In Unison, We can Beat Them! Tullu Liban

Lemma Megerssa’s team scored another point for itself and the Oromia nation for suspending the mockery conference scheduled to take place in Dire Dawa last Sunday.  This team is, in fact, persuasively attacking the TPLF camp in the political field albeit the lack of capacity to overcome the fattened military and intelligence apparatus, as things stand now. The current OPDO leadership has taken admirable steps recently to prove itself that it can take the responsibility of nation-leading and that it can take that country to a better position provided they can keep the momentum.
Some of these steps are countable and visible from the political point of view. For instance, TPLF-Abdi Illey forces waged unprecedented war on Oromia and killed thousands, evicted over half a million people and jailed thousands of Oromos. Their plan was obvious. The TPLFtes wanted an equal reaction from the Oromo side to justify their importance as offset guards. The OPOD leadership foiled that dangerous calculation of TPLF by calming the matter down and guaranteeing Somali brothers complete surety for their safety. Another important milestone is the delegation of Oromia youth in Tana Lake weed removal, a symbolic partnership with Amhara brothers and the subsequent Lemma-Geddu delegate joint conference that took place in Bahirdar city. It bears a significant meaning for OPDO political height and the future of that country, indeed. Another noteworthy point is the decision that OPDO assembly passed regarding the reassignment of Oromo freshman students in higher institutions. This decision made OPDO credible to defend Oromo causes compared with their previous stance on issues of concern. The reversion they made on new Qube alphabet order, the suspension of the bill on Oromia special interest on Finfinnee, the peaceful celebration of Irrecha in absence of official representative from government etc. have elevated OPDO sharply from docile and inept position to a wiser leadership status.
I am not that naïve to shower OPDO with praise, but I believe we need to be fair to appreciate them where we owe it. We expect more action and delivery. The more they deliver, the better they build trust and confidence. When they fail to live up to expectations, we criticize them and they will lose because we are not yet fully convinced to trust them.
In fact, there are complex issues in that country, which have been overdue from the very start of the formation of the empire and those which have been exacerbated after the coming to power of the TPLF regime. It may not be possible for OPDO to address all of them right way. However, when it comes to the things that are in their jurisdiction, it is not only the matter of moral responsibility for them to stand to issues that negatively affect the Oromo, but also a fact of survival for them as a political entity.
Such is the decision they made about Oromo students’ placement in the higher institution, the rejection of a camouflage “reconciliation conference” in Dire Dawa and other unforeseen dramas that the TPLF would stage to halt Oromo revolution for change.
Another concern may arise sooner or later. For instance, the OPDO leadership may be pushed to “reinstate” Oromo victims of displacement in Somali region, Abdi Illey and his crew being intact. I am sure the OPDO leadership will never make a mistake to send back the victims unless things are fundamentally changed and all the criminals of war and genocide are held accountable for the atrocities they committed.
To sum up, it is a good step that OPDO leadership rejected the Dire Dawa sham conference. Though it is not good to be in a defense position in the political intrigue, it is still important to defend offensives cleverly. TPLF tried to trap OPDO to a loser position by pretending to settle their crimes through an organized dram called “courtreconciliation”. OPDO hit it back and the ball is till rolling to the TPLF net.
Yet, Lemma and his team should play in an offensive position as they have already started it with ANDM, and they have to push forward in bringing on board Oromo communities as well. Steps such as bonding Wolloo, Graba and many other communities together with their Oromo kin is very essential. Such a move has to be intensified in bringing on board Oromo communities such as the Garii, Wonbara, and Raya Oromos too. In the same token, amicable relations with other peoples in the south and in the north should be maximized as much as possible. In unison, we shall beat TPLFtes. Keep moving.

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The current Political Quagmire in ETHiopia

Wond Wossen

Here is how I read the current political quagmire in the country.
TPLF and OPDO are locked in a very dangerous power struggle. The new OPDO leadership demands a greater share of federal power that is commensurate with the size of the population it “represents”. TPLF insists on maintaining its undue monopoly of federal power.
TPLF controls key federal institutions including the army, the security, media institutions, and telecom and transport infrastructure. The new OPDO leadership has the upper hand in the Oromia regional state. The region’s key institutions, including the regional parliament, the media, the police force, the civil service, the population at large, and even Diaspora “opposition groups” all seem to stand behind the new leadership. The new leadership is exploiting its regional hegemony, and the support it enjoys from the population––a population that is particularly bitter about the TPLF––to break TPLF’s dominance.
ANDM, the least legitimate of the EPRDF parties on account of its deep legitimacy crisis among the Amhara, is following events quietly, perhaps calculating which side to favor when push comes to shove. There is no clear indication yet which side it will take, although I suspect eventually it would favor the victor. After all, ANDM’s history is a history of obedience and servitude. As such, neither TPLF nor OPDO could count on ANDM, apriori, in their ongoing power struggle.
In the meantime, TPLF is using the long arm of the federal government to unsettle the new OPDO leadership. Although exaggerated to an extent, reports of TPLF agents trying to instigate violence in parts of Oromia cannot be discounted altogether. Violence in Oromia is in TPLF’s best interest. First, violence, especially when it assumes an ethnic character, helps to stain the Oromo struggle in the eyes of other Ethiopians and discredit the new OPDO leadership. Second, it creates the perfect excuse for TPLF to unleash its army against peaceful protesters, and show who is really in charge (just as it did in Ambo few days ago!), putting OPDO and its nationalistic rhetoric in a precarious position. The population would start to question OPDO’s resolve to stand up to TPLF.
In retaliation to TPLF’s continued menace, OPDO deploys its regional security establishment to target TPLF’s involvement in illegal activities, including contraband trade, illicit financial flow, and abuses by TPLF affiliated businesses and investors. To amplify their propaganda value, OPDO justifies and propagates these measures using its regional media wing and online activists. Angered by the exposition of their criminality, TPLFites retaliate by taking violent measures that impair OPDO’s standing among the Oromo, and other Ethiopians.
Although in theory, TPLF could still mass arrest OPDO’s new leadership and replace them by puppets, such a dramatic measure could backfire in more ways than one. First, it will seriously undermine the already tattering image of the EPRDF in the eyes of both its members and the public. Especially, non-TPLF members could lose confidence in the party. Second, OPDO’s new leadership might resist arrest and deploy the regional police force to defend itself, thus setting off a dangerous military standoff between the two parties. Finally, given the support they enjoy from the population, the arrest of OPDO’s leadership might provoke a whirlpool of violent protests across the region, further eroding TPLF’s control of the country.
Essentially, therefore, the two parties are locked in a perpetual power struggle. At present, none seems to have the critical upper hand to win the battle definitively. To make matters worse, EPRDF does not seem to have a proper mechanism of resolving such inter-party hostilities. The PM recently gave hints at some sort of negotiation is taking place to sway Aba Dulla to revisit his recent resignation from his post as Speaker of the House. If true, the negotiation is unlikely to be confined to Aba Dulla’s return to his post. It will also likely address the hostility between OPDO and TPLF. Whether this effort will bear fruit and relations between the two parties could return to normality (what normality entails in this context itself is very problematic) remains to be seen.
In the meantime, the power politics between TPLF and OPDO is increasingly harming the average citizen. As we have repeatedly witnessed in the past months, the power struggle is expressing itself, at the local level, in the form of ethnic attacks, mass evictions, and extrajudicial killings of defenseless civilians. The preponderance of violence across the country is instilling a feeling of lawlessness and fear among the population. Moreover, regardless of who comes out of the power struggle victorious, the prospect of democratizing the country is very narrow. There is very little ideological difference between TPLF, OPDO and ANDM. They all are advocates of revolutionary democracy and ethnic federalism. Replacing one’s dominance by the other will not answer our longstanding quest for democracy and rule of law.
The solution lies in a genuine and inclusive dialogue with all political parties, both inside and outside the country, and charting a lasting political roadmap that can pull the country from the current quagmire and put it on the path of democracy and stability. Anything short of genuine democratic reform at this time will only lead to perpetual violence, destruction and the inevitable disintegration of the country into smaller pieces.

OPDO on Crossroads: What Comes Next?

Tullu Libban

It is a public knowledge that Oromia has been fully under the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) control over the last 26 years, in a camouflage of Ethiopian Peoples’ Democratic Front (EPRDF). In the EPRDF coalition, OPDO has served only TPLF as a tool to cash Oromia. There has no time when OPDO acted as a responsible party to represent the Oromo people because the system never wanted OPDO to play an active role in the entire tenure of EPRDF regime. We don’t need to go into the details of why TPLF created OPDO and why it kept it truncated for so long time. It seems, now the time has changed.
At this moment, it is a question whether TPLF can maintain its control over OPDO, by extension on Oromia, given the dynamics taking place in the political arena in the Ethiopian empire. It is less likely that TPLF could use OPDO as a manipulative political object anymore. In the recent months, OPDO has shown bold resistance towards the humiliating master-slave relationship it has undergone over a quarter a century.
The question is yet, how far this resistance can last and what will be the end result. For both TPLF and OPDO (the father and the child) the Oromo struggle posed undesired challenges. Can TPLF control Oromia without OPDO? Or can OPDO survive without TPLF? No for the father; yes for the child, in my opinion. Therefore, I guess, TPLF must have gone a mile ahead to prepare a plan on how to handle OPDO and maintain its lust for power and control for resources in Oromia. How about OPDO? Does it have any strategy on how to escape being swallowed by the yawing beast (TPLF)?
I believe, OPDO cannot continue to rule Oromia, (at least theatrically), providing a liaising service for TPLF against the interest of the Oromo people. Certainly, TPLF will never enjoy that cheap service from OPDO in the years ahead. However, there will be a lot of headache for the current leadership of OPDO to continue standing up to TPLF’s arrogance. TPLF will try its best to bring to power loyalists from within the OPDO to the higher echelon by removing the current populist figures like Lemma Megerssa, Abiy Ahmed, Addisu Arega, Worqineh Gebeyou etc.
What can TPLF do?
Assumption and scenarios
1. Engaging OPDO in routine rings: TPLF will continue to keep the current leadership busy (creating conflicts here and there, inciting uprisings in schools, industries, neighborhoods, encouraging havoc in Oromia). Then popular demands would remain unanswered in the region, development activities would be halted and resentments escalate to blame the current leadership.
2. Infiltration and sellouts: TPLF may prepare splinters, buy some betrayers to divide OPDO and manipulate internal strife to weaken the emerging force from the OPDO camp
3. Self-criticism and Confession (Gimgema): One of the instruments that TPLF deploys to tame its surrogates and control them with chains on the neck is the so-called gimgama. The masters stuff their subordinates in a hall and demand them to make confessions about perceived or committed “crimes”. The confession session may take a month or a couple of months. There is a character assassination camp known as EPRDF Training Center led by Addisu Legesse, Abay Tsegaye etc. and all top-level officials from all regions and federal government agencies are required to participate in the “training” at least for 2-3 months. Core TPLF circle reps “evaluate” each one of their prey and make a decision about whether the prey would go back to their position or fired and jailed.
4. Democratic Centralism: TPLF has effectively utilized the Stalinist method of democratic centralism, which allows dictators to impose their hegemony on party members, where members have no voice, right and choice to reject whatever percolates from above. They are expected to endorse whatever a small circle in the highest leadership decides. That is the kind of “democracy” in place even in the TPLF rubberstamp parliament, where laws are unanimously enacted without any objection or abstention. Therefore, OPDO members are required to heed to this practice and they would lose ground to hold an independent position on matters affecting their interest and that of the people they represent.
5. Marginalizing OPDO in the EPRDF: The formidable force to challenge TPLF at this moment is OPDO. Recent developments that brought about the alliance of the Oromo people with OPDO is a big blow to TPLF’s governance model. Therefore, TPLF would try its level best to mobilize ANDM and SEPDM against OPDO in a bid to diminish OPDO’s role in decision making on matters of national interest and that of the Oromia region. That would make matters difficult for the OPDO leadership to keep its public promises and pledges.

