stability and security. It is for this, the UN Resolutions 1514 (XV) and 2625 (XXV) calls for “a speedy and unconditional end of colonialism in all its forms.” The absence of this, would lead the world to wars, conflicts, instability and insecurity. Basically, the struggle for self-determination is a struggle for peace, security, and stability. So, the concept of the right of nations to self-determination suggests that this right is the right of the peoples or nations, not of state or government. That is the claimant of this right is the people or the nations. Hence, the national liberation struggle for the right of nations to self-determination against colonial occupation is legitimate and its action is justifiable. And, no one has the right to deny the colonized people this right of theirs, the right to self-determination.

And hence, no one has the right to tell the Oromo people what forms of struggle they may conduct. Indeed, the living history totally debunks and invalidates the fallacious concept of democratization of a colonial empire, the concept to which some of our fellow Oromo are converted to. And, no history has ever vindicated such concept of empire democratization. History teaches that neither the empires, such as the Mongol, Roman, and Persian, were democratized, nor the empires before and after them had been, and so the Ethiopian empire cannot be the first. Hence, empire democratization is a totally ahistorical concept. And, there is virtually no evidence in the historical record to support democratization of an empire. The Ethiopian empire has been and still is a prison-house of nations, as all empires before it, and hence, the struggle of those nations, including the Oromo’s struggle, is to determine their own destiny, their own fate. Hence, when we say self-determination, we mean the end of Ethiopian colonialism and the creation of a new Oromiyaa State. To this effect, our proclaimed goal of self-determination is clear; it is the independence of Oromiyaa, the formation of a free and sovereign Oromo state. It is for this reason that our struggle is in an unstoppable drive to liberation, despite all obstacles posed by some Oromo capitulationists and their foreign supporters.

Conversely, internal self-determination, though it is not accepted as an international legal concept, has been defined to mean “participatory democracy” or it is defined as the right of indigenous peoples and minority communities and etc. to exercise their own cultural, linguistic, religious, or territorial political autonomy in the matters of internal or local affairs to them, within the boundaries of existing state. In other words, as a people they have collective group right, the right to form their own autonomous status, in the matters of internal or local affairs. It is a struggle to get representation within an existing state. In this concept, monetary policy, defense, educational system, the maintenance of national frontiers, foreign affairs, commerce, financial institutions, money and banking and etc. remain in the domain of the national government. Hence, the implementation of internal self-determination does not change the form, the style and the status of the existing state. That is, the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the existing state remains unchanged. This means any problem that may arise within a state, except in the case of genocide or ethnic cleansing, falls within the domestic legal domain of that state, not of the international domain. Hence, internal self-determination is conceptualized as the next best alternative to independence to be able to accommodate separate identities of population groups that present in a state.

The Oromo turncoats (gantuus) and their naïve followers have proselytized themselves to this later concept. Indeed, in this case, the Ethiopian empire remains as such. Ironically enough, it is to this concept of internal self-determination that Shanee (aka the Asmara group) has attracted to, so turned to, and embraced it. And hence, Shanee has compromised on the Oromo right to self-determination, the independence of Oromiyaa, as all those Goobanists before it. So it must be clear to all that, when Shanee talks about self-determination, it is about internal self-determination. Its purposes are to guard the Ethiopian empire. To achieve this intended goal, our “high priests” (Shanee and its associates) have been attempting to evangelize the Oromo to this concept of internal self-determination. This is the choice of those persons of split loyalty and multiple identities. Internal self-determination is tantamount to the question of democracy within the boundaries of the existing state. It is from this, the phrase “democratization of Ethiopia” was born. Since then, this phrase has become the rallying cry of pro-Ethiopian empire factions of the Oromo decent.

Understanding the difference between the concepts of democracy and self-determination is important. Conflating the two concepts together is problematical and that leads to bafflement and confusion. Some Oromo nationals have already become victims of this. To begin with, self-determination, as historically defined, does not oppose democracy. That is, though democracy and self-determination are not conceptually the same, they are not exclusive to each other. It is for this, John Stuart Mill recognized that democracy can function only where the nationalist principle that every nation ought to have its own state is realized. The implication of this is that there cannot be democracy in an empire, where nations and peoples are forced to live together. In order not to fall into the conceptual trap, one should distinguish between the concept of democracy and self-determination. Since 2001, some Oromo elements, who chose to follow a political line of democratization of Ethiopia, have been trying to twist, bastardize and distort the two concepts in order to fuse the two together as one and the same, so as to confuse and mislead the public.

