This article will be presented in three parts. The first part will address a general background in media and the OMN’s successes since its inception. The second part will look at the inherent structural problems that are facing the OMN and the damages that they are doing to our cause. Part three will conclude by recommending the way forward.
Readers are respectfully urged to be enduring and read all three parts and then either support it or present counter argument with reasoning. A very important point that the reader has to bear in mind is that the OMN was established and financed by the Oromo people with the hope that it will be a voice for the voiceless. As such, it is a nonprofit public property.
It should be understood from the get go that the authors of this article are supporters of the OMN and regular financial contributors who have nothing but good intentions for this media. We do hope that criticisms of individuals or groups of individuals that inevitably will occur in the article will be taken as constructive. Our intent here is to inform the Oromo people why we think OMN is off its course and needs to be recalibrated so that it can hit its target.
The way we look at it, OMN is a homemade Oromo institution that we all built together from a scratch. We want it to have a great future with a solid foundation so that all of us, irrespective of our political, religious, and regional differences, will be proud of to be part of such a great institution. It is only through our collective effort that the OMN can achieve its objective of being the voice for the voiceless.
Media has constructive roles to play for any society and it is no exception for the Oromo. Media has played key roles in shaping and focusing public attention on certain social issues. With advances in technology, the role that the media plays in our lives is more important now than it has ever been. Unfortunately, a media can also be a mouth piece for corrupt governments, criminals, and ambitious politicians causing immeasurable harm to the public. It is, therefore, the responsibility of the public to ensure that the media adheres to the principles of ethical journalism by being truthful, accurate, fair, independent, and accountable.
The idea and initiative to establish an Oromo media that is dedicated to Oromo cause was an eye-opening experience and mind liberating. No doubt that it has advanced the Oromo nation to be self-reliant; it is no wonder every Oromo rallied behind the idea after generational experiences with Abyssinian distortions.
The core value enshrined in the principle of a sustainable Oromo media was OROMUMMAA. This, in turn, brought all Oromo across the aisle together with a motto to do what is good for their just cause and use the newly found opportunity to contribute to the self-liberation process. It was timely too as the diaspora population was thriving and multiple internet radio programs and a few TV broadcasts had started; indicating a potential for financial strength, manpower availability, and the capacity to get the job done.
OMN is one of our nation’s greatest achievements. We would like to use this opportunity to express our appreciation for everyone who contributed from its conceptualization to its actualization, be it morally, financially, or technically; including those whose contribution is usually unnoticed. With your deeds, our image, the way we look at ourselves, and the way others look at us has been changed forever.
Despite a few initial hiccups and wrangling, the OMN team successfully managed to broadcast a world class TV in Afaan Oromo. For that, the entire team deserves respect and admiration of the Oromo people. Their broadcast was not only superior in quality to that of our oppressors’ media but also it was timely (near real time), informative, balanced, and resourceful in dealing with our enemy’s effort to sabotage it. Its contribution to the Oromo struggle by broadcasting Qeerroo movements live was unforgettable. It shook the foundation of the façade of democracy that the TPLF mafia group claimed to have implemented.
As the struggle for freedom in Oromia intensified, however, we started observing signs that are counterproductive to our struggle. Instead of being fair, impartial, balanced, and a unifying force, our OMN started being divisive and politically biased. We are indeed very saddened and heartbroken to learn that OMN regressed through time. As we will discuss in part two of this series, we believe such undesired turn of events is the result of inefficient management, financial dishonesty, and egocentric political ambitions by the management. We understand that every Oromo person, including those working for the OMN, has every right to choose a political ideology that he/she thinks is the best for the future of Oromia. What is wrong, however, is using a media that we all built together as a mouth piece for specific group’s agenda or specific person’s political ambitions. That is the reason we are writing this article so that the Oromo people can fully understand the danger that is ahead for our struggle and make the necessary adjustments.
Our concerns are honest and we want to avoid OMN’s transformation into self-destructing auto immune illness. We hope that we can reshape it together as we found it together. Oromia Media Network is an Oromo organization; we cannot allow it to fail and this is the right time to recalibrate it and put it on the right track.
At the OMN inauguration ceremony about three years ago, a speaker gave a short but vital advice to the newly born media organization by saying “fear God, do no harm, and speak the truth.” We would like to urge OMN to adhere to that precious advice. We truly believe that, if corrective measures are not taken in a timely manner, the current course that OMN is taking will lead us to a disaster unlike one that we have not seen before as a nation. Instead of hitting the real enemy, it will hit our own people; instead of uniting us, it will divide us; instead of weakening the enemy, it will paralyze our strength. Our just cause for which thousands have sacrificed their dear lives is at stake and we have to act as one people to correct the course.