By Leenjiso Horo
History is interpreted as a record of events that happened in the past. Every nation has its own history- its record of events that happened in the past and so the Oromo nation. And of course, the world itself has its history.
The Oromo nation lived in the Horn of Africa for the time immemorial as a powerful, free and independent nation and as masters of their destiny and makers of their own history. During that period, they developed a democratic socio-politico-economic and military system known as Gadaa System whereby every leadership is periodically elected with a term limit of eight years without possibility of renewal. Back then, the greatness of Oromo nation was rested on five systems forming a single pillar, each inseparably interconnected and interlinked. The five systems that made a single pillar were their military power, economy, democracy, unity, and their ideology of Oromummaa or Oromoness. Because of these, for centuries Oromiyaa had been a great democratic power of its time before its conquest.
However, towards the end of the eighteenth-century and the beginning of the nineteenth-century this great nation came under difficult situation and unpleasant experiences from the influence of internal and external factors. Consequently, the periodic election of leadership was interrupted. With this interruption, the Gadaa political leaderships at every level stayed in power more than their terms of office exceeding eight years. By staying in power for more than their term limits, some Gadaa leaders slowly gathered enough power and became powerful taking the control of political and military power. Using this power, they grabbed and owned more lands and became landlords creating feudal system. Within this system, a new class of wealthy aristocratic families was evolved whose power was based on military, political, and land. These powerful new aristocratic families gradually usurped the power of Gadaa leadership by abandoning collective leadership and establishing a new political order based on the power of ruling class-the aristocracy It was from this aristocratic feudal class, kingdoms were established. Later, some of the kings and Queens fought among themselves for dominance. In the conflict, some of them made alliance with Menelik against their rivals, without knowing that Menelik was going after all of them. At this time, the Oromo people entered a state of commotion and confusion in their history as a result of mounting pressures both from within and from without with a propensity to weaken their unity to an extreme danger.
In Oromo history, this was the first division. As a result, the Gadaa system steadily declined and lost its effectiveness and consequently the Oromo unity was weakened. It was this division that brought upon the Oromo the tragic conquest by Abyssinians. The Oromo kings, queen and Abbaa Duulas across Oromiyaa were all defeated one by one. With the conquest, the colonist Abyssinians destroyed Oromiyaa, its people, and their institutions -military power, economy, democracy, their ideology of Oromummaa and their unity. Then the Oromo social values and practices, national tradition and national character were attacked mercilessly. The attack was meant that Oromiyaa may never rise again to its greatness. Indeed, it goes without saying that the failure of Oromo leadership of the time to unite for the defense of their country and their people gave their enemy the means for their own destruction. Here I mean the leaders’ lack of unity or their division became a vehicle on which Menelik took a ride for the destruction of the leaders themselves, the country, its people and their institutions.
Making the same mistake all over again
Since the last twenty years (since 1991) or so we just cannot seem to be able to learn from the past mistakes. We again repeated the same mistakes of our predecessors as mentioned above. It is one thing to learn from our own mistakes but even more useful is to learn from other’s mistakes so that we don’t have to repeat the same errors in judgment. We can learn both from ours and others’ mistakes so as to avoid repeating them. If we look closely at history, all historical events have something in common whether it is record of civil war, war of conquest, peace, progress or revolution. All of these have a general tendency to repeat themselves. Such common factors in turn make history repeat itself.
There are three categories of people who repeat the tragic history of their past. The first category is the revisionists of history- those who purposefully and knowingly distort the record of historical events. These groups revise history through distortion and falsification of history in order to mislead others into accepting their version of history. Such groups intentionally repeat the past for their own political agenda. Their goal is and has been to rob a nation off their fruit of struggle. In Oromo case, the attempt of such revisionist of history as ODF is to terminate the struggle of the Oromo people for independence and substitute it with Ethiopian “federalization”.” Its political program is to slowly and incrementally fix colonialism in the form of “federalism.” It is in this way, it wants to salvage the empire but empire is unsalvageable. It is simply not possible to fix or salvage colonial empire in the form of “federalism.” Nothing short of total independence remedies the injustice and crimes of colonial occupation. Hence, colonial occupation has to be overthrown, repealed, and torn down. For this, the political program of the OLF calls for a complete and total new political beginning- a rebirth of new Oromiyaa and the dismantlement of the Ethiopian empire. This political change has to be happened; it must be a total and uncompromising.
The larger Oromo population and particularly those nationalists who involved in the Oromo national liberation movements have distrusted ODF and have been accusing it of collaboration with enemy -the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and of the divisions of Oromo political organizations and of the encampment of the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA). In fact, it is the ODF that has been seeking accommodation with the TPLF rather than confrontation. It has undertaken a political appeasement of the enemy-the TPLF, chiefly for reconciliation with it so as to join its fascist government. As an example one can cite the letter of condolence which is oftentimes referred to as the letter of appeasement that the ODF leaders sent to the government of TPLF expressing their sympathy, sorrow and grief at the death of its Prime Minister Meles Zenawi -a tyrant, a man with insatiable urge to kill, and a serial mass killer, the arch-murderer of our people, and the architect of policy of genocide of the Oromo people. It is obscene to write a letter of condolence at the death of such irrational enemy, while his and his government’s policy is and has been killing our people and threatening them with mass destruction. You cannot appease an enemy. Enemy has to be fought out. The appeasement of an enemy, accommodation and reconciliation with it, while it is occupying our country, selling and leasing our land and committing genocidal war against our people is a dangerous and an ugly political engagement. It is a noxious politics. Hence, the writing of the letter of appeasement to the family and government of Meles Zenawi at his death is arrogance at best and an insult of the Oromo people at worst, on the part of the ODF. In fact, such action is tantamount to trampling under one’s feet those patriots who haven and are languishing in the TPLF’s torture chambers, and those who are still struggling in the terrain and valleys of Oromiyaa and those nationalists who have fallen in the national liberation struggle to liberate their country and people while fighting against the TPLF genocidal fascist colonial regime.