To be on the safe side, first and foremost, one should understand that democracy means a system of government or rule of the people. Abraham Lincoln defined it as a government of the people, for the people, by the people. Therefore, the struggle for democracy should be understood as a struggle for the government or rule of the people, by the people, and for the people within a nation state. Its functions are the guarantee of rights and freedom of speech, of press, of religion, of assembly, of association, and of organization among others. It is a system of rule of the law, whereby equality before the law is respected. And, it is a system by which people choose and replace the government through fair and free election, by one-man one-vote. In this way, the majority vote decides the outcome of an election. It is for this; democracy is said to be the rule of majority, whereby the rights of minority are guaranteed, respected and protected. This is not new to the Oromo society, for democracy is built in the Oromo culture, in their cultural habits and in their ways of life. The Gadaa system of governance was based on this culture of Oromo, the culture of justice, tolerance, cooperation, understanding, and compromise. But, this is not the type of tolerance, cooperation and compromise that the capitulationists (galtuus) have been engaged in since the war of conquest of Oromiyaa and ever since. A nation under colonial occupation, as that of the Oromo, fights for the life of the nation and to reclaim its lost national sovereignty. Under this condition, it is not the Oromo way to tolerate, to cooperate and to compromise with the occupiers of Oromiyaa, and its supporters or its alliance. Therefore, one should not fall into the pit-hole of the capitulationists’ or gantuus’ interpretation of the right of nations to self-determination.

With the colonization of Oromiyaa, the Abyssinian rulers replaced the Oromo democracy with the Abyssinian authoritarian rule. It is for this, the struggle for the right to self-determination of the Oromo is not only the struggle for independence, but it is also the struggle for reclaiming of our democracy. So, democracy cannot be given to a society as manna from the sky by a heavenly or earthly kingdom or by a benevolent self-appointed leader or dictator. But, it is internal to a society; it grows, develops, and flourishes through history within the culture of a society. On the contrary, a mimic of democratization based on foreign models to be enforced on a society amounts to failure; it does not work. Suffice to say, democracy cannot be imported or exported, or it cannot be imposed by external force upon a society. If one seeks it from outside to be imposed on a society by the help of external powers that democracy will perish. History has proven, time and time again, this to be true both in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

By and large, the struggle for democracy is within the existing sovereign nation-state, not empire. History teaches that empires are born by wars, grow by wars, and rise by wars, and maintained by force, by terror and by repression. As they are born by wars, so they die by wars; as they grow, so they stagnate; as they rise, so they decline; and as they stand tall, and so they finally fall. These are the laws, the rules and fates that governed all empires so far known to man. Hence, empires have never known to stand tall for all times. It is not, as some turncoat (gantuu) elements want us believe, that the failure of the empires to be democratized is because the system excludes the participation of the majority. On the contrary, empires failed to be democratized because of their innate formations, their characters and their natures. Empires are not meant to be democratized, but to be dismantled and dissolved.

Hence, Ethiopia is an empire; and it cannot be democratized. To this effect, the Oromo’s struggle is not for the democratization of Ethiopia, as some Oromo turncoats wish us to believe. In other words, the struggle for the right to self-determination is not conditional on the absence of democracy, or on the grievances of injustice as a result of national oppression, subjugation, and exploitation, though they contribute to the struggle, but it is a struggle of the people for polity, for politically independent separate sovereign state. It is, therefore, neither a struggle for fair and free elections, nor a struggle for freedom of speech, nor a struggle for equality, nor for freedom of assembly or association in an empire, as Oromo capitulationist elements want us to believe. Here, we must be reminding ourselves, the struggle for self-determination is not the same as the struggle for a mere democracy alone. In the case of colonized people, the struggle for self-determination is part and parcel of the struggle for independence as well as for reclaiming their lost democracy, their system of government, the rule of people. However, the struggle for democracy is not, by any means, to be translated to imply as a struggle to establish sovereign and independent state.

As aforementioned, the Shanee group (the splinter faction from the OLF) has recently turned to the re-defined version of right to self-determination, which is the internal self-determination or sometimes referred to as internal decolonization, as it turned to the appeal of settler colonialism. The purpose has been to confuse the people. The given reason is: the world has changed, and that change made the traditional concept of right to self-determination dead, obsolete, archaic, and so not applicable. In the understanding and in the interpretation of this group, the concept of self-determination, as historically defined and understood, has outlived its useful days and has lost its relevance in the international community. And so, it has turned to, accepted and owned a new concept of internal self-determination, for the purpose of serving its political end goal and its foreign supporters. Nowadays, such phrase has become tools for opportunists to rationalize their failures as success. Again, phrases, such as self-determination, Ethiopian democratization, free and fair election, have become rhetorical veils of the group to mask its unrestrained pursuit of its narrow self-interest in its scramble to capture foreign financial handouts. In this, Shanee interpreted the right of the Oromo to self-determination in terms of internal self-determination – meaning democracy in Ethiopia. As mentioned above, internal self-determination means the collective rights of national groups within a given state. And, the people have to remain within the national boundaries of the specific existing state.

According to the advocates of this concept, Shanee included, the collective rights of the Oromo people are to be determined within the Ethiopian colonial empire. This is what the slogan, “democratization of Ethiopia” is all about. That right to internal self-determination refers to cultural, linguistic, identity, and to political (as to free speech, right to vote, right to elect and to be elected), and to local legislative and local administrative bodies. In general, it refers to the right to local autonomous status, but its concept and implementation do not refer to sovereignty and to free and independent Oromiyaa state. In Shanee’s political view, internal self-determination is applicable and fits the Oromo struggle, while external self-determination or self-determination, as traditionally defined to mean sovereignty, separate statehood and independent nationstate, does not.

