By Fayyis Oromia*
As we, the Oromo nation, and the other Cush nations celebrate Irreechaa in the months of September/October, I wish that all of us thank Waaqayyoo for our hitherto victories and that we ask, not beg HIM (gaafachuu, miti kadhachuu), that HE help us become successful also in our future struggle against the subjugation, oppression and tyranny we have had to endure till now. During the Irreechaa celebration, particularly the Oromo people, come together to Waaqayyoo, not to worship in a sense of self-denigration in front of an alien god, but to celebrate the father God. Oromo Waaqeffataas do call their Waaqayyoo as a father, that is why the term kadhachuu (beg) is not appropriate whenever we bring our case to HIM. We either come to praise (galateeffachuu) for whatever good we have achieved and to bring our request (gaafachuu) regarding whatever we are still in need. When it is a reality that we never beg our human fathers for our need, but ask them to fulfill it, how come that we have to beg our more generous spiritual father, who is always ready to fulfill our need according to his will?
Based on the story of Irreechaa, as written under the link http://www.gadaa.com/oduu/?p=797, the Oromo started celebrating Waaqayyoo beside Odaa tree, which was for the first time planted by Atete as a symbol of Ora-Omo (resurrection of Ora, who raised from death to celebrate the reconciliation with his murderer, with his brother Sete). Since then, the other Cushitic nations also celebrate this event either under a tree (Odaa) or beside a statue of stone (like beside the Axum Obelisk) or beside a temporarily planted Demera as it’s now done almost all over Ethiopia. Interesting is to observe this relation between Atete’s original plant as a symbol for the resurrection of Ora with the Oromo’s Odaa tree, lately replaced by the statue of *** (Tegaru’s) Axum Obelisk, which is now further replaced by Demera, to be planted only temporarily during the transition time from a winter (darkness, unsuccessful, death) to a spring (a new start of light, a new start for success, a new start of life) every year. Knowingly or unknowingly, all Cush nations, including those who claim to be Semites (Tegaru, Amhara, Gurage, Harari, Argoba, etc), celebrate Irreechaa, which is the celebration of Ora’s resurrection. That is why Irreechaa is actually the holiday for all Cush nations, including those who deny their origins and try to identify themselves with Semetics (with David, with Solomon, with Arab, etc).
So let’s all thank Waaqayyoo for our hitherto victories and then put our request regarding our present need forward. Two of the victories the Oromo nation and other oppressed nations have achieved till now in our struggle against colonization/occupation/domination are the “land to the tiller” victory of the 1974 revolution lead by prominent Oromo nationalists in Me’ison being accompanied by other parties as well as the “self-rule of nations” victory of the 1991 revolution, which was achieved by the leadership of Oromo nationalists in OLF – also with the help of other organizations. Unfortunately, these two important victories have been hijacked by the military dictatorship of Derg and by the ethno-fascist Weyane, respectively. Now, under the present regime of Meles Zenawi, the two virtues are there symbolically, but are hindered from being implemented and realized. Land is not yet owned by the tiller, but it is the ownership of the minority government. Self-rule of nations is only formal; in reality all national areas are under colonial control of the Tigrean ruling class.
But, even though the victories are yet only symbolic, the future should be to realize them on the ground, not to reverse them and bring back land ownership of the feudal lords/capitalists as well as not to fragment national areas with a pre-text of geography-based federation as some Amhara-oriented and Amhara-dominated xeqilaigizat-federalists try to achieve. This is one of the main conflict areas between the Oromo forces, who want to realize the two victories, and the Amhara-oriented forces, who want to reverse the formal existence of the two achievements. Is this conflict irreconcilable? Can the two groups overcome this conflict and forge the currently suggested all-inclusive alliance against the fascist regime? YES, only if the democratic and moderate forces in Amhara-oriented “multinational” parties take a radical stand and distance themselves from the backward feudal lords, who are still nostalgically crying and praying for the come back of the old order, in which the two big victories will be nullified.
They need to know the fact on the ground at present is that specially two things make Weyane to tremble: the possible Amara-Oromo alliance and the possible cooperation of this alliance with the Eritrean government. That is why Weyane cadres are doing every thing under the sky to hinder this from happening. Unfortunately, the still existing mistrust and fear from both sides of the ultra-left Oromo forces and the ultra-right Amhara forces are the best lottery, which the Weyane still enjoys. The ultra-left Oromo forces fear that Amharas may take advantage of the alliance and dismantle Oromia, whereas the ultra-right Amhara forces fear that Oromo nationalists may take this advantage of the alliance to dismember Ethiopia. What an absurdity! How long do they fear and mistrust each other and allow Weyane fascists to rule over us with no time limitation? Is it possible to save both Ethiopia and Oromia? The ultra-right Amhara-oriented forces cry always about saving Ethiopia, by which they actually mean to kill (dismantle) Oromia. The ultra-left Oromo nationalists also sing about only liberating Oromia, but seem to neglect the importance of regional integration – be it in a form of an Ethiopian union or a Horn union.
