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AN OROMO DILEMMA: THE NATIONAL QUESTION AND DEMOCRATIC TRANSITION

by Ezekiel Gebissa |  Addisstandard
In his ground breaking study, An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy, the Swedish Nobel-laureate economist Gunnar Myrdal described America’s race problem as a vicious cycle in which whites oppressed blacks and then blamed their alleged poor performance as the reason for their oppression. The way to break this cycle, Myrdal suggested, was to disprove whites’ preconceived notions by extending to blacks the promise of the “American creed.” Once African-Americans started to demand that the principles of liberty, equality, justice and fair treatment of all citizens inherent in the US Constitution be extended to them, change started to occur. Myrdal himself was surprised at the speed with which the rampart of discrimination began to crumble, beginning with the Supreme Court outlawing of school segregation in 1954.
Ezekiel
The Oromo national movement currently faces a similar dilemma. Is the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (EPRDF) an instrument that can be used for pursuing the right of self-determination or a feeble document that should belong to the dust bin of history? Some Oromo leaders assert the “Wayane constitution” should not be given any credence of authority as a legal instrument. Others, such as Tsegaye Ararssa of the University of Melbourne argue that the constitution should be treated as a basis for “engaging our opponents on their own terms just as African-Americans did in their own struggle against racism.”
To be sure, there is a clear justification and an emotional satisfaction in condemning a constitution that has thus far been used by the ruling party as an instrument for perpetrating crimes against the political opposition. However, it sounds conceptually dissonant to defend the Oromo Protests of 2014-16 as “constitutional” while cavalierly dismissing the very basis of their constitutionality. In insisting that constitutional rights and the federal arrangement be respected, Oromo protesters became defenders of the constitution against a government that with impunity violated the political, economic, and equality rights that are formally protected in that document.
In this article, following Tsegaye, I argue that the art of politics for the Oromo at this point is foregoing the emotional satisfaction of calling for a grand military victory over the “Wayane” and accepting instead specific measures that are likely to produce tangible and lasting results.
There are compelling reasons for this. At no other time in Ethiopia’s political history has a nonviolent transition to democracy been more desirable and achievable.  Additionally, at no other time in the past have Ethiopians viewed the Oromo as a force for democratizing the Ethiopian empire-state. The vicious cycle of uprooting an old system and replacing it with an “ideal” system has only produced abstract benefits and tangible harm for the Oromo and other Ethiopians. The Oromo Protests have unambiguously demonstrated that the nonviolent method is the more effective means for ushering in a democratic polity. Finally, the central demand of the Oromo national movement as articulated in the political program of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) was achieved when the right to self-determination became part of the 1995 Ethiopian Constitution. For Oromo nationalists, therefore, the FDRE Constitution, with all its shortcomings, can and should be deployed as an instrument that confers legality on the historic and yet unfulfilled demands of the Oromo and others. Not to use it would amount to disavowing one’s own victory.
Graduated victories
Since the early twentieth century, the Oromo have been regarded by those who hold power in Ethiopia as a negative force that must be politically excluded, marginalized and sequestered away from that center of power. This politicalmodus operandus came into effect in 1916 when a palace putsch removed Lij Iyasu from the Ethiopian throne. To be sure, the young prince’s actions, incorporating the people of the periphery and introducing reform measures designed to overcome the legacies of repression, exploitation, and religious conflicts created by Menelik’s conquests, were quite visionary and progressive for the time. However, the elite of the political center could not fathom the scion of a Muslim Oromo from Wallo sitting on the throne of the Semitic-Christian Empire. By removing Iyasu, the ruling class instituted a ruling pattern of exclusion and marginalization of the Oromo and Muslims from the political center.  Incidentally, this time was when ethnic politics was introduced to the political arena, not 1991, as is widely perceived.
