Unity for Freedom was a Feasible Panacea For Oromia’s Predicament
Thanks to Waaqa, our struggle for bilisummaa/freedom against the zwo Abyssinian domination elites (ethio-dictator Amhara elites and ethno-dictator Tegaru elites) was successful. The three groups of freedom fighters from the Oromo in particular and Ethiopians (Great Oromians) in general are now competing for the type of sovereignty they want to realize respectively - an independent Gadaa Oromia, Union Oromia (federal union) or Great Oromia (integrated Ethiopia) through democratization process. To come to the status quo of freedo, Oromo unity for freedom was mandatory. Now, to choose the type of Oromian sovereigny we want, agreement of all democratic forces on the rule of the game (public verdict) is necessary.
Just as I started writing my opinions on Oromo websites by first using this topic, I wanted to round up and conclude my contribution by re-emphasizing the very imperative unity for freedom of Oromo nationalists, because there was no other alternative to such unity of purpose among Oromo liberation groups, if we seriously wanted to achieve our freedom efficiently. It was not hidden fact that the Oromo and Oromia were in an unpleasant, troublesome or trying colonial situation, from which extrication was difficult. A lot has been said and written about Oromia’s predicament, i.e. about a problematic situation, in which Oromo nationals sometimes seemed not to know what to do. We sometimes asked ourselves: is there any feasible solution for our national problem? Even though I didn’t have a working prescription against the misery, as usual, I did believe that there was a feasible panacea for our predicament. This panacea as the best remedy was nothing other than Oromo nationalists’ unity for freedom. That was why Obbo Baro Tumsa once said:
“We, the Oromo, must capture state power by any means necessary. In order to do this, we must clandestinely organize all sectors of our society. It is responsibility of the young educated Oromo like you, to disseminate the spirit of Oromo nationalism when you return to your respective communities. We can only change the deplorable condition of our people by being tolerant to one another and reestablishing a necessary Oromo national unity. In this way, we can build a strong organization, capture state power and take actions that facilitate fundamental social transformation.” – Obbo Baro Tumsa
The logic behind this assertion of the Oromo national liberation leader was simple. If we do have unity, we can have force in order to take state power in Caffee Araaraa of Finfinne. Having power in Finfinne palace was an alpha and omega of the solution we seeked for Oromo’s colonial condition. Classical example to show how power in Finfinne was a remedy for all national problems was TPLF’s performance since 1991. We have seen how Tigrean nationalists dramatically changed the political, economic and social problems of their people within short time after capturing state power. There was no contradiction between seeking of power in Finfinne, and striving for national freedom and sovereignty. The only difference was in a way of approach. We asked: is our liberation move in form of taking a train ride (an evolutionary or gradualist approach) and/or in a way of having an airplane flight (revolutionary or maximalist approach) to our goal of freedom and sovereignty feasible? It seemed that some Oromo nationalists advocatus for an exclusive airplane flight without making an adequate feasibility assessment, and without looking for another alternative to this direct push for Oromia's sovereignty. But in a situation where the direct flight to our wished destiny was not feasible, why should taking a train ride was condemned and vilified as if it was an evil work of the enemy?
It seemed that the move of ODF (Oromo Democratic Front) and OFC (Oromo Federalist Congress) was an attempt of such looking for an alternative liberation journey as a sort of plan-B in a context, where our preferred plan-A (a direct move to sovereignty) was blocked. Even here, for ride of the freedom train, unity of Oromo nationalists was mandatory; that was why merger of the two known Oromo parties into the OFC was an encouraging example of the feasible solution. It was also commendable that some Oromo liberation groups did support this merger and that certain Oromo media have transmitted the interview, which one leader of the OFC gave. Actually, there was nothing, which could hinder these two gradualist groups from working together, be it structurally united in one organization, or otherwise. Similarly, there was nothing which could in principle prevent the maximalist factions of the OLF from merging under such one structural unity. Just as we did promote an importance of the well organized and empowered OFC to operate as the only “legal opposition” Oromo party, also we tried to foster only one OLF for the sake of consolidating as well as coordinating our resources and to have an effective front.
