May 10, 2023
Oromiyaa is a land of great freedom fighters, the land of patriots. It is the land that produced great patriots and invincible revolutionary nationalist heroes and heroines throughout history. Ever since the Abyssinian campaign of colonization of Oromiyaa, the Oromo patriotic freedom fighters have been fighting and sacrificing their lives in the struggle for the defense, protection, and independence of Oromiyaa. Such is also the case with Cubans, Chinese, and Vietnamese freedom fighters who defeated their adversaries.
Throughout the historyof colonialism, revolutionaries from various countries around the globe embarked on a struggle to remove colonial occupation from their respective countries. Of these countries, here, I only referred to China, Cuba, Vietnam, and Oromiyaa. The other three countries had defeated the colonial powers and have been sovereign ever since. However, Oromiyaa is stillfighting. The names of Oromo patriotic, revolutionary nationalists who fought and sacrificed their lives in the War of Independence are as follows,General Taddessa Birruu, General Waaqoo Guutuu, Jaaraa Abbaa Gadaa, Elemoo Qilxuu, Maamoo Mazamir, Haylee Fidaa, Baaroo Tumsaa, Gutamaa Hawas, Mul’is Abbaa Gadaa, Galaasaa Dilboo, Nadhii Gammadaa, Damisee K. Sardaa, and more. In Vietnam,HO Chi Minh, inChina MaoTse–tung, and in Cuba Fidel Castro and Ernesto Che Guevara were successful in liberating theirrespective countries. As it is well known, Cuba fought and defeated the Imperial USA dominance; China fought and defeated the Japanese Imperial power, and Vietnam fought and defeated the imperial United States. Oromiyaa is still fighting its war for independence.And yet,Oromiyaa is still not liberated, still under colonial occupation. The liberation struggle is stillgoing on. We must acknowledge, adorn, and respect these great unsung heroes for their determination and their love for their respective countries and people without a shadow of a doubt. All of them sacrificed their lives for their respective countries.
Despite having not yet liberated Oromiyaa, Oromo nationalist heroes and heroines played a critical role in the struggle for independence of Oromiyaa. They achieved a lot despite the disadvantages they faced from within and without. A few of the disadvantages are some Oromo nationals allied with the Abyssinians against the Oromo struggle for independence. Some Oromo political activists have been collaborators working in favor of the Ethiopian colonial empire in opposition to the
Gen/ Waaqoo Guutuu Ernesto Che Guevara Guutamaa Hawaas Mul’is Abbaa Gadaa
Maamoo Mazamir Baaroo Tumsaa Fidel Castro Nadhii Gammadaa
Elemoo Qilxuu Chairman Mao Tse-tung Galaasaa Dilboo Damisee K. Sardaa
Gen/ Taddessa Birru Ho chi Minh Jaaraa Abbaa Gadaa Dr. Haylee Fidaa
Gen/ Waaqoo Guutuu Ernesto Che Guevara Guutamaa Hawaas Mul’is Abbaa Gadaa
Maamoo Mazamir Baaroo Tumsaa Fidel Castro Nadhii Gammadaa
Elemoo Qilxuu Chairman Mao Tse-tung Galaasaa Dilboo Damisee K. Sardaa
Oromo national struggle to restore the sovereignty of Oromiyaa. Especially the majority of Oromo elites have chosen to remain silent, standby observers, and indifferent as the colonialist Abyssinians committing war crime, crimes against humanity, and act of genocide, against the Oromo of Oromiyaa, and cleansing the Oromo from their land, exploiting the resource of Oromiyaa, impoverishing the Oromo people. Here, enemies without means external enemies- the Nafxanya settler colonizers. In politics, silence meant cooperation. Today, there are silent and indifferent Oromo nationals as neo-Nafxanyaas- the neo-Menelik extremists, once again renewed committing heinous crimes against the Oromo people.
Mootii, Faayoo. “GEERARE Didaan.” YouTube, uploaded by News ET Social, 2017.