One of the conspirators, Tafari Mekonnen, used the opportunity of Iyasu’s ouster to inaugurate an era of an absolutist regime in which ultimate power was concentrated in his hands. Under the imperial regime (r.1930-74) more Oromo land was confiscated and transferred to private holding, Afaan Oromo was denigrated and effectively banished from the public sphere, and the promotion of self-rule was rendered a treasonable crime. The regime emphasized assimilation of the Oromo and eliminated the remaining pockets of local autonomy that even Menelik had tolerated. This modus operadus of marginalization and domination was unleashed full force against the Oromo under the imperial regime. The repression helped to stimulate the creation of the Matcha Tulama Association, the OLF and the Bale Rebellion.
The 1974 revolution implemented measures that dealt a mortal blow to the economic base of the infrastructure of marginalization and domination. The Land Reform Act of 1975, written essentially by Oromo intellectuals, among others, in effect, “liberated” Oromo tenants from the oppressive grip of settler-landlords; and the use of Afaan Oromooin the media, in addition to recognition of Muslim holidays as national, chipped away at the most potent assimilationist vehicle for Amhara cultural domination.
After 1978 the policies of the earlier phase were replaced by measures that directly aimed at  combating Oromo nationalism, beginning with villagization in Harege, resettlement projects in Western Oromia, imprisonment and persecution of Oromo intellectuals and military deployment in areas where Oromo guerrillas operated.  In a way, the actions of the Derg regime ended up bolstering the OLF’s armed struggle against it.
The collapse of the Derg regime in 1991 coincided with a maturation of the Oromo national struggle.  The Oromo question, long disregarded as an inconsequential and meaningless cause in Ethiopia, entered into the international arena. The representatives of Oromo organizations fought for and literally put Oromia on the map, liberated the Oromo language from the shackles of the Geez alphabet, and elevated the issue of the right to self-determination to such prominence that its rejection as a constitutional provision was not an option. It is incontrovertible that Oromo nationalists have influenced the political process that led to the drafting of the current Ethiopian constitution. The question at this time is whether this constitution should be rejected or should be embraced and deployed as a political instrument.
An Oromo dilemma
In the current political dispensation, when politics is organized along ethnic lines, the Oromo have two dilemmas. The first is their awkward positioning in the body politic. Historically, the Amhara and Tigray elites have taken turns to dominate the political and economic center. Only these groups have been presumed to be legitimate contenders and holders of power at the center. It appears that the international community has accepted this presumption, too.  The smaller nationalities of the physical and political periphery are often assumed to be co-opted by the winning side.
The Oromo do not fit this scheme. They are too large a nation to be co-opted as are the smaller nationalities. They are also too large to contend for power with the larger nations without imposing a specter of utter domination simply because of their demographic size. For both the Amhara and Tigrayan elites, keeping the Oromo out of this space and out of contention for power has been their shared goal even when only one of them has achieved supremacy. The smaller nationalities also dread the political center being turned over to the Oromo out of fear that the Oromo will overwhelm them politically. Their strategy has been to temporize in tumultuous times and side with the winner of the political contest. Not fitting into this scheme, the Oromo always lived in a subliminal political status within Ethiopia.
The second dilemma concerns the Oromo positioning vis-à-vis the political center and periphery. In the current situation the Tigrayan elite don’t project themselves as the dominant group. Their political posture is that of a “champion” of the oppressed nationalities, the agent of change that actually resolved the nationalities’ question through a liberal democratic constitution and a federal arrangement.  They claim the following: that only the Tigrayans can at the same time dominate the center while acting on behalf of the periphery; that the Amhara elite cannot reasonably occupy the political periphery as oppressed and excluded group; that the Oromo cannot occupy the center because their demographic status intimidates all the other nations and nationalities.
But the Oromo cannot be treated as one of the smaller nationalities of the political periphery because they are viewed by the smaller nations as already co-opted into the center, this by virtue of the fact that they have occupied the geographic center historically.
