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The origin of ethnic politics in Ethiopia May 5, 2019

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The origin of ethnic politics in Ethiopia 

by Leenco Lata, The Reporter, 21 March 2015


Controversy has been dogging the policy of structuring Ethiopia as a multinational federation ever since it was publicly aired almost twenty- five years ago.

There are those who vociferously and persistently condemn the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) leaders for introducing the politicization of ethnicity by embracing this policy.

On the other hand, there are those who like wise consistently commend EPRDF leaders for the same reason. However, putting the adoption of this policy in an historical perspective would prove that both stands are wrong.

The erroneousness of the stand of both those who commend and those who condemn EPRDF leaders for structuring Ethiopia as a multinational federation becomes easily explicable by recalling the famous statement by Marx that “Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.” It is the circumstance prevailing when EPRDF leaders came to power that rendered structuring Ethiopia as multinational federation inescapable and not their alleged noble or ignoble intensions.
What was that circumstance? At the time, struggles for national self-determination by the Oromos, Tigreans, Ogadenis, Sidamas, etc. were gathering momentum while more and more communities (Gambellas, Benishanguls, etc,) were joining the fray with every passing year. Accommodating these quests for self-determination by structuring Ethiopia as a multinational federation was, hence, simply inescapable.

The critics of the present multinational federation blame the spokespersons of these struggles for self-determination for politicizing ethnicity/language for the first time in the country’s history. Nothing could be further from the truth. On the contrary, these struggles were simply a natural response to a prior state-driven policy of politicizing ethnicity/language. This state-driven politicization of ethnicity/language goes as far back as 1933 when the then Minister of Education, Sahlu Tsedalu, proposed the following policy:

ያገር ጉልበት ኣንድነት ነው ኣንድነትንም የሚወልደዉ ቋንቋ ልማድና ሃይማኖት ነዉ . . .
በመላ ኢትዮዽያ ግዛት ለሥጋዊና ለመንፈገሳዊ ሥራ ያማሪኛና የግዕዝ ቋንቋ ብቻ በሕግ ጸንተዉ እንዲኖሩ ሌላዉ ማናቸውም የአረማዉያን ቋንቋ ሁሉ እንዲደመሰስ ማድረግ ያስፈልጋል. . .

The rough translation of which is: “Unity is the strength of a country, and the sources of unity are language, custom and religion . . . [It is thus necessary] to legally preserve in the whole of Ethiopia only Amharic and Ge’ez [We can ignore Ge’ez for it was merely a liturgical language of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church largely incomprehensible to ordinary believers.] for spiritual and earthly use [while] the language of every pagan must be erased.”

This policy to erase all languages except Amharic amounts to an ethnocidal intention of eradicating all communities except the speakers of Amharic. The targets of this discriminatory policy had no choice but to launch struggles for self-determination with a view to averting the state-driven intention to eradicate them. These struggles were, hence, the effect of a prior act of politicizing ethnicity/language and not its cause as commonly presumed by the critics of the present multinational federation in Ethiopia.

This language-based policy was ultimately codified in laws proscribing the use of all languages except Amharic at public events, including prayer meetings as if the Almighty could understand only one language.

It is common for all builders of empires to simply impose their language as the only official medium for administrative purposes but the builders of contemporary Ethiopia are perhaps unique in legally proscribing the use of other languages.

This discriminatory language-based policy ultimately influenced how Ethiopian identity (ኢትዬጵያዊነት) was portrayed. It gave rise to the version of Ethiopian identity (ኢትዬጵያዊነት) that was synonymous with being a speaker of Amharic and totally opposed to being an Oromo, Sidama, Tigrean, etc. By implication, this version of Ethiopianness (ኢትዬጵያዊነት) was expected to blossom on the graveyards of Oromonnet, Sidamannet, Tigraynnet, and the identities of all other peoples.

Equating being an Ethiopian with being a speaker of Amharic in due course drew the criticism of the Ethiopian student radicals of the 1960s. In particular, Walillign Mekonen’s article of 1969 cogently stated: “To be a ‘genuine Ethiopian’ one has to speak Amharic, to listen to Amharic music, to accept the Amhara-Tigre religion, Orthodox Christianity and to wear the Amhara-Tigre Shamma in international conferences. In some cases to be an ‘Ethiopian’, you will even have to change your name. In short to be an Ethiopian, you will have to wear an Amhara mask (to use Fanon’s expression).”

This state-driven policy of politicizing identity ultimately fomented the natural response of celebrating one’s identity by those whose languages and other contents of their identity kit were targeted for erasure. Thereafter, the course was set for members of these societies to invoke and launch the struggles for the self-determination of their national communities.

Advocating the right to national self-determination was not restricted to the members of these subjugated nations or nationalities. It also figured prominently in the political programmes of the country-wide leftist ML parties that came on the Ethiopian political landscape in the early 1970s. The debate that raged between the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party (EPRP) and the All-Ethiopia Socialist Movement (more widely known by its Amharic acronym MEISON) concerned not the legitimacy of invoking the right to self-determination per se but it is a possible end point. The EPRP endorsed the right to national self-determination up to and including secession and very vocally faulted MEISON for failing to go to the same extent.

Goaded by the EPRP and cajoled by MEISON, even the military regime (Derg) ended up embracing a watered down version of self-determination in the form of regional autonomy. After prevaricating on the question for some years, the Derg finally extended regional autonomy to a selected group of minorities in its so-called Constitution of 1987. No other evidence is needed to prove that Ethiopia was already on a slippery slope leading to multinational federation than this measure by the highly centrist military regime.

EPRDF leaders thus had no other choice but to go one stage further in satisfying the ongoing quests for self-determination by structuring Ethiopia as a multinational federation when they unseated and replaced the Derg in 1991. Hence, it is the “circumstance existing already” that made adopting multinational federation necessary instead of the alleged noble or ignoble intentions of the incoming ruling group.

Political groups are merely wasting their time and energy by arguing to the contrary.

Multinational federalism is simply the latest natural step in Ethiopia’s political development that resulted from neither the generosity nor nefarious aspirations of any group. What should occupy all concerned is how to refine and polish this political order for the good of all Ethiopian peoples. When posed in this fashion, several cautions that need to be underscored come to mind.
First, those aspiring to undo the extant multinational federation need to carefully re-examine their project for its success does not look likely without horrendous bloodshed. Despite its undeniable practical short comings, no national community would willingly give up the right to self-government enshrined in the present Constitution.

Second, the intimate relationship between federalism and democracy cannot be over-emphasized. While it is certainly possible to exercise democracy without federalism, instituting federalism without democracy is not only an oxymoron but also a recipe for disaster as the recent experiences of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and Yugoslavia so tragically demonstrated.

All concerned should realize that federations are inherently fragile and multinational ones are possibly even more so. The success of any federation hinges on the willingness to strike a proper balance between over-centralization and over-decentralization. Over-centralization is potentially dangerous for it would tend to negate the very rationale of federation, recognizing and respecting local communities’ right to self-government. The frustration bred by over-centralization could lead to unexpected outbursts of the anger of concerned communities. Over-decentralization, on the other hand, could breed institutional incoherence potentially culminating in breakdown.

Let us face it: The cohesion supposedly underpinned by the linguistic and cultural homogeneity of the nation-state model has proven elusive even in its birth place, Western Europe and other parts of the globe settled by Western Europeans. This is evidenced by the invocation of sub-state identity in quintessential liberal democratic countries such as Spain, Belgium, United Kingdom, Canada, etc. Developments in the same countries also obviates the presumption by some in Ethiopia that instituting a liberal democratic order would automatically satisfy demands for group rights.

We are living through an era when the foundation of democratic political order is contested in large parts of the world. Religion, history, culture, economy, etc. are competing to serve as the foundation of an acceptable political order. Studies show that the territorial extension of the state is pulled in different directions depending on its role as the container of power, wealth and culture. When the state is deployed as a container of power, preserving existing boundaries gets greater attention. When it is tapped as a wealth container, encompassing larger territory becomes prioritized. When it is conceived as a container of culture, however, it would tend towards smaller size. What can possibly simultaneously satisfy all three tendencies is forging fora for political participation at supra-state, state and sub-state levels.

Finally, what is the origin of “ethnic politics” in Ethiopia? Who is to blame for this supposedly divisive policy? The rulers of Ethiopia are responsible for uncorking the genii of “ethnic politics” in early twentieth century. In due course, reactive invocations of identity continued to spread to other communities. Instead of aspiring to rebottle this jinni, unlikely without significant bloodletting, all should consider how to deploy it for the good of all.

Ed.’s Note: Leenco Lata is a prominent Ethiopian politician and President of Oromo Democratic Front (ODF). The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of The Reporter.

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Wanti barbaachisaan maqaa Itophiyaa utuu hin tahin, akka ilmaan namaatti fedhan waliin jiraachuuf maqaa fedhe jalatti walii galte hawaasomaa uumuu dha. Obbo Ibsaa Guutamaa irra February 15, 2019

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What is important is not the name Ethiopia, but the will to enter into a social contract to live together in peace as human beings under any name. 

Kanneen bara Minilik duudan ammallee Oromiyaa biyyoota mootii xixiqqoo isaan bulchoota muudaniifitt ciruu abjootu. Qaabannoo gabaabachuun, dargaggoon Oromo kaleessuma biyya ofii irra darbanii isaanuu bulcha abbaa hirree hamaa, TPLF jalaa bilisa baasuu saanii irraanfatanii jiru. Ummati Oromo fi dargagoon saas hardhas tokkummaa biyya ofii irraa hamaa ittisuuf caalaa dammaqanii eeguu cimsaa jiru. Finfinneen keenya jechuun “Humnoota tokkummaa”, akeeki saanii sana utuu hin tahin, Oromiyaa gargar kutuu akka tahe beeku. Kun waan haaraa utuu hin tahin bara Qinijjitii kaasee kan karoorfatanii. Wacabbarii saanii gidduu kanaa sanumaaf ture. Oromo bilisaa fi walabummaa hameessa saanii waggaa dhibbaa olii, biyya Oromoo, Oromoo biyaa (Oromiyaa) jibbu. Kallachi mormii Oromoo, dargaggoon Oromoo fi demokratoti biraa empayera keessa jiran TPLFiin kan buqqisan goblaa mirgaa kan tahe abdattuun sirna Nafxanyaa bakka buufachuuf miti. Sirni imperial dullachii sadarkaa kabeebsuun hin dandahamett babbaqaqee jira. Gaaffiin ama jiru Itophiyaa dullattii akkamitt dhinsinaa utuu hin tahin, mirkanii lafa jiru, moo’ummaa ummatootaa fudhachuu dha. Yoosi, kan tokkee haaraa fedha ummatootaa irratt hundaawe ijaaruun kan dandahamuu. Akeeki sochii bilisummaa Oromoo qabaa Itophiyaa jalaa Oromiyaa walaboomsuu dha. Sana bakkaan gahuuf waan teekinikaa xixinnootu isa hafee ture. Kanaaf akka ta’iisi sun xifa hin jirreett fudhachuun waldiddaa caalaatt hammeessuu dandaha. Kaayyoo ummata Oromoo ABOn akka ganama dhihaatett tuffiin ilaaluun ayyaamii saba sanaa waldhaaluu taha. ABOn fardaa, yoo dulloome Kaayyoo, ayyaana sabaa utuu hin tahin farda biraatu bakka bu’a. Kan tahuu qabu golooti nagaa jaallatan hundi, yaayyoo karaa mormii ummata booda jijjiirama demokraatawaaf yayyabame hanga xumuraatt hordofuu dha. Danuun seenaa bulcha cehumsaa Garee Lammaa Dr. Abiyyiin hogganamu uumee jiraa. Yero ammaa filmaati wayyaan jiru isaanuma. Deggersi keenya qeeqaa tahuu dandaha, garuu ifaajjee jijjiiramaa barbaachisu fiduuf akka dandeessisutt ijaaraa tahuu barbaachisa. Bu’aa ciicannoo kennaafiin wal amantee uumaa; mucuci asii fi achii, miiddhaan dhaqabsiisu yoo jiraate bu’aa yaa’icha keessa argamu hin caaluu. Waggoota dhibba tokkoof sammuu dhiqaaan jiraatuyyuu Itophiyaa tahuu kan hin fudhatin jiru. Kanaaf, ta’innaan, godinicha tokkeessuuf tattaaffiin godhamu mirkanii jiru kanaan wal gitchisiisuun barbaachisaa dha. Jalqaba, rakkinoota waggoota dhibbaa fi shantama as haanan keessatt kahan erga ilaallee kan waggoota kumaatt dabarra. Mirga saba hiree ofii ofiin murteeffachuu kan walabummaa dabalatu beekuun wal amantee sabootaa fi sabaawota akka walqixxeett waliin mari’achuu mijjeessu uumuu dandaha. Tokkumaan olii gad gonfamu, si’achi fudhatama hin qabaatu. Uumaa empayerii irratt qayyabannoo waloo qabaachuu yaaluun wal nokkora hedduu hambisuu dandaha. Qabeen saa, namoota daaya, gootota, alaabaa, afaan, aadaa fi seenaa tokko hin qabne, biyya ofii qaban kan tahee dha. Barri imperiyaalism jara akkasii humnaan bulcha tokko jalati fide. Hariiroon haala sana jalatt gaggeeffamaa ture hariiroo ashkarii fi goftaa giddu jiru ture. Booji’amootaa fi bitamtee hojjettuun Oromoo, Empayera Itophiyaaf dirree hedduutt gumaachanii. Dirree lola gurguddaatt jabduu agarsiisanii jiru; makiinaa afaan Amaaraa barressu (type writer) uumaniiruuf; dirree hogbarruu fi ooginaa afaan Amaaraa fi sportiitt kkf Itophiyaatt kan isaan gitu hin turre. Tajaajilli akkasii addatt kan Itophiyaa qofaatt beekame miti. Gumaachi Pushkin, Ruusiyaaf galmeeffame malee biyya tarii keessaa maddee Iroobiif miti. Gumaachi garbooti gurraachi qarooma addunyaaf tolchan Afrikaaf utuu hin tahin biyyoota gooftolii saaniif galmaawan. Biyya tokko keessatt tajaajiltummaan qooda fudhachuu fi bilisummaan hojjechuun adda addaa. Kanaaf “Gamna gowwoomsuun jibba barbaacha” kan jedhamu yaadataa, qabattee mirgoota ilmaan namaatt of haa daangessinu. Gumaacha ashkarootii fi booji’amtooti isaan keessaa maddan tolchan Oromoo gowwoomsee gaafii bilisummaaf qaban irraa isaan hin maqsuu. Akka daagaagicha Afrikaa fi ummata aadaan riqata qabuutt Oromoon waan tokkummaa Afrikaaf gumaachuu dandahan hedduu qabu. Garuu dura duubbee cimaa, Oromiyaa barbaadu. Gidiraa jiraatus, waliin jiraachuun jaarraa tokko olii, anjaa kennuun gara jijjiiramaa demokraatawaatt atoomaan waliin hojjennee ummati akka bilisummaan hiree saanii murteeffatan humneessuu ni dandeenyaa. Eenyuu maqaa Itophiyaa jala da’atee, sirna dullacha deebisee fiduu akka hin dandeenye gochuu dha. Fakkeenyi sirna dullacha, namichi ergaramaan tokko, ofii bututtuu uffatee kophee malee, ijoollee saa qullaa of jala yaasee harreett midhaan, dammaa fi dhadhaa fe’ee, qoraan gateettii baatee, tumaalessa ijoollee saa harkisiisuun warra abbaa lafaa gabbatoo takkaa hin daarre, afaan saa hin beekneef fida ture. Sun deebi’uu hin qabu. Ijoolleen Oromoo utuu hin quufinn, utuu daara hin bahin, utuu barumsa hin qabaatin, ummati Oromo jeejee,i dhukkubaa fi bulcha badaatt saaxilamaa qabeeenya Oromoo eenyuu saamee ittiin gabbachuu hin qabu. Wanti barbaachisaan maqaa Itophiyaa utuu hin tahin, akka ilmaan namaatt fedhan waliin jiraachuuf maqaa fedhe jalatt walii galte hawaasomaa uumuu dha. “Lammafata bishaan gaanii” jette hantuuti, jedhu Oromon. Bishaan gaanii keessa cubuluqxee akka tasaa dhangalaafnaan baraaramtee. Oromiyaan haa jiraattu!

What is important is not the name Ethiopia, but the will to enter into a social contract to live together in peace as human beings under any name. 

Those deafened during the time of Minilik still dream of partitioning Oromiyaa into small kingdoms whose rulers will be ordained by them. Their memory being short, they have already forgotten that it was only yesterday that Oromo youth freed not only own country but also theirs from tyrannical rule of the TPLF. Oromoo people and their youth are still today standing guard vigilantly to protect integrity of their country. That the real objective of “Forces of unity” claiming Finfinnee is not in itself but aimed at dividing Oromiyaa is well known to them. This is only a plan that started during the time of Qinijjit. That was what all their hullabaloo of these days about. They hate to see free Oromo and independent Oromo country, Oromo biyyaa (Oromiyaa) their milk cow for over hundred years. It should not be expected that Oromo youth, the vanguard of people’s protest and all democratic youth in the empire that helped in removing the tyrannical rule of TPLF to tolerate another right wing Nafxanyaa system hopefuls to replace it. The old imperial system has cracked beyond repair. The demand now is not how to mend old Ethiopia but recognizing reality on the ground and taking each people as sovereign. That is when reconstructing a new union based on the will of the peoples becomes possible. Oromo liberation movement aimed at liberating Oromiyaa from Ethiopian occupation. It has almost done it except for some technicalities. Therefore, to talk as if that phenomenon never existed is inviting the conflict to escalate. Undermining the Oromo national Kaayyoo as originally articulated by the OLF is failing to understand the psychological makeup of that nation. OLF is only a horse; if it ages another horse will be replaced not the Kaayyoo, spirit of the nation. What should be done is that all peace-loving parties cooperate in following to the end the road map for democratic change that is drawn as a result of people’s protest. Historical accident has created a transitional administration led by Team Lammaa chaired by Dr. Abiy. Right now, they are the best alternative available. Our support can be critical but constructive so as to help them in their effort to bring about the required change. Give them benefit of the doubt; probable damages from slips here and there will not be greater than the benefit one gets from the process. Despite the over one and half century brain washing not everyone accepts being Ethiopians. So, assumptions made to unite the region should be adjusted to this reality. Let us first deal with problems created in the recent hundred fifty years and later we shall deal with those of the thousand years. Recognizing the right of nations to national self-determination up to and including independence creates trust that will enable all nations and nationalities to confer as equals. Super imposed union is no more acceptable. Common understanding of nature of the empire could save us unproductive controversy. It is composed of peoples that have no common vision, no common heroes/heroines, no common flag, common language, culture and history and have own territory. The era of imperialism had brought all this under one rule by force. All relation under that condition were done in servant, master relations. Oromo captives and merceneries have contribute much for the Ethiopian empire in so many fields. They have fought courageously in many known war fields. The have created Amharic type writer; No one excelled them in the field of Amharic literature and arts and Ethiopian sports etc. Such service of slaves is not peculiar to Ethiopia. Pushkin’s contribution is registered for Russia not for Iroob from where he might have originated. Contribution of black slaves to world civilization was not registered for Africa but to their masters’ countries. To take part in a country’s business while in servitude and working as a free person are two different things. Therefore, not forgetting the saying “Trying to fool a smart one is to beg for hatred”, let us stick to the issue of human rights. Praising Oromo nation for contribution of servants and captives originating from it will not fool and distract Oromo from their demand for freedom. As one of the giants of Africa and having the essential cultural inclinations, Oromo have lots to contribute to Pan Africanism. But first they need strong rear, Oromiyaa. Using our living together for over a century, we can turn our past misfortunes into greater advantage of working in harmony towards democratic change, empowering peoples to freely determine on their fate. No one should be allowed to hide under the name Ethiopia and bring back the old order. Example of old order is, a dilapidated man wearing tattered clothes and having no shoes, being followed by his naked children, with donkeys loaded with cereals, honey and butter, and carrying fire wood on his shoulder and his children drawing a ram for well-fed well clothed family of his land lord that do not speak his language. That should not be repeated. Sun deebi’uu hin qabu. When Oromo offsprings do not have enough to eat, enough to cloth, have no education opportunity and when Oromo people are exposed to hunger, decease and bad governance, no one should plunder Oromo resources and enrich oneself. What is important is not the name Ethiopia, but the will to enter into a social contract to live together in peace as human beings under any name. As an Oromo saying goes, “Never again tank water said the mouse” when water in the tank she was drowning in was accidentally poured out and she survived. Oromiyaan haa jiraattu!

The East African Review: SPEAK OF ME AS I AM: Ethiopia, Native Identities and the National Question in Africa February 3, 2019

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Speak of Me as I Am

Does a country create a people, or do a people create a country? KALUNDI SERUMAGA responds to Mahmood Mamdani’s recent analysis on the political situation in Ethiopia. Published in The East African Review, January 26, 2019

The Westphalian principles, rooted in the 1648 Treaties signed in the European region of that name, have been monstrously mis-applied when it comes to the African continent, yet they established modern international relations, particularly the inviolability of borders and non-interference in the domestic affairs of sovereign states. The default position of a certain generation and class of African nationalist, is to cleave unto the “new” nation born at Independence, as the only legitimate basis upon which African progress can be conceived and built. Everything else, especially that dreaded category, ‘ethnicity’ is cast as a diversion and dangerous distraction. This is the tone that runs through Ugandan Professor Mahmoud Mamdani’s one thousand-word opinion piece: The Trouble With Ethiopia’s Ethnic Federalism, published on 3rd January for the New York Times by (and patriotically reproduced in Uganda’s Daily Monitor newspaper), bearing a total of fifty-four iterations of the word ‘ethnic’.

