For a keen observer, it is not very difficult to see that genocide is happening in Oromia against the Oromo people. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines genocide as “a deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group”. A deliberate and systematic destruction of the Oromo people has been taking place since Woyane assumed power 26 years ago. The current situations in various parts of Oromia appear to be the beginning of the final phase of TPLF’s plan to wipe out our people. While all of this is happening, the so called international community is doing nothing but watching; in some cases they are encouraging the Woyane bandits by giving them resources that they need to accomplish their sinister plans. We have observed the world powers shading their crocodile tears but doing very little to stop the genocide. At this point, they have no moral authority to tell us what we need to do to defend ourselves. It is, therefore, up to us, the Oromo People, to stop this carnage using whatever means available. We must rise up in unison, as we have successfully done in the 16th century, and defend ourselves from these cruel creatures and restore our freedom, liberty, and dignity. In this piece, we will attempt to address what kind of unity will advance our cause and how we can achieve it.
Ever since the great Oromo nation lost its freedom around the turn of the 20th century, several disparate attempts have been made in different regions of the Oromo land to regain what has been lost. The enemy, aided by foreign powers with vested interests, used every means at its disposal to keep the Oromo nation under its control. One of the most potent methods that they utilized to keep us submissive was the old divide and rule tactic that they copied from the British Empire and perfected in the Ethiopian context. To some extent, they succeeded in dividing us along the artificial physical boundaries (regional) of the vast Oromo land and religious affiliations.
Despite the massive effort by the ruling classes, the Oromo knew that their bondage runs much deeper than those superficial divisions. They knew that they were all Oromo before they adopted the different religions and/or long before they settled in different regions. They knew that they were all children of the great Abbaa Gadaa with their own unique cultures, traditions, and advanced democratic system of governance. It was this knowledge that motivated and led the great Oromo nationalists like General Waqo Gutu, General Tadasa Biru, the Reverend Gudina Tumsa, Baro Tumsa, Mamo Mezemir, Elemo Qilxu, and thousands more to sacrifice their dear lives for their people.
A call for unity has been reverberating throughout the Oromo nation for as long as an Oromo struggle for freedom has been going on. Our musicians, children, women, and the elderly have been singing “tokkummaa, tokkumma, yaa ilmaan Oromoo tokkummaa” knowing that it is only through our unity that we can end the humiliating discrimination and marginalization of our people. There were times when this “tokkummaa” appeared illusive and unattainable to some. There were, in fact, times when an apparent lack of “tokkummaa” resulted in missed historical opportunities. The burning question then becomes “what made tokkummaa illusive”? This is the dilemma we attempt to address in this piece.
We are United
Contrary to the popular belief, we argue that we are united as people. We are as united as any social group can be, if not more. Our unity is anchored on the very strong and unshakeable foundation and common heritage of Oromummaa. Just ask your Oromo friends if they dislike another Oromo that is from a different region and/or has a different religion. We are confident that the answer will always be a definite “No”. If so, where does the perceived division among us is coming from? Could it be our misguided imagination? Are we just assuming that others, not us, are dividing our people and running with that assumption?
To make our point, we ask that every Oromo reading this article pause for a moment and think about what they felt when they heard or read news stories regarding the Irrechaa massacre, the Ambo massacre of our youth, the harrowing stories about the mother who was forced to sit on her child’s dead body, the eight month pregnant women who was killed, the nine year old boy who was shot while playing outside and was screaming when physicians were trying to save his life, the elementary school beautiful girl who was shot at her school in Western Oromia, the beautiful young lady who was gunned down in the town of Dire Dawa, and the list goes on. Why do you think was it that your tears started coming down your cheeks involuntarily? Did you say at the time that he/she is not from my region or religion; so I do not care? We believe you did not. True, as human beings we feel sad when we hear such harrowing stories. However, do you think others would have cried as much as you did? Do you really think that others went sleepless for days as you did? We hope you are not naïve enough to think others felt the same way too.
We would also like to ask you some other questions. Why do we have a knee-jerk reaction every time a non-Oromo uses the derogatory word against our Oromo brothers and sisters? Why do we get into a fight even when the insults were not directed at us personally? Why do we get disappointed when we attend an event with non-Oromo for socializing and realize that the Oromo culture is not in the mix?
On several of these questions, we are not naïve to assume that every Oromo has the same feelings and reactions. We are certain, however, that the vast majority of Oromos have similar reactions. This is because of Oromummaa –the strong bondage that brings us together. It is unbreakable. All attempts directed at breaking the bondage for over a century has failed. No doubt, the current and future attempts will fail, again.
