Yonas Biru, PhD
The Oromummaa cult and political dogma ድሩ Gedaa፣ ማጉ Waaqeffanna፣ ቀመሩ ክህደት፣ ስብእናው ውሸት ነው:: Gedaa and Waaqeffanna are dead for all practical purposes. What is left of Oromummaa cult and political dogma is ክህደት and ውሸት. In a sort of a subversive way this can be attributed to the Amhara and Tigray intellectual class whose ድር and ማግ are inspired by a wayward political theology and weaved from a delusional rich tapestry of mythology.
What is a priority of first order is the issue of the joint death of Gadaa and Waaqeffanna. Was it murder by “Abyssinian Occupiers” as Oromo tribal intellectuals lament, or was it death caused by natural mortality bound by the cycle of life and death?
This is a critical issue because if they were killed by outside forces, it is possible to revive them. If their deaths were caused by natural mortality, any effort to revive them will be a futile exercise. The only way one will succeed is by taking the Oromo society backward to the 16th century and force it to live in small clans. Gadaa will be suitable for such a “back-to-the future” social engineering, but Oromo will be condemned to live a life fitting of the stone ages.
The Gadaa Hoopla
The Oxford Dictionary translates hoopla as “excitement surrounding an event or situation, especially when considered to be unnecessary fuss.” There is nothing that I can imagine as being more fuss than the Gadaa brouhaha.
Gadaa was a 16th century social governance system. By the 17th century it was socially dead – more like a medically braindead person. Gadaa is not the first traditional system to die of natural causes. Thousands of similar traditional systems have perished after they served their purpose for the time they were intended and needed.
Let us see what Oromo tribal intellectuals say. This is how Professor Endalkachew Lelisa Duressa puts it: “Due to the geographical expansion of the Oromo territory and an increasing population, the central Gadaa government declined beginning in the mid-17th century and autonomous regional and local republics took its place.”
This is echoed by Professor Jalata (the Godfather of Oromummaa) as follows: “The nonfederal nature of the Gadaa System, lack of Strong Central government, lack of regular meeting of Gadaa official and long distance of Gumii (assembly) from political center made Gadaa system less Competent”.
Jawar Mohammed echoed the same sentiment, stating: The Gedaa system was weakened by “population expansion and the advent of migration.” The views expressed by Jawar Mohammed, Endalkacew Duressa and Asafa Jalata are consistent. This means Gadaa’s death certificate must show “Death by Natural Causes.”
If this is the case, why are tribal Oromummaa intellectuals pumped up and puffed up to revive an already decomposed Oromo body politics? I submit that it is their intellectual right to do so, for as long as stupidity is not a constitutionally banned political sport. What is sad is their affinity to መላዘዝ and መሟዘዝ, making grievance politics an Oromo political theology.
Of course, neither መላዘዝ nor መሟዘዝ is explicitly outlawed in the Ethiopian or Oromo tribal land constitutions. Sorry for English speaking readers the two words are hard to translate as they are unique to Ethiopian political intellectuals of the three ethnic tribes.
The question is: If Asafa, Endalkachew and Jawar are right in their beliefs that Gadda is not up to snuff to serve the Oromo people past the 17th century, what is the hoopla and brouhaha about resurrecting a long-decomposed Oromo body politics to life? The answer resides in Tigray and Amhara culture of መላዘዝ and መሟዘዝ.
The Imperative Comparative: How Oromo Inherited መላዘዝ and መሟዘዝ from Amhara and Tigray
The መላዘዝ and መሟዘዝ Tigryan theology revolves around the Axumite Civilization that has died somewhere between the 4th and 6th century. Tigryan intellectuals are high smoking the scroll of the Axumite civilization they salvaged from anthropological and historical archives. The following are public statements of a Tigryan distinguished professor at the University of Chicago, one of America’s best higher learning institutions, no less. “Philosopher John Lock’s [1632-1704] philosophical writings influenced the US Declaration of Independence (1776). But Tigrayan Philosophers were ahead of John Lock… Tigryan history and heritage seems to be a problem to people to the South and North of Tigray.”
The Amhara መላዘዝ and መሟዘዝ theology is no less dramatic. It goes like this: “Ethiopia contributed to world civilization, arts and literature, astronomy, mathematics, architecture, and engineering and Ethiopians were the first to invent the science of stars and gave names to the planets, not at random and without meaning, but descriptive of the qualities which they conceived them to possess, and it was from them that this art passed the Egyptians.”
That ain’t enough. Amhara politicians are just as intoxicated with the idea of resurrecting the “Geez civilization” from the ashes, rinse it up a bit and make Geez an international language to benefit the world at large. There were many international conferences to make Amharic Africa’s official language and peddle Geez as the best language since humans started talking. The leading intellectual is a distinguished professor in South Africa and a senior research associate at the Oxford University and formerly the director of research center on development studies at Aalborg University in Denmark.
