By Suutumaa Guutaa
The newly mint Oromo political organization named the Oromo Democratic Front has become the talking point for so many over the last four or five months. Among the media outlets that had been scrambling to air what the ODF is up to, the social media and the gossip rooms ranked first followed by the Ethiopian satellite TV (ESAT)while the dust seems to settle after the first wave of all the mixed emotions about this infant politico.
As a prelude to our understanding of ODF’s metamorphosis, it is of paramount importance to recap the evolution of the Oromo people’s struggle for justice and liberty. With the formation of the modern Ethiopian State during the last quarter of the 19th Century that incorporated the Oromo people through conquest, sporadic and isolated upheavals in different forms continued for decades. The petition by a group of Oromo notables in the western provinces of Ethiopia to the British consulate in Gambella during the Italian occupation of the 1930s was one of the testimonies as to the desire of the Oromo people to break loose from the newly formed Ethiopian State and establish an independent entity of their own. As premature as it was, this venture did not come to fruition but was monumental in its significance as a precursor for all attempts that followed. The Bale rebellion of the 60s and the formation of the Matcha & Tulama self-help association were all parts of the desire to mobilize the Oromo masses in pursuit of a distinct Oromo identity symbolized by a national state of its own. This gave rise to the formation of the first pan-Oromo modern political organization, namely the OLF that has also changed the political landscape of the Ethiopian empire state to last for generations and beyond.
The Terrains of OLF’s Journey
As the only organization that is still thriving while its contemporaries vanished in to thin air in the course of the last four decades, OLF has become the covenant of the Oromo spirit as it has cemented the bondage of Oromoness across the spectrum. That brilliant generation went against all odds in shaping the Oromo Liberation Front as the sole asset all Oromo people own and cherish to this date. Founded in the mid 1970s when Marxism was at its hay day and class struggle was the main paradigm preached by almost all as an instrument to eradicate all forms of exploitation, that generation was still wise enough to weigh in the path of national struggle as the only means to do away with the type of predicament the Oromo people was in. Rightfully so, the tenacity and stamina of the Oromo Liberation Front and Oromo Peoples’ quest for the right to self determination is best deservedly credited to the cream of this Great nation.
The dynamics of setbacks and successes alternated themselves in the life of the OLF as an organization that is also quite natural to any association of similar settings. Hence, the OLF has exhibited major successes that range from demarcating the territorial boundaries of the Oromo country giving birth to the current regional State of Oromiya and Oromo language (Afaan Oromo) partly replaced Amharic as the language of instruction and administration within the limits of the Oromo territory.
It is to be noted that opponents of the Oromo Peoples’ struggle belittle the OLF as a useless Organization that did not even control a single town after 40 years of operation while the Oromo masses adore it as its guiding Sprit leading up to an independent Republic of Oromiya in which national opression will cease to exist once and for all. Thousands have sacrificed their lives and several thousands are still in line to pay the ultimate price until OLF’s agenda of the universally accepted right to self determination materializes. Knowing that OLF has already conquered the hearts of 40 million, getting in to polemics with its opponents has no meaning as it is tantamount to arguing with a mindset that is not prone to change. As the saying goes, “one man’s trash is the other man’s treasure.” Let’s leave opponents and supporters alone for now as the unfolding events take their own due course and either of the two sides will eventually be vilified.
Exploring the setbacks suffered by the OLF in the 1992 transitional arrangement and thereafter is not the scope of this piece but some self evident causes of stagnation, split and purges leading up to the formation of the ODF would be pinpointed to explain the chronological and logical sequences that gave birth to this infant. Subsequently, the rumor mills of the last 22 years regarding two contending ideologies within the OLF would come to light explaining all the odds as to why OLF could not advance during the last two decades in spite of the popular support it commands and a just cause it espouses.
Halfhearted “Tegadalays/Compatriots” within the OLF Leadership or contending ideologies?
Apparently, the newly minted ODF boasts of incorporating the founding fathers of the OLF in its ranks along with its low level Diaspora cadres who were very much known for shifting loyalty from time to time. The “New Vision” this group is preaching about, has never been new in essence because the so called founding members of the OLF, now at the helm the ODF have been anextremely controversial personalities pertaining their old subscriptions to “a Democratic empire”, now came back as a “new Vision”. At times they had vented their frustrations of being a minority within the OLF while attempting to divert the organization’s hitherto agenda of self determination for the Oromo people, just to trade it for the democratization of the Ethiopian State. The debate about a hollow “New Vision” preached by the ODFites versus the leverage Leencoo Lata is using to make it a seemingly substantial “new vision” will be dealt with separately in the upcoming series of articles to follow this.
