By Leenjiso Horo
The Oromo society is an open, democratic and egalitarian society. Its institutions were and have
been democratic. The idea of dictator or reliance on one individual or on a few individuals is
alien to this society since the time immemorial. True to this, the founders of the Oromo
Liberation Front (OLF) organized the OLF as a democratic organization on the basis of
collective leadership. In this society and this organization decision-making are collective. The
OLF has set up organizational structure, its institutions, its composition, and its roles and
responsibilities on the basis of collective leadership. In Oromo society collective leadership
means collective decision-making, collective action, collective authority, collective
responsibility, and collective accountability. Democracy, egalitarianism, and collective
leadership are the values of the Oromo people. Collective decision making has been playing
increasingly significant and very important role in the Oromo society since the time immemorial.
However, since 1999 the Oromo values have been undermined and abandoned by the current
leadership and it established dictatorship in the OLF. Individual has become a sole decision
maker. Such individual decision making has disrupted personal relationships and comradeship
among the members, fragmented and compartmentalized the OLF. It has destroyed the built in
trusting relationships within the organization members. In the Oromo society to resolve serious
issues in the society and in an organization, it requires the collective voices of leadership,
individual members, the communities, the population, the experts and creative thinkers in the
society and organization. The current leadership is not only disinterested in the collective
leadership and method of resolving conflicts but it rejected them altogether. The Chairman,
Dawud Ibsa, purposefully recruited individuals who are poorly learned about Oromo culture and
poorly informed about Oromo ethos, values, and poorly understood about the objective of the
OLF. The recruits are the Abyssinianized Oromo nationals. It is these culturally, socially, and
politically abyssinianized Oromo national who have occupied the position of leadership in the
OLF since 1999. They do not differentiate between the struggle for “Ethiopian
Democratization” or establishing “Transitional government of Ethiopia” and the struggle for
independence of Oromiyaa. These recruits obey this dictatorial leadership; legitimize it; become
its messengers and defend its misdeeds. They are faithful to one man-to Secretary-General,
Dawud Ibsa. They dance to whatever the Chairman Daawud Ibsaa and his Deputies tell them to
dance to. It does not matter what, they dance. It is these individuals who blindly follow his and
his associates’ guide. One should know that blind loyalty, blind obedience and blind submission
to an individual or a few individuals is the most dangerous thing that can happen to any
organization or to any nation. This is how dictatorship comes into being. And it is what has been
happening in the OLF since 1999.
Now, we have a leadership with one leg in Oromiyaa and another leg in Ethiopia. It looks
around as to which side is strong enough to jump to. That is, it is ready to capitulate to whoever
is strong. Capitulation is clearly part of its agenda with its abandonment of the country and the
struggle. This means, it is a leadership with full of contradictions. It says one thing and does the
opposite. It copied this dual characters or dual political positions from Abyssinians, particularly
from Derg and TPLF regimes. It is not long enough to forget Derg’s regime. Recall, the Derg’s
political propaganda. In words, it used to preach socialism but in deeds it had worked against
what socialism stands for. It destroyed those who truly believes in socialism. Similarly today
Derg’s successor, the TPLF has been mouthing democracy and federalism in words. On the
contrary, in action, in deeds it has been fighting against the concept of democracy and
federalism. It has been destroying any think that stands for democracy and federalism.
Similarly, the current OLF leadership, under Dawud Ibsa, has been and is preaching
independence of Oromiyaa in words but in action it has been fighting against it for
democratization of Ethiopia and for establishment of “transitional government of Ethiopia”. In
words, it preaches the need for the unity of Oromo nationalists but in action it has been and is
fighting against the unity of the Oromo nationalists. It has become obstacle to unity. Again in
words, during fundraising campaigns it dances, claps hands and shouts bravo OLA! OLA is
fighting. But in action, it has already decimated and ruined OLA-the fighting force for
independence of Oromiyaa. What one has to understand is that this leadership’s words and its
action contradicts each other. It says one thing and does another thing.
