Who am I?
Who am I? Oromo or Ethiopian/Abyssinian/Habasha?
This is what I really like to ask every Oromo. I have been told, in my history lesson, as I am an Abyssinian in a country with a history of 3000 years. At the same time I have been told, by my family, relatives and community, that I am Oromo. Most of all a recent phenomenon in the Ethiopian empire that is taking place against Oromia and the Oromo people makes me to wonder if I belong to this country as a right citizen. This and the others was a reason why I can’t solve the mysterious puzzle of my life for so long.
I have been tried to dig out some of, the so called, early Ethiopian history and been able to found that there is no evidence that can boldly declare Oromo as one part of their history. Then it pops out of my mind, WHO AM I? Were all the histories I have been told is a total lie? Who is this Ethiopian/Abyssinian/Habesha, for they use them interchangeably, or Oromo? Were all my ancestors have been fooled just the same way? Or these histories I have been reading and learning were corrupted at some point of time? Or my ancestors, family, relatives and community were dishonest about who I am? Can I trust the history makers, the colonizers, the dictators, the rulers…… that Oromia is one part of Abyssinia several years ago? Or there is a leak somewhere in the history of Oromia and Abyssinia?
In my inquiry to answer this question, I have been able to found in the history of Ethiopian, that the name Abyssinia was the former name of Ethiopia and also able to found out that the history of the peoples of Ethiopia is extremely controversial. Ethiopian history, like so many other histories, has been ‘a narrative of the winning side’. It has almost all been written from a centralist and Imperial point of view which, for Oromo, is that of their colonizers.
The majority of the Oromo in Ethiopia were politically as well as historically marginalized, controlled, dominated and ruled by another ethnicity. Oromo have all endured humiliating personal experiences of discrimination, and worse, just for simply being born Oromo; most have suffered imprisonment and exile and seen their families persecuted.
Extreme right wing parties and movements frequently use the word ‘national’ as a component of their names and invoke ‘nationalism’ in their strident, often racist, rhetoric. Nationalism and irrationalism have become matched. Liberal minded Westerners cannot rid themselves of misgivings about the word “nationalism” and have to make an effort of will to sanitize it. Evil actions have been carried out, and are being carried out, in its name.
I personally, used to, did not buy why Oromos are not Ethiopians (Abyssinian). But the reality is that the term Abyssinian is applied only to Amharas and Tigres and people of Semitic origin. What convinced me more than anything in my inquiry is that in the history of Ethiopian, Oromia was incorporated into the Ethiopian empire in the 1880s by emperor Menelik II during the time the European scramble for Africa was underway. And also wondered why, under the Abyssinian ruling system, the Oromo suffered not only political and economic deprivations, but also symbolic and cultural segregations, yet they are Ethiopians?
Hence, if the Oromo were permitted to express and to exercise their political options, they will choose to do in a more open, federal Ethiopia, or, like Eritrea, insist on creating a totally independent Oromia. Most importantly, elderly Oromos lived during earlier times said we never called ourselves Abyssinians. So, most of the histories (not of the Abyssinians) make clear that the distinctive shared values, institutions and historical experiences distinguish the Oromo from the Abyssinians. Literatures indicate that Abyssinians are Habeshas and The word “Habesha” is Arabic word and its meaning is “Slave” and sometimes it is used to mean “bastard” for which some English dictionaries defined it as a child that does not know his/her father. However, Oromo called themselves “ILMA/INTALA OROMO” which means “I AM A CHILD OF OROMO”. Thus, as I belong to Oromo, I am not Abyssinian or Habesha. So, I AM OROMO, NOT ABYSSINIAN!! NOT HABESHA!! I need my Oromia, the independent land of our great grandfathers; and I hope you too.