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Oromo Uprising: Danger and Opportunity – By Messay Kebede

January 10, 2016 (First published on December 15, 2015)
uyutRegarding the present situation of unrest in Oromo towns and villages, many activists and observers repeatedly ask the question of knowing why other regions of Ethiopia where the discontent is no less general, especially the Amhara region, are not joining the ongoing protest.  The consensus is that, unless the uprising extends to other regions, including Addis Ababa and other major towns, the TPLF will have no difficulty in crushing the Oromo protests. Generalized uprising is the sine qua non of success. The TPLF perfectly knows this.
That is why we see here and there attempts to divide ethnic groups, notably to incite clashes between the two major Amhara and Oromo ethnic groups. Confrontations between these two groups are a sure way for the TPLF to disable definitively the Oromo rebellion. Even though the game of setting the two ethnic groups against each other is a very dangerous one in that it can easily deteriorate into a mutually destructive and uncontrollable civil war from which Ethiopia will never recover, the TPLF is quite willing to take such a risk to protect its hegemonic power in Ethiopia. Its motto being death to Ethiopia if the TPLF does not rule it, it is ready to plunge the country into a terrible war that will benefit no one, including Tigreans whom it claims to represent.
What this means is that unity of all ethnic groups is by far the best alternative for everybody. Inter-ethnic divisions can only lead to two equally detestable alternatives. Either the TPLF will crush the Oromo uprising and remain in power indefinitely, given that another situation of uprising will be unlikely for a long time; or it will see no other way to defeat the Oromo uprising than to incite ethnic clashes, thereby precipitating the whole country into a dangerous and unpredictable path. Clearly, the situation offers unity and solidarity of all ethnic groups as the only and safest way to remove a common enemy.
Awareness of the looming danger and of the unique opportunity to put an end to a hideous dictatorial and divisive rule should give opposition leaders the courage to come out in favor of unity and solidarity. Oromo political leaders and activists, including those of the OLF, should openly state that the uprising is not only about Oromo land, Oromo peasants, and Oromia, but that it is also a democratic movement that includes and speaks for other ethnic groups as well. With few exceptions, the word “Ethiopia” is not mentioned even once in the numerous declarations made by Oromo leaders and activists. The Oromo leadership must understand that there is no point for other ethnic groups to rise and support the uprising if the whole concept of a common country is removed from the political horizon. Without unity, the removal presages chaos, which is enough to stifle the will to show solidarity with the Oromo revolt.
On the other hand, the Amhara and other ethnic groups must understand that their non-participation in the ongoing uprising can only give the Oromo the impression that they are abandoned to the repressive madness of the TPLF. Unless there is some demonstration of solidarity, the Oromo will increasingly feel alienated and betrayed to the great delight of the Woyanne. I hasten to add that the lack of solidarity will seal the fate of all other ethnic groups, since a victorious TPLF means the further tightening of its power and, hence, the worsening of repression and exploitation on other groups.  The choice for them is either solidarity or a reinforced TPLF dictatorial rule.
Whichever way we look at the present situation, it presents the two faces of danger and opportunity. The danger lies in the exclusive ethnic interpretation of the Oromo uprising; opportunity appears when the uprising is directed toward a democratic and all-inclusive movement. Ethiopians have all the reason in the world to engage in the path of unity and solidarity: it avoids the danger because it is a win-win for everybody. It is high time for leaders to step up and work to bring about an inclusive movement, for all interests converge when they look toward Ethiopia.

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4 Comments

  1. I have only one comment for Dr. Mesay. In your article you stated “On the other hand, the Amhara and other ethnic groups must understand that their non-participation in the ongoing uprising can only give the Oromo the impression that they are abandoned to the repressive madness of the TPLF. Unless there is some demonstration of solidarity, the Oromo will increasingly feel alienated and betrayed to the great delight of the Woyanne.”. There are more reasons to unite and stand in solidarity. However, this is not a good rationale to encourage other ethnicities to participate in the protest. What you forgot is that the Amhara have been abondoned and alienated for atleast the last 25 years. There was no one in solidarity with the Amhara. The Amhara still stick to Ethiopianess. The Oromo elite alienated themselves for a long time. Even if the Amhara stand in solidarity there is no guarantee the Oromo elite will change course. “Oromo protest” is what they have been sloganing from the start and they still continue to do so. Fake unity and solidarity will not bring about what millions are yearning for. So, instead of pushing the Amhara and other ethnicities to join in the protest, it will be paramount to insist on the Oromo elite to embrace Ethiopianess, make the issue national and re-frame the slogan once again. Otherwise it is not a rocket science to predict that this protest will end up like another “Dimtsachin yisema”.

  2. I have only one comment for Dr. Mesay. In your article you stated “On the other hand, the Amhara and other ethnic groups must understand that their non-participation in the ongoing uprising can only give the Oromo the impression that they are abandoned to the repressive madness of the TPLF. Unless there is some demonstration of solidarity, the Oromo will increasingly feel alienated and betrayed to the great delight of the Woyanne.”. There are more reasons to unite and stand in solidarity. However, this is not a good rationale to encourage other ethnicities to participate in the protest. What you forgot is that the Amhara have been abondoned and alienated for atleast the last 25 years. There was no one in solidarity with the Amhara. The Amhara still stick to Ethiopianess. The Oromo elite alienated themselves for a long time. Even if the Amhara stand in solidarity there is no guarantee the Oromo elite will change course. “Oromo protest” is what they have been sloganing from the start and they still continue to do so. Fake unity and solidarity will not bring about what millions are yearning for. So, instead of pushing the Amhara and other ethnicities to join in the protest, it will be paramount to insist on the Oromo elite to embrace Ethiopianess, make the issue national and re-frame the slogan once again. Otherwise it is not a rocket science to predict that this protest will end up like another “Dimtsachin yisema”.

  3. We never saw Amhara uprising in Ethiopia never happened. The thing is oromo people will continue to protest until our demands are met,we will librate our land from TPLF.

  4. We never saw Amhara uprising in Ethiopia never happened. The thing is oromo people will continue to protest until our demands are met,we will librate our land from TPLF.

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