Until they resolve their political positioning in the Ethiopian body politic, the Oromo will therefore continue to be in the ambiguous limbo of not being either integrated into the center or effectively relegated into the periphery. Meanwhile the increasing harsh attempts by the center to keep the Oromo relegated to the periphery are failing and causing a crisis of the state. From the Oromo perspective, the solution is now apparent in the discourse that is already underway among the Oromo. This relates to the discourse that is based in history and being promoted aggressively to push back on the notion that the Oromo are ‘newcomers’ or ‘outsiders’ to Ethiopia. This is now a prevalent discourse that the Oromo are Cushites who have lived in the Horn of Africa region since time immemorial. This has profound political implications as it nullifies the insidious narrative of the past that has so far been used by dominant groups to keep the Oromo on the political periphery.
The peripheralization of the Oromo has not been entirely the work of the Abyssinian elite. Oromo nationalists have tended to claim the political periphery in order to stress the narrative of their historical conquest and subsequent subjugation. Without denying that history, it is also historically accurate and politically sensible that the Oromo reach back and embrace their demographic positioning as a nation surrounded by Cushitic-speaking peoples: the Afar, Somali, Sidama, Gedeo, Konso, Hadiya, Kambata, Agaw and many more. I argue that the Oromo must reject the political project that relegates them to the periphery and instead step into and claim their position as a major actor in the political center. That will mean the Oromo make common cause with Ethiopian Cushites and act a unifier with all Ethiopians in their common aspirations for genuine democratization, sustainable development and sustained peace, and human rights for all citizens in a new Ethiopia.
I recognize some will say that this proposition is not a new proposal. I agree.  It is a position long held by the OLF, but for some reason has in time drifted into oblivion.  In a testimony of April 8, 1992 before the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Taha A. Abdi, member of the OLF Central Committee, asserted that the fall of the Derg created “an opportunity to democratize, transform and create a new Ethiopia in which the equal enjoyment of civil, economic and political rights of all the people are assured, where freedom of expression and religion are guaranteed and above all in which the supremacy of the rule of law will be established. … There is no alternative to the democratization of Ethiopia.” Leenco Lata, former deputy secretary general of the OLF, has written a whole book explaining why democratization is the only viable recourse for both the Oromo and other peoples of Ethiopia. In The Ethiopian State at the Crossroads: Decolonization & Democratization or Disintegration he asserts that, without genuine democratization and federalization, the Ethiopian state cannot escape another round of bloodbath and likely disintegration.
This position is not a matter of politicians seeking expediency. In his “Ethiopia: Missed Opportunities for Peaceful Democratic Process,” Mohammed Hassen had stated: “As an optimist who believes in the unity of free people in a free country, I have an undying dream that one day the Oromo, the Amhara, and Tigrai, and other peoples of Ethiopia will be able to establish a democratic federal system. To me only a genuine federal arrangement offers a better prospect for the future of Ethiopia.” Mohammed also states that only democratization could transform the Ethiopian state from one dominated by one ethnic group into a state of all citizens.
In this regard, Oromo politicians and academics are not alone. John Markakis puts it in starkest terms when he argues that Ethiopia cannot survive as a state if the political center refuses to integrate the peripheries into the Ethiopian political economy. In Ethiopia: the Last Two Frontiers, he advocates democratization that reaches across the marginalization and peripheralization of the Oromo and other peoples of Ethiopia.
The issue here is that only the Oromo can cross both the political and physical frontiers to establish a genuine federal structure and thereby democratize Ethiopia.  Failing to do so is to return to the backward-looking vision of the old center. As Markakis sums it up “return to … a centralized state under center control … can only be imposed on the periphery with greater exertion and force than ever. If this were to happen, it would condemn yet another generation of Ethiopians to authoritarian rule and civil strife …
The Oromo should take a page from the experience of African-Americans and insist that the promises of the existing constitution be honored. This will make the Oromo question less esoteric and more in line with the internationally recognized demand for human rights. Some, as always, would state that the Ethiopian system would never allow the Oromo to become leaders.  That is of course the point of this article.  The Oromo shouldn’t wait until the Ethiopians will ‘let’ them into the corridors of power.  They must use constitutional means to claim that access and gain that leadership.
ED’s Note: Ezekiel Gebissa is a Professor of History and African Studies at Kettering University in Flint, Michigan. He can be reached at egebissa@kettering.edu

