By Falmataa Sabaa (PhD)
I want to supplement to the exigency of Prof. Ezekiel’s recent article entitled “The Big Debate – Beyond Assimilation and Accommodation: The Resurgence of Oromo Nationalism”. Presumptive reason as to why Prof. Ezekiel took the initiative of writing the article might have to do with the recurring pan-Ethiopianist’s requirement posed on Oromo politicians to regularly confess their political will toward Ethiopianism. Prof. Ezekiel’s articulation emanates from the difficulty pan-Ethiopianists have had to understand Oromo’s theory on land ownership and issue of national identity. Although the article is comprehensive of the domain it intended to address and derived conclusion logical, I have slightly different assumptions on the possible causes for the seemingly shift of TPLF from its goal at inception. In juxtaposition with and as a continuum to the article, I would like to avow the pan-Ethiopianists relentless effort to wrongly define Oromo’s cause and futile ambition to set limit on the scope of our political goal.
Noticeably, there exist different interest groups among elites collectively named as pan-Ethiopianists. Their several features seem to depend on their blood mix, birth place and political spirit they pursue. Therefore, by close examination of their camp, we could see pan-Ethiopianism elites (traditionally, in a nutshell, named as Amhara elites) are of three basic categories. Needless to say that they all have recurring political feature in common that they all require elites of Oromo and other subjugated nations to remain their fiduciary. Nevertheless, we need to closely study their nature and find out which one’s interest might commensurate with our strategy to build post TPLF democratic nations in the horn of Africa. Hence, their categories include:
- Elites native to Amharaness and who believe there is Amhara as nation [native pan-Ethiopianists]. This group often contains those elites born in Amhara region per se, or intact of their own Amhara blood and proud of their own identity (language, culture, norms and values). Despite their belongingness to the colonial regime who established Ethiopian empire, they had less to be accused of as integral part of colonial murder and exploitation of the subject people. The group tacitly approves the history of Abyssinia as different from that of Ethiopia. Also they seem to value history and identity of other nations and yet seek to maintain unified Ethiopia being made democratic. Nevertheless, they seem to have difficulty in their geopolitical and less sustainable economic potential as an impeding force on their way forward to stand as independent nation. Many of the group are those pushing establishment of and running Amhara political organizations primarily to rescue their nation. They would explore open space to see virtual image of Abyssinia in Ethiopia. If carefully handled, such elites can determine their mean of political goal and negotiate with others to reach consensus as to how to commonly work against TPLF led regime and on mode of post-TPLF co-existence.
- Elites hybrid to Amharaness created as effects of colonial state formation process [hybrid pan-Ethiopianists]. This group generally embraces elites whose forefathers were servants of hegemonies of emperor Menelik and successive habesha colonial regimes. The forefathers of such elites had come bare feet to Oromia and other southern states of contemporary Ethiopia. Their forefathers settled as armed agents of the emperor, established their life by booty-looting the natives and remain counting their kinship to Amhara, though. The descendants have got privilege to education and regime’s favour to economic and moral domination. This category of elites tactically denies the presence of Amhara as a nation but tirelessly work to institute Amhara identity over others under the shadow of Ethiopia. They don’t officially speak the native langue of the people they were born in and leave with but use their knowledge of the native language to spy and manipulate the natives. They do think they have nowhere to go back to their native state yet don’t submit to the political will of indigenous people they settled in.
Consequently, they seem to fiercely work to further keep Ethiopia as jail of nations under supremacy of Amhara. That is why they always lean to Ethiopia and run political organizations prefixed Ethiopia. They severely hate existence any sort independent political force of subjugated nations and try to marginalize them by labelling with bad connotation available under sky. Their appearance is ubiquitous and a number of them have long unproductive history of hijacking Ethiopian politics including their effort to manipulate TPLF. They used to chant slogan of land to the tillers as opposed to the land to the natives in their effort to divert natives’ rights. The continued land privatization issue is currently vibrated by the group to mislead the concept where land can only be private or communal property of natives.
