Yonas Biru, PhD
In 2018, Ethiopians both at home and in the diaspora hang their hopes and put their trust in Abiy Ahmed and his Oromo-led government. For some he was a symbol of unity and peace. For others he was a harbinger of freedom and security. The pictures below show what the international media called the “Abiy-Mania.” The pictures were taken in Addis Ababa, Minnesota, and Bahirdar (top) and Frankfurt, Washington, and Johannesburg (bottom). It was time to rejoice and dream together.
What the Oromo-led government has done to Ethiopians is best described in Frederick Nietzsche’s 1883 masterpiece – Thus Spoke Zarathustra: “And once I wanted to dance as I had never danced before; over and beyond all heavens I wanted to dance. Then you swayed my favorite singer. And then he struck up a horrid, dreadful tune!”
Over the last three years, the hope and trust the people of Ethiopia bestowed upon the Oromo-led government was abducted by two evil forces: The Abiy-Shimeles-Adanech Trio and Oromo extremist intellectuals who trumpeted Oromummaa like a mournful horn. The nation’s mood to dance turned to melancholy. Hope turned to despair and እምነት gave way to ክህደት. The voices of delight were muted and taken over by the cries of mourning. The aroma of the flowers of spring got overtaken by the stink of human remains.
There is nothing sacred in the belief system of the two evil forces. Not churches and Priests or Mosques and Imams. Priest are slapped and an Imam beaten up in public, religious leaders killed, Islamic holy books desecrated, and teargas thrown at Orthodox Christians while they were praying and singing hymns of praise to God. Neither pregnant women nor nursing ones get mercy from them. Neither children of God nor dying grandparents win their sympathy. Their evil knows no boundaries.
During Mengistu the butcher’s era there was a short poem a grieving mother uttered that remains etched in the memory of that generation. “ሻለቃ ተፈራ የእግዜር ታናሽ ወንድም፣ የዛሬን ማርልኝ ሁለተኛ አልወልድም.” In a sardonic twist of irony, the mother was የጎንደር Amhara. Today, her iconic description of diabolical cruelty is replaced by an iconic cry for mercy uttered by a little Amhara girl pleading with Oromummaa killers: “የዛሬን ማሩኝ ሁለተኛ አማራ አልሆንም.”
In two generations, Ethiopia has transitioned from a mother’s promise of “ሁለተኛ አልወልድም” to a child’s vow of “ሁለተኛ አልወለድም” as humanity fell victim to Oromummaa savagery. Alas, 50 years of grievance politics and the resultant hate culture has not only normalized acts of savagery but has also given birth to sub-humans devoid of human empathy and sympathy. Words cannot describe their evil and savagery. Pictures may.
The Marriage of the Evil Trio and Sub-Human Cabals of Oromummaa
As I have stated many a time before, there are two governments in today’s Ethiopia. First, is the administrative branch that is run by a narcissist, psychopathic and paranoid Prime Minister. Part of his operational architecture includes the President of the Oromo tribal land and the Mayor of Addis Ababa. Their combined ignorance and arrogance provide a high-octane fuel to the psychopathic leader’s combustible politics.
The second branch is run by Oromummaa intellectual cabals. I am using the word “intellectual” liberally at the risk of doing a disservice to the English language. The cabals lay the institutional and ideological foundations of the Oromo-led government and justify its savage acts. To understand the administrative organ of the Oromo-led government, we need to understand its ideological foundation and institutional culture.
Literally, Oromummaa means being Oromo or Oromoness. At its formation, it was promoted as a social concept to embrace and cherish the Oromo culture. Professor Mirgissa Kaba and Girma Gutema insist Oromummaa is nothing more than “being Oromo or Oromoness.”
In truth, Oromummaa is far more than being Oromo or Oromoness. Its primary purpose is to serve as the “Master Ideology of the Oromo National Movement” and “a national political” aimed against Ethiopian nationalism and Christianity and Islam. Christianity and Islam are portrayed as empire builders of the Ethiopian empire and condemned of being instruments of “The Ethiopian colonial terrorism” that “brutalized, murdered, terrorized, and introduced an inferiority complex [on the Oromo] attacking the Oromo culture.”
To the extent Oromummaa is a culture its core objective is to serve as a unifying thread to overcome the “fragmentation” of the Oromo people and “reinvent the Oromo national political leadership.” The fragmentation refers to different political outlooks, ranging the gamut from Ethiopianist Oromos to those who consider Oromo as a colony of Ethiopia.
Oromos who embrace their Ethiopian origin and venerate their Islamic or Christian religion are condemned as “assimilated former Oromos, [who] like their Habasha masters have been the defenders of the Habasha culture, religion, and the Amharic language and haters of the Oromo history, culture, institutions.”
Oromummaa, therefore, is a political liberation movement and a religious crusade against Christians and Muslims. As a result, it sees “establishing political and religious leadership” as a vital step in the Oromummaa movement. The ongoing mass demolition of Churches and Mosques is driven by the Oromummaa theology to revive Waaqeffanna as Oromos indigenous religion that is currently followed by 3.3 percent of the Oromo population.