This truth may inconvenience the loyalists of Ethiopian empire and the collaborators with TPLF. But, the truth has to be told. We have to tell it that it is wrong to send letter of condolence to Meles Zenawi’s family, regime and government at his death. If we, the living, don’t tell it, who will? If not now, when? We have the obligation to tell it, here and now. Furthermore, there is also a question we cannot help but ask: Why did ODF wrote letter of condolence at the death of a man who presided over the genocide of Oromo and the destruction their country? Now what else? Here, I am only pointing out what is wrong and asking question. However, it is not for me to pass judgment on a verdict of guilty. Such judgment is in the province of those who suffered in this struggle and the Oromo people who have given their sons and daughters to this national liberation struggle to fight this colonialist fascist regime. But, those who have fallen cannot speak for themselves. For them, their living comrades may speak. However, I know one thing from the wishes of those who have fallen in this liberation struggle as expressed in this revolutionary music –“Maal dhaamanii Jaalleewwan qabsoodhaaf kufanii?” Here are its lyrics:
Maal jedhanii mee maal dhaamanii;
Maal jedhaanii mee maal nuu dhaamanii;
Jaallawwaan qabsoodhaaf kufanii mee maal nuu dhaamanii?;
Maal dhaamanii Jaalleewwan qabsoodhaaf kufanii;
Oromiyaa falmachuuf hadhaa du`aa kan dhandhamanii;
Dhaadannoo keenya kaasaati galiin nuu gahaa jedhanii;
Ba`aa keenya dabalaachuuf of qopheessaa nuun jedhanii (2);
Jaallawwan keenya nu tarree xurree dhiigaan tattaraarree;
Akka waliin jechaa turree nu hojiidhaatti jijjiirree;
Dirqama keenya bahuudhaaf gammachuudhaan gargar banee;
Irbuu biyyaa fi saabaa kan waliin seenne qabannee;
Bakkaan gahuudhaaf ammoo gatii lubbuu gaafatamnee;
Kanaaf osoo hin deebi’in akka bobbaaneen hafnee.
Faana bu’aa nu hordofaa osoo yeroon hin dabarree;
Bakka itti dhaabbanne irraa akka itti fuftan dhaamanne;
Maal jedhanii mee maal dhaamanii…. (2);
Rimma dhaaba keessaa faffacaaftuu tokkummaa;
Seera dhablummadhaa fi ayyaanlaallattummaa;
Gartanii bira hin tarinaa namuu irratti of kitimaa;
Gola keenya eegaa akka ija namaa.
Lafeen keenya haa caccabuu dhiigni keenyaas haa faca`uu;
Nu riqqicha taanee sabni cunqurfamaan bilisa haa ba`uu;.
Obsaan nurra tarkaanfadha dhaamsa keenya bakkaa haa gahuu;
Dammaqsaa hidhachiisaa kan bakka keenya bu`u;
Maal jedhani mee maal dhaamani…. (2);
Jaallawwan keenya nu tarree xurree dhiigaan tattaraarree;
Irbuu biyyaa fi saabaa kan waliin seenne qabannee;
Kanaaf osoo hin deebi’in akka bobbaaneen hafnee.
Faana bu’aa nu hordofaa osoo yeroon hin dabarree.
Baddaa fi gammoojjii keesaa lafeen keenya haa addaattuu;
Waraabessi irraa nyaatee allaattinnis haa qoqortuu;
Bakka itti dhaabbanne irraa daangaa keenya haa falmannuu;
Daandii dhugaa irraa yoo maqxan isin duraa haa muldhatu.
The above lyrics express the wishes of those who have fallen in this struggle. The question is this: In what way ODF reconciles its action with the spirit of this lyric that expresses the wishes of those nationals who have fallen in this struggle?
It seems to me, ODF/ADO cannot reconcile its action with this revolutionary spirit of those fallen nationalists. The question one may ask is as to where such action of enemy appeasement originates. Well, basically it originates from political crises, from despair, and from loss of hope in the struggle of one’s people. In fact, it is not only political crises alone that lead one to take such a drastic political appeasement of the enemy but also a moral crisis and crises of conscience also contribute to such action to be taken. It is important to understand that ODF is a newly established Tigrayan puppet. It is organized and financing by foreign governments in coalition with TPLF for the Oromo-Genocide Cover-up of TPLF Crimes in Oromiyaa in the name of “accommodation,” “federalization,” “democratization,” “equality,” and “citizenship rights” and et cetera. The primarily goal upon which it is organized is against the OLF- to break it up into factions; to interrupt its struggle, to undermine and weaken it; and then to dissolve it and finally to do away with the struggle for independence of Oromiyaa. Its other political mission is to pollute political environment within Oromo nationals through its distorted political view of empire federalization. Here its purpose is to confuse, divide and weaken the Oromo nationalists. For all these crimes, neither history, nor tribunal, nor the Oromo people will ever absolve it either on moral or legal or political ground.
The second category is those nationals who fail to remember the past-the past records of events. It was in this regard, George Santayana remarked famously, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Once they fail to remember the past or fail to learn from the past, the past is out of their minds. For instance, some nations forgot the factors that were the cause for World War First and consequently they repeated the same mistakes and that caused World War Second. Similarly, in the Oromo case, some Oromo nationals have failed to remember the factors that brought the tragedy of conquest of Oromiyaa. Because of their failure to learn from the history, the history that brought a tragic conquest upon Oromiyaa and its people, they became prone to repeat the same mistake. That mistake is the division within Oromo nationals that have been cascading taking the form of region. For instance, they have failed to remember the major factor for Oromiyaa’s conquest was the division of Oromo leadership and formation of many kingdoms. Because of this failure, many organizations have been established. This is what we have been seeing today. We failed to learn from our tragic past and so we are in it once again. As the 19th century Russian historian Vassily Klyuchevsky famously said, “History does not teach anything, it only punishes people who do not learn its lessons.” Hence, we failed to learn our tragic lessons of a century ago, the tragic lessons that made the Oromo the victims of Abyssinia, ending in the conquest of Oromiyaa and putting the nation in disgrace and humiliation in which we found ourselves today. For this failure, history is punishing us today. As a result, many political kiosks have been created at every corner. These political kiosks do not have enough members to command to carry on the national liberation armed struggle. However, they are enough to drain the energy and resources of the nation. It is important to understand that war of national liberation is a war conducted on the ground, in the fields, in the valleys, and terrains of a country; not a chess tournament sitting around a table; the one with superior fighting force can defeat one’s enemy. This is the truth, the whole truth throughout history of engagement. A kiosk politics is a dead politics. It has nothing to accomplish.