When asked about this rumor back in the late 90s, Leenco Lata did not deny that he is pursuing the democratization of Ethiopia instead of seeking a free Republic of Oromiya as enshrined in the Political program of the Oromo Liberation Front finalized and ratified in 1976. He was also part of the generation that has ratified the program under discussion. Leenco, at the same time, proclaimed that regardless of the contentions surfacing at different times he believed in the organizational integrity of the OLF and had no any intention of breaking away from it even if his proposals could not win a majority vote within the ranks of fellow leaders and his proposals kept being “shelved” as he puts it in his writings. Even if Leenco remained a minority with his bold ideas for over two decades that now re-emerged as a “New Vision”, the lethal wounds of the two contending ideologies within the OLF are so visible resulting in to splits and purges particularly in the Diaspora and gave rise to the birth of the ODF. The 2001 split within the OLF was primarily an outcome of the perception by the then dissident group (OLF-TA) customarily known as QC, that Leenco’s idea is winning a majority within the ranks of the OLF leadership to which he (Leenco) is emerging as a chief ideologue that would culminate in to abandoning the very idea of self determination for the Oromo People. This had a devastating effect from which the organization is still attempting to recover to this date. In 2008, another round of split and purge occurred and this time also Leenco Lata is believed to be the architect of the reform known as “Jijjirama” while the course of events took a different direction undesirable to the architect so that he immediately distanced himself from it. The “reformists” boasted of being patriotic and wise (Jagnaa fi Gamna) from a particular region of Oromia by tracing the legitimacy of their claim to the fierce resistance they put to Menelik’s forces a century ago at Aanole and the sacrifices they had paid. Contrary to their claims and their hollow promises of occupying Finfinne within three months of launching their gibberish, the 2008 “reformists’’ had successfully defeated themselves and Leenco Lata’s venture of utilizing them . Some had even compared Leenco’s loss of control over the very “Reform” he was believed to have been an architect of, with that of Michael Gorbatschov’s reformist politics known as Perestroika in which the mighty Gorbatschov and the Soviet Union along with it went in to the dust bins of history over night.
One thing Leenco Lata has to be credited for is his persistence of clinging to his agenda, however contentious it was. But the everlasting moral question he cannot forgo would remain as to why he persuaded, organized, trained and deployed thousands of Oromo sons and daughters to fight and perish for a just cause spearheaded by the OLF while he himself did not believe in the same value.
Another controversial man of with a less magnitude is the notorious halfhearted Dima Nogo, who has never earned a full trust of compatriots during his years in the OLF. He is described by many as a consumer rather than a “Tegadalay” in the true sense of the term as he was known by his traits of asking for more from the meager resources of the organization. Even if he claims to be the first chairman of the OLF, most of his contemporaries testify that he took his ”chairmanship” out of context because his short lived “reign” was more of a provisional cell like structure in the Urban areas in which Finfinne was the nucleus of such urban patches leading up to the General Assembly. As a revelation to his half-heartedness, he rather went to Dakar, Senegal for a scholarship in the midst of his reign without notifying his compatriots and without formally discharging his duty of “chairmanship”, to say the least. A year or so after the end of his tenure in Dakar, he decided to go back to his beloved Ethiopia. This was, in fact, aborted by the precarious state of the country at that time that included the bloody red terror campaign. The flip-flopper did not take much time to change his mind and he immediately changed his destination from Finfinne to Khartoum. That is the irony of the whole story about Dima’s OLF Chairmanship and his subsequent rise in its ranks. When it comes to a claim of “first chairmanship”, he could have legitimately claimed his MALERID chairmanship until he was deposed by a certain Tesfaye Mekonen, in which ECHAT finally came to his rescue. ECHAT’s actions might have been a rapprochement, per se, to have him returned to the Oromo camp with his controversies all along. Dima also did not deny that his participation in the OLF was primarily for a camouflage in order to disguise himself as an Oromo nationalist on the surface while working as a counterbalance in favor of keeping Ethiopia intact, at heart. He has revealed this during an interview with Sisay Agena of ESAT television in 2011 or 12 on the eve of launching the Oromo Dialogue Form (ODF) to be followed by another ODF.