The good professor believes “Ethiopia has a unique place in the universe for empowering those that were disempowered, for humanizing those that were dehumanized, spiritualizing those that were denied their right to worship God and inspiring and strengthening those oppressed to resist oppression.” He is currently spearheading a campaign to make the “Ethiopian Ge’ez alphabet as the flag and language of the new federated and united Africa.”
The Gadaa መላዘዝ and መሟዘዝ emanates from the Ethiopian social theology of ከማን አንሼ. Asafa Jalata, the God father of Oromummaa fiction, calls Gadaa as a “Classical African Civilization.” For the good Oromo professor, Gadaa is also a global “political project.” He believes “global Oromummaa” is important in the “promotion of a global humanity that is free of all forms oppression and exploitation.”
Ethiopian intellectuals compete in who comes up with the craziest fiction, not on who can come up with better economic model to get their people out of poverty. They talk shit about “promotion of global humanity” (Oromo), “empowering people of the world who are disempowered” (Amhara) and “influencing the US Declaration of Independence in 1776” (Tigray). Meanwhile, their people are the poorest in the world, they share drinking water with domestic and wild animals, their children drop dead like flies before they reach the age of five from diseases that can be cured with antibiotic.
What is saddening is that each group insists that its narrative is true, but the narratives from its adversaries are false.
The Waaqeffanna Phenomena
Waaqeffanna is an indigenous Oromo religion. It was the dominant religion during the Gadda reign. Today is it followed by 3.3 percent of the population in the Oromo tribal land.
Religions like civilizations, sneakers, haircut and ጠላ (Ethiopian Beer) depend on demand and supply. Those attracting more followers or consumers grow. Those failing to do so, perish. Nations who understand this and cultures who accept this as a natural process of the cycle of life and death evolve. Those who cling to life as they knew it in centuries past find themselves in a quagmire of poverty and ደዌ, as Amhara, Oromo and Tigray do.
Let us go back to the Waaqeffanna phenomena. In general, very little is known about it. Dr. Gemechu Megersa, a dinosaur intellectual of a sort, is the iconic defender of Waaqeffanna and Gadda. He is a tad clownish and a tad lunatic but entertaining all around. I like the guy as much as I like comedian Filfelu. Both are great in small doses if they keep their skit to two minutes.
In a series of enlightening interviews with LTV Show, Betty asked Dr. Gemechu to explain Waaqeffanna, including if it has a holy book, an institutional setting equivalent to Churches or Mosques, bishops and priests or religious practices such as lenting and fasting.
Dr. Megersa dodged the question four times. Finally, he said Waaqeffanna does not have institutions because they were not allowed to have Oromo institutions by successive Ethiopian governments. This is, of course, a lie. Waaqeffanna was around for over 400 years before non-Oromo governments ruled the Oromo tribal land.
Asafa Jalata has a different explanation: The terrorist acts of Christianity and Islam “suppressed indigenous Oromo religion in order to psychologically control and dominate them.” The same sentiments are reflected in books published by the Oromo government.
Let us call upon Jawar Mohammed to shed light on this important issue. In a 76-page Oromo manifesto, Jawar asserts: “የኦሮሞ ትግልን ብንመለከት፤ ከምኒልክ ወረራ በፊት ያለው ዘመን የነፃነት እና የብልጽግና ተደርጎ ይወሰዳል።” [Before Menilik’s invasion, Oromo was free and prosperous and Gedaa was the emblem of our pride.] Menelik’s reign was between the end of 19th century and the beginning of 20th century.
How is Menilik and successive Ethiopian leaders after him (most of whom are of Oromo construct including Emperor Haile Selassie and Mengistu) responsible for something that happened over 400 years before they came to power? This is Oromo politics characterized by የክህደት ቀመር and የውሸት ስብእና.
Waaqeffanna perished centuries before Menilik came to power because the supply and demand thingy favored Islam and Christianity. Truth be told, it is a cow not Ethiopian governments that did Waaqeffanna wrong.
One thing is for sure. Waaqeffanna does not have scriptures or a holy book. Professor Tesema Ta’a, one of the leading Oromummaa intellectuals, brough to light a research work that documented: “The Whites, the Arabs and the Abyssinians [Ethiopians], each one has a book given to them by God. In the beginning Waaqa also gave the Oromo a book but a cow swallowed it. Waaqa got angry and did not give them a second book.”
The bigger questions are: Did the naughty cow also eat the book of Oromo commonsense along with the holy book of Waaqeffanna? Did it also eat the book of Oromo ቀመር and ስብእና?