Notwithstanding these disadvantages, the Oromo patriots achieved much in this national struggle. First, they inspired the Oromo people to unite. Second, they instilled in the Oromo people the confidence and desire to struggle for a common cause to fight for freedom, justice, respect, dignity, and liberation of their country from Ethiopian imperial colonial occupation.
Third, they have recorded significant achievements, namely the name of Oromiyaa, its map, and name of Oromo restored, and the history, culture, and language of Oromo-Oromiffaa have been restored. They had been the greatest Oromo patriotic freedom fighters in history in the like of Leenjisoo Diigaa and Bakar Waare. Today, most of them are not with us. And all sacrificed their precious lives in the liberation struggle. Besides these, these Oromo freedom fighters left behind the legacies of bravery, strong determination, resolve, and unwavering patriotism to fight for freedom, independence, justice, and dignity for the Oromo people. Indeed, these Oromo patriotic nationalists are neither dead nor forgotten, and the victorious spirit of their ideas, their determination to fight, and their sacrifices for justice, dignity, human right, liberation, and independence of Oromiyaa live on in the hearts and minds of this Oromo generation and the generations yet to come. Here, I have only listed a few among the thousands of the most prominent Oromo freedom fighters, along with the world-known ones like Mao Tse-tung, Fidel Castro, Ho Chi Minh, and Ernesto Che Guevara, the most famous freedom fighters in modern history. Symmetrically, the Oromo revolutionary freedom fighters also sacrificed their lives in the war of national liberation struggle for the independence of Oromiyaa.
As it is well known, with the occupation of Oromiyaa, the successive Amhara colonial governments removed the names Oromiyaa and the Oromo from history, then stripped the Oromo people of their human, economic, and political rights. Following these, the colonialists actively engaged in a fiercely destructive attack on Oromiyaa and the Oromo people, their history, their culture, their language, their waqeeffanna religion, and their Gadaa system and institutions and undertook their replacement with the Amhara culture, language, religion, and feudal system and institutions. Not only these but also the cities, towns, and villages given the Amhara names, and the streets, roads, hospitals, clinics, and schools in Oromiyaa and the other colonized nations and nationalities in the South were all named after Amhara leaders and personalities.
Again, the fact that is well-known to all is, since the colonization and occupation of Oromiyaa, the Oromo nationalists have been fighting the colonial occupation. As stated in the above paragraph the Oromo patriots recorded significant achievements, namely the names of Oromiyaa and Oromo, and history, the culture and language of Oromo have been restored, even though Oromiyaa is still under colonial occupation. The Amhara names of the cities, towns, villages, etc., are not changed to the Oromo names, and the statues built for Amhara leaders are still intact and need dismantling.
These great Oromo patriotic freedom fighters had never compromised the principle and the goal of struggle and the cause of their people, the Oromo people. These Oromo heroes and heroines sacrificed their precious lives for Oromiyaa, their homeland, without regard for their safety. For this, the Oromo people should recognize, acknowledge, and adorn them to remember them daily by erecting statues for them and naming parks, streets, roads, Highways, schools, hospitals, and clinics after them in Oromiyaa’s cities, towns, and villages across Oromiyaa.
Ironically, today in the 21st century, PM Abiy Ahmed and his cohorts, being Oromo nationals, as soon as they occupied the position of governing the Ethiopian colonial empire having taken political power from TPLF, immediately resorted to building Statue for Menelik II, the man who committed genocide against the Oromo people, exterminating five million of their Oromo and mutilated breasts of Oromo women and hands of men. And also claiming the name of the Oromo government, erected a statue for Haile Selassie, the man who dispossessed the Oromo people from their lands in favor of the Amhara settler colonizers, committed ethnic cleansing against the Oromo people, committed crimes against Oromo humanity, committed genocide on the Oromo language and culture through the policy of Amharization, and yet build Statues for these Oromo enemies, in Finfinnee, the capital city of Oromiyaa, in the heartland of Oromiyaa. Not only this, but his administration also denied the Flying of the Oromiyaa Flag over Finfinnee and its schools by surrendering to the demand of neo-colonialist Amhara Nafxanyaa. Here, the question remains as to why Abiy Ahmed and his cohorts built a memorial statue for Menelik II, the enemy of the Oromo people, and yet failed one for Leenjisoo Diigaa, a patriot who numerous times humiliatingly defeated Menelik II and one for Bakar Waare in Finfinnee, the capital City of Oromiyaa and elsewhere in Oromiyaa for these Oromo patriots and the nationalist freedom fighters who fought against Menelik II of Abyssinia. Such is the question for the Oromo people, nationalists, and patriots to ask.