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17 Comments

  1. Thank you Dr. Ezekiel:
    I applaud your clarity of thought in capturing the state of the Oromo in the contemporary TPLF or Woyane’s Ethiopia. As an Oromo, you have made it palatable for me to argue against is that what people like yourself are demanding that individuals need to first die as Oromos, Sidamas, Walayitas, Kambatas, Hadiyas, etc. in order to be reborn as Ethiopians that sits at the heart of the political contestation in that country. And so long as being an Oromo and an Ethiopian are made incompatible, we have no choice but to either reject your Itophiyawinnet or suffer the imposed self-abnegation.
    I want to make one thing perfectly clear to TPLF or Woyane and other all non-Oromo Ethiopians that the days when Oromos had to endure self-abnegation are over and shall never return. We have rejected the Itophiyawinnet that is the antithesis of being an Oromo and shall continue to do so as long as this antithetical relationship is maintained. The choice is TPLFs and other non-Oromo Ethiopians. You either accept us with our identity and other rights fully respected or you kiss goodbye to your much vaunted Itophiyawinnet and Ethiopian unity. Can you not see that there is something immoral in trying to build Ethiopian unity on graves of Oromos, Sidamas, Walayitas, Kambatas, Hadiyas, etc .? Why do TPLF refuse to recognize that this aspiration is ultimately counterproductive? I only hope that this irrational, immoral and ultimately destructive aspiration would give way to a more sober and fair articulation of an Ethiopian identity that is as an amalgam of the identities of the various nations inhabiting its territorial space.

  2. Thank you Dr. Ezekiel:
    I applaud your clarity of thought in capturing the state of the Oromo in the contemporary TPLF or Woyane’s Ethiopia. As an Oromo, you have made it palatable for me to argue against is that what TPLF and other non-Oromo Ethiopians are demanding that individuals need to first die as Oromos, Sidamas, Walayitas, Kambatas, Hadiyas, etc. in order to be reborn as Ethiopians that sits at the heart of the political contestation in that country. And so long as being an Oromo and an Ethiopian are made incompatible, we have no choice but to either reject Itophiyawinnet or suffer the imposed self-abnegation.
    I want to make one thing perfectly clear to TPLF or Woyane and all other non-Oromo Ethiopians that the days when Oromos had to endure self-abnegation are over and shall never return. We have rejected the Itophiyawinnet that is the antithesis of being an Oromo and shall continue to do so as long as this antithetical relationship is maintained. The choice is TPLFs and other non-Oromo Ethiopians. TPLF and others have to either accept us with our identity and other rights fully respected or kiss goodbye the much vaunted Itophiyawinnet and Ethiopian unity. Can they not see that there is something immoral in trying to build Ethiopian unity on graves of Oromos, Sidamas, Walayitas, Kambatas, Hadiyas, etc .? Why do TPLF refuse to recognize that this aspiration is ultimately counterproductive? I only hope that this irrational, immoral and ultimately destructive aspiration would give way to a more sober and fair articulation of an Ethiopian identity that is as an amalgam of the identities of the various nations inhabiting its territorial space

  3. Hate, Racism and Tribalism in Oromos/Olf’s camp.
    How could we have civil society when OLF that representing Oromos genociding Amharas and burning Amharas houses in Wollegaa since 1990’s ? ?
    I know OLF is trying to make Amharas pay for the past crime that perpetrated against Oromos since king Menilike era, but is it fair to genocide Amharas of this generation for the cruelty and killing of the past generation Amharas ? ?

  4. olf fascists could probably be worse in terms of their brutality and barbarism than tigre people liberation front if allowed to have power. in the brief period they shared power with tplf in 1991, the ethnically cleansed and massacred 1000s of poor amhara farmers in the same style as the Hutu massacre in Rwanda.
    these lawless , reckless thugs who are perpetually fabricating lies and making up stories as they go along, to suit and justify their own agenda of mass murder have been agitating their supporters with one fabricated story after story. in this piece , the writer has been comparing the oromo ‘oppression” as the slavery of the blacks in america. it just shows the twisted minds of this extremely messed up individual and the distance he covers to convince his supporters how ‘victimised’ they were and to rise up in arms to ‘free’ themselves against their oppressors.
    we were told that Hailesellasie was an oromo. so was Menelik, so was Gubena SO WERE MANY OTHERS who were in power during the fuedal era as well as during the time of Derg. why should others be blamed for things they know nothing about. how long is the blame game and the desire for revenge , the preaching of hatred going to go on.