The third category is those nationals who were never had the opportunity to learn real history of their people. For this, these nationals were and are the victims of revisionist history by scholars of deception-“yellow nationalists” and the professional propagandists of political disguise whose political agenda is and has always been to blur the distinction between independence of Oromiyaa and “federalizing” of or “democratizing” of the empire for the purpose of maintaining the status quo, or in this topic under discussion to maintain the Ethiopian empire. The Ethiopian education system has been institutionally designed to deprive the children of the colonized people the opportunity to learn their own history. It is because of this, today we see many innocent Oromo individuals follow the revisionist history of the political propaganda of scholars of deception. For instance, independence through empire democratization, empire federalization, and “Greater” Oromiyaa/”New” Ethiopia, all these are sham propaganda of revisionist scholars of deception for the mere purpose of misleading innocent Oromo nationals into accepting their version of self-determination. Such “yellow nationalists” do not understand that there is irreconcilable difference between “democratization” of Ethiopian empire and independence of Oromiyaa. For one, empire cannot be democratized.
Not only the lack of knowledge of their national history to which they did not exposed that made these category of individuals to follow the political position of those of the pro Ethiopian empire so as to repeat the tragic past but in addition to it the positive meanings of the words such as federalism, democracy, union, equality, liberty, justice, self-determination and freedom which the scholars of deception-“yellow nationalists” sing at every meetings have played a great deal in their repeat of the tragic past. For all these reasons, this category of individuals fall victims to the political propaganda of Ethiopianist Oromo groups. They fail to understand that all these phrases do not fit the empire since empire were/is and has been a prison-house of nations and nationalities. Empires were built in the blood and brutality and in the loss of freedom, justice, peace and dignity of those conquered and incorporated into it. No empire had ever been built voluntarily. It was for this, all the empire that appeared in history, such as Roman, Ottoman, British, French, Germany, Russia, Dutch, Portuguese, Austro-Hungary empires and et cetera were collapsed and disintegrated and no empire is an exception to this rule and so the Ethiopian empire. Today, the most unforgiving attack on the Oromo people and their struggle for independence is to engage in a revisionist history to dissuade nationalists to retreat from national liberation struggle for independence so as to accept “federalizing” or “unionizing” the empire after hundreds of thousand of Oromo people and their nationalists sacrificed their precious lives for independence. It is clear that we have repeated yesterday’s mistakes. Look at where we are today through the lens of undistorted historical conditions, and you will begin to understand that we are witnessing history – real history of betrayal repeating itself. And that will not bode well for Oromo nation.
The second mistake was made in 1991. It was the London Conference. The London Conference created a dire consequence to Oromiyaa and its people. It became a bridge for Tigrayan fascism to seize power in replacing the long held Amhara power. Hence, as one barbaric regime left another extreme and vicious barbaric took its place. It allowed the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) foreign army to enter Oromiyaa. After the London Conference of 1991, the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front -the lord of evils, death and destruction descended upon Oromiyaa. With this, it turned Oromiyaa into the land of promise, bounty, richness to the Tigrayans and the valley of death to the millions of the Oromo. First, it exploded the Military Ammunition depot in the city to poison to death millions of the residence of the city and its suburbs. Then it committed mass murder at Baddanno and the rest is history. It was wrong to allow it. TPLF has always been and is the enemy of our people. Foreign army should have never been allowed to set its foot in Oromiyaa. Once it entered Oromiyaa, it should have been encircled and liquidated had there been a unity among the Oromo political organizations. The failure to unite to wipe out the enemy that entered Oromiyaa is a truly biggest mistake that Oromo nationalists had ever made. And what have been and are going on today in Oromiyaa could have been averted. This means the TPLF’s violence, bloodshed, cruelty, brutality, genocide, mass killings, mass displacement, expulsion of population from their land, terror, kidnapping and killing of our people and the robbery, the leasing and selling of Oromo lands to multinational corporations and individual land grabbers could have been averted had all Oromo political organizations united and stopped the TPLF from entering Oromiyaa.
In regard to London Peace Conference, the then Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Ambassador Hermann Cohen has to say this, “I opened the meeting with a statement urging the parties to work out a transition to a democratic form of government….After my statement, the three parties decided to continue on their own without a mediator…They repaired to a private room for their own discussions, which produced a short public statement.” And he said, “they asked me to read the statement for international recognition and I read.” From the private meeting of the three groups- the EPLF came out with independence and the TPLF came out with controlling the rest of the empire and what we do not known is as to why participants on the behalf of OLF agreed to in allowing the enemy military to enter Oromiyaa. Three things we do know: allowing the TPLF to enter Oromiyaa and participating in Transitional Charter and encampment of the OLA were the decisions of those leaders who participated in the London Conference. “Yaadni Mooraa seenuu ABO chartera seenuun walqabata…Mooraa seenuun kan jedhu Maqaleetti murtaayee”(Raadio Afuura Biyyaa interview with Ob. Daawud Ibsaa, Chairman of OLF-ShG, June 10, 2012). Those leaders who participated in the London Conference-the former Chairman and his Deputy Chairman, including those who later joined the OLF and successively became its spokepesons like ob. Licho Bukura, Ob. Leencoo Baatii, and Dr. Bayaan Asoobaa and Ob. Haasan Husseen its Head of Foreign Relations all are now the leaders of Oromo Democratic Front (ODF) whose political objective is “federalization” of Ethiopian empire. This is not the only the story. Another irony of the story is this: they organized a secret underground organization within the OLF-ShG while holding the position of leadership in the organization to overtake it from within. However, having failed in this scheme, they abandoned the organization and the ‘Kaayyoo’ of the organization declaring that their new political position is to seek for the “citizenship” of Ethiopia. This is the first time in the history of human society that the whole leadership of an organization abandoned its people’s organization and its goal. In fact, the London Conference paved the way for the split of the OLF in 2001 and for the future formation of ODF.