As stated in the above paragraphs, throughout history, the Oromiyaa has been the land of militants and patriots, similar to other countries. Here, I would like the Oromo nationals to understand what it meant a resolve and determination of patriotic nationalists. To understand it, one can learn from the words of Fidel Castro and Maamoo Mazamir about their bravery and courage in facing condemning their respective adversaries in public while in their custody. Fidel Castro was charged and tried for treason by the Fulgencio Batista military dictatorship regime. Being a lawyer, Castro bravely defended himself and his comrades and the cause of the Cuban struggle at the court. In the closing of his defense, he has to say this to the Judges:
“I know that imprisonment will be harder for me than it has ever been for anyone, filled with cowardly threats and hideous cruelty. But I do not fear prison, as I do not fear the fury of the miserable tyrant who took the lives of seventy of my comrades. Condemn me. It does not matter. History will absolve me.”
Likewise, Maamoo Mazamir, the Oromo patriot, was falsely accused of treason by Emperor Haile Selassie’s autocratic feudal regime and ordered his execution by hanging; this great Oromo patriot, in defense of himself and the Oromo cause, unflinchingly told his adversaries with courage and bravery in these terms from the hanging stage. Here are his most often quoted words:
I do not die in vain. My blood will water the freedom struggle of the Oromo people. I am certain that those who sentenced me to death for things I did not do, including the emperor and his officials, will receive their due punishment from the Ethiopian people. It may be delayed, but the inalienable rights of the Oromo people will be restored by the blood of their children.
Prof. Mohammed Hassen, in his article “The Development of Oromo Nationalism” in the book Being and Becoming Oromo, quoted Captain Maamoo Mazamir’s letter to the leadership of Bale armed resistance on September 10, 1965, encouraging and supporting the Bale Oromo armed struggle. Here is the letter:
…The history of mankind shows that a people who rise in the struggle for freedom and independence, in defiance of death, is always victorious…The life and death struggle of the oppressed masses in the Ethiopian empire against the hegemony of the Amhara and their elites headed by the American imperialism is sacred liberation struggle of millions of oppressed and humiliated people… That struggle will surely intensify in the course of time, as oppressed people’s organizational means and consciousness become deeply rooted. As you learnt in our discussion, the Macha and Tulama democratic movement, which was created to raise the consciousness of the Oromo people, isthe present concrete situation working day and night to put in hand co-ordination activities that are within our reach. In fact, the militant members working now on the means of organizing a nation-wide people’s movement which is based on realizing the aspirations of the Oromo people as a whole. Please, keep up your heroic armed struggle, defending every inch of the Oromo Nation to the last drop of your blood. The decisive war of resistance you are conducting in Bale will, despite the manoeuvres of imperialism, Zionism, and local reaction, be victorious. We shall continue doing everything we can to keep up in touch with you (Baxter, P.T. W., et al. eds. Being and Becoming Oromo: Historical and Anthropological Enquiries. The Lawrenceville, NJ, USA, the Red Sea Press, INC, 1996, p. 76).