It is like a conflict some obstetricians face sometimes, when they try to treat a sick pregnant mother with an endangered baby: save the mother or save the baby? Is it possible to save both? There was a time when such physicians had had to choose between saving the mother or saving the baby. In modern medicine most of the sicknesses now can be treated in a way that it is possible to save both. It is such a question which the politicians in the Tigrean empire are now facing: save Ethiopia or save Oromia? The Oromo struggle is now developed to this level and made Habesha elites to be in such a dilemma. The ultra-rights got a solution, which sounds: to save Ethiopia, kill Oromia. The moderate Amharas are now trying to move in the modern direction of trying to save both Ethiopia and Oromia. These are the forces, which currently started to work with Oromo democratic federalists as well as begin to seek an alliance with liberation forces, and they also try to find a common ground in order to forge an all-inclusive alliance against the current Tigrean colonialists. Of course, the common ground can only be either a consensus on a true killil-federation of autonomous nations or on a con-federation of independent nations in the region, call it Ethiopia or the Horn, or it is a referendum on all possible alternatives in order to decide per public verdict.
To hinder these moderate Amhara-oriented forces and Oromo forces from forging an alliance based on such common ground as a compromise, Weyane cadres are working 24×7 in a week. They sing in Oromo forums about the necessity of unconditionally independent Oromia without any sort of union, and at the same time cry in Amhara-oriented forums about the importance of unconditionally unitary Ethiopia. Unfortunately, they are also getting support from both the ultra-left Oromo nationalists and from the ultra-right Amhara elites. That is why, it is necessary, specially for us Oromo, to differentiate between the two groups talking and writing by supporting Oromian independence:
– the true ultra-left Oromo nationalists are trying to promote Oromian independence in whatever way they can. This group is not necessarily against Tokkummaa Qabsaa’ota Oromo (unity of Oromo nationalists) and Tumsa Hundaa Hammataa (all-inclusive alliance), which can really be effective and efficient against the current colonizers.
– Weyane cadres camouflaged as “pro-independent Oromia” on the contrary do every thing under the sun to hinder both the Tokkummaa and the Tumsa from being realized in order to block these two important moves which are of course dangerous for the current colonizers.
It is not bad that the genuine Oromo nationalists push for independent Oromia as long as Oromia is under foreign occupation, but they should be careful not to play for the advantage of Weyanes, who day and night sing about an independent Oromia in Oromo forums and cry for a unitary Ethiopia in Amhara forums, just for the sake of polarizing the two BIG nations in order to hinder any possible effective alliance of the forces from these two nations against the fascist regime.
Parallel to this, the true ultra-right Amhara-oriented forces also do whatever they can to keep the empire intact and if possible to reverse the two above mentioned important victories of the 1974 and 1991 revolutions, but they are also characterized by their unswerving anti-Weyane stand, whereas Weyane cadres crying about the unitary Ethiopia mainly target the possible alliance with Oromo forces. I hope Amhara-oriented democrats and moderates will overcome this challenge from the ultra-right and from the camouflaged Weyane cadres and join the alliance against fascism just as most of them had done during the struggle to achieve “land to the tiller” and “self-rule of nations.” I would like to encourage them to follow the example of Wallelign Mekonnen. They better understand that the lasting and secured Ethiopian/Horn union can only be achieved, if it is based on public verdict per referendum or if it is achieved by a consensus on a true killil-federation (union of autonomous nations) or on a con-federation (union of independent nations) in which both the “land to the tiller” and the “self-rule of nations” will be realized.
In line to this purpose, it is encouraging to observe the political evolution of some Amhara forces in the last two decades. These forces have already started to feel and sense what it means to live under national colonization/oppression/domination. And yet, it is not easy for a part of the oppressed nations to accept Amharas to the club of colonized nations for some Amhara elites still think that the whole empire belongs to them. Despite this mistrust, we could see that things are changing slowly, but surely. I think we need to help such Amhara elites evolve further politically. They have no other option except accepting the position of the true killil federation as a compromise solution, if they want to work with the Oromo democratic forces and liberation fronts as well as with the forces of other oppressed nations. Here is their hitherto evolution move:
– till the year 2000, they were rallying behind EWP (Isepa) and AAPO as unitarist patriots crying for their lost assimilative colony. They had a slogan which sounds like ‘one country and one nation with one people, one culture and one destiny under one God.’ They vehemently opposed to the right of nations to have their own political parties and their own regions (killil’s)
– then 2005, they started to sing about the xeqilaigizat federation by supporting CUD in order to replace the existing fake killil-federation. They told us that they do respect the right of nations, but not the right to have their own killil or their own political party.
– around the 2010 election, specially during the TV debate, they opted for democratic federation, in which they started to talk about the future possible public verdict on: killil federation vs xeqilaigizat federation. AEUP, EDP and UDJ are the classical examples. Some of them, like those in UDJ, even started to work with national parties, which they used to vilify as “ye gosa dirijitoch”.
