Oromia Liberation Struggle: A Step Forward or Backward? Which way is it?

August 18, 2023

Kurfeessaa Sararoo

   The Oromo people have been struggling against the Abyssinian for more than a century and half. Their struggle involves two forms: The first one was a war of defense of Oromia against the conquest, and the second was a war of liberation from colonial occupation. War of defense of Oromia against the Abyssinian conquest that began in the 19th century were gallantly fought by Abishee Garbaa, Tufaa Munaa, Leenjiso Diigaa, and Bakar Waare.

Despite such unparalleled heroic defense, Oromia fell under Abyssinian colonization. Nonetheless, the struggle continued and even after the defeat, the Oromo people never lost hope or conviction to one day liberate Oromia from Abyssinian colonizers. For instance, after the defeat of Arsii in the war of 1886, Arsii Abbaa Duulaa Roobaa Buttaa told his conviction for the future independence of Oromia to his European guest du Bourg de Bozas in these words, “…The hour has not come, but it will come; perhaps our children will see the departure of the oppressor.” With this deep conviction, our people began the struggle for liberation of Oromiyaa from colonial occupation and alien domination. Accordingly, eight decades after the Arsii Abbaa Duulaa Rooba Buttaa clearly expressed his conviction to see a liberated Oromiyaa, General Waaqoo Guutuu the leader of the Baalee Oromoo uprising of the 1960s echoed the same conviction and sentiment when he made a vow to uproot the oppressor in these terms: “Gabrummaa dandeennu hiddaan Biqqofmaa; dadhabnuu ilmaan itti guddifanna.” A roughly translation of this to English is that they the General Waaqoo Guutuu generation would uproot the oppressor themselves if they could. If not, they would raise and prepare their children, the next generation of Oromos, to uproot it. These declarations made nearly a century apart, show our peoples convection to continue the struggle until the departure of the Abyssinian colonizers. Simply put, our people conviction is manifestly unshakable- as in fact has been seen since the colonization.

Here, one should understand that Abyssinia never conquered Oromia alone. It conquered Oromia with the help of local Oromo collaborators and European powers of the time, like Britain, France, Italy, and Russia. 

Table 1. Supply of Weapons and Ammunitions given to Menelik by the Europeans Countries.

     Countries      Rifles      Ammunition

    Britain         15, 000      5, 000, 000

    France          500, 000     20, 000, 000

    Italy           50, 000     10, 000, 000

    Russia          150, 000     15, 000, 000

    Total          715, 000     50, 000, 000

The European powers supplied Abyssinia not only with weapons and ammunition but also with military experts and mercenaries. This fact was recorded by R.H. Kofi Darkwah, in his 1975 book, Shewa, Menilek, and the Ethiopian Empire, 1813-1889, during Menelik’s conquest of Oromia, including the rest of the south. While the Abyssinians were fighting with this modern firepower, the Oromo had been fighting with traditional weapons like spears, swords, shields, and on horseback.It was under this condition that Menelik of Abyssinia exterminated five million Oromo people. 

  Here two things must be clear. First, Ethiopia is the outcome of rivalries among Britain, France, and Italy in the scramble for division of Africa. As one may recall, Britain wanted to connect its colonial Egypt to Kenya and Cape Town in South Africa; France wanted its Railway from its colonial Djibouti to Conakry in its colony of Senegal and West Africa; Italy to join its two colonies- Eritrea and Somaliland. Ethiopia is in between. So, instead of fighting over Ethiopia, they chose to support Abyssinia. On the other side, Russia did not want neither any of these countries to take over Abyssinia; so, it supported Abyssinia’s independence in the name of Christian brotherhood in Christ with it-both are followers of Orthodoxy Christianity. So, the Ethiopian empire was born out of the confrontation.

   The second question is as to why these countries failed to support Oromo. The reason is simple. There was no unity in Oromia at the time. Many regions of Oromia in the southwest, west, and north abandoned Oromo Gadaa Confederacy of governance and replaced it with kingdoms. All kingdoms had been fighting each other, and as a result, central Oromia developed individual warlords. These kingdoms and warlords allied with Abyssinia helping it conquer another region of Oromia. Kingdom of Wallaga and Kingdom of Jimma were among the Oromo Kingdoms that that allied with Abyssinia while Gobana Daaccee was the notorious warlord allied with Menelik and considered the protagonist of Menelik’s war of conquest of Oromia. Hence, the establishment of the Ethiopian colonial empire is the consequence of European military firepower assistance and the alliance of Oromo kingdoms and warlords with Menelik against the Oromo people. Now, this phenomenon of disunity is not new to this Oromo generation. The Oromo people did not fight in unity against the Abyssinia. Even today, in the 21st century, the Oromo renegades have been repeating what had happened in the 19th century all over again; Daawud Ibsaa Ayyaanaa’s ABO-shanee alliance with Qinijit (Coalition for Unity and Democracy-CUD) in 2006 was an example. Abiy Ahmed Ali’s OPDO and Mararaa Guddinnaa’s OFC standing to defend the unity of the Ethiopian settler colony is are another examples. Again, today as in the 19th century, there is no Oromo unity. Today in Oromia, warlords are in the making, and there is imminence for cult leaders to rise, not national leadership, to liberate Oromia. Daawud Ibsaa has never established himself as the leader of the OLF, but he became a cult leader of cult followers from his locality of birthplace. Today, Amharas have leadership, and the Tigrayans have leadership. But the Oromo do not have national leadership. Hence, no world community ever stands to help the people that do not have unity, collective leadership, a clear objective of struggle to achieve, and a mission. Indeed, these are the problems that the Oromo people have been facing. These have been the dangerously harmful conditions Daawud Ibsaa Ayyaanaa and his cliques put in the Oromo struggle since 1999. As it is often said, history repeats itself. Indeed, Daawud Ibsa repeated the history of the betrayal of Oromo kingdoms in the 19th century in their alliance during the conquest of Oromia. No soon had Daawud Ibsaa becomethe chairman of the OLF than he allied himself with Abyssinian organizations to undermine the unity of the Oromo people.