The default position of a certain generation and class of African nationalist, is to cleave unto the “new” nation born at Independence, as the only legitimate basis upon which African progress can be conceived and built.

At Independence, the Westphalia protocols were conferred on to the former colonial contraptions. The results were economic stagnation and political repression. For over five decades, these new nations have been the focus of intellectual and political agitation among Africa’s thinkers. When, after all that rumination and fulmination, our thinkers still get things horribly back to front, we all get stuck at a crossroads. Mamdani’s essay comes as our current Exhibit A in this long history of intellectual malfunction. Current Prime Minister, the youthful Abiy Ahmed is faced with a many-sided series of demands from a deeply frustrated population. Many of these relate directly to the lack of an economic growth model that palpably raises living standards. Others reach further back to the age-old question of land ownership and reform. Naturally, the demand for greater civic rights to speech and assembly come as a prerequisite. One feature common to these demands is the tendency for the Ethiopians to speak through, and/or on behalf of the various constitutionally recognised native identities within the country. Some may have even formed militias for this purpose.

Mamdani’s essay comes as our current Exhibit A in this long history of intellectual malfunction.

Mamdani engages with this to make an analysis not just of the Ethiopian crisis itself, but of the question of what he terms “ethnicity” which, he sees as the issue – or more accurately, the ‘problem’ – permanently bedevilling African politics. “Fears of Ethiopia suffering Africa’s next interethnic conflict are growing,” he warns. Prime Minister Abiy has been quick to concede much, and roll out as many reforms as he can. Most notably, he has ended the two-decade stand-off with his northern neighbour, Eritrea.

Mamdani engages with this to make an analysis not just of the Ethiopian crisis itself, but of the question of what he terms “ethnicity” which, he sees as the issue – or more accurately, the ‘problem’ – permanently bedevilling African politics.

This may not be enough, Mamdani tells us. The real problem, as he sees it, is the introduction of ethnicity into Ethiopian governance, and its central position in the Ethiopian constitution. This, Professor Mamdani says, was done by former Prime Minister, the late Meles Zenawi, who served as the de facto Ethiopian strongman from 1991 to 2012. Mamdani describes this as an attempt to replicate a similar strategy of ethnic organization that, in his view, was introduced to Africa as part of the colonial method of governing: “In most of Africa, ethnicity was politicized when the British turned the ethnic group into a unit of local administration, which they termed ‘indirect rule.’ Every bit of the colony came to be defined as an ethnic homeland, where an ethnic authority enforced an ethnically defined customary law that conferred privileges on those deemed indigenous at the expense of non-indigenous minorities.” This analysis fails to stop itself there, which would have been bad enough. “The move,” continues the Professor, “was a response to a perennial colonial problem: racial privilege for whites mobilized those excluded as a racialized non-white majority. By creating an additional layer of privilege, this time ethnic, indirect rule fragmented the racially conscious majority into so many ethnic minorities, in every part of the country setting ethnic majorities against ethnic minorities.” Describing native homelands as a “fiction”, the Professor goes on to say that while such ethnic labelling and selective privileging may have served the colonial purpose, it had the effect of first, “dividing a racially conscious African population” and second, turning them into people who saw themselves as “tribes” first and foremost. Thus, he concludes, “Wherever this system continued after independence, national belonging gave way to tribal identity as the real meaning of citizenship.” Having thus problematized the “ethnic” thing, Mamdani goes on to imply that there may be no peace to come in Ethiopia unless the issue is excised from the Ethiopian body politic in particular, and Africa in general. These words have many meanings, none of them good for Africans, at least. First, this is the same thing as saying that before European arrived in Africa, “ethnic” identities were not politicized, and neither were they units of administration. Taken to its logical conclusion, this is to say that there were no ‘politics’ in precolonial Africa, and neither were there forms of administration.

Having thus problematized the “ethnic” thing, Mamdani goes on to imply that there may be no peace to come in Ethiopia unless the issue is excised from the Ethiopian body politic in particular, and Africa in general.

Africans seem to have been roaming the continent as a cohort of an undefined but also homogenous mass, with wholly insignificant identities, which were only solemnised, formalized, and bestowed with political meaning with the arrival of a European power amongst them. Second, it also implies that only the European had the skill to animate these identities, without them tearing the (therefore necessary) European-planted state apart. Third, that the tragedy of modern Africa began when the European withdrew his controlling hand. Left to their own devices, the identities he had created, mutated into a Frankenstein’s monster of tribal strife. Fourth, that there is such a thing as ‘national identity’ that sprung to life fully formed at independence, a good by-product of the European-planted state, and that it is African ‘tribalism’ that destroys it. In other words, European-invented African tribalism spoils the one good thing (nationalism) that Europe brought to Africa. Finally, that belonging to the European-planted nation in Africa is the only viable means of an African citizenship. But if the British were pre-occupied with “ethnicizing”, and the resultant people’s feelings and loyalties were exclusively ethnic, where then does “national belonging” come from at independence? The entire analysis of the crisis is a crisis in itself: of naming, histories, theories and practice. It is intellectually disingenuous and patronising, and goes beyond the usual linguistic demotion and belittling one usually encounters from many an expert on Africa.

Naming

Why are 34 million Oromo in Ethiopia an ‘ethnicity’, and 5.77 million Danes a ‘nation’? Why are the three great wars that shaped modern Europe (Franco-Prussian, the 1914-18 and 1939-1945 great wars), not conceptualized as ethnic conflicts?

Mamdani’s entire analysis of the crisis is a crisis in itself: of naming, histories, theories and practice. It is intellectually disingenuous and patronising, and goes beyond the usual linguistic demotion and belittling one usually encounters from many an expert on Africa.

Why are there only a handful of contemporary states in Africa whose names bear a relation to the identity of people actually living there. Everyplace else is a reference to a commodity, or an explorer’s navigational landmarks. This frankly malevolent labelling offers the space for the linguistic demotion of entire peoples. To wit: 34 million Oromo, seven million Baganda, 43 million Igbo, 10 million Zulu will always remain ‘ethnicities’ and ‘tribes’ to be chaperoned by ‘whiteness’. 5.77 million Danes, 5.5 million Finns, and just 300,000 Icelanders can be called ‘nations’, complete with their own states with seats at the UN. Some of these states were only formed less than two centuries ago (Italy: 1861, Germany: 1815, Belgium: 1830), while some of those ‘tribes’, and most critically for the argument, their governing institutions had already been created. Why has the ethno-federalization of Great Britain itself, not been seen as such, and as a recipe for conflict? This, in fact, is the real ‘fiction’, and it has led to decades of instability. But just because Westphalia does not see them, does not mean the African nations don’t exist. The denial of their existence is in fact, an act of violence. This is what led a thus exiled Buganda’s Kabaka Edward Muteesa II to write: “I have never been able to pin down precisely the difference between a tribe and a nation and see why one is thought to be so despicable and the other so admired.” Many modern Africans, especially those whose identity is a product of the European imposition of contemporary African states, have a vested interest in making a bogeyman out of native African identity. The starting point of this enterprise is to invite the African to agree to see our own identities as a liability to African progress, by labelling them “ethnic”. When “ethnic” conflicts do flare up, those natives who have refused to jump on to this bandwagon are subjected to a big “I told you so”, as Mamdani’s essay now seeks to do.

Many modern Africans, especially those whose identity is a product of the European imposition of contemporary African states, have a vested interest in making a bogeyman out of native African identity.

This was the position of the OAU member states, and many African political parties, including those in opposition to their increasingly repressive post-Independence governments. But Ethiopia presents a huge problem for Professor Mamdani’s theory of the colonial roots of “ethnicity”, since its history falls outside the usual African pattern of a direct experience of European colonialism. Since his initial assertion when introducing the issue of ‘ethnicity’, was that it was a result of European labelling leading to a “divide and rule” situation, Mamdani is then faced with the difficulty of explaining where those particular Ethiopian ‘ethnicities’ spring from if there were no Europeans creating them. Unless, to develop his assertion of homelands being a ‘fiction’, he thinks Ethiopia’s various nationalities are fictional too?

Ethiopia presents a huge problem for Professor Mamdani’s theory of the colonial roots of “ethnicity”, since its history falls outside the usual African pattern of a direct experience of European colonialism

He covers up this logical gap by pre-empting a proper discussion of that history. Then changing tack, he suggests that the presence of “ethnic” problems in Ethiopia, despite the country’s lack of a European colonial history actually shows that “ethnicity” is somehow a congenital defect in the body politic of all Africa. “The country today resembles a quintessential African system marked by ethnic mobilization for ethnic gains.” Of course the correct answer to all the above questions is that Africa’s Africans had their ‘ethnic’ identities well known and in place long before the arrival of any European explorer or conqueror. And these were not anodyne proto-identities, but actual political institutions and methods of organization and governance. But this is an inconvenient truth, because then it forces the proper naming of these alleged ‘ethnicities’: nations. All told, deploying notions of “ethnicity” and “tribe” is a tactic to corral Africans into primordial nomenclatures, thereby avoiding a recognition of their pre-colonial formations as nations. It serves to fetishize the colonial project as the godsend device to rescue the African ethnic strife and predestined mayhem. But if the 34 million Oromo are an ethnicity, then so are the 5.77 million Danes. More so for our situation so are the English, Scots and Welsh who field national teams during the World Cup and the Commonwealth games. We need consistency, people must be spoken of as they are.

Deploying notions of “ethnicity” and “tribe” is a tactic to corral Africans into primordial nomenclatures, thereby avoiding a recognition of their pre-colonial formations as nations.

Naturally, the emergent Independence-era African middle class was more than happy to go along with this erasure, in what Basil Davidson called an attempt at “the complete flattening of the ethnic landscape”, and even fine-tuned it. Where some concessions had been made to the existence of the old nations, these were quickly, often violently, dispensed with. In British Africa, the politics of trying to dispense with this reality is what dominated virtually all the politics of pre-independence constitutional negotiations. The question informed even the political alliances that emerged at independence. In Zambia it required a special constitutional pact between the new head of state, Kenneth Kaunda and the ruling council of the Barotse people – they have recently sought to repudiate it and return to their pre-colonial status. Ghana’s Asante kings were against the British handing power to Nkrumah’s government. They argued that since they had ceded power to the British via treaty, then the departure of the British meant a termination of those treaties. Logically, therefore, that power should be re-invested in the ones it had been taken from under treaty. In Kenya, the Maasai and the Coastal peoples used the same argument during the decolonisation conferences at Lancaster House. Significantly, the Somali rejected inclusion in the independence Kenyan state, insisting that they wanted to be integrated into independent Somalia. Unable to resolve the ‘Three Questions’ the Foreign and Colonial Office cynically kicked them into the not-very-long grass for the incoming leadership to deal with. The Mombasa Republican Council of today draws its political legitimacy from the updated colonial-era Witu Agreement of 1906, signed between their ancestors and the independence government.

Histories

To understand the current situation in Ethiopia, one must face up to the challenge of properly understanding any part of Africa, a continent so taxonomised and anthropologised by white thinking that it is barely recognizable on paper to its indigenous inhabitants. It is a two-stage challenge. First: to understand Ethiopia’s history. To do that, one must first recognise and accept the possibilities of an African history not shaped, defined and animated by European imperatives. Africans, like all people, have been making their own history. And like people elsewhere, this has as much narration of the good as it does the bad.

To understand the current situation in Ethiopia, one must face up to the challenge of properly understanding any part of Africa, a continent so taxonomised and anthropologised by white thinking that it is barely recognizable on paper to its indigenous inhabitants.

Ethiopia’s crisis is a consequence of a century-old unravelling of the empire built by Emperor Menelik II (1889-1904). As his title implies, this was not a nation, but an Empire: a territory consisting of many nations, brought into his ambit by one means or another. Menelik’s motives and method can, and should be debated, but the fact is that Europe met its match in the Ethiopian Highlands, and were forced to leave Menelik to it.

Ethiopia’s crisis is a consequence of a century-old unravelling of the empire built by Emperor Menelik II (1889-1904).

Yes. Africans also produce momentous historical events. It is not an exclusive trait of white people. We must get into the habit of discussing our own non-European driven history as a real thing with real meanings. Just as we may talk about the continuing long-term effects of the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire on the European Balkan region, so can we talk about how the demise of Menelik’s empire continues to impact on the greater Horn region. If that sounds far-fetched, bear in mind that since Menelik’s passing 120 years ago, Ethiopia has had only six substantive rulers: Zewditu/Selassie, Mengistu, Zenawi, Dessalegn and now Abiy. On his passing, Menelik left a region covering more than three times the area he inherited. Prince Tafari, upon eventually inheriting the throne as Emperor Haile Selassie in 1930 simply sought to consolidate it. In his 2002 biography: Notes from the Hyena’s Belly: An Ethiopian Boyhood, the Ethiopian author Nega Mezlekia tells the story of him and his family, as one of many Amhara families that migrate to Jijiiga, a region in the far east of Ethiopia during the reign of Emperor Selassie. This was part of a government programme of Amhara settlement to many parts of the Ethiopian countryside. Jijiiga is home to ethnic Somalis. Amhara expansion, one of several factors, eventually provokes an armed revolt. Ironically, the author in his youth joined the insurgents. Emperor Selassie can be said to have made some errors, but the context is critical: his reign spanned a period that saw immense changes in global politics, and social ideas.

Consider his life and times:

He witnessed the two great inter-European wars, the fall of its empires (Italian, German, Ottoman, Japanese) and the end of direct European occupation of Africa. He suffered two European invasions of his realm, and lived in exile. He was a regent during the Bolshevic Revolution in 1917, and saw the emergence of the Soviet Union as a world superpower and the Cold War that followed. He may have been one of only a handful of world leaders to have been a member of both the United Nations, and the League of Nations that preceded it. This sweep of history also had its impact on the Ethiopian peoples. One response was a growing demand for social, economic and political reform, including loosening the bonds of Selassie’s empire. By the time of the 1975 coup against him, the world was a fundamentally different one than the one he had met when he took the throne. He was, in fact, so “old school” that his captors were taken aback when he calmly informed them that he had no personal income or savings to look after himself. He took a hard line on Eritrea, which had settled into an uneasy federation, provoking a war of secession; continued Amhara settler expansion into Oromo and elsewhere; and he failed to manage Tigrayan nationalism, rooted partly in their dynastic loss of the imperial throne to that of Menelik’s Shewa kingdom. Critically, he did not effectively address agrarian land reform, one of the roots of the country’s political and agricultural crises. So, to sum up Emperor Selassie: ultimately, he neither succeeds to fully consolidate his empire, nor does he re-order the empire’s boundaries and strictures, which he had inherited in a fundamentally different era. He found himself fighting the more conservative elements of his aristocracy opposed to his reforms; the modernist republicans concerned that he was not reforming fast enough; and the increasingly radical nationalists in the regions demanding self-determination. Enter Colonel Mengistu, something of a zealot, but who, for all his violent tendencies, was more of the “social reform” persuasion, and sympathetic to the “land to the tiller” demands of the early radical youth movements. Having overthrown a monarch, he saw himself in the image of the Soviet Union’s Communist party in Russia which had deposed the Russian King Tsar Nicholas II. His task, as he saw it, was to create a socialist state. However, Mengistu had basically taken over the same state that Selassie inherited and he was still wedded to it. His modernist concept of history and the world prevented him from understanding that he was dealing with a home-grown imperial history, and that he was in effect therefore, running an empire. This blinds him to the “nationalities question”, and only intensifies the agitations among the various indigenous nations trapped in his now secular empire. So, he basically tries to kill everybody opposed to him. This is the reality Mamdani fails to see, and mistakenly calls Mengistu’s state a ‘unified republic’; interestingly, he does not offer any of the gruesome details of how Mengistu ‘instituted’ this so-called unification. The only places where Ethiopia was unified and a republic was in Mengistu’s mind (and in his armory). What the various territories wanted was recognition of their separate identities, and an unchallenged say over the land of their ancestors. Mengistu’s response was to raise even higher the levels of violence needed to keep these rebellions in check, simultaneously fighting Tigrayan, Eritrean, Somali and Oromo insurgencies.

Theory and practice.