To illustrate what I mean by gradualists and maximalists regarding our national liberation movement, I used the two fronts of African leaders we saw as there was a debate about the process of forging Union Government of Africa (UGA) and United States of Africa (USA). Following the decision made to form such a union government in Accra, Ghana, in July 2007, two major conflicting conceptions of the institutional future of the African continent emerged, namely the maximalist approach and the gradualist approach. The maximalists advocated the immediate creation of Union Government, while gradualists opted for a stage-by-stage process, with the first stage being an integration of Regional Economic Communities. The gradualists felt that integration should be achieved stepwise, with priority given to harmonization of policies and regional integration. Speaking at end of the Grand Debate in Accra, President Kufuor said “it was a unanimous decision; the leaders have adopted a step by step approach in order to come out with a concept that suits African condition.”
Similarly, the question which Oromo nationalists needed to ask ourselves was: could we have such unanimous decision regarding our approach in liberation struggle? If we can opt together, for evolutionary approach, whatever dictators in Ethiopia were doing to hinder our move, the train of Oromo national liberation struggle moved forward to the goal slowly, but surely. The train, which started its journey from Djibouti (a symbol for absolute colony) many decades ago, has already arrived at Ayisha (a limited cultural autonomy) in 1991, but not yet at Diredhawa (a genuine political federation), on a way to Adaama (a complete national freedom and independence) and to Finfinne (a union of free peoples), which is our final goal. Whether our colonizers like it or not, this way or that way, the last destabilization of the empire was an opportunity for the train to move to Diredhawa. So, Oromo nationals were watchful and strengthened our unity for freedom, and then used the opportunity to move forward. Of course, the OLF, which is the mindset of all freedom-loving Oromo, was operating even among genuine nationalists in Oromo ruling party, also in the consolidated “legal opposition” force and in multiple rebel groups we had. This mindset was uniting us, even though we seemed to be structurally disunited.
No question that we all Oromo nationalists wanted to have a direct airplane flight to our destiny (goal) if possible, but reality on the ground could compel us to take train ride, just as African leaders were compelled to choose gradualist approach, despite importance of the quick and maximalist way of forming UGA. It looks that was why genuine nationalists in Oromo ruling party of the incumbent, of course, with OLF-mindset, were there to keep the status quo by making their rhetoric ("they have already liberated us"), even though they know the fact of our move from Djibouti only to Ayisha. But Oromo nationalists in “legal opposition” group with OLF-mindset were trying their best to promote the liberation journey to Diredhawa, and they were successful in the eventuality. Now, Oromo freedom fighters in the rebel groups with OLF-mindset will definitely finish the journey to Adaama & Finfinne. In order to promote last phase of the liberation movement, we may need an alliance with forces of other oppressed nations. But, yet more important above all is an imperative unity of all Oromo organizations, which must unite to choose either one of the approaches (gradualist or maximalist) based on the objective reality we are now in or to entertain both approaches at the same time without producing conflicts, and then we could agree to:
- live in Ayisha together (keep the limited cultural freedom, despite ‘Oromia’s occupation within Abyssinian empire’),
– move to Diredhawa together (achieve ‘Oromia’s autonomy within Ethiopian union’), and
– finish our journey to Adaama & Finfinne together (a further push for ‘Oromia’s independence within African union’ and to a union of free peoples, if possible).
The important question answered was, why should we and how can we build this unity for freedom? I was trying to show an answer to this question. We are big nation with about 40 million people, but we were colonized. One of the many factors which hindered us from success was fragmentation of our political organizations. We did have several mini Liberation Fronts roaring like baby lions against the one big enemy - TPLF, as huge as Goliath. This well experienced enemy was laughing at our mini lions whenever they tried to confront it in isolated actions, for they were not as such dangerous. The enemy even pretended to take one or two of them seriously and negotiate with them. But, the baby lions could not gain anything in the negotiation for the TPLF despised them. In order to gain in such negotiation, the mini lions needed to be strong enough in real battlefield. That was why all our mini Liberation Fronts had to come under one structure and build one stronger OLF. No one in life fears 100 baby lions, but everyone is scared of confronting one strong adult lion. The following was my small suggestion on how to create such a strong adult lion in the camp of Oromo national liberation movement:
- at level of the public, we needed to enhance consciousness of our people at grassroot level and organize them to be oriented towards the big picture, namely towards our final goal of freedom and sovereignty. We had to help our communities all over the world to forge this imperative unity for freedom. Every Oromo at this level should habe taken heed of the dividers, who did try to play cards of region, party and religion for the sake of sowing discord among Oromo nationals. It seemed that we have tackled the division in forms of region and religion effectively, but we were in trap of the enemy when it comes to conflict based on political approach or ideology (e.g. the ongoing quarrel being pro-independence vs pro-union).
