Oduu Haaraya

Looking back into the Oromo history, the case of Gujii-Borana

By Rundaasaa Asheetee 

When we look back into the Oromo history, we find several sorrowful chapters of clan conflicts and it’s tragic consequence that we feel today.  To put this conflicts to sleep, the Oromians must understand their own history very well. For example, the Gadaa constitution stipulates that even a criminal will be treated with diginity and respect. That’s where Mogaasaa and Gudifacha becomes very important.

The occasional trouble that our Oromo clans suffer started because of many reasons. Some times when one is temptation to raid Herds of cattle from the other side and the other time when the other side raids settlements. These attitudes may have resulted in serious outbreaks that involve losses of property and life. In general though, in view of the vast territory that the Oromo settled, there had been very little trouble among the Oromo, especially compared to the Habashas conflicts that led to the fight of Gojamee against Gondare, the Tigrai against the Amharas.

From economic front, today more and more Habashas travel to uncommon distant lands and work as servants, as bar tenders, as beggars, as traders and remain there because of lack of resources in their respective regions. But the Oromos do not have to do that. No where in Oromia or elsewhere in north Ethiopia, an Oromo work as prostitute, a shoe polisher or as a daily laborers. That means, other ethnic groups pay great sacrifice to find heavy jobs or chores as maids and as private guards.

To the contrary, the Oromo people live together in large numbers and assist each other and they needed no financial help from the colonial force of Abyssinia.  On the other note, the Oromo children suffer from lack of food and clothing and this life tragedy happens in remote Oromia regions such Borana and the Guji and each Oromo around the world must put him/herself and stand in that lonely spot of the planet and feel the sorry situation in which our people find themselves.

One way of doing just that is by attempting to heal the differences that is causing these serious challenges and the enduring consequences it has in the future.  We hear problems only when major conflicts are propelled by the enemy of the Oromo people.  In the past when the Abichu, Wabarri and the Galaan of Tuulama clans fought against each other, Minilik took advantage of the situation and employed Gobana Dachee as a leader of his colonizing forces. When my own great grand father Ibsaa Bashar led a huge battle aganist his own cousin, Oshoo Banta, our clan lost thousands of Gaasha land to the Ras Garadew family. This place was renamed “Yee dem Mareet or blood land” from it’s original name Qilinxoo and Dhakaa Filee.

The current conflict between Gujii and Borana Oromo clans and the reason that aggravated all the set backs that we feel every day are directly linked to our past. It is also what generates powerful emotions and anger that we feel today by lose of freedom. In other words, our past is responsible for the degeneration of our liberation struggle. Unless corrected, these feelings will continue to lead us to despondent lives, discordant purpose and can make us side with the enemy in order to crash one another.

One such an awful occurrence in our history was the actions that the OLF factions took against one another when one group approached the Tigre army and exposed the location of the other and led to so much blood shed. The conflict between IFLO and the OLF was also one such shameful conflict. Though it is shame to talk about it today, similar incidents have taken place when one rivalry Macca clan sought help from the Gojames. That was how the Gojames end up settling in Shaambu of Horro Guduru. Obviously, these minor conflicts were manipulated and propelled into large conflict by the enemy.  If there were never such barriers among us, the enemy can never cause us the losses we suffering in Gujii and Borana today.

Knowing this and understanding all the disastrous implications that our existing differences can bring upon us, we must be completely honest and permit ourselves to explore our history, past and current and then come up with the solution that can alleviate our people’s economic and political pain and anguish, even when it seems possibilities are distant phenomena. If we don’t accept this and take new step into future, we can never be free to determine our fate by overcoming all the harmful attitudes we subconsciously harbor.  We must accept the fact that no one can take away our ultimate opportunities to determine our fate except ”US” who so far created possibilities for the Habashas to rob us from our freedom and dignity.

The “events” which took place among our two Oromo clans, namely the Gujii and the Borana must have something to do with past. That means, we are re-experiencing the seed of our past, whether these events are recorded or not.  But these inevitable limitations should not make us feel that bringing our past into picture and studying them is a waste of time. “Those who do not remember the past,” said George Santayana, “are compelled to live it.” (International Dictionary of Thoughts, Chicago: J. G. Ferguson Publishing Company, 1969, p. 543.)

The truth is, we wallow in ignorance of our past because we chose to see current only. For example, millions of Oromos who act as an Amhara, as an Arab or as Faranjii appreciate current and concluded that they are what they are today. Should they look back to history, they would have discovered that the Amharas converted them into the Amhara names, attitudes, religion and culture the same way the Arabs converted our Arab like black Oromo brothers and sisters.