In the recent past since 1991, six worst major mistakes had been made in the Oromo struggle. The first mistake was the allowing of the TPLF army to enter Oromiyaa; then the encampment of the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA); the leaving of the leaderships of all Oromo political organizations for exile (leadership in exile is a wrong model for a struggle;);the acceptance of “Agenda for Peace” better known as “democratization of Ethiopia,” that accepted the disarmament of the OLA was the major factor of the OLF split in 2001; the formation of “Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (AFD)” with the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUDP) and The Ethiopian People’s Patriotic Party (EPPF) both the ultra right-wing organizations that never accepted the principle of the rights of nation to self-determination and finally the creation of various Oromo political kiosks in Diaspora and in Oromiyaa- meaning the division of Oromo nationals into kiosks of political groups. These were and are the wrong steps taken that weakened the Oromo nationals’ unity and hence the political organizations and the struggle and gave the TPLF regime- the enemy of our people, the opportunity to control, dominate and police Oromiyaa and its people. With these, all Oromo organizations have become politically, militarily and diplomatically weak and insignificant. Taking advantage of these conditions, TPLF in the like of Menelik II laid downs its policies, laws, rules and guidelines Oromo and to administer Oromiyaa and its people and through its administration it engaged in the exploitation of Oromiyaa’s resources.
Now let us look at today’s reality. Today, we are here where our action of yesterday has brought us. The action I mean is the allowing of TPLF to enter Oromiyaa, in the first place. Now, look at where Oromo people are today through the lens of undistorted historical conditions, and I am sure you will begin to understand that we are witnessing history – real history repeating itself. And that will not bode well for Oromo nation. Today Oromiyaa is under the Tigrayan genocidist regime of the TPLF. The genocidist regime had policies towards Oromo long before its seizure of political power in the empire; its policies being, One is to mutilate Oromiyaa by looting its resources; to squeeze out of it everything that is possible to be squeezed out of it. That is, the TPLF’s objective has been to enrich itself and its active supporters by the plundering and looting the colonized peoples’ wealth in the South, Oromiyaa included. It is a scavenger regime that robs, steals, and loots all that belong to the colonized people. This is what it has been doing ever since it set its feet in Oromiyaa.
Its second strategic policy has been and still is to depopulate Oromiyaa by annihilating its population through wholesale destruction and through policy of driving population into exile. It is a policy to annihilate physically every man, woman, and child belonging to Oromo. Under this policy, hundreds of thousands of Oromo lost their lives at the hands of the TPLF killers. This is, its colonial policy of genocide. Colonialism is genocide. The TPLF is a genocidist colonialist regime. Colonial horror, violence, brutality, murder, and torture have been with us since Oromiyaa fell under Abyssinian colonial occupation. In its colonial policy the Tigrayan regime of TPLF has been using arrest, torture and mass murder extensively to create a climate of fear and uncertainty to discourage any form of opposition to its rule and to its robbery of the treasury of the empire. The Oromo people have met this policy over a century ago and it is still here today with them. To implement this policy, TPLF upon entering Oromiyaa in 1991 has set up a man hunt policy everywhere in Oromiyaa-in the countryside, in villages, in towns, in streets, in bus stations, in market places, in Churches, in Mosques, and in farms across Oromiyaa. The magnitude of its corruption and looting, the scale of terror, torture, mass killings, and atrocities it committed have bypassed that of its predecessors and yet these are not given importance in the Western media and governments to whom the TPLF regime is a client. In this regard, one need to remember the years 1941-1945, the years six million Jews were slaughter by the Nazi regime, while the world was silent. Today, that history is repeating itself again. This time, it is on the Oromo people. In the 1940s, it was the Nazi that committed genocide on the Jewish people. Today, it is the Tigrayan neo-fascist regime of TPLF committing genocide on the Oromo people. The world is again silent as the Tigrayan fascism led by TPLF is committing the wholesale destruction of the Oromo people. This is a repeat of history.
Every Oromo who do not support this wild and ruthless colonialist regime and its policy in Oromiyaa are exposed to the danger of being seized anywhere, everywhere including in the neighboring countries such as in Kenya, Sudan, Djibouti, Somalia, Somaliland, and Putland, at anytime by its secrete State police and other secrete State Organs such as “Death squads” and “Knapping squads” then sent off to undisclosed location in the empire and where the victims are tortured, desecrated, and killed. Many were tortured to death by means of whipping, beating with fists, feet and rifle butts. Many prisoners are beaten on all parts of the body, including head and sexual organs. And oftentimes the victims’ whereabouts are unknown. At every corner of streets there are “Snatch Squads”-a team of undercover who make a quick arrest and cart the victims off immediately to unknown location for interrogation. Interrogation means killing through torture. In this case, none of the relatives knows what has happened to their loves ones. Hence, since 1991 genocide has been widespread and more brutal and more vicious than ever before.
As noted above, the savagery of the TPLF occupation is to plunder the Oromo lands and annihilate the Oromo population. Through plunder of Oromiyaa, it has reduced our people to abject poverty, hunger, starvation and death. Millions of decent, innocent men and women with their children are driven into exile, and into deserts of Africa, whereby some have been consumed by sweltering heat, others by wild animals in the deserts, and still others by sharks in the High Seas while escaping from the carnage of TPLF regime. Furthermore, hundreds of thousands more tortured and tormented in prison camps; still, more hundreds of thousands massacred in cold blood and millions are forced out of their fertile lands and their lands have been sold, leased to the local and multi-national land grabbers. Moreover, millions are forced to strand in the open air in Oromiyaa as in Qumbii, Mayyuu, Anniyyaa, Mi’eessoo, Muluqqee, Arjoo, Harooresss and altogether thirty districts in Eastern Oromiyaa alone and other locations throughout Oromiyaa. Right now, in Eastern Oromiyaa, its ambition is to kill as many Oromo as possible to empty the region. This is the TPLF’s policy of expulsion, starvation, and annihilation of Oromo as a people. It is clear TPLF is determined to remove Oromo from the region dead or alive. Today, all over Oromiyaa- in towns, cities, in villages and districts, TPLF’s vicious war of Oromo annihilation is fully underway, comprising the most savage page in Oromo history.