Its argument is that European colonialism was an external colonialism to Africa and Asia, whereby the colonizers came across the ocean, from far distant lands. Ethiopian colonialism, the group believes, is settler colonialism, and so it does not fit the concept and character of European colonialism. Hence, in Shanee’s political lingua, Abyssinians are the settler colonizers while Oromo is internally colonized people. On the basis of this, it rejected the Oromo’s quest for independence. Shanee sought a solution for the Oromo quest within the framework of the democratization of the Ethiopian empire. Such is tantamount to make Oromiyaa an integral part of Ethiopia, and that it means Ethiopia has sovereignty over Oromiyaa. This is Shanee’s and its associates’ rejection of independence of Oromiyaa. One should understand that colonialism is an international phenomenon. Oromiyaa is a colonized country. As such, it is an occupied territory without the consent of its people.

To this effect, the Hague Convention of 1907 states, “the occupying power does not, through occupation, gain sovereignty over the occupied territory.” Hence, it is clear that Ethiopia does not have sovereignty over Oromiyaa. Again, M. Van Walt Van Praag of the Peace Action Council’s words, “a state that oppresses, destroys or unduly exploits a people or community instead of protecting it or representing its interest has no legitimate right to invoke the principle of territorial integrity against that people or community.” Indeed, Ethiopia is a colonialist state. Being a colonialist state, the Ethiopian state does not represent the interest of the colonized Oromo people. Its purpose is and has been for the exploitation of the Oromo people and their resources. Over a century down to date, the successive imperial rulers have been slaughtering the Oromo people. The collective interest and aspiration of the Oromo people is and has been the independence of Oromiyaa. The Ethiopian state does not represent the Oromo interest, their hopes, and their aspirations. And so, the solution to the Oromo question does not rest within the domain of the colonizer, the Ethiopian empire, but it rests within the jurisdiction of the international community. Again, colonialism is not about skin color or about the distance as the closeness or nearness from where the colonizer comes. In colonial case, a call for self-determination is a call for right to sovereignty. The right to sovereignty means among other things, the right to one’s territorial integrity, the right to noninterference in the internal affairs of ones state, and the right to promulgate, adjudicate, and enforce ones legal rules and laws within ones territory. It is the right to make defensive war and also it entails the power to make treaties, alliances, and trade agreements with other states. In this case, the United Nations Millennium Declaration (2000) “upholds the right to self-determination of peoples which remain under colonial domination and foreign occupation.” While outside of colonial case, self-determination is turned into a principle of human rights within the territory of each state.

Strangely enough, from the coined twin concepts of internal self-determination and settler colonization, Shanee came up with a solution to the colonial question. The solution it came up with is the colonial question can be solved within the colonial empire. For the how question, Shanee’s response is through democratization of the empire. The proponents of empire democratization are those persons who joined the OLF during Darg era and later deserted the OLF, and those Darg’s party members and its cadres who joined the OLF after the fall of the Darg. These are the political chameleons that can change their skin color and their political views at any convince to them.

Oromiyaa shall be free!

* Leenjiso Horo can be reached at tguyyoo@yahoo.com

The U.S. Declaration of Independence of 1776
The French Universal Declaration of Man and of Citizens
Article I of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
Preamble and Article I of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations (1948)
The Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States (1933)
The United Nations’ General Assembly Resolution 2625 (XXV)
The United Nations’ General Assembly Resolution 3034 (XXVII)
The United Nations’ General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV)
The Hague Convention of 1907
The United Nations’ Millennium Declaration


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  1. tarmo

    Dec 26, 10 at 12:16 pm

    Dear Leenjiso,

    I have just viewed your long-written article. It is sad that I couldn’t find any substance that at least relates to the current Oromo isssue. Negative approach on addressing Oromo issue is not a solution, and as always been, there is no point to criticise other Oromo political parties or organisation for our common failure. The issue that needs to be addressed is how to come to consensus on national issue, which at least puts alternatives rather than divulging on the past. Past is past! What is to be done after all? What measures need to be taken and how to suggest alternatives towards common national interest as well as the interests of others within our border. Paper work seems easy, but when it comes to practicalities, very handful individuals are there on the forefront. So, my dear, it is better to look into our own houses and correct things in an appropriate and applicable manner, than wasting time. Theoretical implications are now utterly exhausted! Look for practical applications of national issue, please!

  2. Cilaaloo

    Dec 26, 10 at 1:15 pm

    Obbo Leenjiso Horo,

    It is very nice article. Thank you for your effort. However, I would like to ask you some questions.

    You once stated the following in your article


    “…..Hence despite Asmara group€™s misguided, simplistic, obsolete, and dangerous political line that harm Oromiya and its people, and despite its lack of courage and determination to take difficult road in the struggle, we believe, as all of us Shanee too loves Oromiya; as all of us, it wants to change the status of Oromiya. As all of us, it wants independent and sovereign Oromiya; as all of us, it wants to end Ethiopian occupation of Oromiya, and as all of us, it too wants the unity of Oromo nationalists. And as all of us, it too wants freedom, respect and dignity for our people. OPDO too wants the same, as all of us, despite its lack of stamina and lack of courage to fight its captor…..”