There are also more controversial late comers to the OLF leadership that now joined the ranks of ODF. The likes of Bayan Asooba, Leenco Baati and Hassan Huseen are all aspirants of the Ethiopian throne through the mighty miracles of their creator, Leencoo Sr. With no need to go far, the Trio servants were the main actors of the 2004 Bergen Conference with no results. This was followed by the OLF General Assembly in December of 2004 in which they all ascended to the OLF hierarchy. Somehow, Leenco Lataa had succeeded in consolidating a team of his proxies within the OLF on a stronger basis but to turn against each other in 2008, 2010 and keep changing course in 2011 and 2013 gain. God knows, what will come out of these renegades next. Bayaan was the first deserter in OLF’s history who naturally followed the same course ever since. During the 2001 Split, the dissidents’ (QC) main grievance against Shane Gummi was mainly the issue of Shane Gummi embracing Bayan Asooba in the OLF leadership. Partly, they were right: Byaan was not a type of beast that could not be tamed by the OLF as he simply could not coup up with its principles. Leencoo Baati was a man who turned the OLF office in Washington DC in to a Liquor Store and a butcher. Additionally, his clientele ship with the Ethiopian bars and nightclubs in the District of Columbia coupled with his cheap behavior had remained the basis of an embarrassment, not only to the OLF but to Oromo as a people . OLF is way much better off with no representation or an office than Leenco Jr.’s presence as the face of this organization in the World’s Metropolis. Hassan Hussein is vulnerable to any thing and as such could not be relied up on. There is not much to say about him since his own personal life speaks volumes.
Given the above controversial events and personalities within the OLF for so long, there is no wonder as to why the OLF was dwarfed. The prevalence of halfhearted “leaders” within the ranks of the OLF and two contending ideologies that could not co-exist, could sufficiently explain the odds of the OLF and most of the Organization’s handicaps to be intrinsic.
The Split, purge and some surrenders
Natural to many organizations, OLF suffered splits, purges and surrenders. The incumbent TPLF is also a living example to such course of events, but managed to attain its final goal of conquering political power in Ethiopia with persistent leadership and firm ideology. Most of you may recall the notorious propaganda drums of the then Ethiopian Television and radio in late 1989 that two dissident TPLF members namely Abraham Yaye and Gebremedhin Araya abandoned TPLF and joined the DERG’s WPE. The higher echelons of the ruling party had rejoiced and attempted to persuade the Ethiopian masses through their only propaganda outlets that the surrender of the two named above had sealed the fate of the TPLF. What happened in real life was quite to the contrary.
Similarly OLF had lost many to such practices from within its ranks and the foot soldiers alike. It is true that the Organization has been weak ever since its conception but the capitulation and half-heartedness never deterred it from pursuing the popular agenda it was conceived to pursue. Even long before the OLF became part of the short lived transitional arrangement, Ethiopia’s version of Paris Commune, in 1992, hundreds succumbed to Colonel Mengistu’s security personnel, though, the military regime was not interested in parading them on their TV screen. The reason was of course deeply strategic and it did work for the regime in that it kept OLF in obscurity for a lengthy period of time while its contemporaries such as the TPLF and EPLF were already publicized to the Ethiopian people and the international community as enemies of the State, the Ethiopian State.
In a new chapter that came after 1992, still many had abdicated the OLF but the most notable ones were those which were orchestrated by the seeds of today’s ODF. For one, the project of encamping OLF fighters in the midst of bloody skirmishes with the TPLF militia (TPLF’s militia because the peasants that arrived in Finfinne from the wilderness of Tigray are still very remote from being characterized as a standing regular army expected of a national defense force) in 1992 is blamed on the founder of OLF and ODF plus its senior associates. The issue of encampment is the epicenter of the controversies that has remained a mystery until today while ODF could be one of its organizational manifestations. The second phase of it could be the attempted sabotage of the 1998 General Assembly of the OLF in Mogadishu, Somalia even if the head of the saboteurs was partly clever enough for a while to cleanse himself by saying that the intention of him and others was to give way to a new generation of leadership. Because a spade is a spade, that same spade is also blamed to have orchestrated a controversial change of leadership through his proxies in 1999. This inflamed to the split of 2001 and subsequently the surrender of a certain Kumsa Gada in 2006 , the split of 2008 in the name of Reforming the Organization that attracted a crowd of newly arriving refugee peasantry with a very few pity elite at the top. The peasant crowd dispersed shortly but the venom of driving OLF compatriots out of the fields remained at work and reached its climax in 2011 when the onetime OLF executive committee Member who was in charge of its foreign affairs at one point, Licho Bukhra, paraded members of OLF’s southern command in front of the ETV Camera and foolishly posing as a war hero and leader of the group. Millions of Oromos express their anger and the shame brought to them by this OX when they remember that ETV footage and some even blame their very creature that destined them to be an Oromo. The national shame spearheaded by Licho Bukhra is, of course, widely believed to be orchestrated by ODF’s chief ideologue and executed by his henchmen.
