THE ENDLESS PERSECUTION AND EVICTION OF TULAMA OROMOO
By Bulbulaa Tufaa
Among the major Oromo descent groups, the Matcha-Tulama group has got one of the largest populations, stretching on vast area of land in central and western Oromia. As we are able to learn from our fathers, Matcha and Tulama are Borana brothers, being Tulama angafa (first born) and Matcha qixisuu (second born son). As common to all Oromo ethno-history, the tradition that governs the social role of “angafa and qixisuu”, which begins right from the immediate family unit, has a deep genealogical meaning and social role in re-invigorating the solidarity of the nation. From the earliest time of which we have a tradition hanging down to us,
Macaa & Tulama Oromos had a supreme legislative organ known as Caffee. The Caffee legislates laws which will eventually be adopted as Seera Gadaa
They have a senatorial council known as “Yaa’ii Saglan Booranaa”, in which elected individuals from major clans are represented. The function of Yaa’ii Saglan Booranaa is to deliberate on issues pertaining to regional issues, resolve inter-clan disputes and oversees how interests of each clan in the confederacies are represented; how local resources are fairly shared and wisely utilised according to the law.
These two northern Boorana brothers are historically referred to as Boorana Booroo or Boorana Kaabaa
Among the known five Oromo Odaas, Odaa Nabee and Odaa Bisil are found in Boorana Booroo
However, beginning from the 13th century onward, the Match-Tulama country (Boorana Booroo), adjacent to Abyssinian border, has begun to be ravaged by a group of individuals whose legendary genealogy connects them to a certain King Solomon of non-African origin. They came and settled at a place they call “Manz”.They organised themselves at this place, and started to attack neighbouring villages of Cushitic Oromo family stock of Laaloo, Geeraa and Mammaa. The attacked villages were gradually incorporated into the expanding Manz, which eventually developed to a military outpost known as Showa in the late 18th century. Hereafter, they declared themselves “Ye Negasi Zer, the root of Showa Amhara Dynasty.
After vanquishing Agaw people’s identity and sovereignty on the northern frontier, the Solomonic Negasi Dynasties of Showa intensified their attacks against the Match-Tulama of Borana and the Karrayyu of Barantu Oromos. In such turbulent situation, the rule of yeNegasi Zer entered nineteenth century era, which ushered the era of the Scramble for Africa by European imperialist powers. From Africa, it was only King Minilik of Showa (1866-1889) who was recognised as a partner and invited to attend the Berlin Imperialist Conference of 1884. In this conference, Minilik was represented by his cousin, Ras Mekonnen Tenagneworq Sahile-Sellasie (1852-1906). After completing their mission, King Minilik and the European imperialist powers made concession on border demarcation. After the border demarcation had been completed, a systematic elimination of his prominent general, Ras Goobanaa Daacci (1819-1889), was meticulously carried out. Minilik was so confident to declare himself Emperor of Ethiopia (1889- 1913).This was the Ethiopia, the first time in the history of the region, that brutally annexed and included Oromo, Sidama, Walaita, Kaficho, Beneshangul, Gambella, and others to the expanding of Abyssinia.
The years 1887-89 were the boiling point for Minilik’s declaration of being “Emperor of Ethiopia, ye Itiyophiya Nuguse, nägest. Why?
· Because, it was the time when he exterminated the Gullallee Oromo from the marshy-hot spring and pasture land of Finfinnee and collectivised the place under a new colonial name Addis Ababa.
· Because, it was the time when he built full confidence in himself and built his permanent palace at Dhaqaa Araaraa, a sacred hill, where the evicted Oromos peacefully used to sit together and conduct peaceful deliberation for reconciliation.
· It was the time when he annexed three-fourth of southern peoples’ territories, including the Oromo territory, to the expanding Showan Dynasty and put under the iron-fist of his inderases (viceroys).
· It was the time when he assured un-shivering confidence of being continued to be assisted and advised by his European colonial partners: militarily, diplomatically and technically.
Here is the question: What happened to those Oromos who were living in Finfinnee for centuries? Particular mention has to be made about those Tulama Oromo groups of Gullallee, Eekkaa, Galaan, Aabbuu, Jillee. The answer is very simple: They were mercilessly decimated; their villages burnt down, their pasture and arable lands confiscated and shared among the invading Manzian Nagasii families of whom the Dejazmach Mangasha Seifu and the Ras Birru families were the most notorious ones. Thereafter, the Oromo territory occupied by Matcha-Tulama was officially changed to the expanding Kingdom of Showa, a detached enclave from Gonder, Abyssinia. Finfinnee was given a new colonial name “Addis Ababa”, just like Zimbabwe was changed to Rhodesia, Harare to Salisbury. Under this excruciating condition, the conquered Matcha-Tulama region had to lose its historic significance and had to be involuntarily submitted to the colonial name Showa.
