By Fayyis Oromia*
I think the story of David and Goliath is known to all Oromo from the different regions and religions. The story is, in short, as follows:
“The Philistine army had gathered for war against Israel. The two armies faced each other, camped for battle on opposite sides of a steep valley. A Philistine giant, measuring over nine feet tall and wearing full armor, came out each day for forty days, mocking and challenging the Israelites to fight. His name was Goliath. Saul, the King of Israel, and the whole army were terrified of Goliath. One day, David was sent to the battle lines by his father to bring back news of his brothers. David was probably just a young teenager at the time. While there, David heard Goliath shouting his daily defiance, and he saw the great fear stirred within the men of Israel. David responded, ‘who is this Philistine defying the armies of my nation?’ So David volunteered to fight Goliath.
It took some persuasion, but King Saul finally agreed to let David fight against the giant. Dressed in his simple tunic, carrying his shepherd’s staff, slingshot and a pouch full of stones, David approached Goliath. The giant cursed him, hurling threats and insults. David said to the Philistine, ‘you come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of my nation, whom you have defied. Today, I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air.’ As Goliath moved in for the kill, David reached into his bag and slung one of his stones at Goliath’s head. Finding a hole in the armor, the stone sank into the giant’s forehead, and he fell face down on the ground. David then took Goliath’s sword, killed him and then cut off his head. When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran. So the Israelites pursued, chasing and killing them and plundering their camp.”
Some points of interest from the David and Goliath story are:
– why did they wait forty days to begin the battle? Probably for several reasons. Everyone was afraid of Goliath; he seemed invincible. Not even King Saul, the tallest man in Israel, had stepped out to fight. Also, the sides of the valley were very steep. Whoever made the first move would have a strong disadvantage and probably suffer great loss. Both sides were waiting for the other to attack first. Is such waiting for the right timing and right courageous leadership beneficial for the Oromo people?
– David chose not to wear the King’s armor because it felt cumbersome and unfamiliar. He was comfortable with his simple slingshot, a weapon he was skilled at using. I think, also for us, the Oromo nation, using the unique skills in our own hands is more useful, so we don’t have to worry about “wearing the King’s armor.” Let’s just be ourselves, self-reliant and use the familiar gifts and talents we do have. If we are ready to use our talent and time effectively, we can surely be successful in our national liberation struggle.
– David’s self-confidence caused him to look at the giant from a different perspective. Goliath was merely a mortal man defying a powerful nation. David looked at the battle from his strong point of view. If we look at giant problems and impossible situations, such as the hitherto colonial domination under Abyssinian rulers, from such perspective of our strength, we definitely can fight substantially and realize our national kaayyoo/objective of Oromo people’s self-determination successfully. When we put things in such proper perspective, we do see more clearly and can struggle more efficiently.
– when the giant cursed, insulted and threatened the whole nation, David didn’t stop or even waver. Everyone else cowered in fear, but David ran to the battle. He knew that action needed to be taken. David did the right thing in spite of the discouraging insults and fear inducing threats. He was not theorizing the problem of his nation, but quick enough to take pragmatic action. Only the interest and opinion of his terrorized nation mattered to David. Is the interest and opinion of the Oromo people the only thing what matters nowadays to the Oromo freedom fighters?
The further important questions the politically conscious Oromo nationals need to ask ourselves as citizens individually, and as a nation collectively, can be: are we now facing a major primary giant problem like a sort of impossible situation or are we fleeing into the minor nonconstructive secondary conflicts with our fellow Oromo? Gaara ol bahuu dadhabnee, dalga fiiga jirra? = are we running horizontally in the wrong direction for we are frustrated in walking upwards vertically on the right direction in fighting for the kaayyoo? Let’s stop for a minute and refocus. Can we see the situation more clearly from our strong vantage point? Do we need to take courageous action in the face of discouraging intimidation from our archenemies and confronting fearful circumstances? Do we have national self-confidence to fight for our cause to the end, despite the repeatedly experienced frustrations caused by the cunning alien enemy forces? We have to remember that our interest and the opinion we do have as a nation towards our national liberation struggle are the only things that matter.
