By Fayyis Oromia*
There was a time, when the Oromo freedom fighters wanted to liberate the Oromo people from any sort of subjugation in Ethiopia without trying to demarcate a national area called Oromia; for instance, we can mention the movements like the Raayya Oromo revolt, the Bale Oromo resistance, the initiation of Maccaa Tulama Association, the Oromo struggle led by ME’ISON and IC’AT as well as the formation of ENLF (Ethiopian National Liberation Front), which was the forerunner of the OLF. Then, we came into a situation, which helped some Oromo nationals perceive, accept and respect the existence of an Oromo national area (Oromia) in the Ethiopian empire, but yet without an attempt to separate this area from Ethiopia, the empire, which is said to be build by the blood and bone of the Oromo people. Now, we are in the era, when we started to think, not only about the existence of the Oromo national area, but also about the necessity of liberating this region in a form of an independent Gadaa republic of Oromia. These three visions (Oromia is the whole Ethiopia, Oromia within Ethiopia, and an independent Oromia without Ethiopia) as well as the respective political movements are still entertained in the Oromo society at large; the common denominator of the three forces being the struggle for an unconditional bilisummaa/freedom of the Oromo people from any sort of political domination, economic exploitation and cultural suppression.
That is why I do now think that the Oromo liberation movement is like a fighter aircraft (jet), which has the left-wing, the middle-body and the right-wing as three important parts shooting at the enemy. The left-wing wants to change the whole Ethiopia, name the country as Oromia and promote Afaan Oromo to a federal/national language of the country; the middle-body wants to liberate Oromia within Ethiopia and make it be the leading nation-state of the whole country; and the right-wing wants to establish an independent Gadaa republic of Oromia, which will have the influential position in the whole region of the Horn of Africa. These three parts of the Oromo liberation movement are now trying to harmonize their moves against our common current enemy, i.e. against the fascist, Abyssinianist and racist Woyane. Accordingly, we do now find the Oromo liberation movement in all the spectrum of the opposition parties and liberation fronts against the oppressive regime (in the left-wing, like the Oromo nationalists, who are active in AEUP, EPPF, EPRP, G-7 and UDJ; in the middle-body including those organized under OFDM, OLF-KY, OPC and UEDF of MEDREK; as well as in the right-wing, such as the freedom fighters in OLF-QC, ONLF, ULFO). Surprisingly, the main-body of the OLF (OLF-SG) seems to represent the whole fighter jet coordinating, accommodating and cooperating with all the three parts. This reality persuades us to think that the Oromo liberation is inevitable, and the possible future three types of our sovereignty are not as such disadvantageous for Oromia and the Oromo people.
The three parts of our fighter jet are the results of the three approaches we, the Oromo nationals, do have towards our history. As once written on Gadaa.com, it seems that we are treating our history in three dimensions: (1) as only a common proud history of Oromia and Abyssinia, such as the Adwa Battle; (2) as only a conflicting parallel history of Oromia and Abyssinia, such as the Minilik invasion and the so-called Oromo expansion; (3) as both common proud history and conflicting parallel history of Oromia and Abyssinia. Now, we do see that the consequences of the above three approaches are the three possible destinies regarding future Oromian sovereignty. If we want to achieve our bilisummaa efficiently, despite these different views, we have to firstly try to fight together for our common freedom from the Abyssinianist elites’ system of domination, and then settle to choose one of the following styles/types of sovereignty based on the version of Oromo history we respectively do have in mind. It is clear that:
– those, who do believe in only the common proud history, tend to choose the liberation of Oromia in the Hindi style. The Hindi people liberated all nations and nationalities in their region and named the whole country as India, made Hindi the working language of the Indian federation and, of course, divided the national area of Hindi into multiple federal regions. Why not we, the Oromo people, liberate the whole nations and nationalities in the Ethiopian empire, call the whole country ‘Oromia’ and promote Afaan Oromo to the working language of the federation, with the historical local Odaa’s of Oromia (Odaa-Bisil, -Bulluqi, -Bultum, -Gaarres, -Makodi, -Nabee and -Roobaa) being the future separate federal regions of the country? Of course, this seems to be concentrating on only regional integration at the cost of national independence.