Ideologically, the leaderships of the Ethiopian insurgencies were taken over by persons claiming to be as Marxist as Lenin was. Eventually, all the belligerents, including the regime, claimed to be Marxist organisations, yet they were in conflict with each other. What intensified the crisis was the conflicting understandings of what Marxist practice should therefore be, in their context. It was at this point that a number of left-ideological debates came into play, and where a lot of left-ideologues lost their way. Marxist theory, which mobilized millions of people worldwide, and its practical implications, should be examined with some care. History on this point is necessary. These nationalist struggles based their arguments on the Leninist principle of “The Right of Small Nations to Self-Determination”, which had been partially applied in the Soviet Union from its formation in 1917. After Lenin’s death in 1924, his successor, Josef Stalin, found less time for it, and, in the face of sustained Western European aggression seemed to see it as a liability to the security of the revolution. The 1975 coup that brought Mengistu to power (or, more accurately, the coup that Mengistu then subsequently violently hijacked) was a response to widespread unrest, particularly among youth and student movements. This led to a number of practical problems on the ground, in relation to ideology. At the heart of both the Dergue and the later Tigrayan movements was the issue of land reform. Mamdani does note that the initial upheavals of the 1970s were driven by this, but then fails to make the correct links. For the vast majority of Africans, especially back then, land is not just a place to live, but also a place of work. To be without land is to be without a secure job. Subsistence peasant agriculture is back-breaking, often precarious, and not financially lucrative. It is also – and many progressives fail to recognize this – autonomous. To a very great extent, the subsistence peasant is not dependent on the state or the global economy. If anything, those entities depend on the farmer whose austere lifestyle acts as a hidden subsidy in providing the market with cheaply-grown food at no investment risk to the consumer or the state. Clearly, one thing that can transform and undergird this existence is sensible reforms to the way the farmer secures tenure of the land they work. But what happens when land rights encounter cultural rights based on land? A “homeland” is certainly not the “fiction” of Mamdani’s assertion. It hosts the identity and worldview of the people that occupy it. It holds their sacred sites, and places marking their cultural consciousness. More so, that culture underpins their ability to keep producing autonomously. To suggest that it does not exist or does not matter, actually shows a complete failure to grasp who black African people are and how they live, and think. It is a fundamentally anti-African statement implying, as it does, that black Africans do not have an internal intellectual and spiritual logic, developed indigenously, and augmented by physical spaces and objects within them, that informs a worldview. Africans, the suggestion is, are inherently transposable, as they are not tied to any thing or any place. The captains of the old transatlantic slave ships could not have theorized it better. Coming from someone who lives in Africa, this is a bit surprising. Coming from a professor heading an institute within one of Africa’s new universities, designed to bolster the colonial state’s mission of deracinating the African, perhaps less so. However, the current crisis in Ethiopia is very real, and failure to finally resolve it holds huge implications for the entire region. That is precisely why a correct analysis is needed. Not a comfortable one rooted in essentially racist tropes. The allegedly ‘ethnic demands’ were demands for a different type of guarantee to land rights than those being promoted by Mengistu. For example, would an Amhara family like Nega Mezlekia’s, originally settled by Emperor Selassie in Jijiiga, have a legally equal claim to land against the ethnic Somali communities native to the area, just because they now happen to be the ‘tillers’ there? Would there be a hierarchy of claims? In any event, who should decide? A central authority in Addis Ababa, or a federated unit representing the historic native community? There are no easy answers. But the regime’s (and other ‘progressives’) complete refusal to even consider the issue, is what led to the conclusion that for there to be justice in Ethiopia, the issue of native nationalities, and their land-based cultural rights, would have to be physically resolved first. In short, it became clear that the land reform question could not be effectively addressed without also addressing the underlying question of productive cultural identities and the historical land claims that arise from that. This was particularly sharp in those areas of the country –such as Oromo and Tigray- that are dominated by pastoralist communities. Historically, much of Africa’s land grabs have taken place against pastoralist communities, the great city of Nairobi being a prime example. This is the basis of the ‘ethnic’ movements that have so perturbed Professor Mamdani. It was, in fact, a debate of the Left, and not some right-wing atavist distraction. So, the great irony is that Ethiopia, home to that great bastion of mis-applied Westphalian thinking, the Organisation of African Unity, becomes ground zero for the great unresolved National Question as it applies to Independent Africa: what is an African nation, and is it the same thing as a given African state (or, more accurately, a state located in Africa)? The armed struggle began in Eritrea, after Selassie’s unilateral abrogation of the federal arrangement. The original fighting group, called the Eritrean Liberation Front was soon violently displaced from the field by a more radical Eritrean Peoples’ Liberation Front of Isias Afwerki, espousing those aspects of Leninism and Maoism that enabled it to mobilise a broad front of all classes affected by the feeling of Occupation. The rebels’ demands were clear: a federation of Ethiopia or separation from it; control of their own lands, and an equal recognition of cultures. For his part, Mengistu, now fighting five separate militant groups, including a very militant hard-line the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Front based in urban Ethiopia, placed all his faith in military might. He ended up building the largest armed force in Sub-Saharan Africa (if not Africa as a whole) of some half- a million soldiers, and being heavily dependent on the Soviet Union, which saw him as a vital foothold in Africa, for war materiel and other supplies. He also received military support from Cuba. It again may not be widely known that at the height of the fighting, these different forces which had grown in to wholesale armies, were fighting some of the largest engagements (including tank battles) since the 1939-1945 European inter-ethnic conflict called the Second World War. The fight progressively turned in favour of the rebels. With Mengistu’s main arms supplier, the Soviet Union, finally capitulating against the US in the Superpower contest in 1989, his forces were routed and he was driven from the capital in 1991. The Eritrean armed struggle started in 1961, the Tigrayan one in 1975 and Oromo’s in 1973. All end with Mengistu’s fall. If Mamdani genuinely believes these nationalities are just “ethnicities”, and that Ethiopia is now running the risk of hosting “Africa’s next inter-ethnic conflict”, then this history shows that Ethiopia has in fact already had the “next inter-ethnic” conflict. Mamdani’s fears, this is to say, are 30 or 40 years late. To sum up Mengistu: he seized power in response to a severe political crisis, and then, misreading his position, sought to impose his concept of “socialism” on the various peoples still caught in the net of Menelik’s Empire state. This led to a situation of mounting violence, in which he saw just about everyone as an enemy to be physically crushed. His regime eventually succumbed to the overwhelming resistance. Enter Meles Zenawi, who came out of that generation of student activists who took up the nationalities and land reform demands during the time of the Emperor. To many of them, Mengistu’s high-handedness in dealing with the matter was a disappointment. Tigrayans today do not easily recall that when Meles led the the youth to start the war, they sought refuge in Eritrea, and were nurtured and trained there by Isias Afwerki’s EPLF forces already at war against the Ethiopian state. The issue of identity does not therefore mean that Africans are perennially and illogically at each others throats in some kind of primordial frenzy. They do politics, and are fully capable of defining their interests and maintaining relations, or breaking them off, as needs may dictate. Zenawi (to an extent like Daniel Ortega on the other side of the world, and even Yoweri Museveni, in his own way), found himself in charge of a state now encountering a new, neo-liberal global world order being enforced by the only super power left standing. Like Selassie, the circumstances around them had changed greatly from when they had begun their political journeys. Far from simply “introducing” a federal constitution whose “ethnic” nature Mamdani is problematizing, Zenawi’s regime was finally having the Ethiopian state recognise the long-standing historical realities that had emerged from decades of political and armed struggle. To reduce the product of all that sweeping history to a notion of “fictions”, is a dangerous over-simplification. In this quest for erasure, Mamdani applies the same misleading thinking backwards by calling the 1994 Ethiopian constitution a “Sovietificaton” of Ethiopia. The Russian nationalities were no more an invention of Lenin than the Ethiopian ones are of Meles Zenawi’s creation. The various units that made up the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics were based on nationalities long in place before the 1917 communist revolution took place there. The responsible thing to do, as a starting point, was acknowledge that fact, which the communists did (and Stalin to a greater extent than Lenin before him). Yes, Meles was a dictator. And yes, the constitution is based on indigenous nations. That does not automatically suggest causality: Meles Zenawi did not “turn Ethiopia to ‘ethnic’ federalism”. Its long history did. In fact, events show that Zenawi and the dominant faction he governed with, were no longer in support of the “rights of small nations” by the time they took power. With the exception of holding the pre-agreed referendum on Eritrean independence (he may have had little choice in the matter: friends in Addis used to like to tell the story of how Meles’ own stepmother, who happens to be Eritrean, and who raised him, left him in his official Addis residence to go and vote for independence in Eritrea, then returned after), he fails to implement the sprit and the letter of the new arrangements that were based on principles forged in the course of the long war. As a small example: Article 5 of the country’s constitution now says that: “1. All Ethiopian languages shall enjoy equal state recognition”, but goes on to add that: “2. Amharic shall be the working language of the Federal Government.” Zenawi, despite being very fluent in the language reportedly refused to make public speeches in Amharic for the entire time he was in charge. A more substantive example is found in the very incident that sparked the current uprising: if the regime knew that – as Mamdani points out – the 1994 federal constitution guaranteed the nationalities concerned authority over their land, why then did it try to expand the boundaries of the Federal capital Addis into Oromo territory over the objections of people there? In other words, the problem in Ethiopia is the exact opposite of what Professor Mamdani sees. It is not the “ethnic” constitution at fault; it is the failure by the Zenawi regime to genuinely implement it, by negating the spirit of the idea in private, while pretending to uphold it in public. In particular, Zenawi’s “Woyane” regime repeated Mengistu’s mistake of trying to hold on to Menelik’s state. Critically, he too failed to address the historic issue of land reform that began the whole shake-up of Ethiopia with the student protests against the Emperor. In practice, land is still the property of the state, to be handed out for “developmental” purposes, upholding the Mengistu mentality, but now in the context of global neo-liberalism. “Derg and [the TPLF] took a very similar approach to the land question. Which is why, three decades after TPLF comes to power, they have still been unable to do land reform, abandoned agrarian reform and ironically, put rural Ethiopian land on the international auction. Something like four million acres of rural farmland, mostly in southern Ethiopia has been leased out to foreign investors since the mid-2000s, ” observes journalist Parselelo Kantai, who frequents the country. Power comes with its temptations, and a state machine comes with its own institutional imperatives. It would appear that once a group finds itself in control of the apparatus of an empire such as Menelik’s, they become very reluctant to abandon its workings. Perhaps it is only the armed forces in Portugal, having overthrown their autocratic Caetano regime in 1974, that ever went on to immediately dismantle their empire and allow the conquered to go free. The politics of the armed coalition coming together and finally driving Mengistu out may well have been the moment for this change in attitude to begin, not least because the Meles’ TPLF was by far the militarily dominant faction of the alliance. To sum up Meles Zenawi: he evolved into what many ‘revolutionaries” became after the Cold War era: a technocratic autocrat placing his hopes in a neo-liberal approach to solving the country’s deep economic problems through a “developmentalist” strategy. He quite literally burned himself out hoping that, by bringing rapid infrastructural development, he could perhaps outpace the historical political claims, and thus render them redundant. This essentially meant a new form of what Mengistu and Selassie had done before him: overlook people’s ancestral claims to this or that, and simply see the whole landmass as a site for “development” projects, no matter who they may displace or inconvenience. But “any notion of ‘progress’ or ‘modernization’ that does not start from a peoples’ culture is tantamount to genocide.” the late Professor Dan Nabudere warned us. Meles Zenawi sought to hold on to the very imperial state he had once fought. His unwillingness to fully honour the terms of the broad alliance of all the fighting groups, and instead consolidated his armed group to take factional control of the whole state and set the course for new upheavals. His sudden death became the opening for these issues to spill out into the streets. His immediate successor, Hailemariam Desalegn, soon found that the kind of extreme state violence that had served Zenawi, and Mengistu before him, and Selassie before them both, no longer worked, forcing Deslaegn to resign in failure. Abiy Ahmed must finally deal with these realities. Ultimately, any attempt to do politics based on the imperatives of the Menelik-created state was, and is, going to come up against the fact that this state actually started life as an empire. If the history of Ethiopia has shown one thing, it is that this approach has always provoked rebellions. Ethiopia, one could say, is back to the pre-war situation it was in just before Mengistu’s coup. The problem is conceptual; the same one that confronted Selassie and Mengistu: are we running a nation, or a homegrown empire made up of several?  Mr Abiy Ahmed would be wise not to go down that path. His challenge is to dismantle the remnants of Meles’ personal military apparatus, genuinely re-orient the country back to its federal constitutional ethos, begin to address the land tenure question, and quickly, before the political grievances – and the economic challenges underlying them – completely boil over. As the world becomes less secure and with fewer overlords, there will be more and more examples of Africa’s invisible nations asserting themselves to manage control of their resources. Dismissing them as “ethnic” is simply laying a foundation to justify violence against them.

Read more at: https://www.theeastafricanreview.info/op-eds/2019/01/26/speak-of-me-as-i-am/
E Review.

ሉዓላዊነት የቡድንም የግለሰብም ሥልጣን ነው፤ አታምታቱ!!! July 25, 2018

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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist


ሉዓላዊነት የቡድንም የግለሰብም ሥልጣን ነው፤ አታምታቱ!!!

Dr. Tsegaye Ararsa


ኢትዮጵያ ውስጥ “የቡድን (የብሔር-ብሔረሰቦች) እንጂ የግል መብት አይከበርም፤ የቡድኖች ሉዓላዊነት እንጂ የግለሰብ ሉዓላዊነት አይታወቅም” የሚል አምታች የቀማኛ ፖለቲከኞችና ፖለቲካ ተንታኞች ብሂል በተደጋጋሚ ይሰማል። ይሄ ትልቅ ስህተት ስህተት ብቻ ሳይሆን አውቆ ተሳስቶ ሰውን ማሳሳት ነው።

እውነቱ ግን ይህ ነው፦

1. ኢትዮጵያ ውስጥ በኢሕአዴግ የአፈና ሥርዓት ምክንያት አይተግበር እንጂ፣ በሕግ እውቅና ያልተሰጠው አንድም የግለሰቦች መብት የለም። የሕገ-መንግሥቱ ምዕራፍ 3 ከአንቀጽ 39 በቀር 30ው አንቀፆቹ የግለሰብን መብት ለማስከበር ተዘርዝረው የተቀመጡ ናቸው።

2. በኢትዮጵያ ውስጥ የኢትዮጵያ ብሔር ብሔረሰቦችና ሕዝቦች አባል ያልሆኑ ግለሰቦች ችግር ውስጥ ይወድቃሉ ይባላል። ሃቁ ግን፣ በኢትዮጵያ ውስጥ ከኢትዮጵያውያን ወላጆች የተወለደ፣ የአንድ ወይም የሌላ ብሔር አባል ያልሆነ ግለሰብ የለም።

የብዙ ብሔር አባል ከሆኑ ቤተሰቦች የተወለደ ሊኖር ይችላል እንጂ ብሔር-የለሽ ግለሰብ ሊኖር አይችልም፤ የለምም።

አንድ ግለሰብ፣ የብሔር አባል መሆን ስላልፈለገ የሚያጣው አንዳችም የግለሰብ መብት የለም፣ አይኖርምም። የብሔሮችን የቡድን መብት አለመጠቀም ይችላል። ለምሳሌ የቋንቋ፥ የባህል፥ የራስን ዕድል በራስ መወሰን መብትን ካልፈለገ አለመጠቀም መብቱ ነው። ይህንን አለመፈለጉንም፣ ድምፅ በሚሰጥበት ጊዜ በድምፁ የመግለፅ ሙሉ መብት አለው። ይኸም ግላዊ የራስን እድል በራስ የመወሰን መብትን (individual self-determination) ማስከበሪያ መንገድ ነው።

3. ብሔር ብሔረሰቦችና ሕዝቦች የሉዓላዊነት ሥልጣን አላቸው (ቁ 8)። ይኼ ማለት፥

ሀ) በራሳቸው ገዳይ ላይ የመጨረሻ የመወሰን ሥልጣን የራሳቸው ነው ፤

ለ) ሌላ ማንም ኅይል በእነርሱ ጉዳይ ላይ አይወስንም (እነርሱ exclusive jurisdiction አላቸው) ማለት ነው።

ከዚህ ባሻገር እንደሉዓላዊነታቸው መጠን ከሌሎች የአገሪቱ ብሔሮች ጋር የአገረ-መንግሥቱ አቋቋሚና መስራች (co-founding) አእማድ (pillars) ናቸው ማለት ነው። የአገረ-መንግሥቱ ሉዓላዊ ሥልጣን ማህደር (local repositories) ናቸው ማለት ነው። ይህም በመሆኑ ሁሉም ቡድኖች በእኩል ደረጃ የሚገለፅ የአገረ-መንግሥቱ ባለቤትነት መብት (co-equal ownership of the state) አላቸው ማለት ነው።

ነገር ግን ይህ ስለሆነ በዴሞክራሲያዊ ሥርዓት ውስጥ ሊኖር የሚገባው የግለሰቦች መንግሥታቸውን የማቆም፥ የመምራት፥ የመቆጣጠርና ሲበድላቸውም የማፍረስ ሥልጣን የላቸውም ማለት አይደለም።

ግለሰቦች በድምፃቸው (በምርጫ ጊዜም ይሁን በሬፈሬንደም ወቅት) ይህንን ግላዊ የሆነ የመጨረሻ ውሳኔ ሰጭነት ሥልጣን (sovereignty) ይጠቀማሉ። ይኼም፣ ግለሰቦች እንደ ዜጎች ያላቸውን ‘ግለሰባዊ ሉዓላዊነት’ እና ከዚህ የመነጨ የአገር ባለቤትነት መብት ያሳያል፤ ያረጋግጣል።

አንድ ሰው በድምፁ መንግሥትን መርጦ ከማቆም፣ ሲጠላውም ከመሻር የበለጠ ምን ዓይነት የሉዓላዊነት ሥልጣን እንዲኖረው ነው የሚፈለገው? ከዚህ ውጭ የሆነ ብሔር ዘለል ብሔርተኝነትስ (civic nationalism) ምን ዓይነት ነው? ይዘቱስ ምንድነው?

የእነዚህ ፖለቲከኞችና የፖለቲካ ተንታኞች ‘civic nationalism’፣ ይዘቱ civic nationalism ሳይሆን የቡድን መብቶችን ለመካድ፣ ቢቻል ደግሞ ለመሻር ከመፈለግ የመነጨ፣ ጉዳዩን የማድበስበስና የማምታታት ንግግር ነው። በተለይ ስለፊንፊኔ ባለቤትነት ጉዳይ በሰፋሪ ልሂቃን ሲቀነቀን፣ ዓላማው የኦሮሞን የባለቤትነት ጥያቄ ለመካድ የሚደረግ የብልጣብልጦች ዘመናዊ ተረት መሆኑን ልብ ይሏል።

Oromo nationalists have vision not only for those who are under the Ethiopian empire but also for unity of all African peoples July 23, 2018

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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomistfb367-alaabaanewOromia in the African Union


Oromo nationalists have vision not only for those who are under the Ethiopian empire but also for unity of all African peoples


Obbo Ibsaa Gutamaa


Remnants of old Nafxanyaa system are taking Habashaa people as idiots when they presented crime committed somewhere in Africa as if Oromo were massacring their compatriots. But the people have shown them wisdom and forced them to apologize. These Nafxanyaa system hopefuls are running around spreading rabies to contaminate people to people relations. Therefore, it is advised to distinguish those from the true Habashaa folks. Oromo enemies also try to present Oromo liberation movement as if it does not have vision for other nations and nationalities after destruction of the Imperial Nafxanyaa system. Priority for the liberation movement is set as independence of the Oromo nation. But the vanguard of Oromo liberation movement had a proviso starting from its initial program; “It will work to bring about where possible political union with other nations on the basis of equality, respect for mutual interests and the principle of voluntary association.” Oromo, starting from their name are visionary people. Oromo means “People” or Orma. They believe that humanity is one, but each people is created with own culture and language and given a definite territory and natural wealth. However, those unsatisfied with their own nature want to change that natural order. That is how colonization (maaqnat) of Oromiyaa and other neighboring independent countries occurred. It was with heavy guns against spears, arrows and clubs that the Habashaa led force subdued nations found to the south of their kingdom. Those soldiers that wielded guns at that time were called “Nafxanyaa” irrespective of their national origin. “Nafxi” literally means ammunition; Nafxanyaa thus means man of ammunitions. Though it does not mean Amaaraa, Amaaraa and Tigraaway were the majority fighters and leaders of the colonial force. Nafxanyism is a system then established over Oromiyaa and others. There are their remnants that have still nostalgia for that system and remain problems to people to people relations. In a simple language the essence of Oromo revolution is no outside force will be ruler over them without their expressed will. Oromiyaa will not be the first country in which aliens live among natives. Let alone after declaration of human rights on international level, Oromo had lived respecting them before that from time immemorial with guidance of their Gadaa politico-social system. Law had been supreme for all times in Oromiyaa. Be the Oromo or non-Oromo everybody is expected to live by the constitution and laws of that nation. Be it what or where alien that came by force or guests will never be allowed to curve out an island in Oromiyaa for their own. Oromo nationalists have vision not only for those who are under the Ethiopian empire but also for unity of all African peoples. Founders of the OLF were youth under the spell of Pan-Africanists like W. E. Dubois, Marcus Garvey, Kwame Nkrumah and others. Though Ethiopian governments well know that the Oromo question is the greatest of problems in maintaining their empire are afraid to address it. All of them have Nafxanyaa mentality of dominating other nations by force without their consent for glory and exclusive benefits from resources of their colonies. The “Qeerroo/Qeerrantii movement” is a continuation of more than hundred years of struggle against this. Oromo and all oppressed struggle shall continue until their sovereign right over their land and resources is recognized. Dr, Abiy is the leader of the reformist faction of EPRDF. There are organization rules against which he rebelled but there are also those that he has to retain to be legitimate. For this reason, he is still the leader of the ruling Ethiopian party. The office he occupies is the same old Ethiopian office and demands from him to maintain the dominant position of Ethiopia over Oromiyaa and all other colonies. That is what he has asserted over and over. Therefore, considering his government as an Oromo one is a failure of understanding relations of the very building blocks of EPRDF and Ethiopianism. Anyways he could be good for Ethiopia and the world if he could maintain supremacy of the law. That will also be good for Oromo for it will enable peacefully presenting their case. Oromo revolutionaries will not be distracted by Nafxanyaa hopefuls trying to smear Oromo name with fake demonstration; or be it when Oromo people are being massacred in all corners and their efforts to silence Oromo artist at such a time when the Doctor is calling for peace, love and “maddamar”. Let it be known that Oromo will no more remain subservient to alien rule. Oromo youth has shown them that they are not afraid of death when it comes to their right and the potentials they have to stop any aggressor. Oromiyaan haa jiraattu!



Harcaatuun sirna Nafxanyaa durii ummata Habashaa akka raatuutt fudhachuun yakka biyya Afrikaa tokkott tolfame akka waan Oromoon lammii saanii fixeett agarsiiste. Garuu umatni gamnummaa agarsiisuun akka dhiifamaa gaafatan isaan dirqeee jira. Abdattuun sirna Nafxanyaa kun olii gadi fiigaa nyaanyee facaasuun hariiroo ummataa fi ummata gidduu faaluu yaala jirti. Kanaaf isheef ummata Habashaa dhugaa addaan baasanii ilaaluutu gorfama. Diinoti Oromo kufaatii sirna Imperiyaal Nafxanyaa boodaa, sabootaa fi sabaawota empayerittiif sochiin qabsoo bilisummaa Oromo daaya (vision) hin qabu jedhanii dhiheessuu yaalu. Durfannoon sochii bilisummaa, walabummaa saba Oromo akka tahe lafa kaa’amee jira. haa tahu malee kallachi qabsoo Oromoo waan tahuu dandahu akka kaa’ett; “Bakka dandahamett sabaawota biraa waliin tokkumaa malbulchaa, walqixxummaa, fedha waliif kabajaa fi akeeka fedhaan waldaa ummachuun hundaawe irratt hojjeta” jedha. Oromoon maqaa saanii irra ka’ee ummata daaya qaban tahuun ifaa dha. Oromoo jechuun, ummata/Orma jechuu dha. Ilmaan namaa tokkuma jedhanii amanu. Garuu toko tokoon umataa aadaa fi afaan saa waliin uumamee, daangaa fi qabeenyi uumaa beekamaan kennameefii. Haa tahu malee kanneen uumaa saaniitt hin quufne sirna uumaa jijjiiruu barbaadu. Akkasitt koloneeffamuun Oromiyaa fi biyyoota ollaa walaba turan biro kan tahe. Qawwee gurguddaanitu humni Habashaa fi kan kalchaniif biyyoota walaba, Oromiyaa fi saboota kibba, eeboo, mancaa, xiyyaa fi shimala qofa hidhatan cabsuuf kan bobbahan. Loltooti yeros qawwee qabatanii itt duulan saba kam keessaayyuu haa dhufanii “Nafxanyaa” jedhamu turan. “Nafxii” jechuun rasaasa jechuu dha; kanaaf Nafxanyaa jechuun nama rasaasaa jechuu dha. Amaara jechuu yoo baateyyuu humna koloneeffataa sana keessatt heddumminaa loltummaa fi hogganummaan kan argaman Habashoota turan. Nafxanyumaan egaa, sirna koloneeffataa Oromoo fi kanneen biroo irra buufate. Harcaatuun saanii sirna sana yaadan, kan ummataa fi ummanni akka wal hin agarre rakko uuman jiru. Afaan salphaan, annisaan warraaqsa Oromoo, fedhaan ifsatan malee Oromiyaa irratt alaa dhufee bulchaa tahuu kan dandahu jiraachuu hin qabu jechuu dha. Oromiyaan kan halagooti abbaa biyyootaan walmakanii keessa jiraatan biyya isee jalqabaa miti. Sadarkaa sabgidduutt mirgi ilmaan namaa erga labsamee hafee isaan dura yeroo hin yaadatamneef masaka sirna Gadaa malbulchaaa fi hawaasomaan masakamanii kabajaani jiraatanii turanii. Bara hunda Oromiyaa keessatt seerrii olhaanaa tahee jiraate. Oromoo tahee Oromoomitiin heeraa fi seera sabichaa ulfeessanii jiraachuutu irra eegama. Waan fedhe, bakka fedhe haa tahu halagaa humnaan dhufe haa tahu kan keessummummaan dhufe Oromiyaa keessatt laaqii dhuunffaa Qoree baafachuun gonka hin hayyamamuufii. Sabboonoti Oromoo kanneen empayer jala jiraatan qofaaf utuu hin tahin tokkummaa ummatoota Afrikaaf daaya qabu. Dargaggoon Oromoo ABO bu’uursan kanneen irra marsa Pan Afrikessootaa akka, W. E. Dubois, Marcus Garvey, Kwame Nkrumah fi kanneen biroo jala turanii. Mootummaa saanii jiraachisuuf rakkinni guddaan qaban gaaffii Oromoo tahuu beekanuu, mootummooti Itophiyaa fala itt soquu ni sodaatu. Hundi saanii surraa fi bu’aa addatt argatanii jedhanii saboota biraa gad qabanii jiraachisuu kan fedhan sammuu nafxanyummaa kan qabani. Hamma lafa saanii irratt abbaan biyyuumaa saanii beekamutt Oromoo fi ummatooti cunqurfamoo hundi qabsoon saanii hin dhaabbatu. Dr. Abiy hogganaa murna haaromsaa EPRDF keessaati. Danbiileen dhaabaa inni irratt fincile jiru; garuu seerawaa tahuuf kan innii hambifates jiru. Kanaaf inni ammayyuu miseensa gola aangoo irra jirruu Itophiyaatii. Ergasuu, akeeki saa masakaa kan Itophiyaa dullattii, olhantummaa Itophiyaa, Oromiyaa fi fi kanneen biraa hunda irratt jabeessuu dha. Kanaaf motummaa saa akka mootummaa Oromoott fudhachun dhaabaa fi dagalee EPRDF qayyabachuu dadhabuu dha. Kan fedhe tahus olhaantummaa seeraa eegsisuu yoo dandahe Itophiyaaf dansa. Gaaffii saanii karaa nagaa dhiheeffachuu waan dandahaniif Oromofis gaarii dha. Yeroo Doktorichi nagaa, jaalala fi “maddamariif” waamicha godhaa jiru kana dogoggorsituun hedduu dha. Warraaqxoti Oromoo, yaalii abdattuun sirna Nafxanyaa, maqaa Oromoo balleessuun agarsiisa sobaa dhiheessuun; ummati Oromoo golee hallett halagaan itt rorrifamaa jiraachuu haa tahu, ogneessaa Oromoo ukkaamsuu yaaluu saaniitiin dagamanii karaa nagaa irra hin mittiqanii. Oromoon sii’achi hacuuccaa bulcha halagaa jala hin jiraatuu. Dargaggoon Oromoo waan mirga saanii ilaalu irratt soda du’aa akka hin qabnee fi buuba dhaabuuf humna riphaa qaban itt agarsiisanii jiru. Oromiyaan haa jiraattu!