What should OPDO do then?
I would like to recommend the following points for OPDO to keep the momentum, ensure its relevance, credibility and very survival.
1. Stick to your motto of “Our people, our masters”, depend entirely on the Oromo people and listen to them attentively. Consult with Oromo intellectuals, pause and think over your plans before putting them into actions. That will spare you from committing ridiculous mistakes like erecting a thoughtless monument for Irrecha massacre martyrs and preparing a useless document for Oromia special interest over Finfinnee.
2. Act collectively and ensure profound bond among your members from top to down and stand together. Never let betrayers work against you and the interest of the Oromo people
3. Denounce the labeling of Oromo children as narrow nationalists and terrorists, as you are well aware of why these demeaning terms are used against the self-conscious and self-respecting Oromos
4. Get rid of the so-called democratic centralism and developmental government theories because both are unconstitutional party tools to restrict your free thoughts, actions and decisions
5. Say no to TPLF “gimgema” which is conducted in a master-servant relation manner. Why do Bereket, Abay, Addisu, Debretsion etc. gauge you and decide your fate, course of action and political life. Reverse this practice upside down and criticize them and make them accountable for the atrocities, corruptions, and vandalism in the country.
6. Say no to EPRDF rules and regulations, which are mainly developed by the late Meles Zenawi to serve the interest of TPLF dwarfing OPDO’s role and thereby that of the Oromo people in the political realm
7. Demand to have fair and proportional representation in the EPRDF executive committee and its council as well as in the Federation Council etc. so that you can influence decisions and discussions as per the contribution of Oromia to the national economy and well-being.
8. Calculate what Oromia would lose if OPDO is not part of EPRDF (for instance is there any benefit for Oromia to be in EPRDF coalition better than Gambella or Afar?). Withdrawal from EPRDF is a possibility without, withdrawing from the federation.
In conclusion, if OPDO remains to be controlled by the same tools designed by TPLF and abides by the unfair laws unchanged, it will never achieve any remarkable success. There is no a level playing field. The rules of the game are prepared by TPLF. Therefore, to play on the field where TPLF is both a player and a referee, OPDO will continue to be a loser. It will be trapped in the same vicious circle and remain to host the parasitic TPLF being consumed, of course, letting the Oromo people down as usual.

ይድረስ ለኦህዴድ መሪዎች!

Tullu Liban

ትንሽ ወንድማዊ ምክር እንድለግሳችሁ ፍቀዱልኝ። ላለፉት 26 ዓመታት ያሳለፋችሁት የባርነት ዘመን ሕሊና ላለው ሰው እጅግ የሚሰቀጥጥ ነው። በሌላችሁ ስልጣን ስልጣን እንዳላችሁ፣ በሌላችሁ ክብር ክብር እንዳላችሁ፣ ባልተሳተፋችሁበት ትግል እንደታገላችሁ ተነግሯችሁ፣ ጄኔራል ሳትሆኑ ጄኔራል ተብላችሁ፣አምባሳደር ሳትሆኑ አምባሳደር ተብላችሁ፣ መሪ ሳትሆኑ ፕሬዚዳንት ተብላችሁ፣ ሳትማሩ ድግሪ ተሰጥቷችሁ ለወያኔ መጫወቻ አሻጉገሊት ሆናችሁ ኖራችኋል። ወያኔ ከአባታችሁ ቤት በአካፋ እየዛቀ ሲዘርፍ እናንተ በማንኪያ ትንሽ ብትሰርቁ ሙስና ሰርታችኋል ብሎ እያሸማቀቃችሁ ጥባጥቤ ተጫውቶባችኋል። ወያኔዎች ሰማይ ጠቀስ ፎቅ እየሠሩ እናንተ መጠነኛ መኖሪያ ቤት ስትሠሩ በግምገማ እሳት ላይ ጥደውአችኋል። መቼም ህሊናችሁንም የኦሮሞንም ህዝብ መዋሸት አትችሉም። በየትኛውም መስሪያቤት አንድ ቀጭን ትግሬ ካለ የቱንም ያህል እውቀት ቢኖራችሁ፣ የቱንም ያህል በሥልጣን ተዋረድ የባላይ ብትሆኑ ውሳኔ ሰጭው ትግሬው እንደሆነ ታውቃላችሁ። ይህን የበታችነት ደረጃ አሜን ብላችሁ ይህን ውርደት ተሸክማችሁ ሩብ ምዕተ ዓመት ኖራችኋል። መቼም ሕሊና ላለው ሰው ይሄ ያማል።

የትልቅ ህዝብ ተወካይ ነኝ የሚል ሰው በአባልባሌ ተራ ማይም ትግሬ ሲናቅና እንደ አሽከር ሲላላክ ያማል። ጥሩ ለብሳችሁ አጊጣችሁ ይሆናል። ጥሩ መኪና ነድታችሁ ይሆናል። ጥሩ መኖሪያ ቤት ገንብታችሁ ይሆናል። ዳሩ ምን ያደርጋል ይህ ሁሉ እርግማን ይሆንባችኋል። ባዶነታችሁን ያሳበቅባችኋል። የደም ሀብት ነው። አላፊ አዱኛ ነው። ይህ ሁሉ ሆኖ አሁን የነጻነት ጎህ የቀደደ ይመስላል። ዕድሜ ለኦሮሞ ሕዝብ ትግል እናንተም ነጻ የምትወጡበት ጊዜ ሩቅ አይሆንም። አደራችሁን ካሁን በኋላ በኦሮሞ ሕዝብ ትግል ፊት እንዳትቆሙ። እናንተ ስላተዋረዳችሁት፣ ራሳችሁም አንሳችሁ ስላሳነሳችሁት፣ አልባሌ ሆናችሁ በአልባሌ ቡድን ስላስጠቃችሁት እንጂ የኦሮሞ ህዝብ ከኦነግ ጋር አልቆረበም። ኦነግ የኦሮሞን ህዝብ የልብ ትርታ ስላወቀ ጥያቄዎቹን ጥያቄው ስላደረገ ነው መንፈስ ሆኖ የቀጠለው።ኦህዴድ ነኝ ማለት የሚያሳፍራችሁ የሠራችሁት ነውር ስራ አፍ አውጥቶ ስለሚናገር ነው። ኦነግ መባል በኦሮሞ ህዝብ ዘንድ ያስብከር እንደሆን እንጂ አፍሳሮ አያውቅም። እናንተው የገደላችኋቸው አንድ የመንዲ አዛውንት ያሉትን ልንገገራችሁ። የናንተው ነፍሰ ገዳዮች ያዟቸውና “እርስዎ ምግብ እያመላለሱ ኦነግን ጫካ ውስጥ ይቀልባሉ ” አሏቸው። ቆፍጣናው አባትም “እውነት ነው ለአንበሶቹ ስንቅ አመላልሳለሁ። ውሻ ግን አልቀልብም። እስቲ ውሻ ሆነህ ለጌቶችህ እመንደር ውስጥ ከምታድነኝ አንበሳ ሁንና ጫካ ግባ እንደማልቀልብህ ታያለህ” አሏቸው። ግን ውሾቹ በሏቸው።

ኦነግ ኖረም አልኖረ የኦሮሞን የሀገር ባለቤትነት፣ የሥልጣን ባለቤትነት፣ ሰላምና ብልጽግና ለማስመለስ የተጋ ሁሉ ክብርና ሞገስ አለው። አሁን በመጨረሻ ሰዓትም ቢሆን ይህ ዕድል እንዳያመልጣችሁ። የፈሪ ሞት ሳይሆን የጀግና ሞት ሙቱ። ለዓመት በዓል ዋዜማ ዶር አብይ አህመድ አንድ ልብ የሚነካ ንግግር አድርጎ ነበር። “ሁላችንም እንሞታለን ሞት አይቀርምና”ነው ያለው ባልሳሳት። አዎን ሞት አይቀርም። ጄኔራል ታደሰ ብሩ ከናንተ የተሻለ ሀብት፣ ማዕረግ፣ ክብርና ሞገስ ነበራቸው። ከወገናቸው ክብር ግን አልበለጠባቸውም። ብዙዎቹ በእስር ቤት የሚማቅቁት፣ የሞቱት እና የተሰዱደት እንናንተ የምኖሩትን ኑሮ ቢፈልጉ ኖሮ በሩ ሰፊ ነበር። እስቲ አሁን ለሕሊና መኖር ጀምሩ። እናንተ ማገር ሆናችሁ ባትይዙት ግድግዳ ሆናችሁ ባትደግፉት እኮ እንኳን በላያችሁ ላይ ጥሬ አሩን ሊያራና ወያኔ ወይ ተጠራርጎ ከኦሮሚ ይወጣል ወይ በናንተ ተርም ቀጥ ብሎ ይኖራል። መንገዱ እኮ ቀላል ነው። እናንተ በፌዴራል ምክር ቤት 190 መቀመጫ አላችሁ። በኦሮሚያ ጉዳይ ላይ ያለ ፍርሃት ድምጻችሁን አውጥታችሁ ተከራከሩ። ኦሮሚያን የሚጎዳ ውሳኔ ሊተላለፍ ሲል በድምጻችሁ ውድቅ አድርጉት። የማይስማማችሁ አሠራር ሲኖር ከፌዴራል ሥርዓቱ ለመውጣት እንደምትገደዱ ለሕዝባችሁ በግልጽ ተናገሩ።

