Throughout my student years at the university, and for a considerable time thereafter, I blamed those in power for not giving us the freedom we deserve not fully understanding that everyone represents own interest.
For example, the Tigreans fought very hard and came to power and now they have what they wanted. The question is, should the Tigreans give away everything they worked for? Do the rest of us deserve to have something we never worked for?
We hear the Tigre rulers talking about“Democracy” but they don’t seem to understand that democracy means is to change the way we think and progress. But the question is, can progression possible without understanding others rights?
I mean, in the world where each group cares more about oneself and less about others, is it possible to build democratic institution?. For example, the Amharic speaking groups shout louder than the rest in order to keep what they already have and get more of the things they don’t deserve. As a result, now they successfully prevented afaan Oromo from becoming the work language of, let alone of the Ethiopian empire, but even in Oromia’s small towns and cities. The result? now the OPDO uses Amharic as work language pushing afaan Oromo back to where it used to be during the Hailesilase and Der eras.
This means, everyone gets what he/she deserves not what he wishes to have. In the Oromo case, since we didn’t work very hard to understand what democracy really is, we don’t have it yet. In other words, democracy is something people get by working hard for it and what we have so far is “slavery.”
Of course there are no shortage of those who would tell us that we already have too much. They say that we already speak afaan Oromo as if we never spoke it in our respective villages growing up.
The Tigrean rulers often say that they fought difficult wars for 17 years when the OLF leaders were relaxing in European cities. They say that, as with many other things, it is the action you take that counts or where you stand or what you stand for not what you dream to have what gets you where you want to be. I agree with the TPLF bosses on that because with some things there is nothing more important to do than paying the price; even though it entails inconvenience or sacrifice.
In our case, “Don’t go and listen to this guy speaking because he belongs to warra this warra that, or he belongs to XYZ religion,” we would often say to our clan members. Or we would say, “We should ask the OLF leaders where our $100 that we donated 20 yeas ago went.” “let’s be smart,” they would say. “Let’s create our own liberation Front!”
But did we gave too much when we donated $100? Are we just naïve people who would think that $100 is enough to feed, arm, dress and train several thousand liberation fighters? To simplify this subject, let me suggest that the real question is not how much we should give for our freedom. This notion perhaps can be best understood by subdividing it into two:
How much does freedom require us to give and how much could we give? It is a paradox that, when we speak of how much must be given or done, we usually speak of getting. Only when we talk in terms of how much can be given, are we really speaking of giving.
A Time of Waiting
I remember what it is like to attend a university in the cold winters of Ukraine. I remember the pain. I remember staying up all night to prepare for an examination. I vividly recall homework and homesickness, grades and graduation. I remember missing Finfinnee where one birr was enough to have fun at Gebre Tinsa’e cake house located in Birbirssa (Piyassa). I remember worrying about what to do and what to be after I was done with school. I remember the relief when the books were closed for the last time, and the diplomas were finally awarded to me. I remember thinking that at last I could get on with the real business of working on how to get out of Ukraine.
The university, for me was a time of waiting and therein lies a danger. Everything I do seems pointed to the future. As a student, I was a transient. My heart was often elsewhere. When summer comes, many guys I knew travelled home to sell stuff and make money but I stayed in Kharkov because I didn’t have a start up money to buy and sell. Many African students flew to London or France because, as former colonies, they can enter these countries without visas. When I am proud that my people never been colonized, I wished to have the means to go to these countries and work during summer times. Although that was just a dream, I had to wait until the promise I made to myself finally reigns and I am able to have a home, a place, the job and the country I call mine and and move to the next project of building family of my own.
I took you through my life’s trip to explain that nearly everything in life is rooted in the future.
Even after I became a college student here in America, I often looked beyond the mark. I lived in inexpensive apartment, economized on my grocery bills, I walked to school when almost all my roommates drove to class so that the scholarship fund I got would cover all my expenses. I only went to the movies once or twice when they costed less. Because much of what I lived for lied in the future, I often forgot that the real test was never tomorrow but it is always today. I was usually in a hurry to get on with life. Because I was anxious to begin living, I even wished to dropout of school especially when I was unable to submit so many papers to the difficult courses of graduate school. I also tried to avoid hard teachers and to read long books in outline form. I often crammed for examinations. I did all of these things in expectation of better things to come.
Because there is never enough time, I sometimes developed an attitude which will severely interfered with my progress, not only as students but throughout my life as well. The confusing thing was answering questions “How much must I give to get the grade I deserve?” “How can I master the subject? What can I learn from school so that I could use it to earn a living in the future?”
One time, I worked at the university book store filled with books with titles such as… How to Make a Killing in Real Estate, How to Make a Million Dollars, How to Sell Anything to Anyone, Shortcuts to Effective Public Speaking, 10 Days to a Better Personality, Calculus Made Easy, etc.
Well, it is easy to forget Euclid’s warning that there is no royal road to geometry or the well-known comment that there is no such thing as a free lunch.
Little by little, often imperceptibly, our minds become conditioned to getting the things we want with as little effort as possible. We guard our giving, that we may have more time for getting. Many seek grades without effort or athletic attainment without training. I also watch many people on my TV screen when they try to lose weight without dieting the same way we want to be free without being responsible. I also remember my girlfriend’s roommate becoming more concerned with finding the right race than being with the right person. She for sure sounded like our tribal politicians who would vote for the person because the man belongs to his tribe not because he is the right person for the job.
It is not that these things are illegal or immoral, but they do have one thing in common. They all represent, at least in part, an attempt to acquire something of real worth without paying adequate consideration for it. And it is a short leap from these attitudes to others which are more serious. As minds become conditioned to getting things without effort, or with as little effort as possible, it is easy to rationalize that it is a clever thing to secure advantage without paying the price.
Since I started participating in the Oromo struggle for liberation, I have seen so many Oromians anxiously trying to succeed without sacrifice. But these individuals failed to understand that if they get things without effort, they would fail to make the hard choices. They fail to exercise their brain power and thereby deprived themselves of the chance to build oneself up.
There are also those who acquired wealth with little or no effort and hated by the people they took advantage of and that is what we see in the TPLF and OPDO case. Further more, these groups developed an exaggerated view of their own ability and own importance so here they are telling the word that they are the only enlightened people to save Ethiopia from famine, chaos and even move her to first place in the world economically. The problem is that HaileSilase, Mangistu or Minilik thought that they were better than they really were and put themselves and their family members in danger.
As it stands now, the diaspora Oromians want to get something for nothing so they all have become critical of one another and suffer from feelings of patronage, nepotism, luck, influence, or favoritism. Because some of them are allowed to acquire what they have, jealousy and envy easily entered their lives.
From home front, the OPDO members who got something for nothing developed a delusion of being especially blessed by luck which discouraged them from thinking very hard and do the right thing. Over-whole, be it is the Amharic speaking so called Ethiopians, the Tigre rulers or the Oromians, we all are trying to get something for nothing at the expense of someone else’s loss.
Last of all, things cheaply purchased are seldom appreciated. Attitudes which cause us to look for bargains in some areas of life will carry over. We may then come to seek real freedom without cost only to cheapen life altogether as a result.
There is an important lesson here to learn. Somehow, some way, sooner or later, whether we want it that way or not, there are some experiences that all us must have. There are some truths that all must learn. There is a relationship between what we give and what we get. Shortcuts are often hazardous to the important things. There are no shortcuts to freedom. We must learn that freedom has its price and that there can be no exaltation without effort.
Rundassa Asheetee Hundee