  5. Another hate driven and sick OLF historian who accuse Menilik as someone who created religious conflict as if Oromos were living in peace each other before the Menilik conquest.
    This hate historian portrays that the removal of Lij Eyasu was the end of Oromo participation in Ethiopian politics to misguide his blind OLF followers, the fact of the matter is that the very people who removed Eyasu from power including Ras Teferi and Habte Giorgis Dinegde were Oromos themselves.
    It is sad to see stupid and worthless Amhara Elites and politicians and ESAT share a stage and give platform for such kind of sick and racist OLFites to spread their unfounded hate on Amharas.
    The new Amhara generation unlike the Amhara elites knows the barbaric invasion and the genocide Oromos committed on Amharas and othe Ethiopians 300 years ago and would not bend for the fabricated and false history portrays Amharas as oppressors and colonizers.
    Thanks to the books written by ASSEFA CHABO and BEWKETU we learn who were the real NEFGTEGNAS and the real Neftegnas were Oromos

  6. Prof. Ezekiel Gebissa,
    over all well written and argued. I like this kind of intellectual analysis.
    “The issue here is that only the Oromo can cross both the political and physical frontiers to establish a genuine federal structure and thereby democratize Ethiopia.issa well written and to the point.”
    A few points that seem to confused the issue:
    “liberated the Oromo language from the shackles of the Geez alphabet,” are you proud with the colonization alphabet language of English or what. At least Geez is an African heritage.
    “For both the Amhara and Tigrayan elites, keeping the Oromo out of this space and out of contention for power has been their shared goal even when only one of them has achieved supremacy.”
    Why are you denied that there were and there are thousands of Omomo’s within the Tafari Mekonnen, Derg, and TPLF domination governments. Actually, Tesfaye (Geda) Gebreab’s new book (Ye Jamila Inat) about Tafari Mekonnon’s mother being from Oromo. So let’s work together with out pointing at each other.

  7. Dear Dr. Ezekiel,
    I agree with you on many points, but we , the people from south, should get out of this ethnic mentality and move to fight along the line of Ethiopian. It seems that the elites manufacturing the question of ethnicity , religion and region to access to the power seats. In other words, as Somali Ethiopian, I do not see to fight along the line of these three elements,but , I should enlarge my struggle to include all other oppressed Ethiopian. Today, the young Somali generations have distanced themselves from ONLF simply they do not respond to their demands namely a good job, good school, clean water, good road and good life in general.
    Further, the African elites are always constructed theories that will help them to access to the power and resources while they are playing the game of victimization. Look at the elites of Oromo, they are the ones who sided with Derg through MEISON and crushed the revolution of 1974. Do we blame Amhara for that mistake?
    If truth to be told , the Amahra have sacrificed themselves to overthrow Haile Sillasie , and Derg so that they bring justice, rule of law and democracy. I recalled in my young age EPRP was one of the best party that included all Ethiopian regardless of their ethnicity, religion, and region. They were fighting to liberate all Ethiopian; however, The US and Russian agreed to destroy the party because it was a party that will wake all African people in general.
    Lastly, let us stop these Oromo, Somali, Amhra, Tigraynan, Woletas which are the game of elites to entertain the ideas that African are still primitives and not ready to rule themselves that European had construed in 1885 so that we blame each other and they exploit our resources. Let unite our struggle so that we all be free ; no one will be free by him/her. United we will be free, divide will be crushed.

  8. Dear Dr Ezkiel,
    This is one of the profound ideas we have been regurgitating for over well a quarter of a century pertaining to the contentious phrase, “democratization of Ethiopia.” The idea of self determination as enshrined in the OLF’s political program with whatever meaning it entails remains to be the integral part of the struggle. I am not sure that it has been pushed away in to obscurity or oblivion as you have stated it.
    The problem with seeking solutions within the frame work of the “Ethiopian Constitution” of 1995 or even the Transitional charter of 1991 would mean just going back to Wilisonian Idealism of 1918.
    You are perfectly right that the values enshrined in the Transitional Charter and the constitution itself are of paramount significance to have created an ideal democratic polity, had it been implemented by all stakeholders who also had been party to its creation. But, the big but, both documents are already abrogated and have no relevance whatsoever. How can one unilaterally resurrect a legal document that has already been abrogated and shoved in to the dust bins of history? From the Oromo perspective, there is no constitutions and hence no rule of law. For me this is the Oromo Dilemma, not the desire of embracing a democratic polity that could bring the Oromos to the center.
    Another analogy that always comes as a strong argument is comparing the Oromo with the African-American predicament. There is no dichotomy between the two. I would rather another opportunity to discuss this in detail. In short, the predicament of the Oromo is more analogus with that of former Yugoslavia, god forbid without repeating what happened there (the carnage in the balkans).