– now after the election, they seem to be open for the true killil-federation, which is the position of OFC, as a compromise position in order to forge an alliance with the unionist liberators like OLF, so that they can save the empire from disintegration. The new alliance, ALEJE, seems to have this position.
– unfortunately, I have not yet come across any Amhara-oriented elite supporting the position of the unionist liberators like OLF, who want to forge a union of sovereign nations in the region, in a form of a con-federation. This may come when Amhara elites start to accept the reality that they are now under Tigrean colony and then start to show their need to liberate their own Amharaland, instead of praying to save their already lost colonial empire.
I think, their evolution is the result of our Oromo struggle. Now for them, it is no more optional, but imperative to accept and respect the true killil federation, if they want to save the imiye as they do cry and pray continuously all the day and night. No more talk about unitary Ethiopia; no more bragging about xeqilaigizat federation (wanting to forge a union of fragmented nations); or even no more talk about a possible public vote on: killil federation vs. xeqilaigizat federation. They now got the fact that their refusal to accept killil federation, in which a union of autonomous nations can be realized, may lead to the other alternatives, i.e. either to the disintegration of the empire or to the eternal rule of the Tigrean apartheid regime.
That is why the Amhara-oriented elites in the “multinational” parties need to come to their sense and accept that they already lost during the 1974 revolution their monopoly on land to the victory of “land to the tiller”, and they lost during the 1991 revolution their monopoly on power to the “self-rule of nations”, even though both are formal victories. Surely, the currently ruling Tigrean regime will lose both the land and the power to the true implementation of the two victories in the near future. Additionally, any attempt to reverse these two victories is doomed to fail; hopefully, both the federalist forces and liberation fronts will cooperate and coordinate their actions, so that they can implement and realize these two very important victories of the last two revolutions.
Specially trying to reverse the two victories with the pretext of modern politics (liberal democracy) can not get the support of the oppressed nations, including the Oromo. The anti-“land to the tiller” slogan of the pre-1974 feudal lords and the anti-“self-rule of nations” rhetoric of the pre-1991 colonizers can not be accepted only for the fact that they are covered in a package of liberal democracy. So our “friends”, who are trying to hide themselves behind this mask should acknowledge the reality that these two formal victories are irreversible so that they can choose to recognize the wish of oppressed nations and that they better opt for the mutual additional victories over the current Tigrean elites’ dictatorship, hegemony, looting, fascism, racism and apartheid rule, under which we all are now suffering.
To have such further success and victory in a coming struggle against our enemy (against Tigrean colonizers), we, the oppressed, need to empower our liberation bloc, that means we have to strive to give a confidence and power to ourselves, so that all the oppressed peoples can do themselves the job of liberation. As we are now approaching to celebrate Irreechaa (Irreessaa, Irreensa), we have to think at the two meanings of this word. Irreessaa can be defined as both thanksgiving and empowering. Let’s celebrate this year’s Irreechaa in both senses. Let’s give thanks to our Waaqa as well as let’s empower our oppressed nations. We can do the empowering of nations in two ways: by coming together in front of Waaqayyoo and commit ourselves to Tokkummaa for Bilisummaa (unity for liberty) and by avoiding all the possible things which contribute to our division and to our weakening like the inner fighting of the opposition, which we do have against each other. I hope Irreessaa of this year will be the time of empowering the oppressed nations (including the Amhara nation) for the new start and for doing efficient struggle to achieve our goal of liberation from the Tigrean colonizers and tyrants.
It was interesting to see that the meaning of the word Oromo means Ora-Omo, the resurrected Ora, the resurrected human being, the person of the new beginning and success. Do we want to be Oromo or human in such sense? So when we now celebrate Irreechaa this year, in all places where Oromos are living, let’s consider to have the life of Oromo or the life of Ora-Omo, which is the life of resurrection, which, in general, means life of new starting and success after the hitherto unsuccessful actions or after the repeated failures we have had based on many factors, which are in and out of our control. I hope we, the Oromo people in particular, and all oppressed nations in general, will commit ourselves to such a new beginning for the success in our future, in both our collective political move and our individual personal life.
Last but not least, again I would like to say MERRY Irreechaa to all Cush nations, who consciously or unconsciously celebrate it in a form of gatherings under Odaa as the Oromo do, gathering beside statue (obelisk) as the *** (Tegaru) do, gatherings beside Demera as the Agew, the Amhara, the Gurage, etc. do and coming together around X-mass tree as the Christians do. We all are celebrating Irreechaa in our style and way in the holy month which is at the end of the winter/darkness, which is the symbol for unsuccessful/death and the beginning of the spring/light, which is the sign for success/life, even though the celebrations are in different forms. Merry Irreechaa and let Waaqayyoo/Rabbii bless us all!
* Fayyis Oromia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.