The third policy of the TPLF towards Oromo is and has been to deny Oromo quality education. As its predecessors (Reference: Gen. Taddese Birruu vs. Prime Minister Aklilu Habtewold), TPLF believes that every educated Oromo children are its future enemy It is for this, it has been eliminating Oromo intellectuals and Oromo elders and removing in mass Oromo children from schools, colleges and Universities. In Oromiyaa, it only allows low quality education at all levels. Scholarships are only granted to Tigrayan nationals. Its purpose is and has always been to arrest the growth of new generation of Oromo intelligentsia and leadership in Oromiyaa. Here one needs to understand that the Abyssinians have been able to rule Oromiyaa for over a century simply for two reasons: one is denying education to the Oromo children and the second is denying the Oromo people leadership. These are long-standing Abyssinian policies towards Oromo since occupation and colonization of Oromiyaa.
The Oromo nationals’ complicity with genocidist TPLF policy
“Oromoonni gantoonni murnaaniis ta’ee nam-tokkeen Impaayericha Itoophiyaa tikfamuu irraa dantaa qabaachuun bilisummaa/walabummaa Oromoo dura dhaabatan, diina qabsoo Oromoo ti”(OLF, Political Program, 1998).
Translated as: The Oromo traitors whether in a group or an individual who has a vested personal self-interest in the maintenance of Ethiopian empire and so opposes the liberation of Oromo people is an enemy of the Oromo struggle.
OPDO is a TPLF-established organization whose members are Oromo nationals. Though its members are Oromo in blood but its work is against the wishes and aspiration of the Oromo people. It is a cadre wing of the TPLF. It is not government of Oromiyaa by any stretch of the word government. It is a puppet local agent of occupying force. It is a mercenary at the service of genocidist regime of TPLF. It has no government authority; the authority rests with the occupant of our country- the TPLF. A government establishes army to protect its people; to defend its country, its territorial integrity and the resources of its country. OPDO does neither. The whole truth is the Oromo are not organized, no government, no army, no security, and no police force to protect themselves and their country. With their conquest, the colonizer dismantled and abolished their institutions and then denied them from organizing themselves. Not only had these, the colonizer also weakened their unity. As a result, they have been unable to recover those institutions. Hence since colonization, generations came and generations went without seeing Oromo institutions. It is because of these, TPLF, an organized small group from minority nation has been and is able to control the vast Oromo population. OPDO is only an instrument at the hands of the TPLF. It has been set up to do the work of TPLF as the implementer of TPLF directives and policies in Oromiyaa. For this, it takes orders from the TPLF and always ready to take orders. It is important not to lose sight of OPDO; it is an organization of prisoners of war; organized by the TPLF. As an organization of prisoners of war, TPLF’s initially plan was to use its Oromo prisoners against the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and then later on it decided to use it not only against the OLF but also against the Oromo people. For this, first and foremost, in its camps, TPLF has psychologically demolished each of its prisoners and its other recruits. Then degraded and destroyed their humanity and their soul, and then killed in each of them their spirit and their will so as to make each of the prisoners to fully subordinate to TPLF and to unconditionally implement its policies, and to become an integral part of TPLF’s system of victimization of Oromo. Then these prisoners were organized as the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO). As a result, since its creation in 1989, the OPDO has become in complicity with the TPLF’s scheme in Oromiyaa.
The TPLF has learned the lesson of turning nationals against their own people from Nazi Germany. Nazi organized Jewish Councils to destroy their own people-the Jews as a people and so the TPLF organized OPDO to destroy the Oromo population and Oromiyaa itself. It is in this regard Primo Levi the survival of the genocide has to lament as to the cruelty of the Nazi instruction to the Jews Councils as follow:
“We… are your destroyers… if we so wish, and we do so wish, we destroy not only your bodies but also your souls… It must be the Jews who put the Jews into the ovens; it must be shown that the Jews… the submen, bow to any and all humiliation, even to destroying themselves.”
Following this instruction, it was the Jews Councils that sent millions of Jews to ovens at the instruction of Nazi. What Primo Levi expressed is still true with what the TPLF has been doing to OPDO. TPLF’s instruction to the OPDO has been and is the same as Nazi’s instruction to the Jews Council as quoted above. For this, it has no courage and no conviction to stand by its people. It has no courage to refuse the TPLF’s order that targets the Oromo people and Oromiyaa. Today, it is the OPDO that has been and still is committing crimes against its own people and its country in the name of “government” of Oromiyaa in collaboration with the TPLF. For instance, it is the OPDO that has been rounding up Oromo in their villages, in the towns and cities, in the countryside and rural areas, in their homes, and in the market places, on the behalf of the TPLF. It is the OPDO that shoots Oromo at religious gatherings such in Mosques and Churches at the instruction of the TPLF. It is the OPDO that gunned down men, women and children in Asaasaa and in Kofalee, including Oromo students at schools across Oromiyaa. It is the OPDO that voted in the colonial parliament that the OLF as a “terrorist” organization at the instruction of the TPLF-its master, knowing the very fact that OLF is not a terrorist organization and that it is impossible to differentiate the OLF from the Oromo people. Hence, it voted the Oromo people as “terrorist.” As a result, hundreds of thousands of Oromo have been murdered by the TPLF, its allies and its surrogates. Tens of thousands have been rounded up and dragged to jails. It is the OPDO that drags, men, women and children into torture cells across Oromiyaa. In the prison cells in Oromiyaa, it is the OPDO that tortures, kills, maims, and displaces the Oromo prisoners at the instruction of its master, the TPLF. It is the OPDO itself that starves Oromo prisoners to death to show its loyalty to the TPLF, its master. All in all, such complicity with the enemy’s scheme of arrests, tortures, terrors, murders, persecutions, population expulsion from their lands, pillage and economic exploitation is unparalleled in Oromo history. Not only these, it is OPDO that has been helping the colonial regime of TPLF in the disappearance of the beauty of Oromiyaa’s mountains, rivers, lakes, woods, woodlands, forests and with them the rest of the habitats in them. It is clear from these; OPDO cannot stand against the TPLF because the TPLF has already destroyed its soul.