– those, who tend to accept both the common proud part and the conflicting parallel part of our history, opt for the liberation in the English style. The English people liberated themselves from the 700 years rule of the Roman empire, forged England as an autonomous region and united it with the neighboring others to form the British United Kingdom’ they also made English the working language of the Kingdom. Can’t Oromia, being autonomous, free and independent from alien forces, be united with the neighboring autonomous regions to forge a Cushitic Ethiopian union, similar to that of the British United Kingdom and promote Afaan Oromo to a working language of the union? This is a political move which possibly promotes both a national independence and a regional integration.
– those, who do perceive only the conflicting parallel history, prefer liberation in the Ruski style. The Russian elites dismantled the Soviet union and established the Russian federation, which uses the Russian national language, the federation which still does have an influence on its neighboring nations, because of its economic and military strength. Does this way of dismantling the Ethiopian empire and fostering the highly wished independent Gadaa republic of Oromia to have a further influence over the other liberated neighboring countries more advantageous than the first two types of sovereignty? Moreover, this type of sovereignty looks like favoring a national independence without envisioning the possible regional integration.
We, all Oromo nationals, are entitled to choose, what we do believe is the best for our nation; what matters, at last, is, of course, the voice of the Oromo majority. I think national independence as well as regional integration should be the agenda of the Oromo people, in contrast to the federation or separation goal of the Tigrayan elites. Interestingly, the three Abyssinianist groups (the elites of Amhara, Tigrai and Eritrea) have got only one option respectively in their political struggle: the Amhara elites still can only sing about the Hindi-style for they know that Amharinya has got the privilege to be the federal language of the empire; the Eritrean elites, as a minority at the periphery, were so insecure to live within Ethiopia so that they had only the alternative of separation (the Ruski-style); the Tigrayan elites can neither have the language privilege to opt for the Hindi-style nor the capacity to live alone as an independent nation in order to choose the Ruski-style, so they do stick to the English-style. But, the Oromo and Oromia, being the majority at the center, can play all the three cards (the Hindi-, English- and Ruski-style) as long as the rule of the game in the region will be freedom and democracy. So, let us, the Oromo people, use our advantage and struggle with all the pro-freedom and pro-democracy forces of the Empire against the Woyane to come to the position of voting for one of these three options we do have.
As far as I am concerned, all the three ways are not harmful, but the decision must be made by the politically-conscious Oromo polity and Oromo public per referendum, when the time comes. This short essay is a bitter pill I wanted to present to the Oromo foes, who are nowadays delighted by observing a division of the Oromo liberation vanguard (the OLF) into three. For their information, OLF has got in its pocket, from the very beginning, only one kaayyoo (goal) of bilisummaa/freedom, which, at the same time, can be interpreted as three kaayyoo’s of walabummaa (three types of sovereignty), and it plays with these three cards of walabummaa based on the objective reality it is in, i.e. according to the “here and now” of the situations. Even though the one kaayyoo of bilisummaa is the Oromo national self-determination, the three interpretations of the kaayyoo of walabummaa are:
– Oromian national independence within a regional union (internal self-determination of the nation),
– Oromian national independence without a regional union (external self-determination of the Oromo), and
– Oromian citizens’ independence to have a referendum on this issue of national ‘independence within a union’ Vs. ‘independence without a union.’
We know that OLF permanently advocates for all the three: the independence of Oromia, the Oromos’ right to self-determination, and the union of nations in the empire/region. It emphasizes one of these three interpretations according to the condition of the time (according to the Zeitgeist). Whenever Abyssinianist elites become arrogant and start to sing about the unconditional unity of their empire with suppression of Oromos’ national rights, it stresses the necessity of an independent republic of Oromia, of course, undermining the possible union. The logic behind this position is that whenever there is suppression, there will be a move for separation. When some reasonable politicians from different nations in the empire start to recognize the God-given right of the great Oromo nation to self-determination, the OLF starts to play the card of self-determination, i.e. an appropriate decision per referendum either for ‘independence within a union’ or ‘for independence without a union.’ Now, the one structural OLF, which we, Oromo nationals, have believed to own, has been divided into three, each of the factions just taking as a goal one of the three interpretations of the kaayyoo regarding walabummaa of Oromia:
– OLF1 of Ob. Daud appears to have the Oromo national self-determination as its goal (being open for both an ‘independence within a union’ and an ‘independence without a union’ as far as the Oromo majority will decide for one of the two).
