It is a known fact that the non-stop theme of discussion among the Oromo polity is the “conflict”: ‘Ethiopian Democratization vs. Oromian Liberation’. This either or approach, as if the two goals are irreconcilably exclusive to each other, is the cause of “animosity” between the two camps. Some cadres in both camps still look at each other as foes, just forgetting the main enemy of the Oromo people – the Tigrinya Speaking Habeshanized Nafxanya (the TSHN) – now on power at Tulluu Daalatti palace in Finfinne. Can’t we liberate and democratize both Biyya-Kush (Gross Oromia) and Biyya-Oromo (Net Oromia)? NB: Biyya-Oromo = Oromo country; Biyya-Kush = Kush country. Why couldn’t Oromo liberation forces from both camps come to terms and cooperate in building at least an alliance based on common denominator of freedom (bilisummaa), which we can call Tumsa Bilisummaa Oromoo (TBO)/Alliance for Freedom of the Oromo (AFO)? Is it really because of the above mentioned
ideological difference? Our common sense dictates that if we want to prevent the reversal of the victories we achieved up to now, to keep the status quo and to move forwards, we have to come together and build a strong liberation force. It is only in this way that we can defeat the currently ruling hegemonist force, the TSHN, and can hinder the possible coming of the backward looking Amharinya Speaking Habeshanized Nafxanya (the ASHN) to power.
It is fact on the ground that both our foes and our misguided friends still do intensify the instrumentalization of the minor ideological conflict we do have for their mission of dividing and weakening the Oromo liberation camp. They continuously accuse certain part of the Oromo nationalists (the federalists) as being Ethiopianists (as if they are fighting only to democratize New Ethiopia/Biyya-Kush, but not to liberate Biyya-Oromo – the country illustrated here: http://finfinnetribune.com/
independence, both tactically and strategically, based on the political contexts and situations? Didn’t the Eritrean and South Sudan nationalists move the same way at different times before they could liberate their respective nations and bring them to the level of referendum on: independence vs. union?
According to the information I have, there was a time when the Eritrean liberation forces talked about and almost agreed to settle for federation within Biyya-Kush (formerly Ethiopia: http://finfinnetribune.com/
Ethiopianist Oromo in the true sense of the word? Does it include the federalists, who talk about Biyya-Oromo’s autonomy within Biyya-Kush’s union as their goal? How can Oromo nationalists, who want to bring the nation to the status of exercising self-determination per referendum, be designated as Ethiopianists?
Specially at this moment, it seems that the Oromo are asking about the feasibility of our own movement for independence. Why did two of our neighbours, Eritrea and South Sudan, succeed, whereas our movement is still suffering from the ongoing disintegration and division of our liberation camp? Is it because of only our mistakes or are there some other external factors, which have made the difference? Surely, there are many other factors, one of the major ones being the the support the two liberation movements of Eritrea and South Sudan had got from the Arab world (in case of Eritrea) and the Western world, in contrast to the support the Oromo movement is lacking. There is even a strong opposition from the Western world, which our Oromo liberation movement faces. We all know how the Eritrean liberation movement had been supported by the Arabs, the Italians and by other Western regimes. They had also had a very secure sanctuary in the neighbouring
countries like the Sudan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. We also know how South Sudan had been supported by the regimes of America, Britain and other Western countries. South Sudan liberation forces had also had a relatively secure sanctuary in Kenya, Uganda and Zaire. On the contrary, are not the Western forces the supporters of our Habeshanized colonizers, who are working continuously to divide and disintegrate the Oromo liberation camp? Are not the Oromo liberation forces denied any sort of sanctuary in the neighbouring countries?
Unfortunately, the Oromo liberation movement, not only lacks such regional sanctuary and international support, but even both our neighbouring countries and the Western friends of the TSHN do oppose the attempt of the Oromo to liberate from the colonization. Specially, the Western world seems to have an opposite policy in comparison to what they had towards South Sudan. In the case of South Sudan, they supported the “Christian” south to be free from the influence of the Arabinized north, whereas in the case of Biyya-Oromo they tend to support the domination by the Habeshanized (Christian) north on the mainly traditional south, including the Oromo. If they had had no such double standard as usual, they should have supported the liberation movement of the Oromo from the domination of the Habeshanized north, just as they have done to protect the South Sudan from the Arabinized north.
Despite such lack of consistency in the policy of the Western world, no question that the Oromo nation is one of the biggest African nations – which should be liberated from any sort of colonization or domination. This nation has been under the colonial rule since the conference of the European colonialists in Berlin at the end of the nineteenth century, when they planned the Scramble for Africa. The Habeshanized king Minilik was treated by the European Christians benevolently to have his share of the colony and “to civilize as well as to christanize” the Oromo and the other non-Christian nations in the southern part of the present empire. Since then, the Oromo and the other occupied nations in the region have been struggling for their national freedom. Particularly, the Oromo are now at the worst colonial situation; we are not only occupied and oppressed, but also our colonizers are selling our land and our labour to international capitalists for
the very dirty cheap price. Aite Abay Tsehaye’s current bravado also shows us how determined they are to do it further till we, the Oromo, will be reduced to the situation of the Red Indians in North America.
