By Fayyis Oromia*
Just as I started writing my opinions on the Oromo websites by first using this topic, I would like to round up and conclude my contribution by re-emphasizing the very imperative tokkummaa for bilisummaa (unity for freedom) of the Oromo nationalists, because there is no other alternative to such unity of purpose among the Oromo liberation groups, if we seriously want to achieve our freedom efficiently. It is not a hidden fact that Oromo and Oromia are in an unpleasant, troublesome or trying colonial situation, from which extrication was up to now difficult. A lot has been said and written about Oromia’s predicament, i.e. about a problematic situation, in which the Oromo nationals sometimes seem not to know what to do. We sometimes ask ourselves: is there any feasible solution for our national problem? Even though I don’t have any working prescription against the misery, as usual, I do still believe that there is a feasible panacea for our predicament. This panacea as the best remedy is nothing other than Oromo nationalists’ tokkummaa for bilisummaa. That is why Obbo Baro Tumsa once said:
“We, the Oromo nationalists, 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.”
– Obbo Baro Tumsa
The logic behind this assertion of the Oromo national liberation leader is simple. If we do have tokkumma, we can have humna (force) in order to take state power in Finfinne. Having power in Finfinne is the alpha and omega of the solution we still seek for Oromia’s colonial condition. Classical example to show how power in Finfinne is a remedy for all national problems is Woyane’s performance in 1991. We have seen how Tigrean nationalists dramatically changed the political, economic and social problems of their people within short time after capturing the state power. There is no contradiction between this seeking of power in Finfinne, and the striving for national bilisummaa and walabummaa/independence. The only difference is in the matter and way of approach. We may ask: is our liberation move in a form of taking a train ride (an evolutionary or gradualist approach) and/or in a way of having an airplane flight (a revolutionary or maximalist approach) to our kaayyoo (goal) of bilisummaa and walabummaa feasible? It seems that some Oromo nationalists advocate for an exclusive airplane flight without making an adequate feasibility assessment, and without looking for another alternative to this direct push for walabummaa. But in a situation where the direct flight to our wished destiny is not feasible, why should taking a train ride be condemned and vilified as if it is an evil work of the enemy?
It seems that the move of the ODF (Oromo Dialogue Forum), the OFC (Oromo Federalist Congress) and the OLF-J is 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 walabummaa) is apparently blocked. Even here, for the ride of the bilisummaa train, tokkummaa of the Oromo nationalists is mandatory; that is why the merger of the two known Oromo parties into the OFC is an encouraging example of the feasible solution. It is also commendable that some Oromo liberation groups did support this merger and that certain Oromo media have transmitted the interview, which one of the leaders of this new united Oromo “legal opposition” force gave. Actually, there is nothing, which can hinder the here mentioned three gradualist groups from working together, be it structurally united in one liberation organization, or otherwise. Similarly, there is nothing which can in principle prevent the maximalist factions of the OLF from merging under such one structural unity. Just as we do promote the importance of the well organized and empowered OFC to operate as the only “legal opposition” Oromo party, also we should try to foster only one OLF for the sake of consolidating as well as coordinating our resources and have an effective rebel national liberation front.
To illustrate what I mean by gradualists and maximalists regarding our national liberation movement, let me use the two fronts of African leaders we saw as there was a debate about the process of forging a Union Government of Africa (UGA) and a 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 a Union Government, while the gradualists opted for a stage-by-stage process, with the first stage being the integration of Regional Economic Communities. The gradualists felt that integration should be achieved in stages, with priority given to the harmonization of policies and regional integration. Speaking at the 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 the African condition.”
Similarly, the question which Oromo nationalists need to ask ourselves is: can we have such a unanimous decision regarding our approach in the liberation struggle? If we can opt together, for instance, for the evolutionary approach, whatever the dictators in the empire are doing to hinder our move, the train of the Oromo national liberation struggle will move forward to the kaayyoo slowly, but surely. The train, which started its journey from Djibouti (a symbol for garbummaa/absolute colony) many decades ago, has already arrived at Diredhawa (a limited cultural autonomy) in 1991, but not yet at Adama (a genuine political federation), on the way to Finfinnee (a complete national bilisummaa and walabummaa, which is our final goal, namely the kaayyoo Oromoo). Whether our colonizers like it or not, this way or that way, the next destabilization of the empire can be an opportunity for the train to move to Adama. So, let’s Oromo nationals be watchful and strengthen our tokkummaa for bilisummaa, and then use the coming opportunity to move forward. Of course, the OLF, which is the mindset of all the bilisummaa-loving Oromo, is operating even among the genuine nationalists in the Oromo ruling party, also in the newly consolidated “legal opposition” force and in the multiple rebel groups we do have. This mindset is uniting us, even if we still seem to be structurally disunited.
No question that we all Oromo nationalists want to have a direct airplane flight to our destiny (kaayyoo) if possible, but the reality on the ground can compel us to take the train ride, just as the African leaders were compelled to choose the gradualist approach, despite the importance of the quick and maximalist way of forming UGA. It looks that is why the genuine nationalists in the Oromo ruling party of the incumbent, of course, with the OLF-mindset, are there to keep the status quo by making their rhetoric (according to which they have already liberated us), even though they know the fact of our move from Djibouti only to Diredhawa. But the Oromo nationalists in the “legal opposition” group with the OLF-mindset are trying their best to promote the liberation journey to Adama, and we hope they will succeed in the next eventuality. Then, the Oromo freedom fighters in the rebel groups with the OLF-mindset will definitely finish the journey to Finfinne. In order to promote this last phase of the liberation movement, we may need an alliance with the forces of the other oppressed nations. But, yet more important above all is an imperative tokkummaa for bilisummaa of all Oromo organizations, which must unite to choose either one of the approaches (either gradualist or maximalist approach) based on the objective reality we are now in or to entertain both approaches at the same time without producing conflicts, and then we can agree to:
- live in Diredhawa together (keep the status quo of the limited cultural freedom, despite ‘Oromian occupation within Abyssinian empire’),
– move to Adama together (achieve ‘Oromian autonomy within Ethiopian union’), and
– finish our journey to Finfinne together (a further push for ‘Oromian independence within African union’).