Many elites as founder and runners of the so called Vision Ethiopia along with most members formerly CUD and its residue PG7 fall in this category. As discussed by Prof. Ezekiel, this group seem to infiltrate and excel TPLF to twist TPLF’s initial goal to the pan-Ethiopianists’ ambition. As well, the group never hesitate to hinder the goal of independent political entities such as the OLF, ONLF and SNLF. They have always set a trap and worked to divide such genuine political organization. This can simply evidenced by the recent speech of one of the Vision Ethiopia leader. He did say that he remembers the story of what the infiltrator of OLF and current leader of ODF said to him long ago. He never felt shy to hint us forthcoming effects of such infiltrators on the OLF would be seen soon on top the captives they already got as ODF.
I believe the inherent nature of hybrid pan-Ethiopianists coupled with their selfish, divisive, rude and trickery politics would remain futile and endanger reasonable unity of nations’ for harmonious co-existence. Also their attempt to distort history is never paralleled. Many of them often forge 3000 years of biblical Ethiopian history. But if they are asked where in the bible Ethiopia is mentioned before 4th century AD, they withdraw and say bible is not reference for history but to worship. When we reference them to many books and literatures of history, they say forget! It is what the whites (necha cheba ferenji) wrote. Even based on their ancient debtera (magician clergies) sources and mythology, they don’t want to be convinced. As well, if they might be interviewed of their identity, they might give irrelevant response of their birth place. Probably, I relate their character to linseed packed in a sesame bag. If you shut their mouth, they find other opening and try to protrude in other side. They simply need to make the history of Ethiopia a taboo and want elites of other nations remain their fiduciary. For the fighters for freedom, it is hardly possible to have even contingency plan to work with this group.
Before switch to the final category of habesha based classification of elites, I would like to state my reservation to conclude TPLF is strategically twisted away from its initial goal of establishing republic of Tigray. As differed from Prof. Ezekiel’s assumption, in this case, I have inconvenience to assume TPLF’s policy of developmental state would serve them as function to predict national question is irrelevant undercurrent status quo. The developmental state approach is simple tactical tool of TPLF for economic and political domination before they leave Oromia for good. The statement by the developmental state policy engineer, the late Zenawi, in clip I recently heard him saying – if Oromo say enough is enough to TPLF, we have to go home (Tigrai) could justify my thought.
TPLF will never be strategically twisted by the hybrid pan-Ethiopianists’ emotional deal and unpredictable partnership. As a matter of minority based party which fears eventual domination, remembering the previous regimes’ heavy hands on their people, to do away with the cultural and religious domination between Amhara and Tigre, caught by the time bob of Wolkayet and other boundary they share would be unfolding limit for TPLF to revise their goal. As for me, TPLF is only effectively using the pan-Ethiopianists to pause the revolt by the subjugated people and is exercising the power vacuum before implementing their ultimatum goal. To this end, one among other signal is the recently triggered identity claim of nationalities such as Kemant and Agaw. The TPLF led regime’s underground provocation of such claims seem to make sure that Amhara wouldn’t be a real threat to Republic of Tigrai but remain miniature and appeased neighbour state. Likewise, the recent rudimentary move of the hybrid pan-Ethiopianists’ category reflect their desperate perception of TPLF’s move is not promising their will.
- Elites of pure or composite blood of other than Amhara nation but humiliated by the Amhara hegemony’s propaganda [speculator pan-Ethiopianists]. This category of elites might comprise individuals born to southern nations and to non-Amhara nations in the current boundary of Amhara regional state. This category comprises individuals at varying degree of concern and dedication to struggle for freedom of nations. They might not be effectively working politicians but usually join Ethio-prefixed organizations. The fact of this category of elites seems that they are never allowed to be nucleus of the political organization they tended to join. The elites in this category, too, never pursue the organization’s ultimatum goal seriously but join it as sideline activity. Nevertheless, they are often cowardly caught in and count themselves as opportunist pro-Ethiopians unless the near future seem to prove the otherwise. An interest to work with such group of elites requires consistent refreshment on the progressive achievement, creation of opportunity and frequently soliciting them around own goal.
