THOUGH BATTLE AHEAD: THE BATTLE WE OROMOS CANNOT AFFORD TO LOSE
– Gumaa Guddaa*
The Oromo are peace-loving people. Unfortunately, that does not take you anywhere in this nasty world we live in. No nation was ever liberated through letter writing to the UN Secretary General or the President of the U.S.A. No any number of press releases, any amount of false propaganda of non-existent military action or any number of radio stations will do it either. The bitter truth is one has to fight for one’s own survival. Fighting for survival will require sweat, tears and blood. A great deal of it, too. It does also mean going to the mountains and the bushes. Most of the time, it actually involves paying the ultimate sacrifice of giving your own life for the survival and success of your group.
Looking back on the long and proud history of our nation, we witness Oromos have always risen to the challenges of their time. For instance, when the northerners pushed them south in the 15th century, the Oromo devised the Oromo cavalry and strong military philosophy, and fought back. Today, we must do the same. As the current Abyssinian colonial regime tightens its grip on Oromia, time is growing short. We must demand our political leaders speak the truth and offer decisive leadership. We must also individually and collectively offer the leaders real practical support in terms of fundraising, volunteering and providing material contribution. Above all, we have to individually ask ourselves the purpose of our being on planet earth. Be prepared to die for our freedom, if need be. They say, it is better dying standing on your feet than living on your knees.
Saying that our own very survival, as a people, is under threat is understatement. We are tittering on the edge of the abyss, and it is mostly the problem of our own making. We must know the greatest threat to our survival is our own apathy. Working in tandem with our apathy is also the mere fact that the enemy facing us today is brutal beyond imagination. We need a collective vision to pull ourselves back from the edge. The vision and dream of living as free people once again, as we did for thousands of years. Vision alone is not enough. Achieving it requires collective effort.
Economic exploitation of Oromia has become second to none. The so-called foreign investors exploiting Oromian mineral wealth are causing irreversible damage to our precious environment. The Tigreans have unfettered free access to Oromian green and fertile land. They even destroy a UNESCO-registered tropical forest with impunity. Watch this recent documentary in which the regime itself boasts about destroying Yayu forest. The thieves have the audacity to claim that the local population gave them the land without any demand for compensation. Why would subsistence farmers give their livelihood away to a company? It is adding insult to an injury. Watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvdqRnIsUtA
Oromo families are uprooted up and down the country to make way for the ‘investors.’ Just recently, more than one thousand households have been displaced without any compensation as their land was sold to a foreign company in search of gold and precious earth metals in Ghimbi district in Wallaga, experience repeated all over Oromia time and again. One thing is clear. Oromos have not given their land to the Tigreans for free in support of the regime’s policy as it is being claimed by TPLF. How come a society ends its own existence by its own choice? Nothing is furthest from the truth. It seems TPLF’s propaganda chief has taken the leaf out of Gorge Orwell’s Animal Farm.
The human rights abuse by the TPLF regime is immeasurably severe, too. Disappearances of innocent Oromos without trace over the past 20 years run into tens of thousands. Long-term imprisonments in secrete detention camps and the regime’s torture chambers have become commonplace, and we are no more shocked when we hear mass arrests here and there. We have developed tolerance to bad news all together. Thousands of these Oromo political prisoners are children and women. Rape against Oromo women is unspoken taboo, but the Tigrean regime uses rape and pillage as cruel weapons of war. Today, Oromo women are the most endangered group without any protection. They are sold in their droves to modern-day slavery across the Middle East. Oromo refugees have no protection in neighboring countries. They are threatened with being returned back to the hands of the killers. Watch: http://youtu.be/DHs7rkUXS74
When the survivors tell us about their ordeal in the hands of the regime’s security agents, their plea falls on deaf ears. Our heroin sisters have attended our academic annual conferences and laid it out bare with their testimony bravely and courageously. Hearing it, our men become enraged for a brief moment, but do not make long-term strategic tangible effort in directing their anger in the direction of solution-seeking.
The Tigrean led Abyssinian colonial regime has even bigger surprise in store for us, just in case you did not know. Few warning shots have already been fired in our direction regarding their ambition of reducing the Oromo population size and the Oromian landmass. It seems that they have two-pronged approach. First is to squeeze Oromia from the peripheries, in the west by Gumuz, and in the east and south by Somali tribes. For example, listen to the following radio broadcast by an Oromo journalist concerning the recent ethnic cleansing in the east: http://youtu.be/kGqup3dsTSI.