   No Oromo generation can ever forget this commitment to the struggle for independence of Oromia; the defense of Oromia took daily fighting, a fierce armed and political one. It was a war of defense of Oromia in which five million Oromo shed their blood, and others suffered from looting. During this war of conquest, the Abyssinians razed villages down and burned Oromo women, children, infants, and young and old alive. After the defeat, the liberation struggle continued to achieve total independence for Oromia. 

   With the conquest and annexation of Oromia, Abyssinia began the second phase. This phase is the administrative control of the colonial territories.Once the administration control over the colonial territories was firmly established, Abyssinia imposed the Amhara culture, language, and Orthodoxy Christianity on the colonized people. On the other hand, the colonialist outlawed the indigenous Oromo religion (Waqeffannaa) illegal, and burned down the Oromo religious Shrines (Glama Qaalluu) or often converted them to the Orthodox Church. Besides, to congregate to worship Waaqaa was prohibited. To achieve these, the Abyssinians built administration across Oromia, with the help of its patrons, the standing Army, to control the colonies solely from the Abyssinian population, meaning Amhara, Tigray, and Eritrea. Regarding this, Patrick Gilkes recorded as follows, in his 1975 book, The Dying Lion: Feudalism & Modernization in Ethiopia.

                     Army Officers-Origins

     Rank                    Origin        1970   1972

 Lt. Colonel & Above Abyssinians            85     73

                      Oromo                 12      21

                      Others                3       6

  Below Lt. Colonel   Abyssinians           75     70

                      Oromo                 25     30

Note: Gilkes puts Abyssinian= Amhara + Tigre + Eritrea.

Tigre + Eritrea = 10. As it is clear from here, within the Abyssinians proper, Amhara is the most dominant in terms of military and bureaucracy. For this, the longstanding conflict within the group is about who should control the resources of the colonized peoples and the pinnacle of power to have power over the resources. All have the same political and military positions regarding maintaining the colonial empire.  

   Of those army officers ranked Lieutenant Colonel and above, only General Taddessa Biru, Colonel Alemu Qixxeessa and Let. Colonel Mammo Mazamir joined and led the Oromo national liberation. All Oromo officers below the rank of Lt. Colonel had never been participants in the struggle. The reason is that the Oromo in the military were assimilated, as most Oromo scholars, and politically indoctrinated into Amhara culture, politics, way of life, and worldview. Consequently, Oromo soldiers in the Army were serving as the sword arm of the Amhara settler colonialist rulers. They have been engaging, continuously fighting for their Amhara masters wherever and whenever they are in need since the colonization of Oromia. Here what has to be clear is that Abyssinians have been controlling not only military and public civil service areas but also the dissemination of information over mass media channels in the empire.

   Moreover, the Oromo intelligentsia, political elites, and activists have proven to be utterly useless to their people’s struggle by failing to participate in and guide their national liberation struggle for independence in Oromia and in the international public diplomacy arena. This intelligentsia, political elites, and activists have been upholding a diametrically contrary political position to that of their people- federalization, democratization, and transitional government in the Ethiopian colonial empire. In contrast, the Oromo people’s political aspiration and struggle is to liberate Oromia from Ethiopian colony.

   After the conquest, the war of liberation against colonial occupation began across Oromia. Here are, for instance, of a few of them, the Azebo-Rayya revolt of 1928-1930; the 1936 Western Oromo Confederation independence movement established and applied to the League of Nations for recognition and membership; the 1941 Arsii armed revolt against the restoration of Haile Selassie from exile because during the Italian occupation, Arsii had already expelled all Amhara garrison of feudal soldieries from Arsiiland. This time, the fighting was against the return of Amhara to Arsiiland. These were all early Oromo resistance to reclaim their lost independence against the Ethiopian/Abyssinian colonial occupation and alien domination.

   Then these early struggles were followed by the Afran Qallo Hararge resistance in 1962 and the Bale Armed uprising of 1963-1970. The Bale armed uprising posed the most overwhelming challenge to the imperial Ethiopian colonial regime for the first time. Here the imperial Regular Army, Air Force, Imperia Bodyguard, Territorial Amy, and police Force failed to challenge the guerilla fighters. For this reason, the imperial regime became desperate and turned to its patrons to America, British, and Israel for help to rescue the empire from dissolving. At this junction, the British sent to Ethiopia over 400 British Army Engineers to build bridges and roads; America sent American Air Force experts to improve the firepower of Ethiopian Air Force jet fighters for more accurate air target strikes, the bombings of villages, terrains, trails, and hills, and the Israeli sent several Israeli counterintelligence and explosives experts to cope with the intelligence situation, to aid and guide the army. Then this was followed by the establishment of the Pan Oromo Maccaa Tuulamaa Association (MTA) in 1965. It raised Oromo national consciousness; it organized public meetings in villages, towns, and cities across Oromia. 

   These progressively successive steps leap forward revolts, resistances, uprisings, and movements in the struggles for the liberation of Oromia resulted in December 1973 a clandestinely organized conference meeting where the underground members of MTA, Hussein Sura, the leader of Ethiopian National Liberation Front (ENLF) based in Beirut, and Elemo Qilxuu, the leader of Oromo National Liberation (ONL) based in Yemen, were all in attendance. At the conference, the two names presented for choice for the organization were Ethiopian and Oromo. Hence, Oromo was chosen instead of Ethiopian. Not only this, but at the same time, the name Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and political program of struggle with the clear objective of the struggle adopted. Here, finally came the establishment of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), the pan-Oromo political organization with collective political leadership and a clearly stated political program of struggle, where the first guerrilla base was established in the Charchar Mountains in Hararge in November 1973 under the leadership of Hasan Ibraahim, popularly known as Elemoo Qilxuu. The heroic revolutionary patriotic leader, Elemoo Qilxuu, was martyred at one of the battles on September 5, 1974, while fighting against the Ethiopian colonial army. What one needs to remember here, is this, even though the activities, resistances, uprising, and Oromo consciousness had been growing throughout the years across Oromia against the Ethiopian Empire colonial rule, it was the sustained rural peasant-based armed revolt in Bale that played a significant role in encouraging and turning the Oromo resistances into the armed Oromo national revolutionary movement. In the end, as explained above, the name Oromo Liberation Front came by adopting Aden-based Oromo National Liberation under the leadership of Elemoo Qilxuu in the underground conference held by many nationalists, including Baaroo Tumsaa, Hussein Sura, and Elemoo Qilxuu, in December of 1973.