In addition to organizing OPDO, the TPLF has also recruited many Oromo nationals both inside and outside Oromiyaa, nationals who are willing to serve it, and then it “de-nationalized” them. By being “de-nationalized” they have lost touch with their cultural values- the values of the people that raised them and consequently unable to feel the agonies and pains of their people and are essentially became rootless mercenaries. Some of its diaspora Oromo mercenaries have been recruited in the name of “investors” and “businessmen” and given lands and other properties. Most of these individuals, if not all, are members and sympathizers of ODF. These individuals preach that they are developing Oromiyaa and that Oromiyaa is already liberated and that development is going on. They repeat time and again these lies to Oromo and to the world. In addition to this, there is also an interconnected network of spies, enemy informers, infiltrators and recruiters in and around every Oromo organizations, including in Churches, in Mosques, Communities (in diaspora) extending the network from home to diaspora. The purpose of this network is to keep the Oromo nationals at odd with one another. They do this, by creating an atmosphere of mockery and gossip. These individuals have become the representatives of the empire of torture and destruction.
Since the last many years, as the Oromo people have been under going stress and strain, some diaspora Oromo nationals have been flocking to the empire to buy Oromo lands, and other properties at the expense of their people’s death and destruction. In this way, they have become an integral part of TPLF’s system of robbery of Oromiyaa. The TPLF has seduced them by the many material advantages, and that the latter became fatally intoxicated to the point that they became blind to their people’s suffering. Hence, material gains made them to become heartless, and pitiless toward their own people’s suffering. So, they turned cutthroats. These are the dangerous ones and the enemy of the Oromo people and their struggle.
Hence, the enemy of Oromo people is everywhere at home and abroad. Individuals join the enemy ranks for different reasons- some are naturally violent, malevolent and sadists. Such individuals like to torture their fellow human beings, and still, others join the enemy camp because they are greedy for money, selfish, ruggedly individualists with no passion and patriotic duty, and opportunists seeking material advantage. All in all, these are the categories of individuals within Oromo ranks who have chosen to join the TPLF either openly or secretly for material benefit which is their ultimate goal. Today, even some of them go to TPLF meetings and go on regime’s media openly admiring, treasuring, and praising the regime for its crime.
Furthermore, recently we are seeing new dramas with those who do business with the colonial regime, those who go to Oromo public meetings. These individuals have been observed at the recent “I am Oromo, First” meetings held at various locations. These individuals come to the meetings and sat behind other persons with heads dropped and shoulders curved to hide their faces from camera and others were wearing caps pulled down over their faces, creating a deep shadow hiding their perfectly acceptable face. From the position of their heads, they try to look ahead and to both sides- left and right at the same time, like a chameleon. They are suspicious of everybody. These are types of individuals living in America nine thousand miles away from the Ethiopian empire and yet engulfed in fear of TPLF colonial regime. Others are even failed to attend the public meeting for fear of to be seen. These are individuals that have been given the Oromo land as a reward to abandon the Oromo cause and their struggle. By dealing with the enemy of their people, these individuals demonstrated a deficit of moral judgment as well as support, acceptance, and justification of cruelty and in so doing they let themselves to be reduced to disgrace, shame and humiliation. In general these individuals do not have well-defined political views since their interest is merely in material gains. They believe if they are seen among Oromo and speak ill of the colonial regime, the property they bought or are given would be taken away from them. Hence, it is clear moral blindness has affected so many nationals with respect to genocide committed by the TPLF on their people.
Hence Oromo enemies are everywhere. For this, the fighting is also everywhere. Hence, the Oromo people and their nationalists are fighting against fascist Tigrayan occupational force; against its deadly economic pillage of Oromiyaa; against its murderers, against its allies and surrogates and against the traitors within their own ranks.
Emmanuel Ringelblum who was gassed to death by the Nazi asked of the Jews complicity in crimes against their own people in these words:
“How could Jews dragged women and children, the old and the sick, to the wagon-knowing they were all being driven to the slaughter? Where did Jews get such murderous violence? When in our history did we ever before raise so many hundreds of killers, capable of snatching children off the street, throwing them on the wagon, dragging them to the Umschlag [deportation site?]?”
These are the types of questions the Oromo must be asking themselves as to the complicity of the OPDO and the some diaspora Oromo nationals with TPLF and its genocide of their people. Similar questions that can be asked are:
How could Oromo drag women and children, the old and the young, intellectuals, elders, to the truck-knowing they are all being driven to the slaughter? Where did Oromo get such murderous violence? Where in Oromo culture one finds such malevolent, vicious sadists and rugged individualists, and selfish nationals? Where the treasured Oromo cultural values-all is for one, one for all is lost? When in our history did we ever before raise so many thousands of killers, torturers, capable of snatching men, women and children off the street, off the farmland, off the market, off the shop, and from home, off school, throwing them on the truck, dragging them to the jails?
Where in Oromo history one finds men capably of injuring, inflicting suffering and humiliation on people?
I have noted in the above paragraph the savagery of the TPLF occupation, its plunder of the Oromo resources and its wholesale destruction of our people. It is not a secret to anybody that TPLF intended the war in Oromiyaa to be a war of annihilation of the Oromo population utilizing the defense army of the empire, its special Police force-a mobile killing unit named ‘Liyyuu’ Police, and its security agents aided by arming minority nationalities neighboring Oromiyaa against Oromo population. In this ways, TPLF has turned Oromiyaa into a killing field of Oromo. And in these killings, it has tuned Oromiyaa into rivers of blood and graveyards.
