By Fayyis Oromia*
The current new move of all oppressed nations in the Tigrean empire (camouflaged as Ethiopia) to forge an all-inclusive alliance has provoked controversial debates and discussions we just could hear and read. Specially, the new approach of the Amhara democratic forces and the Oromo liberation forces since the process of forming AFD in 2006 has caught the attention of the Tigrean colonists, who have lived, ruled and survived for the last 20 years by polarizing the Amhara and the Oromo elites as well as by instigating a conflict between these two BIG nations in the region. AFD was the symbolic first move which is now substantially growing towards the real and effective alliance of all oppressed nations, including the currently oppressed Amhara nation.
Just as AFD had failed because of the continuous campaigns made by the Tigrean colonial forces, and by the mutually mistrustful nationalists in the Amhara unitarist patriots (struggling to re-establish a unitary Ethiopia devoid of an autonomous Oromia) and the Oromo unionist liberators (struggling to liberate Oromia by dismembering the hitherto Ethiopia, but with the possibility of forging a union of independent nations in the region), today also these three forces (the Tigrean colonists, and the mutually mistrustful Amhara and Oromo nationalists) are doing their best to hinder the possible upcoming alliance now suggested. Specially one of the arguments given by the Oromo nationalists opposing the alliance is that “Amhara is a colonizing force, whom the Oromo, as a colonized nation, should not trust to forge any alliance with.” This argument has led me to ask a question: is the Amhara nation at this particular time (since 1991) a colonized nation or a colonizing nation?
Fortunately, I came across an interesting article written by one Amhara intellectual, Professor Daniel Kinde under the link, http://www.ethiomedia.com/absolute/ethio_eritrea_destiny.pdf, in which he described how TPLF colonized the Amharaland, specially how parts of Gondar and Wollo were annexed into Tigrai. This colonization rhetoric of the professor goes in parallel to that of some other Amhara nationalists, who have started to feel, experience and sense what it means to live under an apartheid system of national colonization/oppression/domination. It is clear that the Amhara nation is under the Tigrean colonial rule since the end of the twentieth century, just like the colonial experience of the Oromo nation since the end of the nineteenth century. For the sake of an operational understanding, let me define what I mean by colonialism/colonization in this short essay.
Colonialism is a policy by which a nation maintains or extends its control over foreign dependencies, i.e. the acquisition and colonization by a nation of other territories and their peoples. It may also be seen as a search for raw materials, new markets, and new fields of investment. Sometimes, but not always, colonialism was accompanied by colonization, that is the physical settling of people from the imperial country. Typical aspects of colonialism include racial and cultural inequalities between the ruling and the subject peoples, political and legal domination by the imperial power, and exploitation of the subject people. It is the policy and practice of a strong power extending its control territorially over a weaker nation or people. Sometimes, ‘colonial’ must be in distancing quotation marks because, where such colonization occurred a long time ago, the descendants of the settlers feel themselves as much part of the territory as those whose ancestors they had displaced (for instance in South Africa).
Then, can we not say in the sense of this operational definition that Tigreans are the colonists of all the oppressed nations, including the Amhara nation, in the current Tigrean empire in the Horn region? Is this not what Tigrean colonists did – particularly in the annexation of parts of the Amharaland and the Oromoland (e.g. in Raya and Azebo) as well as in the whole area of the empire, in general? Is the possible alliance between the Amhara and the Oromo not the alliance of the two colonized nations against their common colonizer? I think now it is time to talk about neither Ethiopian empire nor Abyssinian/Amhara empire, but only about the Tigrean empire’s system of colonization/domination. Just like the whites in the apartheid system of the ex-South Africa, only Tigreans are the privileged citizens in their present empire and all other citizens, including those from the Amhara nation, are now considered as second-class citizens.
Annexation of Amharaland and “Oromoland” aka Wollo by Tigrean colonialists.
Source: Prof. D. Kinde (Ethiopia & Eritrea – from Where to Where)
Some Amhara nationalists are now waking up not to be manipulated by the deception of the Tigrean colonists by using Amharinya at a federal level, which they try to use as a cover for their own domination over the Amhara and other nations. The mere fact that Amharinya has been used as the only federal working language for the last 20 years is a plan by Tigrean rulers to make other oppressed nations, including the Oromo, feel as if they are still dominated/colonized by the Amhara. To promote this sense of being dominated by the Amhara, the Tigrean colonizers are also vehemently opposed to give Afaan Oromo the same status, so that they want the Oromo-Amhara conflict to go on. I think this is the reason why some Oromo nationalists still feel as if Amhara elites are currently the colonizers, and why they oppose the suggested alliance as if it is the alliance between the colonizing forces and the colonized forces, which is, of course, unproductive. I personally believe that the Amhara nation is now as oppressed as the Oromo and the other nations in the Tigrean empire.