Parallel to the story we read here, we can take the name David as a symbol for a citizen or an organization of a certain intimidated and terrorized nation, whereas Goliath is an example of any sort of a terrorizing foe of the same people. In our case, the Oromo people, who are now suffering under the state terrorism and political suppression, can be designated as the bold and courageous David, while the enemy camp of the colonizers, the Abyssinian elites, with their imperialist supporters, can be seen as the giant Goliath. On the contrary to such fact of having the powerful oppressor, specially some Abyssinian elites try to tell us that the “small Tigrai nation is ruling over the big Oromo nation.” Such persons can’t understand that, in reality, Woyane, with its more than 3-billion supporting taxpayers from both the Western and the Eastern power players of the globe, is the giant Goliath against whom the relatively small Oromo nation of only about 30-million is fighting. Interestingly, the cadres of our archenemy (the Woyane) are waging their battle against the Oromo national liberation movement, not only with massive economic support from these foreign forces, but also with a calculated emotional (psychological) attack, as for instance, seen in the following expressions: “OLF struggled for 40 years, but it is still without any tangible result;” “only 3 million courageous Tigrayans are ruling over the 30 million coward Oromo;” “less number of Tigrayan tegadalay (fighters) could imprison the non-efficient 20,000 Oromo fighters within few weeks as POW in the year 1992;” even if this imprisonment in mass of the Oromo national liberation army was right, of course, the mini-mind of the cadres can’t comprehend the international scenario behind the episode: e.g. they do not want to admit the fact that Western intelligence and the EPLF military helped the Tigrayans at that time of attacking the already disarmed OLA (the Oromo Liberation Army) due to the ongoing peace negotiation. Additionally, the cadres are very busy in blaming, cursing and discrediting the leaders of the Oromo national liberation movement – naming them as betrayers, ineffective individuals and collaborators.
But the reality is that the Oromo people resisted the atrocities from such big global power, not only for the last 150 years, as most of us do believe, but for thousands of years, since the alien forces started to influence Cushland in the eastern part of Africa by instrumentalizing the regional movements of both politics and religion. As already well known, Abyssinian rulers were/are the programmed software of the non-African alien forces; they are designed to oppress the indigenous Cushites of the region, including the Oromo. The best method our Goliath (Oromo’s giant enemy) used and is still using to conquer and control the Oromo nation is the divide-and-destroy-strategy. Nowadays, Woyane, being like the forehead of the Goliath, is expending hundred millions of dollars just for the sake of sowing a discord among the Oromo public at large in general, and between the OLF factions in particular. The discord is important for the division and polarization maneuver of the Woyane, into which Oromo nationalists repeatedly did fall, be it knowingly or unknowingly. The result is, for instance, the hitherto fragmentation of our beloved national liberation vanguard – the OLF – into the dysfunctional mini-groups, instead of building the very cohesive, effective, bigger and stronger national liberation front.
If we look at our national liberation struggle objectively, the Goliath (Abyssinian rulers with their alien supporters) could repeatedly frustrate our David (the Oromo nation) causing multiple setbacks in our national liberation struggle. Examples, which can be named, are: the help, which the Amhara warlord Theodros got to attack and conquer the Yejju Oromo rulers of 19th-century in Gondar and to subjugate the Wallo Oromo; the assistance given to the Tigrai warlord Yohannes to compel the Wallo Oromo be converted from Islam to Christianity; the support for the Minilik’s invasion of the whole Oromia and other southern nations; the sabotage undertaken to hinder the Wallo Oromo prince Iyasu from being King of Ethiopia; the continuous suppression of the Oromo uprisings in regions like Raayyaa and Baale with the help of forces from the Western regimes; the hijacking of the past revolutions led by the Oromo people (such as the ones in 1974, 1991 and 2005); the still ongoing attempt to isolate and separate the OLF from the Oromo people and trying to limit it as only an organization in exile; and the manipulation to overtake the OLF by forging certain pseudo-OLF, as we could observe in the near past.
To counteract all these destructive actions of the Goliath against us, our David (the Oromo nation) should learn how to resist the maneuver and manipulation of the enemy. Here are some measures, which I would like to suggest as helpful idea: our David should try to be internally stronger than it is now in order to confront the Goliath with all the necessary boldness and courage; it needs to strengthen the national liberation camp via tokkummaa/unity of the Oromo freedom fighters, and tumsa/alliance with the other anti-Woyane national liberation forces, especially being conscious that the Woyane wants to make sure that no Amhara-Amhara andinet/unity, no Amhara-Oromo tumsa/alliance/tibibbir and no Oromo-Oromo tokkummaa against its rule will take place; it should be smart diplomatically and strong militarily to have the necessary respect in the eyes of the international community, which tends to revere strong nations and despise weak ones; it must be accommodative of the two OLF forces (the pro-independence group and the pro-union faction) as it used to be until 2001 – the year of the break-away for the exclusively pro-independence group, and till 2012 – the year of separation for the exclusively pro-union faction; and it ought take into consideration that the historical Jericho wall could be crumbled by the united action (shouting) of the concerned people; this collective shouting is a symbol for the efficiency of action in unison.