In addition to the former derogatory term “Galla”, imposed on the conquered Oromos as a whole, the new regional name of Showa is prefixed to the derogatory term Galla. Hence, “ye Showa Galla” came into force as a collective insulting name in addressing the whole Oromo of Matcha-Tulama. This clearly justifies the vertical segregation policy of the conquerors for easy identification of who is who in the newly colonised territory.
Using various forms of oppressive models, Abyssinian colonial tactics and strategies have been going on violently and, now entered into the first half of the 21st century. Since the second half of the 19th century in particular, the oppressive models have been amassing massive firearms from European colonialist partners, enjoying diplomatic immunities and profitable political advises.
In the late 19th century, one European writer commented that, if the Abyssinians had not been armed and advised by global colonial powers of the day, notably France and Britain, late alone to defeat the ferocious Oromo forces, they could not have even dared to encroach upon the limits of Oromo borders. He wrote what he witnessed the real situation of the time as follows:
“Against the Galla [Oromo] Menelik has operated with French technicians, French map-makers, French advice on the management of standing army and more French advice as to building captured provinces with permanent garrison of conscripted colonial troops. The French also armed his troops with firearms, and did much else to organize his campaigns. Menelik was at a work on these adventures as King of Shewa during John’s lifetime; adding to his revenues and conscripting the Oromo were thus conquered by the Amhara for the first time in recorded history during the last thirteen years of the nineteenth Century. Without massive European help the Galla [Oromo] would not have been conquered at all.”
The writer further explained what he personally encountered during the campaign in the following unambiguous language:
“A large expedition was sent as far South in Arsi as frontier of Kambata to return with100, 000 head of Cattle. The king’s army fought against tribes who have no other weapons but a lance, a knife and shield, while the Amahras always have in their army several thousand rifles, pistols and often a couple cannon.—-Captive able-bodied males and the elderly were killed. The Severity of the Zamacha [campaign] was aimed at the eradication of all resistance. Whenever the army surged forward, there was the utmost devastation. Houses were burned, crops destroyed, and people executed:”
When we see the history of Abyssinian political philosophy, from which we have a written record, it is entirely based on the philosophy of depriving the Oromos from having any right to homeland. To convert Oromummaa to Amaarummaa and ultimately to Itiyophiyawwinnet has been the policy in action up to this very day. Even though the policy works on all Oromos indiscriminately, the one which has been exercising on the Oromos of Tulama in Finfinnee and surrounding areas has its own unique feature. Some of the unique features are embedded in the formation of “Addis Ababa” itself; as a seat of colonial headquarters with all its oppressive machineries. To have ample space for the settlers, to build army headquarters, to build churches in the name of numerous Saints of Greek and Hebrew origins, to build residences and offices for foreign embassies and missionaries, to build factories and storage houses the crucial demand is land. To fulfil these crucial demands of the customers, helpless Oromo peasants of the area have to be evicted. They have been under routine eviction and land deprivation since the seizure of Burqaa Finfinnee and the establishment of Ethiopian Imperial capital at this place.
It could be incorrect to think of the current TPLF-Arinnet Tigray regime as a detached entity from the whole system of Abyssinian colonial regimes, when we equate what they need against the survival needs of the peoples they generically conquered as “Galla and Shanqilla”. Though since 1991, the Ethiopian imperial system has been overtaken from the Showan Nagasi Dynasty by their junior Tigrean brethren, the life of the colonised Oromo people has been going down from worse to the worst.
What makes TPLF-Arinnet Tigray different from its predecessors is its total monopolisation of resources of the empire, right from the imperial palace to the bottom village levels, from the centre to the periphery. Arable and pasture lands, plain and forest lands, rivers and mining areas are totally under its predatory control. It is routinely evicting peasants from their plots, their only means of existence. They are selling to Chinese, Indians, European, Turkish, Pakistani, Arabians and other companies at the lowest price. In making this huge business, the most preferable area in the empire is Oromoland; of which the land around Finfinee holds rank first.
This politically architected scheme, in the name of investment and development, is daily evicting Oromo peasants around Finfinnee often with meagre or no compensation at all. As a consequence,
· some of the evicted families are migrating to cities like Finfinnee and are becoming beggars
· Some of them are leaving the country for unknown destination and found being refugees in neighbouring countries like Kenya and Yemen.
· Since most of them who have no any alternative, they remain on the sold land and become daily labourers, earning less than half dollar a day.
· Farm lands that had been producing sufficient grains of various types are now turned to produce non-edible flowers and toxic chemicals that contaminate rivers and lakes.
The incumbent Ethiopian regime of TPLF-Arinnet Tigray, more than any other imperial regimes of the past, is committed to make the Oromo people an “African Gypsy”. At one time the deceased prime minister of the Empire and EPDRF leader, Meles Zenawi, refers to the Oromos, who are numerically majority ethnic group in the Empire, said, “It is easy to make them a minority”. They are practically showing us the evil mission they vowed to accomplish. When they become rich of the richest in the Empire, the Oromo peasants they are daily uprooting are becoming poor of the poorest, being reduced to beggary and often deprived of burial sites after death. This evil work, as indicated above, has given priorities to sweep off “garbage” around Finfinnee and ultimately to encompass three-fourth of the region of “Showa” as a domain of “non-garbage” dwellers.