    In your latest article (this article) you wrote the following allegation

    “….the Shanee group (the splinter faction from the OLF) has recently turned to the re-defined version of right to self-determination, which is the internal self-determination or sometimes referred to as internal decolonization …”

    Let me as you just two questions:
    1) If Shanee wants independent and sovereign Oromiya and if it wants to end Ethiopian occupation of Oromia through internal decolonization, where is the conflict? Why is the allegation if this could lead to independent and sovereign Oromiya?
    2) If the internal decolonization (in this case decolonization of Oromia) might lead to sovereign Oromia, why do you think this step is wrong? Where is the conflict again?

    It is better for all of us Oromos to just focus on the solutions or alternative options to end the century long slavery rather than blaming each other. We have wasted more than enough time (more than one decade) in doing so. Now it is time to stop such destructive actions and invest our resources to get rid of Weyane.

    God bless the Oromo people!

  3. Roorro Sabaa

    Dec 26, 10 at 5:08 pm

    Dear Leenjiso!!
    Writing an article is noting do for our current situation,oromia.As read your article it is talks about shanes,you are from which group? If the shanes are not correct where is your alternative idea?please rather than directing our finger to others, it is better to contribute something which is good for our unity and freedom !!!

  4. Barii

    Dec 26, 10 at 11:11 pm

    The article has an excellent beginning but the usual character assassination bad ending. Oromos lack to things: concrete agenda for unity among diverse political groups and Oromo self-empowerment. We are quick to curse each other and point fingers at each other. We are fast to tear each other down. We don’t empower Oromos and each other. Even those who have “huge” ideological disagreements should focus on perfecting what they do more than pointing their fingers at others. They should prove themselves by doing better; by achieving more, inching towards their respective goals. A talk about having perfect ideology does not cut it; visible actions matter more.

    Obbo Leenjiso’s articulation of the theory of self-determination is very much impressive but the way he ended by pointing his fingers at the so-called Shane Group is so much uncalled for from such well educated, articulate and eloquent person. Although we can learn heaps from his articulation of the historical tenets of self-determination from the article, we don’t learn much from his core theme of furthering the internal divisions among the Oromos.Time has unequivocally proven that waging internal wars and character assassination politics have neither benefited Oromos nor the Oromo political groups who banked on them. It is high to change this failed strategy.

  5. Shaaqaa Bishaaqaa

    Dec 27, 10 at 6:01 am

    I appreciate very much the fact that Oromos are active rather than being passive and reactive as has always been wished by our oppressors and spineless exploiters.

    However, the patterned and ritualistic liturgy of finger pointing and accusing each other as Shanee this, QC that, or Jijjiramaa then and there,etc. negative ongoing divisive bickering is in fact a sign of ongoing disgrace.

    We want people with elementary transformational vision and mission who are capable of growing a little bit bigger than themselves in order to bring individuals and organizations of diverse views and values for the healthy formation of a solid healthy coalition that will surely make the common Oromo agenda of freedom a reality.

    The minorities are in Oromia argument is not an argument at all because they can always be there since they are already there. Parochial fake self serving traditional propaganda arguments apart, the best condition for minorities is having the chance to live under the democratic and humanistic Gada system of good governance. If you don’t believe try it. On the other hand, self determination is the right of the Oromo nation and minorities living in Oromia can not and should not dictate terms and conditions to the majority as to force them to live under the traditional structure of the occupation and domination forces. The world have minorities in almost all democratic countries including those countries of Scandinavia such as Sweden Norway, Finland etc.
    So what is the BIG deal?

    On the other hand, self determination and independence should necessarily be an evolving process based on common understanding and consensual transformation supported by the majority of Oromos, regardless of religion, region, gender, etc. variations. Our habit of “my way or no way” among ourselves may not be the good way. For example the Southern Sudanese model may offer some sort of role model and because the system also needs to bring about enhanced levels of peace, spiritual development and well being, material and human development and welfare in all its aspects. Weighing and measuring the pros and cons of the outcome with cool mind is good. We have to be also proactive and practical action oriented humans because we cannot change societies and communities by endless talking alone or by sitting on the fence and only chanting like a spring bird every spring as governments come and go while our people are suffering under the backbreaking unjust slavery.

    “If God had not blinded them and willed that certain families or tribes among them should be at war with one another constantly, there would not have been an inch of land in the empire, of which they(Oromos) were not the masters.” wrote Manuel de Almeida( A Portuguese priest who visited Ethiopia in 1620, in Some Records of Ethiopia,1593-1646)

    Reconciliation, unity/alliance and action is the essences!

  6. yuusuuf Waaqoo

    Dec 27, 10 at 7:17 am

    Obbo Leenjiso’s article on self determination is an axcellent, execellent, eye opening and awakening for all of us who have blindly wasrting our money on OLF lead by Mr Dawwit. It is high time that we stop living in denial and face the truth in the eyes. If you read political programme of shanee under political objecitve1:1:1, 1:2, 1:3 you will perfectly understand how ABO lead by mr Dawwit abandoned the original objective for which ABO was established in 1973. From this article we can clearly understand the truth behind the split in OLF. Knowing and admitting fhis fact is the fundamental step in uniting OLF under one objective, political programme and leadership.What has been bedeviling Oromo people is the denial of this open truth. For got an perfect understanding about the right to self deternination I would like to thank you so much.