The Oromo Question and the Answer it Requires May 19, 2018

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Odaa Oromoo

oromianeconomist


The Oromo Question and the Answer it Requires


Every Nation and nationality under the empire is yearning for freedom from oppression probably except Tigray, which has freed itself but exported colonizer to others. It is half a century since the Oromo started struggle for liberation. The Amaaraa also have started to struggle for their unity and identity. Shekechoo, Sidaamaa and Gambeela were mowed down for demanding their denied rights. The blood of the massacred is still crying for justice to their respective nations. All others have unsatisfied grievances, which could explode at any time. Priority for the majority now is not collective concern but attending their immediate individual pain. There are those who do not feel the pain of each nationality they have collaborated in causing. They still want everyone to entertain their worst days under empire system as the good old days. But who are these people that want to impose on others their own dreams. Now every decision has to be made by one concerned. If there are common problems it needs the will of everybody to participate in the deliberation as equals. And every participant has a veto power on own interest. Therefore, the regional problem can be solved if only there are no self-appointed persons or groups that claim to have prerogative. Peoples have to meet directly. To talk about Oromiyaa, it will be good to understand the Oromo question, which is defined only by the Oromo for any possible negotiation.

Oromo question is about regaining the sovereignty on their country Oromiyaa and the human rights they were denied by alien war campaign. Sovereignty here means the supreme power and full right a nation has on own people and land, resources over and below ground and the natural environment in one’s territory, free from alien interference. By human rights here it is meant the recognition of a person for being human according to Gadaa constitution and laws, UN Charter and world conventions. A body that administers this interest on behalf of the Oromo nation is Oromiyaa state. The Oromiyaa state is led by a government formed for a limited period through election conducted according to the law. The government will have Caffee or a legislative Assembly, Office of the Luba with executive power and hierarchical bureaucracy filled with officials and professional workers used by the Luba office

The Oromo nation was deprived of its sovereignty in the 19th century, during the period imperialists shared out Africa among themselves, in the campaign known as “The Scramble for Africa”. The imperialist then took Ethiopia differently from other African countries for different geopolitical reasons. That was how they allowed Ethiopia/Abyssinia to invade independent countries around her and join their colonizers list. To enable her do that Italy, France, Britain and Russia provided her with massive weapons and military experts. Let alone dare crossing their boundary it was not able even to think, when both Oromiyaa and Ethiopia were armed with traditional weapons. It was after gaining weapons of mass destruction of the time that Oromiyaa was occupied and the Oromo turned into nation of serfs or “ciisanya. “Ciisanya” was a person having only one smoke emitting tukul and his labor freely exploited. Many of Oromo nationals were sold abroad and many boys and girls were taken home.

It was from among those they took home that they raised to high ranks changing their birth names and hiding their fathers’ names. Ras Mokonin, Fitiraarii Habtagorgis, Dajjaach Baalchaa, Fitiraarii Gabayyoo, Dajjaach Gabramaariyam etc. were Ethiopian officers known for their bravery and intelligence. Because it could expose Oromummaa their birth name and fathers’ name were never heard. Though his father’s name was never exposed Baalchaa’s name was left as it was give in “haammachiisaa” by Oromo Qaalluu after birth because he failed to fulfil the criteria priests wanted. Gathering captives and “ciisanya” they involved them in wars that does not concern them. Those that survived were never given equal treatment with their Ethiopian peers. Oromummaa was not a source of pride. Not only that of those recruited history of the Oromo nation as a whole was buried. Amaaraa language, culture and history was imposed on Oromo in Oromiyaa. Not only being sovereign, it even tried Oromo identity to be forgotten by generation that comes after occupation. World technological development brought changes to Oromo view of themselves. It raised the question, “who are we?” and surged forward with Oromummaa. With research and oral tradition, they got at home, they were able to learn that their fathers did not submit without resistance. With that they came across many Oromo heroes and heroines’ names in North, South, East, West and Center. They even came to know that there were many braves among enslaved Oromo with no match. Thus, they found evidences that the Oromo were not by nature cowards and ignorant as the enemy tried to inculcate in them. But for not knowing how to express it together, Oromo oppression has reached a point of exploding from over suppression. They now believed that Waaq did not create the Oromo to be servants for the Habashaa but were subdued by force. With that Oromo youth of the 60s were able to communicate and get closer. For the first time in order to present Oromoo oppression they were able to come out with a political organization with program. The organization they came out with was called Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). As a pioneer OLF contributed much to the political consciousness of the Oromo. But it is staggering before reaching its goal for several different reasons. Political leadership or political organization is required to articulate people’s grievances in a systematic way.

People’s oppression does not stop because leadership did not reach in time. Because OLF got weak many groups watching the growing oppression started to get organized to stand against it. Even the enemy camp started to create organizations for the Oromo to cool down their anger and derail their liberation struggle. One that came out viable among them was that created by Tigray group the OPDO. There are also Oromo groups that that accepted the Ethiopian Constitution and organized under it as Opposition. All those are not able to replace Kaayyoo laid down by OLF. But it is said, “one leaps the way one was hurt”. Oppression of the people has increased and reached intolerable level. But deciding to die defending themselves against evil all the people rose in unison with rage. It embraced all that came to it in support. The people were not as divided as organizations formed in their name. All that came to them were made part and parcel of the people. Taking the initial Kaayyoo put down by OLF and strengthening their unity more than ever marched together like they did in the 15-16th century. With that it has brought in enemy’s camp change that was never seen before. Oromo son has climbed to Ethiopian Empire power without being asked to drop his Oromummaa. Now the Ethiopians have no time to argue about profile but are looking for any one that they could set against Tigrean over lordship. Oromummaa is not contemptible for the time as long as their other criteria to be Ethiopian Chief is met.

Oromo people did not go into struggle with full force but had been warming up for it. Now they are moving in toto raising their arms to regain what had been snatched away from them. All have started to get together in social groups to practice Gadaa system to acquaint themselves with past challenges and knowledge. That is one of the symptoms for Gadaa returning with renewal. It will be inevitable that OLF will also get out of the quagmire it was thrown into and be part of people’s movement to reach its goal. Then all that left it would return. Oromo objective of independence and freedom will also hit its goal. Oromo means people. People do not shun people. Just like their name they will live in peace and happiness with all. Bickering over small dispute has to stop. Any arising problem will be resolved with “ilaa fi Ilaamee’ (art of dialogue). Oromo democracy is not democracy that majority imposes its will on minority. All decisions were passed only with consensus. It is such characteristic that makes it different from hither to existing democracies. Th Oromo believe that even the smallest community like Baiso, Karo, Kwegu, Maawoo etc. with population from 500-100 have their own territory and deserve respect and protection from bigger neighbors. The Oromo have no hatred for aliens but for abuses. It assures all that dictatorship will not be born from Gadaa heritage but democracy.

Liberation of Oromo means liberation of all its neighbors and beyond. Oromo hirelings being used as instrument of oppression by the colonizer will stop only then. It took the enemy long time to recognize the name “Oromo”. However, but when they talk about Ethiopia among themselves, even though they have proclaimed in their laws they won’t include Oromo and other colonies in their thoughts. Even if they include they take them only as something like star orchid. At heart, they know that Oromo are not Ethiopians. To mention few instances, in his letter of 29 October, 1862 to Queen Victoria, Teedros took Oromo being aliens on the same level with Turks. Minilik presented himself in his “Treaty of Addis Ababa” as Emperor of Ethiopia and “Oromo” countries. Whom do they want to tell them than their hero butcher kings. The Habashaa ruling class have used the Oromo for over hundred years. Oromiyaa became base for life of this ruling class. Oromo’s coming out with question of sovereignty threatened their luxurious life style. It is when plundering by force as usual is becoming impossible that they started to change tactics.

Now they are saying, in building the empire, the serfs and slaves and the masters have equal accountability and responsibility. Taking away all their land, denying their identity and oppressing and abusing them for over a century is forgotten. Discrimination between Ethiopia and Oromo country they call “Gaallaa Mareet” is taken as never existed. They chose narrating false history over asking for pardon for wrongs done and offering for discussion on future relations. Even had the story was true, it cannot over ride t a birth right; the present generation can say, “I will not live with anyone without my free will”. There had been no relation formed based on free will between Ethiopia and Oromiyaa so far. It is another question to say it can be formed in times ahead? Unless we bring to the same level our understanding for political concepts, democracy, bilisummaa and equality it will be difficult to create accord. The Habashaa conquered Oromiyaa after bloody war and kept it in the same way. Do they want to repeat that again? Time has changed, arrogance and greed has to be curbed for safe passage.

The Oromo know themselves as a nation whose identity is different from Ethiopians and that Ethiopia occupied them breaking them by force. Ethiopian registry also knows Oromiyaa as their “Qiny gizaat” (Colony). Present Ethiopian groupings do not want to visit their archives for verification. Oromiyaa for them is part and parcel of Ethiopia from time immemorial. Wrong premises lead to wrong conclusion, that is their problem. They are presenting descendants of early occupiers of Oromiyaa and those that went to Oromiyaa for different reasons and are living among the natives without communal territory. What they fail to understand is that immigrants do not have the legal right to deny sovereignty of natives on their country. The Oromo look upon persons willing to live with them as their own offspring. Except for the ungrateful few with nostalgia for Nafxanyaa system majority live in peace sharing whatever the environ offers them. There had been no threat to life and property of peaceful residents of Oromiyaa greater than that to the natives. Unless one alienates oneself nobody even notices that one is alien. Those that think differently are only those that hope return of Nafxanyaa system. That has now become history. Ethiopians have their own country as Oromiyaans have their own. If they go to each other’s countries it is required to live according to law of country they went to.

There are some that had been away from their country for a long time and speak Amharic and claim to be educated campaigning against Oromiyaa and the Oromo. They say to have made so many studies among them about governance and languages. Their study showed them that Oromo is not a nation; there is no something called Oromo country or Oromiyaa; that Qubee is not more convenient than “Fidal”. The whole issue is about business. If Oromiyaa remains subservient to Ethiopia they can get especial treatments through their connections; for those that have patented works especially on improved “Fidel” and Amharic language Oromiyaa staying under Ethiopia opens for them bigger market than in the mother country alone. They have already concluded that unless Amharic get superiority, they cannot break through the Qubee wall. The worst thing about these people is that they are appealing to Amaaraa nationalism for their own individual benefit. It is not their concern if Amaaraa and Oromo clash for they will not share the pain from distance. They cling to “Ethiopia name” because they are not sure to which nationality they belong except for being distant descendants of the colonial army commonly known as Nafxanyaa and having hatred for the Oromo.

Present conditions in the Ethiopian Empire are not the same with the past. The previous leaders lost the rein to internal struggle and are staggering unable to control even their surroundings. However, the stand many of them have on the empire is no different from the far past. One that mounted on the saddle of empire and is troubling people for last three decades ago is group of Tigrean ruling class. Because of its selfishness let alone sharing power with Amaaraa as before, they have looted what it had, and also put under question ownership on its surrounding area. The greater part of Ethiopia is Amaara. It was Amaaraa that completed empire building started by Yohaannis. Amaaraa could not save even Tigray while crying for Ethiopia. Its destiny is not becoming better than the colonies. Its rage on junior partner can be clearly seen.

It has become over four decades since Oromoo raised questions of sovereignty and reclaiming rights taken away from them. They use armed and political struggle for the purpose. Nature forces neighboring African peoples to live adjacently forever. For this reason, Oromo have repeatedly made statements that they give priority for resolving conflicts peacefully. However, they will never give up willingly their birth rights and their country. They will decide without alien interference on relations they will have with neighbors and on the way, they choose to live. That is why they are paying dear to get the right of nations for national self-determination realized. They will continue paying more sacrifice to guard what so far are achieved to respect the memory of those that paid their lives for them. There are those whose guts have melted, that say how long should blood flow, rather better to take whatever the enemy throws for us and live. One will not prefer begging what belongs to one from aliens over dying, unless one has birth defect. Some are born without honor and have no principle and know no “safuu’ to be trustworthy. They never complete what they started for they have no commitment for any cause.

As an organization the struggle that OLF wages first is to give Oromo rights mentioned above; then it is to establish independent republic Oromiyaa. However, it believes that it is the sole right of the Oromo people to decide on the way they want to lead their lives in the future. It is possible that different Oromo groups can have different suggestions. Therefore, all have the chance to present own suggestions for the people to choose from alternates. Be them aliens or friends they have legal obligation to abide by people’s free will. To stand against people practicing this right will be taken as arrogance and criminal act. As long as any people believe in their unity and ask to live together no one has the right to stand against them. It may be proper to ask how those who had been together go apart and what type of preparation is required? But that should not be actions which block the right of national self-determination.

The Oromo will not give consideration for those that try to make them doubt their choice and separate identity in alien language by calling them “Zaranyaa and gosanyaa” (racist and tribalistic”). For Oromo independence is a right. They will not give attention to those that do not respect for this right. Those that want to reimpose Ethiopian superiority on them are enemies. To ask for creating relations is one thing; but those that start with propaganda that Oromo interest is wrong has to ask themselves as to who they are to say that? For Habashaa to present themselves as having rights to decide on how Oromo has to lead their lives is only arrogance. Even if they take the existing federal system it will be with Oromiyaa state not with stronger federal hand. This may not go down with chauvinists. The existing constitution also needs to be renegotiated.

OPDO leaders said they have addiction to Ethiopia. Though they did not express it in this way there could be others that have similar addictions. Those that have addiction must be left alone to quench their craving or put in rehabilitation but should not be condemned. If supremacy of the law is guaranteed and the right to free self-expression is recognized for all, there is nothing that necessitates fighting. It will be good for all if there is condition in which one can go around and peacefully express oneself and share ideas with people. Those are all in the constitution of the empire. For this reason, the solution available is facilitating for practicing rights of assembly, freedom of self-expression and speech. If there is one that says that one will not solve problems unless blood is spilt he/she is insane. And if one says one will not recognize group rights one is only a warmonger. He is one that thinks Oromo cannot choke in return if choked. Oromo love peace. But they will not submit to one that denies them the right of sovereignty over their country and their identity.

According to the law EPRDF is one of the Ethiopian parties. It claimed to be elected by people and is in power. Since it represents the force that occupies Oromiyaa, its chairman being Oromo does not erase EPRDF being the enemy. For Oromo question to get answer it is the one with whom to negotiate and as well as against whom to struggle. It will be advantageous if the Ethiopian Empire can hold fair and free elections. It is easier to negotiate with democrats than with dictators. However, empires have never been democratized but dismantled. Ethiopian state had been around for a long period. But its system was a system lead by one monarch. Though that was changed the system that came after it however they pretend to come through election they were administration of one party. Those parties are controlled by one individual. The present party EPRDF could not free itself from Habashaa political culture. One that created it and have real power is an organization that abandoned Habashaa tradition called TPLF (Wayyaanee). TPLF/EPRDF jeopardized the general election and also turned the party into one-man dictatorial rule. Therefore, what they call democracy is fake. Because they are not willing to dismantle the empire they cannot democratize. The people are waging a movement that will uproot oppression once and for all for they can no more bear it. With that skirmish is happening in the organization. It has appointed a person who came with popular pressure as its chairman and the Prime Minister as well.

Peoples of the empire are not asking about the next election. All want the PM to chase out TPLF before that. To demand for chasing out TPLF means demanding to dismantle EPRDF. There are those that are preparing to turn Ethiopia to the days of the emperor believing that to be inevitable. A big Tawaahido monk even dared to come out cursing article 39 of the constitution. That means the oppressed that reached here paying sacrifice that demanded blood that flowed like flood are being looked upon with contempt. Therefore, it is only the struggle the Oromo started towards liberation that can give hope to peoples of the empire’s dream for democracy. Autocratic and democratic systems do not fit into each other. Unless people who desire to live in democratic system with equality denounce autocratic rule the two systems cannot exist side by side in the same camp. If all people could wage internal democratic struggle it would be easier for democrats to unite. It would only be deceiving oneself to talk about freedom and equality with dictatorial mentality.

If peoples of Africa strengthen their unity they can be hope for each other and all black race. It is essential to recognize that groups have their own culture, tradition, language and style of life. To separate and adopt elements that connect us and those that make it essential to depend on each other, will strengthen not weaken us. To make acceptance of equality of peoples a priority can serve as starting point of unity. One putting the other under control without his will, deceit, lack of transparency in relations between each other could only keep us apart rather than pulling us together. We can get solutions in common only if we can put issues that relate to history of the Ethiopian empire on the table and ask what is better for us? Otherwise the benefit of trying to present the history in distorted way would only lead to mistrust.

Today’s freedom could stop carried over yesterday’s slavery but cannot go back and erase it. Those that were master and slave recognize each other’s yester day’s status. To say a house that the slave built for the master and master lived collecting rents on it, is our common home that we built for each other will be naked foolery. It cannot be denied that the slave has put his blood and sweat into it. But blood and sweat is not paid for benefit of the slave but of the master. Today the master is in problem because the slave rebelled. As a result, he has started to say that they did both right and wrong together and have equal responsibility and accountability with intention of sabotaging the freedom the slave almost grasped. For that the master is trying to present as evidence the different wars the slave participated in and demonstrated gallantry. The slave participated in those wars not from love of a country but was driven to them by force. Let as see one of those wars:

Oromiyaa, Tuulama to Booranaa was occupied 1886-1896. The Battle of Adwa was in 1896. It is unlikely to say in ten years she was molded into Ethiopia and entered into battle travelling over thousand miles over whelmed with love of country. Wounds inflicted on the Oromo and others did not heal and people did not come out from trauma of war by that time. Whatever done was done by the slave drivers whip from behind. Oromo say, “Sirba Giddii kan mangistii” (Forced dance of the government) when forced to do what they are not willing to do. Minilik and Italians were then contemporary colonizers. They had different agreement between them. Abrogating treaties and clash between forces are not new for the world. What is new is the clash being between a black technologically backward country and technologically advanced white country. Both have recruited black fighters from countries they recently colonized. When on the Ethiopian side the colonizer and the colonized are both black notwithstanding color discrimination on Ethiopian slaves; on the Italian side the colonizer is white the colonized is black. The era was when blacks who were sold earlier and scattered all over the world were raising their heads and seeds of pan Africanism were being sawn; and Africa was being shared out among imperialists. To see defeat of the white was joy for all of them. It lifted the morale of those that fell under slavery. Mistaking the true nature of the conflict many took it as anti-colonial war against a colonizer.

The Battle of Adwa as being source of pride for black race it has also some covered up shameful deeds for the black. All captives of Minilik’s war with southern peoples like the Oromo were turned slaves and used as pack animals and domestic servants for Habashaa warriors. One can only imagine the abuse on those pretty little girls by them. White captives from the Battle of Adwa, were handled with care and respect, while a hand and a leg of each black captive were amputated and left in the field without any help. That they were crying for water until death put them to rest is documented in registry of history. That was not strange practice for rulers of Ethiopia. Teedros and Yohaannis had also done that on the Oromo. That was on text books of Ethiopian students, like “Ethiopian history” by Taklatsaadiq Mekuria. Minilik had cut breast and hand of Oromo he defeated on tree branches on road side. The Annolee and Asulee case can be cited among others. These days there are those that demand the destruction of memorial for victims of Harma Muraa Harka Muraa of Annolee. Why didn’t they destroy all these years the memorial erected in the center of Oromiyaa for the person who committed all the crimes. Are they not remembering him for achievement of that deed? How can such double standard be corrected?