Here this article relates an essay by Professor Gene Sharp, titled From Dictatorship to
Democracy to the current leadership of the OLF. In that essay Professor Sharp relates A
Fourteenth Century Chinese parable by Liu-Ji-the “Monkey Master” fable to dictatorship. The
essay addresses how to remove dictators from power through non-violent struggle. Dictators
always stay in power through undermining constitution and laws of a country, undermining
institutions, commit murder, threaten, intimidation, rigging elections, through dividing society.
You also well know dictators create their own loyalists in the society or in an organization those
nationals who voluntary submit to dictators; obey them; legitimize them; become messenger for
them and defend their misdeeds. This article relates the essence of this essay to the current
leadership of the OLF. Here below is extraction from part three of the essay. Read it objectively.
Here is it: In the feudal state of Chu an old man survived by keeping monkeys in his service.
The people of Chu called him “ju gong” (monkey master).
Each morning, the old man would assemble the monkeys in his courtyard, and order the eldest
one to lead the others to the mountains to gather fruits from bushes and trees. It was the rule that
each monkey had to give one-tenth of his collection to the old man. Those who failed to do so
would be ruthlessly flogged. All the monkeys suffered bitterly, but dared not complain.
One day, a small monkey asked the other monkeys: “Did the old man plant all the fruit trees and
bushes?” The others said: “No, they grew naturally.” The small monkey further asked: “Can’t we
take the fruits without the old man’s permission?” The others replied: “Yes, we all can.” The
small monkey continued: “Then, why should we depend on the old man; why must we all serve
Before the small monkey was able to finish his statement, all the monkeys suddenly became
enlightened and awakened.
On the same night, watching that the old man had fallen asleep, the monkeys tore down all the
barricades of the stockade in which they were confined, and destroyed the stockade entirely.
They also took the fruits the old man had in storage, brought all with them to the woods, and
never returned. The old man finally died of starvation.
Yu-li-zi says, “Some men in the world rule their people by tricks and not by righteous principles.
Aren’t they just like the monkey master? They are not aware of their muddle-headedness. As
soon as their people become enlightened, their tricks no longer work.”
What has to be learned from the “Monkey Master” fable is this: The leadership of the Oromo
Liberation Front (OLF) under Dawud Ibsa leadership has become dictator since 1999. It staying
in office more than its term limit. It undermine the constitution of the OLF. The OLF
constitution states in Afaan Oromoo (Oromiffaa) in these terms:
“Hayyu Dureen (HD) GUMII SABAA tiin miseensota ofii keessaa waggaa afuriif filama.
Si’a lama caalaa walitti aansee filamuu hin danda’u.” And it goes on “I/A Hayyu Duree
KOREE HOJII RAAWWACHIIFTU, GUMII SABAA tiin miseensota ofii keessaa waggaa
afuriif filamee I/A H/D KOREE HOJII RAAWWACHIIFTU ta’a. Si’a lamaa ol walitti
aansee itti aanummaatti hin filamu.”
This leadership has trampled the constitution and laws of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF)
under its feet. Not only this, it has also trampled the rights of the members under its feet. With
these, it undermined the intent and purpose of the constitution. It has become itself a replica of
Abyssinians. It has become above the constitution and laws of the OLF and in fact violating the
traditional term limit set in the Gadaa System of governance. The simple truth is this, to stay in
office through manipulation beyond the term limit set in the constitution is the very negation of
democracy. That is, this leadership’s action is contrary to the practice of democracy and justice.
It has usurped constitutional power from legislative (Gumii Sabaa abbreviated as GS). In so
doing, it has planted a seed of darkness for the future independent Oromiyaa. For instance,
colonization is a foreign usurpation of the sovereignty and natural independence of a country.
