Based on a facebook status update I wrote on October 1, 2013 on which I mentioned OLF (Oromo Liberation Front was dead) I had an interesting discussion on twitter. I thought, though boring, it would also be helpful in provoking discussion on the Oromo-Ethiopia politics and future, if you get a few lines of the discussion. Enjoy! Below is the status update I published:
They give a term their own meaning; then, they condemn it.
For me, Ethiopianism is one of these purposely made confusing terms. It is used by OLF'ites to refer to Abyssinianism (which is dominated by Amhara, Tigre and a few southerners esp. the Guraghe people culture). Ethiopia is a country that's wider than that Abyssinia now. Yes, Abbyssinians have used force, abused rights, marginalized some cultures and languages but that don't make wrong the fact that they created a bigger sovereign State. Bigger is better in either political power or economical strength. That State - Ethiopia - is home of all regardless of differences in language, cultural values and religious beliefs. The only thing that makes it look like a comfortable home for few is its political setting. Its political setting has always been different to its societal setting.
Political leaders of Ethiopia, unfortunately, couldn't successfully create regimes that favor every member of the society equally and impartially.
Ethiopia is a sovereign State. Any Ethiopian has the right and the obligation to struggle to make Ethiopia an inclusive one for all because it is meant to be like that. Therefore, Ethiopianism can be defined and redefined as a State that accommodates all varieties of social values, language and cultural differences. Be it in Federalism or whatever you have, Ethiopiaism can be defined as an accommodating one to be in the future; but not as the discriminatory one as in the past.
I am not in delusion about the presence of politicians or activists who work to profit from defaming or faking common values. For me, they will eventually perish.
I have a good example how political entrepreneurship perishes the good cause. OLF, especially for introducing Oromummaa, was a great party. Oromumma is a movement to create pride in and promote the Oromo language, the Oromo Culture and the Oromo indigenous Religion. The Oromo people loved it and accepted OLF as redeemer of the people. But, OLF couldn't be in the place when needed. Dirty political games and interests have washed their cause away from the OLFites mind. And, only if they think that will make them look like more Oromo than the other (there is no such thing though) they do anything. That's how they created lines between societies who are living together to profit from the split. Now, the only benefit OLF do is used to TPLF as a means to jail Oromo youth dissidents.
By the way, it has been so long since OLF has died; but, its ghost - like Meles' ghost - is leading many. I suggest it is time to wake up and listen to the pain of the people you are claiming struggling for. Stand by it and help solving its challenges. Don't confuse it.
Here is part of the twitter discussion:
Bira'anuu Biyo (@BiraanuuBiyo): @befeqe, you can feed your followers and yourself momentarily happiness by declaring #OLF is dead. We know, you can't fool the Quubee generation.
Me (@befeqe): You don't know the people; not even its
Oromo Network (@Oromo_NT): @befeqe, why do you think people believe in a party supposedly long dead? OLF may die, but what it stands or stood for will never die.
Me: People believe in OLF because it was the first
genuine party for the people. Not anymore. Sooner or later people distinguish
between the people and the party. Oromummaa was its only legacy.
@Oromo_NT: Even in a democratic Ethiopia, if she ever becomes one, there will be a political party that will advocate for Oromo Self Determination.
Me: In democratic Ethiopia oneness may not really means
one being. It will be united-ness.
@Oromo_NT: I can assure you that I and my likes will form a political party that will seek independence from Ethiopia even if Ethiopia democratizes.
Me: You'll have the right but I doubt your success.
@Oromo_NT: Fair enough! But you guys assume that Oromos love being Ethiopian without even doing a single empirical research on their attitude.
Me: don't you guys me. Who am I? Anyway, I believe the
self-determination narration is an insult or niqet to the Oromo people.
@Oromo_NT: You guys are those of you who think you can speak for Oromos without even studying what Oromos want.
Me: Emmm... I can't argue with your take of who I am.
Let's proceed the important discussion.
@Oromo_NT: You cannot build oneness on the foundations of conquest and annexation. That legacy must be undone first through self determination.
Me: It is the definitions you have given to unity that
forces you draw this conclusion. Unity isn't oneness. It's united-ness for the
@Ze_Alem: @Oromo_NT, It obvious that EPRDF fear every Oromo as OLF member not the people of Ethiopia. Why separation if we bring equality?
@Oromo_NT: @Ze_Alem, one may want Oromia as a country
just for the sake of it alone.
Me: The Oromo people paid a lot to the present Ethiopia. They can't just leave it all.
@Oromo_NT: When they leave they will take what is their
own. There is really nothing to miss. Why would I want to be united with people
I cannot trust with my liberty and freedom? What has my community gotten since
Adowa? …. Oromos paid not for Ethiopia but because Italy also came to enslave
Mesfin Meshesha (@kobele): @Oromo_NT, can you cite a book or any historical evidence on that?
@Oromo_NT: @kobele, western Oromos had wanted to
establish an independent Oromo confederation when Italy came but when that
failed they fought. If Britain hadn't refused to act on their request, western
Oromia would have parted ways with Ethiopia.
@kobele: Who do you mean by Oromo in this case? It needs an organization to make such a claim, right?
Me: You can't just runaway though. Besides, if there is
democracy majority rules. Why bother about trust? Others should.
@Oromo_NT: Why is it a niqet if Oromos do not want to run or be part of Ethiopia? It is true Oromos should not beg for their independence.
Me: No! The narrations undermine the people of Oromo.
@Oromo_NT: In that case change the name of the country to Oromia & ditch Ethiopia. That would be a good start.
Me: That's a better narration but still there are lots
@Oromo_NT: What are those questions?
Me: For e.g. Oromo is major ethnic group not majority
as in 50%+1 but Ethiopia isn't an ethnic group.
@Oromo_NT: Why then should Oromos bear a name of country that subjugated them for a century when they can have their own country? Ethiopia is a Trojan horse hiding in her belly an ethnic group that defined what it means being an Ethiopian. A fatal blow to brand. The name Ethiopia does not resonate with me, I do not relate to it.
Me: Do the majority of the people worry about that?
Should that be the question? It's beyond my response but OLF too has no real
answer for that.
@Oromo_NT: Since you are with Zone9, why don't you conduct a survey in Oromia to find out the prevailing attitude?
Me: We would if we could. (Money?) We will think about
it though. It would be nice but the survey may not get true attitudes. People
may doubt our intention. They might think of us as cadres of TPLF.
@Oromo_NT: There are ways of conducting anonymous surveys or even use other means to ensure confidentiality. It is better than nothing if done correctly. Otherwise, how else would you know public attitude on issues like this?
Me: Sure. detailed studies should be done but until
then investigating all ways & discussing them would help from making fatal
@Oromo_NT: haha, some farmers may not even know the name Ethiopia or who the prime minister is. But ask those who deal with Ethiopia.