Once I briefly state my notion in relation to the groups within the so called pan-Ethiopianists, let us examine the pros and cons of the political motto both habesha and Oromo elites are caught by.
Prof. Ezekiel mentions three themes against which the pan-Ethiopianists criticize Oromo nationalists and elucidates the fallacy of the accusation. I highly appreciate the intellectual approach and evidence based justification he followed to help others understand our just cause. Unfortunately, the pan-Ethiopianists Prof. Ezekiel considered are essentially the second category in the list who never hesitate to find issue against which to accuse Oromo nationalists and the Oromo nation. Nor they seem to abstain from their divisive and tricky politics. At this junction, instead, I prefer to ask why we are expected to confess, justify and declare our political position where pan-Ethiopianists seem not to be required to do so. Implicitly, it seem, for them no long way to go for justification but suffice if they simply hint us. Nevertheless, what if we ask explicit feature of their pan-Ethiopiansm? When they advocate pan-Ethiopianism, what extra benefit and right they will bring us beyond what we would have when regain Oromia? Or are they the ones who have nowhere to go and tend to benefit from us in Oromia? If then, are they going to ask our favor toward co-existence or do they have the capacity to make it for us a willy-nilly type of co-existence? How come they assume every of their political move is blessed while ours attributed to sinful? Why are we asked to denounce our identity of Oromoness and cloth their Ethiopian identity?
Obviously, no one in the above category of habesha elite groups would try to intellectually approach to justify their need to promote unblemished pan-Ethiopianism. They seem to have no logical fact to justify their pan-Ethiopianism nether they can invalidate Oromo cause based on Oromummaa. Instead they might keep their traditional insult politics, agitate hate petition and start to shout for no reason, hide themselves in their taboo, and simply wonder here and there to remain out focus. For instance, as a plan to effectively use of their capacity, the best tactic EPRP used was to establish the then shouting committee in the cities. They knew their inherent nature and thus tried to use it effectively. Anyways, such era has gone and shouting for unadorned reason become obsolete tactic. In terms of us, nothing went bad but we need to know that they are of that sort. Likewise undercurrents are their shout about the so called Adwa and Maychew victories to tell us Oromo is part and parcel of it. Yes, Oromo effectively defended the habesha kings but it doesn’t mean that Oromo fought for self-cause. The loudly shouters as owners of the victory, hybrid pan-Ethiopianists might not have a single hero of their own habesha forefathers as ‘patriotic’ in the list of the then defenders. Even habesha kings such as Menelek never fought the enemy but at the backyard to negotiate while Haileselasie was runaway. Paradoxically, as part of their tradition to historical larceny, they wanna use it as a trap on our way to the next victory of getting rid of the colonial regime.
Agatha Christie once wrote traditional mysteries are parables. I believe, too, that the pan-Ethiopianist’s mystery replenish readers an opportunity to question habesha’s own attitude and demand their responses to their theory of Ethiopianism. So, paralleling Prof. Ezekiel’s scholarly approach to defend Oromo cause, I rather state that we have no obligation to confess our goal at every step we move toward. Instead it must the camp of pan-Ethiopianists that need to justify why they need to keep obsolete empire in place. Why are we dictated to think and act as per the colonial pan-Ethiopianists’ mind set only? What would go wrong if the Ethiopian empire system will be uprooted and replaced by democratic nations? They have to explicitly tell us the benefit we could expect out of their forefather’s strict colonial empire relative to re-gaining Oromia! We need to know the reason why they tend to reverse the current status quo where peoples of Ethiopia are apparently and in principle enjoying equal and democratic political rights for co-existence. There is no reason to presume Oromo and other subjugated southern nations are required to confess about their will to keep the obsolete Ethiopia, the strict dungeon of nations. Therefore we are delighted to see the taboo of hybrid pan-Ethipianists’ broken, their reason specifically stated and their cause scholarly justified.