የኦሮሚያ ምክር ቤት በምትሉት ስብሰባ በክልላችሁ ጉዳይ ማንንም ሳታስፈቅዱ ውሳኔ ስጡ። ለወያኔ ይህ የኛ ጉዳይ ነው በሉት። ምን ሲሆን ነው የትሬው አፍሮ ጽዮን የናንተን የባህል ማዕከልና ጽ/ቤት የሚገነባው? ለዚያውም ከደረጃ በታች፤ ከውሉ ውጭ። ኦሮሚያ ዲዛይነርናኮንትራክተር የለውም? ለምንድነው የኦሮሚያ ውሃ ስራዎች ድርጅት ስራ ፈቶ እያለ በኦሮሚያ ውስጥ የሚሠሩ የውሃ ልማት ሥራዎች ለትሬው ሳባ ኮንስትክራሽን የሚሰጡት? እስከ መቼ ነው የመከላከያ ጃኔራሎች ስብጥር 99 ከመቶ በትግሬ የሚያዘው? እስከ መቼ ነው የደህንነት መስሪያቤቱ በትግሬ የሚዘወረው? እስከ መቼ ነው ቁልፍ የፏይናንስ ተቋማቱና ትልልቅ ካፒታል አንመጭ ተቋማት ለምሳሌ የኢትዮጵያ አየር መንገድ፣ ቴሌሙንኬሽን፣ ጉምሩክ፣ የኢትዬጵያ መንገዶች ባለሥልጣን ወዘተ የትግሬ የግል ንብረት የሚሆኑት? መቼ ነው ትልልቅ ካምኒዎች የአላሙድ የወርቅ ማምረቻ ጭምር ለኦሮሚያ ግብር የሚከፍሉት? ኦህዴዶች፤ ወይ መሆን ነው ወይ አለመሆን ነው ምርጫችሁ። የፊንፊኔ ጉዳይና የአፋን ኦሮሞ ጉዳይ ገና ጊዜ የማይሰጠው የቤት ሥራ ነው። የህዝባችንን መፈናቀልና ጥቃት ያስከተለው የድንበር ጉዳይ የምትተኙበት የቤት ሥራ አይደለም። አሁኑኑ እልባት ማግኘት አለበት 26 ዓትመ ሙሉ ስትተኙ ከርማችሁ አሁን ማጣፊያ ሊያጥራችሁ ነው። መቼም ታረጉታላሁ ብለን አይደለም። ትልቅ የበታችነት የሥነ ልቦና በሽታ አለባችሁና። ከሰማችሁ ስሙ ህዝባችንን አስታቁት እንጂ ትጥቁን አታስፈቱት። አዲስ አብባ ያለ ትግሬ ሳይርቀ በነፍስ ወከፍ እየታጠቀ ኦሮሞ በራሱ ገንዘብ የገዛውን ትጥቅ ለምንድነው የሚፈታው። ስሙማ በደርግ ጊዜም ቢሆን ትጥቁን እንዲፈታ የተገደደው የኦሮሞ ህዝብ ብቻ ነው። ጁነዲ ሳዶ በሥልጣን ዘመኑ ከ200 ሽህ ህዝብ በላይ ትጥቅ በስማፈታት ታሪክ ይቅር የማይለው ስህተት ሠርቷል። ዛሬ ህዝባችን ለአብዲ ኢሌ ጥቃት የተጋለጠው ትጥቅ ስለሌለው ነው።
እኔ ልምከራችሁ ወያኔ ጠፍሮ የሚያስራችሁ አብዮታዊ ዲሞክራሲ፣ ዲሞክሲዊ ማዕከላዊትነና ግምገማ በሚባሉ የታወቁ ገመዶቹ ነው። በዚህ ጠልፎ ይጥላችኋል። ይህንን በቃን በሉት። እናንተ አትገመግሙንም በሏቸው።ዴሞራሲያዊ ማእከላዊነት የሚባለውን ሰውን እንደ ግዑዝ የፓርቲ ቁሳቁስ የሚቆጥረውን የሶሸሊስት አስተሳሰብ ከዛሬ ጀምሮ በቃን በሏቸው። በኢህአዲግ ማዕከላዊ ኮሚቴና በሥራ አስፈጻሚ ኮሚቴው ውክልናችሁ በምትወክሉት ህዝብ መጠን እንዲሆን ተከራሩና አስወስኑ። ይህን ለማድረግ ከወሰናችሁ ህዝባችሁ ከጎናችሁ አለ። ይህን ካላደረጋችሁ የተለመደ የተላላኪነት ሥራችሁን እየሠራችሁ ህዝባዊ ማዕበሉ ጠራርጎ ይወስዳችኋል። አሟሟታችሁም የውሻ ሞት ይሆናል። ፍጠኑ ጊዜ የላችሁም። ጨረስኩ። ልቦና ይስጣችሁ።

 

 

The Qube Saga: Another Attack on the Oromo People

By: Tullu Liban

The change to Qube sequence has gone virial on social and mainstream media this time around. OPDO officials came out on TV screen to deny and or defend the change in a hair-raising way. One of the defenders who appeared on Oromia Radio and Television (who presumably presented himself as a language scholar), tried to explain the “rational” of the Qube change, though implausibly. He mentioned 5 points, defined as reading components viz. phonological awareness, grapho-phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.
There are plenty of reasons that retrigger linguistic and pedagogical questions in these claims. Are they really the causes to change the sequence of Oromo alphabet? The OPDO officials/experts denied the change to ABCD sequence in Afan Oromo curriculum. However, they couldn’t hide that the teaching method for Afan Oromo from grade 1 to 8 has been changed as far as Oromo language teaching is concerned. What does that mean? On the one hand they say Oromo alphabet order is not changed. On the other they tell us the order is changed from ABCD to LAGM? Are they confused or try to confuse us? Leaving aside the denial tricks, let us raise some mechanical (writing), linguistic and pedagogical points.

1. The issue of mechanics (grapho-phonemics)

The OPDO TV panellists said “L” letter is the simplest sign for children to write. As we all know, Qube alphabet has got two sets of signs, which are different in shape-small and capital (lower case and upper case). Which of the signs the OPDO linguists are talking about “l” or “L”? If they are talking about small “l”, yes, one needs to write only one vertical line and if that is the case what should logically follow is ‘i’ not “a” or A, then “j” not, “g” or “G”. If they are talking about capital “L, it needs to draw two lines, vertical and horizontal and connect them at the bottom end, and the logic of simplicity becomes questionable. In that case one may probably accept the logic of drawing two lines to write “A” capital. But it needs three lines, the two which form a coned shape and connected them at the middle by another line. Worse, yet, “g” or “G” are entirely different in shape from both “L” and “A”. Where is the mechanics of simplicity, then? This fact automatically dismisses the simplicity of visual and mechanical logic claimed for writing the letters.

2. The issue of frequency of “L” sound (phonological awareness)

The magic of “L” sound in Afan Oromo is simply a surprise for one to believe. What is the magic for frequency of an “L” sound in Afan Oromo? What special linguistic quality makes it appear repeatedly when all sounds have equal value in the language? Moreover, in which text and in how many written materials the magic sound occurred in the so-called Primerpro software? What is the factor that triggered the recurrence of an “L” sound? Even if that is true, can an expert experiment become a cause to change a nation’s curriculum? There is no sufficient evidence as yet provided by the OPDO “experts” to defend their “discovery”.

3. Reading components?

The OPDO “expert” claimed fluency, vocabulary and comprehension has stirred the change to alphabetical order. These concepts have nothing to do with alphabet teaching or ability of alphabet discrimination. Alphabet is learned in preschool classes and in the case of rural Ethiopia in grade one. Alphabet teaching is not an all time exercise (from grade 1-8). However, fluency in reading, vocabulary mastery and comprehension skills are a lifetime exercise. How on earth these components serve to change sequence of a language alphabet. How much can kids read at grade one in a country like Ethiopia and what does it have with the shapes of alphabets?

4. A Counter argument

If one tries to group sounds, here is linguistic argument. One can arrange sounds based on linguistic features, in their point and manner of articulation instead of the shape of the letters that represent them. For instance, one can argue “K”, “G and “Q” are produced in the same area in oral cavity, so it is easy for children to memorize them if they are put in sequence in alphabet teaching. The same logic works for “T” and “X” of Oromo Qube and “S” and “Sh” alike. Thus, the change made to Afan Oromo alphabet has nothing to do with linguistic features.

5. Confusion of alphabets in two languages

The OPDO officials/experts talked that English alphabets will continue to be taught to children in the natural order of ABCD. As we all know, English teaching starts in grade one in Ethiopian schools. One can imagine the benefit of learning the alphabets in the two languages alike. Why do they create this confusion to children, while it is not in the interest of the children (as we watched on Oromia Television a teacher in Sululta reflecting students’ dissatisfaction and that of the teachers with the confusion of changing the alphabets)?

6. The psycholinguistic factor

One of the TV interviewees was heard saying psycholinguistic method was one of the factors that triggered the change (means, cognitive faculty captures simple words than complex ones). Apparently this claim sounds logical. But what has it got with learning “l” first and “a” next? Is “a” difficult than “l”? Dr. Firdisa Jabessa, an established educator at Addis Ababa University, told a journalist while asked the change OPDO made to Qube, that children first pronounce “A” and “B” when they learn talking at toddler stage, not “L”. They start with “Aba”. This is true for all children in the world.

7. The socio-linguistic factor
Since the coming to effect of Qube, Oromos know Qube in the order they have learnt it from day one of their acquaintance with the writing system. Kids chanted ABCD, renowned singers including Ali Birra, produced pieces of lyrics and Oromos across the world cherished ABCD unanimously. Why the TPLF masters and OPDO surrogates want to intervene in this public business? Don’t they know, the level of Oromo attachment to the Qube issue?

8. Detachment from the world
One would hardly believe that Oromo children are less intelligent than the children around the world to learn their alphabet. There is no a story of similar step where countries or communities changed their regular alphabet to teach them to their children. Alphabet teaching is not a rocket science. It needs a lot of elements to help children identify alphabets and read texts properly. Therefore, to alter the order of alphabets known to the world has nothing to do with teaching letters.
Aleqa Kidanewold Kifle, an Amharic lexicographer argues (may be before 50 years back) that Amharic should change its alphabet order from “ሀ ለ” to “አ በ ገ ደ” because the world alphabets start with “A”.

9. The true reason for kids to fail to identify alphabets

One of the scary reasons is that the majority of kids in Oromia are unable to read and write when they complete first cycle school (grades 1-4) is a policy issue. This fact is boldly told to the public by one of the OPDO officials during the TV briefing, though those who are aware of the current Ethiopian education system prettily know it. The major problem here is the so-called self-contained system where one teacher is assigned for the kids to teach all subjects in the first cycle.
Moreover, there are a lot of factors that affect the learning-teaching process at this formative stage, some of which are lack of well trained teachers, teacher-student ratio (up to 80 students in a class room), textbook-student ration, lack of pedagogical facilities such as teaching aids, (fillip chart, flash card, picture books, realia, paly boars etc.), lack of motivation from the part of the teachers, lack of incentive and party membership nepotism, lack of academic freedom among others

10. Preschool policy
The Ethiopian education system is devoid of a preschool policy. There are no publicly funded preschools or kindergartens in Ethiopia. Cities have an assortment of private preschools and kindergartens but there are fewer or no institutions in rural areas. Typically, the children from poor, urban families or those living in rural areas do not attend preschool at all. That means, children enter grade one before learning how to pronounce and spell sounds. This is a country where 85% of the population lives in rural areas and there is not policy as to how to teach basic alphabets and arithmetic to the kids and there are no preschool institutions. Therefore, one can see no liability in the order of Afan Oromo alphabet for the failure of children to read or write.

11. The undercover project
The fact lies somewhere. The change that OPDO made changes to Qube is a political intrigue, which is part and parcel of destabilizing the Oromo society. Known to all, the OPDO goons would not take any policy initiative by their own be it bad or good. The project owners are the TPLF masters. They want to narrow every space they believe benefiting and promoting Oromia. Afan Oromo is a big capital and a unifying force. TPLF wants to infiltrate in this business and disrupt the pace and progress of Afan Oromo development.

Hyenas in the olden days and hyenas of our time

Tullu Liban
An Amharic proverb has it that once upon a time a hyena went to a foreign land where nobody knew him he was a carnivorous. They say the hyena told his hosts to get him a bed made of skin for the night. I think that hyena was so scrupulous and polite that he never tried to cheat the people who knew that he could never sleep on a bed made of skin. Thus, he left the people who knew him and tried to pretend he was a good guest in a foreign land.