  7. Gofta

    Dec 27, 10 at 9:53 am

    Theory is one thing. But articulating how the theory applies to the concrete condition of Oromia and how Oromia’s condition could be unique is something else. The article misserably fails to analize the concrete situation of Oromia. This is just parodying of what others had written. Or at best it could be a summary of what others had written. Analysis it is not. Sorry!

  8. Abdii

    Dec 27, 10 at 12:38 pm

    Deebii Obbo ” BARII” f

    Dhugumatti wanti isin kaasuu yaaltan bareedaa ta’ee osoo jiruu waan isin jalqaba irratti jettan garuu hedduu ana gaddisiise. Innis “Oromos lack to [two]? things” kan jedhu yommuu ta’u maal jechuu akka feetan ifa osoo gootani. Oromo mara jechuu dhaa? Ykn kun mataan isaa warra isin balaaleffachuuf kaatan caalaa yakkamaa isin hingodhuu. Namni yaada keessan kana jalqabumarratti arge Oromoo ta’uu keessan ni amanaa laata? Dhuguma quba walitti qabuudhaan qabsoo Oromoo qancarsaa turameera. Garuu yommuu balaaleffannus ta’ee yommuu deeggarruu “Oromoo” mara waan walitti qabee komatu osoo jedhuu irraa of qusannee bareeda. Yaadni barreessaan kun eeran ilaalcha mataa isanii ti malee kan Oromoo maraa ta’uu waa danda’aaree? Ani gama kiyyaan barreeffama dhiyaatte kana irraa waan danuu bareera; kanan fudhadhus, kanan yeroof dhiisus nin qaba. Garuu kanan balaaleffadhuu fi gatu hinqabu. Hirmaannaa keessanii galatoomaa. Kabaja guddaa wajjin.

  9. Siifan Boris

    Dec 27, 10 at 1:08 pm

    Obbo Leenjiso,
    Your article is one of the best I have read recently. It managed to unearth the lies that has been peddled around by some who have been hiding behind the right to self determination. I was one of those who rallied behind Shanee without questioning what they mean when they say they are fighting for the right to self determination, Obbo Leenjiso’s article is corroborated by Mr Dawwit’s group political programme. Shanee’s 10 years of obfusication about the question of the right to self determination of the people has been washed clean fbfb by obbo Leenjisoo’s article corroborated by variety of evidences. Since the truth shall set us free from our current predicament, I urge shanee to tell us why they twisted Oromo people’s right to self determination and ask for apology.

  10. Lemlem Bogale

    Dec 27, 10 at 2:31 pm

    Come on folks we should stop the same old and worn out story of claiming, “MY WAY OR NO WAY” failed partisan petty power politics and attempting to drive each other in to the enemies arms and more slavery for our people. Every party or movement can proceed with its programs and with no need of endless empty barking about the other groups or parties agenda. Whether Shanee has changed or not changed its programs or agenda is in fact shanees business as Oromos did no elect the Shanee or the others through referendum. That remains to be seen in the future. In fact changing and adapting programs to changing situations on the ground and to a particular specific condition is the beginning of wisdom. People don’t eat and survive on puritanical and last centuries sterile and generalized models and programs.

    We can always take sides like mentally programmed teens and wait for an apology as we have often been doing and keep throwing dirty and stinky mudslide at each other and go home satisfied and snore, thinking that we have already liberated the nation.

  11. qero

    Dec 27, 10 at 5:22 pm

    Hi All,

    Obbo Leenjiso Horo,thank you so much for the nice article.

    1. If shanee uses the internal self determination, make possible to oromo people what he needs that is wonderful no need to fight on it.

    2. If others use external self determination, make possible to oromo people what he needs that is also wonderful no need to fight on this too. The most important thing is to work to wards the goal.

    For that matter Meles changes his mind as he wants, he said “Abiyotawi democracy”, Albanya socialism etc. what is the problem if the Oromo poletician changes their mind in going to wards their goal or create a new philosophy which they think takes them to wards their goal. In my opinion it has no problem as far as it takes them to the goal.

    The article is good in making clear the self determination with evidence, and the author suggested what he feels,that is what it should be so no wonder. Others also can come with more on this issue.

    Appreciating all of you and the writer.


  12. Barii

    Dec 27, 10 at 6:54 pm

    Obbo Shaaqaa Bishaaqaa I agree with you 100%. Whether we like it or not, Oromos have diverse diverse political perspectives. I think we cannot get ride of the political diversity. Oromos who are pushing a single political perspective and curse others who are not with them cannot lead a diverse nation. It is unequivocally proven that Oromos cannot be united under a single political ideology. Thus, leaders Oromos desperately need right now are leaders who can unite the diverse political ideologies for a common goal. It’s not difficult to search for a common goal and formulate it for action, even among the diverse political groups and ideologies.

    We need to learn to live with the reality (political diversity) and design a mechanism and agenda that accommodate the diversity and unify Oromos towards a common goal. An agenda that theme to destroy the political diversity among Oromos will not succeed to lead Oromos to victory. Its only success will be perpetuating the existing division and consequent weakness. It is not a visionary leadership either. Visionary leaders are always able and have a concrete plan to unify their diverse nations. We need leaders who can effectively think and work out a program that enable them to lead our diverse nations, including political diversity.

