Guraandhala/February 9, 2015 ·
Editor’s Note: Oromia (to mean the whole new Ethiopia, i.e. ‘Gross Oromia‘ as the writer has previously defined here) will be italicized and bolded in this article to differentiate it from the current/status quo Oromia (which the writer calls ‘Net Oromia’).
By Fayyis Oromia*
Obbo Baaroo Tumsaa (1938–1978), a pharmacist, a lawyer, an Oromo nationalist and a political leader in Oromia (formerly Ethiopia as definedhere), was said to be one of those mainly responsible for the formation of the OLF. He was one of the revolutionary students in the 1960s – who once spoke:
“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 the 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.”(Ob. Baaroo Tumsaa)
Eci’at (one of the legal opposition parties during the Derg era) was also led by Ob. Baaroo Tumsaa. He was simply an Oromo national liberation leader, who could successfully incorporate, in his own person, both the nonviolent struggle and the armed fighting as complementary means in the Oromo national liberation movement. It is now pity, when we observe different Oromo organizations alienating one another and regarding each other as enemies – just because of choosing one of these two means and leaving the other for practical reasons. It is sickening to hear certain members and supporters of one organization regarding the other Oromo nationalists as enemy (or the vice versa), just because of one’s preference of one means to the other.
It seems that Ob. Baaroo Tumsaa spoke to the Oromo youth about 40 years ago to solve this problem in the contemporary context. We know at what level of consciousness the Oromo people were at that time regarding the raised five points: 1) disseminate the spirit of Oromo nationalism; 2)be tolerant to one another and reestablish Oromo national unity; 3) build a strong organization; 4) capture state power; 5) take actions that facilitate fundamental social transformations. Is our level of conciousness and practice now different from that time? Do we still need to work on the five points, as we did 40 years ago? A lot has been changed in this time span: now the spirit of Oromo nationalism is already disseminated to the whole Oromo nation; at least, we know that, without tolerance and national unity, our success is not so near; we do give lip service for a strong organization, even though we lag behind practically; we have recognized that capturing the state power at Tulluu Daalatti palace (TD) is a key, be it we democratize Ethiopia (Gross Oromia) or decolonize Net Oromia; and we have seen how easy it is to take any action of transformation (after having that key) from the TPLF since 1991. We like it or not, the essence of the struggle in that country is a triangular struggle of the Amharinya-speaking elites, the Tigrinya-speaking warlords and the Oromo nationalists for that key at TD. Till 1991, that key was in the hands of the Amharinya-speaking warlords; now it is the turn of the Tigirinya-speaking elites; for the Oromo freedom fighters to have the key next, Ob. Baaroo Tumsaa’s prescription is still mandatory. To be successful, I think both the Gross Oromianists and the Net Oromianists have to agree on this common denominator: just capture the state power at TD. Then, the decision is in our hands (realizing either an Independent Net Oromia or a Union GrossOromia). So we have to just repeatedly remind Oromo nationalists the importance of pushing together for TD. State power there means for the Oromo automatically the realization of bilisummaa (freedom), abbaa-biyyumma (decision on one’s country), hiree-murteefanna (self-determination),aangoo siyaasa (political power) & walabummaa (sovereignty).
Both looking at the status quo and assessing the validity of the five points are now important in order to move forward and efficiently fulfill the mission of the message from Ob. Baaroo Tumsaa: the spirit of Oromo nationalism is still the best element, which can help us to mobilize the Oromo people; unfortunately, we do still observe that RR-factor (region and religion) is influencing the move of certain Oromo elites and negating the necessary coordinated mobilization, this factor need to be effectively tackled; tolerance among activists of different Oromo organizations is yet inadequate; it is sad that we still listen some cadres and leaders of our organizations fighting each other, instead of focusing on the real enemy; even though we know the importance of strong organization to achieve our freedom, we still are neither organized adequately nor united for the common purpose of capturing the state power at TD; the fifth point can be implemented, only if the fourth is accomplished; it is in the last phase of the procedure that we will decide to either decolonize Net Oromia or democratize Gross Oromia; that is why, it doesn’t make sense to quarrel now on these two post-freedom types of sovereignty. Be it we want to democratize Ethiopia (Gross Oromia) or decolonize Net Oromia, the key common step for both is to capture state power at TD.