Similarly, domestically assuming power illegally is a usurpation of the constitution. With this
difference, a usurper can never have right on his/her side. Usurpation is to get into the
possession of what another has right to. For instance, if a president of a country bypassed the
legislative branch on the issues in which the legislative body constitutionally has authority over
is a usurpation. And the president is said to have usurped the power of the legislative. On the
other hand, if the usurper extends his/her terms of office beyond what constitutionally prescribes
to him/her is to add tyranny to the usurpation. In this case, such a leadership is not a leadership
that the constitution and law appointed. He/her should not entitle to the name president or
Chairman or Secretary-General. Here, one must clearly understand that usurpation is the
exercise of power which another has a right to, so tyranny is the exercise of power beyond right,
which nobody can have a right to ( e.g. intimidate, revenge, murder, imposing ones will, ones
rule on others). Daawud Ibsaa has long usurped the constitution of the OLF. Now, he and his
Deputies have terminated the constitutional term of office and extended their terms of office.
This means, on top of usurpation, they added tyranny. Hence, this leadership is a usurper tyrant.
It is a monstrous insult to the members of the OLF and to the Oromo people by this clique to
pretend that the members of the OLF and the Oromo people would submit to its power of
usurper. The plain truth is, the Secretary-General Dawud Ibsa and his Deputies Secretaries are
illegally holding the office of the OLF and hence they are illegal and illegitimate. This
leadership must evacuate the leadership office for the new generation of leadership. It created a
mechanism to split the OLF. First it abandoned the country, the struggle, the Oromo Liberation
Army and the Oromo people. It became dependent on external power. So, it is out of reach.
Second, it abandoned the Kaayyooo (objective goal) of Oromo struggle for Ethiopian empire
democratization. Then, it left the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) for ruin. In fact, it crippled
the fighting capacity of the OLA. Not only this, it is decapitated because it flee the country.
With abandonment of objective goal of the OLF for Ethiopian democratization, the OLF
members split. The split is between the struggle for Ethiopian democratization and the struggle
for independence of Oromiyaa. With the split, it attracted to its membership the Habashanized
Oromo nationals. Today, its support base are these Habashanized Oromo nationals.
The first breed of dictators in the history of national Liberation struggle
One may wonder as to what kind of leadership is this. Here, it is important to understand that
this leadership is not a revolutionary leadership whose entire soul and life are devoted to the
independence of Oromiyaa and the liberation of its people. It is not a leadership inspired by
patriotic spirit of nationalism to fight. Rather it is a dry, disingenuous, rigid, heartless, self-
centered, manipulative, and egotistical clique who by accidental mistake of history climbed to
the top position of the leadership of the OLF. Its primary aim has been and is simply to weaken
the OLF from within so as to undermine the struggle for independence of Oromiyaa and replace
it with democratization of empire Ethiopia. As it is clear to all, this clique has weakened,
undermined, and completely crippled Executive Committee (Koree Hojii Raawwachiiftu
abbreviated as KHR) and legislative (GS) and then replaced them by itself in the name of Office
of Secretary-General (Waajjia Hayyu Duree abbreviated as WHD). Dawud Ibsa and his
deputies-Bultum Biyyoo and Dhugaasaa Bakakkoo superimposed their will on the constitution of
the OLF. They intervened illegally through laying claim, themselves, to be the authorized
legislators. In this way, this clique undermined these institutions. It is important to understand
that it is the legislative, the executive, and other institutions that the members of a nation unite
under and combine together and stick together into one coherent living body. For these,
institutions are the soul that give form, life, and unity for the society. But the current opportunist
leadership, under Dawud Ibsa and his deputies, has dissolved these institutions that the founders
of the OLF had created and served the struggle for years. By Daawuud Ibsaa’s and his deputies’,
interferences, these institutions have been made to fail from discharging their duties and
responsibilities. With the failure of executive (KHR) and legislative (GS) to discharge their
duties and responsibilities, then the failure of the OLF as an organization has become clear and
visible. In this case, the OLF is no longer capable of defending its members, its people, their
people’s properties, resources and their country (Oromiyaa) from the enemy. Today, because of
this clique there is no longer a functional executive (KHR) and National Council (GS) of the
OLF. Hence, these institutions exist only in name, but functionally do not exist. The plain truth
is, have these institutions exist and active, according to the constitution of the OLF, this
leadership could have been removed from the position of leadership a long time ago. It is time
for the members of the OLF to dissolve the Office of Secretary-General (WHD) and elect
another one. This dictatorial tyrant clique has to go.
