This article is not so much about what I wrote as it is for the most part one comment I fished out from a number of comments left by readers of my previous article under the heading: We,Oromos should rule Ethiopia until we get tired of it in zeHabesha web page at where it was opened to forums.
When I gave the article to zehabesha editors I thought of asking them not to open it to forum for fear of it attracting controversy since I touched on many issues in it. But I forgot to ask them, however, in light of how the readers’ comments came to pass, I said to myself thank God I forgot. Because apart from the usual Woyane thugs running riot in the page incognito using different names that sounds very much like one of us (the opposition), as they use names of towns, known places and other similar dirty tricks to look genuine in their futile attempt to impersonate us, I have not seen any major and meaningful criticism of what I raised in the article. Rather I felt honoured to get among my readers a great Oromo elder whom I should salute since I read his comment with awe and great sense of admiration.
I decided to reproduce it here for the benefit of my readers having copied the comment from its original place with few parts edited out for the sake of moderation besides breaking it down to paragraphs to simplify the reading job. I retained some of the sharp words aimed at some of our leaders because when it comes from our fathers like this man,we should listen to each and every word of it whether we like it or not in order to avoid the repetition of the grave mistakes we made by marginalising our elders following Derg’s usurpation of power in our country.
We all remember how the elderly men and women of wisdom,who knew better than anyone of us could claim to know when it comes to handling complicated socio-political affairs like ours with the wealth of life long experience under their belt,were not onlybrushed aside, dismissed and ignored but also targeted, detained and humiliated. They were insulted as reactionary forces, useless fat feudal and good for nothing bourgeoisie that had to be raided and robbed, dispossessed and destroyed. And what followed that is not only fresh in our memory today but also we are grappling to set right all the wrongs it left us in for the curse that descended upon us from that early time in the reign of Derghas not yetlet up.
I cannot wait to let you hear real history from the horse’s own moth – a pure life experience far from hearsay or just mere quotations from a history book, that should sober us into our senses to seriously think and ponder on our approach to our politics and the future of our country. I promise to return at the end of it to have my say about some of the contents. Please ‘meet’ the great elder, here you go:
Ittu Aba Farda
I read this extended article twice and found many of the author’s comments plausible. From what I have read about the modern history of Ethiopia (at least since the 17th century) Oromo persons and personalities have played recognizable leadership roles. You will find Oromo heritage when you scratch the genealogy of the last 3 emperors. Emperor Menelik was from Ankober and his leading generals were Oromos. Those generals were respected and looked at with awe throughout their lives. Everyone knows his father. Emperor Haile Selassie was a great-grandson of a red-blooded Oromo, Guddisa. That was not a Viking name. Gobena, Balcha, HabteGiorgis and many others were the king makers of their days. Oromos such as AbebeAregay have fought bitterly against the Fascist Italy in the 1930?s. JagamaKello is a living piece of history. All these individuals were not Puerto Ricans.
A lot of Oromo individuals with freelance leadership roles have played good and bad parts. I can tell one who I know myself from the local Oromo clan who used to be feared and hated more than any other government officials in the district for his corrupted way of governance until he was sacked by the Haile Selassie government and transferred to another area. That is my memory from the 1950?s and early 60?s. And when Somalia became independent he went there and declared himself as someone who stood for the rights of my proud Oromo people. The Shermarke government did not take comfort in him after finding out he was a former district official. He then returned to Ethiopia and was pardoned by the HSI government. But I remember how my entire clan was very apprehensive about him when he was in power and showed up in our village. Now going back to this article,
I read through the article without any major disagreement until I got to this. “Very much unlike you, Derg never ever tried to set communities against each other to remain in power at any cost for they knew full well that the people would remain together even long after the Derge regime.” Really? Or are you serious? Mengistu had used every trick in his game book to stay in power. He shattered the fabric of the society, the foundation of every community by pitching one family against the next door family even one family member against another member of the same family. He let millions starve to death.
He sent tens (possibly hundreds) of thousands of the cream of the crop to their gallows usually employing the most horrible methods of punishments without an iota of due course in courts. He killed until the last hour before he let loose and run to safety. He left a demoralized people behind stricken with debilitating psychological wound. His rampage and killings helped open a vacuum for a small ragtag and bigoted TPLF’s and EPLF’s to march into the capital unopposed.
Mengistu used every racist in his arsenal to plant the seeds of hatred in the country. I am not kidding you. Just ask some of these so-called ‘nationalist’ leaders, they will not be shy to tell you that they are the makes of the Senay Likes, BaaroTumsas, Jaras, and unheard of heroes they are nowadays busy reverse engineering. But be careful when you ask them questions about their Derg past. They get animated and bloodshot eyes in an instant. I have pulled such investigative questions on one or two of them before. I tell you it was not a conversation we concluded with a business note.
When I demonstrated in the streets of the Middle East in the 1960’s calling for the rights of my very proud Oromo people, I am a living witness to tell you that there were Amharas, Tigrayans, Eritreans, Hararis and others with me shouting slogans from the top of their lungs.
Many of them confronted the ruthless Mengistu regime for those rights and were sent to their deaths still shouting for rights of the people including my Oromo people. I will never walk on their sacred blood to denounce their entire nationality for what happened before their time. That is not my Oromo value. What I know now is that my Oromo people are conducting their own business in their language. Their children are taught in schools in their mother tongue. They do not need an interpreter when they need to go to courts. You don’t find a district governor in the Oromia region where my kin and kit live with a name AbebeShenkute.
They are all Oromos. But you better not say anything critical, no matter how mild it is about them. You will be toast in an instant. That raises questions of human and democratic rights devoid of any national characteristics. That is where I agree with you with your call to all groups in the opposition to come together in a viable united front to struggle peacefully for better governance. Lets all hope that day will come soon. Insha Allah!!!