Also, we need to fight till the day of victory for our David, keeping in mind that we surely will prevail because of the following facts:- the war of David against the intimidator and terrorist Goliath is the war of justice, just like the war of the Oromo people against the Abyssinian colonialists; he [David] finally used his own weapon, taking off the military uniform from the alien, similarly, self-reliance of the Oromo is mandatory; his [David’s] determination to fight is great, so is the unflinching dedication of the Oromo nation to bilisummaa necessary to come to victory; for there was no single individual from his [David’s] nation, who used to back-stab and sabotage his [David’s] move (all his people rallied behind him), so is the importance of rallying in unison behind our only one strong vanguard national liberation front; he, consequently, targeted the forehead of the enemy, which is a good lesson for us so that we try to focus at the forehead of our Goliath, i.e. focus at only the Woyane, instead of just wasting our resources and weapons at the peripheral parts of the Goliath, like what we are doing now by targeting the powerless Amhara elite base, diverting our attention from the powerful enemy (the Woyane) and channeling it in a wrong direction towards the trivial.
If Oromo nationalists (our David) will be wise enough to cooperate with each other and coordinate our struggle, definitely, the Goliath, which is still insulting, terrorizing and intimidating the Oromo people, will fall with his face down on the ground. In order to realize this, our mind-set of bilisummaa – the OLF, need to be smartly active, be it in the ruling OPDO way, the opposition OFC way, the pro-independence OLF way, the pro-self-determination (pro-referendum) OLF way or the pro-union OLF way. If we can understand each other as well as accept and respect the possible different routes of the national liberation journey, chosen by the respective Oromo nationalists in each organization, these five ways can lead us to bilisummaa Oromoo, after which we can decide on the type of walabummaa Oromia we will have in the future per Oromo public verdict.
This struggle of the Oromo nation (our David) for freedom from the direct influence of the alien forces and from the indirect invasion using the Abyssinian elites will continue till we achieve both bilisummaa Oromoo and walabummaa Oromia. Here, the best instruments, which can lead us to success in our struggle are the self-reliance of the Oromo people combined with the smart diplomacy and strong military of our vanguard national liberation front. Above all, very important is that the Oromo freedom fighters in all routes of the journey (the OPDO route, the OFC route, and the three OLF routes) do try to comprehend that their common denominator is ‘bilisummaa Oromoo’ in order to be in a position of exercising our self-determination to decide later per public verdict on the future type of Oromia’s sovereignty: ‘Oromian autonomy within Ethiopian union’ (the plan of the pro-union OLF) or ‘Oromian independence within African union’ (the vision of the pro-independent OLF).
Regarding the possibility of cooperating with the anti-Woyane Amhara forces to strengthen our David and to weaken the Goliath to some extent, unfortunately, Ginbot-7 already missed the opportunity of getting the support of the Oromo mass, because of its undermining the right of nations to self-determination. This organization was one of the few Amhara political organizations, which has been seen by some Oromo nationalists as a bit liberal and moderate. But now, the araadaa (street smart) zebra showed that it has never lost its true color. From now on, it seems that the chance for any Abyssinian politician to get the heart and mind of any politically conscious Oromo is very minimal. The mere fact that both Ginbot-7 and UDJ are claiming to be “modern democratic multinational organizations – supporting Afan Oromo be the working language of the future new federal democratic Ethiopia,” but both failed to use this language of the majority in their well financed media – which simply exposed their anti-Oromo stand. For instance, Ginbot-7 didn’t dare to give a single hour transmission in Afan Oromo on its 24-hour ESAT television, and UDJ also neglected any publication in Afan Oromo, whereas it is producing magazines of many pages in Amharinya. This symbolic refusal of the two “liberal and moderate” Amhara organizations to use Afan Oromo in their media shows their attitude towards this language, despite their rhetoric of wanting to see both Afan Oromo and Amharinya be equally the working languages.
Even though the Amhara are now under the oppression of their cousins, they yet need to feel exactly what a national subjugation means and have to learn how to fight for their own national freedom, instead of crying about the whole Ethiopia, which they want to possess further. It may need them about a century, if not a millennium, to come to the national consciousness level of the Eritreans and the Oromo, so that they can start to struggle to liberate their occupied national areas from the Tigrai colonialists. For now, as I have repeatedly wrote, the best lottery, which the Woyane regime got to rule the whole empire for the coming possible many years is the Amhara-Oromo conflict. It is very easy to instigate and inflame any sort of conflict between these two nations, as seen in the last three months (after the attempt of the Ginbot-7 and Group-7 to work together). Woyane cadres (the foot soldiers of the Goliath) were very busy to saw a discord and to produce an Amhara-Amhara conflict (e.g. EPRP vs Ginbot-7), an Amhara-Oromo conflict (e.g. Ginbot-7 vs OLF) and an Oromo-Oromo conflict (e.g. pro-independence OLF vs pro-union OLF). They pretend as if they are supporters of one side and cursed the other side, e.g. being camouflaged as pro-Independence Oromo and/or as pro-unitary Amhara, and vilified the opposite side. Unknowingly, some genuine anti-Woyane individuals and organizations already fell into this trap, and indirectly did bidding of the Woyane cadres.