Hyenas of our time are shameless. They are so rude when they cry wolf. They don’t understand the intelligence of the people who know them from day one of their birth to their adult age. Hyenas of our time eat everything even sacks let alone skins. And yet, they want to have a skin made bed for their nap. Everybody knows that they eat any bit of mattresses made of skins.

These are the TPLF hyenas and the OPDO foxes. In the tales, our parents told us foxes are servants of hyenas. They told us that foxes hunt for hyenas and eat the leftover when hyenas are full. This analogy works exactly for TPLF masters and OPDO servants.
OPDOs have no the slightest moral ground to brag about economic revolution and tell the public that the Oromo people are their only masters. ( Someone quoted Lemma Megerssa as saying in his speech at the 27th birthday anniversary of OPDO). No, no OPDO boys and oldies. Your master is TPLF. Your masters are not Oromos. There are uncountable evidences to justify this fact. Do you want to know some of your scandals?
Defend these ones if you can, though.

1. TPLF created you in Tigray and told you your birth place was Dherra in Oromia. You told the public for 24 years or so you were born at Dherra. For the reason your masters know (not you) they told you to retell the public you were born in Tigray. You did so. Shame on you!
2. TPLF told you, you are one of the coalition members in EPRDF and that you each would run endowments as TPLF, OPDO, ANDM and SPDM. You were told you would each rlook after Guna, Dinsho, Ambasael and Wondo in that order. For sure Dinsho died because the masters told you to kill it while Guna has grown to a multi-billion and multi-sector company. I doubt if Wondo had better destiny than Dinsho. Ambasel is in its death bed.
3. You were told that Fana Radio (which is now called Fana Broadcasting Corporate) was the property of the four “coalition” members (TPLF, OPDO, ANDM and SPDM). You have never been part of it and it remained to be the property of TPLF.
4. You were initially told and declared in your constitution that Finfinnee is the seat of Oromia state. Ten years later you were told by the masters to evacuate hurriedly from Finfinnee and camp in Adama disregarding protests of the Oromo people. You cracked down on Mecha and Tulama and failed at least to protest in unison with the Oromo people.
5. As part of the Oromo people’s protest against the move of Oromia seat from Finfinnee, Oromo students across the country demonstrated peacefully. Finfinnee University students were in the forefront. Your masters fired 320 Oromo students in a single day from the university, killed some and jailed others. The masters told you to endorse the action. Junedi Saddo, your head, proudly appeared on a TV screen and blessed the barbaric measure.
6. When CUD shook the TPLF government the masters ordered you via telephone to come back to Finfinnee. You immediately rushed back, without any precondition. Even you didn’t wait at least to nullify the law you had enacted to move to Adama.
7. You were told right after elections 2005 that there would be established 10 high schools in the ten sub cities of Finfinnee to teach in Afan Oromo and Abadula Gemeda put cornerstones in each of the places meant for the construction of the schools. Nothing has been materialized over 12 years.
8. In 2011 the So-called Oromo Development Association (ODA), a lame organization considered as a private property of AWAD Jibril bragged to mobilize 3 billion (three billion birr) in a telethon to undertake various development projects in Oromia. Many Oromo children were motivated by the rhetoric made by Mulugeta Debebe, then ODA president, that the dream would come true. However, your masters told you to stop such kind of effort in favor of the Renaissance Dam. You zipped your mouth. You remember that in 2010 Amhara Development Association collected 1 billion birr in a telethon for similar purpose.
9. From 2015 November to 2016 October Oromia was on fire. Still the region is on hidden fire. Your masters killed Oromo children, pregnant, elders and students. They ordered you to celebrate the killings. Muktar Kedir appeared, (then your head) on a TV screen and thanked the killers and appreciated the sniper bullets that hit heads and chests of our people.
10. Your masters deployed killing regiments in various peripheral parts of Oromia (South and East) in particular, under the guise of ethnic conflicts with the neighboring tribes. You know that tribes don’t have heavy weapons, military uniform and trucks to invade Oromia. Even your spokesperson Addisu Arega told the VOA Amharic news that the armed invaders in the south and the east are in military uniforms. You kept quiet.
So, how do you boast of economic revolution as if the Oromo people don’t know your role in the system you are serving? Lol I expect you to appropriately refute these facts. Don’t shout like empty vessel. If you can’t refute, don’t talk and brag nonsense.

Economic revolution? The chain is on the dog’s neck

By: Tullu Liban
Some people seem to be touched and thrilled by Lemma Megersa’s public tizzies. Indeed, Lemma talks Afan Oromo prettily and his verbose are quite attractive, though yet to be tested in action. Such glossy talks are not bad albeit the mix-up of OPDO’s pragmatic power limit and their confused world.

The fact speaks for itself, though. How come one expects economic or otherwise emancipation to come from an enslaved group? We don’t need any lecture on Oromo nationalism and economic marginalization from Lemma, for that matter. The level of Oromo self-consciousness is far way ahead than Lemma and co. would believe. We have had enough of them over years and no rhetoric can be a panacea for Oromo questions but action. The fact is that OPDO can bring neither economic nor political empowerment for the Oromo people given its obvious position in the power relations. They cannot because they are not made to do or be so. The very people who are caged in the nursery of TPLF; hived off from the people they are meant to represent, cannot liberate others before they do declare their own freedom. OPDOs (not the file and rank ones) are up in the line of politics so long they serve the interest of the masters who installed them. They are installed for a purpose. That purpose is to be an ensemble for TPLF interest in order that the latter could exploit resources of Oromia.

TPLF doesn’t want the Oromo people but their resources. Therefore, they don’t want to empower the people whom they are determined to loot indefinitely. They are not that naive to lose their grip over the resource they direly need. Thus, they don’t permit OPDOs to exercise a real power. If one believes OPDODs are exercising a real power in the Oromia leadership or in the fake federalism, one is simply foolish or far away from the tricks of Tigrian politics.
Lemma is not in the service of the Oromo people because he is not elected by free will of the people. He is an assignee of TPLF and his cabinet too. Where is the point then, that one hopes Lemma will bring about economic revolution for the Oromo people?
Lemma is instructed to deliberately speak up loudly picking up the language of honest Oromo elites: nationalism, marginalization, segregation, dehumanization etc. Yes, it seems the plan is hitting the target, it caught public attention for a moment; but couldn’t cool down public temper as it was supposed to.
TPLF emboldened Lemma Megerssa and Beker Shale to spark a dialogue to measure the thermometer of Oromo politics. In a way, TPLF will buy time, respire for a while, work out how to quell the next chapter of inevitable Oromo fight that bothers them day and night.
Those who are hoping OPDOs will change the powerline in Ethiopia’s politics are misleading themselves. OPDO is a handmade “speaking tool”. When the creators, the TPLF masters want them to speak, OPDOs speak nicely and loudly. When they are told to act, they will perform exceedingly. Don’t forget, the chain is on their neck, yet. To loosen a chain on the neck of one’s dog or tighten, fasten it, is not decided by the dog itself but by the owner. That is the situation in which the OPDO surrogates find themselves. If any change happens, in answering Oromo questions, it happens because of the irresistible smack TPLF gangs sustained because of the nonstop Oromo struggle.
Even amid the shocks it has experienced, TPLF still aspires to survive in the years to come. In 2020, TPLF will conduct another round of sham elections in Ethiopia. In the next elections, they want to cling to power by hook or crook. They deploy different tactics to achieve that dream. One of the tactics is addressing some of the Oromo questions. They may promote Afan Oromo as the second federal language, at least theoretically. They may enact a law on Oromia-Finfinnee relations, at least on paper. They may delegate regions to administer certain portions of the economy (with strict control of the center). All these cosmetic reforms will happen to legitimize the next survival of TPLF as a central powerhouse of the empire. As we can see preparations are underway in the name of political negotiation where Oromia is not represented. There will be some individuals in the name of opposition parties in the next parliament of TPLF (Tolessa Tesfaye, Lidetu Ayalew and Ayele Chamisso in mind) . And yet, the essence of the real power relations will remain under the full control of TPLF.
The whole effort of TPLF is now to finalize a groundwork to get a “pass grade” for the 2020 elections. Then, they will prepare another strategy for the 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th rounds to realize the 50 year Tigrian rule dream.
The thing is that OPDO protagonists like Lemma Megerasa, are in the TPLF utmost service so that the former could buy time for power perpetuation. Lemma and his OPDO are agents of TPLF in Oromia as we know them since their creation from POWs.
One must ask Lemma when he broadly opens his mouth about Oromo marginalization where he has been hitherto. He has been an active player, a forefront striker in effecting the marginalization process. One would not have been surprised if Lemma was a newcomer to the OPDO circle. However, it wouldn’t make any sense to hear his ostentatious rhetoric he himself being one of the persons in the enemy service by heart. For heaven’s sake, how dare the thoughts of Oromo economic empowerment came through Lemma’s revelation as if he has not been part and parcel of the system that made the Oromo people sustain the pains? Okay fine, now say they came to their sense to realize the pains, how can Lemma and his comrades reverse politically designed marginalizations under the slave-master relationship with TPLF?
If politics is not a magical activity or a divine business, in this real world of humans, there will be no economic empowerment without political empowerment. If the chain on the neck of OPDO was not in the palms of TPLF, one would hope to see changes in different life aspects as far as Oromia is concerned. But the remote control is not in the palms of the dogs; the masters do hold that chain; will they loosen the grip? No! They may let the dogs relax temporarily, not permanently.
In sum, we are sure whatever reform TPLF conducts in the name of OPDO or if OPDO does something good to answer a portion of Oromo questions, they do it not because they wished to do it nor OPDO dared to demand it. If the OPDO stooges had that ability, they could have materialized many of Oromo demands long ago. The harder we hammer them, the tight we press them, the more our dreams are achieved. They are not granting us our rights. We are gabbing them through struggle. Whatever benefit comes in favor of Oromia, we welcome them because they are the result of Oromo struggle, not a gift from the enemy. They are achieved by struggle thanks to our martyrs who shed their blood selflessly for the noble cause.

Namni miseensa OPDO ta’ee Sirna Wayyaanee Tajaajile Hundi Yakka Sirni sun raawwateef itti Gaafatama

Jawar Mohammed

Juneeydii Saadoo gara miidiyaatti as bahuun mariifi falmii jabaa banee jira. Atakaaroon kun qalbii ummataa qabsoo irraa hamma tokko waan facaaasuuf gariin keenya yaaddayuun ni mul’a. Yaaddoon kun naaf gala. Garuu mariifi falmiin kun har’a sababa Juneeydiitin haa ka’uu malee turus ummanni Oromoofi mooraan qabsoo isaa waanuma itti dhufuuf deemtuudha. Kunis ilmaan Oromoo OPDO keessatti aangoo qabatanii meeshaa diinaa ta’anii turaniifi ammas jiran akkam goona kan jedhuudha.