As history teaches, every national liberation struggle, either against colonial occupation or national oppression, achieved its goal with the unity of the people, the unity of nationalists, a clear political goal of the struggle, and a well-structured political and military organization led by an able, competent, and patriotic leadership of resolute, heroic, and indomitable courage to fight. Such leaders had been well-known to their people and respected and followed by their people in the struggle. Such are the Oromo freedom fighters like Maamoo Mazamir and his other Oromo comrades in the Oromo national liberation struggle for independence of Oromiyaa. In this case, Cubans, Chinese, and Vietnamese freedom liberation fighters defeated their respective enemies in short periods, while the Oromo did not, after years of fighting. Here, the question one may ask is why the Oromo have failed.
To answer this, one has to look through Oromo’s history since the late 17th century to date. As it is clear for all times, Oromo never lacked patriotic and indomitable courageous leaders and never had a shortage of great organizations throughout history. However, the problem with Oromo has been a lack of unity. Disunity began in the late 17th century with the collapse of the Gada Confederation, the egalitarian republican system, and democratic institutions with the appearance of kings and queens in some regions of Oromiyaa. In this regard, Bahru Zewde has written:
In one of the most interesting processes of social transformation in Ethiopian history…, the Oromo, who initially has an egalitarian and republican system of socio-political organization…. known as gada, developed a monarchical institutions…. The first was in the area of Gibe River, hence known as Gibe monarchies. The second the present-day Wallaga… …Political fragmentation was the rule among Shawan Oromo. This state of affairs facilitated the expansion of the kingdom of Shawa, a process which gained impetus in the reign of Negus Sahla-Sellase (1813-1847) and reached its climax under Emperor Menelik II. The Arsi to the south had an economy combining agriculture and pastoralism and a more pronounced sense of regional identity fostered by the leadership of their hereditary abba dula (A History of Modern Ethiopia 1855-1991, 2nd Ed. Cambridge University Press, 2002, p. 20-21).
With these predicaments, weakness developed within Oromiyaa among the Oromo people. Then in the late 19th century, Abyssinians took advantage of this Oromo weakness and engaged in campaigns of wars of conquest and colonization of Oromiyaa. And so, this weakness became instrumental for the Abyssinians in their engagements in defeating the Oromo people.
Coming back to the 20th century, in the 1960s and 1970s, great patriotic, revolutionary nationalist leaders and great political organizations with a clear political objective emerged in Oromiyaa for the first time since the fall of Oromiyaa under the Abyssinian colonial occupation of Oromiyaa over a century and a half ago. Here what had happened was that these revolutionary nationalist leaders believed as being nationalist all those who came to join their respective organizations. Meaning the leaders were not careful in accepting individuals as members. Consequently, the diehard Amharized assimilated Oromo elite penetrated leadership and the members of the organizations. These reactionary revisionist groups divide the leaders and the members. These Amharized Oromo elites not only made obstacles for the different Oromo organizations to come together to unite but even made to split within organizations. In 1999, these Amharized pan-Ethiopianist Oromo groups took over the leadership of the OLF. Then these groups embarked on a dangerous road to the Oromo struggle, abandoning the people, Oromiyaa, and the freedom fighters to exile to Eritrea, which did not support the liberation of Oromiyaa from the Ethiopian empire. From 1999 to 2021, it divided the OLF into seven factions. In addition, it dismantled the United Liberation Forces of Oromiyaa (ULFO). The names of the leadership of the ULFO were Chairman General Waaqoo Guutuu, Deputy Chairmen were Jaaraa Abbaa Gadaa and Dawud Ibsaa, and Secretary was Galaasaa Dilboo. It was a day full of hope for the Oromo nationalists. But before long, the hope was dashed and turned into despair and uncertainty as shortly after, Dawud Ibsa, using the Eritrean government as his sponsor, was able to dissolve ULFO. It was a shock when a person representing an Oromo organization allied himself with a foreign country and worked against the unity of his organization. While creating a state of conflict and dissension from within OLF, causing its split and factionalizing, simultaneously, he outrageously, frighteningly, and shamefully engaged in dismantling ULFO.
