By Tullu Liban
I think most of our social media communications are falling prey to TPLF traps as far as Ethiopianist/Amhara-Oromo conversations go. What I mean by traps is that the TPFLtes set agendas which are of no much use for our urgent problems. The trick is played by fanning hostility between Amhara and Oromo elites and activists.
I just question what purpose some talks serve us. When I see serious fights over dead or seemingly farfetched issues, I wonder why they need to consume our time and drag our attention given multiples of serious challenges before us. I also question if FB populists such as Veronica Melaku, Hailu Bitania etc. who pretend to be devotee Amhara voices and other fanatic “nationalists” could help the people they claim to represent. I doubt if these guys are not implanted to fan the flame that TPLF wishes to perpetuate between Oromo and Amhara peoples.
I have similar sense of fear about the hostility fans who bear Oromo names and are “good” at insulting anything of Amhara. I do have many such FB friends. Sometimes I share the pains they might have experienced from the provocations of the other side, though.
I honestly feel that we don’t benefit from insulting peoples. I sincerely appeal to our Oromo activists, who go wrong (I admit the genuine ones are mostly provoked by bad people and sometimes they miss that they are unknowingly helping TPLF), not to insult anyone. By degrading, despising and mudslinging someone, we don’t benefit our peoples. We don’t expect rewards from the one we attack either.
I was sickened around the 121st Adwa victory to come across excessive disparaging comments about Menilik II. Each one of us has our version of understanding about the battle of Adwa, maybe too sentimental, rational, indifference or total dismissal as to whether it was a black peoples victory over the whites or a war between two colonizers. Fine, I don’t go to that judgement. Yet, I feel we can substantiate our own views without going into belittling individuals who can no more defend themselves.
I may not like Menilik II or the Minelikaites who portray him as an angle of all times. But I see the man as a person who is attached to the empire’s history. We can’t deny that be it good or bad. I see Meles Zenawi too as a person who lived in space and time. But I am not that adamant to ignore the versions of others’ stories about these individuals. It is up to me to evaluate those stories and make my own conclusion. I do put myself in the shoes of the fans of those guys at least not to insult them. I don’t need to worship “Imiye” or “Talaqu meri”, like their fans. I do establish my own reservations. Incumbent on me to yet to challenge the “worshippers” politely and with reason. I wish I had the ability to challenge them, (if I were only a good history student and a political analyst, perhaps).
My belief is yet, if you degrade someone, you don’t expect praise in return. You keep on insulting one another; you end up dismissing rationality and things become so weird. That is how I see the provocative stuffs that relate to Amhara-Oromo discourse and even beyond.
Just few points on Ethiopian history. Someone tagged me this morning to read #Veronica Melaku’s “analysis” on the history of Finfinnee (may be better to call it tenancy). This lady as it sounds on the Facebook (a man as many suspect) advised the readers to read a book on Amazon (written by a certain foreigner).
I am always surprised to see many Ethiopianists obsessed with the re-narration of “history” that they no more market in its face value. What this circle overlooks is that what we see in the “history market place” (of Ethiopia) is so absurd, extremely biased, manipulated and ungrounded at times. The relation between the north and the south was founded on a winner-loser grounds and that is why the Oromo and other Southerners don’t take for granted the history narratives of the Ethiopianists.
What anybody should be certain about is that the defeated people hardly have the chance to write their true history in whatsoever form under the conquerors. The victors write their own “history” as it suites them. They cement their rule on the history they write to grant them legitimacy. The victors fabricate tales, fairy tales and “divinely” stories and gradually promote those stuffs to a “recorded history”. What to be noted, though, is that not all what is written is true. There are a lot of questions as to why and how those records were created. At times the Ethiopianist circle tries to convince its opponents that the history books are written by foreigners, therefore it is true. We question still who were their informants, the concurred people or their conquerors? Did they talk to the subjects? Did the conquered subjects have friends in Europe and the middle east (priest agents who were connected to the ruling group because of shared religion or gains?) Were the monks and priests who had the chance to cross to Europe from northern Abyssinia free of political mission?
That is what makes us to hesitate to graciously endorse “history” of the Ethiopian empire. Such is the kind of “history” Veronica Melaku, Larebo and co. learned by heart about the Oromo people and the Southern peoples.
Such documents wouldn’t promote Amhara-Oromo discourse, at least for the time being. As such no much benefits come out of them for either side. My humble thinking is that we will have time to settle the accounts of our “history” and their interpretations when the appropriate time comes. Probably we can rectify the mismatches. We may refute or rebut them, when the need arises.
To whom Finfinnee belongs?
Finfinnee has been a social media agenda for quite several times. Here is my impression. I do understand the claim over Finfinnee is one of the valid issues for the Oromo people. But I doubt if it is a burning issue now to fight about it. If Oromos, Amharas and other Ethiopians in the periphery are not the leaders of territories and the deciders on their destinies, where is the point to argue on cyber about the capital ownership. In an empire where almost all Ethiopians are shattered to freely govern the lowest rural units-the districts and the kebeles in their respective regions (I don’t think even Tigrians enjoy that freedom) I do see no point now for Oromos and Amharas or anybody to confront each other about Finfinnee.
The pressing issue now is that TPLF should leave power to the people at best and heed to its own constitution at worst. In the worst scenario, Finfinnee should never evict Oromo farmers, contaminate Oromo lands and segregate Oromo people. The pressing issue under TPLF rule is that the Oromo people should not suffer anymore to sustain Finfinnee, that they should be proportionally represented to reclaim their lost values and culture because of the establishment of the city.
However, it doesn’t make any difference for Oromo if TPLF delegates OPDO to administer Finfinnee. We had at least three OPDO mayors including the current one (Ali Abdo, Kuma Demeksa, Dirriba Kuma). What did they do for Oromo? For those who wish the administration of Finfinnee to be taken over by the Oromia State, I have a small question for you. Assume tomorrow morning TPLF would declare Finfinnee is to be one of the Oromia zones. Do you believe Oromo will benefit out of that arrangement under the TPLF-OPDO power relation? The OPDO governs economically important cities in Oromia including Adama, Jimma, Bishoftu and many others. Do you see anything of the interests of the Oromo people respected? I hope you can understand what I mean. Who should administer Finfinnee will be answered if we can discuss by sitting on the same bench as peoples of that country and if we can move on same wave length in the power relations. Otherwise the ones who hold the grip of power would decide on our fates
The Ethiopianist circle spends much time discussing unity. I am sure no one hates unity, if the Ethiopianists believes in honest discussion. My instinct feeling is that the majority of Oromos love unity. The question is what type of unity? Is it the unity that denies our very existence as people, our identity as people, our contributions and our resourcefulness? Does Ethiopia want us as a people or Ethiopia wants only our resources for its very survival? Are the Abyssinians (both the Amhara and Tigrain elites) ready to reframe their mindset to see Ethiopia in its entirety; willing to sit on the same bench with other Ethiopians so that we can redefine Ethiopia and our relations in Ethiopia? I do worry much that their inflexibility take Ethiopia to a worst trench if they fail to come to their senses. An irreversible tide is in the making to hit the shuddering empire.
In conclusion, the more the Amhara and Oromo elites and activists are engaged in provocative media warfare the more the TPLF regime respites and paves the floors for the total integration of that country.