We are not claiming here that all is well and our unity is as strong as it can be. We watch with desperation, for example, when fellow Oromo are at each other’s throat on social media instead of directing their anger and frustration against the real enemy. We are of the opinion that these differences are natural in any society, and not unique to the Oromo. Unity does not imply similar thinking, having the same idea, being a member of the same organization, nor following the same religion and the same leader. That brand of unity is far-fetched and most probably unattainable. Unfortunately, that is what most of us have been chasing for too long. Instead of unity, that is a groupthink in our opinion, and a groupthink is anti-progress. It is through diversity that we can strengthen our unity.
Behavioral scientists and psychologists have studied for centuries and proven that we are all different when it comes to what we like and dislike. We are all wired differently; that is not a problem by itself. It becomes a problem when someone wants to manipulate and use it to further his/her personal ambitions. Understanding such possibilities will help us to correct our line of thinking going forward and to make the right decisions that benefit our people at large.
Unity of Purpose
After arguing that we are united and one people at the core, we would like to stress that we need to work on strengthening our unity of purpose. Unity of purpose does not exclude our human differences. Instead it embraces it. It does not care whether we are Christians or Muslims; whether we are from the east, west, north, or the south; whether we support OLF, ODF, KWO, or other political organizations; whether we want an independent democratic republic of Oromia or a democratic Oromo State within the context of the Ethiopian Federal system. All it cares about, and what it stands for, is that the democratic and human rights of the Oromo People be respected; and that no one else but the Oromo people can decide, on their own freewill, how they may want to live. We all know that the current rulers of Ethiopia, being a minority for themselves, will not willingly allow the Oromo people to exercise their rights to self-determination. That is why they have been massacring, imprisoning, torturing, looting, raping, and displacing our people from their ancestral lands. It is, therefore, in our common interest to remove this tyrannical mafia group from the yoke of our people. This is where the unity of purposes comes in. We are free to vehemently dislike and oppose one or another Oromo organization and its leaders for various reasons; however, as long as that organization is fighting against the real enemy, we have to respect their position. We should also direct our fight against that common enemy. It is only then that we can achieve a strong unity of purpose.
What is going on in the Eastern, Southern, and South-Eastern Oromia is alarming. We predict this trend will continue in other parts of Oromia as well as it is designed by the tyrannical Woyane regime with the goal of weakening the Oromo struggle for justice. In fact, there are tell-tell signs that the same has already started in Wallo, Arsi, Wallaga and other areas of Oromia. If this trend is allowed to continue unabated, we can be certain that not only will millions of our people be massacred very soon but also our Oromummaa, the foundation of our unity, may be destroyed in the process. We have a strong belief that the Oromo people will not allow this to happen.
We must work together towards expediting the downfall of this murderous group to minimize the human tragedy in Oromia. To this end, we call up on all Oromo to stop the bickering among ourselves and direct our energy and resources towards defeating the real enemy. Our enemy is badly wounded and is teetering on the edge of a cliff. It is our responsibility to finish it off. A wounded beast is very dangerous and will do everything to survive. We, therefore, make the following appeals and recommendations:
1. We appeal to the leaders of all Oromo political and civic organizations to understand that the Oromo struggle is much bigger and much more important than their personal and/or organizational ambitions. They should understand that our existence as a nation is at stake and it greatly depends on decisions they make today. It is also important to remind them that history will judge them tomorrow based on decisions they make today. They should, therefore, put down their egos and ambitions and try harder than they have tried before to work with their Oromo brothers and sisters with whom they disagree on certain issues as long as they stand for a common purpose of Oromo freedom.
2. We call up on every Oromo, including social media activists, who support different Oromo political organizations declare an immediate “cease fire” on insults, character assassinations, and negative comments against various Oromo organization and their leaders on public and social media outlets. Any individual or group who breaks this “cease fire” should be considered an enemy agent by all of us, even if what they are saying supports our personal points of view.
3. All Oromo media groups, irrespective of their affiliations, should promote the idea of “cease fire” starting immediately and reach out to as many Oromo public as possible in the shortest possible time with the same message. They should also refrain from broadcasting or disseminating incendiary and controversial issues that affect our unity of purpose. The media has a responsibility to be fair and balanced to differing points of views on certain issues so that the Oromo public can make learned decisions.
4. The line has now been drawn clearly and our real enemy has been identified. We have to stop chasing the unattainable unity of looking and thinking alike and instead direct our rage against the real enemy. We have to redouble our efforts to defeat this enemy and protect our unity of purpose. The unity of purpose that is being built by focusing on the real enemy will ultimately lead to more understanding and thereby strengthening of our inherent “tokkummaa”. It will also nourish our common Oromummaa, which is the foundation of our unity.
5. We must stop standing on the sideline and pointing fingers at our fellow Oromo. It is time to join a group of our choice to make a difference. Do not always expect the desired change to come to you from the top. We have to be the agent for the kind of change that we wish to see by joining the change makers and working from within.