Of course, almost all Amhara nationalists are still centripetal, and they tend to prefer a unitary centralized Ethiopia on the contrary to the decentralized federation or union of free nations, which is the choice of the centrifugal Oromo nationalists. It is because of the reality that Amharinya is the only working language of the federation and because of the authoritarian culture in the Amhara society that the Amhara nationalists are yet as such the notorious centralists. Had it been otherwise, for instance that Afaan Oromo be the only federal language, surely they would have been centrifugal federalists to keep their Amhara region from being Oromonized. Now Tigrean colonists are using this Amhara mentality so that most Amhara nationalists could not yet perceive that they are suffering under a colony just as the Oromo and the other nations in the empire are doing. But, it is encouraging that few of them, like Professor Daniel Kinde, have now started to feel the colonial misery under the Tigrean fascist rulers.
I hope the future political development in the empire will be marked by the conversion of the Amhara unitarist patriots (who look at the U.S.A. governing structure as a model and who want to forge Ethiopia in which all nations will be melted into Amharinya speakers) into the Amhara unionist liberators, who will start to think and walk like Oromo unionist liberators having the EU (the European Union) governing structure as a model, i.e. trying to foster Ethiopian Union of free nations developing their own languages in their respective national areas, but be ready to build a union for the common economical benefits. This conversion of Amhara forces from their unitarist position to the unionist stand would have been the best option as the nice precondition for the effectiveness of the suggested all-inclusive alliance. But, even if this is not the case, the suggested opposition alliance against the Tigrean colonists can have the left-wing Oromo unionist liberators striving to achieve a union of independent nations, the middle body of the true killil federalists, including almost all the nations in the SNNP of Ethiopia, and the right-wing Amhara unitarist patriots struggling to forge a unitary Ethiopia in a form of a xeqilaigizat federation. The question yet to be answered is: how can such an opposition alliance be attained and maintained despite these three different visions of the three wings?
The only common ground can be the two-phased struggle against the Tigrean colonists’ apartheid system of domination: the decolonization/liberation phase and the democratization/election phase. Now, we are in the first phase, in which all the three wings of the opposition can act as freedom fighters or as liberation fronts and forge an all-inclusive alliance to get rid of the fascists. In this phase of liberation, it is not necessary to debate and to discuss on the three visions of the three wings of the opposition, even though the cadres of the Tigrean colonists want us to do it now in order to hinder the possible all-inclusive alliance of the opposition. But, after the liberation from the colonists, the three wings of the opposition alliance can either have a consensus on the middle ground, that is, for instance, to settle for the true killil federation, in which neither dismantling Oromia nor dismembering Ethiopia is accepted, or they can opt for a public referendum on the three possible outcomes (referendum on the union of independent nations, true killil federation and unitary Ethiopia), and then live according to the public verdict.
Now, at this particular moment, there is no common ground for election democracy as Obbo Leencoo Lataa said in one of his recent interviews. Election and competition among multiple parties can only be possible after liberation from the colonists and after having a consensus on the type of political community we want to have in the region (union of independent nations or true killil federation or unitary Ethiopia). I personally believe that the only lasting solution for that cursed and troubled empire/region will come when Amhara nationalists stop their hitherto nostalgic and patronizing cry for their lost empire and start to concentrate on liberating their Amharaland from the Tigrean colonists as well as when the Oromo nationalists start to be open for a possible future union of independent nations in the region called Ethiopia/the Horn.
On the day these two BIG currently colonized nations in the region start to be on the same page and struggle for the same common purpose (decolonization and democratization, including either consensus or referendum on the type of the future common political community), it will be the beginning of the END for the Tigrean empire/Tigrean colony in the Horn. If this is probably not the case, the other alternative is the continuation of the polarization of Amhara forces and Oromo fronts, so that they continue to be instrumental for the further domination by the minority Tigrean ruling class and, of course, this might mean for the two BIG nations to live further under the colonial rule for the coming at least one century. But, I hope that Amhara nationalists slowly, but surely, start to wake up and perceive that they are under Tigrean colony (that they are no more the colonizers in the empire) so that they will join the anti-colonial struggle of the Oromo and that of the other colonized nations in the region. It should be the end for the Amhara nationalists to hide behind the name Ethiopia. Just as the current hiding of the Tigrean colonists behind the name Ethiopia is not accepted, that of the Amhara nationalists will not also be taken at a face value.