First on Derg issues, I still choose to stand by my words as I also agree with this hero of mine for our difference only lies in technical concepts which I have to explain a little more. I completely agree with all the points raised in this comment about Derg but what makes the Woyanes worse than Derg when it comes to setting communities against each other is the fact that under Woyane government communities as a group are deliberately given incentives to that effectin terms of land and exclusive territorial control whereby in some places we even find a town divided between two communities in which case one community is given one side of a street complete with its police force while a different community controls the other side of the street.
The best example is Moyale town just on the Kenyan border as it is divide between Borana community on one side and the Garee community on the other, as well as the conflict over ownership right of Hawassa city to mention just few. And this approach made the whole groups of communities to look at each other as enemies making the conflict that intermittently erupted out deadly and large scale compared to what was happening under Derg in which case we never had such open conflict between communities as groups encouraged by the government of the day. Under Derg dictatorship happened like anywhere in the world but under Woyanes, it has a slightly unique character unseen before due to its reckless tribal nature.
Apart from that we should hold Dergentirely responsible for what brought our country to where it stands today. The Derg regime had not only killed the brilliant young generation who stood up to question the regime but also the moral of the entire society by disorienting citizens as individuals were conditioned to celebrate handouts without questioning the source and the purpose of it all leaving crafty sophists to infest our social and political platforms marginalizing men and women of virtue.
Without any question the Derg government will go down in history as one of the most brutal dictators mankind has ever seen while obviously the Woyanes will also join Derg in their ownunique class for their ultra-tribal ideology that borders on racism, their treasonably unpatriotic sell-out of national interests and the kleptocracy of their rule, just to mention few.
With regards to the role of the Oromo people in our history I have nothing to say as our father has said it all with his own life experience since what we just read here touches upon times as far back as 1950s which leaves me to guess the age of this great elder to be in 70s and above. I wish I know this man as I only read his comments like anybody else but based on the facts he had put in front of us, I have this to say to my fellow Oromos:
When we know all this facts as told by one of ours, how can we justify our endeavor to whitewash our self from all our past wrongs as we know for sure that at least one Oromo person has taken active part in it? How wise is it for us to willfully surrender all the great things done by Oromo heroes and heroines in making our country what it was and what it is, as mentioned by our great father, when we could remain part and parcel of it all and work towards fixing the down side of it to be able to move on feeling proud?
One thing that stood out to strike me when I read our father’s comment is the phrase: “That is not my Oromo value,” For me this phrase speaks a volume. As a society there are abstract possessions that we have which are simply invaluable and invisible, on which we cannot put any value that can satisfy us if we were to exchange for it. These are values God has given us in which we are made complete whole humans such that taking away any part of that amounts to disfigurement and mutilation of our physical body so much so that we all have to stand up in horror to defend it whenever it is threatened. Such values are so indispensable that one cannot afford to walk away from them and remain feeling the whole human being.
For me the Oromo peoples’ natural hospitability, friendliness and well meaning attitude which enables us to adopt somebody into our family as ‘Gudfacha’, the word directly borrowed into Amharic, are what makes us complete humans which we should defend at any cost. Yes, we may say our hospitability has been abused and served to marginalize us and our cultural values but that does not justify any attempt to throw in the towel and give up on it. We should be able to guard it jealously by not only asking but also forcing others to respect it as we live with them. What we have is a typical value system which all mankind wishes to have as self image and project one’s self in it but few have it as innate and integral part of their nature which we do. We should be proud of that and make all the effort it takes to uphold it not abandonit only to degrade our self in the process.
What has happened in the past has happened at the time and age far beyond all of us here today, the best thing we should do is accept it all as collective guilt in which our ancestors have taken part literally from all sides of the divide and be able to say: as a society we don’t have problems living together that cannot be solved unless we run away from each other. We have been together so close for so long no matter how we came to be. Removing the flaws associated with our unity and moving forward is the only sane and blessed thing to do.
For this we have Nelson Mandela’s South Africa to emulate and our next door neighbor Somali’s situation to avoid. Neither we can hide from history nor can we undo it. All we can do is stop living in the past and be willing to move forward making the best of what we have on the ground. In a nut shell, the solution to our social woes lies in a national reconciliation that can address both past and present grievances.United we stand divided we fall and we have fallen enough over the last two decades, time is now for us to change that course by being able to come together with tolerance and the desire to fix our socio-political issues amicably.
If the plight of our brothers and sisters in the barbaric Desert Kingdom does not move us what will ever move and prompt us into showing the will to come together and chart a way forward geared towards bringing to an end the suffering of our people and building the country that treats us all as equals under the supreme rule of the law? How long should the misery and humiliation of our people go on in the Middle East and back at home before we get moved and say enough is enough?
Folks, there is no time to waste, we got to do something sooner than later in order for us to march forward and bring a fundamental change to our country to enable our people to live like human beings with dignity in their country far from roaming a barren land only to be welcomed by humiliation, barbaric abuse and indignity never witnessed in our history.
The irony of it all is that the Saudis are welcomed to partake in our fertile land while our sisters and brothers are shipped into theirbarren land where only heartless demons should dowel not human beings.We have everything it takes to support our citizens on our soil but the mindless gang that leads our country enjoys seeing us the way we are seen in the Middle East today
It borders on treason and amounts to deliberate negligence and dereliction of our national obligation,in the face of this tragedy that shocked Ethiopians to the core all over the world, when we resist the call to galvanise our self into action by standing together when we know for sure that our unity is the best weapon in our arsenal that can help us to change the situation in our country without any delay to enable our sisters and brothers to live in their own home land with their heads held up, not down.
May God give us the heart, the light and the courage, Amen!!!