As vividly explained above, the Oromo of Tulama, since the onset of colonisation, have begun to be collectively addressed as “ye Showa Galla”. Those who resisted the derogatory name, the eviction, and the slavery system have been inhumanly executed or hanged. Their land and livestock have been confiscated and shared among the well-armed conquering power.
When Minilik invaded the Gullalle Oromo in Finfinnee, for instance, they remarkably resisted to the last minute but finally defeated. Those who remained behind the massacre had no other option except to leave for other regions against their choice. In their new homes, they have been even treated as collaborators of the invading “Showans” by their own kinsmen, calling them “Goobanaa”.Those able-bodied Gullallee, Eekkaa, Galaan, Abbichuu youths were involuntarily conscripted to the colonial army which is typical to all colonial policies. They were forced to go for further campaign to the south, east and west commanded by Showan fitawuraris and dejazmaches
From time to time, all Abyssinian forces, changing forms of their names, swearing in the name of Ethiopian unity and inviolable sovereignty, have never turned down the initial policy of evicting and persecuting the Oromo from their ancestral araddaa. Araddaa Oromoo is the embryonic stage where Oromummaa has begun to radiate from. Hence, by virtue of its original formation, now and then, it could not be integrated into the enforced Abyssinian policy of Itiyophiyawwinnet .
Since the enforced policy has shown no visible success for the past 130 years, this time, it has taken on to shoulder the last option of “sweeping them off” from around what they call “Addis Ababa” as a priority number one. As a consequence, came into being the destruction of Oromo survival relationship with their ancestors’ plot of land. The desecration of their shrines, sacred rivers, sacred mountains and sacred trees of which the case of Odaa and Burqaa Finfinnee, Dhakaa Araaraa and Caffee Tumaa in the vicinity of Finfinnee are quite enough to mention. TPLF’s long range missile policy of destroying Oromos’ relation to their historic araddaa is not the end. It is just the beginning extrapolated to destroy Biyyoo Oromoo.
At this critical time, any concerned Oromo should not be oblivious of the dreadful situation going on in Oromiyaa right now; in Finfinnee and surrounding areas in particular. The deliberate expansion of the amorphous city they call “Addis Ababa” is politically architected to divide Oromiyaa into east and west sector. It is not a master plan. It is an evil plan mastered to consummate an evil goal.
At this critical time, may we believe in the “No life after death”? Rather, may we are for the life right now? Those who are for the life right now are genuinely expected to show discernible power through tangible solidarity to our victimised families at home. Pursuant to our tradition, we have been nurtured learning the wisdom of “Dubbiin haa bultu”. Now, we should redirect this wisdom to “Dubbiin kun hin bultu”,that we ought to swear by great confidence to move in unison against the inhuman act, endless atrocities and perpetual eviction of our families from their ancestral araddaa. Thereof, could we recall the intrinsic wisdom of our fathers’ saying “Tokko dhuufuun namummaadha, lama dhuufuun harrummaadha?”
Namoonni tokko tokkoo
Jedhanii na gaafatuu
Barreessi maqaa kankoo
“Dhugaa jirtu barreessii
Afaan keetiin ol’baasii
Maqaan keenya “Shawaa”mitii
Yaa gurbaa akkam taataa?
Maaf onnee na tuttuxaa?
Maaliidhaaf na boochiftaa?
Maaliif madaa natti kaaftaa?
Ulee malee hintaatuu
Maaliif narraa dagattaa?
Yaa gurba Oromticha!!
Koottu diina iddinaa
Akka mootii kinniisaa
Maqaa keennaan waamamuuf
Harcummee nu feesisaa!
Yaa gurba Oromticha!!
Si kadhaa na dhageettaa?
Fedhii kiyya naa guuttaa?
Gorsa narraa fudhattaa?
Harchummee natti hiitaa?
Dhalee naa guduunfitaa?
Karaa na dabarsitaa?
Diina hiddaan buqqisaa
Cinaa kiyya dhaabattaa?
Ani du’u itti fuutaa?
Si waamu naaf awwaattaa?
Humna kiyya naaf taataa?
Ani kufu na kaaftaa?
Bakka kiyya dhaabattaa?
Harchummee lafaa kaaftaa?
Diinaan itti rukuttaa?
Gumaa kiyya naaf baaftaa?
Minilikiin achii kaaftee
Soodduu kiyya naaf dhaabdaa?
Reeffa kiyya irratti
Ruufa Gadaa uwwiftaa?
Mallasaa qottee baaftee
Achitti na awwaaltaa?
Onnee akkasii qabdaa?
Awwaala diina irrat dhaabdhaa?
Afaan callaan osoo hintaane
Onnee akkasii qabdaa?
Maqaa kankee ka ganamaa
Gaafa san moggaafattaa.
Kunoo itti dhihaadhuu
Kanuma narraa fudhuu