Evidently, the ODF (Oromo Dialogue Forum) Cadres and now members of ODF (Oromo democratic Front) Central Committee were actively campaigning to win support for their scheme and their very points of persuasive strategy in this regard was that they (ODF both as a Forum and a Front even though there is no any distinction)claimed to have a very strong base in the country by clearly revealing that the likes of Kumsa Gada and Licho Bukhra are actively working for them as they were dispatched for this very purpose. In fact, the name Licho and Kumsa had a repelling factor or so to say a boom rang effect so that the “flexible” group shifted their propaganda of selling such familiar names as Obbo Bulcha Demeksa and Dr. Merera Gudina as having Conformity with ODF’s political ideology. The two “top leaders” of ODF had miserably failed their own cadres by bashing Dr Merera. In a meeting in Norway, Dima Nogo pronounced that the difference between his party and Merera’s Party is mainly that “Mararan Biira dhugaa qabsaa’a” while Dima did not have the courage to weigh in his own vagabondism who is primarily bent on auditing his supplies of perfume brands than the lots of Oromo people from day one. Very lately in another round of meeting in Colombus, Ohio again, Leenco Lata paraphrased that Marara’s original intention of forming a party was solely to partake in the rituals of the Ethiopian national elections every five years and to sit in their clumsy parliament. Other than that Marara has no basic grievances with the Ethiopian State System while HE (Leenco and his disciples) has fundamental differences with that very system, and hence are incompatible.
Those splits, purges and surrenders were finally concluded with the “resignation” of the newly hatched Diaspora members of the OLF in Europe and North America that was so theatrical and has remained a laughing stock for many. Some even sent their resignation Letters to the leaders of the OLF Central Committee, without an a priory knowledge of being known to the Organization as members. The irony of their resignation was that it was coordinated by their “New Visionary” Leaders as they had to follow a circular in which every member sending resignation letter to the OLF hierarchy should send the copy to all “resigning compatriots,” a mechanism for the bosses to oversee the checks and balances. The Prisoners Dilemma scenario had very much worked in favor of the shepherds, and less for the herd.
Whatever the outcome might have been, a series of purges, surrenders and resignations were all reflections of a very coherent and consistent course pursued by the ODF founding fathers with a permanent mission of weakening and disbanding the OLF for no less than four decades.
The “unthinkable” but the inevitable storm and the final divorce from the OLF
The man who was so controversial and so influential at the same time for close to four decades had to go per resolution of OLF’s Central Committee in October 2011. The most controversial figure of all times within the OLF in particular and that of the Ethiopian polity in general, Leenco Lata, fell from grace and sought refuge in to something one cannot call an organization for a man of his caliber. As I have reiterated above, Leenco was not in favor of divorcing from the OLF but he, apparently, was forced to depart as he himself testified on Radio program known as Simbirtu. He was heard saying with a shaky voice “na geggeessani” meaning they chased me away. This was very much unthinkable to him and to many but given his unruly tenure for so long it was inevitable. There is no any specific date for Dima’s departure from the OLF but he was even believed to be in paralysis for the last 20 years as he did not have any specific role. Apart from the five years he spent on his PhD in the United States, his role in the OLF was limited to being invited to meetings of the OLF as an Ex-Minister, Ex-Executive committee member and many other EX-attributes. Any ways, Dima’s departure has never been News and did not excite anyone for good or bad. He was a neglected man by the OLF to this extent since he was known for his shrewd moves and puffy persona with no use. Rather, his current tenure as ODF’s Vice president is very much akin to his OLF chairmanship 39 years ago. The last time Dima had made headlines as an OLF executive was when he surrendered his Jeep to the Kenyan gang in Nairobi back in 1995. Besides these two, all the foot soldiers of ODF today do not warrant to be enumerated as the divorcees of the OLF because they had never been a member as such but cheer leaders of the OLF in the Diaspora whenever needed.