Mariin kun amumarraa eegaluun Qabsoon Oromoo boqonnaa siyaasaa cehuumsaa ( transitional politics) keessa seenuu isii agarsiisa. Jalabultii kufaatii sirna abbaa irreefi dhalachuu bilisummaatti biyya kamittuu dhimmi qondaalota sirna jiguuf deemu tajaajilaa turanii ajandaa mariifi falmii cimaa ta’a. Adaduma qabsoon tun jabaattuun Oromoota dhiisaati Tigroonnuu bidiruu mootummaa kufaa jiruu sanirraa utaaluun karaa ummataa ykn karaa baqaa filachuun waan hin oolle. Jara bidiruu diinaa irraa utaalu kana bidiruu qabsoo keenyaa yaabachiifna moo, bishaanuma gadi darbina? Gara mooraa qabsoo yoo finnee faaydaafi miidhaan jiru maali? Erga mootummaan kun kufee hoo qondaalota OPDO gandarraa hanga fedaraalaa jiran kana akkam goona? Jara Tigrootaa hoo? Ni adabna moo dhiifama goonaaf? Yoo adabaman warra sadarkaa kami irra jirutu adabama? Warra maal balleesse? Adabbii akkamii? Dhaddacha seeraa kamiin ( domestic or international)? Dhiifamni ( amnesty) yoo kan godhamuuf taate hoo sirna kamiin godhama? Warra isaan miidhan hoo gumaa akkamittu kafalamaaf? Eenyutu kafalaaf? Siyaasaa biyya teenyaa tan fuulduraa keessatti ni hirmaachifna moo taphaan ala taasifna? (Akka Wayyaaneen ESAPA goote.) OPDOn akka jaarmayaatti itti fufti moo ni diigna? Gaafileen kun hundi kan mariiifi falmiin ciccimtuun irratti godhamee deebiin ammumarraa qopheeffamaafi deemuu qabuudha.

Waan takko garuu ammumarraa ifa godhuun barbaachisaadha. Namni miseensa OPDO ta’ee sirna Wayyaanee tajaajile hundi yakka sirni sun raaw’ateef itti gaafatama. An gaafas hin beekne, hin dhageenye, aangoo dhugaa na harkaa hin jirtuun itti gaafatamummaa jalaa nama hin baasu ( Ignorance does not absolve one from responsibility). Qondaalonni kun yakka hojjatamaa tureefi jiru keessatti takkaa suduudaan hirmaatanii jiran; ykn osoo arganii itti dhiisan. Kanaaf balleessaa irraa of qulqulleessuu hin danda’an. Akka badii isaanii kanaaf itti adabaman garuu waan boru heeraafi seeraan murtaaye hojitti hiikamu ta’a. Har’a qondaalonni kun badii isaanii amananii dhiifama gaafachuun mirga isaaniiti. Dhiifama san namuu mata-matatti irra fudhachuufi dhiisuu danda’a. Garuu ummanni Oromoo waloon gaafii dhiifamaa irratti deebii kennuuf yeroon ammaa miti. Sirni kun erga kufee booda akkuma biyyoota biroo qaamni ( komishinii) yakka sirna abbaa irree keessatti raaw’atame qoratee, yakkamtoota irratti murtii adabbii (prosecute) ykn dhiifamaa ( amnesty) dabarsu dhaabbachuu qaba. Kanaaf ammo ogeeyyii seeraa dhimmaa transitional justice irratti barnoota guddaa horatan waan qabnuuf ammumarraa itti qophaayuu eegaluu qaban. Waa hundaafuu mariifi falmiin dhimma kanarratti godhamu itti fufuun hammeenya hin qabu; garuu miira tasgabbaa’een haa godhamu.

Merera Gudina: Oromo protests and the future of Oromo struggle

A keynote address by Merera Gudina, chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress, at the 2016 Oromo Studies Association (OSA) annual conference.

Introduction

I am here today to talk more about ourselves than the regime in power about whom I have been talking for a quarter of a century. I want to share my thoughts with you openly and honestly because I believe we have reached a stage where open, frank and honest discussion are necessary to lead our people towards the ultimate goal of liberation in our long journey to freedom. As we march forward, we should be honest to ourselves and to our people.

Exactly twenty two years ago, I presented a paper on how to democratize multi-ethnic polities like Ethiopia at the International Conference on Ethiopian Studies held at Michigan State University.

I then argued that “Oromos are the best candidate and centrally placed in terms of history, geography and demography to lead the country’s democratization drive. I even further argued that “Oromos can better claim that they are nearer to the Menilek palace at Arat kilo than those who came from Menez yesterday and Adwa today”. Some Oromo nationalists who found my ideas infuriating painted me as if I am playing the role of Gobana of the 19th century. In fact, they accused me of treason against the interest of our people. Undeterred, I continued to do what expected of me as much as I have understood the trends of Oromo politics, Ethiopian politics, African politics and global politics – all of which I had taught at Addis Ababa University for twenty eight years before I was pushed out because of my involvement in national politics.

Over the last quarter century, Oromo activists have grown matured politically. I have also outgrown my views. All of us have transcended our limitations. We find ourselvesin the same boat in the rising tide of Oromo nationalism. Today, Oromo nationalism a rising boat that is able to accommodate all of us. Without going to details many Oromos including Gadaa (Tesfaye) Gebreab have started to write about Merera’s way. It is with this new spirit that I am addressing OSA as a Keynote speaker twenty two years later.

The rise of modern Oromo nationalism

Let me say few things regarding the rise of modern Oromo nationalism and the major turning points thereof. As you might aware, the conjuncture of two episodes: the creation of Matcha and Tulama Association at the centre and the Bale uprising have immensely contributed to the birth of modern Oromo nationalism. They served as the first turning point and/or a great awakening for the Oromos.

To be sure, the Bale uprising has had a major impact not only on the rise of modern Oromo nationalism but also it had an important influence on the Ethiopian Student Movement that brought down Ethiopia’s ancien regime in 1974. I remember in the heydays of the Ethiopian Student Movement abroad: which way to the revolution: the Bale way or the Bole way had been an important question of tactics. The Bale way symbolized the determined militants’ way while the Bole way symbolized the way of softer revolutionaries. EPRP was the best example of the Bale way as it tried to come through Asimba – the replacement for Bale while MEISON represented the softer Bole way. In short the Bale uprising captured the imagination of the militant generation that brought about the 1974 popular revolution.

The second turning point in Oromo nationalism came with the revolution of 1974, which answered the most popular demand of the generation: “land to the tiller” in which Oromos and the rest of the southern peoples benefited most as serfdom and/tenancy was abolished. In fact, without exaggeration the radical land reform of 1975 was what made the Ethiopian revolution a revolution and the single most important victory for the Oromos and the rest of the southern peoples in the last 150 years. In a nutshell, it broke the economic backbone of the Neftegna system –rule by the gun.

Oromo intellectuals of the generation fully supported and implemented the historic “land to the tiller” proclamation. The end of tenancy and Oromos reclaiming of their ancestral land was historic in the sense that it marked the end of the Neftegnasystem – a great leap forward in our people’s march for freedom. It was the answer to the land question, which made the Ethiopian revolution of 1974 a revolution that moved millions of people into making a new history. Sadly, this is the historic gainthat the TPLF is bent on reversing under the guise of development. Under the current drive of land grab – the slogan “land to the tiller” is turned into ‘land to the investors’. That is why the Oromo youth are dying under the slogan “stop the land grab, lafti keenya, lafee keenya”.

Oromo intellectuals of the revolutionary generation failed to use wisely the opportune moment created by the revolution and the land reform. In other words, the second turning point in the history of modern Oromo nationalism had a negative dimension. To be more precise, the division which is still with us today started with the revolution of 1974. The inexperienced Oromo revolutionaries were seriously divided on the way forward. Some opted for socialism, i.e. transformation of Ethiopia as whole while others were attracted to the more radical version of Oromo nationalism and started to fight for the creation of Oromia republic. MEISON symbolized the socialist project while ECHAT – later OLF symbolized the more radical form of Oromo nationalism. Two contradictory slogans subsequently emerged: ‘red Gobena’ ,referring to the Oromo socialists within MEISON and ‘narrow nationalists’, referring to ECHAT and OLF members. The division consigned Oromo revolutionaries of the day into different camps. ECHAT and OLF members had extravagantly used the ‘red Gobana’ tag against the MEISON members while the MEISON members used the same extravagancy in calling ECHAT and OLF members ‘narrow nationalists’. The cost was too high for all of us. Consequently, the cream of that radical generation was decimated in the crisis that followed while some of us who escaped death passed our best years in prison cells – probably more horrible than the present ones.

The third turning point in modern Oromo nationalism came in 1991 when the OLF joined the transitional government controlled by the TPLF and EPRDF. The OLF despite its military weakness was able to mobilize people across Oromia. Millions of people were rallied behind the OLF and it suddenly became a major political force. Moreover, the Oromia region was created and Oromiffa has become a working language in Oromia. In fact, for a brief period of time OLF had become a government within a government in Oromia. And people thought total freedom was around the corner. The TPLF, which was watching the dramatic rise of the OLF very quickly moved to use its OPDO surrogates to crush the OLF. Despite its far less impressive military performance, the OLF has survived the TPLF’s military machine and has become the spirit of Oromo nationalism. I don’t remember how many times the EPRDF regime declared the OLF is dead in the last twenty five years and accuse the next day the OLF is being behind this or that incident and round up many young Oromos as terrorists. In other words, although militarily less effective, the OLF has shown a remarkable capacity to survive.

All along the EPRDF has been using its illegitimate child (Diqala) to rule the Oromia region by the use of sheer force and the consequent confrontation between the OLF and the Ethiopian regime has been too costly for the OLF and the Oromo people at large. However, a good thing here is that the rising tide of Oromo nationalism has persisted with its ups and downs and the regime could not fully suppress it.

In the meantime as Oromo resistance has continued, the Oromo National Congress was created in 1996. It made a good showing in the 2005 elections. Moreover, it has become yet another alternative in the Oromo people’s quest for freedom and democracy. It also opened yet another front in the struggle by using the legal platform created by the regime for donors’ consumption. It also survived the regime’s political surgery following the 2005 elections and five years later merged with another Oromo legal organization – the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM) and formed the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC). The merger helped the unity of our people and enhanced our capacity to lead the struggle at home. Needless to add the rise of ONC/OFC brought back the Oromo dilemma: which way to the liberation of the Oromos? Needless to add the resolution of this dilemma is extremely important for the future of our people in its quest for freedom & democracy. We are yet to learn how to work with each other and our neighbors for a common national interest.

The Oromo Protest

The fourth turning point in the history of modern Oromo nationalism is the Oromo protest. To be sure, the 2014 Oromo protest in which about 78 people, mostly young people were killed, has been a precursor for the current protest, which is much more strong, wide spread and a mortal threat to the regime. Several factors contributed to the outbreak of the protest. Here, it is important to note that although it is difficult to apportion credits – as most Oromo organizations including the OPDO have contributed at different levels and arguably for different interest.interest. The OMN has done marvelous job in bringing the protest to the world stage. Oromo artists have also been at the forefront of the struggle – people like Haachaaluu Hundeesa, ChalaBultum, MuluBekele, Gelana, JamboJotie, etc. moved millions for the struggle by their appealing songs.

As you all know, the causes of the protests are many: chief of which are the historical marginalization of the Oromos as well as the continued marginalization, the dangerously growing corruption, maladministration and the discrimination thereof, the existence of the OPDO as a wound in Oromo nationalism, youth unemployment, etc; while the extensive land grab and the displacement thereof is a triggering factor. In a nutshell, the Oromo people as a whole and the youth in particular have been fed up with regime that successfully failed to promise them a better future.