    We need leaders who can think outside their political ideology box. We need leaders who can stand above the partisan bickering we have had for over 2 decades. I think such leadership personalities do not live on pointing finger at others. They are better than that.

  13. yaadasaa

    Dec 27, 10 at 8:13 pm

    Dear all,
    In all politics there are those who adhere to their organization’s political agenda as agreed upon from the beginning. These are the true leaders of their Nation’s revolutionary journey, because they stand with their long tern political agenda. Yet there are those who gets on the revolutionary journey just from any stop they happen to find chances to do so. Yes, every struggle is to motivate all sectors of the constituency to get abroad and do their historical obligations no matter which station happen to meet his/her personal agendas. But that does not mean that they will be welcomed to alter the original Kayyoo so as to make it fit to their abortive plans. That is the whole meanings of Obboo Leenjiso Horo’s message as I came to understand. You can say what ever may appear to you, but no body can change the reality.
    Ulfina wojjin,

  14. yaadasaa

    Dec 28, 10 at 6:29 am

    Harka fuune Obboo Barii and the rest,
    There are two extremes in our Liberation struggle that we need to be aware of. One is as Obboo Barii and others said, an old set of mind; lack of flexibly to meet the new challenges, which often leads to blocking, or refusing the innovative ideas. The other equally, may be more dangerous in any struggle remains: those who relentlessly work from within the struggle to destroy the goal of that Nation. These group of born-again Ethiopianists are extremely poisoning the struggle as they strategically advocate presumably for the new approach and means to reach the Liberation goal. Not only they work hard to abort the struggle, but also will negotiate at every chance they get to surrender the cause, and will let the enemy of their Nation control the predicaments of their Nation’s struggle for liberation. As for me, these opportunists are the most dangerous one to halt/delay the Nation from breaking the yoke of the Abyssinian colonizations. The old mind set Nationalists can be challenged with the new and feasible and proven strategies in every meetings and conventions without seeking the enemies and their agents assistances. Then the old minded Nationalists will be compelled to choose the method/means best serve their Nation’s interest.
    Ulfina wojjin,

  15. Endless!

    Dec 28, 10 at 7:30 am

    “……To take over this leading function, the Oromo polity must stop the foolish quarrel in the endless discussion on the issue: “Autonomy vs Independence.” Both options are still entertained for they are not exclusive to each other, but the final decision will be made by the Oromo public verdict. That is why I do say autonomous Oromia within an Ethiopian union (true killil-fedretion) can be the common ground to build an alliance of Amhara and Oromo forces against the fascist Weyane. I must repeat this again and again: it is only a transitional arrangement leading us to the future public verdict, where the Oromo mass will choose between “an Oromian autonomy within the Ethiopian union” and “an Oromian independence within the African union” as a lasting solution. This decision must be left for the Oromo public as an exercise to self-determination after getting rid of Weyane fascists; it should not be predetermined now by Oromo polity.

    As far as I am concerned, the following is the reality of the political development in the empire:

    – Unitary Ethiopia is obsolete and belongs to the past;
    – Weyane’s Ethiopia is evil and temporary;
    – Ethiopian union (true killil-federation) is a transitional solution;
    – Oromian independence is indispensable and a must;
    – Union of independent nations in the Horn/Africa (confederation) is the beneficial and lasting solution!

    This is the summary of my hitherto position. So, to take autonomous Oromia as a temporary goal of the possible all inclusive alliance against Weyane fascists doesn’t necessarily mean opposing the future Oromo public decision for an independent Oromia. I know this topic of discussion will never end till we settle it per public verdict in the future. Till then, we can express our only individual or organizational positions, but we can not decide for the Oromo people……”

  16. Good quotation!

    Dec 28, 10 at 12:53 pm

    good quotation! Look who wants to inflame this endless discussion on “autonomy (internal self-determination) VS independence (external self-determination)! People like Yaadasaa, who used to cry against tokkummaa qabsaa’ota Oromo and now made U-turn to cry for this same tokkummaa just to use it as a pre-text to oppose the upcoming tumsa (all-inclusive alliance) against the fascists. This camouflage (Weyane dog) and his likes are interested to continue such a quarell, just to divide and disintegrate Oromo nationalists! The quotation you posted is the best pill against such manipulators!!

  17. jonjoftuu

    Dec 29, 10 at 6:49 am

    It always frustrates me when some people jump from discussion of issues to name calling. Therefore, I can not point my finger why Yaadasaa appears to be the person easily attacked when he continues to show a resolute Orommumaa Yes Obboo Yaadasaa at times he is very provocative, not in negative sense, but appears to encourage the Oromo struggle for freedom in his own way. Yes, I remember he used to call the discussion in the name of Oromoo Unity, “a window dressing”. He was saying that because he believes that the true and lasting Oromoo Unity is only when those who disagreed discuss the issues which separated them, but not individuals from only one side of Oromoo political spectrum, to make noises in the pseudo Oromoo unification forums. I see no reason calling him as the person naming himself “Good quotations!” labelled him. This is both dishonesty, and distortion of the innocent courageous Oromm names.
    Oromoon niblisoomti,

  18. Siifan Boris

    Dec 29, 10 at 10:28 am

    Obbo Leenjiso is an honest person who decided to tell us the truth so that we can make an informed decision when it comes to supporting or not supporting any oromo political organization. People like “Endless” does seam not to know how organizations in general and political organizations in particular operate. As a political organization you first make a decision a ti s which political ideology and policy solve political question of people it represents and works to rally people behind that ideology and policies. You educate, organize and arm people to fight for the implementation of that ideology and policies. This is how politcal organizations operate. It make a political decision first on the behalf of the people it represent and ask them to support it; not other way arround.