At this point, a surprisingly clear picture of leadership change in OLF is possible. This possibility presented the members with the choices and dilemmas that faced OLF. The crisis, of course, had already begun by 2000. Consequently, following this, the first split occurred in 2001 between the pan-Ethiopianist anarcho-nationalist Oromo nationals who argued and sought an alliance with the enemy of the Oromo people and their struggle with the organization of Abyssinian settler colonizers, namely Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) using the phrase “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” misleadingly to confuse the public. Some members who met with the dilemma of confusion chose to leave the organization, others decided to be silent observers, and some even went as far as joining the OPDO. And still, along with these, pacifist activists appeared among Oromo nationals advocating against the use of force in the Oromo national struggle for independence. Such was the consequence of Dawud Ibsa and his cohorts abandoning the Oromo question, its goal, and the political program of the OLF in favor of the democratization of Imperial Ethiopia.
Since the conquest, occupation, and colonization, the Oromo people have never stopped revolting against the colonial occupation. As it is well known, the revolt began unevenly and with pauses and reversals and rises again. For instance, one can recall the rebelling of 1928 and 1940 by Raya-Azabo, the 1935 Western Oromo Confederation petitioning the League of Nations for recognition as an independent Oromo state, the 1941 Arsi revolt against the return of Haile Selassie from exile, the 1960s Maccaa-Tuulamaa pan-Oromo movement, Afran Qallo movement, and Bale armed struggle. The phases of the Oromo struggles can be summarized as follows:
Phase I 1870- 1900: Oromo response to the conquest by fighting and the Oromo kingdoms’ response to the colonialist by peaceful surrendering. It is the phase of the rise of monarchies, and the decline and collapse of the Gada system, followed by the colonization of Oromiyaa and the fall of the Oromo power in the hands of the colonizers.
Phase II 1928-1941: The Oromo Resistance against Occupation.
Phase III 1935-1941: Arsii expelled all settler colonizers from Arsiiland.
Phase IV 1941-1950s: The colonial Occupation consolidation of the colonies. The colonies were under complete control; the colonial regime then imposed on the colonized peoples the Amhara culture, feudal administration, and the Amhara language, Amharic as a de jure official language, written and spoken by the colonial people, and Orthodox Christianity made the religion the official religion of the Empire.
Phase V 1960s – 1998: The development of the Oromo consciousness and the armed struggle for independence of Oromiyaa from the colonial occupation. This phase began with the formation of Maccaa-Tulamaa pan-Oromo movement, Afran Qallo political and social movement, the Bale Armed Struggle, and the formation of the OLF.
Phase VI 1999 – present: During this period from Asmara, Eritrea, Dawud Ibsa and his cohorts led the political campaign of federalization of the Ethiopian Empire within the OLF for the first time in its history. This political position started with aiding and abetting by the Eritrea government and the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD), also known as Qinijit in Amharic. Qinijit is a coalition of four Amhara political organizations. With this, the struggle for the establishment independent and democratic Republic of Oromiyaa came under attack. The Oromo national struggle for independence weakened; The Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) factionalized, and it split into different factions between the pro-independence of Oromiyaa and the pro-democratization of the Ethiopian Empire. The overtaking of the OLF leadership in 1999 brought about this sad state of affairs for the Oromo people, nationalists, and the struggle as a whole. It abetted and sharpened the political divisions of the OLF. Now the question is as to which way Oromiyaa is going. The dark cloud from within and without is rolling around Oromiyaa and its struggle for independence.
Not only this, but this leadership also violated the unity spirit of the Oromo at the Macca-Tulama public meeting on May 15, 1966, at Itaya. The forming of the pan-Oromo unity movement at Itaya, Prof. Mohammed Hassen has to write in the following terms:
What transformed the association (MTA) from a self-held organization in the administrative region of Shawa to a pan-Oromo movement was the public meeting held on May 15, 1966, in Arsi in a placed called Itaya. There tens of thousands of Oromo from different regions of both Muslims and Christians met and discussed how they were all subjected to harsh economic exploitation and political oppression. It was the beginning of coordinated and united Oromo activities and realization about the importance of unity. Those who were at the meeting vowed never to be divided again. Muslims ate meat slaughtered by Christians and Christians ate meat slaughtered by Muslims (Ibid p. 76).