– OLF2 of Ob. Dhugaasaa seems to make no compromise on an ‘independence without a union.’
– OLF3 of Gn. Kamal looks like having a decision, which favors an ‘independence within a union’ of nations in the empire/region so that it tries to seek a cooperation with the Oromo nationals in the ruling party, OPDO, and, at the same time, it strives for a possible alliance with the reasonable “pro-unity and democratic” Habesha opposition forces.
Anyways, a merdo (bad news) to the foes of the Oromo liberation movement is that the one/three OLF(s) will never give up the struggle for the right of the Oromo nation to self-determination until we, the Oromo people, become the determiners of our own destiny, be it within the Ethiopian union or without the union. Otherwise, let’s differentiate the ongoing rhetoric from the real conviction. We have heard certain Oromo politicians talking about the “fact” that the Oromo people do not want “secession.” But, I do consider that such talking about the Oromo wanting independence or not is a wrong generalization. One thing we need to know as a fact is that almost all Oromo politicians (including those who do make the above mentioned rhetoric), deep in their hearts, believe in the right of the Oromo nation to self-determination. This is the hallmark of Oromo nationalists, and it is the aim of our mindset (that of our spiritual organization, the OLF). This mindset, the OLF, has got only one kaayyoo of bilisummaa with the three interpretations regarding walabummaa, but it also does pursue the following three karaa’s (strategies) with their respective rhetoric:
– OLF mindset in the rebel organizations like the ULFO has got an explicit rhetoric of self-determination, i.e. in a form of a national independence, be it within or without a union, and it fights for this kaayyoo by all means,
– OLF mindset in the opposition organizations like OFC has got the rhetoric of struggling for liberation in only the Ethiopian context, but it covertly struggles for the same kaayyoo of self-determination,
– OLF mindset in the ruling organization, the OPDO, has got the rhetoric, which says: “we have already achieved the liberation,” but yet it also covertly pushes for the same and similar kaayyoo.
So, our fellow Oromo nationals, let’s allow this mindset move to the kaayyoo of bilisummaa in all the three karaa’s, despite the rhetoric of some Oromo nationalists in the opposition and in the ruling Oromo organizations. Let our foes know exactly that, despite the different rhetoric, the Oromo liberation movement can never be stopped till it achieves the kaayyoo of bilisummaa Oromo, and walabummaa Oromia of any type. We only need to motivate ourselves just to make our respective rhetoric and to do our practice in the liberation movement on the karaa each of us chooses in order to come to the only one kaayyoo of self-determination. We have to forget the rhetoric of Oromo politicians in the ruling party and in the opposition parties, who are doing their talks under the gunpoint of Woyane (they are just denying the right of Oromo people to self-determination at gunpoint), and let’s strive to achieve our kaayyoo, which is already determined by our mindset, the OLF.
I am personally against any sort of dictatorial unity, and I am a supporter of a possible union of independent nations in the empire/region based on the free will of the respective peoples. Any unity without Oromo’s public verdict will fail, take it only 1 year, about 10 years or as long as 100 years. That is why I do advocate for a lasting solution based on the free will of all the stakeholders, instead of the temporary hoyaa-hoyee of unity as a wishy-washy solution. Some organizations seem to have chosen unconditional Ethiopian unity as a precondition for the alliance against Woyane, but the unity they do strive for will surely never last long, because it is not based on accepting the self-determination of peoples, but based on a predetermination of the future fate of peoples by only few elites. The future possible alliance against the Woyane, which may be forged by the OLF et al. must be based on a solid ground by taking the self-determination of nations, rather than the unconditional unity of the region/empire, as the precondition for an alliance.