How can a mentally sane person be proud of the likes of Minilik that committed genocide? Unless it was by force, how can one imagine the possibility of Oromo marching in the campaign that he was leading? That has now turned history. It does not change the life we are leading now and that of the future. We better try building trust. To lie to each other on identity of Oromo can be obstacle for that. There for if Ethiopians could keep their history to themselves, and stop irritating the others, they can negotiate on things that are useful for both sides. Otherwise, can’t it show that bringing their man-eater kings and praising on square common to all indicate that their offspring as well have similar cruelty characteristics? Oromo can have relations only with those that come for peace and reconciliation holding green grass.

After his defeat at the battle of Maycawu Haayila Sillaasee complained in his book that “Gallaas (Oromo) attacked us from the back”. Does that show love for Ethiopia? Modern Ethiopia is country of Amaaraa and Tigree yesterday and today as well. If one focus and listen when descendants of Nafxanyaa discuss about “being Ethiopian” at all times one could prove that. Their heroes are the likes of Minilik and Teedros persons that mowed down the Oromo and humiliated the survivors. Whenever they celebrate their anniversaries, it is a little short of tears as if these kings were dead only recently. With that we also get the opportunity to mourn our compatriots they mowed down. Their activists wrap themselves with the banner that the army of genocide was flying when it invaded Oromiyaa and expect the Oromo to march with them. We do not share, one country, one flag, common heroes, one common history to be proud of together and we do not have common feelings with which we could cherish the same past memories. Not only as class but also as nations, we lived as, enslaver and enslaved; ruler and ruled and oppressor and oppressed. However, we have lived together known each other’s ins and outs to some extent. We have lived together as individual friends and wife and husband; In general, even if you call us “Aramanee” (Heathen) many of us have the same religion with you. Could all those become bridges for future intercourse? Even if they could, they will not be reasons for continuing sucking our blood. For all purposes, let us put aside our vengeance and try as equal African peoples and form relations of which the black be proud of. Oromo do not discriminate human beings for skin color. But they say, “Hokkoon gara ofiitt haatii.” (The hoe throws towards herself).

Above it is tried to show our difference and our commonality. If we could stop trying inserting lies into our relations, there could be lots that enable us understand each other. For example, we are in the same geographical area with the same climate and weather. Those could sometimes get sever and unless tackled together it can be difficult to do it alone. We have rivers that flow to each other. It can be beneficial to use them with joint plan. We can pass through difficulties in our region if we recognize and respect each other’s rights and interests. When the Oromo say something why should Amaaric speaker jump to say “I know for you?” Unless one become them, can’t there be development? Can’t there be relations unless one is them? Can’t they exist unless they exploit Oromiyaa? If peace is wanted in the region they have to change old thinking. Oromo question is for regaining their stripped sovereignty and rights and live with abundance and happiness. Those could happen only if they could realize their right of nations to national self-determination up to and including independence without any obstacle put on their way. The questions what types of relations will they have with neighbors and with whom will they live forming union are questions that should come only after that? Let them be free first.

Some quarters have started to flatter the Oromo. They do not see Oromo actions as they are but interpret them to fit their interest. They push the Oromo to see the world not as it is but as they want it to be seen. For this reason, if Oromo raise questions outside criteria they put down for them they are given adjectives like narrow, tribalistic, secessionist or terrorist. From among them TPLF/EPRDF proclaimed OLF terrorist. Since then it is imprisoning, torturing, killing and abusing any Oromo that it hates as member of OLF. That is why the Tigree official stood witness of all prisons speaking afaan Oromo. Though what surprised him was the failure of the assimilation policy. The mark of all enemies of Oromo is condemning and demonizing OLF. That is why they attack it from all direction through inlets they get in order to keep it weak and divided. With stick and carrot, they have caused few dropouts from among malignant tumors of national struggle. There are still those who lament about the drama TPLF performed twenty-five years ago concerning massacres of Arbagugguu and Baddannoo despite individual Amaaraa that witnessed the act standing witness that OLF had no hand in them. This could also be TPLF tactic for diversion of the issue. Whatever they do, Oromo do something because they believe in it and will brag about it; hiding is safuu. The weaklings in OLF, unable to stand against enemy machinations with discipline are seen falling under them. OLF is an organization formed with the will of patriots and heroes and heroines. It should not be assessed by wavering, dishonorable cadres that have abandoned the Kaayyoo. There are those that intentionally or from ignorance want to divert the objectives of OLF taking these cadres as a reason. The true OLF is revolutionary. It will not turn back from advancing Oromo interest. Oromo independence, unity of Africa, and peace and calmness of the world are always its objectives. Long live Oromiyaa! Let Bilisummaa flourish!

Honor and glory for the fallen heroines and heroes; liberty, equality and freedom for the living and nagaa and araaraa for the Ayyaanaa of our forefathers!

Ibsaa Guutama
May 2018



 Related article:

THE OROMO NATIONAL MOVEMENT AND GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN THE AGE OF GLOBALIZATION

Article by Professor  Asafa Jalata  published in European Scientific Journal,  Vol 12, No 5 (2016) 
The Oromo National Movement And Gross Human Rights Violations in the Age of Globalization, click here to read in PDF.

The Oromo Movement and Ethiopian Border-making using Social Media April 19, 2018

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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist
The Oromo Movement and Ethiopian Border-making using Social Media

The Oromo people have had a long and turbulent struggle in Ethiopia. This ethnic majority have been persecuted over decades for sustaining their culture their language, traditions, and rituals, at times through systematic violence by the ruling regime. This has led to a large number of Oromo people fleeing the country and seeking asylum across the world. The Oromos, while restricted in self-determination in their homeland, have become visible through their activism on social media sites, particularly Facebook and Twitter. This has led the Ethiopian state to mark some of them as terrorists and block their online accounts due to their significant and growing influence on social media today. Within this context, this chapter critically examines the role of social media in the Oromo social movement and offers a framework to assess their impact. This framework includes, 1) border-making within urban and digital geographies, 2)
networks of digital Oromo activism, and 3) the creative insurgency of the Oromo movement.
By applying this framework, we can assess the complexities surrounding the Ethiopian digital political culture. The Oromo people have indeed reinvented themselves and their histories through digital platforms, at times creating moral dilemmas about group identity that can serve as a barrier to inclusion.  –
by Payal Arora, Erasmus University Rotterdam

The Oromo Movement and Ethiopian… (PDF Download Available).  The full article available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/324538195_The_Oromo_Movement_and_Ethiopian_Border-making_using_Social_Media

Unchallenged Dimension of Opposition to Oromo Revolution. – Prof. Mekuria Bulcha, OSA Mid Year 2018 Conference at LSE, London April 15, 2018

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“We are here”: The soundtrack to the Oromo revolution gripping Ethiopia. – African arguments March 30, 2018

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Far from being a footnote in the Oromo struggle, musicians like Haacaaluu Hundeessa have been its centre of gravity.

Haacaaluu Hundeessa's music has given sound and voice to the Oromo struggle.

With the appointment of Abiy Ahmed as chair of the ruling coalition, Ethiopia is set to have an Oromo leader for the first time in recent history. This is in no small part thanks to brave and sustained protests by ethnic Oromo youth.

For nearly two and a half years, activists have defied brutal government suppression that has seen over a thousand people killed and tens of thousands arrested. Mostly led by the Oromo and Amhara, who together make up two-thirds of the 100 million population, demonstrators have endured the imposition of two states of emergency and a brutal crackdown.

Now, for their pains, they have overseen the resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. And they will soon witness the assent of a young and popular Oromo leader as Ethiopia’s next prime minister.

When historians look back at this period, they will see how persistent protesters reconfigured Ethiopia’s political map in just a couple of years. They will note how Oromo politics was forced from the distant periphery to the very centre of affairs. And they will observe how the passionate Oromo youth – known as the Qeerroo – drove this change.

In all this, however, one thing that should not be overlooked is the critical role played by Oromo musicians and artists. Through their work, they have mobilised scattered marginalised publics and helped create a politically conscious, defiant, and resilient generation. They have tapped into the transformative potential of subjugated memories and experiences, disrupted official histories, and altered the people’s very relationship to power.

Oromo music, the struggle’s centre of gravity

Oromo music and concerts have rarely been strictly musical. They have always been sites of political agitation, cultural self-affirmation, and spiritual rejuvenation, drawing together audiences who share an unassailable commitment to the Oromo cause.

Activist stalwarts have provided the conceptual architecture and strategic direction of the struggle. But Oromo artists’ poignant and powerful lyrics have given voice and significance to the group’s insufferable indignation. When their political leaders have failed, artists have given new meaning to the agonies of defeat. When they have prevailed, artists have amplified small victories to inspire whole generations.

Far from being a footnote in the history of the Oromo struggle for freedom and justice, musicians, poets and creators are its centre of gravity – the signature tune and the definitive sound of the Oromo revolution.

“We are here”

Amongst the many Oromo artists to have played a role in recent events, one musician and one performance stands out.

On 10 December 2017, the capital Addis Ababa staged the biggest Oromo concert it had ever seen. It was held to raise humanitarian funds for the over 700,000 Oromos displaced by violence in the east. But the event held a much deeper significance too. It was not only the most symbolic, defiant and spectacular Oromo concert ever broadcast live by Oromia Broadcasting Network (OBN). It also featured an unprecedentedly large number of senior government officials, a sign of the slow but tectonic shift taking root in Ethiopian politics.

In the concert, a diverse cast of artists performed, leading up to the kaleidoscopic set by Haacaaluu Hundeessa. Through 11 minutes of heart-shredding ballads, the young singer delivered a show that was awe-inspiring and painful, honest and complex, impassioned and subtle. Working through themes of marginality, vulnerability and resilience, he articulated the distinct Oromo experience with raw clarity.

Haacaaluu has given sound and voice to the Oromo cause for the past few years. His 2015 track Maalan Jira(“What existence is mine”), for example, was a kind of an ethnographic take on the Oromo’s uncertain and anomalous place within the Ethiopian state. This powerful expression of the group’s precarious existence quietly, yet profoundly, animated a nationwide movement that erupted months later. Maalan Jira became the soundtrack to the revolution.

In October 2017, Haacaaluu released Jirraa (“We are here”). In contrast to his previous more sombre hit, this song was a statement of endurance, resilience, and self-affirmation. It celebrated transformations within the Oromo community and fundamental shifts in Ethiopia’s political landscape. It embodied a newfound collective optimism, a feeling that Oromo culture is no longer in jeopardy, and a sense that the Oromo society is finally in the middle of a robust ascendancy.

“Closer to Arat Kilo”

As many have pointed out, art can have a transformative power that a political debate or summit cannot. In her book Utopia in Performance, for example, American scholar Jill Dolan describes how a performance can have an effect “that lifts everyone slightly above the present, into a hopeful feeling of what the world might be like if every moment of our lives were as emotionally voluminous, generous, [and] aesthetically striking”.

Haacaaluu’s December show did just this. As soon as he occupied the stage, the scene immediately felt magical. His opening greetings – “ashamaa, ashamaa, ashamaa” – electrified an audience who understood his use of the traditional Gerarsa repertoire and its unconscious grammar. As he strode lion-like around the platform, he evoked a rare outpouring of exuberance in his adoring audience. And speaking at a moment in which the Oromo protests had been building momentum for over two years – and, unbeknownst to the crowd, just months before one of their own would become chair of Ethiopia’s ruling coalition – Haacaaluu repeatedly asked the audience Jirtuu (“are we here?”), driving everyone justifiably nuts.

In under a minute, the singer had created what Dolan calls moments of communitas, “resulting in a sudden and deeper insight into the shared process of being in the world.”

As the performance progressed, Haacaaluu escalated tensions, asking the audience how long they would have to wait for freedom. He lamented the absurdity of a marginalised majority, criticised a rigged system, and expressed his yearning for unity, peace, and justice.

In switching between articulations of precarity and resilience, Haacaaluu challenged the audience and the Oromo leadership in the gallery, which included Abiy Ahmed, to make bold moves befitting of the Oromo public and its political posture. He urged his audience to look in the mirror, to focus on themselves, and decolonise their minds. We are, he said, closer to Arat Kilo, Ethiopia’s equivalent of Westminster, both by virtue of geography and demography.

The Oromo People’s Democratic Organisation, the party in the ruling coalition that put Abiy forward, thankfully followed Haacaaluu’s advice. After PM Desalegn announced his resignation, it fought tooth and nail to secure the position of the Prime Minister. After Abiy’s imminent confirmation, the first chapter of a journey for which Haacaaluu has provided the soundtrack will be complete.

The 41-year-old Abiy will be taking over at a highly fractious and uncertain time. He will continue to face immense resistance from the deep state and the security forces that stand to lose from democratic opening. In confronting these challenges, he should remember the deeper meaning and significance of Haacaluu’s lyrics and monumental performance.

*Awol Allo is a lecturer in law at Keele University School of Law. He tweets at @awolallo.

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[Wax & Gold: The tightrope challenges facing Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed]

‘Freedom!’: the mysterious movement that brought Ethiopia to a standstill.- The Guardian March 13, 2018

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Qeerroo – young Oromo activists – drove the mass strike that helped topple the prime minister of one of Africa’s most autocratic governments

Supporters of Bekele Gerba, secretary general of the Oromo Federalist Congress, celebrate his release from prison, in Adama, Ethiopia on 14 February 2018.
 Supporters of Bekele Gerba, secretary general of the Oromo Federalist Congress, celebrate his release from prison, in Adama, February 2018. Photograph: Tiksa Negeri/Reuters


Today, Desalegn is a banker. But once he was a Qeerroo: a young, energetic and unmarried man from Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, bound by what he calls a “responsibility to defend the people”.

Twelve years ago he helped organise mass protests against an election result he and many others believed the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) had rigged. This landed him in prison, along with thousands of others, on terrorism charges.

Since then he has married and, like many of his generation in Ethiopia, mostly avoided politics. That was until 12 February, when he joined almost everyone in the town of Adama, and in many others cities across the region of Oromia, in a strike calling for the release of opposition leaders and an end to authoritarianism.

The boycott, which lasted three days and brought much of central Ethiopia to a standstill, culminated on 13 February with the release of Bekele Gerba, a prominent Oromo politician who lives in Adama, and, within 48 hours, the sudden resignation of Ethiopia’s beleaguered prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn. The shaken federal government then declared a nationwide state-of-emergency on 15 February, the second in as many years.

“It was a total shutdown,” says Desalegn, of the strike in Adama. “Almost everybody took part – including government offices. You wouldn’t have even been able to find a shoeshine boy here.”

For him and many other residents of Adama, about 90km south-east of the capital, Addis Ababa, there is only one explanation for how a normally quiescent town finally joined the uprising that has billowed across much of Oromia and other parts of Ethiopia since late 2014: the Qeerroo.

Police fire tear gas to disperse protesters during the Oromo festival of Irreecha, in Bishoftu, Ethiopia, in October, 2016
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 Police fire teargas to disperse protesters during the Oromo festival of Irreecha, in Bishoftu, October 2016. Photograph: Tiksa Negeri/Reuters

Who the Qeerroo are, and how they have helped bring one of Africa’s strongest and most autocratic governments to its knees, is only dimly understood.

In traditional Oromo culture the term denotes a young bachelor. But today it has broader connotations, symbolising both the Oromo movement – a struggle for more political freedom and for greater ethnic representation in federal structures – and an entire generation of newly assertive Ethiopian youth.

“They are the voice of the people,” explains Debela, a 32-year-old taxi driver in Adama who says he is too old to be one but that he supports their cause. “They are the vanguard of the Oromo revolution.”

The term’s resurgence also reflects the nature of Oromo identity today, which has grown much stronger since Ethiopia’s distinct model of ethnically based federalism was established by the EPRDF in 1994.

“In the past even to be seen as Oromo was a crime,” says Desalegn, of the ethnic assimilation policies pursued by the two preceding Ethiopian regimes, imperial and communist. “But now people are proud to be Oromo … So the Qeerroos are emboldened.”

As the Oromo movement has grown in confidence in recent years, so the role of the Qeerroo in orchestrating unrest has increasingly drawn the attention of officials.

At the start of the year police announced plans to investigate and crack down on the Qeerroo, arguing that it was a clandestine group bent on destabilising the country and seizing control of local government offices. Party sympathisers accused members of being terrorists.

Bekele Gerba waves to his supporters after his release from prison in Adama, Ethiopia on 13 February 2018.
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 Bekele Gerba waves to his supporters after his release from prison in Adama, on 13 February. Photograph: Tiksa Negeri/Reuters

Though many dispute this characterisation, few doubt the underground strength of the Qeerroo today.

Since the previous state of emergency was lifted last August, Qeerroo networks have been behind multiple strikes and protests in different parts of Oromia, despite obstacles like the total shutdown of mobile internet in all areas beyond the capital since the end of last year.

Bekele Gerba, the opposition leader, credits the Qeerroo with securing his release from prison, and for sending hundreds of well-wishers to his home in Adama in the aftermath. But like many older activists, he confesses to limited knowledge of how they organise themselves.

“I only became aware of them relatively recently,” he says. “We don’t know who the leadership is and we don’t know if they have a central command.”

But in a recent interview with the Guardian, two local leaders in Adama, Haile and Abiy (not their real names), shed light on their methods.

According to the two men, who are both in their late 20s, each district of the city has one Qeerroo leader, with at least 20 subordinates, all of whom are responsible for disseminating messages and information about upcoming strikes.

They say their networks have become better organised in recent months, explaining that there is now a hierarchical command chain and even a single leader for the whole of Oromia. “This gives us discipline and allows us to speak with one voice,” says Abiy.

Their job has become more difficult in the absence of the internet.

“With social media you can disseminate the message in seconds,” says Abiy. “Now it can take two weeks, going from door to door.” Instead of using WhatsApp and Facebook, they now distribute paper flyers, especially on university campuses.

The role of Oromo activists among the diaspora, especially those in the US, also remains crucial, despite the shutdown.

Zecharias Zelalem, an Ethiopian journalist based in Canada, argues that it is thanks to prominent social media activists that the Qeerroo have acquired the political heft that youth movements in other parts of the country still lack. He highlights in particular the work of Jawar Mohammed, the controversial founder of the Minnesota-based Oromia Media Network (which is banned in Ethiopia), in amplifying the voice of the Qeerroo even when internet is down.

“[Jawar] gives us political analyses and advice,” Haile explains. “He can get access to information even from inside the government, which he shares with the Qeerroos. We evaluate it and then decide whether to act on it.”

He and Abiy both dismiss the assumption, widespread in Ethiopia, that Jawar remote-controls the protests. “The Qeerroos are like a football team,” counters Haile. “Jawar may be the goalkeeper – helping and advising – but we are the strikers.”

Supporters of Bekele Gerba, secretary general of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), chant slogans to celebrate Gerba’s release from prison
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 Supporters of Bekele Gerba chant slogans to celebrate Gerba’s release from prison. Photograph: Tiksa Negeri/Reuters

The reimposition of the state-of-emergency has angered many Qeerroos in Adama and elsewhere in Oromia, where the move was widely seen as heavy-handed bid to reverse the protesters’ momentum.

Some analysts fear further repression will push members of a still mostly peaceful political movement towards violence and extremism.

Many in the government, as well as in other parts of the country, worry about a rise in ethnically motivated attacks, on people and property, and especially on ethnic Tigrayans, who make up about 6% of the population but are generally considered to dominate politics and business.

Late last year federal troops were dispatched to university campuses, in large part due to escalating ethnic violence, which included several deaths. There were reports of similar incidents during protests throughout the past month.

Jibril Ummar, a local businessman and activist, says that he and others tried to ensure the protests in Adama were peaceful, calming down overexcited young men who wanted to damage property and attack non-Oromos.

“It worries me,” he admits. “There’s a lack of maturity. When you are emotional you put the struggle in jeopardy.”

Gerba says he worries about violence, too, including of the ethnic kind. “We know for sure that Tigrayans are targeted most, across the country. This concerns me very much and it is something that has to be worked on.”

In the coming days the EPRDF will decide on a new prime minister, and many hope it will be someone from the Oromo People’s Democratic Organisation (OPDO), the Oromo wing of the ruling coalition.

This might placate some of the Qeerroo, at least in the short term. But it is unlikely to be enough on its own to dampen the anger.

“When we are married we will retire from the Qeerroo,” says Haile. “But we will never do that until we get our freedom.”

 

 

 

 

Referendum Blues: The Issue of an Independent Kurdistan — Aletho News September 27, 2017

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“Kurds voted in large numbers in an independence referendum in northern Iraq” (voter turnout of aproximately 78%), as explained by Reuters. While simultaneously, Turkey and Iran engaged in war games on the Iraqi border. Iraq’s PM al-Abadi, for his part, ordered the Iraqi army to “protect citizens being threatened and coerced” by triumphant Kurds.

By Dr Can Erimtan | 21st Century Wire | September 26, 2017 Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (aka the Prez) and his Justice and Development Party (or AKP) have been steering the state founded by Mustafa Kemal [Atatürk] (1881-1938) into distinctly Islamic waters for quite some time now… and as Turkey houses the largest percentage of Kurds […]

via Referendum Blues: The Issue of an Independent Kurdistan — Aletho News

 

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Iraqi Kurds Vote to Split From Baghdad in Landmark Independence Referendum – Time

 

DW: Supporters of independent Kurdistan seek EU backing September 10, 2017

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Supporters of independent Kurdistan seek EU backing

On 25 September, Iraqi Kurds will vote in an independence referendum. Kurdish leaders a consider state of their own a just reward for their involvement in the fight against IS. Brussels, however, sees things differently.