Hence, it is Cristal clear that the group that occupied political leadership of the OLF in 1999 under Dawud Ibsa and his cronies’ leadership violated every spirit of Oromo unity ever since. They dismantled the OLF into factions and terminated the United Liberation Forces of Oromiyaa (ULFO) with the support of Eritrea. Thus, Dawud Ibsa and his cronies closed their eyes, ears, mind, and hearts to the spirit of unity of the Oromo nationalists and the Oromo people as ushered by the Maccaa-Tulama pan-Oromo movement in Itaya, Arsii, on October 16, 1965, and all the Oromo political organizations since then. It weakened the Oromo political organization fighting for the liberation of Oromiyaa.
The Oromo proverb says, “Culullee dhibbaa mannaa Risaa tokko wayya.” Metaphorically speaking, it meant one strong organization is better than a hundred weak ones. Looking back at Oromo’s history, we see this to be accurate. Throughout the Wars of the Conquest of Oromiyaa in the second half of the nineteenth century, there were Oromo kingdoms and regional Abbaa Duulaas/Defense Ministers. By themselves, each was not strong enough to fight. At the same time, they failed to unite to stand against their enemy. Thus, each was defeated one by one by the Army of King Menelik. Meaning each surrendered to Menelik. Again, in 1991, there were five Oromo political organizations against one Tigrayan organization, the TPLF. All of them were unable to stop the TPLF from entering Oromiyaa. Again, after the TPLF entered Oromiyaa, no Oromo political organization expelled it from Oromiyaa; no one was strong enough. The simple reason for this was no unity among Oromo political organizations to stand against the TPLF. The same was also true in 2018. This time too, the Oromo political organizations once again meet with failure. As a result, today, there are no uncompromising, patriotic, determined, and indomitable political leaders in the Oromo national liberation struggle for independence of Oromiyaa. Furthermore, still today, no strong Oromo political organizations exist that are invincible in the Oromo struggle and able to defeat the Ethiopian Empire colonial army.
As stated in the previous paragraph, Cubans, Chinese, and Vietnamese freedom liberation fighters defeated their respective enemies in short periods, while the Oromo did not after so many years of fighting. Here one may ask a question as to why the Oromo failed to achieve their intended goal. There were two main reasons why the Cuban, Chinese, and Vietnamese defeated their respective enemies. The first reason was membership was closed to the double dealers, doubters, hesitant, opportunists, and accommodationists. And the second reason was their elites largely participated in the liberation struggle and led it; On the contrary, the Oromo liberation organizations accepted all categories of Oromo individuals without questioning their political understanding of the Oromo question, their views, and their beliefs in the Oromo struggle. Because of this, the pretenders and assimilated Amharized anti-Oromiyaa independent Oromo groups, disguised as true Oromo nationalists draping themselves with the Oromo flag and shouting the liberation slogans deeply penetrated all Oromo political organizations and then started dismantling them from within. The consequence of this is the creation of a split, factions, and political betrayal of the political objective of the Oromo Liberation Fronts for the independence of Oromiyaa. Secondly, the Oromo elites largely failed to participate in the national struggle to lead it.
Robaa Butta, one of the great leaders (Abbaa Duulaa) who led Arsi resistance against King Menelik of Abyssinia in the 1880s, told one of his European visiting guests, Du Bourg de Bozas after the defeat of Arsi at Azule, with pride, resolve, and determination that the Oromo struggle will continue to restore the dignity and independence of Oromiyaa. Here are his words: “We have to count on ourselves. The hour has not come, but it will come; perhaps our children will see the departure of oppressors.” The question now is how long it took for the Oromo to come together to fight since the 1880s words of Robaa Butta. Of course, the first Oromo leadership appeared in the 1960s- the 1970s with the rise of Bale armed resistance, the coming together of Macca and Tulama, the former Confederacies under the Gada system forming the Macaa-Tulamaa Self-Help Association in 1963, and the formation of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) in 1973, 80 years later since the words of Roba Butta. From the 1880s- the 1960s, the Oromo people had no centralized united leadership until the rise of the Macca-Tulama Association. The 1880s were the years of the conquest of Oromiyaa; the years of occupation and colonization followed to date.