   Now, let me say a few obvious things. Since the colonization of Oromia and ever, violence has been perpetuated against the Oromo people by the successive Amhara settlers and their colonialist state elites, who have been using the state colonial power to maintain their theft of Oromo land and natural resources in partnership with the co-opted violent Oromo pan Ethiopianist imperial Ethiopia unity camp, along with violent Amhara settlers that they created behind the scenes. Along with the theft of Oromo land and resource, the successive Amhara colonial regimes have been encouraging routine abuses of the Oromo people by state security forces; not only this but also, they have failed to deal with the sources of violence within the Amhara settler colonists against the Oromo people.Even these settlers gained from the illegal wealth accumulation that has been taking place throughout Oromia since colonization. This Amhara settler colonialist’s illegal wealth accumulation created a climate of insecurity in Oromia to the Oromo people, enabling Amhara state elites to offer despotic power, often using it unfairly and cruelly as a solution while continuing to maintain their privileged access to the wealth and resources of the Oromo people.

  The Ethiopian colonial empire and its cruel treatment of the Oromo people has continued to date. Before 1960, the Oromo resistance to the colonial occupation was mainly by the peasants. Since the colonization, Oromo peasants had been resisting the successive Amhara colonial feudalist regime from taking their land away, dividing it among the Amhara colonists, and against paying taxes without service. The crimes of the Ethiopian colonial government against the Oromo people ranged from land and resource theft and oppression to the mass murder of the peasants. Throughout colonization, education was limited only to the feudal aristocratic classes. The larger populations of the empire were colonized people and consequently denied access to higher education. As a result, there was an absence of educated Oromo elites before 1960. Thus, fighting the colonial regime rested solely on the shoulders of the peasants; College and university education only began in the 1950s. So, the struggle of the Oromo elites against the colonial feudal regime commenced in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s with the appearance of the new generation of educated Oromo youths. So, the first struggle of the Oromo and other nations and nationalities students began with “Land to the Tiller” and “Education for All,” slogans followed by politics of “Ethiopia the prison house of nations and nationalities,” calling for various peoples in Ethiopia to be allowed the right to self-determination. Furthermore, in 1968 clandestine political papers published by Oromo students, Kana Beektaa? Do you know? The Oromos: voice Against Tyranny appeared in 1971. These articles raised the Oromo national consciousness, followed by the national colonial question of the Oromo people. Here the Oromo liberation forces appeared across Oromia. With this, Oromia was born, and the Qubee alphabet came into being. Oromiffaa became the language of work and instruction in Oromia. These happened while the Oromo struggle was still in progress. These achievements were possible under the fiercely patriotic nationalist revolutionary leaders like General Waaqoo Guutuu of United Oromo People’s Liberation Front (UOPLF), Sooressa Jaaraa Abbaa Gadaa of Front for Independent Democratic Oromia (FIDO), and Secretary General Galaasaa Dilboo of OLF, and many other patriotic nationalists.

Here, this short article is to point out ways the Oromo struggle has been under attack. The betrayal of the conviction of Roobaa Buttaa in the future independence of Oromia, that says, “The hour has not come, but it will come. Perhaps our children will see the departure of the oppressor.”  It is this conviction of Roobaa Buttaa, determination of General Waaqoo Guutuu, and the commitment of OLF to the independence of Oromia that those who have been and are struggling to maintain colonial imperial Ethiopia in the name of federalism, democracy, and the transitional government have betrayed. These Traitors do not want to see or wish to see the departure of the oppressor or the colonizer from Oromia.

 Now, it is to this problem that this article turns.

The Oromo independence struggle has been under attack since 1999 in two coordinated ways in coordination. The first attack is a directly targeted dismantling of the Oromo liberation front organizationally factionalizing its members into regions, villages, localities, and neighborhoods. This attack has been from within the organization; it is the mission of Daawud Ibsaa and his Horro Guduru groups. These groups are deserters who betray the OLF, the objective of the Oromo struggle, Oromia, and the principle of the national liberation struggle for the interdependence of Oromia. Upon seizing the leadership of the OLF, Daawud Ibsaa immediately abandoned the OLF political publications like Oromia Speaks, Karaa Bilisummaa (Way to Revolution), Sagalee Bosonaa (Voice from the Forest), and Bakkalcha Oromoo (Oromo Star). In an ironic contrast, under the leadership of Daawud Ibsaa Ayyaanaa, OLF took a sharp turn and allied with the Oromo enemy- the Amhara settlers, colonizers of Oromia. The Amhara have used Daawud Ibsaa and his Horro Guduru cliques as Trojan horses to undermine the Oromo struggle and divide the OLF. The second attack has been from within as well as from without. Without means, the political misinformation and disinformation of the cause of the Oromo liberation struggle for independence by the Oromo scholars.