In the like of “Monkey Master” story, this current leadership of the OLF has become a master
over members who declared loyalty, obedience, and allegiance to it. As the “Monkey Master”
kept on sending the monkeys to mountain to collect fruits from bushes and trees, so this dictator
leadership, since it split the OLF has been sending its loyalist members to the Oromo public to
collect money in the name of ‘Guyyaa Gootoota Oromoo’, Guyyaa WBO’, ‘Fincila Diddaa
Garbummaa’ and now in the name of Qeerroo. None of the collected money has ever gone to
build, organize and arm the OLA. Had this money been used for organizational purpose, a
millions of OLA fighters could have been organized, trained, armed and led into battle to fight
the enemy across Oromiyaa. Oromiyaa could have been independent by this time. The problem
is and has been, the cliques in the leadership are kleptocrats who by the accidental mistake of
history climbed to the top position of leadership of the OLF. These cliques have been sending
the money to a black hole. Whoever ask question as to where the money has been going, would
be threatened, intimidated, humiliated, deprived information, isolated and even expelled from the
membership. It can even physically harm one, if it has a chance and a capability to do so.
Because of these, many of its members dare not to ask. It is a leadership without accountability,
and responsibility for its action and commitment to the objective goal of the Oromo struggle.
Since it assumed the leadership of the OLF, it has been imposing its will on its loyalists, even
intimidating members who ask questions. Asking question is considered by it as a threat to it.
Having reach the top and left for exile, it detached from the country, the people, the Liberation
Army and so it failed to lead the struggle. When a member asks a question about the wisdom of
staying in foreign country, it got paranoid thinking that questioner is trying to knock it down. As
a consequence, it has developed a fear, caused by deep insecurities that its misdeeds may be
unmasked. When confronted, it convinces itself and its followers that the problems are neither
its fault nor its responsibility. It looks for scapegoats to blame on for its misdeeds. Using its
political position in the organization, it attacks who questions it. It forces its loyalist members to
accept its distortions, causing entire loyalists to lose touch with reality. At this stage, such
leadership is vulnerable to making grandiose mistakes. Mistakes such as making alliance with
alien organizations of different political objectives putting one’s own organization’s existence at
risk. Hence, with its formation of PAFD and its invitation to the fascist “current government of
Ethiopia” to join it in establishment of “Transitional government of Ethiopia” this leadership has
put the existence of the OLF at risk. Its distortions convince it that it is doing nothing wrong.
The OLF has a long fraternal relationship with the colonized nations and nationalities. Hence, in
principle it supports forming alliance. That is, it supports a voluntary and honest alliance of the
peoples of the empire that have similar political objective with the Oromo people but not for
establishing “Transitional government of Ethiopia. The PAFD, the organization that Dawud Ibsa
helped organize has called upon the “current regime of Ethiopia”, the fascist regime that has
been and still is swimming in the rivers of the blood of Oromo children, men and women to join
it in establishing the “transitional government of Ethiopia”. Surely, the Oromo people and the
Oromo nationalists fight this by fire and sword. It is a fascist genocidal regime that has been
shedding the blood of our people. It is a regime that is soaked in the blood of Oromo children,
men and women it has slaughtered. It is absurd, repulsive, and abominable to call upon the
genocidist colonialist regime to join in establishing “transitional government” with the people
under its genocide. This idea is promoted by the current clique in the leadership of the OLF.
This is a leadership that has an inflated idea of itself and of its political position in the
organization. As a result, it has become ego-inflated, narcissistic and arrogant. It undercut the
Berlin Agreement and run to form alliance with alien forces. It attacks, intimidates individuals
and groups that question its style of leadership, its incompetence and its poor decision-making.
While making alliance in establishing PAFD, Dawud Ibsa as a chairman of the OLF
singlehandedly along with his Deputies demolished and burned down the bridge to reconciliation
and unity of all Oromo nationalist political organizations built at Berlin Conference.