  19. Baacaa Namaa

    Dec 29, 10 at 1:38 pm


    Not your name but the comment or opinion posted (quoted) here by you is really endless because whenever an article appears on our current issue I always read this same quotation. By the way, the person who posted this quotation should be either Fayyis Oromia himself by using another nickname or someone quoted his opinion because I know this from one of the articles written by Fayyis.

    Whoever has written this opinion, not the Oromo polity must stop the discussion as he/she stated on the issue “Autonomy vs. Independence” but the person (he or she) who wrote or posted this quotation must stop the foolish quarrel of his/her theory of political development in the empire.

    I am not against the so called possible all inclusive alliance to get rid of Weyane fascists. I don’t mind with whom Oromos forge an alliance as long as these forces do not oppose our end goal. Furthermore, I don’t want to discourage those who want to try any possible options to get rid of Weyane. I however have difficulty to understand the feasibility of the theory outlined here by Endless.

    Endless quoted:

    “….Oromian Autonomy and Oromian Independence are still entertained for they are not exclusive to each other, but the final decision will be made by the Oromo public verdict…”
    “…autonomous Oromia within an Ethiopian union (true killil-fedretion) can be the common ground to build an alliance of Amhara and Oromo forces against the fascist Weyane…”
    “…to take autonomous Oromia as a temporary goal of the possible all inclusive alliance against Weyane fascists doesn’t necessarily mean opposing the future Oromo public decision for an independent Oromia….”


    1) If it doesn’t necessarily mean that the Amharas or any future members of the suggested all inclusive alliance do not oppose the future Oromo public decision for an independent Oromia, why is autonomous Oromia as a temporary goal necessary? Why can’t independent Oromia be common ground from the beginning to build the suggested alliance?
    2) What is the Oromo public verdict you are talking about? Is this an internal self determination as obbo Leenjiso Horo described in his article or is it an external self determination?
    3) If autonomous Oromia within an Ethiopian union (true killil-fedretion) can be the common ground to build an alliance of Amhara and Oromo forces, as you quoted, doesn’t it mean an internal self determination?
    4) Do you really think that the Hebesha forces particularly the Amhara forces, with whom the suggested all inclusive alliance will be forged, let you go further to Oromian independence after agreed on autonomous Oromia as a common goal?

    Please, Endless, you need to stop confusing us with such impracticable theory.

    God bless the Oromo people!!!

  20. WAKO

    Dec 29, 10 at 1:41 pm

    Mr. Lenchoo, you are the honest oromo if every oromo read your article i think they can understand the gambling of oromo political parties to do something near in the future. The oromo people are borne with natural right that no one can take away.If and only if we form our gov’t all our natural rights shoul protected but the Abyssinian empire never ever protect the right oromo people so the oromo people took back their power and separeted from colonial empire without any precondition.Right now shanne andchange are ashemed of to say ABYSSINIA IS COLONIAL empire they prefer to say new Ethiopia thus why we lost our heroes. i don’t think so i leave the discussion for oromo people.I personal i don’t accept, I lost my father, my GFand GGF in hand of colonial Empire.I teach my kids what Abyssinian Empire did on my generation. Thank Mr. Lenchoo for your article

  21. Lottery

    Dec 29, 10 at 2:05 pm

    “….. We need to know the fact on the ground at present is that specially two things make Weyane to tremble: the possible Amara-Oromo alliance and the possible cooperation of this alliance with the Eritrean government. That is why Weyane cadres are doing every thing under the sky to hinder this from happening. Unfortunately, the still existing mistrust and fear from both sides of the ultra-left Oromo forces and the ultra-right Amhara forces are the best lottery, which the Weyane still enjoys……”