– at level of the media (forums, radio, internet news, paltalks, televisions etc), we should have been wise enough to discern between constructive and destructive comments, criticisms and ideas. We knew that nowadays our opponents used in cyber-world common Oromo names, Oromo language and Oromo identity in order to fight against us. Every comment, idea or criticism said or written by someone in the name of Oromo was not necessarily from an Oromo national. Of course, there were some Oromo, who knowingly or unknowingly, did serve an interest of our opponents against Oromo cause. So, our bloggers, activists and journalists should habe taken heed of such destructive messages and expose them as they were.
– at level of the polity, I recommended that all Oromo organizations try to work together. It was encouraging that the “legal” opposition consolidated under OFC. The mini lions also had to come together and foster one strong adult lion (mighty OLF). These weaker liberation forces did accuse each other as if they do have different goals. But, when we looked at them and scrutinize their programs, they did have no difference in goal as such. Their common goal was clear, i.e. freedom of the Oromo and sovereignty of Oromia. Where they did differ was only in ego and emotion as well as in approach to move towards the goal. We could understand the difference in attitude in a double sense: one was because of emotional disagreement among some Oromo politicians (antipathy to each other), whereas the other was the fact that some politicians put self-interest higher than Oromo people’s national interest. I hoped that in due time, these politicians learn to work together for the sake of Oromo people’s goal. Their difference regarding the road was actually complementary, rather than contradictory. They only needed to accept and respect the different road chosen by each of them (just as an example, OLF’s “illegal” road and OFC’s “legal” way were complementary). Regarding possible alliance with Abyssinian opposition forces, we night have marched with them to Diredhawa, but surely, they would not be ready to move with us up to Adama. To comprehend the difference, we looked at the four current political blocs in the country:
- andinet hayiloch (unity forces): those forces, whom I designated as Abyssinian Centralist Forces (ACF) are still trying to bring back the unitary empire as it had been before 1991, with the pretext of Ethiopian unity, still nostalgically longing for the empire, which was dominated by Amhara and Amharinya. This group wants to re-achieve the past & obsolete ‘Oromia's extinction within assimilative Amhara empire;’
– abiyotawi hayiloch (revolutionary forces): the fascist TPLF’s revolutionary democratic forces, which also can be named as Abyssinian Bantustanist Fronts (ABF) are striving to bring back the evil apartheid status of ‘Oromia’s occupation within Tigrean empire’;
– abironet hayiloch (federalist forces): those who try to achieve both national autonomy for all oppressed nations and Ethiopian union for common benefit. This group includes all Oromian Democratic Forces (ODF), which want to realize an anticipated tactical ‘Oromia’s autonomy within Ethiopian union’ as a transitional solution;
– arinet hayiloch (independence forces): those fighting for an independence of their respective nations, like the Oromian Liberation Forces (OLF) do, are freedom fighters, who are determined to push further for ‘Oromia’s independence within possible union of free peoples’ as a lasting solution with more citizens’ liberty and national security.
In short, for the sake of promoting an imperative unity for freedom, it was important to know the following simplified formula regarding the contradictions and interactions of these known Oromo national Foes vs Friends: ACF or ABF -vs- ODF and OLF
Here, we can clearly see that andinet hayiloch want our move back to Djibouti; abiyotawi hayiloch strive to keep us in Ayisha; with abironet hayiloch, we can move to Diredhawa; and with arinet hayiloch we can have a strategical alliance to end our journey to Adaama & Finfinne. Such possible new alliance of opposition groups in diaspora, like the PAFD giving more emphasize to importance of national self-determination, is already formed in order to promote our national liberation journey forward. Surely, only abronet & arinet hayiloch can be ready for such an alliance. I again and again encouraged the OLF to take a lead as before, and forge the imperative unity among Oromo groups and an important alliance with other anti-TPLF forces. Especially the mandatory Oromo nationalists’ unity for freedom was a panacea for our hitherto predicament. Tanks to Waaqa for helping us forge this unity, which could be fundamental base for our force to capture the state power in Caffee Araaraa palace or Finfinne palace, and then to take actions that can facilitate a fundamental social transformation, which we need for further move to Oromia’s sovereignty of wahr every type. Now, we do have that power and it is up to us to apply Baro Tumsa's vision: "... In this way, we can build a strong organization, capture state power and take actions that facilitate fundamental social transformation."
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