Historical Injustice: Re-Offending the Trauma
By: Najat Hamza
There have been fragmented arguments aimed at individuals or Oromos in general from certain groups. I am not writing to comment, negate or affirm any point of view as it is right now, however I would want these framed in a way that makes sense and that could yield results for both sides. We have to lay some ground work or background before we can discuss the points of contentions. Fist, when we talk about the Oromo People there is no doubt there has been tremendous historical injustice done to them, these historical injustices cannot be ignored, erased or denied. One can ask how can we address historical injustices that happened generations ago? Why should we even attempt to address it? The answer is simple, the future depends on it! The other argument is this generation has nothing to do with that injustice and why should we be held accountable?
There are no magical methods, words or deeds that could address historical injustice but we can try by using the concept of restorative justice. Restorative justice has been used as a mechanism to help heal great historical injustices in various indigenous communities and a single acts like genocide and holocaust a like.
“…applying restorative justice practices and principles could maximize justice for indigenous people by first, refocusing indigenous land claim, on the restoration of tribal respect and dignity rather than the restoration of property rights, second, acknowledging the wider social relationship in which such conflicts arise”
(Contemporary Justice Review, 2009)
So, when we speak of “Oromian tan Oromo ti” it is not about the restoration of property ownership for our land, rather the restoration of our dignity and respect we lost when we have lost our home, our sense of being. We have to look at the inter-generational justice (Justice over time) as an answer to those who would deny the historic injustices of their forefathers. This concept explains both sides of the story. We all know and understand the gain of historic injustice done to the Oromo people, their land and resources are great loses to them but gains to the perpetrators and their offspring. Those gains obtained committing these grave historic injustices transcended form one generation to the next with a sense of entitlement to boot. Thus, the current generation has the obligation to acknowledge this historic injustice and to apologize for the injustice committed as the sole beneficiaries of those injustices. If they cannot reach to this point, it is crucial for them to understand not to re-offend the trauma.
I cannot elaborate on these concepts more here, not it is the correct platform, I am sharing my thought trying to re-frame where the argument should be instead of going back and forth on petty discussions. I am sure there is expert in the fields of justice; law and political science that could get into it form this vantage point. There is no question that they cannot reverse time and undo the historic injustice, nor should they act as if it did not occur. The side that needs to do deep soul searching is those who have benefited from these historical injustices and finding a way to make steps towards healing for the wronged. However, is absurd to expect the Oromo people to explain, to include or participate in the denial of its own scars to appease their perpetrators. It reminds me of the idea that use to be used against women here in the US and still being used in various parts of the word basically accusing a woman who is raped by accusing her of dressing inappropriately. This is the same line of thinking, if Oromo people fights for their right and trying to affirm their rights or be the sole beneficiaries of their own resources, they are called racist! However, committing historical injustices, refusing to acknowledge the wrong and trying to be a road block to their progress is called patriotism, Unity!
We do not fear change, we are fighting for change. We have not targeted anyone and any one else’s resources and we do not need an approval from any entity to accomplish our freedom. It is just in the spirit of good faith and for the sake of justice we ask you to do away with your hate cause it is foreign to us and to what we stand for.
Oromia is the Home of Justice in its pure form!