  9. Good write up on the “Oromo dilemma”. Negasso, Al Mariam, Tsegaye and Eskiel have started the conversation. But there are number of issues that need clarification. Here are few pointers:-
    (1)First thing is first. Political outcome determines the type of constitution that a country is likely to have. It is not the other way. The political process at present does not appear to lead to a negotiated outcome. Hence, constitution making is a post conflict process.
    (2)To relate Eyasus’s removal from power with the “Oromo dilemma” is not helpful and misses the point. That was a palace coup and nothing more. Eyasu too did try to kill Haile Selassie. If the attempt had succeeded, what could have happened is any ones guess. But to assume that the situation of the Oromos would have been better had Eyasu been the King, is inaccurate and speculative.
    (3)The current Oromo dilemma is not without reason. It is also important to note that Taitu, Haile Selassie, Gobena, Teferi Benti, Jagema Kello, Abdisa Aga, Mengistu Haile Mariam, Tesfaye Dinka, Teka Tulu, Debela Dinsa, etc. were Oromos. These rulers were not “job seekers” or “professionals” in the service of the Amara government as some Oromo politicians are trying to make us believe. The authors on “Oromo dilemma” have to come up with better explanation.
    (3)Both Dr. Eskeil and Dr. Tsegaye appear to be thinking in silos. There is no reason why an Oromo identity and an Ethiopian identity cannot co-exist in the same individual. The Oromo dilemma is equally a dilemma for “others”. If the Oromos do not care to maintain Ethiopia, why should others try? Why should ethnic and national identities be mutually exclusive? Who gave the Ethiopian identity only to the Amaras? to Tigreans and who denied Oromos from being Ethiopians? Oromo nationalists should stop blaming others for their own failures.
    (4) If an Oromo political organization is an instrument for the capture of central power, then it is important to note that “others” too will have similar interest and evidently ensure not to allow the central power to be captured. Somalia’s clan rivalry is a good example. Some Oromo groups argue that first all ethnic groups should be “free” and unity will come voluntarily, after freedom. It looks like a fable for children and forget power equilibrium/disequilibrium.
    (5) Dr Eskiel raised the issue of population numbers. However, it is also important to note that there are at least 11 million non-Oromos living in Oromia region. Some have territorial claims. It is also important to carefully study the territorial structure of the Oromia region. It is vulnerable to multiple conflicts and dismemberments. Holing together the various parts of Oromo regions will be a major problem for the independent government. Similarly there are about 4 million Oromos in the Amara region. In short minorities in Oromia constitute about 25% of the population. Oromos are also significant minorities in “other” regions. Civil and political rights, including language will be sticky points.
    (6) Another dilemma for the Oromo movement is that radicalism is taking the upper hand. Some are trying to create a fusion of political Islam and Oromo nationalism.
    (7) As regards the constitution, only better minds can explain the need to resurrect a dead document.The fact is today Oromia is administered by a military command post, civil and political rights are non-existent, over 400 people were killed and tens of thousands are in prison; political leaders like Bekele Garba are in prison, the regime claims 100% win of the seats in the parliament. TPLF is now busy changing personnel (OPDO) for the administration of the region. Where is the constitution? How can one start from the dead document unless one wants to negotiate with TPLF?

  10. this OLF thug is still pushing the same century old hateful divisive agenda by demonising amhara as if that will solve the intricate [problems Ethiopia faces. Killing more amharas would not solve anything and this is not the proper way to achieve democracy peace and progress. preaching hate and revenge wont solve anything , rather it will make relations between people worse.
    All the rulers of Ethiopia in the past generations were from different ethnic groups, including oromo. everybody shares equal responsibility. why should a poor amhara person be the subject of abuse, hatred by these fetish thugs. is this the only thing in life that gives them pleasure.

