Hawi Chala | September 19, 2014
Since a couple of weeks ago, I have been reading some articles and posts on social media arguing the Scotland referendum which can be a good lesson and role model for the Oromo struggle for independence. Contrary, I object this argument and rather argue that the Scottish referendum cannot be a lesson and role model to Oromo struggle for independence. There is no common historical experience that resembles our struggle to the Scottish. Neither social nor political nor economic resemblance prevails, at all, that makes it a role model for Oromo quest for independence. Here are my major points.
- Scotland and Britain married each other in 1707 in Act of union voluntarily, by mutual agreement for mutual intest of both nations. It was neither invasion nor colonialism. While case of Oromia and Ethiopia is a forced one, without the will of the Oromo people. It is a real invasion and colonialism.
- The Scotland and Britain have lived together for over 300 years peacefully, as a mother and a daughter, depending on one another. The Scots have never complained of the oppression, persecution, imprisonment or brutal rule of Britain. Simply speaking, no one was either imprisoned or inflicted or killed for just advocating for the independent of Scotland.
The Ethiopians and Oromo have lived together as an oppressor and oppressed, as an exploiter and the exploited or as master and slave. The Oromo have been complaining about the brutal rule of the Abysinians’ dictators and violation of basic human rights. You will hardly find a single Oromo individual whose family has not been either persecuted or imprisoned or exiled or killed for just voicing for the legitimate right of Oromo people.
Through all these years, Scotland could retain its major institutions like legal system, education,…etc.
- The main driving force behind the Scottish independence is the presence of natural oil resource in Scotland. To access a better social welfare for the 5 million of Scots from the high revenue of oil is a must NOT miss opportunity for them to seek for secession from England. Free health service, free tuition, fee from rather skyrocketing tuition fee of England and some others social benefits are some of the driving forces for independence.
I don’t think that the Scottish would even think of secession from UK if there happened to be no natural oil resource in Scotland.
Being endowed by natural resources, economic advantages have never been the primary driving force of Oromos’ struggle for independence. Rather, the main driving force behind the Oromo struggle is the real need to get free from oppression, persecution, brutal rule, imprisonment, basic human right violations and similar legitimate political rights. In Oromo’s struggle for independence, the economic reasons followed the political reasons, unlike the Scotland.
- As long as I understand, Scots are moving from economic dependence to independence, rather than to political independence as the oppressed Oromos and other oppressed nations of the world strive for. The recent voting polls shows very close percentage (between 52 % to 48 % ). This figure simply shows that their vote of yes or No, is not the vote that an oppressed nations votes for.
If Oromo people get the same chance of vote for referendum, the YES vote percentage will double the above number.
- While living under the umbrella of UK, Scots have not lost their national pride and national feeling of being Scottish. They have been Scotland first, and for being so they didn’t challenged or refused. Through multiple cultural and social genocides, Oromos were forced to loss the feeling of Oromuma, and made us ashamed for being Oromo. The recent challenges, resistances and insults for saying ” I am Oromo first ” is a recent example.
- Geographic advantage.
Scotland is located in the northern periphery of UK. And this by itself adds an opportunity for scots to easily apart themselves from the center. Oromia is located as the heart of the Ethiopia and share boundaries with almost all of other sister nations. There are some Oromo tribes residing within other ethnic groups. This diversified and complicated geographical location will not ease ways for secession as same as the Scots. This doesn’t mean that geographical location will hinder the quest for independence but might not be as easy as the one located at the periphery.
I want to quote two comments given by the Scottish boy and an Oromo boy for the question: why do you need independence?
The Scottish boy answered: “It is because I don’t want to be 40% or 20 % of something (UK), I just want to see Scotland. And I don’t want to be part of the extremely socially unequal part of England.”
The Oromo boy answered: “It is because I want to be free of oppression, persecution, and killing. I don’t want to be treated inhumanely. I want to live in a country where my basic human rights get respected.”
The difference is visible.
There are some positive experiences we can gather from the Scottish independence, but taking their lesson as role model for the Oromo struggle will make us illusionary. Their struggle and our struggle have a very different paths, aspirations and goal. In order for us as oppressed people to become part of a society that is meaningful, the system under which we now exist has to be radically changed. Our struggle for independence needs a huge sacrifice than that of Scottish. Independence to Oromo and Oromia will not be attained only through campaign and debates like that of Scots, it might rather require a life sacrifice.
Therefore, Scotland referendum can be a better role model for Catalonians of Spain than Oromos. The struggle and independence of South Sudan can rather be taken as a better role model for Oromo struggle for independence. Oppressed nation will not remain oppressed.