Actually, our mind-set of bilisummaa – the OLF (our David) – used to play both cards of independence and union (union card as a carrot, and independence card as a stick) in the national liberation struggle against the Abyssinian colonialists; so the pro-independence vs. pro-union conflict could have been avoided by looking at this important approach of using both cards positively. I personally believe that the OLF can still be accommodative and inclusive to have both the pro-independence and the pro-union Oromo freedom fighters – being organized in one political structure and struggle in unison by supporting each other till we will have the final verdict per the Oromo public at large. The current trend of separating the two camps into two different OLF directions (one moving in the direction of independence and the other towards union) is not as such productive. I again would like to suggest that we do look at our national liberation struggle as a journey in a national liberation train from Djibouti to Finfinne. We used to live and still we are experiencing garbummaa in a form of Oromian occupation, which is symbolized by the life in Djibouti under the Abyssinian colonialists; from this status quo, we can move to the next step of bilisummaa in a form of Oromian autonomy (to Diredhawa) as planned by the pro-union OLF; then further to Adaama, to bilisummaa in a form of Oromian independence envisioned by the pro-independence OLF; finally, we can move to Finfinne, to the more beneficial and the most likely future global political trend of building a supra-national union, a bilisummaa in a form of ‘Oromian union of independent nations’ in the region, which can include all the Oromo people in the Horn of Africa, i.e. a move to the final objective, which can be common for both wings of the OLF.
Last, but not least, I must repeat the following assertion again and again: genuine killil federation planned by the pro-union OLF can only serve as a transitional arrangement leading us to the future public verdict, where the Oromo mass will choose between ‘an Oromian autonomy within the Ethiopian union’ and ‘an Oromian independence within the African union’ as a lasting solution. This decision must be left for the Oromo public (our David) as an exercise of the right to self-determination after getting rid of Weyane fascists (after hitting the Goliath on his forehead); it should not be predetermined now by the Oromo polity. As far as I am concerned, the following is the reality of the political development in the Ethiopian empire:
– Unitary Ethiopia of Ginbot-7 is obsolete and belongs to the past;
– Weyane’s pseudo-federal Ethiopia is evil and temporary;
– Ethiopian union (true killil-federation) of the pro-union OLF can only be a transitional solution;
– Oromian independence envisioned by the pro-independence OLF is indispensable and a must;
– Union of independent nations in the Horn – which can be accepted by both the pro-independence and the pro-union Oromo nationals, is the beneficial and lasting solution for all stakeholders in the region.
Here, we can see that Ginbot-7 (unitarists) and Group-7 (unionists) are not necessarily on the same page, as we usually try to describe them. Our Group-7 can be considered as a collaborator, only if it endorses the unitary Ethiopia dominated by the Amhara and Amharinya. If this will be the reality, we can say that Ginbot-7 is riding Group-7 as a horse. In case the Ginbot-7 is ready to promote, accept and respect Oromian autonomy planned by Group-7, then it is unfair to criticize and curse both of them and vilify their future alliance. So, to take Oromian autonomy as a temporary goal of the possible all inclusive alliance against Woyane fascists and racists should not necessarily be the same to opposing the future Oromo public decision for Oromian independence. The pro-union Oromo nationalists, who either convincingly or tactically talk about ‘Oromian autonomy within Ethiopian union,’ are not collaborators of the Goliath, as some pro-independence nationals do accuse them. True collaborators are only those Oromo nationals, who want to keep the status quo of the Woyane’s pseudo-federal Ethiopia or who do support the come-back of Ginbot7’s unitary Ethiopia. I know this topic of discussion will continue till we settle it per Oromo public verdict in the future. Until then, we can express our only individual and institutional/organizational positions, but we can not decide for the Oromo people. What is now very essential is working towards strengthening our David against the Goliath, so that at the end of the day, victory will be for our David, even though the forehead of Goliath (the Woyane) seems to be invincible based on the unlimited support it gets from all power players of the globe. May Rabbi/Waaqa help our freedom fighters, in striving to forge tokkummaa of the Oromo national liberation forces, and to foster tumsa with the other anti-Woyane freedom fighters in order to empower our David for the final victory!
* Fayyis Oromia can be reached at email@example.com.