   Here is how the within deserters have been pushing the Oromo struggle backward. Since the leadership of the OLF has overtaken in 1999 by the neo-gooban reactionary renegade Daawud Ibsaa Ayyaanaa, Leencoo Lataa, and Diimaa Nogoo, the Oromo struggle has lost momentum, and it has been taking a reverse direction ever a step backward, a backward regression. It means the Oromo struggle has been backsliding in Oromia since 1999, illustrating crisis after crisis, factionalizing the OLF, weakening the liberation struggle, undermining the Oromo unity, and generating local group identity rather than Oromo national identity. From the 1970s until 1999, they had been living in disguise as the “true” OLF members biding for their time until favorable time arrived for them in 1999. Then their true nature came into being in 1999 with the dismantlement program of the OLF. Daawud Ibsaa Ayyanaa was put in place in the leadership as a leader of the dismantlement of the OLF. Then, Daawud Ibsaa and his cliques created dysfunctional and hostile environments in the OLF, pitting members against members. For this purpose, the group devised a style for fighting as the in-group and out-group within the organization. Those from Horro Guduruu were in-group, and the rest were out-group. Such has been one method used in the dismantlement of OLF from within. The in-group members have been and are those who worship, glorify, and praise Daawud Ibsaa. These in-group members viciously attack out-group members who oppose or challenge the Daawud Ibsaa’s betrayal of the Oromo struggle for independence. With this, he carried out his job of dismantling the OLF.

   As stated above, the 1960s, 70s, and 80s were the height of Oromo unity and the struggle for independence. However, ever since 1999, up until now, Daawud Ibsaa and his Amharanized Horro Guduru elites have been paying lip service to the Oromo unity and struggle for independence of Oromia while practically fighting it, dismantling it, and choosing to ally with settler colonizers of Oromia. Here, one should not forget Fandalalaa Garbaa, the brother of Abishee Garbaa, who betrayed his brother and allied with King Tekle Haymanot of Gojjam, who repulsively killed Abishee. Then later, Fandalalaa gave Horro Guduru to Gojjam by betraying the cause Abishee Garbaa was fighting for in defense of independence. Fandalalaa became the ruler of Horro Guduru under Tekle Haymanot. After Menelik of Shawa defeated Tekle Haymanot of Gojjam at the Battle of Embabo in 1882, Fandalalaa surrendered Horro Guduru to Menelik of Shawa. Daawud Ibsaa Ayyaana of Horro Guduru has been the Fandalalaa Garbaa in Oromo struggle since 1999, betraying the Oromo nationalists and patriots, the Oromo unity, and the struggle for independence of Oromia in his alliance with the colonizers of Oromia.

   Hence, the Oromo struggle has encountered these horrendous conditions that have been purposefully created in support of the incompetent reactionary and Nafxnya collaborator Daawud Ibsaa Ayyanaa, the chairman of the now politically defunct ABO-Shanee, and his Horro Guduruu reactionary regressive cohorts. As it is clear to all informed and knowledgeable Oromo nationals, since 1999, Daawud Ibsaa Ayyanaa and his renegade cohorts have been fighting the OLF tooth and nail to undermine, divide, and factionalize its members tearing apart into regions, villages, and localities to destroy the OLF and the Oromo struggle for independence in favor of democratization of Ethiopian colonial empire. In a liberation struggle, stable political organization, national unity, and collective leadership with a clear objective, goal, mission, and vision are the engine or motors of achieving the targeted goal. These attackers from within disabled this engine of struggle, and consequently, the OLF divided six times into groupings. Hence, the Oromo national liberation struggle became paralyzed. Because of this, today, there is an absence of stable political organization, national unity, and collective leadership that inspire and unite the Oromo people with a clearly stated objective, goal, mission, and vision that are the engine or motors of achieving the targeted goal of liberating Oromia. I am afraid that unless a to timely remedy for the problem of this situation is available, there is a high chance for the emergence of a cult of personalities like Jim Jones and David Koresh of the USA or a warlord cult-like Joseph Kony of Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda that may become a mortal danger to destroy Oromia, the Oromo nation, and Oromummaa, like Somalia and its people.

   The second section of this article is to elucidate why the Oromo scholars give a wrong interpretation of the Oromo struggle. Here, the question is whether they have clarity on the objective of the Oromo struggle. The Oromo scholars’ unfavorable views are not predicated on their lack of clarity on the objective of the Struggle, but rather predicated on their entrench belief that Oromia is an integral part of Ethiopia, and that the Oromo question is an internal affair of Ethiopia that can be resolved within Ethiopia. It is on the bases of these erroneous views that they preach at every meeting, conference, and on mass media about federalism, democracy, and transitional government within Ethiopia. They have been feeding the Oromo youths with these misleading concepts. Ethiopia is a colonial empire. An empire has neither democratized nor federalized in history. History has proven time and again this to be true. Contrary to most scholars’ views, Oromia is not part and parcel of Ethiopia: Oromia is a colonized country. The struggle of the Oromo people is and has been for the independence of Oromia. Hence, calling for Transitional government, federation, and democracy within the colonial empire, including the colonized Oromo nation, is a disservice to and diametrically in direct contradiction to the Oromo’s struggle for independence of Oromia and the wish and aspiration of the Oromo people.

   The politicization and the politics of the Oromo nationals in the Ethiopian colonial empire since the fall of Haile Selassie are dangerous to the Oromo liberation struggle. With the overthrow of the Feudal regime of Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974, the political mobilization of the Oromo youths took on massive proportions, producing politically two types of Oromo nationals; on the one hand, Oromo nationalist activists, on the other, Oromo cohorts of Ethiopian empire activists – committed to Ethiopia first and Ethiopia or death. After 1999, the OLF leadership was overtaken by Ethiopian federalism and democracy first and Ethiopian federalism or death group led by the Oromo intelligentsia committed to Ethiopian empire. The leaders of this retrogression or a step backward of the Oromo struggle are primarily the ABO-shanee of Daawud Ibsaa Abyyaanaa and the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) of Mararaa Guddinna in coordination with OPDO. These groups have been struggling among themselves for power, not for the sovereignty and the independence of the Oromo state. In contrast, the Oromo nationalists advocated that power belongs to the Oromo people. Hence, power in the hands of the Oromo people is the essence of what the OLF has been struggling for since its inception, not in the hands of egotists, secretive, and selfish groups in the like of the leadership of ABO-shanee, OFC, OPDO and most Oromo scholars.