Without minimizing the role of other Oromo organizations let me briefly tell you the contribution of the Oromo Federalist Congress to the on-going struggle. Our most important contribution has been the most effective campaign we were able to conduct during the 2015 elections. And thanks to the support of the Oromo Diaspora, we were able to organize a campaign that moved millions across Oromia. We could field more than ten land cruisers armed with loud speakers more for than two months. We were able to conduct street to street campaigns, organize mass rallies as high as 80 – 100,000 and distributed more than 3 million fliers containing clear messages to the youth, the farmers, the OPDOs as well as the security personnel in Oromia. I recall a police man who wept at our rally in Ambo when I said “you were born to an Oromo family, brought up by Oromo’s milk, when you die it is Oromo’s who will give you a decent burial, don’t kill your brothers and sisters to serve the interest of others”.

The inspiring mass rallies we had in Arsi, especially in Shashamane, Dodolla, Karsa and Shalla; the public meetings we had in Adama and Ciro stadiums; the rallies of fearless youth in KarsaMalima, South-west Shewa; the rallies we had in Hollota, Ginchi, Jaldu and Gindeberet, the turnout we got in Ambo, Guder, Gedo, MedaKegn, Bako, Shamboo, Nekempt, Gimhbi and Dembi Dollo, our rally in Bule Hora and finally the horses of Tikur-Inchini were all memorable rallies which taken together moved millions, especially the Oromo youth. In the 3 million fliers we distributed and in the mass rallies we organized our messages were loud and clear: they include “stop land grab, stop robbing the resources of our people, stop repression, stop discrimination, etc.”

We also promised lower taxation, lower fertilizer price and selected seeds and above all equal opportunity for employment and making Oromiffa the national language of the country alongside Amharic. Of course the creation of true federalism and democratic governance –i.e. genuine shared-rule and self-rule were at the centre of our campaign messages. In fact, the OPDOs were carrying bags of money to buy the votes of our people while our strategy was to mobilize people to the maximum of our capacity. By doing so we were able to expose the crimes of the TPLF/EPRDF regime to the full. I think, millions of Oromo youth we moved during the elections have taken their lessons seriously and applied their knowledge in the on-going struggle.

Moreover, after the elections when the OPDO brought back the Master Plan through the back door– we immediately called a public meeting at our office – under the slogan “stop the land grab and/or laftikenya, lafekenya”. And We called all Oromos to oppose the new land grab after the land reform of 1975. In fact, we compared the new land grab to the imperial days of land grab. I think, this immensely contributed to the resistance that followed.

Without exaggeration, the protest not only has become the fourth turning point in modern Oromo nationalism, it helped Oromos to make a great leap forward to the ultimate goal of liberation. Furthermore, it brought respect for Oromos both from their neighbors and the international community. Western diplomats and journalists most of whom might have never heard about Oromos crisscrossed Oromia to gauge the level and depth of Oromo protest. Oromos are suddenly recognized “Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group”. The protest has become the reminiscent of the Gada warriors of the 16th century and Oromos suddenly found new faith in themselves and started to believe that liberation is in their owns hands and within reach. I myself who have seen the revolutionary upheaval of 1974 and the overthrow of the military regime in 1991 was surprised when millions moved into action across the vast land of Oromia in a very short period of time.

As I said earlier, for the first time in Oromo history foreign diplomats, parliamentarians and journalists roamed the Oromo streets to understand the cause and the depth of Oromo protests. I remember what one day a young Dutch scholar asked me. She said to me “I am going to Ginchi and should I take a tablet for malaria?”. I told her “Ginchi is in a high land area and no need for it and asked her what you do there?”. With force she said “I want to see with my own eyes, the birth place of Oromo protest”. In summary, the Oromo youth have shown us the path to liberation with their blood by crossing the organizational divides and acting in unity as a result of which both our neighbors and the international community started to respect us as a people. Furthermore, it has opened a new chapter in the Oromo people’s struggle for freedom and democracy, which is a great leap forward – at that a new turning point. I dare say, Ethiopia will never be the same again. The protest has shown us what a united & determined people can achieve in the face of various challenges.

Every media outlet from American presses to BBC – to French Radio International and Aljazeera talked to us and covered the protests that were taking place even in the remote Oromia villages. Every western diplomat based in Addis talked to us. I remember American. British, Dutch, Swedish, German, Norway as well as the European Union parliamentarians discussing with us regarding the dimension and direction of the Oromo protest. The Oromos, who have been forgotten by the world powers, suddenly become the centre of their attention.

Reasons as to why non-Oromos are not attracted to join the Oromo protest until now may be many, but we can single out two main factors: one is what all of you know – fear of the Oromo separation agenda from many quarters. The other is what many people have not fully grasped – Oromos now have two political forces that have real life among the Oromo people – the OLF and OFC There are no comparable political groups in other regional states. Despite its weakness as an organization, the OLF has always been there to inspire the Oromo youth. Since 2005 the ONC – now the OFC has been using to the extent possible the legal platform.

Thanks to the support of the Diaspora including OMN, OFC was able to move millions of Oromo youth across the vast land of Oromia. In a nutshell, there is no political party that could capture the imagination of the youth in other regions of Ethiopia. To make my points clearer, if they had the capacity to do it, more than the solidarity, they could have joined the struggle with their own demands as they have plenty of them from Walkeit to the sale of land to the Sudan – to political repression and youth unemployment. To me understanding such differences is very important to plan for the future struggle.

The third important difference is that Oromo nationalism has passed the stage where Oromo quislings or traitors could not easily control. Surprisingly, more than three million OPDO members could not resist the rising tide of Oromo nationalism: some quickly gave in; some joined the popular uprising while some die-hards tried to stop the forward march of history. The Amhara youth have not reached that stage and the hodam Amharas still in control of the situation. To be sure, the Amhara mobilization is much stronger in the Diaspora while in the case of the Oromo – mobilization in the home front – especially that of the youth is much more united and stronger than abroad. The fourth difference is – the Diaspora Oromo activists are more connected to the grass root in the home front and hence have got much more influence over the youth at home. For all practical purposes the youth at home look at people like Jawar as their commander in-chief in their war against the regime. I don’t see comparable influence in the case of Amhara youth.

The dilemma over the road map to liberation and Our Chronic Division

The Arab world’s most known journalist, Mohammad Hykal, who had been very angry at the division of the Arab leaders once said “the Arab leaders met, agreed to disagree”. This is what has become the culture of Oromo political leaders for more than a generation. Let us admit that Oromo political parties are yet to learn how to aggregate their interest to work for a win – win situation by developing the art of compromise in our politics. The same applies to the larger Ethiopia. In addition to learning the art of compromise – to reach our ultimate goal, unity of purpose and action should be our guiding principle. We should be able to differentiate between the role of liberation movements and political parties struggling for power in a normal situation. We need to talk to each other, not over each other; we should stop dialogue of the deaf and listen to each other. Especially, we should know the consequences of our actions.

One of the most serious setbacks/we even can call it a disease of Oromo movements and/or political leadership is their failure to handle political differences and easily jumping to character assassinations of all kinds, especially when old friends take different political positions. Far worse, the blind followers easily follow the words of their superiors and jump to attack the new enemy they have created. I think the solution for this is to openly and honestly debate over our differences as well as on the way forward without demonizing each other. I believe internal democracy is necessary to tackle real political differences. Yet another serious problem in Oromo political organizations is lack of political dynamism both in our thinking and actions. And because of fear of each other, it takes years for Oromo political leaders to adopt new policies even when the reality on the ground demand quick action and moving fast.

Frankly speaking, because of our weakness, we could not produce a strong leader like the Eritreans or a collective leadership like the TPLF until Meles pushed aside the rest of his comrades to emerge as a sole dictator. We are also not good at establishing better cooperation with our neighbors and minimize our enemies. We really need to create real alliances that help us to move forward. I hope we understand even the mighty America creates both tactical and strategic alliances across the globe to promote its interests.

Sadly and surprisingly, the war over the internet has continued among Oromo political forces even at a point in time when the Oromo youth is writing a new history with their blood. No less surprising, I heard some even suggesting that there is no need for political organizations and the dispersed movement alone could do the job. To be sure, as much as I have understood both national and global politics – beyond a shadow of doubt, more than any point in time in the history of Oromo people’s struggle, our people need organization/organizations that can lead them across the finishing line to victory. To suggest otherwise is disarming our people and sabotaging their victory. Probably the suggestion may come out of political naiveties or frustration with existing organizations.

Whatever its sources, it is a self-defeating suggestion for which Oromos may pay very dearly. In this regard, all Oromos cannot be policy makers and while we reserve our right to oppose or support any Oromo organization, we should be careful in innocently selling the strategy of the enemy to our people as no people succeeded without leadership in modern history.

In our division, the worst and costly division is which came to us through the OPDOs. Originally the OPDOs were forced to join the wrong side of history as prisoners of war. Later most of them joined the wrong side of history willingly for their stomachs. Surprisingly, when OPDOs recruit members, they never, never, never talk about the cause of the Oromo people as they fully know they are not there to promote the cause of their people. In the Diaspora they always say “come and get the land for free” while at home they say “you get land, employment and/ or become an official to live good life”. Here, let me narrate to you my own experience.

A friend of mine, the elder brother of Hassan Ali (former president of the Oromia region), who then just joined the government asked me to join the OPDO. He told me that the OPDO was ordered to nominate nine Muslims and nine Christians as a quota to high office. I think they could not do that easily as many Oromo intellectuals were then supporters of the OLF. When he understood, I was not attracted to the lucrative high office, he said to me that “manas, makinashinargetajedheni” (i.e. I thought you can get a house, a car). This is the way millions of Oromos have joined the OPDOs and to use the words of Walter Rodney – the West Indies historian – “removed from history”. I think, we have a real challenge to bring them back to history these lost children of Oromia – by liberating them both from their stomachs and their masters.

The good thing is the Oromo protest has shown us is that the more than three million OPDO members – either because of their isolation, confusion or some level of Oromo nationalism retained in them – they could not stop the protest and the government had to send in its Agazi force and the federal police known for their notoriety to suppress the protest by sheer force.

The Challenges to our Intellectuals

Oromo intellectuals have developed a very bad culture of criticizing others by expecting from them miracles than taking practical actions themselves. Far worse, jealously (masanuma) has become a whole mark of our political culture. Oromo youth at home have broken it with their blood and it is high time that Oromo intellectuals and political leaders do the same to move forward. And whatever the source of the problem, this is yet our common disease we should overcome as quickly as possible.

Furthermore, the main challenge to Oromo intellectuals at home and abroad is how to participate in the struggle in a more meaningful way. The decisive moment has come when our intellectuals stop tailing the people’s struggle and start to contribute to the struggle in their brains and resources. Frankly speaking, what I hate to hear from our intellectuals is that they always say we are with you, but do nothing or very little in terms of contribution. I know Oromo intellectuals live in fear at home. I do not know how many of you in the Diaspora fully contributing to the struggle both in your brains and resources. What I generally hear is lamentations after lamentations about the weakness of this or that Oromo political organization. Who else is leading a better way, if our intellectuals are not joining the struggle in numbers and lead Oromo organizations more effectively?