Being in such dire situation, Oromo nationalists still seem to enjoy a luxury of quarrelling on minor issues like discussing on the conflict ‘Biyya-Kush’s democratization vs. Biyya-Oromo’s liberation,’ be it that we use both concepts as a means or as an end of our struggle. It is not surprising when we do observe the TSHN cadres persuading us to dwell on such debates and discussions, for they know very well that it is a good way to hinder unity of Oromo liberation forces from being realized. But interesting is also to observe few of our politicians making the same rhetoric by antagonizing the two concepts again and again. Some of them like to talk and write about this antagony; some of them want to make the conflict be seen as an irreconcilable, also at this first phase of the liberation struggle. Considering the two phases of our struggle (the first freedom phase and the second referendum phase), we can see that the two concepts will be
irreconcilable only during the second phase, in the time of the future voting on them. It seems that we have not yet come to our sense and look at the two concepts, as either a means or an end, that they are not contradictory, but complementary to each other at this moment of the first phase, until we come to the status of exercising our self-determination per referendum.
This difference of outlook regarding Biyya-Kush’s democratization and Biyya-Oromo’s liberation in the process of the Oromo national struggle had been there from the very beginning of our struggle. Some Oromo nationalists wanted to liberate Oromo from oppression within Biyya-Kush’s context; the others wanted a separate and independent republic of Biyya-Oromo. Regarding this outlook, it seems that we do now have three political movements in Oromo society:
– the movement of the pro-unity Oromo, who are interested in liberating the Oromo in a sense of democratizing the empire and achieving individual liberty for all citizens, including the Oromo people, disregarding the existence and the necessary emancipation of Biyya-Oromo. They are not necessarily against the right of the Oromo people to self-determination through referendum, but their wish is to keep the territorial integrity of the empire intact and, if possible, foster a country lead by the Oromo. This is the group whom I consider as classical Ethiopianists.
– the pro-federation Oromo, for whom liberation can be the same as Biyya-Oromo’s autonomy within the Biyya-Kush union (true killil-federation). I think we can designate this group as loyal to Biyya-Oromo, thus they are not classical Ethiopianists, but they use the name Ethiopia as far as they are operating “legally” under the gunpoint of the Habeshanized colonizers or getting support from other non-Oromo forces.
– the pro-independence Oromo, who do believe in and advocate for Biyya-Oromo’s independence. To my understanding, many members of the Oromo rebel organizations belong here, even though they may have different rhetorics based on the contexts and situations. All Oromo nationalists in this group can be considered as Oromianists.
The common denominator for these three movements is freedom of the Oromo people or self-determination of the Oromo people per referendum. Any Oromo individual or group against this right to self-determination can be considered as part and parcel of our colonizers, who do deny us this right; they are simply collaborators. So, we need to differentiate Oromo politicians, who want to have liberated Oromo people within the Biyya-Kush context from the Habeshanized colonists and their collaborators, who want to oppose our right to self-determination with a pretext of unconditional “Ethiopian unity”, an euphemism to keep the system of colonization intact. Even Habeshanized forces can be divided into two, based on their position regarding our right to self-determination: Habeshanized democrats, who in principle accept and respect our right to self-determination; and Habeshanized colonialists, who do oppose our right with a pretext of unconditional “Ethiopian
So, our enemies are those, who are against our right to self-determination, whereas the above mentioned three Oromo movements and the Habeshanized democrats are not necessarily enemies to each other, as long as they want to liberate Oromo, i.e. as long as they want to bring the Oromo people to the level of exercising self-determination per referendum, making Oromo free from any external influence. After liberating Oromo and bringing us to the status of voting in referendum, be it they achieve that per ballot or by bullet/force, they can agitate for their preferred visions. That means, they can campaign respectively for only democratic Biyya-Kush, disregarding Biyya-Oromo (the vision of the pro-unity Oromo); for Biyya-Oromo’s autonomy within the Biyya-Kush union (internal self-determination), which is the vision of Oromo federalists; and for the Biyya-Oromo’s independence within the African union (external self-determination), which is the goal of the
pro-independence Oromo. But now, all the three Oromo groups can and should work together in order to get rid of the occupying and oppressing forces of the colonizers. Here, we can also have the empowering alliance with the Amharinya speaking Habeshanized democrats, whereas I do advise for a caution in trying to work with Tigrinya speaking democrats. Such Tigrinya speakers may claim to oppose the present regime, but surely they can have a loyality conflict, when it comes to the domination by their kins.
For the pro-unity Oromo democrats, Biyya-Kush’s democratization is both a means and an end to realize their vision; whereas for the pro-federation Oromo it is more a means to their end for they seem to use their explicit objective (Biyya-Oromo’s autonomy) as a prelude for the bigger goal (Biyya-Oromo’s independence). Despite the fact that democracy under the TSHN’s rule is practically impossible, these two Oromo groups just try to instrumentalize the democratization process in order to put pressure on the TSHN rulers. But, pro-independence Oromo’s explicit goal is crystal clear, even though it seems there is a division on the route (the strategy) they try to take to reach at the goal. This taking different routes is the main area of discord between the different factions of our rebelling liberation fronts. The difference is not necessarily based on the conflict, ‘Biyya-Kush’s democratization vs. Biyya-Oromo’s liberation,’ but on the variety of
rhetorics they do use at different times for tactical reasons.