   Regarding these Ethiopianist Oromo nationals camp, Achamyeleh Tamiru, an Amhara extremist, in his article of May 14, 2019 titled “My perception of and reflection on the state of Ethiopia,” wrote:

At the moment many ‘unity advocate’ Oromo politicians and personalities are already abandoning the ‘unity camp’ and warming up to the Oromo supremacists. Mr. Bekele Gerba and people like Mararaa Guddinna are early examples that saw the inevitable power shift and positioned themselves accordingly even though they are not only an Oromo elite but also part of the very selected Ethiopian elite society according to most sympathetic Ethiopianists.

   Here, he observed that there are Oromo nationals whose political position shifts to Ahmara’s political position of the untouchability of the unity of the Ethiopian imperial state when Amhara gets strong and then back to Oromo when the struggle for independence of Oromia gets stronger. And so back and forth. Hoping on the unity of Amhara, Ethiopianist Oromo camp-Daawud Ibsaa, Mararaa Guddinna, OPDO and federalist Oromo scholar camp, Achamyeleh Tamiru he says this: “It is important to let the Oromo people and the Oromo nationalists know that they would never achieve their dream.” The goal he meant is the independent republic of Oromia.

   Of course, this mass mobilization also produced revolutionary youths who struggled in the mountains, valleys, lowlands, and highlands across Oromia. Through their sacrifice in the struggle, Oromia was recognized, the Qubee alphabet was accepted, the Oromo language became a language of instruction and work language, and others became a reality today. Because of their sacrifice in this political struggle for the liberation of Oromia, Oromo culture, norms, values, traditions, arts, beliefs, languages, history, worldview, democratic rules, identity, territory, and social and political institutions reappeared from under the shadow of Ethiopian colonial empire oppression and domination.

   Therefore, campaigning for the democratization of the Ethiopian empire defiles the memory of the millions of Oromo patriots and nationalists who sacrificed their precious lives in the struggle for the independence of Oromia in the fighting against the Ethiopian fascist colonial empire since the colonization of Oromia to date. The Oromo struggle has been and still is the war of liberation of Oromia; it is to liberate Oromia and establish a sovereign and independent Oromo republic. However, some Oromo elites have been opposing the independence of Oromia altogether in favor of a federal and democratic Ethiopian empire contrary to history.

   Since the campaign of conquest and colonization of Oromia, the Ethiopian colonial government has been heavily dependent on the cooperation and co-option of Oromo political elites, activists, and soldiers for colonizing, maintaining the colonial empire, administering, and controlling the Oromia and the Oromo population. These Oromo nationals accepted Ethiopian empire identity, its institutions, and political worldview. These groups have abandoned the Oromo national struggle for independence in favor of the democratization and multi-ethnic federalization of the Ethiopian colonial empire. The reason is that the successive government of the colonial empire has domesticated the minds or colonized the minds of these Oromo nationals to love the Amhara colonial masters, colonial cultures, morals, political worldview, and their colonial institutions over Oromia and the Oromo people. For this reason, the colonized and domesticated mind Oromo nationals love the federalization and democratization of the Ethiopian colonial empire instead of loving the struggle for the independence of Oromia. Consequently, many Oromo nationals today are taking a backward regression from the national liberation struggle, either by joining the empire democratization camp or by standing silently at the crossroads observing.

   The gist of the matter is the Oromo struggle is a war of national liberation to liberate Oromia from the Ethiopian empire. Throughout history, colonialist empires have never voluntarily granted independence to the colonial peoples, and so too the Ethiopian empire. Hence, colonialists must be forced to give up the colony. It can only happen when the national liberation struggle becomes so strong in quality and quantity that the colonialists cannot defeat it. Hence to achieve this goal, the Oromo freedom fighters have been waging a war of national liberation on behalf of the Oromo people to regain their lost independence fighting against the Ethiopian colonial empire to fulfill their legitimate and inherently inalienable right of self-determination- total independence of Oromia.

   Once again, our Oromo scholars have betrayed the true objective of the Oromo struggle. Here they have been purposefully obfuscating the concepts of self-determination-internal self-determination and external self-determination, the right to independence, and the right to secession. They purposely keep everything vague, simply saying self-determination. Here the question is as to the different interpretations of the concepts of self-determination, independence, and secession. To discern between different interpretations of these concepts, let us look at what the Transitional Charter of `1991 and the Constitution of 1994 say: The 1991 Transitional Charter Article Two, section C/ states: “Each nation, nationality, and people is guaranteed the right to exercise its right to self-determination of independence….” 

The constitution of 1994, Article 39, number 1. states: “Every Nation, Nationality and People in Ethiopia has an unconditional right to self-determination, including the right to secession.”

   Here, independence in the Transitional Charter stands for the colonized people under alien rule. Here, no other option except declaring independence; it is called external self-determination. Regarding Article 39, number 1, “unconditional right to self-determination, including the right to secession,” On one hand, it says “unconditional right to self-determination” on the other, it says “including secession.” Here is the difference. “Unconditional right to self-determination” means, first and foremost, the oppressed nationality is not under colonization and so not under alien rule. So, it has every right to decide its destiny within its motherland, in that state. However, the “right to secession” is the last option when genocide has been committed and when living in peace together becomes impossible beyond that nationality. At this point, the oppressed can opt, as a last resort, for secession from the Union.

   Again, here is where the Oromo scholars have been misleading or misrepresenting the Oromo question and the objective and solution to the Oromo question. We must understand that it is the interest of UN that colonialism must come to an end. Indeed, it ended except in Ethiopian empire. And for this The UN General Assembly Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples resolution 1514 (XV), Number 2. states that: “All peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right, they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social, and cultural development.”