I strongly urge you, if you wish success of the common struggle to join any organization of your choice and improve the quality of leadership for Oromo organizations. Some of you may tell me you are tired of supporting organizations that could not bring quick success. I remind you that success depends on the contribution of all of us to make our organizations and our struggle strong. For instance, intellectuals can better create think tanks for political organizations and help them perform better. Intellectuals can bring in the experiences of other successful nations. They can easily identify problems through empirical study and suggest viable solutions. They can invest their resources in the struggle while the Oromo youth invest their blood. What I am saying is that if we have the will, there are several ways to contribute.

I challenge Oromo intellectuals while the Oromo youth is writing a new history with its blood they should come out to honestly debate on the way forward so as help us to reach a national consensus. And as we fight to make our history, we also should be able to read the reality on the ground – and make hard choices based on facts – not on our wishes. I strongly believe compared to other groups in Ethiopia – Oromos should have very little worry about their future if they know how to play their game. What they should resolve as quickly as possible is their own little dilemma: which way to go forward and overcome the chronic division between Oromo political forces. Now the world has started to know us and understand us, we should do our homework as we claim our future so that we be people worthy of support. We should be able to learn the lessons of the lost opportunities in 1974; 1991 and 2005.

Oromo movements should be informed by current developments in global politics and listen to each other. To be frank with you Oromo artists have made more contribution to the protests than oromo intellectuals. One day – I met an Oromo artist from Ambo and asked him whether he is still around with his fiery songs. He boldly and confidently told me that “should we go to the bush even to sing?”. I haven’t seen comparable courage and confidence in my intellectual colleagues. In fact, what I always get when I meet them is an advice – “ofegi – becareful”.

Furthermore, the younger artists have really replaced the legendary singers: Ali Birra, Tsegaye Dandena, Kemer Yousef, ect; with their moving songs. I really wish Oromo intellectuals have the same courage.

Yet another main challenge to Oromo intellectuals is to go beyond driving expensive cars and buying good houses. I am not opposing doing that, if you are committed intellectuals, you can still have more resources to contribute to the liberation of our people. Honestly speaking I know a lot of Oromo friends in the Diaspora complaining, complaining and complaining about the cost of living in America to contribute for our organization 100 USD, but minutes later when we take more beer start to ask me about investment opportunities in Ethiopia.

Problems related to Resource Mobilization

I don’t know about other Oromo political organizations, the budget of our party is less than 10% of the price of a car a government spy or a TPLF businessman drives. In the 21st century we can only compete with enough resources and technology. We should not expect our organizations to deliver what we want unless we help them to develop the capacity to deliver.

If we know how to do it and the commitment to do it, there are several ways to do it. If the statistics I heard in Mennisota is correct, Oromos in the Diaspora from the America’s to Europe, the Middle East to Australia are more than 100,000. And if we have 100,000 Oromos in the Diaspora and they contribute One-Dollar –A Day as some say, I,.e. pay a tip of one dollar for the cause as you give a tip when you eat, we can raise 100,000 USD per day, 3,000,000 USD per month and 36,500,000 USD per year, i.e nearly one billion Ethiopian Birr. Even if this is less than an annual income of one TPLF businessman, this is a huge money for a political party like ours and we don’t even have to go to the bush to do the job. With that much of resource at our disposal we can become a real force and able to turn Oromo cities and towns to our bush.

Just imagine what can be done if all of you sponsor the struggle back home in the village you were born, woreda or zone. In this regard, even if I am extremely glad our Diaspora brothers and sisters have made a great leap forward in supporting our struggle at home, the older faces I know are still in their old politics. The best example is Minnesota, where almost all the older faces I know, did not show up even when we opened our first office in the western world. It appears, they have continued to be loyal to their old habits of doing things. As the saying goes – you cannot teach old dogs new tricks. They are yet to learn the success of one Oromo organization is the success for others too. I strongly advise them to engage in soul searching to transform themselves before they are discarded by history.

Yet another problem connected to our use of even the meager resources we mobilize is that Oromos are better at giving support for the victims/funerals than supporting political organizations that supposed to lead the struggle. Far worse, very often the money sent home end in the hands of OPDO spies. In this regard, a person I know well told me he gave 160,000 Birr to a spy in Ambo. I don’t know how much resources have been lost and being lost in such a way – which could have been used for the liberation of our people. In other words, we are not mobilizing enough resources for the struggle while which is raised is not properly and effectively used. Be sure that from this side of the planet, you cannot know who is who? Quislings of all sorts can easily get access to resource and divert it. I advise you to double check and recheck resources you send home – as it can be wasted like foreign aid to African dictators. In fact, I don’t know how much money the Diaspora sends that reach the needy. Taken as a whole, the message I want to pass is that we are not properly using even the resources we have mobilized.

Lack of Organizational Skill

One thing we should admit and overcome as quickly as possible is our organizational weakness. Organizations are central for any struggle to succeed. I still remember a slogan most popularized by EshetuChole, one of the most radical intellectuals of our generation at Addis Ababa University. He shouted a slogan:

One organize

Two organize;

Three organize

at the inauguration of the last leadership of the University Students Union of Addis Ababa, the famous USUAA, which was supported by the roaring sound of thousands of university staff and students. In this regard, there is a clear gap we should fill. As to my observation, Oromos never had an organization that matches their numerical strength for the last 500 years – i.e. since the Gada warriors of the 16th century. We need new skills to organize ourselves and back it up with the necessary resources. Our main problem is the failure to understand our potential and use it effectively in a way it makes a real difference. To be sure, the game of the 21st century is that of technology and resources for any organization to succeed.

As I raised above, another serious problem I see regarding Oromo organizations is that everybody is a policy maker. We have a right to oppose or support our leaders but, forty million Oromos cannot make their own individual policies for this or that party. We need leaders to lead us. To me, the best way forward is to build an organization/organizations that can lead the people for liberation and able to negotiate with force when necessary. To be sure, the real gap in our people’s struggle is the failure to build such organizations. Here , we should know a divided elite cannot lead a united nation. Don’t also forget that we succeed as a people and fall as a people. Hence, we should fight for our freedom as a people by overcoming our petty organizational and other differences.

Our People’s Struggle and the Disturbing American Foreign Policy

Let me raise the issue you all know well, American foreign policy troubles us. American diplomats have had the culture of working with the powers that be and winning and dinning with dictators. During the Cold War dictators from Chile’s Pinochet to Africa’s Mobutu – to Mubarak’s Egypt – to Philippines Marcos had wined and dined with successive American presidents. In our own situation, successive American leaders supported Emperor Haile Sellassie until the end came to his rotting regime.

As sometimes history is repeating itself, now they are doing the same for the EPRDF regime and may continue to do until the end. In one of my encounters with American officials after Obama’s shameful speech in Addis Ababa where he delighted his host by saying “you were elected by the people of Ethiopia,” I almost quarreled with the officials. I think the officials came to rebuild Obama’s damaged image. I told the officials “you are propping up the Ethiopian regime and consciously look away from its crimes”. He got angry and said “American foreign policy has three legs: humanitarian aid, development and security” and added “are you questioning our security arrangement with the Ethiopian regime”? I responded “whose security?- the security of the Ethiopian dictators or the security of the Ethiopian people?” A good thing is that about a month later, the Oromo protest, which surprised the Americans came. His lieutenant came back and at least visited Ambo.

Obviously the EPRDF regime is propped up by Western Governments, especially the big brothers. Even after I came here I visited some offices and their usual question is America’s security arrangement with the Ethiopian regime, which has always been at a standby and ready to serve them when they need it for peace keeping across Africa, especially in the Horn of Africa. It is such a story the American Embassy in Ethiopia is telling us. The real challenge to us is to draw a strategy that can move the West to go beyond their myopic security interest that led them to support the minority regime in Ethiopia. Mass rallies in front of the White House or the State Department are good and one of the options in our hands. I support them. But I always say both God and the Americans help those who help themselves.

Therefore, it is far better to build an organization/organizations that can speak to the Western governments and the EPRDF regime at home. Without backing up our diplomacy with force and building giant organizations that can talk and walk their talk, I don’t think we can move far. The real challenge is how to do our homework first before we beg others to help us.

In sum, in the last 20 years, I don’t remember how many times I visited the State Department, talked to senators and the congressmen & women. We could win-over only Donald Paine, who shifted his support to the opposition after the 2005 elections. As far as I can Judge from several of my encounters with American diplomats and my professional experience as a student of political science – you can influence American foreign policy-makers, in one of two ways: when you can become a force and they think you can bring down the regime in power or when the regime in power start to work against their interest like Mugabe of Zimbabwe. Therefore, to win the heart of the American leaders, we should become a force – a force that can speak to the Americans and the Ethiopian dictators. I think, we can do that if we can put aside our petty differences and invest in a real way to build organizations with committed leadership that make a difference. Know that the liberation of our people is in our own hands and while we seek the support of the Americans – we should do our homework as I earlier said, both God and the Americans help those who help themselves.

The Way Forward

Some say the Oromos came to present day Ethiopia in the 16th century while others take back this to the 10th century. Whatever that meant, beyond the shadow of doubt,Oromos constitute the largest nation in Ethiopia and/or the Horn of Africa. That bestows centrality on Oromos in the remaking of Ethiopia along democratic lines. Look for a moment at the history, geography and demography of Ethiopia. If the heart of Ethiopia is out with the Oromos, imagine what would happen to the remaining pieces. In all probability, the country may turn to a house of mad people where everybody throws stones against the other. If the turn to a mad house, because of their resources and their geography, in the end Oromos may be a net-loser.

I think, Oromos have to make a historic choice between assuming a central position in the remaking of Ethiopia or taking all the peoples of that country down together to the unknown world. To be sure, a minority regime cannot sponsor a democratic transformation, except in the South African way. Without claiming a copy right that is why I always say, Oromos should assume their rightful place of the remaking of Ethiopia in the interest of all the peoples of Ethiopia by ensuring a democratic transition that is fair to us and to our neighbors. I believe this is the best strategy to move forward in the re-writing of new history for our common home.

I have argued all along that the best strategy for the Oromos is to struggle for the taking-over of Menilek’s palace by championing democracy and sharing power based on one person-one vote. I still say Oromos should develop both the wisdom and capacity to end minority rule in Ethiopia. To do just that Oromos should able to create meaningful & strong democratic alliances with their neighbors based on trust and a fair game to both of us. If the country’s largest group is not ready to do that, who else is expected to do that can do that?.Oromos should not send fear to their neighbors, a very fact the minority regime has been always exploiting but security guarantees in a new democratic Ethiopia. These are the lessons we should learn from the Oromo protests, which moved millions of Oromos across the vast Oromia land while our neighbors are watching the drama from the side lines without showing any solidarity. Frankly speaking, many non-Oromo saw the Oromo protest as a threat, not as a liberator. This is a dilemma of our neighbors and yet another challenge of ours as we look into the future of our people’s struggle.

We should understand history, but should not be a prisoner of it. We should not forget our history, but not be its prisoners. We should operate dynamically in the fast changing dynamic world without losing ourselves in the game. We should embrace and work with those who want to work with us for a common goal while standing firm against those who aspire to give us the certificate to be Ethiopians. We should not allow the Oromo protest to be repressed by isolating it while the EPRDF regime is working day in and day out to mobilize our neighbors against us.