Despite all these crimes and destruction of their people, there are many Oromo nationals in the diaspora going back to the empire purchasing Oromo lands and other properties from the enemy of the Oromo people. In so doing, they have been and are financing the TPLF to buy arms and ammunitions and contributing to the strengthening of its war economy. The question can be raised as to: how their conscience allowed them? Where is voice of conscience? One has to loss one’s moral conscience to work with the enemy of one’s people as that enemy arrests, jails, tortures, maims, and kills their people. Today, it is the TPLF and its surrogates that are doing these to the Oromo people. It is the TPLF and its surrogate that is evicting Oromo from their lands and homes and it is the TPLF that is burning men, women, and children, old and sic, visually impaired and physically handicapped alive in Qumbi, Mayyuu, Mi’eessoo, and etc in Eastern Oromiyaa. It must be understood and should be taken as such that cooperating with such enemy of one’s people for material advantage or otherwise is act of cruelty, heartlessness, and pitilessness towards one’s own people. In such complicity with TPLF, those Oromo individuals have abandoned the time-honored tradition of human morality, ethics, cultural values, principles and virtues, justice and humanity itself and turned themselves into wild beasts and rugged opportunists. They have violated everything the Oromo stand for and hence they became Oromo minus Oromummaa and plus rugged individualism. Then the first question that must be answered is, “Who is the enemy?” The first answer to this question is the internal one. The reason this must be the first answer is because without defeating internal enemy one cannot defeat the external enemy. It is the internal enemy that sponsors and supports external one. Hence, the external enemy cannot operate without the aid and complicity of internal enemy. Hence, those Oromo diaspora collaborators with enemy are the internal enemy of the Oromo struggle for independence and should be the target of the struggle. In our national struggle, we have two enemies to carry on fight against-the one open and declared-external enemy; the other the Oromo offspring, the nurtured, the nourished, and the fostered, and raised ones in the Oromo own hearts, in Oromo families, in side Oromo homes, at Oromo coffee tables, and at Oromo dinner tables who later turned internal enemy for material gains. Hence, in addition to the danger posed to our country from the external enemy-the colonialist regime, we have in the heart of our country an internal enemy more dangerous than any danger we can expect from the external enemy. Put this way, in a national liberation struggle it is vitally important to fight against the internal and external enemies of the Oromo nation at the same time. It is time to weed out the internal enemy without mercy. The internal enemy is the mortal danger to the unity of the Oromo nationals and the struggle for independence of Oromiyaa. Internal enemies aide and abet external enemy.
Hannah Arendt who escaped from Nazi genocide put the complicity of Jewish Councils with the Nazi in these words: “Wherever Jews lived, there were recognized Jewish leaders, and this leadership, almost without exception, cooperated in one way or another, for one reason or another, with the Nazi.” This is also true with the OPDO and some diaspora Oromo. The same complicity of some Oromo nationals with TPLF is also expressed by musical artist Haacaaluu Hunddeessaa in the following words:
“Jabbiloota koo; yaa jabbiloota Odaa jalaa;
kan nama nyaatu nu keessa jira;
Jabbiloota koo; yaa jabbiloota Odaa jalaa;
kan nama nyaatu bobaa keessa jiraa,of eeggadhaa, of eeggadhaa….”
These words of artist Haacaaluu Hunddeessaa forces us to ask ourselves the questions as to who knows the Oromo homes, their villages, their countryside so as to guide the enemy to these places to arrest Oromo and to lead them to slaughter chamber to be tortured and slaughtered; who spies on Oromo, informs about Oromo, and infiltrates the Oromo society and its organizations on the behalf of the enemy, the TPLF. It is the OPDO. Indeed in Oromiyaa today, genocide is fully launched by the TPLF.
As I mentioned above, TPLF has officially launched war of genocide on the Oromo people. To this effect, today in Oromiyaa, families with their children are burned alive. Infants are burned alive; elders aged 75 and 85 are burned alive. These genocidal killings are initiated, planned, coordinated, and implemented by the TPLF itself to exterminate the Oromo people. OPDO is in complicit with TPLF in its scheme.
This is as an expression of warning that the enemy is inside us masquerading as friend; inside Oromo organizations; inside each of us but in complicit with the enemy of our country and people. Hence, Artist Haacaaluu Huddessaa echoed this truth in his musical lyrics “kan nama nyaatu bobaa keessa jiraa of eeggadhaa, of eeggadhaa, of eeggadhaa.” We must beware of the enemies who masquerade as friends. The tragedy of all is this: every successive Ethiopian colonial regimes beginning with and since the colonization of Oromiyaa have been using the Oromo nationals and the resources of Oromiyaa’s soil to fight the Oromo people. Still, it is continuing. This has to be changed. It has to come to an end. Hence, for the patriots, nationalist and the Oromo people there is no option but to unite and fight out for independence. However, Without firm determination of the leaderships and the members of organizations to unite and mobilize human and material resources to fight, the national liberation movement will bog down in a helpless inactivity giving live the colonial regime. This has to be avoided. Our struggle is to bring a radical change, a new beginning in a new Oromiyaa- a free, independent sovereign Oromiyaa. For this to happen, now it is time to unite to establish our military might to liberate our country and bring Oromiyaa to its greatness and glory once again, a greatness and glory that it had lost a century ago.