   And further number 4. States that: “All armed action or repressive measures of all kinds directed against dependent peoples [colonized peoples] shall cease in order to enable them to exercise peacefully and freely their right to complete independence, and the integrity of their national territory shall be respected.”

   Furthermore, Conference of the Non-Aligned in 1964 in Cairo, Egypt in regard to the colonized people adopted a resolution Number 6. stating: “The process of liberation is irresistible, and irreversible. Colonized peoples may legitimately resort to arms to secure the full exercise of their right to self-determination and independence if the colonial powers persist in opposing their natural aspirations.”

   It must be clear from above that the right to self-determination applies only to peoples under colonial and alien domination. People usually take secession and self-determination as the same. It is important to distinguish their difference and tell the international community that the Oromo people are the colonized people and fighting against the colonizers the Amhara colonial regime. The word secession applies to oppressed minority groups within an independent state; it applies to internally oppressed minority nationalities. And it is referred to as internal self-determination, while for the colonized people, the question is of external self-determination. Hence, internal self-determination means the government is not representative of its minority people. In this case, if the minority groups suffering oppression, exploitation, dehumanization, and genocide committed against them within an independent state that they claim as their motherland or fatherland, they have the right to seek self-determination. Here internal self-determination can be in the form of autonomy, federation, or confederation, and the last resort is an independent state. Examples of the last resort taken are the independence of Slovenia, Croatia, and others from Yugoslavia; South Sudan from North Sudan and Eritrea from Ethiopia. Here, all seceded from their motherland or fatherland. The colonized people do not secede, but they get rid of the colonizer from their country.

   And we should not confuse right to self-determination with secession as we find in the Ethiopian empire constitution of 1994, article 39, and numbers 1. We should ask why the TPLF changed Article Two, section C of the Transitional Charter that states “Each nation, nationality and people is guaranteed the right to exercise its right to self-determination of independence” to “Every Nation, Nationality and People in Ethiopia has an unconditional right to self-determination, including the right to secession.”

   To answer this, we need to understand TPLF politics. The Tigrayans see their ancestors as the founders of the Ethiopian state, dating back to the Axumite times. Not only this but also, Emperor Yohannes IV was a Tigrayan who initiated the conquest of the South, including Oromia, at the Boru Meda Conference in 1878 and assigned the conquest expedition to King Menelik II of Shawa and King Tekele Haymanot of Gojam. Oromia and the peoples of the south had never been under Abyssinia before Yohannes IV. Hence, as it is said, Tigrayans see no difference or contradiction between “being Tigrayan” and “being Ethiopian” So, for the TPLF to keep the word independence in the constitution is the dismantlement of Ethiopia. And it is against its historical claim and interest in political and economic control and dominance. Maintaining independence implicates the existence of colonized countries in Ethiopia, and now the TPLF is the colonizer. Once replaced independence with secession, the TPLF argues that all people become oppressed nations, nationalities, and peoples of Ethiopia like the Tigrayans. The fact is and has been Tigrayans have been and are the partners of Amhara in the colonization of Oromia and the South altogether. The TPLF wanted to camouflage the role of its ancestors in the conquest and colonization of Oromia and other territories of the South. The struggle between Amhara and Tigrayan is and has been over power and resources of the colonized peoples.

   In contrast to self-determination, secession is not a legitimate form of self-determination. For example, Eritrea secedes from Ethiopia, South Sudan from North Sudan, Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina from Yugoslavia. All these seceded countries were not colonized countries nor under alien domination. All claim their respective country as a motherland. The problem was governments of the respective countries were not equally representative of all people. All faced oppression, killings, human rights violations, and ethnic genocide. Hence seceding became the last option. On the other, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan were under the Russian Empire. They made legitimate self-determination. All were entitled to claim the right of self-determination and unilaterally declare their respective independence according to territorial and political integrity. Russia did not oppose their separation from it.

   As one remembers, the “Agenda for Peace” of ABO-shanee considered the Oromo question as a question of the right to internal self-determination. In rejecting ABO-shanee’s argument, Obbo Abiyyu Galata, the great Oromo scholar, responded in these terms in Oromiffa.

In Obbo Abiyyuu Galata’s word: Yaada ABOn gaafii ummata Oromoo addunyaa hubachiissuuf rakkina qaba malee, addunyaan gaafii Oromoo irraa rakkina hin qabu. Idileetti yoo ilaalame, addunyaan nagaa fedha….Haata’u malee, ummatni garboofatame gaafii bilisummaa kaasuun addunyaa biratti akka farra nagaatti hin ilaalamu….Mootummaan Itoophiyaa furmaata nagaa akka hin feene addunyaa hubachiissuuf, nagaa akka fedhu dhiibbaa uumuuf, murteessaan JABINA QABSOO OROMOO qofa.

   Roughly translated in my words, Obbo Abiyyuu Galata’s word in the rejection of Agenda for Peace of ABO-shanee: “The idea for a solution…” says to find sympathy for the Oromo struggle… The ABO has difficulty making the world aware of the demands of the Oromo people, but the world has no problem with the demands of the Oromo people. Naturally, the world wants peace. However, the colonized people’s demand for freedom is not considered anti-peace by the world…. The only crucial factor in making the world aware that the Ethiopian government does not want a peaceful solution and pressuring it to peace is the STRENGTH OF THE OROMO STRUGGLE.

   The pushing of the Oromo struggle a step backward have many dimensions; not only what has been discussed above. The misreading of the right of self-determination is one issue. At the Bergen Conference of 2004, Daawud Ibsaa spoke on the topic titled “PROSPECTS FOR OROMO STRUGGLE UNDER THE PREVAILING SITUATION,” telling his audience that the Oromo question is the question of oppressed people. Here is what said he: We in the OLF believe that there should be a guarantee that all peoples will have the right to self-administration within their own demarcated and sovereign area to develop their language, preserve their culture, manage their economic resources and better their lives. Human Rights, Rule of Law, separation of state power, multi-party democracy with free and fair election, free enterprise, sanctity of private property, the rights of national minorities, religious freedom and all relevant UN and international conventions will provide the basis for such a charter (Edited Pausewang, Siegfried. Exploring New Political Alternatives for the Oromo in Ethiopia, Chr. Michelsen Institute Report (CMIREPORT), Bergen, Norway, 2004, PP. 59).