Iraqi Kurds stand with the flag (Getty Images/AFP/S. Hamed)

In a small room in a generic glass and concrete office building in Brussels, everything has been decked out as you would expect for a historic event. The podium is adorned with Kurdish flags; beside it hangs a map depicting the Kurdish regions in Iraq. Kahraman Evsen, the president of the Kurdish-European Society, is addressing the European press to present the case for an independent Kurdistan.

He takes up his position at the podium, with two colleagues sitting on either side. Solemnly they read out, in Russian, English and Kurdish, a declaration of independence from Iraq that had been signed by 60 Kurdish organizations. The press conference doesn’t go too smoothly, though. Every now and then the microphones cut out and suddenly start buzzing. There’s a permanent background murmur from talkative Kurds in the audience. Meanwhile, the representatives of the international press slouch unenthusiastically in their seats and leave the conference early. Here in Brussels, no one seems that interested in the upcoming referendum.

Kahraman Evsen speaks at the Press Club in Brussels (DW/Daniel Bellut)Kahraman Evsen (center) speaks to reporters and Brussels MEPs about an independent Kurdistan that would occupy northeast Iraq

Kurdistan as reward

Evsen, however, remains undaunted. This charismatic Kurdish-German argues with pathos for the secession of northern Iraq. “The drawing of artificial borders in Iraq a hundred years ago on the basis of the Sykes-Picot Agreement has brought with it, above all, suffering and forced displacement, as well as ethnically and religiously motivated persecution.”

The Peshmerga fighters of northern Iraq have proven to be a powerful bulwark in the fight against the so-called ‘Islamic State’ (IS) terrorist militia – unlike the troops of the Iraqi central government. The Kurds have made many sacrifices and endured many hardships in the process, and now Masoud Barzani, the president of the autonomous region of Kurdistan, is pressing for them to be rewarded. Kahraman Evsen says the Kurds have demonstrated that they are a reliable partner for “the civilized world.” He calls upon the central government of Iraq, Kurdistan’s neighboring countries, Germany, the EU and the United Nations to recognize the result of the referendum.

Read more: Female Kurdish fighters target ‘Islamic State’

Iraqi Kurdish women check their weapons as they prepare to fight IS (Reuters/A. Jadallah)Iraqi Kurds who have fought in the coalition against the ‘Islamic State’ included female fighters, such as Haseba Nauzad (above with weapon).

No backing from the international community

The international community greatly values the Kurdish deployment against IS. However, with the exception of Israel, there is not one single country that supports the independence referendum. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson emphasized recently that it was far too early for independence. Iraq’s neighbors, Turkey, Syria and Iran, are concerned that an independent Kurdistan could fuel separatism among their own Kurdish minorities. The Iraqi central government is also opposed, as it is laying claim to the territories liberated by the Peshmerga – after all, the region around Kirkuk is very rich in oil. Another consideration is the fact that the region is inhabited not only by Kurds but also by Turkmens and Arabs.

Kati Piri Brussels parliamentarian from the Netherlands (picture alliance/AA/M. Kamaci )Kati Piri worries that an independent Kurdistan could further destabilize the region

Even the European countries that support the Kurds with arms in the fight against IS have taken a critical position. Kati Piri, a Dutch member of the European Parliament and Middle East expert, explained the EU’s point of view. “In the council for external affairs all 28 EU members have adopted an official position against the referendum. The European states wish to see a united Iraq.”

Piri explained there were concerns that establishing a Kurdish state at this early stage could further destabilize the already fragile region. “In the neighboring countries, Turkey, Iran and Syria, where there are Kurdish minorities, civil wars could break out … Iraq itself could also destabilize, as there are different ethnic groups in the north of Iraq. There are even rival factions among the Kurds.” The Iraqi central state must first consolidate itself before such territorial restructuring could take place, Piri added.

Read more: The Middle East’s complex Kurdish landscape

Has the time come for Kurdish statehood?

Evsen is bewildered by this argument. He believes the reverse is true – that a Kurdish state would stabilize the region. “When was Iraq ever stable? So much blood has been shed in the past between Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. We would establish a reliable, pluralist and secular system that would stabilize Iraq, and that could be a model for the whole region.”

Brüssel / Press Club Brussels Kahraman Evsen (DW/Daniel Bellut)From Evsen’s perspective, an independent Kurdistan would ease tension in the Middle East

The Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 that established the borders did not favor the Kurds – they were given no state of their own. More than 100 years later, they are emerging rather better from the upheaval in the Middle East: The Kurds are benefiting from the ongoing chaos in Syria and in Iraq. However, given the united opposition of international community, their dream of an independent Kurdish state could come to nothing once again.

Kahraman Evsen remains unimpressed. “If more than 50 percent vote for independence, the EU and the international community will accept the referendum,” he says. “Anything else would violate the democratic principle.”

Watch video04:30

Turkey: Dreaming of Kurdistan

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What role for Western powers in Kurdish democratic agenda? December 17, 2016

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The Kurds have organized and risen to the point where it is impossible for Western powers to ignore them. As Kurdish aspirations rise, many regional powers would like to see a 21st century equivalent of the Treaty of Lausanne, sacrificing Kurdish interests to those of other regional powers. The Kurds, however, are more organized and more powerful than they have ever been. It is unlikely that they can be betrayed without consequence.

Still, it is essential that the Kurds not wait for a hand-out from the United States, European Union, or other entities. Western assistance is no substitute for Kurdish leaders getting their own house in order. The simple fact is that Kurds remain divided. In Iraqi Kurdistan, family interests trump nationalism. The Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga remain as divided today as they were a decade ago. Masoud Barzani, the de facto regional president, speaks of an independence referendum only when grumbling about economic mismanagement and unpaid salaries gets too great.

Turkey’s Kurdish organizations face a crisis given the information and military campaigns waged against them. Many Turkish Kurdish leaders assume that they stand on the side of justice and popular aspirations, but they have done little to bring that message to the non-Kurdish audience in the West.

Too many politically-active Kurds write for Kurdish websites or portals and debate with fellow Kurds in coffee shops and restaurants catering to a Kurdish clientele. They must write for the Washington Post, New York Times, Le Monde, and Der Spiegel, rather than for Kurdish outlets of which few congressmen, parliamentarians, or ministers have heard. Unfortunately, Kurdish leaders make little effort to reach out to the broader policymaking community whose decision-making may not be based upon a Kurdish consensus about social justice and morality. If Kurds want Western countries to offer support, they must first inform non-Kurdish audiences. If Kurds march under flags bearing the hammer-and-sickle, the symbol of an ideology that contributed to the deaths of tens of millions of people during the 20th century, they risk losing sympathy from mainstream officials in the West. Ditto any embrace of Che Guevara, a man responsible for the murder of hundreds of innocents. Simply put, Kurdish movements must decide whether they want to cultivate support only from the left, or from the right as well. Unless they win the support of both, Kurds will likely fail to achieve broad Western support for their political aims and national aspirations…. 

UNPO: Oromo: Nationwide Protests Against Continued Marginalization and Suppression August 8, 2016

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stop killing Oromo People#OromoProtests, #GrandOromiaProtests, 6 August 2016, all over Oromia. Dhaadannoo. p131#OromoProtests, #GrandOromiaProtests, 6 August 2016, all over Oromia. Dhaadannoo. p130#OromoProtests, #GrandOromiaProtests, 6 August 2016, all over Oromia. Dhaadannoo. p122#OromoProtests, #GrandOromiaProtests, 6 August 2016, all over Oromia. Dhaadannoo. p123#OromoProtests, #GrandOromiaProtests, 6 August 2016, all over Oromia. Dhaadannoo. p113


UNPO

Oromo: Nationwide Protests Against Continued Marginalization and Suppression

Photo Courtesy of: Awol Allo 2016 @Zehabesha

Already, dozens have been killed and thousands arrested by security forces in what is a new, nation-wide wave of Oromo protest which has swept through Ethiopia. When the protests started in November 2015, the focus was primarily on the central government’s proposed expansion of the capital into Oromo territory. Since then, the protestor’s focus has widened – mainly due to the government’s brutal response – and they now raise broader economic and political grievances which are also shared by other ethnic groups in Ethiopia.

 

Below is an article published by African Arguments:

Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, have staged nationwide rallies today to protest their continued marginalisation and persecution by the government. These are a culmination of ongoing protests by the Oromo people since November 2015 and mark by far the most significant political development in the country since the death of the country’s long-time authoritarian leader, Meles Zenawi, in 2012.

At least hundreds of thousands of protestors reportedly took to the streets in more than 200 towns and cities across Oromia, Ethiopia’s largest regional state, to demonstrate against widespread and systematic persecution. According to local media reports, over 50 individuals have been killed and thousands arrested as police and security forces opened fire on peaceful protestors. These details are likely to change as more information comes in, though the government has severely restricted the internet and social media making communication difficult.

What are now widely referred to as the #Oromoprotests began in November 2015 when the government introduced the Addis Ababa City Integrated Master Plan, effectively expanding the territorial limits of capital Addis Ababa into neighbouring Oromo towns and villages. Oromo political leaders and activists argued that the plan, as designed, would displace millions of Oromo farmers from their ancestral lands and would threaten to eventually cleanse Oromo culture and identity from the area.

The protests were triggered by the announcement of the Master Plan and menacing land-grab policies that have already displaced more than 150, 000 Oromo farmers from the area, but they were also manifestations of a much deeper crisis of massive ethnic-based inequalities and discontentment that have been boiling underground, waiting to erupt.

Since the protests have begun, the government has arrested and jailed many of its vital and outspoken activists and organisers. A recent report by the Human Rights Watch puts the death toll from the first seven months of the protest at over 400 while the figure tallied by activists is significantly higher.

The Oromo are the largest ethnic group both in Ethiopia and East Africa, consisting of more than a third of Ethiopia’s 100 million people. However, the group has been marginalised and discriminated against by subsequent Ethiopian governments. Oromo culture and identity have been stigmatised and pushed into the periphery of country’s national life, while Oromo history has been filtered out of public memory.

Since assuming state power in 1991, the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) has sought to exploit historic disagreements between the Oromos and Amharas, the second largest ethnic group, to sustain the hegemony of ethnic Tigrayan elites. The TPLF framed longstanding Oromo demands for equality and justice as the greatest threat to Ethiopia’s unity and regional stability, and it used historic antagonisms between Oromo and Amhara as a political instrument to legitimise, justify, and consolidate its political and economic hegemony. The “Oromo question” became the quintessential Ethiopian problem.

Within this frame, Oromos are presented as narrow-minded, extremist, and exclusionary, while the Amharas are presented as chauvinist and violent. By producing crisis between the two groups, the current TPLF-led system presented itself both locally and internationally as the only moderate centrist force that can secure Ethiopia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity from the secessionist threat of the Oromos and the perceived far-right extremism of the Amharas.

In the decade since 9/11, Ethiopia refashioned itself as an anchor of stability in an increasingly restless region and began to build a reputation as a regional policing and intelligence powerhouse. As part of this West-facing strategy, it announced its 2006 invasion of Somalia as a war against terrorism, conning the US into sponsoring its proxy war with Eritrea. As the crisis in Somalia deepened, Ethiopia cemented its reputation further, emerging as America’s most reliable partner in the Horn of Africa.

This is not a partnership based on shared values of freedom, liberty, and commitment to democracy, but one based purely on security considerations. Ethiopia served as America’s local ally, and America, in turn, provided enormous financial, technical and diplomatic support. This brought in much-needed resources for the government to build the political and security infrastructure that has as its main aim the policing, control, and surveillance of internal dissent and opposition.

As the US began to define its foreign and human rights policy through the lens of fighting terror − entering a period of post-truth and post-moral politics in which sacrificing people in distant places in return for security became fair game − this emerged as the paradigmatic threat upon which the West’s fears and anxieties were projected. This made its ally Ethiopia completely impervious to criticism, even as the government used its grotesque anti-terrorism law to crush dissent, decimate the opposition, muzzle the media, and shrink civic space to extinction – all the while holding periodic elections.

Just as terrorism in the West is entangled with religion, terrorism in Ethiopia is entangled with ethnicity. And Oromos have been the primary victims of Ethiopia’s cynical appropriation of the cultural referents and resonances of the War on Terror.

Ethnic domination forms the hidden underside of the terrorism-politics nexus in the country. And its anti-terrorism law has provided the government with the most powerful political device to criminalise, police, and prosecute independent expressions and articulations of the Oromo question. Through the magic of this law, even the most basic of demands for human rights or expressions of opposition to government policy can be twisted into an existential threat.

Ethiopia’s persistent turn to its anti-terrorism law to purge critical opposition, activists, journalists, and community leaders is an unqualified disgrace to Ethiopia and its partners on the Global War on Terror.

The #Oromoprotests are a clear response to these and other forms of historic discrimination, and today’s nationwide protests mark a clear break from previous forms of protests in terms of its coordination and mobilisation. In a letter addressed to the government, protestors expressed their rejection of “the regime” and specifically asked the government to stop the violence against the Oromo, to free Oromo and other political prisoners, and to end military rule in Oromia and allow genuine self-rule, among others.

The government’s violent response to peaceful demands has led protestors to demand more radical and systemic change. The #Oromoprotests are no longer a single-issue movement. This is unchartered territory for the country and how the government reacts could go a long way to determining its fate. But today’s protest makes it clear that there can be no more business as usual for Ethiopia’s ruling elites.


http://unpo.org/article/19363


 

AS: FROM SURVIVANCE ALL THE WAY TO RECONSTRUCTION: THE OROMO PURSUIT OF EQUALIBERTY. #OromoProtests April 21, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Oromia, Oromo.
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FROM SURVIVANCE ALL THE WAY TO RECONSTRUCTION: THE OROMO PURSUIT OF EQUALIBERTY

http://addisstandard.com/from-survivance-all-the-way-to-reconstruction-the-oromo-pursuit-of-equaliberty/#_ftn2

OMN: A Conversation with Author Bonnie Holcomb/Qabbanee: The Co-Author of ‘Invention of Ethiopia: The Making of Dependent Colonial State in Northeast Africa’ August 23, 2015

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???????????OMN: A Conversation with Author Bonnie Holcomb/QabbaneeInvention of Ethiopia, The Making of Dependent Colonial State in Northeast Africa By Bonnie Holcomb and sisay Ibsa

https://www.oromiamedia.org/2015/08/omn-a-conversation-with-author-bonnie-holcombqabbanee/

Revisiting ‘The Kindling Point #3: On the Meaning of ‘Ethiopian”

http://gadaa.com/oduu/21276/2013/08/21/revisiting-the-kindling-point-3-on-the-meaning-of-ethiopian/

Related article:- WhoOwnsTheEthiopianNation_State2012

The World’s Next Country: Kurdistan. #Oromia January 22, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Catalonia, Kurdistan, Kurds, Self determination.
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O

oromia  Oromia

Kurdstan map

The World’s Next Country

(EBIL, Iraq) — As you walk around the streets of this city of 500,000, you could be forgiven for thinking you’re in the capital of a small but up-and-coming Middle Eastern country. Police officers and soldiers sport the national flag on their uniforms — the same flag that flies proudly on public buildings, and, in a giant version, from a towering pole in the center of town. There’s a national anthem, which you might hear on the national evening TV news, broadcast solely in the local language. You’ll also notice imposing buildings for parliament and the prime minister, as well as thediplomatic missions of a number of foreign states, some of them offering visas.

Yet appearances deceive: This is not an independent state.

Yet appearances deceive: This is not an independent state. You’re in Iraq — more precisely, the part of northern Iraq known officially as the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). You’ll be reminded of this fact when you open your wallet to pay for something: the local currency is still the Iraqi dinar (though the U.S. dollar circulates widely). Nor do any of the foreign governments that maintain consulates in Erbil recognize Kurdish statehood; nor, for that matter, does the government of the KRG itself. For the time being, Iraqi Kurdistan is still under Baghdad’s writ.

Emphasis on “for the time being.” In July of last year, KRG President Massoud Barzani asked his parliament to start preparing for a referendum on independence. It was a suitably dramatic response to the stunning disintegration of the Iraqi state under then-Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Earlier, in January 2014, Maliki’s government had cut off financial transfers to the Kurds as part of a fight over control of oil resources, enraging Erbil even as his repressive policies toward Iraq’s Sunni Arabs were fueling the dramatic rise of the Islamic State (IS). Last summer, after IS forces shocked the world by seizing control of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, the jihadists pushed from there deep into Kurdish territory, at one point getting within 25 miles of Erbil.

Buoyed by U.S.-led airstrikes on IS positions, the Kurdish army, the Peshmerga, soon rallied, forcing the Islamic State to retreat. But the Kurds didn’t stop there. The collapse of the demoralized Iraqi Army in large swathes of northern Iraq had created a vacuum that Kurdish troops were only too happy to fill. Almost by accident, KRG leaders abruptly found themselves ruling 40 percent more territory than at the start of the conflict.

This expansionbrought a particularly important prize: Kirkuk, the city long hailed by Iraqi Kurdish nationalists as “our Jerusalem,” the spiritual and political focus of a future state.

This expansion brought a particularly important prize: Kirkuk, the city long hailed by Iraqi Kurdish nationalists as “our Jerusalem,” the spiritual and political focus of a future state. It also helps that Kirkuk sits at the center of one of Iraq’s biggest oil fields, and that gives the Kurds a lucrative source of income that could help to sustain the economy of a new country. Iraq’s Kurds, Arabs, and Turkmen have long squabbledover control of the city; in the 1980s, Saddam Hussein poured huge resources into an “Arabization” campaign that used forced population transfers to undermine Kurdish influence there. In June 2014, by contrast, the government in Baghdad could only look on helplessly as Peshmerga forces supplanted fleeing Iraqi troops and took over the city.

The 30 million Kurds of the Middle East don’t only live in Iraq, of course. But all of them are feeling the tremors of change. Iran, which has a significant Kurdish minority of its own, is strengthening its ties with the KRG, which it views as a vital ally in the fight against IS. In Syria, the civil war has enabled Kurds to set up wide-ranging self-administration in the northeast of the country — thus eroding the border between Syrian and Iraqi Kurds, who now travel back and forth across the line without visas. And in Turkey, home to the region’s largest Kurdish minority, the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has abandoned long-held policies aimed at the suppression of a distinct Kurdish identity and is conducting peace talks with the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), responsible for a decade-long insurgency in eastern Turkey.

All of this means that the Kurds, who enjoy the unenviable status of the world’s largest nation without a state, now find themselves on the verge of establishing their first viable national homeland — nearly a century after the Great Powers carved up the post-World War I Ottoman Empire into the countries of today’s Middle East, ultimately leaving the Kurds out in the cold. (The Soviet Union sponsored the creation of a Kurdish republic in Iran in 1946, but it quickly collapsed when the Soviets withdrew their support.)

“An independent Kurdistan is something that all Kurds dream of,” retiree Ramzi Maaroof, 65, told me as we chatted in the Erbil bazaar. “I’ve been waiting all my life to see it.”

“An independent Kurdistan is something that all Kurds dream of,” retiree Ramzi Maaroof, 65, told me as we chatted in the Erbil bazaar. “I’ve been waiting all my life to see it.”

If the dream finally becomes a reality, there is one nation in particular that the Kurds will have to thank for it: the United States. Even though U.S. policy toward the Kurds has often been subordinated to the same spirit of realpolitik that defines so many of Washington’s policies in the region, today’s Iraqi Kurdistan traces its origins to two key events: the establishment of a no-fly zone over the region after the Allied victory over Saddam in 1991, and the overthrow of the Iraqi dictator in the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. As a result, Kurds tend to be overwhelmingly pro-American — to an extent that comes as quite a jolt to anyone who’s spent time in other parts of the Middle East.

And yet President Obama and his predecessors in the White House have all been notably reluctant to give their blessing to Kurdish statehood — out of the not entirely unreasonable fear that creating a new player in such a volatile neighborhood could invite serious instability. To name but one possible risk: a declaration of secession by Iraqi Kurdistan could prompt the final collapse of rump Iraq into separate Sunni and Shiite statelets, intensifying sectarian conflict throughout the region.

This climate of uncertainty helps to explain why Kurdish leaders respond to questions about their timetable for statehood with perceptible caution. “The path is full of obstacles,” says Fuad Hussein, President Barzani’s chief of staff. Iraqi Kurds, he says, are still a long way from standing on their own feet economically. Kirkuk may give them a promising source of petroleum, but since they have no access to the sea, they’re dependent on the goodwill of Baghdad or their neighbors to ship their oil to world markets. And even if matters have improved in recent years, Hussein notes, that goodwill is far from given. Over the past century all the governments that harbor big Kurdish minorities have embarked on brutal efforts to tamp down any hint of Kurdish self-determination — and Kurds haven’t forgotten. More urgently, Iraqi Kurds still face a major existential threat from the new Islamic State stretching along a 600-mile border to the south. Andcollapsing oil prices certainly don’t help.

Far from wholeheartedly embracing President Barzani’s announcement of the independence referendum, most Kurdish officials now hasten to downplay it. “There will come a time when Kurdistan will become an independent state,” Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani told me. “Whether now is the right time is not clear.” For his part, Hussein stressed that the Kurds are intent on giving Iraq another chance — especially now that the troublesome Maliki, who resigned in September, has given way to the much more congenial Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who recently signed a deal with the Kurds ensuring them a 17 percent share of Iraqi oil revenues as well as funding for the Kurdish military. (Indeed, Barzani’s referendum announcement may have been aimed partly at pressuring Baghdad to get serious about negotiations.)

“We want to give Iraq a chance to be a democratic state,” Hussein assured me.

“We want to give Iraq a chance to be a democratic state,” Hussein assured me. He didn’t have to add that the Kurds have been waiting for just such an outcome for more than a decade now, and that they can’t be expected to wait forever.