The glamorization of Menelik’s genocidal war
The glorification of Menelik’s conquest and genocide of Oromo, Sidama, Kaficho, Walaita, Gimira and etc is not a new thing. It has been with us in the name of “unification of Ethiopia” for over a century. Today, the Abyssinian right-wing intellectuals, Political Parties Such as Blue Party/Semayawi party, Ginbot7 and etc, the Orthodox Church and their Media outlets have openly declared their admiration of and support for the brutal mass murderers Emperor Menelik II and Meles Zenawi and have taken their genocidal mass murder to a new height. This time their campaign has taken a form of glamorization of Menelik’s genocidal mass murder of the people of the south to the level of “holy war.” This is a new campaign initiated by Amhara intellectuals and media outlets in coordination with the Tigrayan regime of TPLF as a part of general campaign against Oromo and the other peoples of the south. We should not lose sight of this. The Ethiopian musical artist Tewodros Kassahun (aka Teddy Afro), is merely their messenger; their reconstructed a 100-year-old face as a new face who is willingly eager to deliver their message of genocidal mass murder as a “holy war” to the public. Teddy Afro is simply chosen because he admires, cherishes, idolizes, adorns, supports and treasures genocide and the crimes against mankind. In this case, against the south, Oromo included. It is the Amhara and Tigrayan elites who have initiated, promoted, and elevated the genocidal mass murder of Menelik to the level of “holy war.” This is an integral part of TPLF genocidal war of Oromo extermination which is going on today.
For this, a new anti-Oromo campaign- a heinous hatred of Oromo people is swamping the Ethiopian empire and the diaspora among Abyssinians in the name of commemoration of 100th anniversary of the death of Emperor Menelik II- a man who exterminated over five million Oromo people and another millions in the south, in addition to mutilating breasts of women, right hands of men and children and their sexual organs of the living. Today, the glamorization of the Oromo-genocide as a “holy War” is permeating the flesh and blood of Abyssinian new generation. It has become a base for recruitment of new generation of Abyssinians who are willing and eager to commit a new wave of genocide against Oromo and the other peoples of south. Tewodros Kassahun should not be allowed to set his foot in Oromiyaa and on its soil; should not be allowed to enter the Oromiyaa airspace. Bedele Beer Brewery should withdraw its sponsorship of Tewoddros Kassahun. Not to do so is the same as supporting, adorning, glorifying, and glamorizing genocide that was committed on the Oromo, Sidama, Kaficho, Walaita, Gimira, Majii, and other peoples in the south by King Menelik II of Abyssinia.
Now let us turn to our tomorrow’s dentiny. Our tomorro’s destiny will be where our collective action of today takes us. Our struggle of today is for our destiny of tomorrow. Our destiny of tomorrow is independence-independence to be masters of our country; makers of our history. Our destiny is to re-establish a democratic Gadaa political system of constitution, governed under the rule of law, anchored on justice, equality, liberty, freedom, tolerance, transparency, and good governance and to end the endless cycle of suffering of our people stemming from darkness of colonial occupation. And to establish government of the people, for the people by the people and from the people with a term limit. This is rule of majority that respect for the rights and interests of minority nations. We want in the new Oromiyaa of tomorrow an egalitarian society whereby all individuals should have equal, free access to good education and highest quality health care and a society of all for one, one for all.
For these, our tomorrow’s destiny depends solely on what we do together in unity today. There has been and is a demand for unity, a demand for struggle and a demand to struggle in unity. Independence is not given free and it never has been and will never be. One has to earn it through struggle and through sacrifice in blood and sweat. It was in this spirit Frederick Douglas, a prominent American abolitionist, has to say this:
“If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle maybe a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
These words of Douglas still stand true today to those who care about the struggle. Independence cannot be given free. One has to struggle for it. The cardinal code is: one has to have willingness and commitment to struggle. The struggle has either in nonviolent way as Mahatma Gandhi and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther did by confronting the enemy head on in non-violent way willing to go to jail; willing to be beaten and willing to die. If not, it has to take a form of armed struggle. Non-violence takes breaking unjust laws openly and non-violently. In this form of struggle, one has to have a commitment to the cause and willingness to die for it. Such form of struggle demands readiness to face police abuses and arrests, and patience to sit indefinitely in jails. Whatever route you choose to take and whatever destination you hope to reach, take it openly but silence should not be the option. It is our silence that became strength for the TPLF to slaughter our people and to mutilate our country, in addition to its other Oromo collaborators-those who abandoned the Oromo national liberation struggle to join it for one reason or another.
In conclusion, in this national liberation struggle the Oromo nationals have taken many wrong steps that led to the weakening of the struggle and the division of the nationalists as noted above. The logical and rational choice for a colonized people is neither the federalization of colonial empire nor union nor autonomy within the empire as respectively advocated by the “federalist,” “unionist,” and “autonomist” individuals. All these are bogus and fictitious argument. Those who subscribe to independence through empire “federalization” or “democratization” cannot see the light of day. They can neither get independence nor federation nor union nor autonomy nor democracy. The argument has no historical precedence.
Moreover, our other difference is on the question of self-determination. We all say our struggle is for self-determination; but in using the same phrase we do not all mean the same thing. For the Ethiopian empire loyalists oftentimes referred to as the collaborators (the federalist, the unionist, and the autonomist- collectively known as the apologists of Ethiopian empire), the phrase self-determination means internal self-determination. The apologists regard the Oromo question as internal affairs to Ethiopia to be resolved within Ethiopian empire in the form of autonomy. Their catchwords are federalism, and democracy. They see the Oromo question as a question of secession to be resolved by “yes” or “no” reply or through democratization. This logic is flawed. Oromo question is not internal to Ethiopia; it is an international issue. The reason is the Oromo question is a colonial question. Colonialism is international phenomena and hence it is international issue. For this, there is no a need for referendum for a colonial question. For the Oromo people and its nationalists the phrase self-determination exclusively stands for external self-determination which means total independence from colonial occupation without the need for referendum. For the “yellow nationalists” self-determination means establishment of autonomy within Ethiopian empire but for the nationalists and the Oromo people it means establishment of sovereign political statehood meaning independent and sovereign Republic of Oromiyaa. Hence, the alternative to the nightmare of colonial cruelty and violence, its robbery and its genocidal war in which we found ourselves today in is none other than the total independence-the establishment of sovereign independent state of Oromiyaa. For this, let us march forward in unity with strong and active faith in the struggle of our people for independence.
Oromiyaa Shall BE Free!