Amhara nationalists need to be bold and honest in order to liberate the Amhara nation from Tigrean colonization/domination. Their hitherto attempts to forge and lead the “multinational” parties were only detrimental to themselves. Such parties are open for the Tigrean spies to infiltrate easily and to sow a seed of discord so that none of such parties have become strong so far and survived further. A classical example is how the strong CUD has been disintegrated and destroyed by infiltrators within a very short time. That is why Amhara nationalists should take off their mask (the name Ethiopia) and learn to be organized as Amhara, and then honestly forge an alliance with the organizations of the Oromo and with those of the other nations. Only in this honest way, the Amhara democrats can distance themselves from the backward obsolete minded ones hiding behind the name Ethiopia, till now are used as an instrument to save the Tigrean rulers by offering their handshake with the colonists, and by their hyperactive opposition against the opposition as seen among the UDJ factions during the past election campaign. Where are these obsolete minded backwards now? Are they now satisfied with their saving of the Tigrean colonists from the challenge which would have come from the strong opposition, from the Medrek? Why did they make much noise at that time and are now keeping quiet as the colonists seem to be stable to rule further?
Anyways, the question for the Oromians now is: can we accept and respect such Amhara nationalists, who do try to distance themselves from the obsolete minded feudals (who are still nostalgic about their past colony) in order to start the anti-colonial struggle of their own currently colonized Amhara nation in coordination with the on-going anti-colonial struggle of the Oromo and that of the other nations? I am personally open to accept such a move from some Amhara nationalists, and even I would like to encourage such Amhara freedom fighters to join our fight for the decolonization which should precede the struggle for the democratization of the free and liberated nations in the region called Ethiopia. Now, Amhara is dominated as a nation, similar to the Oromo and the others. These nations are colonized/dominated as nations, so they should be first liberated as nations. After such national liberation will follow the democratization process in order to bring individual citizens’ freedom and liberty. Without national liberation from such colonization, it is a pipe dream to think about citizens’ individual liberty.
Here, it is important to mention that despite the attempt of Prof. Megalomatis and some others to still paint Amhara as a colonizer, I would like to say that Amhara is one of the currently colonized nation, but the elites of this nation yet need to wake up and smell the coffee. I hope Professor Daniel and his likes have now started to recognize that the Oromo nation is under a colony since the end of the nineteenth century just as the Amhara nation is now since the end of the twentieth century. The position of Professor Megalomatis in painting Amhara as still the colonizer of the Oromo now serves only the interest of the Tigrean colonists. Is he doing the polarization job of these current colonizers intentionally or unintentionally? He should have understood that now; it is the time for the Amhara democrats and the Oromo liberators to come together and get rid of the Tigrean colonists. I do believe that as Oromo people in general are not from Madagascar; Amhara people in general are also not from Yemen as Professor Megalomatis try to paint. It is possible that few part of the Amhara can have the gene of the Yemenites just as the very few part of the Oromo can be related to the Madagascar. But historically, almost sure is that the two nations are the part and parcel of the Cush, of course, till 1991 the Amhara being the colonizer and the Oromo being the colonized, but currently both are the colonized, even though most of the Amhara elites still have not woken up yet.
Last but not least, the current move of the Amhara democrats and the Oromo liberators, including the forces of other colonized nations in the empire to forge an all-inclusive alliance against the Tigrean fascist rulers, is a nightmare for the cadres of the colonists in the cyber world and the real world. They are now talking about the Beddeno massacre of the poor Amhara, accusing OLF as a perpetrator; and they are also singing about the Cellenqo massacre of the Oromo people to curse Minilik of Amhara – the whole maneuver being to hinder the coming together of the Amhara and the Oromo forces. But the Amhara youth now seem to have started to follow the example of Wallelign Mekonnen and to fight for the freedom of their Amhara nation and for the liberation of all the oppressed nations in the present Tigrean empire, instead of wearing T-shirts with a picture of the feudal king H/Sillasie and instead of singing about the “goodness” of the monarchy as they used to do under the leadership of the obsolete feudals in their hitherto “multinational” parties. I think the trend, as seen in the article of Professor Daniel Kinde and as heard in the rhetoric of some Amhara nationalists recently, is encouraging. It is better late than never, so let us, Oromians, now welcome the Amhara nation to the club of the colonized nations in the Horn of Africa.
* Fayyis Oromia can be reached at email@example.com.