  11. With all due respect to Professor Gebissa, I am astounded and baffled by his proposition that the Oromo can only redress their political and cultural deliverance by honoring and using the abominable and tiresome piece of document that the ruling Wayanne cabals and some duped Oromo individuals drafted to hoodwink the unsuspecting and war-weary subjects of the Empire!
    To relegate the Oromo quest for freedom and dignity as “dilemma” is unacceptable, oromos do have reasonably well-defined course—continue to pursue the armed struggle until Oromo nation is liberated and the rights of the Oromo people are defended, even if takes a thousand years! It is been said that power comes from the barrel of the gun and the Tigrean usurpation of the state power is the testament of the said adage!
    To compare the fate of the Oromo nation to that of African-Americans is not fair. Gunner Myrdal’s trail-blazing sociological account about the state of black people in America in segregated Jim craw south is far removed from the realities of Oromo nation – Nation with its own language, culture, history, territory and an awfully backward Empire that Oromos found themselves in! The Africans in America were stolen from Africa and were sold as slaves. A history has not absolved them of their glorious African past and they continue to be dogged by rabid racism after all the heroic struggle of the past 50 some-odd years. For all its worth, the peaceful Civil Right Movement had only a measureable results. It was the confrontation of the young black Americans, the likes of the Black Panthers, SNIC, CORE, SDS and many other left-wing movements that made America changed. For the Oromos, the lessons that need to be emulated are that of other African societies that conquered their tormentors, e.g. the Eritreans, the Namibians, the South Sudanese, etc.
    This notion that, Oromos are peripheral people in the Empire is utterly absurd. If it were not for the Oromo participation in the formation of the Empire, the present day Ethiopian state would have not existed. Menelik’s Empire were conquered and administered by Oromo chieftain’s who’ve had the respects and confidence of the Emperor. Being Oromo was not like being an African American in the Jim Craw South. Oromo warriors were at the forefront of the leadership against European encroachment into the region, — the battle of Adowa and other confrontations and wars that the Empire engaged. Oromumma, and the Oromo language were not disparaged in Menelik’s Empire. The Emperor had high esteem for likes of Ras Gobanaa, Balchaa, Habtegiorgis, etc and spoke Afaan Oromo fluently. of course, they served the Empire, not an Oromo Sate, one should take into count the historical context of 19 century Africa. Lij Iyassu was removed from the crown-ship due to his puerile arrogance, his dalliance with Islam and notoriously being a womanizer. The group that schemed to organize the palace coup d’état were mostly Oromos from central Oromia— Fit. Habetegiorgis,Balchaa with some Northern Showan Amharas— Fit. Teklehawariat etc. May Ydlibi, the granddaughter of Hasib Ydlibi, who was the Bajirond (Tax assessor of Diree Dawa) and best friend of Liji Iyassu wrote a biography of her grandfather: With Ethiopian Rulers, the Biography of Hasib Ydlibi, and in it, she narrates how the overthrow of the Prince orchestrated by the British, Italian and French diplomat in Addis while Liji Iyassu was free ranging in the Ogadenn. (Hunting Lions).
    The Oromos not always lived in a subliminal political state in the Empire…. There were numerous uprising against the Empire! The Raya-Azabo rebellion of the 1940s which was the first Wayanne (Walin-Yaanee), the Bale Peasant and Pastoralists up-rising of the 1960, the Arsii resistance against Menelick’s campaign, etc. could be mentioned.
    The threshold and perceptions of Orommumaa may vary but that Oromos were not conscious of the oppressive political and culture conditions in the Empire is fatuous.
    Professor Gabissa insists that the Oromo’s need to look at the African American experience in America and use the Federal Constitution to redress their grievances. The Ethiopian constitution is not even worth the paper it is written on! The Tigre ruling elite never respected the document and they used it to rail-road to prison novice politicians who thought that the rule of law will prevail in the Courts. With all its imperfection and shortcomings, the United States’ Constitution is a living document; there is no comparison to Wayannee’s constitution.
    For the Oromo, continued armed resistance, pan-Oromo organizing and alliance with other oppressed subjects of the Empire is the only road to freedom and dignity! History is on the side of the Oromo nation and we have no doubts that the victory of our Nation is inevitable!

  12. Are we Oromos inferior to Amharas ? ? ? ?
    We Oromos constitute majority in Ethiopia, but still we Oromos forced to speak Amharas minority language as Ethioppias official language, and we Oromos were told our history,our culture and our Oromos culture is backward and uncivilized by Amharas rulers since Menilike era, yet we are still forced to glorify Amharas culture and Amharas language as official language of Ethiopia.
    I see so many statue in addis with Amharas first names and Amharas last names but no Oromo statue whatsoever, WHY ? ? ?
    Our Oromo brothers and sisters were invaded and raped by the Amhara feudals and our lands stolen and given to Amharas feudals by cancelling ts original Oromo names and replace it with Amharas names, i.e, Finfine = addis abeba etc….