The only importance of opting for either of the two sovereignty now is just to instrumentalize them for the sake of mobilizing the people. And yet, the mobilized people and the leading parties firstly need to come to TD and then take action to implement their version of sovereignty; or else, the two Oromo camps can now synthesize a common post-freedom agenda, i.e. a Union State of Oromia (U.S.O.) as an optimal solution for the biggest nation, which is present almost all over the whole country and allow the other nations to decide on their fate (on independence vs. union). In addition to this presence of the Oromo all over, here are some other reasons why we can claim the whole country of Ethiopia and rename it as Oromia:
* The Tigrai elites reduced both the size of Net Oromia and the number of Oromo people almost to half, just as planned by their leader Meles Zenawi (change the majority to minority), so it is better for the Oromo to reclaim the whole country than accept the presently less than half Oromia. Oromo is Cush – and Cush is Oromo, implying that the other Cushitic nations (including the Amharinya– and Tigrinya-speaking nations, whom have denied their Cushitic base) in the country are the offshoots or the progenies of the Oromo, so that they can be part and parcel of Oromia. According to some scholars, “the whole country belongs to the Oromo and all the hitherto kings and leaders were from the Oromo; the Amhara being only soldiers of the governments.” The brain and heart of the whole country (the capital city – Finfinne) is the very center of the Oromo nation, so that any country governed or ruled from that center can be called Oromia. The Oromo is a single majority (60%) and the Net Oromia covers more than 60% of the whole country. All economical, specially export, base of the whole country (coffee, gold, hide & skin, flower, caat) are from the Oromia proper (from the Net Oromia). Most of the arbenyoch(heroes), who did build and keep the country as it is now, are Oromo, and most of the athletes, who contributed for the fame of the country, are also Oromo. Even the whole Gojjam and parts of Gondar and southern Tigrai are Oromo and belong to Oromia. The original Cushitic language in Meroe was highly related to Afan Oromo, and the other Cushitic languages had branched from it. Waaqeffannaa, the indigenous religion of the Cushites, which was also Abraham’s own religion before the emergence of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, is still preserved among the Oromo people, and it needs to be revived as a unique religion of the Cushitic country. The holy tree (as mentioned in the Bible), under which the pre-Judaism religious peoples on the earth worshiped their Waaqa, is still revered in the Oromo society. The known verse in the Holy book “Oromia stretches his hand to Waaqa” is named as Cush by the Jew and as Ethiopiaby the Greeks. Abraham Ashine of Akkasuma, who was Cushite, is said to be more with Oromo characters and told to have Oromo fighters during his invasion of Asia. The Oromo are told to be the indigenous people on which the others were grafted. The study of Egypt showed more Afan Oromo than Amharinya in relation with the old Egypt inscriptions. The present whole country is built at cost of the Oromo, actually with lives and limbs of the Oromo people as well as with Oromo’s property.*
Theoretically, if we get rid of the existing system of domination and take back our freedom, we can choose one of the possible following five models of sovereignty:
– Ethiopian model: just as the Abeshas did concerning Amharinya, we can make Afaan Oromo, the Cushitic black-red-white and Oromummaa be main components of Ethiopiawinet, which is devoid of their system of domination and then we can live as Ethiopians in Oromo terms.
– Anglican model: the English people liberated themselves from the 700-year rule of the Roman empire, forged England as an autonomous region and united it with the neighboring others to form the British United Kingdom; they also made English the working language of the Kingdom. So can the Net Oromia, being autonomous and free from alien forces, be united with the neighboring autonomous regions to forge an Ethiopian Union and promote Afan Oromo to the working language of the union.