But they’ll still need to proceed carefully. Given the vulnerabilities of their position, the Kurds can’t afford to be seen as the ones responsible for the final demise of Iraq. If Iraqi Kurdistan really does decide to grab the ring of independence, it will need to make sure that Baghdad, its own neighbors, and, perhaps, most importantly, the United States, are all more or less reconciled with the move. Hussein compares the birth of a Kurdish state to a newborn baby: “We don’t want to have a child that has many illnesses, and that will pass away after a few months. A child must have a good environment, and parents that will take care of it.” If Kurdistan is to be born, he says, “it must be a part of stability in this area.” Of course, even the healthiest babies have sometimes been known to give fits to the neighbors. The Kurds may yet pull it off. But don’t bet on it anytime soon.

Read at:  https://foreignpolicy.com/category/christian-caryl/

Decolonizing Development:The Political and Cultural Locations of Nationalism and National Self-determination (The Case of Oromia) January 4, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Colonizing Structure, Development, Dictatorship, Economics, Gadaa System, Humanity and Social Civilization, Ideas, Knowledge and the Colonizing Structure., Language and Development, Oromia, Oromia Quarterly, Oromo, Oromo Identity, Oromo Nation, Oromo Social System, Oromo the Largest Nation of Africa. Human Rights violations and Genocide against the Oromo people in Ethiopia, Self determination, Sirna Gadaa, The Oromo Democratic system, The Oromo Governance System, Theory of Development, Tyranny, Uncategorized, Wisdom.
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 Decolonising Development:The Political and Cultural Locations of   Nationalism and National Self-determination (the Case of Oromia)

Several scholars have argued that national self-determination is a claim for cultural independence and that nationalism in general is based on the right to cultural autonomy, right to a culture. In the Oromo context, national self-determination is about the representation of collective identity and dignity. It is the demand of the Oromo people to govern themselves. Practically, this can be interpreted as let us be governed by people who are like us, people of our nationality or people who accept and respect our value system. For the last hundred years and so, the Oromo nation has suffered from Abyssinian expansionism, social, ecological and economic destruction and continuous and intensive cultural and physical genocide. The Abyssinians and Oromians connections have been the coloniser (refers to the former) and the colonised (refers to the latter) relationships. Contrary to the Ethiopianist discourse, they have not developed a common unifying identity, social and political system. While the Abyssinians feel a sense of glory of their kings, warlords and dictators, the Oromians feel victimisation to these rulers, so they have not emerged a common ancestry, culture and collective memory, which can result in common ‘Ethiopian’ identity. From the perspective of Oromo social construction, the present Ethiopian domination over Oromia is a continuation of what pervious generations of Oromo nation had experienced. Thus, the Oromo people, sees the present political arrangement as illegitimate because it is a rule by the people who have engaged in destroying them. So, they claim not only cultural but also political independence. Oromo nationalism is also very democratic. It follows the UN principles of self-determination for the citizens of Oromia, claiming independence from the tyranny of Ethiopian Empire. The latter has been constructed based on Amhara-Tigre nationalism. The Oromo nationalism also offers democratic solutions to the ethnic minorities in the Ethiopian Empire. Scholars of Oromo studies claim that there is fundamental behavioural, linguistic, ethnic and cultural differences between the Abyssinians (northern) and their subjects (Southern). The Oromo, Sidama, Afar and the Ogaden (Ogaden Somalians) nations, beyond their common Cushitic progeny, they have common experiences of victimisation and illegitimately absorbed by Abyssinian southward expansion. Their collective memory of past experiences and present victimisation are making common identity. This identity is a key to understand politics there and to work together for self-determination, to recover their lost humanity.

For the early version of this article, see Temesgen M. Erena, The Political and Cultural Locations National Self – Determination,  Oromia Quarterly, Vol. II, No.2, March 1999; Temesgen, M. Erena, Oromia: The Nation and the Politics of National Self – Determination, Oromia Quarterly, Vol. I, No.2, December 1997, ISSN 1460-1346.

Man knows himself only insofar as he knows the world, and becomes aware of the world only in himself, and of himself only in it. Every new object, well observed, opens a new organ in ourselves.

-Goethe, Maximen und Reflexionen, VI Build therefore your own world. -Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature

Introduction

The passions of national freedom and national interest are probably the strongest in the whole political spectrum that characterises the present world. Kellas (1998) holds that it is stronger than the passions aroused by religion, class, individual or group interest. This passion is not all futile, either. In Gellener’s (1983) understanding, nationalism has been considered as essential to the establishment of a modern industrial society. According to Smith (1991), it is ‘the sole vision and rationale of political solidarity.’ For Kellas (1998), it provides legitimacy to the state, and inspires its citizens to feel an emotional attachment towards it. It can be a source of creativity in the arts, and enterprise in the economy. Its power to mobilise political engagement is unrivalled, particularly in the vital activity of nation building. It is intimately linked with the operation of popular democracy. Indeed, the global pattern is a mosaic of political drives, economic interests, linguistic pride, cultural imperatives, psychological needs and nations seeking identity. These factors are manifesting as a powerful staying power in a modern Africa, either. As European colonialism and socialism melted away, the perpetual existence of the backlash against ‘neo-colonial’ colony colonialism and the reviving of national selfdom become more and more significant in social and political dynamics of contemporary multi-ethno-nation African societies. The African experience is motivated by the same aspirations as that of elsewhere. At its root is a need for freedom, dignity, for the right of people of distinct social communities to function freely and independently. In this regard, Oromia represents the case of rejuvenating claim for national freedom and the struggle against more than a century old Abyssinian Empire colonialism in Africa. Oromia is a homeland for an Oromo nation, a group of people with a common culture and value system (seera fi aadaa), language ( Afaan Oromo), political institutions (Gadaa), and historical memories and experiences. Oromia is the single largest, homogeneous and endogenous nation in Africa with a population of 40 to 45 million. Both in terms of territorial and population size, more than two-third’s today’s sovereign states that are making members of UN (United Nations) are smaller than Oromia. The Cushite (see Demie, 1998) Oromo people have inhibited their homeland, Oromia, since pre-history and in antiquity were the agents of humanity’s documented Cushitic civilisation in terms of science, technology, art, political and moral philosophy. The links between the Oromo and the ancient civilisations of Babylon, Cush and Egypt has been discussed in Asfaw Beyene (1992) and John Sorenson (1998) scholarly works. Utilising prodigious evidence from history, philosophy, archaeology and linguistics, Diop (1974 and 1991) confirms that the Cushite Egyptian civilisation was emerged from the Cushite civilisations of North East Africa, particularly, the present day Western Sudan and upper Nile Oromia (also known as Cush or Punt). Indeed, except the name of places, saints and prophets, many of the Old Testament and the Holy Koran moral texts are copies of the Oromo moral codes. The formers are written documents while the latter are orally transmitted. Since the late 1880s the Oromo people have disowned their sovereignty. They disowned their autonomous institutions of governance, culture, education, creativity, business, commerce, etc. Thus, they have been claiming for national self-determination, national-self government and the right to their own state and resist the Abyssinian Empire saver (supremacist’s) nationalism. The Oromians are not only against the quality of Ethiopian Empire governance but also against the philosophy on which it is based: domination, dehumanisation, inequality, double standard, hypocrisy, deceit, exclusion, chauvinism, war institution, rent-seeking, extractive state, conservatism, feudalism, Aste fundamentalism (Aste Tewodros, Aste Yohannis, Aste Menelik, Aste Haile Sellasie), etc. The political goal of national self-determination (national self-government) is asserted in the outlook and attitudes of the Oromo political and social organisations. Of course, the Oromo nationalism, which supports the interests and identity of the Oromo people, is a more subtle, complex and widespread phenomenon than common understanding and observation. It is within this context that we are going to discuss the Oromos’ politics of national self-determination and the search for the national homeland, the demand for reinventing a state of their own in the following sections.

Defining Nation, Nationalism and Self- determination

To define nation and nationalism is as Benjamin Akzin (1964, pp. 7-10) discussed five decades ago, to enter into a terminological jungle in which one easily gets lost. Different scholarly disciplines have their own more or less established and more or less peculiar ways of dealing with nation and nationalism. Ideally, our definition of nation and nationalism should be induced of elements of nationalist ideology. Getting at such a definition has confirmed phenomenally strenuous. Hugh Seton-Watson, an authority in this domain, has deduced that ‘no scientific definition’ of a nation can be concocted. All that we can find to say is that a nation exists when significant number of people in a community consider themselves to form a nation, or behave as if they formed one (Seton-Watson, 1982, p.5).Van den Berghe (1981) defines a nation as a politically conscious ethnic group. Several attempts have been made at making a cardinalist definition of the term, pointing out one or more key cultural variables as defining variables. Among those tried are language, religion, common history/descent, ethnicity/race, statehood and common territory (homeland). For a group of people to be termed a nation, its members typically have to share several of these characteristics, although historically, one criterion may have been predominant (for example, language in Germany, or culture and history in France). In the case of Oromo, common language (Afaan Oromo), common territory (Biyya Oromo, dangaa Oromiyaa or Oromia), common historical experiences (victimisation to Ethiopian Empire rules or Abyssinocracy) are particularly very significant. Stalin made his undertaking in 1913. His definition includes four criteria: the members of a nation live under the same economic conditions, on the same territory, speak the same language, and have similar culture and national character (Seton-Watson, 1982, p.14). Neither Ernest Gellner nor Eric Hobsbawn, two influencials, gave definite definitions of the nation in their major achievements. Indeed, they are very hostile towards what they define as nationalism. ‘…For ever single nationalism which has so far raised its ugly head…’ (Gellner, 1983, p.45), this is a Gellner’s conception and sees the world as naturally divided into nations, each with its own individuality. This implies an acceptance of the nationalist self-perception. There are also other conceptualisations. A social anthropologist, Thomas Hylland Eriksen (1992, p. 220) says ‘a nation is an ethnic group whose leaders have either achieved, or aspire to achieve, a state where its cultural group is hegemonic’, Anthony H. Birch (1989, p.6) considers that a nation is best defined as ‘a society which either governs itself today, or has done so in the past, or has a credible claim to do so in the not-too- distant future. Kellas (1998) defines the nation as a group of people who feel themselves to be a community bound together by ties of history, culture and common ancestry. Nations have ‘objective’ characteristics, which may include a territory, a language, a religion, or common descent, and ‘subjective’ characteristics, essentially a people’s awareness of its nationality and affection for it. In the last resort it is ‘the supreme loyalty’ for people who are prepared to die for their nation. The definition of ‘nation’ which we will make use of in the following is one suggested by Anthony D. Smith (1983,pp. 27-109, 1991, p. 14; 1995); a definition mastering well the ‘sounding board’ dimension. Smith here defines a nation as ‘a named human population sharing a historic territory, common myths and historical memories, a mass, public culture, a common economy and common legal rights and duties for all members. A recent definition of Smith holds nationalism, one manifestation of national-self-determination, as ‘an ideological movement for attaining and maintaining autonomy, unity and identity on behalf of a population deemed by some of its members to constitute an actual or potential ‘nation’ (Smith, 1991, p. 73; 1995). For Smith nationalism has a deep ethnic roots and rejuvenates itself in response to global and domestic impulses. While the phenomenon of globalisation and technocratic culture are there, nationalism is an eternal nature and nourishes and propels itself on technocratic innovations. In this context, national self-determination may be defined as many part aspirations of a nation: To be free to freely determine one’s own national identity, culture, including language, education, religion, and form of government, to be free of rule by another ‘nation’, that is to overcome social and political systems of domination and exclusion in which nations other than one’s own wield predominant power. To be free to select its own form of government; and those governed within it have the right of unflagging consent.

Culture and the Politics of Self-determination

Nation, nationalism and national self-determination are commanding attentions. One of the perennial issues within nationalism is whether national self-determination can stand alone, or whether it requires a ‘qualifier’ from within cultural or political ideas or both to clarify its precise cultural and political location. Several scholars have argued that national self-determination is a claim for cultural independence and that nationalism in general is based on the right to cultural independence and that nationalism is based on the right to a culture. Nielson, for example, peers a nation as groups of people whom ‘perceive themselves as having a distinct culture and traditions’, and Tamir presents that a nation is a community in which individuals develop their culture, and they therefore regard their place within a nation as membership in a cultural group. Indeed, she argues that ‘the right to national-self determination stakes a cultural rather than a political claim, namely, it is the right to preserve the existence of a nation as a distinct cultural entity.’ Will the people who demand national self-determination be satisfied with such an arrangement? Tamir gives credence to that the idea of basing the right to self-determination on the right to a culture is the one that has best conformity with a liberal internationalist viewpoint. That is thinkable, but international liberalism is incompetent on this particular matter. A nationalism, which is based on culture and cultural distinctions, was not very long a go. It is a concept that characteristic the thesis of right wing, or romantic theorists such as Herder. Indeed, Herder’s nationalism was not political, and it distrusted a state as something external, mechanical, not emerging spontaneously from the life of the people. Nevertheless, in the Oromo context the claim for national self-determination is a political rather than a cultural one. If we look at the distinction between the two, it would seem that the claim for national self-determination involves more than a demand to be tolerated while the cultural question is. For example, the Catalan’s and Quebecois’ culture and identity have been tolerated and respected to some extent, and yet many of them thought that this did not reflect a situation of self-determination. Indeed, meeting their claim would involve legislation and redefinition of institutions within the state, and perhaps even a new state. In the Oromo case the demand is actually the claim to have control over their lives. This does not mean over every individual’s private life, but over the public aspect of one’s existence, i.e. the system of mutual relationships, which reflect and sustain one’s membership of a certain collective. Here the self is conceptualised within the context of community, but one that has to be real, actual, and functioning and performing. Otherwise these communal ties are too abstract, which makes it impossible for the self to be defined by them. The statement of Cohen has to be recalled: ‘A person does not only need to develop and enjoy his powers. He needs to know who he is, and how his identity connects him with particular others. He must… find something outside himself which he did not create… He must be able to identify himself with some part of objective social reality’ (Cohen, 1988). Moreover, self-realisation, however, cannot be merely a mental situation; thus this community cannot be only cultural. It must be a political situation at least so that, in order for the Oromo people to realise themselves, they must not be dependent on the goodwill of a second party. They then must be certain that their self-realisation in all spheres of life will not be prevented by the Abyssinian government, the TPLF, the Orthodox Church, and so forth. They should therefore be politically active and watch such institutions carefully. In addition, they must participate in politics in order to decide collectively upon public matters, which influence their self-realisation. So the Oromos claim for national-self determination is about the realisation of their potential status, ability and collective character, which may be achieved only through participation in autonomous political institutions. But for more than a century Oromos have been denied access to these institutions, either officially or in practice. In other words, if  Oromos as a nation achieve self-determination they will better able to participate, better represented, better able to deliberate, gain much more control over their life than formerly and more autonomous. The Oromos demand for national self-determination thus, aims at establishing those institutions, which are needed for the realisation of the self-determination. When an Oromo demands national self-determination, he/she is not asserting that he/she would like to control his/her private life, e.g. his/her job, his/her shopping activities, his/her love affairs. Many Oromos do not control these aspects of their lives and yet nevertheless demand national self-determination. But the same principle also applies to cultural life. The Oromos may be allowed more-or-less to use their language, have their own newspapers and theatre, and the freedom of worship, etc. which are making cultural freedom. Actually, these rights are hardly exist at present. But when they claim national self-determination they are not only referring to these aspects of life, as political community: they want to be able to form and choose among and vote for the Oromo political parties, to observe the Oromo constitutional laws, to pay taxes to an Oromo authority, and to have a history (and indeed, myth) of independent Oromo state, from which their identity and self-determination can derive. Thus, the Oromo’s Declaration for Independence will emphasise parliamentary participation and the need to form a constitution, rather than cultural activities. In general the Oromos demand for national self-determination entails that the individuals in this nation should be citizens, engaged in politics as members of a community committed to the realisation of certain (their own) common goods, rather than participating as individuals who seek their self-interests, as it is implied by the right- to- culture school of thought and Liberal Internationalists. Perhaps for this reason Margalit and Halbertal revise the right-to- culture argument, arguing that the right is to a certain culture rather than to culture. A certain culture, then, becomes a common good. And yet, this is not enough, because they still regard the common good in cultural rather than political terms: ‘shared values and symbols… are meant to serve as the focus for citizens’ identification with the state, as well as the sources of their willingness to defend it even at the risk of their lives (Margalit and Halbertal, 1994). Why, then, do theories adhere to the culture discourse? Of course, for most of the Western theorists, the term national self-determination is affiliated to the strive to become part of humanity, to regain the human condition of autonomy; it is adjoined to the struggle to be part of the free world, of the more progressive forces; it is seen as decolonisation, as civilisation, as an attempt made to become part of the world of liberty, rights, and justice. But, it is seen as part of centrifugal forces, from the centre to the global, universalism or what Lane (1974) calls as ‘total situation’ or citizenship based on individual freedom and social justice. These theorists, therefore, universalise the notion of national self-determination: they make it part of liberalism. The liberals’ universal approach tends to be uniformist. This makes a society rootless and a citizen far removed from those who control his/her destiny. On the other hand, the notion as it is put forward and used by the Oromos that the demand for national self-determination is also centripetal, from the global and the greater units to the smaller ones. These groups demand the disengagement from the ‘other’, the global, the colonist, even from other humanity, by asserting that ‘we are not merely the essential equal and part of humanity, but rather we are also different and distinct: we have our own political identity, which we want to preserve, sustain, and establish institutionally, like the Scottish vision in multi-nation state Europe. This is the language of liberation from colonisation. It is also the language of particularisation within the universal or the global, and it seems that the uniformist approach is not sensitive enough to the real Oromos problems. Thus, the Oromos quest for self-determination involves the ultimate goal of particularism (its own unique space), reinventing the Oromia State, owning the national homeland. Of course, in a heterogeneous society of the Ethiopian Empire, though uniformity may simplify system of control, social justice will not be attained in one vast monolithic block of oppressed by colonial legislation, bureaucrats and its armies. An important work of Professor Asafa Jalata, an authority in the study of Oromo nationalism kindly quoted as’ The Oromo question involves both colonialism and ethno nationalism. Ethiopian colonialism has been imposed by global capitalism on the Oromo nation. Ethiopians, both Amharas and Tigrayans, through establishing settler colonialism in Oromia, have systematically killed millions of Oromo and expropriated their lands and other resources from the last decades of the nineteenth century until today. Ethiopian colonialists already destroyed the people called Agaw by taking their lands, systematically killing them, and assimilating the survivors. They attempt to do the same thing to the Oromo by destroying the Oromo national movement, confiscating Oromo lands, and forcing the remaining Oromo into ‘settlement villages’ or (reservations). Many times, some Oromo organisations attempted to democratize Ethiopia so that the Oromo would achieve equal citizenship rights and maintain their ethno cultural identity. Determined to maintain their colonial domination and to destroy the Oromo cultural personality through ethnocide or assimilation, Ethiopian colonialists destroyed or suppressed those Oromo political forces that attempted to transform Ethiopia into a multinational democratic society. Therefore, most Oromos are convinced that their rights and freedom cannot be obtained and respected without creating their own state, or state that they can create as equal partners with other ethno national groups interested in forming a multinational democratic society to promote ethno cultural diversity and human freedom. Hence, Oromo nationalism is an ideology of the subjugated Oromo who seek human rights, freedom, justice, and democracy’ (Jalata, 1997). In fact social justice can be attained when and only when the oppressed majority able to rule its homeland. The Oromos work for national self-determination is the great humanist and historical task in terms of Freire (1993) argument ‘To liberate themselves and their oppressors as well. The oppressors, who oppress, exploit, and rape by virtue of their power, cannot find in this power the strength to liberate either the oppressed or themselves. Only power that springs from the weakness of the oppressed will be sufficiently strong to free both. Any ‘attempt to soften the power of the oppressor in difference to the weakness of the oppressed almost always manifest itself in the form of false generosity; indeed, the attempt never goes beyond this.’ In this context, for Oromos in order to have the continued opportunity to express their ‘generosity,’ the Habasha colonist must perpetuate injustice, too. Tyranny is the permanent fount of this ‘generosity,’ that sustains at the price of death, dehumanisation, despair and poverty. ‘True generosity consists precisely in fighting to destroy the causes which nourish false charity.’ (Freire, 1993). For further discussions on Oromo nationalism, universalism, globalism, Ethiopianist discourses and Oromo Nationalism, see Sorenson (1998) and Sisai Ibssa (1998).