The irony is that these villages (both in the west and east) from where now the enemy is uprooting our people at will were former OLF stronghold and liberated areas, and our own military bases for many years. Lives were given and blood was spilt to liberate them from Ethiopian and Somali colonial forces in the first place. How did this happen to us? Where did we go wrong to let it happen?
The second strand of the regime’s strategy is to eliminate Oromos from cities like Finfinne, Jimma, Dire Dhawa, etc. Their main target is Finfinnee in particular. As you will know, there is already an exclusion zone around Finfinnee. The Oromo have been removed under pressure without any compensation. Tigreans are being settled in Finfinnee en mass. Once they become the majority, the regime will declare it part of Tigray special zone after ‘referendum.’ This will threaten the territorial integrity of Oromia directly.
So, what sort of battle is going on? Simply put, it is a battle between an expanding colonial power and a people fighting for their survival. At this juncture, the colonizer has the upper hand, albeit until the giant awakens. I am afraid, tragically on the other side, we, the Oromo, are not yet fully alerted to the gravity of the danger facing us. One has to focus on the Oromo elites in particular to understand the depth of the malaise. Conscious educated Oromos are in the minority. It could be safely argued that the vast majority of the ‘educated’ class is ethiopianized at its core. Some confuse liberation of Oromia with democratization of Ethiopia. It appears this group is irrecoverably inflicted by collective amnesia. It is comical to listen to the self-appointed ‘founders’ and their followers. Some of them claim they have acquired the highest level of education known to mankind. But, you cannot help but wonder, what sort of education leads to amnesia?
What defies logic is that the recidivist type of Oromo ‘educated’ class has completely forgotten or chosen to ignore history altogether. Let us help them. Anyone who has a rudimentary grasp of the history of Ethiopian empire will know what happened to Gobana Danche, Haile Fida, Marara Gudina, Nagaso Gidada, and Bulcha Damaksa to mention but few.
The battle we are forced to engage in is a decisive one, nonetheless. History teaches us that the Aborigines were once the majority in Australia. So were the Indians in North America (Canada and USA), and the Incas in South America. Another example that could be contemplated here is South Africa. The black South Africans are only the majority in number. If the Tigreans become successful in their dream, they will try to change the current educational and economic apartheid, and the slow genocidal acts into an accelerated war of attrition against the Oromo people.
The battle we must fight decisively needs to be multifaceted. We have to take on the Abyssinians in the field of commerce, education, science and technology and defeat them. More importantly, the battle will not be won through the ballot boxes but bullets, I am afraid. The prospect is neither for the fainthearted nor for the half-hearted pretenders. It requires total dedication and being ready to sacrifice your life. You must be ready to lead by example. You ought to know the nature of the struggle, what is at stake, your enemy, your friends and above all the rule of the game, too. There are some who suggest that the struggle for independence of Oromia and democratization of Ethiopia could be reconciled. Forgive me; these are two mutually exclusive projects. I am not convinced that a good number of us have the grasp of what we mean when we say the Oromo struggle, not only in terms of its enormity, but its true meaning, too.
The demand for self-rule does not emanate from lack of democracy in Ethiopia. The driver for independence is something quite different, something more grandeur; more scared that demand for democracy. Britain was democratic when the USA fought and won its independence. Today, Scotland is on the verge of a referendum for independence from Britain. Our detractors need to understand that even if Ethiopia becomes democratic, Oromia will push forward for independence. In fact, these Oromos, who have gone native, will also make the battle ahead tougher than anyone else as they blur the line between the Abyssinians and us.
In conclusion, the sooner we wake out of sleepwalking towards extinction the better. We have to stop deluding ourselves that Ethiopia can be democratized. Then again, democracy or not, aspiration for independent republic of Oromia is already woven into our collective unconsciousness and will never die. Even if we deny it, the genie is out of the bottle, and there is no going back. Whether we choose to go down fighting or allow the enemy to decide our fate, there is no doubt the way ahead is tough and bloody. Thus, let us defend Oromia with all our might and fight to the last man for our freedom, if need be.
* Gumaa Guddaa: firstname.lastname@example.org