Oppressed and marginalized people have a shared experience: their oppressors invent a “mythical portrait” of the oppressed . Through this “mythical portrait”, the oppressed is depicted as uncivilized, savage, lacking self-control, irrational, unable to govern themselves, dangerous to themselves and to those in their midst, etc. On the other hand, the oppressor invents the opposite “mythical portrait” for itself.

This ugly portrait of the oppressed creates a mythical basis to keep the oppressed in perpetual misery. It creates a sense of fear that separates one oppressed group from another. This “mythical portraits” also helps garner support for the oppressive system from its base and outside the base as it makes the system as guarantor of the societiy’s well-being.

The successive Ethiopian government, particularly in the last 25 years, have created Oromo-phobia by inventing a  mythical portrait of the Oromo. Consequently, the emancipation of the Oromo from their oppression is seen as  destabilizing to Ethiopia and detrimental to the very existence of non-Oromo people in Ethiopia. Such a portrait has worked so well in the last 25 years that even those who are marginalized under the current government are unable to align their common interest with the Oromo people. The oppressive minority regime creates conflicts between oppressed groups and then portrays itself as the only rational and arbiter, thereby deserving to rule the “barbaric” others.  This machination of the Ethiopian government, however, seems to be falling apart recently.

Since the eruption of the current Oromo revolution (#OromoProtests), the oppressive Ethiopian government  left no stone unturned to further  distort the “mythical portrait” of the Oromo people. The Communication Minister Getachew Reda called the peaceful #OromoProtests “devils” that must be dealt with , and the Prime Minister threatened to take “merciless action” labeling the unarmed and peaceful protesters “terrorists”.  Once this “mythical portrait” is created, they not only justify their actions but leaves them with no choice but to intensify the repression. That is exactly what the regime has been doing since Novermber 12, 2015. What they did not manage to do this time around is to incite inter-ethnic and inter-religion conflict- despite their best effort.

Why is the Ethiopian oppressive minority regime failing to incite conflict between Oromo and others, and to incite inter-faith conflict in this time of revolt?  A lot of credit should go to the tactics employed by the #OromoProtests movement, and their pre-emptive outreach to all Ethiopians and their transparent revolution.

True to the Oromo culture, the elders gathered the revolutionary youth to undertake an Oath taking ceremony during which they promulgated:

  1. The minority groups living in Oromia should not be harmed/should be protected. They emphasized that no one but the regime is their enemy. They admonished the youth that if any one considers others as enemy because of their ethnicity, it will tarnish the good Oromo name and goes counter to the principle of Oromummaa (Oromoness)
  2. No properties should be damaged
  3. Any one who harms minorities and/or damage properties, is in violation of Oromo-norms and is considered enemy of the Oromo people and obstacle to the peaceful struggle against tyranny.

We have heard the same voice of reason during the early weeks of the protest in West Shewa. Obviously this expression of tolerance is not a culture that just emerged now; it’s centuries old culture that is simply captured on video at this historical time. I share this video with pride to other Ethiopians and I hope it gives them hope and understanding about the Oromo people.

The #OromoProtests movement is shattering the “mythical portrait” of the Oromo people and replacing it with a true portrait of the Oromo people that is loving, caring and welcoming. The time when the rest of Ethiopians and the Oromo people join hands in good faith is the beginning of the era for the true liberation of the multi-nation federation we call Ethiopia. There is hope and the #OromoProtests is the fountain of such hope.