Concluding Thoughts

Man as a social animal always seeks his own territory and belongings to a social group in which his identity and sense of community is observed and respected. In the defence of the cause for social justice and social ecology, these are basic tenets to backlash against the danger of the rhetoric of universalism, polyarchy and false perspectives of social uniformity, which appear to appreciate the social problems from a single privileged point. Georg Hegel, The Phenomenology of Mind ( New York, 1967 edition), in his famous philosophical discussion of the relationship between ‘lordship and bondage’ maintained that a single consciousness could know itself only through another, even in a condition of totally unequal power relationship. According to this philosophical model, the lord (the oppressor) is lord only through the relationship with a bondservant (the oppressed, the one whose humanity is stolen). In the relationship, however, the other is annulled. The self of the mastery, the lord, derives from the conquest and negation of the servant, the bond. Only recognition of the selfhood of the other permits for its annulations. Thus, lordship covertly recognises the separate identity of the dominated. They are normally equal selves locked into unequal hierarchy. Metaphorically, Hegel’s dialectics of lordship and bondage is very important to understand the Ethiopian domination over Oromia. However, in the Ethiopianist discourse, the essential equality of the selves has been escaped totally. Rather, the persisting hierarchy has taken for granted. According to Sorenson (1998), Ethiopianist scholars like Clapham, Sven Rubenson and Levine because of their attachment to one version of the Ethiopian past and present make them either or unwilling to engage with the full complexity of the problem. From this point of view, to accept the unchanging polarity of Ethiopia and Oromia in the lordship-bondage relationship is to succumb to a structure of Ethiopian aggression and colonialism. The Oromians demand for national self-determination is, however, the civilised step out of the polarity upon which the coercive hierarchy relies, it is the collective political demand, as its main purpose is to achieve the good of the social whole, humanisation, the essential liberation of the Oromo national identity, dignity and the reinvention of Oromia as a sovereign state. The Abyssinian occupation of Oromia, the existence of the Abyssinian Rule, war-lordism and their armies in Oromia and the making of Finfinnee their garrison station, the centre of their crowds is not only an act of conquest, aggression and colonialism but also, from Oromo perspective, such elements are symbols of bondage and slavery that negate the Oromo selfhood as equal essential. For the last over hundred years, the Oromo nation has disowned selfhood, its own state or administration, and lived as a bondage of Abyssinia. The Abyssinian administration which has undermined the Oromo national traditions, exploited it economically, and maintained order through mechanical and repressive means- such a nation actually must seek national self-determination to foster within its politics, to bring dignity, justice, freedom and democracy and to survival as essential equal, as a nation and as part of humanity and its civilisation. It is necessary for Oromians to build the world of their own, a world which make them capable to sustain as a group of human people. They must able to liberate themselves and the violent, the oppressor too. In this context, the Oromo issue is a test case to the deceptive ‘democracy world-wide’ which is being advocated in the USA foreign policy and manipulated by the neo-nafxanyas (see Ibssa, 1998). It is a challenge to contemporary theories of democracy and polyarchy (Robinson, 1997) and actors of post cold war Ethiopian politics who simply take for granted that the boundaries and powers of political community in the ‘Horn’ have already been settled. Thanks to the dedicated works of human rights activists, particularly the OSG (the Oromia Support Group) and its UK based publication, Sagalee Haaraa, we have been well informed on plights of human population and their environment in the entire region. We are interested to recommend this publication to all actors of the region. In this context, we are confident to say that Ethiopian democracy rhetoric or federalism sham politics is nothing more than a fig leaf, covering up the continuation of an extraction of the ‘politics of the belly’, in terms of Bayart (1993) from ‘prudish eye of the West.’ Its democratic rhetoric is a new type of rent seeking (extracting economic rent). By making believe, it enables the collection of international aid that includes diplomatic, military and humanitarian. It enables the seizure of the resources of the modern economy for the benefit of the Tigrayan elites. The situation is not in democracy’s favour, rather it is a situation that the Tyranny is retaining control over the security forces, economic rents and the support of the West. Such manipulation is not new for Africa. Menilik, Haile sellassie, Mengistu, Mobutu, Biya, Senghor and Diouf did the same thing either in Ethiopia or elsewhere in the continent at one time or another. The Quote from Bayart’s (1993) African analyis comes to our mind ‘…The support of western powers and multilateral institutions of Bretton Woods and the Vatcan, who despite having waved the flag of democratic conditionality and respect for human rights, have not dared to pursue such sentiments to their logical conclusion and have continued to think in terms of ‘Mobutu or Chaos’ where Gorbachev given up saying ‘Ceaucescu or chaos’…’. Indeed, very recently, we have read the deceptive descriptions to neo-Mobutu, neo-Mengistu, etc.: democratic, new generation, confident and pragmatic, etc. Sadly, everything changes so that everything stays the same. Nevertheless, the oppressed Oromos are not passive objects, either. They have not allowed themselves to be ‘captured’, as in the past they have demonstrated their historical ability to resist dehumanisation, despair and poverty, and predictably will continue to resist until the justice will come to them. An everyday Oromo coins the following: ‘Victory to the Oromo people! Oromia shall be free!’ We feel moral and social responsibility to support the just cause of fellow humanity.

Listen to Oromo Voice Radio (OVR) Broadcast Afaan Oromo interviews with Dr. Almayayyoo Birru on topic of Self-determination:

http://ayyaantuu.com/horn-of-africa-news/oromia/oromo-freedom-from-what-and-for-what-part-1/

http://gadaa.com/oduu/4613/2010/06/27/on-the-question-of-nationalities-in-ethiopia/

 

‘External self-determination, in particular, seems to carry dual meaning. On the one hand it is taken to mean full independent statehood, while on the other hand it is taken to mean external recognition by other states within the
international community.’

http://bemis.org.uk/docs/redefining-self-determination.pdf

 

‘Every individual/group possesses a moral right to secede. The burden of proof rests with the opponents of secession.’ 

This article is mainly credited to Oromia Quarterly 1997 & 1999.

Copyright © Oromianeconomist 2015 and Oromia Quarterly 1997-2015. All rights reserved. Disclaimer.

Self-Rule: How Decentralized Power, Not Democracy, Will Shape the 21st Century. #Oromia September 30, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in Development & Change, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, National Self- Determination, Oromians Protests, Oromiyaa, Oromo, Oromummaa, Self determination, The Colonizing Structure & The Development Problems of Oromia.
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People wave flags symbolizing Catalonia's independence during a demonstration in Catalonia, Spain, on September 11, 2014.

There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come. People can no longer be cheated (for long) out of their legitimate aspirations for self-rule.

With all the world’s terrain claimed, one’s gain (of independence) must equal another’s loss (of territorial integrity). Borders can therefore either change violently, or can be softened through devolution.

The map of the world is in perpetual flux, with territories splintering and combining in various configurations. North and South Yemen merged in 1990; Czechoslovakia divorced in 1993. South Sudan seceded in 2011; now there’s talk of North and South Korea reunifying along the model of East and West Germany. The fundamental search for more coherent political entities can bring turbulence, but not always violence.

The Scottish precedent is a harbinger of neither global chaos nor the end of multi-national harmony. In fact, devolution’s dialectical opposite is aggregation. The world may splinter, but it also comes together in new combinations such as the European Union, which ultimately absorbs all the continent’s micro-states into a truly multinational federation. Witness the Balkans, where two decades on from the bloody wars of Yugoslavia’s dissolution, all its former republics have become or are candidates for EU membership. If the world wants to see global solidarity of nations, the tribes may need to win first.

http://www.defenseone.com/threats/2014/09/how-decentralized-power-not-democracy-will-shape-21st-century/95255/

How Decentralized Power, Not Democracy, Will Shape the 21st Century

By Parag Khanna @ The Atlantic, 26 September 2014

 

Last week, the world’s most globe-spanning empire until the mid-20th century let its fate be decided by 3.6 million voters in Scotland. While Great Britain narrowly salvaged its nominal unity, the episode offered an important reminder: The 21st century’s strongest political force is not democracy but devolution.

Before the vote was cast, British Prime Minister David Cameron and his team were so worried by voter sentiment swinging toward Scottish independence that they promised a raft of additional powers to Edinburgh (and Wales and Northern Ireland) such as the right to set its own tax rates—granting even more concessions than Scotland’s own parliament had demanded. Scotland won before it lost. Furthermore, what it won it will never give back, and what it lost it can try to win again later. England, meanwhile, feels ever more like the center of a Devolved Kingdom rather than a united one.

Devolution—meaning the decentralization of power—is the geopolitical equivalent of the second law of thermodynamics: inexorable, universal entropy. Today’s nationalism and tribalism across Europe, Africa, and the Middle East represent the continued push for either greater autonomy within states or total independence from what some view as legacy colonial structures. Whether these movements are for devolution, federalism, or secession, they all to varying degrees advocate the same thing: greater self-rule.

In addition to the traditional forces of anti-colonialism and ethnic grievance, the newer realities of weak and over-populated states, struggles to control natural resources, accelerated economic competition, and even the rise of big data and climate change all point to more devolution in the future rather than less. Surprisingly, this could be a good thing, both for America and the world.

* * *

Woodrow Wilson brought his fierce anti-colonialism to the Paris Peace Conference after World War I, insisting on national self-determination as one of his famous “Fourteen Points.” But stubborn Western Europeans held on to their imperial possessions until World War II bankrupted them. The dismantling of the British and French empires over the course of the 20th century gave birth to more than 75 new countries within four decades. Decolonization was followed by the collapse of the Soviet Union, which created 15 independent states. All told, the jackhammer of devolution has more than tripled the number of countries around the world, from the 51 original member states of the United Nations to its 193 members today.

Strangely, international law as enshrined in the UN Charter appears to work against these trends, strongly privileging state borders as they are as if to freeze the world map in time. But to paraphrase Victor Hugo, there is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come. People can no longer be cheated (for long) out of their legitimate aspirations for self-rule.

Devolution helps to sensibly reorganize large and unwieldy post-colonial states. Take the example of India, where more than 60 years of independence have brought little development to peripheral and rural states in the east and northeast of the country. Rather than fostering economic growth outside the capital, New Delhi’s priority instead has been imposing either the Hindi (Mahatma Gandhi’s preference) or English languages across the country. But such malign neglect has only stoked devolutionary pressures. Since 1947, the number of states in the Indian federation has doubled, with the 29th (Telangana) created earlier this year. As state boundaries better conform to ethnic and linguistic boundaries, provincial units can focus more on their internal growth, rather than on having to defend themselves against the center. Notice how the second-largest contributor to Indian GDP besides Mumbai’s Maharashtra state is Tamil Nadu, the state that is geographically farthest from notoriously corrupt New Delhi.

Another accelerant of devolution is ubiquitous data. Much as modern nation-states seem to have lost their monopoly on armed forces, so too has evaporated their dominance of information flows and narratives. Call it the triumph of transparency: Whether through free media, leaks, hacks, democracy, or legal pressure, people increasingly know how their countries are run—and crucially how their money is spent. This March, participants in a nonbinding online referendum in Venice overwhelmingly supported an unofficial “declaration of independence” from Italy. The reason? Venice pays 70 billion euros in taxes per year, but receives only a fraction back in fiscal transfers, meaning support from the capital.

Catalonia, with its unique language and centuries of cultural traditions, made similar calculations with respect to Madrid and is set to vote on independence in November. Spain and Italy’s constitutions forbid secession, but to avoid severe internal unrest beyond that which has already beset them since the financial crisis, both governments will likely grant more autonomy to these important provinces. Ultimately, these upstart—or start-up—regions want the “devo-max” deal the Basques of northern Spain have: complete fiscal autonomy with no taxes paid to the capital.

Even global warming can drive devolution: As Greenland’s ice sheet melts, its 60,000 Inuit have greater access to abundant and valuable reserves of resources such as uranium and natural gas. This creates an incentive for Greenlanders to hoard the potential windfall rather than send it to Copenhagen, which has retained some governing authority over the island since Denmark seized and colonized Greenland nearly three centuries ago. The 2021 date proposed for a Greenland independence vote provides an eerie parallel to Scotland’s referendum, which took place roughly 300 years after that country joined the United Kingdom. Unlike Scotland, however, Greenland’s vote for independence wouldn’t even be close. Make way for another seat at the UN.

* * *

Shrill warnings against devolution ignore the evidence that it is also a logical consequence of connectivity. In the days before Scotland’s independence referendum, Gordon Brown, the Scotland-born former British prime minister, made a passionate appeal to his countrymen to choose unity over independence. Scotland’s “quarrel should be with globalization, rather than England,” he said. But on whose terms should that tug-of-war for jobs be waged? Smaller states and smaller economies have less of a margin for error when it comes to their own survival. Would Scotland have outsourced its manufacturing base to Asia in the way that far-off London capitalists so enthusiastically did? Would Scotland, as politicians in London warned, really have been unable to establish its own currency within 18 months? As even the anti-independence Economist noted, 28 new central banks have been created in the past 25 years; Estonia set up its own central bank and currency in a week. A connected world—the result of Brown’s bogeyman of ‘globalization’—has turned such bureaucratic hurdles into commoditized tasks.

The more cities and provinces attain quality infrastructure—courtesy of investment from their own governments and foreigners—the more they can leverage these new capacities. In America, fiscal federalism is a crucial driver of economic dynamism. For example, Texas has made itself the most business-friendly state in the country by minimizing regulations and keeping taxes low; it now boastsan $8.8 billion surplus. California also experiments at the state level with immigration and greenhouse-gas emissions reduction policies that are best suited to its own needs and goals. Oil-rich British Columbia and gas-and-mineral-rich Western Australia have their own resource wealth funds that have propelled infrastructure investment and growth in cities such as Vancouver and Perth first, before a share of the profits is sent to the distant capitals Ottawa and Canberra.

In Europe, devolution has become a healthy form of competitive arbitrage—a perpetual negotiation to get maximum freedoms from under-performing national governments so that over-performing provinces can get on with their own priorities. An independence movement is brewing in Sardinia, for instance, that would see the already autonomous Italian island sell itself to landlocked (and far better governed) Switzerland as a maritime canton.

Can all devolution be handled so peacefully? With all the world’s terrain claimed, one’s gain (of independence) must equal another’s loss (of territorial integrity). Borders can therefore either change violently, or can be softened through devolution. Devolution is why the Basques and Quebecois are at peace today. To attempt to stem the pro-Russian rebel tide in Ukraine, the parliament in Kiev last week granted self-rule to the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk as a gesture to keep them within the Ukrainian orbit. Devolution today is thus not just a force of tribalism but a tool of peacemaking.

This kind of thinking will be necessary for remapping the Middle East as the century-old Sykes-Picot map of the region crumbles. The near-total dissolution of the Arab political cartography embodies the most severe entropy, fragmentation, and disorder. Today only the oil-rich micro-states of the Persian Gulf such as Qatar and the UAE have purchased long-term security. But we do not yet know what will replace the current Syria and Iraq—to say nothing of the Islamic State’s plans for Jordan, Lebanon, and beyond.

Yet if one rule of counterinsurgency is to find, protect, and build stable enclaves, that is also a bottom-up approach to replacing Arab colonial cartography with a more legitimate order based on smaller and more coherent islands of stability. Rather than artificial nations, the future Middle East order will likely consist of robust tribal states like Israel and Kurdistan, and urban commercial centers with mixed populations that will protect themselves and their trade routes.

Perhaps a world of smaller states would bring globalization more into balance, with each state maintaining the necessary production and jobs essential for social stability, even if not optimizing global comparative advantage. A world of smaller states might also be a more peaceful one as well, with none able to survive without importing food and goods from others. Such a world would embody the principle of anti-fragility that the author Nassim Taleb advocates: too small to fail.

The map of the world is in perpetual flux, with territories splintering and combining in various configurations. North and South Yemen merged in 1990; Czechoslovakia divorced in 1993. South Sudan seceded in 2011; now there’s talk of North and South Korea reunifying along the model of East and West Germany. The fundamental search for more coherent political entities can bring turbulence, but not always violence.

Thus, the Scottish precedent is a harbinger of neither global chaos nor the end of multi-national harmony. In fact, devolution’s dialectical opposite is aggregation. The world may splinter, but it also comes together in new combinations such as the European Union, which ultimately absorbs all the continent’s micro-states into a truly multinational federation. Witness the Balkans, where two decades on from the bloody wars of Yugoslavia’s dissolution, all its former republics have become or are candidates for EU membership. If the world wants to see global solidarity of nations, the tribes may need to win first. Read @http://www.defenseone.com/threats/2014/09/how-decentralized-power-not-democracy-will-shape-21st-century/95255/

The Unravelling of a Colonized Mind by Jana-Rae Yerxa March 24, 2013

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Colonizing Structure, Development, Humanity and Social Civilization, Ideas, Irreecha, Kemetic Ancient African Culture, Knowledge and the Colonizing Structure., Knowledge and the Colonizing Structure. Africa Heritage. The Genocide Against Oromo Nation, Knowledge and the Colonizing Structure. African Heritage. The Genocide Against Oromo Nation, Oromia, Oromiyaa, Oromo, Oromo Culture, Oromo First, Oromo Identity, Oromo Nation, Oromo the Largest Nation of Africa. Human Rights violations and Genocide against the Oromo people in Ethiopia, Oromummaa, Qubee Afaan Oromo, Self determination, Sirna Gadaa, Slavery, Uncategorized.
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The Unravelling of a Colonized Mind by Jana-Rae Yerxa.

Sure everybody struggles. But to be born an Indigenous person, you are born into struggle. My struggle. Your struggle. Our struggle. The colonial struggle. There are many layers to this struggle. For the longest time, I didn’t even know what the true struggle was about yet I couldn’t escape it. It consumed me. Colonialism, as I have been forced to discover, is like a cancer. But instead of the cells in your body betraying itself, the thoughts in your mind work against you and eat you up from the inside out. You’re like the walking dead and you don’t even know it because you are so blinded. You can’t see the truth.

Here are some of the perverted ways colonialism infects the mind:
• With a colonized mind, I hate being Indian.
• With a colonized mind, I accept that I am Indian because that’s who the colonizer told me I am.
• With a colonized mind, I don’t understand that I am Anishinaabe.
• With a colonized mind, I believe I am inferior to the white race.
• With a colonized mind, I wish I was white.
• With a colonized mind, I draw pictures of my family with peach coloured skin, blonde hair and blue eyes because I’ve internalized that this is the ideal, what looks good and what is beautiful.
• With a colonized mind, I keep my feelings of inferiority to white people a secret from others and even from myself.
• With a colonized mind, I try diligently to mirror white people as closely as I possibly can.
• With a colonized mind, I desperately want to be accepted by white people.
• With a colonized mind, to gain the acceptance of white people, I will detach myself from all that does not mirror acceptable “white” standards, whether it is how one dresses, one speaks, or one looks.
• With a colonized mind, I feel as though I am swearing when I say “white people” in front of white people.
• With a colonized mind, I believe there is no racism.
• With a colonized mind, I believe that racism does not impact me.
• With a colonized mind, I deny my heritage and proudly say, “We are all just people.”
• With a colonized mind, when discussing issues pertaining to race, I try desperately not to offend white people.
• With a colonized mind, I do not know who I am.
• With a colonized mind, I believe I know who I am and do not understand that this isn’t so because I’ve become the distorted image of who the colonizer wants me to be and remain unaware of this reality.
• With a colonized mind, I could care less about history and think that our history don’t matter.
• With a colonized mind, I do not understand how the history created the present.
• With a colonized mind, I do not see how I have been brainwashed to be an active participant in my own dehumanization and the dehumanization of my people.
• With a colonized mind, I do not recognize how others dehumanize me and my people.
• With a colonized mind, I devalue the ways of my people- their ways of seeing, their ways of knowing, their ways of living, their ways of being.
• With a colonized mind, I cannot speak the language of my ancestors and do not care that this is so.
• With a colonized mind, I am unaware of how colonization has impacted my ancestors, my community, my family, and myself.
• With a colonized mind, I think that my people are a bunch of lazy, drunk, stupid Indians.
• With a colonized mind, I discredit my own people.
• With a colonized mind, I think that I am better than ‘those Indians’.
• With a colonized mind, I will silently watch my people be victimized.
• With a colonized mind, I will victimize my own people.
• With a colonized mind, I will defend those that perpetrate against my people.
• With a colonized mind, I will hide behind false notions of tradition entrenched with Euro-western shame and shame my own people re-creating more barriers amongst us.
• With a colonized mind, I tolerate our women being raped and beaten.
• With a colonized mind, I tolerate our children being raised without their fathers.
• With a colonized mind, I feel threatened when someone else, who is Anishinaabe, achieves something great because I feel jealous and wish it was me.
• With a colonized mind, when I see an Anishinaabe person working towards bettering their life, because my of my own insecurities, I accuse them of thinking they are ‘so good now’.
• With a colonized mind, I am unaware that I was set up to hate myself.
• With a colonized mind, I do not think critically about the world.
• With a colonized mind, I believe in merit and do not recognize unearned colonial privilege.
• With a colonized mind, I ignorantly believe that my ways of seeing, living and believing were all decided by me when in reality everything was and is decided for me.
• With a colonized mind, I am lost.
• With a colonized mind, I do not care about the land.
• With a colonized mind, I believe that freedom is a gift that can be bestowed upon me by the colonizer.
• With a colonized mind, I believe that I am powerless and act accordingly.
• With a colonized mind, I do not have a true, authentic voice.
• With a colonized mind, I live defeat.
• With a colonized mind, I will remain a victim of history.
• With a colonized mind, I will pass self-hatred on to my children.
• With a colonized mind, I do not understand the term “self-responsibility.”
• With a colonized mind, I do not recognize that I have choice and do not have to fatalistically accept oppressive, colonial realities.
• With a colonized mind, I do not see that I am a person of worth.
• With a colonized mind, I do not know I am powerful.

The colonial struggle, as I said earlier, has many layers. I am no longer being eaten from the inside. Yet it is no less painful. What is different today is that I am connected to a true source of power that was always there. It’s like my friend once said, “I come from a distinguished people whose legacy shines on me like the sun.” I now understand this and it is because of this understanding that my mind and my soul are freer than they have ever been. It is because of that gift- that awakening which came through struggle- that I will proudly continue to struggle for freedom. My freedom. Your freedom. Our freedom.

Jana-Rae Yerxa, is Anishinaabe from Little Eagle and Couchiching First Nation and belongs to the Sturgeon clan. Activist. Social Worker. Former professor. Current student. She is committed to furthering her understanding of Anishinaabe identity and resurgence as well as deconstructing Indigenous/settler relations in the contexts of colonization and decolonization. Jana-Rae is currently enrolled in the Indigenous Governance Program at University of Victoria.

http://lateralloveaustralia.com/2013/03/14/the-unravelling-of-a-colonized-mind-by-jana-rae-yerxa/

https://oromianeconomist.wordpress.com/2014/01/08/oromia-first-oromias-community-and-global-awareness-in-the-making/

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