The politics of Resentment
It is widely believed that Leenco’s infant organization is a serious miscalculation on his part because his deep resentment against the Shane Gumii OLF is the main driving force leading up to formation of this amorphous association known as ODF. It is true that he was yearning for so long to materialize the idea of democratic Ethiopia to be the final solution for all of the social, political and economic ills in which the Oromo question could also be resolved. But the quickly backed ODF has never been in his mind for the big scheme of “Democratizing Ethiopia”. Leencoo has always been straight forward in this respect: he believed that reforming OLF’s political program should remain the most desirable way to get there because dissolving OLF would meant for him assassinating ones’ own offspring. He was right but fell short of the principle he has harbored for close to four decades when that fateful day in October 2011 stormed him out of the very organization he took for granted as his own enterprise. Subsequent to his divorce from the OLF many discontented repenting Cadres and those who had been exhibiting a deep remorse for conspiring against Mama Ethiopia saw this as an opportunity to approach the bitterly disappointed man to come up with an irritant. The disgruntled individuals and disenfranchised groups in the Diaspora coupled with the dissatisfied cheer leaders finally flocked to a clandestine discussion group known as “Maree” or ODF Sr. Anger and resentment have become the common bond for the new franchise. ODF Jr. is an offspring of this series and that is why we say it has no form or shape nor content; it is just an irritant to the OLF as the main objective of it was also to act so. The reason is simple: OLF and ODF could not co-exist because they pursue a diametrically opposite end while claiming the same basis of Operation; one has to wither away for the other to march forward. In the immediate aftermath of ODF’s (the organization, not the forum) formation, its vice president was the guest of an Ethiopian Paltalk room managed by a certain Aba Mela or Berhanu Damte. Dima was asked as to what the fate the OLF would be in the face of the newly formed organization. Dima replied that OLF has evolved to ODF and he kept repeating the catch phrase in all of his subsequent appearances until very recently, even though it did not hold water. One has to read between the lines; Dima was short of saying that OLF was dissolved. At the same time he repeatedly attempted, though in vain, to give the impression that OLF’s transformation in to ODF was supposedly an outcome of a consensual process across the spectrum and hence is the legacy of the founders of the OLF-ODF is perpetual.
The Politics of remorse and repenting
Remnants of the “reformist” group who later joined the ranks of the ODF started to confess about their blindfolded Euphoria when they embarked on the infamous Jijjirama in 2008. They did not hide that they were overwhelmed by a cheerful crowd that was not cognizant of what it was cheering out for. The crowd, mainly composed of an agrarian subsistence farmers and pastoral clans in the southern belt of present day Ethiopia who emigrated to the to the United States, was equally overwhelmed by the abundance and the life style the “new homeland” had to offer and falsely convinced of a capability to take over the OLF as a closely knit clannish society with no alien interference. This is a very crude bunch that always alienates anybody outside of the clan structure. In other words, Oromumma is alien to this group unless one is recognized as a member of one of the clan layers as they know it.
The street smart pity elite of the “Reformists” woke up shortly after the quarter Million fund raiser finances started to dwindle away. They betrayed the very crowd that crowned them to a clan prominence and they were not shy to repent also. They said they were wrong while many believe they are still wrong because after repenting they did not come back the drawing board. They rather continued on their opportunistic path and are currently swimming in the pond of controversy. If joining ODF is a remedy to their repentance that is to be seen.
Those who were very much weary of their treason to Mother Ethiopia were incessantly hanging on the pendulum and have no way of getting off of it. A remorseful mind is always prone to fear and inferiority. This group is of no use to OLF or ODF, and for that matter to any project with an Oromo Prefix at all. ODF is a temporary sanctuary until they come up with another pretext for their guilt and remorse.