Thus, the difference between Oromo federalists, which are usually painted as “Ethiopianists” by their rivals, and those which are considered as Oromianists, is not as such the matter of being Ethiopianist or Oromianist as our foes and our misguided friends try to convince us. The difference here is that of the evolutionary approach of some nationalists (including their acceptance of Biyya-Oromo’s autonomy within Biyya-Kush’s union as a prelude to Biyya-Oromo’s independence) and the revolutionary way of the others in trying to achieve the same goal of Oromian liberation (tendency to advocate independence without a necessary prelude of autonomy within the union). That is why, calling any of such federalists as Ethiopianist is morally and truly wrong. They only differ in a strategy they have chosen towards the same goal. This makes us to hope that all will join certain possible unity of Oromo freedom fighters in due time for the liberation of
Biyya-Oromo, so that at the end of the day, we will only have one strong and efficient alliance, which can lead us to the promised land. I don’t see any reason why this artificial difference of goal between the Oromo liberation forces can be the cause of division. Not only the pro-independence Oromo, but also all the other groups, i.e. the anti-independence and the Oromo who want to stay neutral till the day of the referendum can now agree on the common purpose of freedom of the Oromo (to liberate the Oromo and bring the nation to the level of referendum).
The way forward from the status quo is thus firstly empowering our Oromo camp, which comprises all the three groups of movements (the pro-independence, the pro-federation and the pro-unity). Now, in the first phase of our liberation struggle, they all can fight together against the colonialists, and then after the liberation, in the second phase, they can agitate for their respective vision in order to win in a possible public referendum. That is why the conflict, ‘Biyya-Kush’s democratization vs. Biyya-Oromo’s liberation’ at the first phase is not as such irreconcilable. We do surely have irreconcilable conflict with our colonizers and with their collaborators, who are against our right to self-determination, but not with pro-unity Oromo, not with pro-federation Oromo or not even with Agaw democrats. Let alone the mentioned different Oromo forces, even other organizations, including the currently oppressed Agaw democratic forces, which do accept and
respect our right to self-determination, are welcome to foster alliance with us to compel the TSHN to leave power in Finfinne palace.
I think the future decolonized and democratized Biyya-Oromo, with its tradition of Gadaa democracy, will be the center of an emission for a radiation of the bright light of democracy in the future United States of Africa (USA) based on the mere fact that Finfinne will be the seat of the upcoming Union Government of Africa (UGA). On the contrary, any attempt of keeping this great nation of Africa under TSHN’s occupation and oppression will continue to be a curse for the Horn region in particular, and for the African continent in general. That is why I want to encourage all Oromo liberation movements (the pro-independence, the pro-federation and the pro-unity) to work together now, in order to liberate the Oromo nation from the occupying forces and bring the nation to the state of exercising self-determination per referendum, which can result into one of the three goals of the three movements: to the democratic Biyya-Kush devoid of Biyya-Oromo as the
pro-unity Oromo wish, to the federated and democratic Biyya-Kush with Biyya-Oromo’s autonomy as the pro-federation Oromo want, and to an independent democratic republic of Biyya-Oromo as the pro-independence Oromo envision.
That is why, I do see no reason for these Oromo groups to attack each other at this first phase of our struggle – where we need, not only the unity of the Oromo forces, but also seek the alliance with other forces. Let those Oromo groups which believe in the unity forge it; let those which think the alliance is advantageous also do it; and let those which oppose either of the two or reject both of them also move forward against the colonizers without antagonizing the other Oromo liberation forces, but by organizing a supportive tandem activity against our archenemy, i.e. against the TSHN. We need to see the fact that, until we come to the level of exercising our self-determination per referendum, both concepts (Biyya-Kush’s democratization and Biyya-Oromo’s liberation), as a means and/or as an end, are not irreconcilable and contradictory to each other as our foes want to convince us, but they are complementary to each other. There is nothing wrong if
our liberation forces talk about the two concepts under different contexts and situations. The two concepts are irreconcilable only in the second phase, i.e. during the referendum, where we have to vote on them, but not now when we are fighting for our freedom. If we are smart enough, we can even have a consensus on doing both jobs in unison: liberation and democratization of Biyya-Oromo in particular and Biyya-Kush in general, so that we, the Oromo, can accept both as Biyya-Keenya (our country). Biyya-Oromo is our country for we are Oromo and Biyya-Kush is our country, because we belong to Kush family. May Waaqa help us to understand this fact that the conflict is reconcilable in the first liberation phase. May He help all the Oromo liberation forces to foster at least the beneficial Alliance for Freedom of the Oromo (AFO)/Tumsa Bilisummaa Oromo (TBO) in order to make the Oromo camp forceful and competent to deal with the current challeges.