The Oromo struggle for independence and its betrayal
With the occupation and colonization of Oromiyaa and ever since, the successful Amhara settler colonizers’ regimes have been co-opting the educated Oromo class on the one hand and, on the other, have been exterminating the rest who refused to co-opt. The whole purpose of co-opting the elite class has been to deny the Oromo people leadership. Since the colonization, the only time the Oromo people developed leadership was from the 1960s until 1998. Here, the Oromo people united, and the struggle accelerated the liberation of Oromiyaa in an unprecedented way. The hopes and aspirations for freedom, dignity, and independence filled the Oromiyaa air. However, before long, these changed for the worse following 1999. In 1999, the politically halfhearted dirty double-crossers and accommodationist pro-Ethiopian empire led by Dawud Ibsa and his cohorts took over the OLF leadership. Since then, the Amhara have successfully once again used co-opting educated Oromo class to invade and deeply penetrate the Oromo political organizations in mass and consequently able to overtake the leadership and members of the Oromo organizations. So, since 2001, the divisions within Oromo political organizations, leadership, and members have been rampant and continue to date. Hence, the Oromo are back to the pre-1960s lack of leaders; the Oromo people do not have a centralized, united leadership as of today.
Looking back at Oromo history, the rise of kingdoms was the cause of the structural collapse of the Gada system and eventually became instrumental in the colonization of Oromiyaa. As it is well known, kingdoms that appeared in four regions of Oromiyaa were the first cause of this structural collapse of the Gada system in those regions; Political fractionalization emerged in Tulama among abbaa dulaas; the colonialist Menelik of Abyssinia decimated it in the remaining areas. Even before the colonization of Oromiyaa, there were five kingdoms in the Gibe region, one in Iluu Abbaabooraa, six in Wallagga, and two in Walloo. Overall, the fourteen kingdoms abandoned the Gada system; consequently, no one was strong enough to defend its territories. Overall, the Oromiyaa became weak. So, each of them became weak. Menelik used their weakness to co-opt each to surrender to his rule in return for them to keep or maintain as the rulers of their kingdoms. In this regard Prof. Tesema Ta’a wrote, “Gobana Daccee presented the Oromo leaders [kings] with a diet consisting of both threat and reward. He promised local autonomy for those who submitted peacefully and agreed to pay annual tribute and to punish ruthlessly those who refused. As was the case with Jote, and Moroda, most of the Macca kings opted for Gobana’s promise of local autonomy and submitted without resistance…. Most Macca leaders believed they would enjoy the promised authority and saw their salvation in a peaceful submission with no resistance. They retained personal authority at the cost of their own sovereignty and the independence of their people” (cited in The Political Economy of an African Society in Transformation: the Case of Macca Oromo (Ethiopia), 2006, p. 91), and the rest is history.
Hence, co-opting has become a norm for the conquered Oromiyaa ever since. Even today, it is happening in the Oromo political organizations. It is the cause of the Oromo political organizations falling into the hands of the co-opted groups from 1999 to date, and so the organizations fell apart. Take a look at what happened to the OLF. In 1991, the negotiating group lost the Oromo cause to the TPLF, while EPLF did not. In 1992, the same group encamped the OLA. In 2006, the same group allied with (CUD) the Amhara extremist Nafxanyaa in forming the Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (AFD); in 2014, the same group made an ally with other organizations forming the People’s Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (PAFD), and again in 2021, the same group allied with TPLF forming United Front of Ethiopian Federalist and Confederalist Forces (UFEFCF) while at the same time dismantling the OLF and United Liberation Forces of Oromiyaa (ULFO) and again the same group is in Tanzania for negotiation with the colonial regime of the Ethiopian empire. Co-opting is the tragedy created in the 19th century during the colonization of Oromiyaa and still following us. Therefore, what can we learn from it and how to overcome it is a question we have today.