As a political and religious movement Oromummaa embraces violence. To this end, it “mobilizes financial resources to support the OLA.” The OLA is the Oromo Liberation Army that is involved in mass murder and kidnapping of Ethiopian and foreigners for ransom.
Hate is Like Ebola: It Destroys Its Carrier
Ethiopia has not seen the level of carnage, mass murder, war related deaths and destructions, demolition of Churches and Mosques, and total collapse in law and order as it has under the Oromo-led government. That the Abiy-Shimeles-Adanech Trio and Oromummaa are destroying the social fabric that holds Ethiopia together need not require explanation.
What requires explanation is the damage Oromummaa continues to inflict the people of Oromo. Two phenomena need attention. The first phenomenon is the permanent damage the Oromummaa theology is inflicting upon the inherent characteristics of the Oromo as a just society and a welcoming
culture. Second, the Oromo tribal land is suffering from what is increasingly turning to an irreversible long-term socio-economic damage.
A Culture of Grievance and Victimhood
Conventional politics is the art of the possible in cultivating collective actions rooted in forward looking socio-economic problem-solving. In contrast, grievance-based politics represents a culture of victimhood and fosters psychological trauma and deep-rooted social divisions and animosity.
By its very nature grievance politics is destructive and regressive, not constructive and progressive. Look at the Oromummaa voluminous literature. You will find an avalanche of complaints about the past and barely anything about advancing the Oromo forward. Ask leaders of Oromummaa how many strategic proposals have they produced for Oromo’s economic and social development? Hint: In the neighborhood of zero.
Oromo’s poor performance in last year’s high school-leaving national exams should be a siren call to focus on a forward-looking agenda rather than regurgitating old grievances and dwelling on the past. For comparison, the national exams results show the Amhara tribal land scored 10 percent above the national average. The Oromo tribal land scored a miserable 40 percent below the national average. Furthermore, though Oromo has more population than Amhara the number of Amhara students who scored 600 or higher in science are significantly more than Oromo students.
The Oromo region’s poor educational performance has far more dire consequences on the future of Oromo than what Emperor Menelik did or did not do over 100 years ago. Ask Oromummaa leaders what have they done to help Oromo youth prepare in the Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics field? They have done not a thing. In the 21st century the world is talking about “neo-technology to become the future.” Oromummaa intellectuals write and talk about “neo-neftegna.”
A Generation of Oromo Primed to Fight and Destroys
The worst damage the Oromummaa movement of the last 50 years has done is destroying two generations of Oromo. Brainwashed to hate and primed to kill, two generations under the age of 40 are foreign to the concept of peace and development. Today, the Amhara may be the primary target. It does not end there. The us-against-them culture and mind-set will seep into conflicts within Oromo societies be it regional (Wellega v Arsi or Shewa v Bale) and religious Waaqeffanna v. Islam or Christianity. Oromummaa’s culture of grievance and the resultant hate and war mindset is not easy to fix. Ethiopia and Oromo will suffer for a long time because of it.
Oromummaa is anti-Ethiopia more than it is pro-Oromo
There is no more compelling evidence that shows Oromummaa is anti-Ethiopia than it is Pro-Oromo than the plan to build Sheger city. As Ambassador Lencho Bati documented, Oromummaa’s strategy
was deconstructing Ethiopia to construct Oromia. As a result, institutions that the Oromummaa cabals see as the Bastion of Ethiopia’s unity become primary targets. Addis Ababa as a cultural mosaic of the nation where ethnic groups, languages and cultures coexist in peace is seen as a target.
Sheger is designed to destroy this by changing the demography through a massive infusion of Oromo and eviction of non-Oromos. Since the Oromo led government came to power, over a million non-Oromos have been evicted and forcefully displaced. Of which, nearly half a million were evicted to create room for Sheger city. The plan, as described by the President of the Oromo tribal land, is to build a city that will house as much as 30 million people.
When new cities are planned, the first requirement is water availability. Water resources in the Sheger area are not even sufficient for the current population of Addis Ababa and its surroundings. Addis Ababa and the emerging cities of Sheger are sitting at the head waters of the Awash basin. Ethiopia’s water supply is concentrated in western Ethiopia (Abay Basin) and water stress is highest in the east (especially Awash Basin) due to low supply and high demand.
About 70% the countries surface water is in the Nile basin part of the country where significant portions of the water flows from west of the Oromo tribal land. If the government’s interest was to develop the Oromo tribal land it would make much more sense to develop cities like Jimma and Nekemte. But the primary aim is not to help develop the Oromo tribal land. How far the Oromummaa cult goes to deconstruct Ethiopia is a saddening reminder that hate is like Ebola. In the end it destroys its carrier. If built, Sheger city will end up being a desert land without dwellers and a monument for hate as a destructive mindset.
Past Time for Oromo to Rise
Oromummaa is a backward looking and leaning self-destructive culture of hate and vengeance. It is past time that the people of Oromo rise against the self-destructive Oromummaa political project that is destroying their people, their region, religion, and their country – Ethiopia. The Oromo young and old must stand up to save the legacy of Oromo as a just and welcoming society from the two axises of evil: The Abiy-Shimeles-Adanech trio and the Oromummaa cult. The survival of the Oromo as a humane society and Ethiopia as mosaic nation of people and culture demands it.