For the Oromo and other colonial subjects of the south, unity is indispensible. We were crushed by the most poor and least developed nation kings of habesha and hence we need to get rid of the system by joint effort. We need to get away with the cheap and divisive propaganda of ubiquitous hybrid pan-Ethiopianists. No doubt that our strategic plans as subjugated nations are compatible in its complete sense. The tactical moves we employee are also synergetic to propel us toward our common goal to leave as free nations. We need to be alert with empty cry and backward scenario of hybrid pan-Ethiopianists such as the one recently dominating their media. We would be foolish if we are expecting green light button pressed by residuals of colonial masters for us to run to our destination. They have always blocked and continue to do so any independent political step toward breaking yoke of slavery. Their standing ego is to keep us under the colonial yoke so that they mount on the saddle to freely ride us.
In connection to the shout by the hybrid pan-Ethiopianists, I would like to briefly re-assess the recently fabricated propaganda campaign they are exerting on us. What is wrong if Oromo or any other nations would have consultations within for whatsoever reason they deem it necessary? Who cares about the boundary some colonial resides are setting for us? What will happen if, even without reasoning, we just don’t abide by their set limit? Hebesha elites (the hybrid pan-Ethiopianists and TPLF based ones) are yelling on us for the consultation conference Oromos held in London. They seem to be extremely worried about the forthcoming in Atlanta. However, they fail to imagine it is gonna be non-stopping until we reach our destiny. One interviewee on DW radio from the so called Vision Ethiopia characterized our effort as aftermath, backward, weak idea, extremist idea and anti-Ethiopia. He wants to censure our agendum, too. Should he be scholar, he could have justified the process of formation of Ethiopia by other than colonial means and showed us our belongingness. Should he be on behalf of neutral organization, he would have remained independent of other’s motto instead of fiercely condemning the just effort. He simply don’t even remember his previous interview on VOA where he responded saying he is not politically neutral as such.
Therefore, my appeal to elites of subjugated nations and peoples of southern Ethiopia in general and the OLF as well as Oromo conference coordinators in particular are the following.
- We need to exercise our right to determine our destiny. We need to say no to any sort of willy-nilly type collaboration with habesha.
- OLF must be mindful more than ever of the hint by the person of Vision Ethiopia on the issue of infiltrators of the sort of hybrid pan-Ethiopians. Take your torch, find them out and discharge them away.
- With due thanks to the London Oromo conference organizers, I highly appreciate the forthcoming conference organizers in Atlanta. Apart from the basic objective of brining all hero Oromo political forces, we need to gear the intention of the conference toward disposing not only the Oromo infiltrator agents of pan-Ethiopiansm but also their organization. A simple logic I successfully used so far is, a political organization most hated by habesha elites is the best for the Oromo. So is the OLF, our hero front.
In response to empty crying and yelling of mostly diaspora based hybrid pan-Ethiopianists let us stand more than ever to determine our destiny only by ourselves. We have the right to vividly run the philosophy of uprooting Ethiopian empire as long it doesn’t serve our purpose. I thank you obbo Leben Wako of London Oromo conference for your wisdom of expression. You did great job, and I will follow your foot step! Should we need collaboration with pan-Ethiopianists, it would only have to be with native pan-Ethiopianists and contingent to the speculator pan-Ethiopianists. No cooperation is desirable with hybrid pan-Ethiopianists. Because they have nothing they say is theirs to bring to negotiation table. So, why do we need to spend our time with them? Fellow Oromos: we were free and we need to regain our freedom. I see no reason why Oromo is considered fiduciary to habesha and required to regularly confess its political strategy.