   His statement means the Oromo questions can find a solution within Ethiopia proper. Here, he is talking about internal self-determination that has nothing to do with the colonial question. The issues he listed are the questions of the oppressed nationalities within the country whereby their ancestors lived in as motherland or fatherland, and they, the descendants now living in as mother country or father country as their ancestors. But now they face oppression, exploitation, human right violation, ethnic cleansing, and discrimination by the majority. His listed points and more, including autonomy and confederation, are the way to resolve internal self-determination. Never forget, he is the Trojan horse of Amhara who made the Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (AFD) with CUD in 2006, the most fascist extremist anti-Oromo Amharas organization in abandoning the OLF political program and the objective of the Oromo struggle for independence.

Meles Zenawi’s Policy on Oromo vs Abiy Ahmed’s

   Meles Zenawi’s policy on Oromo and Abiy Ahmed’s are the same. Indeed, Abiy’s policy on the Oromo is a carbon copy of Meles Zenawi’s policy. The two policies are discussed here. First, Meles Zenawi’s policy and then Abiy Ahmed’s policy. There were two underpinning of Meles Zenawi’s policy regarding Oromos. One was Meles Zenawi’s speech to the Parliament and the other was the TPLF’s Party Journal. First, Meles Zenawi spoke in the parliament about the TPLF’s policy of exterminating the majority into a minority in these terms, “the majority can be reduced to a minority,” a reference to the Oromo people. Then in 1996, the declaration of the intent to exterminate the Oromo population was published in the TPLF’s Party Journal HIZBAAWI ADERA Volume 4, Number 7, in December 1996. It reads as follows:

In order to have the lasting solution to our problem, we have to break narrow nationalists in Oromia. We have to defeat narrow nationalism to the bitter end to smash it in a very decisive manner. We have to fight the higher intellectual and bourgeoisie classes in a very extensive and resolute manner. The standard bearers of narrow nationalism are educated elite and bourgeoisie, businessmen and women, political and cultural elite. We must be in a position to eradicate all narrow nationalists.

 Meles Zenawi’s and his EPRDF party’s policy of intent to exterminate the Oromo people were implemented for twenty-seven years of EPRF rule. Here, the TPLF/EPRDF regime undertook the destruction of Oromo socioeconomic elites, political leaders, military officers, businessmen and women, religious leaders, political activists, cultural and intellectual figures, and the youths.

   In 2018, TPLF’s dominance of the EPRDR and control of the government ended and Abiy Ahmed came to power. Since his ascendance to power was largely because of the Qeero/Qarree (Oromo youth) uprising, and since he himself was assumed to be hailed from ethnic Oromo, it was thought that the persecution of the Oromo people would end. On the contrary, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed continued Meles Zenawi’s policy towards Oromo. One may wonder why a Prime Minister purported to be an ethnic Oromo whose power was possible because of Oromos would pursue and implement Meles Zenawi’s and TPLF’s policy of exterminating the Oromo people. To understand this, we must first consider who Abiy Ahmed is. Despite all that has been written and said about him, Abiy Ahmed remains an enigmatic person-even his ethnicity, his name, and his education being a source of controversy.

With respect to his ethnicity, Abiy alleges that both his parents are ethnic Oromo. Despite his claim, this is not substantiated with certainty. In 2019 Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony, Berit Reiss-Andersen chair of the Nobel Committee said the following:

    Dr. Aby Ahmed, we are aware that during the course of your life, you have walked several different paths. Dr. Abiy Ahmad, you were born into a traditional family of simple means. To a mother who was an Amhara Orthodox Christian and to a father who was an Oromo Muslim. Diversity seems to be in your origin.

Evidently, Abiy’s claim about his parents is different from what the Nobel Committee Chair said about his parents. Even if we consider what was said about Abiy Ahmad’s father in Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony, that his father was an Oromo, it did not prevent Abiy Ahmad from implementing Meles Zenawi’s policy of committing a genocide on Oromo, as seen from his action since coming to power. In fact, there is a precedent in Rwanda which Robert Kajuga the president of the National Interahame whose father was ethnic Tutsi and mother was ethnic Huttu perpetrated genocide of Tutsi-his father’s ethnic group. Similarly, Abiy Ahmad colluded with his mother’s ethnic Amhara and committed genocide on Oromo.

   Abiy Ahmad’s anti-Oromo disposition was evident as soon as he come to the power in 2018. At his very first inaugural speech as a prime minister, Abiy alluded to returning Ethiopia to its past glory. Mind you, Ethiopia’s past glory was built on the supremacy of the Amhara ethnic group and the Orthodox religion where genocide and persecuting of the Oromo people and other people in the south were made central tenet of the state. Thus, Abiy’s nostalgia for Ethiopia’s past glory shows his predilection for Amhara and Orthodox religion dominated Ethiopia, persecuting the Oromo people and other nations and nationalities in the south.

Not only did Abiy Ahmad promised to restore Ethiopia to its past glory, but he also extolled emperors Menelik II and Haile Selassie who reigned during “glorious times” in Ethiopian history. In so doing, he dismissed grievances against Ethiopia’s emperors and Orthodox religion, which controlled nearly a third of the land during the Imperial era, as exaggerated sentiments, or false narratives. He even erected a life-size wax replica of Emperor Haile Selassie and Menelik II in the palace. This is an affront to Oromo people who suffered the Harka Muraa Harma Muraa at Aanole, the annihilation of at Calii Calanqoo during the reign of Emperor Menelik II and myriad of atrocities during the reign of Haile Selassie.