The question yet to be answered is, why should we and how can we build this tokummaa for bilisummaa? Here, I am just trying to show the answer to this question. We are big nation with about 40 million people, but yet we are colonized. One of the many factors which still hinder us from success is the fragmentation of our political organizations. We do now have several mini Liberation Fronts roaring like baby lions against the one big enemy, the Woyane, as huge as Goliath. This well experienced enemy is laughing at our mini lions whenever they try to confront it in isolated actions, for they are not as such dangerous. The enemy even pretends to take one or two of them seriously and negotiate with them. But, the baby lions can not gain anything in the negotiation for the Woyane despises them. In order to gain in such negotiation, the mini lions need to be strong enough in the real battlefield. That is why all our mini Liberation Fronts have 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 is my small suggestion on how to create such a strong adult lion in the camp of the Oromo national liberation movement:
- At the level of the public, we need to enhance the consciousness of our people at the grassroots level and organize them to be oriented towards the big picture, namely towards our final goal of bilisummaa and walabummaa. We have to help our communities all over the world to forge this imperative tokummaa for bilisummaa. Every Oromo at the this level should take heed of the dividers, who do try to play the cards of region, party and religion for the sake of sowing a discord among the Oromo nationals. It seems that we have tackled the division in forms of region and religion effectively, but still we are in the trap of the enemy when it comes to the conflict based on political approach or ideology (e.g. the ongoing quarrel being pro-independence vs pro-union).
– At the level of the media (forums, radio, internet news, paltalks, televisions etc), we should be wise enough to discern between the constructive and the destructive comments, criticisms and ideas. We know that nowadays our opponents use in cyber-world the common Oromo names, the 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 is not necessarily from an Oromo national. Of course, there are some Oromo, who knowingly or unknowingly, do serve the interest of our opponents against the Oromo cause. So, our bloggers, activists and journalists should take heed of such destructive messages and expose them as they are.
– At the level of the polity, I just would like to recommend that all Oromo organizations try to work together. It is encouraging that the “legal” opposition is now consolidating under the OFC. Let also the other mini lions come together and foster one strong adult lion (mighty OLF). These weaker liberation forces do accuse each other as if they do have different kaayyoo. But, when we look at them and scrutinize their programs, they do have no difference in kaayyoo as such. Their common kayyoo is clear, i.e. bilisummaa uumata Oromoo and walabummaa biyya Oromoo. Where they do differ is only in garaa (ego and emotion) and karaa (the approach in moving towards the goal). We can understand the difference in garaa in a double sense: one is because of the emotional disagreement among some Oromo politicians (antipathy to each other), whereas the other is the fact that some politicians put self-interest higher than Oromo people’s national interest. I hope in due time, these politicians will learn to work together for the sake of the Oromo people’s kaayyoo. Their difference regarding karaa is actually complementary, rather than contradictory. They only need to accept and respect the different karaa chosen by each of them (just as an example, OLF’s “illegal” karaa and OFC’s “legal” karaa are complementary). Regarding the possible alliance with Abyssinian opposition forces, we may march with them to Adama, but surely, they will not be ready to move with us up to Finfinne. To comprehend the difference, let us look at the four current political blocs in the empire:
- andinet hayiloch (unity forces): those forces, whom I can designate 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 ‘Oromian extinction within Amhara empire;’
– abiyotawi hayiloch (revolutionary forces): the current ruling fascist regime of Woyane’s revolutionary democratic forces, which also can be named as Abyssinian Bantustanist Fronts (ABF) are striving to keep the evil status quo of the temporary ‘Oromian occupation within Tigrean empire';
– abironet hayiloch (unionist forces): those federalists, who try to achieve both national autonomy for all oppressed nations and regional union for common benefit, be it in the name of Ethiopia or the Horn of Africa. This group includes all Oromian Democratic Federalists (ODF), which want to realize a tactical ‘Oromian 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 an ‘Oromian independence within African union’ as a lasting solution with more citizens’ liberty and national security.
In short, for the sake of promoting the imperative tokkummaa for bilisummaa, it is 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 < -----&-----> OLF
Here, we can clearly see that the andinet hayiloch want our move back to Djibouti; the abiyotawi hayiloch strive to keep the status quo; with abironet hayiloch, we can move to Adama; and with the arinet hayiloch we can have a strategical alliance to end our journey to Finfinne. Such possible new alliance of the opposition groups in diaspora, which can basically be the same as AFD, but which should more emphasize the importance of national self-determination, needs to be formed in order to promote our national liberation journey forward. Surely, only the abronet & arinet hayiloch can be ready for such an alliance. I again and again would like to encourage the OLF to take a lead as before, and forge the imperative unity among the Oromo groups and an important alliance with the other anti-Woyane forces. Especially the mandatory Oromo nationalists’ tokummaa for bilisummaa is the panacea for our hitherto predicament. May Rabbii/Waaqa help us forge this tokkummaa, which can be the fundamental base for our humna to capture the state power in Finfinne palace, and then to take actions that can facilitate a fundamental social transformation, which we may need for the further move to Oromia’s walabummaa.
* Fayyis Oromia can be reached at email@example.com.