The yeast of the first ODF (the Forum) was fermented immediately after October 2011 and was “distilled” by late Spring of 2013 when the second ODF (the Front) was declared to be a culmination of a two year long thorough consultation with the “best and the brightest” of the Oromo Diaspora in Europe and North America. The Euphoric founding members and cadres went on a spree of press releases and interviews in which they were heard of boasting that they came up with a “New, really really New Vision” hitherto unheard of that is capable of building a very fair common home for all polities in Ethiopia. Paradoxically, some shallow cadres were also caught on tape saying that ODF’s goal is to seat an Oromo in Menelik’s Grand Palace and that is it. In principle, I am not against the desire of seating an Oromo at the helm of a political hierarchy in our own homeland. In fact, whatever the OLF or any other Oromo Political organizations were trying to achieve is to have an Oromo as our own leader in our own Country. But that can only be achieved when Oromos have power as a people and are free to seat or unseat whoever they deem right for the position. But beating a drum and blowing trumpets to crown an Oromo vis-a-vis empowering the Oromo people are absolutely incompatible acts.
The transition from ODF to ODF was relatively smooth even if some reports leaked about a small scale discontents during the last days of the second ODF’s founding congress. The rough terrain was blamed on some unruly protests regarding the naming of the new born and the flag the baby was supposed to hoist. Anyways, the protesters were easily subdued and succumbed to the majority mainly because they were cognizant of their fate if they continue the course as they had no any other political home to go to. They hate political homelessness and hence ODF is their best sanctuary for now.
As to what is next, Dima Nogo on Aba Mela Paltalk interview and Leenco Baati, on the Washington DC based Addis Dimts Radio interview hosted by Abebe Belew, already gave us an adequate hint that ODF will eventually evolve to EDF (Ethiopian Democratic Forces) and that they are working towards that end. This next move, as they naturally had to evolve to or otherwise surrender to the wholesale politics of Ethiopian citizenry, is a fetus being eagerly awaited by all sides of the aisle even if some satirists exclaim that what comes next will be a hermaphrodite as misconceived as it was and incapable of bearing anything meaningful.
Another hint coming from Finfinne indicated that ODF’s Liaison, also a Businessman in the “Real estate industry” who is an actual facilitator of the land grab, Abba Biyya Abba Jobir, had filed an application at the office of the Ethiopian Election Board to register ODF as one of the contestants of the 2015 Ethiopian national election. Abba Biyya had become instrumental in meditating the wealthy caliphates and sultanates of the Arabian Peninsula with the TPLF land grab tycoons and he was believed to amass some in the process. The comprador lately fled to Saudi Arabia in the wake of a tax evasion rumor he was sought for as he apparently did not pay taxes on the money gleaned from an intermediary role he played to get our country looted. In light of Abba Biyya’s absence as a liaison at the moment, ODF is said to have dispatched a replacement from Minnesota but this is not confirmed yet. Whatever the outcome of ODF’s application for election is going to be, it will come to light soon and we will take it from there.
The Multiple layers of the ODF membership
- The self appointed OLF founding fathers who claim an absolute right to drive the organization in any direction of their wish. This includes the controversial man (now President) and his co-hort. By the way, one awkward thing people comment on the structure of the ODF is that the title of President conferred to the man in charge of the entire drama and now at its helm. It is not that common for organizations like this to call the person at the top of the pyramid a “president”. Such positions are usually given the titles of Chairmanship or so. May be it could be part of the “New Vision” or nihilism at its best.
- Remnants of the leftist political groupings of the 1970s and 80s for whom the politics of vilifying Oromo Nationalism has worked superbly with ODF’s emergence. This group was originally the anti-thesis of the OLF in the early days of its inception and was known to have played a crucial ideological role in stabilizing and corona ting the military junta, just to be whipped by the very of soldiers they had helped ascend to the killing spree. This Neo-Marxist group was also a proponent of punitive campaigns against “narrow nationalists” that included OLF activists known and unknown to them. May be they were also victims of their own times and the Marxist preaching in which proletarian internationalism was accepted as a universal norm for man’s brotherhood and as a means to defeat humanity’s lots through it. After a lengthy hibernation, some members of the said group propped up with the birth of the first ODF, and in fact had become sub-ideologues of the process that ended with the second ODF. One thing they are good at it is that they intentionally assumed obscure but crucial roles in the process ODF Sr. & ODF Jr. went though. If things do not work as they wished; they can easily coil themselves in to their shells but for now they had achieved one important mile stone. With OLF’s & ODF’s founders claim or short of saying that Oromo nationalism is an outdated venture and OLF is irrelevant, this group’s original position of despising “narrow nationalism” was partly vindicated. Their final vindication would come with ODF’s assumption of the throne in a “Democratic multi-national Ethiopia,” as this was the main tenet they embraced under the slogan of proletarian Internationalism.