  13. Dear Ezekiel Gebissa,
    As Intellectual the first thing you have to do is to snatch yourselves out of emotional reasoning. Cause as I see it your analysis is very much clouded by it; being guided by it, you bend history and facts to get to your intended conclusion. This kind of reasoning muddies our thinking and, you rob us all the opportunity to find a lasting solution to our intricate problems. The Oromo-Ethiopians question is not uniquely Oromos, thus the solution also is not going to be peculiar only to ormos; we need to keep that in mind.
    First of all the TPLF constitution wasn’t implemented on behalf of Oromo people those OLF leaders who participated on the drafting of the constitution were not equal partners with TPLF leaders. Their suggestion was accepted and ratified as long as it furthers TPLF dominance in Ethiopian political system. When the OLF leaders refuse to be a Trojan horse they were humiliated, their army was disbanded and imprisoned then chased out of Ethiopia. For you to claim that this constitution was promulgated to Oromo people in particular and the Ethiopian people in general to bestow democratic right upon theme is untruth. To praise the part of the constitution, which support your sought out end and reject the part that doesn’t set well with you regardless of what other Ethiopian think is not an honest way of dealing with the problem but changing the nature of the problem –or it is the same problem. All Ethiopians have to come to the table and agree that is the way to go. No particular group should impose a solution on all other Ethiopians.
    If we are honest with ourselves the 1974 revolution that implemented a mortal blow to the old system wasn’t implemented by ethnic conscious Amharas, Oromos, and Tigrians. The student movement and what followed was geared toward bringing a just system to all Ethiopians. Those who you call the privilege groups Amharas and Tigrians were at the forefront of the struggle. They didn’t die to bring Amhara domination they died for Oromo and for those who were on the peripheries. Your claim
    “The Land Reform Act of 1975, written essentially by Oromo intellectuals, among others, in effect, “liberated” Oromo tenants from the oppressive grip of settler-landlords”
    This reforms were possible because the solution was sought and designed to address not only the oromos but it was effectively was trying to address the land issue for all Ethiopians. To give this a conscious participant of the student movement an Ethnic twist – is not fair to those who pain by giving their life.
    As you tried to present on you piece—the Oromo becoming a dominant force is not as problematic as you think it is. The issue of domination has no place in a democratic society. If your number warrants you to dominate the system, proportional to your number you will dominate, but you have to be cognizant of all other Ethiopian rights and privileges. Democracy is accommodative with – your majority position would not a tool for domination. Since you are privileged to live in a Democratic society you are aware how the system run.
    Instead of circulation and re-circulation about self-determination what we need to focus is how we can establish a truly democratic society in which we can live and prosper.

  14. what is this ,self determination of the oromo’ this disillusioned, immature guy is talking about. is the oromo really treated like the black american ‘negro’, as this hopeless person would like us to believe. do we have to fabricate lies to make a point , as the so called oromo intellectual is here stating.
    self determination requires armed struggle, probably many years of bloody war. is he ready to die for it or is this pseudo intellectual expecting somebody else to die for him.
    he puts american negro and oromo on the same level of oppression- lets examine a few facts
    was the oromo segrerated from other ethiopians for being oromo- no no no. this is big lie nr 1
    was the oromo forced to work lke a slave- no no no another big lie,
    was the oromo denied access to work, services etc no no no . big lie .
    we can go on looking at facts and we find that nothing of the kind existed in Ethiopia. .

  15. OLF slaughtering Amharas residing in southern part of the country is just the tip of iceberg.
    It is the matter of time before the civil war breaks between Nefetegna Amharas and Oromos, there is endless land dispute between these two historical enemies. .

  16. The children of the landowners ( with their leadership) were the ones who fought with a motto of “Land to the Tiller” and changed the Ethiopian land ownership system. The Proclamation of 1975 made all small farmers to be owners of their own land and its produce. This is the fact. Do not try to create another story.

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