All of us should be ready to contribute our share by joining the call of history. There is an urgent need to resolve our own dilemma. I have been always arguing in terms of history, geography and demography Oromos are the best candidate to lead the democratization of Ethiopia. We should be aware of the fact that clashes of dreams and visions unless managed well can hurt all of us. In other words, Oromos should contribute to overcome the country’s political dead-end by making their contribution to overcome the clashes of dreams that has led to the political impasse for decades. Attracting our neighbors to a democratic game, i.e. a common middle road is a sine quanon for moving forwardthe country’s politics so as to save us from paying unnecessary cost.

At this historical juncture – we should be able to reassess our failures and successes to revitalize our movement by better strategizing our way of doing things. And as we fight for the freedom of our people, we should be able to use Oromos full potential with hope and confidence to engage our neighbors.

Lastly, let me say few things about OSA:

OSA is celebrating thirty years of its existence. I hope those who know it from birth to maturity can tell better the contours of its development, its ups and downs, i.e. give a better balance sheet. From a perspective of a distance onlooker, let me say the following: OSA has fought a thirty-year war in promoting Oromo nationalism with commitment and endurance in the world of academia. All of us should salute OSA for a good job done. We should encourage it, to take its work more aggressively with commitment and determination. Having said this, I want to raise some points regarding OSA based on my attendance of OSA meetings few times. First is time budgeting. Some programs are given much more time than others. I think, OSA time allocators should be serious in adhering to the original time. Time adjustments should be made if necessary with fairness. Secondly, some critical presentations are pushed to the end after many people are left or tired. I think, OSA would lose its central mission when real political issues that are critical to the survival of our nation arenot well covered or well attended. I understand OSA organizers do that to hold down people from leaving. I myself was not happy, for instance to make a speech in Chicago after the veterans of the Bale movement left or travailing several thousand kilometers to talk for few minutes at that after half of the meeting hall became empty. Thirdly circulation of OSA publications is limited, especially for the young readers at home. Even the universities in Oromia are not getting them. If not legally allowed, it can be done through some scholars. Lastly and more importantly, OSA should be able to find sponsors from Oromo communities and other organizations to enable the participation of more scholars from home as it is very important to create a better human link between the home-based intellectual community and those of you who are here.

Conclusion

Taking this opportunity I call upon all Oromo and Ethiopian political forces to unite and push the same democratic agenda.

I want to call upon the TPLF/EPRDF leaders to stop its repression and negotiate a fair democratic game with the genuine representatives of the various peoples of the country.

I also want to call upon the American government to stop supporting dictators who are terrorizing millions of their citizens in the name of fighting international terrorism.

Finally, let me conclude my presentation by repeating the immortal words of Kwame Nkrumah: Divided we fall, united we stand.

First Published on OPRIDE.COM

Open Letter regarding the carnage in Oromia and possible next steps

To:

  • Obbo Abbaa Duulaa Gammadaa, Speaker of the House of Representatives, FDRE.
  • Obbo Muktar Kedir, President of the National Regional State of Oromia.
  • Obbo Ibrahim Haji, Commissioner of Oromia Police.
  • All City Councils in charge of matters pertaining to Public Political meetings and Peaceful Demonstrations.

CC.

  • Dr Mulatu Teshome, President, FDRE.
  • Ato Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister, FDRE; Chair of the Command Post currently governing Oromia.
  • General Samora Yunus, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, FDRE.
  • Ato Asefa Abiyu, Commissioner of the Federal Police.
  • Central & Executive Committee of EPRDF.
  • Central & Executive Committee of OPDO.

Subject: Open Letter regarding the carnage in Oromia and possible next steps

Dear Sirs,

It is to be recalled that the Oromo people have been expressing their total and complete discontent with the administration over the last eight months and a half. This expression has taken the form of peaceful protest (#Oromoprotests) forcing the government to rethink the Addis Ababa Master Plan, amend the Oromia Urban Development Proclamatio, reschedule the Ethiopian School leaving Exam and, more recently, to stop dumping waste in the Sandaafa area. Much to our disappointment and to the disappointment of the entire Oromo nation, this peaceful popular protest has been consistently met with overt violence from the Government’s security forces.

According to our estimates, over 6oo Oromos are killed. (It is to be noted that the Human Rights Watch had reported earlier that over 400 are murdered by government security officers arbitrarily. Even the regime has admitted that there were 173 killings and hundreds of incidents of injury to civilians, arbitrary arrests, and other forms of abuses, and yet there was no attempt on the part of the government to take political and legal responsibility for this.) Targeted killings have been going on even in the absence of any public demonstrations in Shashemene and the towns in the wider W Arsi district. The Government has so far not done its part to investigate the cause and bring the perpetrators to justice. Even as we write this letter today, the killing continues in Awaday. Few weeks ago, several arbitrary killing of children and other civilians was witnessed and burning of a building has also been observed while the local officials were watching the fire to the point of self-entertainment with the sight. Today, we have noticed the killing of protestors by snipers who targeted Oromo lives.

In the last eight months and a half, hundreds of peoples suffered wounds and other forms of bodily injury from shooting. Over 5000 Oromos were shot and injured by the Security Forces, mainly the Agazi. Tens of thousands have been victims of mass arrest and are suffering arbitrary detention and torture in prisons large and small in various parts of the country. Oromo leaders are detained and tortured as political prisoners. Hundreds are reported to be missing and are victims of forced disappearance. All this has been unaccounted for thus far as there was no independent commission of inquiry established to inquire into the matter. Nor has the government invited international investigators such as the UN’s Special Rapporteurs on Arbitrary Execution, Forced Disappearance, or the Committee of Experts.

The dispossession and displacement of Oromo farmers and residents including those in the suburbs of Addis Ababa) continues uninhibited so far. The civil administration of Oromia is still not restored in full. The Oromia National Regional State (ONRS) is still under the military rule that governs through a Task Force from a Command Post. Oromia is virtually under the rule of the Agazi.

The fundamental demands of Oromo people remain unaddressed. Discrimination is rife. Economic disempowerment, political marginalization, total loss of voice is patent.

Oromos are disproportionately represented in the statistics about the Ethiopian prison population. (It is reported that the prison population has risen from 86% to 95 % within the last nine months.) Oromo political leaders such as Bekele Gerba, Olbana Lelissa, Dejene Tafa, Addisu Bulala, and almost all of the OFC leadership are imprisoned for no legally justified reasons. They are subjected to abuses as political prisoners.

The state of basic social services is deteriorating from day to day. Health, road, and water services infrastructure have all collapsed to the point of crisis. There is virtually no semblance of governance in the region except the terrorizing of the civilian population through a heavy military presence across the region.

All these brutal killings, maimings, forced disappearances, and other forms of abuse were taken to be acts of a repressive dictatorial regime that is hateful of its peoples. Developments in recent days (especially those that transpired in the Amhara region) and the way the regime treated their demands presented a contrast that seemed to suggest to our people that these extraordinarily violent responses are reserved only for Oromos. In Oromia, when school children demonstrated unarmed and peacefully (to present their just demands for their rights), they were massacred in a torrent of bullets that rained on them from the Agazi Forces. Elsewhere, even people that are fully armed with guns stage a protest, present their demands, and come home safely. And that is as it should be. Few hours after the Gonder protest was peacefully concluded, the regime was conducting a campaign of sniper shooting in Awaday town (of East Hararghe Zone of Oromia) where 6 persons were killed and about 26 were shot and wounded.

This shows that the regime have different modes of treatment for different peoples of the country. It sends a message which indicates that Oromos, unlike others, are enemies to be eliminated at every opportunity. It also sends the message that there is a difference between the Amhara and Oromo parties (i.e. ANDM and OPDO, respectively, two of the four organizations which form the coalition of the EPRDF) operating in the respective regions. ANDM openly supports the protest in Amhara region while in contrast the OPDO in Oromia is nowhere to be seen around the people (except as informers and co-killers).

The media in Oromia is busy denouncing and demonizing the Oromo Protest whereas in other regions, the media publicly announces its support for the people’s demands.

Consequently, it has become clear even to casual observers that Oromo lives don’t matter in Ethiopia. In this regard, the regime has continued in the tradition of devaluing and undervaluing Oromo lives starting from the days of imperial conquest of the Oromo nation.

We believe that you are acutely aware that this condition is unsustainable. We believe that the only way forward is to arrest the people’s unnecessary suffering and bringing this crisis to a positive end. We believe that the continued perpetuation of misery, targeting the Oromo people as a people, is forcing them to reach for desperate measures that this government can’t eventually manage to control.

We, as concerned children of Oromia, are writing to you to make this last call for you to wake up to this fast changing phase of the Oromo Protest. If the government does not properly respond to the peaceful demands of the people for their rights in a just social order, the Oromo people will be obliged to start taking drastic measures that have serious repercussions both for the regime and for the country.

Our people are asking what brought about this apparently endless tragedy to them, including this recent different valuation of peoples and their rights.

The answer seems to be in the following:

  1. The Oromo people had so far chosen to conduct their protest peacefully.

Oromo political leaders, activists, and intellectuals have all been consistently advising against violence and encouraging people to avoid all forms of violence.

This was in line with the principle of primacy of peace and wellbeing (nagaaf nageenya) in the Oromo tradition and in their way of being in general.

This choice has been viewed as a sign of weakness and cowardice. The TPLF regime seems to have chosen to utilize the Oromo commitment to peace as an instrument of perpetuating its repressive politics.

  1. In the last nine months, our people have taken extraordinary care not to harm other people living among them, especially those who, being from Tigray, support, benefit from, and collude with the regime. This care seems to be mistaken for naiveté and weakness.

However, it should be clear to all that patience has its limits.

Anger and resentment is overflowing among our people. Before patience completely runs out, it has now become necessary for the regime to be given a last chance to change the course of its behaviour.

In order to ensure that the regime treats our people with the same respect it accords to other peoples of Ethiopia, it has become necessary to take the following measures:

  1. On Saturday, 6 August 2016, there will be a grand protest demonstration across the Oromia region including in Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa.

The Protest, like all other preceding protests, shall be completely peaceful.

Its demands include, but not limited to:

  1. STOP KILLING OROMOS;
  2. FREE ALL OROMO AND OTHER POLITICAL PRISONERS WITHOUT ANY PRECONDITION;
  3. END THE AGAZI RULE IN OROMIA;
  4. ALLOW OROMOS COMPLETE SELF-GOVERNANCE
  5. And other similar demands.
  6. There shall be no request for permit from the government. According to the constitution and the relevant law (Proclamation No 3/1991), people who seek to stage public political meetings and peaceful demonstrations have a mere duty of notification.

This letter shall have served as a letter of notice to the relevant State and Federal institutions. If Oromia’s and Federal Security Forces try to disrupt, subvert, or prevent the protest rallies or if they try to abuse people otherwise during and before the demonstrations, from that moment on, the Oromo Protest will immediately have entered a new phase with a new mission and strategy.

It shall start taking measures commensurate to the needs of the times. TPLF leaders and Oromo collaborators–and they alone–shall take full responsibility for any and all negative consequences.

Desperate times demand desperate measures. We call upon the regime to end our people’s sufferings immediately. We also call upon the Ethiopian people in general to pay attention to this notice, to bear witness, and to stand in solidarity with its Oromo brethren and sisters.

We call upon our people to understand the gravity of this situation and to stand together, in unison, with the usual resolve and determination, as they demand their just and God-given rights in their own land.

Kind Regards,

#Oromoprotests.