– Russian model: the Russian elites dismantled the Soviet Union and established the Russian federation, which uses the Russian national language and has an influence on its neighboring nations, because of its economic and military strength. This way of dismantling the Ethiopian Empire and fostering the highly wished independent Gadaa republic of Oromia to have a further influence over the other liberated neighboring countries can be one alternative type of sovereignty.
– Indian model: the Hindi people struggled for their liberation together with all nations and nationalities in their region, and named the whole country as India, made Hindi the working language of the Indian federation and, of course, they divided the national area of Hindi into multiple federal regions. The Oromo people also can fight for our freedom in unison with the whole nations and nationalities in the Ethiopian Empire, call the whole country after liberation as ‘Oromia’ and promote Afan Oromo to the working language of the federation, with the historical regions (Odaa-Bisil, -Bultum, -Gaarres, -Makodi, -Nabee and -Roobaa) being the future separate federal states of the country.
– Oromian model: it is possible to have Oromo national area as an autonomous “Oromo Regional State” within the future Union State of Oromia (Gross Oromia). That is why the concept Union State of Oromia is said to be a modified form of an Indian model sovereignty. This model is a new approach not yet adequately digested as one option.
I personally do advocate the Oromian model, for it can be a good solution for the ongoing conflict among the Oromo elites: “Ethiopian democratization vs. Oromian liberation”. Regarding this conflict, there are five possible options of solving it: 1) all Oromo nationals agree on accepting a Union State of Ethiopia; 2) all agree on trying to achieve an Independent State of Oromia; 3) all try to make a consensus on the Union State of Oromia; 4) just agree to go our respectively chosen way, be it Ethiopia or Oromia, and concentrate on the common denominator – capture TD; or 5) strive to defeat each other, as our enemy wish us (fight one another). Which one is a practical solution? 1 & 2 are almost impossible; 3 is a new approach and we will see if it works; 4 is more pragmatic; 5 is good only for the enemy, but unfortunately, we are implementing it. In order to bring the optimal solution, it is good to look at the unique aspect of the Oromo situation. Our condition is not the same to the other colonized Africans, whose colonizers came from Europe and had no territorial continuity with the colonized, so that the solution was independence without even having a referendum. It is also different from the situations of the colonized minorites at the periphery with a territorial continuity to that of the colonizer mother country like what Eritrea and South Sudan had – both of whom needed liberation and independence based on referendum. The Oromo are neither colonized by Europeans nor we are the minority at the periphery. We are the colonized demographical majority, being mainly at the geographical center, where the political brain and heart of the country (Finfinne) is found. So, political logic dictates that the optimal solution for our situation is just to occupy the brain and heart of the Empire as well as allow other nations at the geographical periphery to decide on their own fate: either to leave us or live with us.
Oromo’s colonial situation is really unique; actually, the country belongs to the Oromo more than to any other nation. We can claim the whole country and take over the state power at the federal level. Oromia asking for only an autonomy, as our Ethiopian federalists do, is insufficient to solve our situation; only the minority nations at the center – which can never dominate the central power – can be satisfied with such half national liberation. Trying to foster a unitary country as the Amharinya-speaking elites dream is also unfair, which the Gadaa people cannot emulate. That means independence without referendum, independence per referendum, autonomy within Ethiopia & unitary state are not optimal for the majority in the whole country – for the Oromo. A nice move for the Oromo is to claim the whole country; take the state power at Finfinne palace; forge a genuine multinational federation; and change the name of the union to Oromia; the other nations can accept such a union voluntarily. If Oromo nationalists agree on such a common move, the struggle will be crystal clear: all civic and political organizations, which are against the TPLF, will be considered as freedom fighters. They just need to stop any sort of horizontal kick against each other and fight in unison against the tormentors on power. All of them should surround the TPLF at TD hill 360° from all sides and take the state power by all means necessary. In such sense, all the freedom fighters will build an alliance at least by default, if not by design. Let’s do it; Oromians deserve our freedom from the killer TPLF now.