- Remnants of the WPE (ISAPA) and REYA functionaries of the last regime-the politics of nostalgia. This group is just good for nothing other than looking for an opportunity that they believed is, no matter what, attainable through Leencoo’s miracles and they did not want to lose a once in a life time opportunity. The nostalgic group, then, will go back to assume their surrogate roles for whoever is in power, all they need is their bossy gestures over the villagers to be restored. This group is useless for the ODF itself which the non-ISAPA ODFites are also well aware of. But they badly needed company at this juncture and anyone who believes in the scheme is welcome.
- The newly hatched members of the OLF in the Diaspora (the syndicated cheer leading cliques) whose politics of perceived self importance (the false consciousness) contributed to the defamation of the OLF as an Organization and paralyzed the Oromo social fabric in the Diaspora. OLF is, in fact, a victim of its own making when it comes to the wound inflicted up on it from this corner. The group encompasses the ones’ who were also tribal chiefs of the Reformist group and some low level cadres in Diaspora communities. Characteristically, these were also known by their fierce rivalries amongst themselves in the matter of hosting the visiting top OLF leaders in Europe and the United States as a show off of loyalty and allegiance. Behaviorally, the group did not change in essence, what has changed is just the visiting fellows. Besides these, there is not much to say about this group since their role was limited to either subordination or insubordination to the hierarchy depending on what is on the ground at a given time. If need be, it is still possible to unmask the social anatomy of each and every one of them and how their behavior affected the discourse of the Oromo movement. Some had presided over a large crowd of Diaspora Oromos in the process, and mistook their role for decisiveness. But the way they portray themselves and their “crucial” roles in the OLF is, of course, quite contrary to what is being said here. We will wait and see where they end up in ODF’s election campaign in the coming two years and thereafter.
- The elderly and the helpless is the last group lured in to adherence of the ODF simply because this group is always vulnerable to any news or project that would likely get them back home, and this is one of the strongest bastions in the arena of beliefs in Leencoo’s miracles.
More or less the process of the Forum and the Front during the last two years has brought birds of a feather together on a fragile basis. Fragile, because the chief ideologue’s love for OLF is still unconditional and he has no heart to dismantle it, if not for his bitter resentment against the Shane Gumi’s actions of October 2011. His and his Disciples’ attitude towards the OLF is also diametrically opposite. He cares(even though some argue otherwise) very much because OLF is his own making to the extent that the name Leencoo Lata and OLF were used to be interchangeably used for over three decades. Undeniably, Leencoo was the face of the Oromo revolution and hence the face of the Oromo nation at one juncture in our history. He also dearly paid a price in the name of the same OLF others are trying to assassinate. Therefore, their next move on the issue of their upcoming relationships with the OLF will be a defining moment to solve the paradox. Again Fragile, because some of the top leaders of ODF are inherently halfhearted (Dima et al) and inherently traitors (Bayaan Asooba), they have no problem of withdrawing their allegiance whenever they deem the time is right for them. The Neo-Marxists are already conscious of the possibility that things could go wrong and they already put themselves on the edge so that they can easily slide in to their usual past in any eventuality.
Further more Fragile, because the low level cadres had always remained the best spare parts for the fighting giants; it does not take them much time to shift their loyalty at any given moment. The remaining layers of the ODF membership do not warrant any further scenario analysis. Given all these possibilities, ODF is a house of cards for now unless foreign intervention (TPLF, Faranjis and True Ethiopian Nationalists) comes to their rescue or unless the main fortress from which ODF was assembled together to operate is those foreign forces from the very outset.
What is at stake?
The ODF will continue the course as long as Leencoo Lata remains at the top. If, for any reason, he leaves the post or ceases his activism, ODF will also cease to exist. If ODF’s resolve is to attain political power in Finfinne as it is yearning for it right now, every member and rank & file of the ODF as well as all Oromos have to be weary of a bloody battle that follows between Oromos supporting ODF and OLF. These two cannot co-exist due to the nature of their antagonistic destinations. So, ODF has to work hard towards completely eradicating the OLF, otherwise the OLF has to reciprocate the same course of action in order to clear ideological divides that is confusing the Oromo people. The fake proposition of tolerance uttered by both sides is of course a public relations exercise, but the self evident course would be the decimation of either of the two for the survivor to thrive. OLF’s and ODF’s co-existence and the call for futile tolerance have nothing to do with political pluralism. It is rather an imperative for existentialism as a nation.