In observing wars throughout world history, Dan Brown has to write, “History is always written by the winners. When two cultures clash, the loser is obliterated, and the winner writes history books-books which glorify their own cause and disparage the conquered foe” (Da Vinci Code). This saying is as accurate as ever. Oromo people are the testimony of this. Since the colonization of Oromiyaa, the Amhara, the winner, have been writing the history of the colonizer and the colonized. Amhara glorified their history and disparaged the history of the Oromo. There has never been a win-win situation in the history of the colonial empire. One has to be the winner, and the other has to be the loser. For instance, throughout the history of the rise of empires, empires became winners and wrote the history of their greatness and belittling the conquered ones. For example, the British glorifying its history used to say during its heady days, “The Sun never sets on the British Empire,” disparaging the history of the colonized peoples, dehumanizing, exploiting, and selling the subjugated people into slavery. Finally, the colonized people rose against it and defeated the British Empire and the rest of the empires. Hence, the colonized people won, and the colonial empire lost. The history of the struggle between the colonizer and the colonized has been a zero-sum game. There has never been a win-win situation. One has to win, and the other has to lose.
In the second half of the 19th century, Amhara defeated the Oromo people, occupied the Oromo land, denigrated, humiliated, and dehumanized the Oromo people, and dismantled the Oromo institutions. The Amhara colonizer called the Oromo Waaqeeffannaa religion a pagan-devil worship, and people ran away from it and converted to different religions. On the other hand, they wrote books about their history of winning, glorifying their bravery and heroism while disparaging and denigrating the Oromo as a people without history. Concerning this, George Orwell wrote, “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” The Oromo children had been the victims of this at the Ethiopian Imperial Schools since the conquest and colonization of Oromiyaa. Adversely, Oromiyaa has been and is the land of unparalleled great heroes and heroines. The only weakness the Oromo people do not recognize, adore, and glorify their heroes and heroines. Now, this is the time to defeat the Ethiopian colonial empire. With this, Oromo write their history books-books that honor, praise, adorn, and glorify their history, heroes, and heroines.
Finally, for the Oromo struggle to be successful, the Oromo nationalists should learn from what Robaa Butta left to us. That is, “We have to count on ourselves.” our national unity, our resolve, and our determination to fight collectively together is the pillar of our struggle to count on to achieve our goal. Unity is our source of strength. Our people can only achieve their goal of restoring the independence of Oromiyaa by counting only on themselves and their unity. Running separately in a clique, by region, by village, or by locality cannot bring any good things to the Oromo people. It only brings failures and disasters. These have been the norm since 1999 to date. The politically failed group always follows or pursues a failing way. It has been failed leadership under Dawud Ibsa and his cohorts that have failed the OLF from achieving the intended goal of liberating Oromiyaa from the Ethiopian empire. It abandoned upholding consistency and undeviating steadiness in the principle of the national struggle. This politically failed group led by Dawud Ibsa always depended on external forces from the day of its seizure of the leadership of OLF to undermine the Oromo unity, the unity of the Oromo nationalists, and in so doing, hampered the Oromo national liberation struggle for independence of Oromiyaa. This leadership counts on the support of external forces, not on the Oromo people and its nationalists. Now, it is time to learn from the words of Roba Butta that, as Oromo, we have to count on ourselves collectively in unity as one person in this national liberation struggle against the Ethiopian colonial occupation of Oromiyaa. Oromiyaa is in colonial chains. We cannot be free until we break the chains; we can break the chains only in collective unity. Unity is strength; it is power, and depending on and trusting ourselves and in our unity is a way to go.
Oromiyaa Shall be free!
- Mootii, Faayoo. “GEERARE Didaan.” YouTube, uploaded by News ET Social, 2017,