Regarding the controversial renaming, what ever others call that country, I continue to suggest that the Oromo people be determined to call it asOromia and reclaim it with all necessary determination. For that purpose, we need to develop a common mindset of ODLF (Oromo Democratic Liberation Front), which was the mentality of Ob. Baaroo Tumsaa, who successfully could accommodate both the armed and nonviolent struggles. This mindset is the synthesis from the approaches of the ODF and the OLF with a synthetic principle from the two fronts:
– the goal (kaayyoo) of the mindset is freedom and sovereignty in form of the Union State of Oromia (the U.S.O.);
– the map of the U.S.O. as shown here;
– the flag of the U.S.O. being:
– the federal structure of the U.S.O. as illustrated here; the main parts of the federation are the Biyya-Oromo (Net Oromia) at the center, the Agaw-Midir and the Benishangul-Gumuz in northwestern Gross Oromia, the Afar-Saho in northeastern Gross Oromia, the Sidama-et-al and the Gambella peoples in southwestern Gross Oromia, as well as the Somali-Ogaden in southeastern Gross Oromia;
– the methods of the struggle being all inclusive (both nonviolent and armed struggles);
– the mindset cooperates with and works actively in all the anti-TPLF freedom fighters; the main five points in the principle of the mindset can be 1)freedom of citizens and nations in the union; 2) Afan Oromo as a primary language of the union; 3) democracy as the rule of the game in the union;4) Oromia instead of Ethiopia as the name of the union; and 5) the Cushitic black-red-white as the flag of the union.
Oromia – without Raayyaa, Yejjuu, Wambara, Wallo, Hankobar, Asosa, Wolqixxe, Liban, Garrii, Jijjiga, Awash, Diredhawa, Harar, Finfinne, etc. can be called the Oromo region, but not necessarily Oromia – thus it is better to call the whole country as Oromia and let the other nations, which are far away from the Finfinne center exclude themselves, if they refuse to be part of the Gross Oromia. Biyya-Oromoo, which was divided into 11 regions under the old-Nafxanya regimes, is yet partitioned into the existing 9 regions and 2 federal cities. Parts of Oromia are now to be seen in all the 11 administrative areas of the whole country, not only in the “little Oromia now under the rule of the OPDO.” Thus, we better claim the whole country asOromia and to realize this vision; we have to apply both ways of struggles (nonviolent and armed) and capture TD. Even if conditions compel us to choose one of the two means, every Oromo nationalist must have Ob. Baaroo Tumsaa’s mindset of ODLF, i.e. accommodate both methods of struggle, as long as we are under colony or domination. I think that is why he said “capture state pwer BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY.” Of course, any sort of terror against civil society must be excluded from the chosen methods of struggle.
In conclusion, the Oromo can take over the existing state at TD, instead of only striving to foster a new state as minority nations at the periphery usually do; let other nations far away from the political center worry about forming their own new state. For the Oromo nationalists to capture the state power at TD, all who are active in the OLF, ODF, OFC, ULFO, and even in the OPDO, should cooperate and coordinate our move. Such unity of purpose among Oromo nationalists is bad only for the Amharinya-speaking-Nafxanyas, who are nostalgic to their past glory and for the Tigirinya-speaking-Nafxanyas now enjoying power and profit; that is what we do still observe as Jawar Mohammed wrote recently. TD must be home forOromummaa, not for Abeshanet; thus, we need to forge a country where the egalitarian Oromummaa will flourish on the grave of the authoritativeAbeshanet. The Tigirinya-speaking neo-Nafxanyas now having TD’s key must be challenged and cornered from every direction. If we agree on the validity of Ob. Baaroo Tumsaa’s five points procedure and work on it accordingly, take it how long it may, at the end of the day, we will capture the state power at TD and then take the necessary actions needed to realize either ‘an Independent Net Oromia’ or ‘a Union Gross Oromia‘. Anyways, the future fate of Ethiopia is either to give birth to Net Oromia or be transformed to Gross Oromia. May Waaqa help us, march together to TD and leave the decision on the two types of sovereignty for the Oromo people!
* Fayyis Oromia: firstname.lastname@example.org