   While Abiy is preaching “Medemer” Unity of Ethiopia to appease the Amhara, he is deliberately and constantly spewing poison of regionalism among Oromo to weaken and divide them. For instance, when he visited Baalee, he deliberately referred to the Oromo language as “Afaan Baalee” and “Afaan Gujii” as if the people in Baalee and Gujii regions speak different languages. Abiy’s reference to Afaan Oromoo as Afaan Baalee or Afaaan Gujii wasn’t “a slip of the tongue” or an innocent misstate but rather a carefully thought and deliberate act to sow discord and mistrust between the people of the two zones-Baalee and Gujii zones. Creating division and mistrust among Oromo is not the only way Abiy is weaking our people. Suppressing the Oromo language, culture, and identity from flourishing is another destructive path he chose to marginalize out people and heritage. Following this path, he prohibited Afaan Oromo from. being taught in Finfinnee, the capital city of Oromia, forbade to sing the Oromo national Anthem and the Oromo flag flown over Finfinnee, the heartland and capital of Oromia. 

   Now turning to his name Abiy Ahmed was formerly known as Abiyot Kasaye Balayne. He later took the name Abiy Ahmed Ali as a member of EPRDF to take political advantage over the weakness of OPDO. He joined the TPLF at an early age and grew up in Tigray. Consequently, he is a brainchild of the TPLF political orientation and indoctrination. As an apostle of Meles Zenawi and TPLF, Abiy follow their policy to exterminate Oromos. 

   Dr. Milkessa Miidhagaa, the former senior member and central Committee member of the OPDO and later Oromo Democratic Party (ODP), told Adde Soretti Kadir, in the OMN interview that at the Central Committee meeting, Abiy Ahmed let know the meeting that his party, the Prosperity Party (PP) needs to follow the “TPLF and the Eritrean model whereby no dissensions permitted to exist within the party.” Dr. Milkessa Miidhagaa told Adde Soretti Kadir, the host on the OMN, during the interview that PM Abiy Ahmed made it known to the OPDO Central Committee meeting that he has a “New Plan: how to eliminate number one potential enemies -the Oromo youth movement, the Oromo nationalists, political leaders, all competing forces armed and unarmed.” This Abiy Ahmed’s New Plan is a carbon copy of the TPLF’s policy blueprint as documented on Hizbaawi Adera (1996).

   Then the implementation of the New Policy began across Oromia, with the mass murder, killings, jailing in mass, and assassinations of prominent personalities and the erecting of memorial statues for Menelik, the enemy who annihilated five million Oromo people. Today, the Oromo people have faced a strange century, a century of the fabricated “Oromo government” committing genocide against its people. It is a century in Oromo history that an enemy organized group transformed itself and claimed to be the Oromo government and yet established dark political control across Oromia hierarchically from the echelon of the ruling group down to the village levels by creating “Gachena Sirna” structures, meaning system shield structures networks in all areas of Oromia for surveillance of the local population to control information and obstruct the sociopolitical economic movement of the Oromo people. Gachena Sirna structure is oppressive hierarchical structure, a system of trappings, a state of lawlessness, egregious corruption, robbery, stealing, chaos, fear, misinformation, disinformation, imprisonment, and killings of innocent Oromo nationals.

   Since Abiy Ahmed came to power pretending, the Oromo national, his party has been committing genocidal crimes against the Oromo people. The Oromo people have not got peace and security; outrageous and outright criminal acts have been committed against the Oromo people since he became PM of the Ethiopian empire. They were bad under the TPLF rule and are now in worse condition than then. Regarding this, Lovise Aalen, a senior researcher at the Chr. Michelsen Institute (MIC), wrote that “The war in Tigray is also not the only violent conflict going on in Ethiopia. In Oromia, Ethiopia’s largest region, the government is waging a counterinsurgency against the Oromo Liberation Army, using drones, severely affecting civilians.”

   In conclusion, this paper has discussed the reasons that have been and are weakening the Oromo struggle since 1999. So, the struggle has been and still are taking a step backward and have has not recovered yet. Now, the question is how to overcome these seemingly unending problems created by the Oromo nationals of the Ethiopian unity camp of Daawud Ibsaa and Mararaa Guddinnaa. These camps have been the most dangerous ever since 1996, Mararaa’s leadership of the Oromo National Congress (ONC) and the now Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) and following 1999, Daawud Ibsaa’s leadership of ABO-Shanee. Here is a way to go forward. To reverse this problem of the dark shadow of political backward sliding in the Oromo struggle in favor of the Ethiopian colonial empire by the Oromo federalist Ethiopianist unity camp and to take the Oromo struggle forward in progressing forward to the Oromo’s goal of the independence of Oromia in dismantling the empire now is the time without a shadow of a doubt to have a credible stable political organization, national unity, and collective leadership that inspire, organize, and unite the Oromo people with a clearly stated objective, goal, mission, and vision to lead the struggle to its final conclusion to the liberation and establishment of the sovereign, independent democratic republic of Oromia. Despite ups and downs, returns and twists, and a step backward because of ABO-shanee, OFC, OPDO, and some Oromo Ehiopianist camp scholars, the marching forward of the Oromo people and nationalists shoulder-to-shoulder to achieve the independence of Oromia is unstoppable and irreversible and indeed this has been and is the law of history.

Once again, to reiterate, it is now time to come out of this entropic politics of polarization by region, religion, empire federalization, empire democratization, and the fictitious transitional government that Daawud Ibsaa and his cronies put the Oromo nationalists in the OLF. By overcoming these entropic politics, it is possible to achieve the objective of the Oromo struggle within a short time- the objective being the unity of the Oromo people, the nationalists, and the formation of the free independent democratic republic of Oromia.

Independent Now!

Independence forever!

Ijifannoo Ummata Oromoo!

Oromiyaan Ni Bilisoomti!


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