  22. Berki Teshome

    Dec 29, 10 at 10:18 pm

    Hi dear friends,
    I would like to thank all of you for your concern about the Oromo cause. Above all, I would like to appreciate Siifan Boris and Baacaa Namaa for their clear and educative comments.
    Some of our friends ask for not calling anyone’s name or any political organization’s name. I hope most of you who gave such comments live in U.S.A, a country that is considered to be the model of a democratic nation. Do politicians in this country, U.S.A call each others’ name and the opposing political party’s name and expose their weakness to public or do they say that calling one’s name is backwardness or illegal or destructive?. What is the problem if we call each other’s name and point out our weaknesses so that the public can understand who we are. We should not be afraid of such approach. Rather, we should be ready to convince each other as much as we can. Actually, I prefer to respect each other. I especially urge all Oromos to respect all our political leaders no matter what option they have for the Oromo cause. These people devoted their whole life for the Oromo cause regardless of their range of success. Let’s oppose them with full respect. I think Obbo Lenjiso followed this line.
    Some of you even downplayed political party’s agenda and wanted to see only the fruit. I think Siifan Boris comment can educate us on this line. I do not want to waste your time repeating it.
    Our friend Tarma said that Obbo Lenjiso’s article does not have any substance. He also said that it does not relate to the current Oromo’s issue. It is true that the article is so detail and advanced that most of us do not understand it easily. It is completely different from what most of us write. We should feel proud of having such an articulate and well knowledgeable person. It is up to us the readers to take time and read carefully, repeatedly if necessary until we understand it. Instead of condemning the article as it is, it is better to pick points that seem wrong and commenting on them.
    Goofta said that the article is a summary of what others wrote. Sometimes our comments expose us. We should know how people write such and similar articles. Obbo Lenjiso did not claim that every point in the article is his own philosophy. He gave us all necessary references with each point he raised. Again, as it is the rule, he gave us all documents he used that support his argument. Not such a short article, even thesis for which people receive degrees follow this pattern So, I suggest to Gofta to think of his comments.
    A person who called himself/herself “endless” raised many points. I agree with Baacaa Namaa’s argument 100%. Thank you Baacaa. We need Oromos who can think beyond tomorrow. On the other hand, I ask my friends not to write paragraphs that contradict each other. One good example of such article was the one that Fayyis Oromia brought to public last week. There, he downplayed with Amhara’s history in some paragraphs and called for Amhara’s alliance with Oromo against the Tigreans in other paragraphs. This time, endless’s approach is not far from that.
    I pray to our creator that we could discuss face to face one day.
    Happy new year for all you.

  23. Hundahore

    Dec 30, 10 at 3:20 am

    Aite Berki,
    didn’t I tell you that Fayyis’ opinion regarding Amhara vs Amharanized Oromo is not contradictory? If you fail to understand those few sentences, how can you accuse others for not understanding an article? I replied to you as follows: “your analysis and challenging of the author is not bad! But only two comments! Inviting Tigreans to work with the Oromo camp in particular and with the opposition in genreal is just as exposing oneself to the spy agents of the ruling party! This is not good idea. Regarding Minilik, H/sillaise…etc being either Abyssinized Oromo or Amhara is not contradictory. Fayyis defined Amhara as abyssinized Oromo/Agew; then both Minilik and H/Silassie being Abyssinized Oromo and Amhara at the same time is not a confusion; you just need to take time and digest what you read!”

  24. yaadasaa

    Dec 30, 10 at 7:03 am

    Dear all,
    It is the bottom of pedagogical order reversely accusing others of ….”you fail to understand those few sentences” … when we do not agree with the ideas that the other person conveyed. Instead of bringing one’s own enriching alternative solutions, or suggestions, some people easily jump to condescending, degrading or comment full of erroneous facts. This type of responses are not by accident, but well intended dishonest approach to look better at the expenses of the other. As for me I could appreciate if my brother/sister point out to me my mistakes in an inclusive and constructive manners. Then, I will be courageous enough to look at the facts presented to me by my brother/sister, or elder, to correct myself. If I am not learning from my mistakes, then my problem is within myself.

    Obboo Hundahore, please remember that when we point at our brothers/sisters with one finger, three of our own fingers are pointing at our selves.

    Obboo Berki Teshome, Yes, politicians in, U.S.A do call each others’ name. But as an American-Oromo I do not like it, and millions of other American citizens do not support it either. Because, basically name calling is wrong. I am not denying that they do not commit that mistake, but two wrongs can not make one right (as they say). Besides, name calling is often practiced by an individual who run out of reasoning capacities, to resort to the Name calling as opposed to the people know his/her short comings.
    Ulfina wojjin,

  25. Welmal

    Dec 30, 10 at 1:26 pm

    Oboo Lenjiso Horo!! That was overkill. You do not need several pages of theorizing just to ridicule Dawud Ibasa’s OLF. In my opinion this is not the best way of using your precious time and also that of your fellow Oromos.

  26. dhugaa dubbadhu

    Dec 31, 10 at 1:00 am

    Dear obbo Leenjiso

    Thank you so much for this article. i was shanee members for long time, i realized right now i am a confused oromo.but i learned a lot from your article. from now on i knew oromiyaa liberation struggle is the right way therefor i will support the true OLF..

  27. SPLM

    Dec 31, 10 at 8:21 am

    “…….Let’s learn from SPLM of South Sudan. They fought fiercely; they lost about two million of their people; and now they are only few days away from achieving their freedom, be it in a form of autonomy within a union with Sudan or in a form of independence without a union. Let’s not forget that they used to talk about both the autonomy within a united Sudan and the independence from the north part of Sudan, which had to be decided by public verdict per referendum. The same is true for Oromia; no need of the foolish quarrel now on the issue: autonomy (internal self-determination) vs. independence (external self-determination). Only our foes and our fools, who used to cry against tokkummaa qabsaa’ota Oromo and against the upcoming tumsa (all-inclusive alliance) are interested to continue such a quarrel now, just in order to divide and disintegrate Oromo nationalists. I do encourage the genuine Oromo nationalists to stop such endless “discussion,” to concentrate on the armed struggle, and then to coordinate it with a possible future civil disobedience as well as with a public uprising in Oromia……”