Yes, even Oromummaa itself is not infallible because it may be interpreted diferently by many people. But the fact that our Oromo name and world view remain unchanged, it can serve us as record or our past. This is to say that even if the cause of our current conflicts shows certain realities, they should be linked to past no matter how much past seem inaccurate or incomplete.

A very wide range of approaches can be used to solve current problems even when the colonizing force from Tigrai is manipulating our past differences and use it against us. For example, our elders can be trained to interpret oromummaa in high-quality account. Positive events and circumstances can be understood and their positive impacts can be used as an evidence of national cohesion. This approach can give us knowledge about who we were and who we want to be as a nation. From this enormous value, we gain:

  1. Peace and confidence that will also helps us to control events
  2. An appreciation of how things might have been and how they came to be
  3. What our situation would have looked like today if certain conditions or circumstances were avoided
  4. What changes could have occurred should wise local leaders were able to lead their people to do good

Thoughtful minds always discerns the need for knowledge. All that we see in science, technology, architecture, agriculture and civilization can be said to be the fruit of history in the broadest sense. Where such things are absent, or ignored, we see the stark contrasts in our lives.

The Oromo history bears the same fruits, but is even more intensely valuable because of our kinship relationship to each other. We can get a sense of timeless truth in the depths of our bloodline and treasure it as Waaqayyo’s gift. We also need to look at our ancient civilization because plays the most significant role in the future of free Oromia. Oromummaa has highest standards of value of love, intelligence, justice, mercy and forgiveness. We can’t reject or ignore these standards just because we are angry at each other today. We must be able to deal with one another even when we are under varieties of bad circumstances created by our enemy and by our ignorance.

We can learn how the Gadaa leaders have dealt with advisories, we can learn from what they have achieved, from where they have failed, from what they have built, from their positive character and from their poetries etc.

Our forefathers qualities must characterize our attitudes of today and tomorrow. Our Oromummaa is significant because it recognizes and respect the holiness of life in general and it contains centrally guiding principles, and an overruling Providence and standards to which creative intelligence can rally overall love and concern toward life and nature in general. Yes, our dark deeds and tragic events that took place among us and in the world must teach us lessons as well.

It is true that people interpret history by substituting an economic interpretation for the constructive principle. For example, Karl Marx (1818–1883) and H. T. Buckle (1821–1862), interpreted history of Civilization  differently. Arnold J. Toynbee (1889–1975) characterized Marxian communism as a chapter torn from the pages of Christianity, inverted, and misread.

Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881) attempted to explain history in terms of heroic individuals.   G. F. W. Hegel (1770–1831) proposed a system of generalizations in which he said Judaism is a typified duty; Confucianism is typified order; Islam represented justice; Buddhism represents patience and Christianity represents love.  Similarly, the Amhara Dabtaras and the Tigre tribe glorify all their killing acts as “march of God,” to build national state known as “Ethiopia”.

However, none of these explanations are satisfactory for our quest for freedom. All of them fall short of the basic explanations given in the Oromummaa principle that summarized belief in humanity and dignity. That alone makes the Oromo principle superior to all these cunningly devised fables.

For example, there exist 66 types of Bibles today but all of them have been subjected to criticism, reexamination, documentary research, evaluation, sifting, and study compared to what Oromummaa has to offer. This happened because Bible is not a principle but the views of men named Mark, Matthew, Luke, John, Leviticus etc who authored chapters known as Psalms, Acts, genesis and Proverbs etc.

We have heard enough when the so called educated or religious Oromos discredit Oromummaa as backwardness and the Gadaa system as tree worshiping. Others argued that there are no existing contemporary manuscript of Waaqeffannaa. Yet, these same questioners rejoice in the writings of Aristotle (384–322 B.C.) and extol his Politics and Ethics, despite the fact that most of the sources on which our translations of Aristotle depend are manuscripts written in the twelfth century A.D.—or even later. Fragments of these manuscripts came from the Greek-Byzantine tales, across North Africa with Islamic scholars, into Spain, where the Moors tolerated Jewish scholars and thus through the back doors of the Mediterranean world. It is this way how the “works” of Aristotle transmitted to modern times.

On the other hand, the Biblical manuscripts now in the British Museum have been subjected to extensive textual and “higher” criticism. But the Oromo world view is closer to the truth because it accepts and translate the universe as one entity.

Why then we run away from our past?  Why then we are afraid to know! To understand! To appreciate and live the lives of our original self!  I think it is only our true self what can save us faster than the knowledges we’ve tried to import from Arabia, Europe, America and Russia.  We have tried all of them and none of them worked for us.

Rundassa Asheetee

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