The loyalists of this clique of the leadership of the OLF must ask themselves fundamental
questions. The first question should be: Isn’t this leadership just like the monkey master? In
addition, ask about where the fund collected in the name of WBO, Guyyaa Gootoota Oromo, and
Fincila Diddaa Garbummaa have been going. Ask as to why hundreds of thousands of OLA is
not organized to fight. Ask why this leadership lives in exile since it hold the position of
leadership of the OLF. Ask what this leadership has ever positively accomplished since it hold
the position of leadership in 1999. Ask it, if Oromiyaa can be liberated without it. With all these
questions, you will become enlightened and awakened. Then this leadership’s tricks and deceit
no longer work on you and you will certainly liberate yourselves from shackles of this false
leadership who lives on you, through tricks. Once this happened, this clique has no option but to
go. You should ask questions. You should tear down this clique’s dictatorship and its ideology
of empire federalization. We cannot keep silent forever about the crimes of this leadership, the
crimes that have been unfolding before our own eyes. For these crimes are committed against
the people in the name of people; against struggle in the name of struggle; against unity in the
name of unity; against the OLF in the name of the OLF; against OLA in the name of OLA. You
should not be the victims of lies, deceit, fabrication and tricks of this exiled leadership.
We all know, what has been paralyzed the OLF and the Oromo struggle is internal, not external.
The truth is, it is this current leadership in exile that paralyzed the OLF and the struggle. It
brought divisions after division within the OLF. No Oromo media outlets and bloggers have
ever asked this leadership, as to why it has been and still is in exile while the enemy has been
and still is swimming in the rivers of the blood of Oromo children, men and women. The fact is,
some Oromo bloggers have been unwilling to post articles critical to this clique of leadership
living in exile on their weblog. The question is then as to what is the difference between the
Oromo bloggers and Media and bloggers under the TPLF; Medias and bloggers under Isaias
Afwerki’s regime; the media, under Mengistu Hailemariam’s Military regime and Emperor Haile
Selassie’s regime. I fail to see their difference. All of them subordinated themselves to whoever
is at the top. All of them unquestioningly, uncritically and blindly glorify such leadership. This
is how dictators control media outlets and bloggers. Again, one may ask as to why the Oromo
bloggers suffocate the truth, facts, and idea critical about the current clique leadership of the
OLF from reaching the Oromo public. To do so can be simply interpreted as a defense of a
leadership standing on the wrong side of history. I belief, truth is like the sun, like the air which
are the same for all to have access to. Facts, evidences, truth and ideas are in the domain of
public. They belong to all. Hence, to deprive the truth, facts, ideas and information from
reaching the public is tantamount to suffocating the public. One should not condemn TPLF for
controlling Medias and bloggers while one is subject to the same thing on the other side. Such
action is also a way of undermining democracy. In order to help and nurture democracy to
emerge, blossom, and flourish, it is important to adorn truth, facts, ideas and information
sincerely and fool no one by shutting doors to them to prevent them from reaching the public.
Shutting doors to truth, to facts, and to ideas are what some Oromo bloggers have been doing.
This is the Abyssinians way, not the Oromo way. It is a way of serving dictators. Now the time
has come for the Oromo bloggers to dare to cherish truth; to dare to cherish facts, to dare to
cherish ideas, to dare to cherish information and not to fear them. The basic common sense is
media outlets and bloggers have to be independent.
In the end, remember, Oromiyaa will be liberated with or without you. Think seriously, this
clique in leadership is just like a ‘Monkey Master’. It is using you as ‘Monkey Master’ had used
monkeys for his own advantage. It is time for this clique on the leadership hierarchy of the OLF
to go. The Oromo struggle, the OLF, the Oromo people and Oromiyaa need a new revolutionary
leadership- a leadership that can restore the lost independence to Oromiyaa. For this, our people
and struggle need a unity leadership; a nationally united leadership. This struggle of ours has
already produced a generation- a generation capability of leadership to lead this struggle to its
final conclusion to the independence of Oromiyaa. Now, it is this new generation’s turn to take
the leadership of the OLF and the struggle for liberation of its people and the independence of its
country. Ours must be a generation that help the new generation to take leadership. So we have
to render leadership to the new generation. It must be swift. We must begin now.
Oromiyaa Shall be Free!