This way or that way, our foes need to know that, they can only manipulate and delay the realization of Oromo’s right to self-determination, but they can never hinder it. Oromo’s mindset is leading us to our only one kaayyoo, i.e. to the self-determination of the Oromo people, however long it may take. Our enemies like it or not, in reality almost all Oromo nationalists are led in our liberation struggle by this mindset. That is why the International Crisis Group (ICG) wrote: “despite its organizational flaws and divisions, many ordinary Oromos retain an almost messianic belief in the OLF as the major nationalist organization.” So, I would like to say: long live the OLF as both a fighter jet and a trinity (the OLF with only one kaayyoo of self-determination, but with the three possible types of sovereignty to be achieved through the three karaa’s accompanied by the three rhetoric).
Just regarding some politically vigilant Oromo nationalists, I personally can understand when they do refuse accepting the name Ethiopia as belonging to the Oromo people, but we need to dig deep to come to the facts that the name Ethiopia is not far from the history of the Oromo people in particular, and from that of the Cush in general. To illustrate this fact with a concrete example, who was the warrior named Abraham Ashine (ashine means in Afaan Oromo: ‘we have begotten a child’), the man who bravely conquered and ruled certain parts of Arabia as the ancient Cushitic Ethiopia used to include, not only the areas in the north eastern Africa, but also some regions in Arabia? The issue of this hero, Abraham Ashine, must be researched and the role of the Oromo in ruling even this part of Arabia, including Yemen, must be rightly interpreted. Fact on the ground seems to show that the Yemenites and some other Asians themselves were/are Cushites and their tricolors, similar to that of Abbaa-Gadaa’s faajjii, show it all. Simply put, the Oromo people can win only when we do understand our lost and real history. The Oromo people now fighting against our own history of the Cushites (Ethiopiawinet in its true sense) is not as such constructive. The Agew dynasty of Elalibela and even the Aksum history is not that of the “Semitic” as usually told, but part and parcel of the Cushitic kingdoms. Can we really find ancient history that the Tigrayans did build in Aksum, which is not part of the Cushitic civilization? Let alone Abyssinian history, we can further say that parts of the Arabian history are based mainly on the Oromo’s (Cushitic) culture, because of the fact that Abraham Ashine, the king who conquered and ruled Arabia seems to be an Oromo in particular, and a Cushite in general. Interestingly, even the name of the continent Asia is said to be derived from this Oromo name Ashine, according to some recorded histories, legends or stories.
The more we dig deep, the better we know our real history and the best we can be in a position to charter our future beneficial destiny. So let’s, Oromo nationalists, be sure that we are on the right line of understanding and interpreting our history and let’s look at the fact that, not only an independent Oromia of the Ruski-style, but also an integrative Oromia in a form of either the Hindi-style or the English-style can be the right kaayyoo, for which we, the Oromo nationalists, can fight. In summary, we can be like a fighter jet shooting from its three parts to attack our main enemy, the oppressive Abyssinianist elites’ system of domination, which still acts against our Oromummaa by targeting specially Aadaa-, Afaan-, Biyya-, Alaabaa-, and Amanti-Oromo (Waaqeffanna). Now, the very conscious harmonization of the three parts of our fighter jet in targeting our enemy in unison is the alpha-and-omega of the Oromo liberation movement in order to be successful in our struggle. As an effective and efficient symbol of this action in unity towards the common purpose of bilisummaa Oromoo in a form of self-determination, the Alaabaa of TQO (Tokkummaa Qabsaa’ota Oromoo), which I already proposed in my last two articles, is the neutral banner, behind which we all can rally. May Rabbi/Waaqa help us, all the Oromo nationalists, to cooperate with each other, to coordinate our efforts and to move in unison towards our kaayyoo of bilisummaa Oromoo and walabummaa Oromia. May HE bless Oromia and the Oromo people!
* Fayyis Oromia can be reached at [email protected]