By Biraanu Gammachu
Dear Naomi Y, I welcome your reaction, appreciates your attention, and hereby thanks those audiences who reached me with their intriguing and constructive feedback on my recent analysis: [Ethiopia is significantly a making of Oromo].
Here’s a short hint to help you read me well and thus clear your alleged misconception and misrepresentation.
Well my piece was, yes mainly about OLF, but did explicitly reject other significant endeavors neither of recent nor all along both at home and in the Diaspora. Take my word I will join you and we revitalize it.
As you [Naomi] acknowledged it I had been in the Ivory-tower for quit good time and you’re right for sure that I know what I am talking. Reinventing the struggle not augmented. Key personalities in the group have been at odd for free-ride on power and command on OLF as a brand. They opted to maintain the status quo than altering recourse for better. Intently coming to the public is therefore a last resort, preceded by significant internal reform efforts. More importantly down the road we [I think you inclusive] witnessed that we are largely on a fault line.
Hope you don’t expect me to spoon out the details and that how OLF’s version of ethnic nationalism did not enter into regional or/and global dimension. Its relevance has been under scrutiny even among radical Oromos. It is in fact unfortunately in most aspects contradicted itself; and blindfolded persistent inquiry in to the bigger picture. You are well aware that we could hardly find concrete witness better than Obbo Lencho Lata [ODF President] former olf deputy secretary regarding OLF’s paralysis and failure, who was honest to himself and the stakeholders. To mention few many Oromo graduates who joined and left it, Oromo’s public discourse are all manifest to the assertion. In my short analysis I indicated the failures intensity, but though I reserved from exhausting never ruled out the gains. Alleged equation of OLF’s failure to Oromo failure cannot qualify much as an inevitable implication can be spotted.
I understand you are well versed on important heterogeneity between OLF and Oromo. TPLF and OLF are mutually-formative though the former is a title-holder. Imprisonment of Oromo dissidents will continue; for TPLF to undermine its power contenders and for OLF to refresh its relevance. For that matter it’s up to you, your likes and us to come out and influence the discourse. If you did not confuse on the above conceptions hence nowhere in the piece mentioned can amount to denial of Oromo people’s continued struggle for freedom, democracy or justice. However, I am explicitly against unabated political enterprise of disintegrating Ethiopia and unhelpful move by hatred, vengeance and negative sentiment towards particular social group which has been uphold by OLF. I am about contributing my level best in bridging gaps among the ‘camps’ contrary to as infamously you wondered if I am footing in to the ‘other camp’. I am about rejecting premeditated unhealthy capitalization on our few differences in our social setup, questioning exclusive perspective and ill reference to wrong past to justify ones position today; thus claiming wrong future. Further, I called up on fellow youth and colleagues for self-introspection and revitalizing and adopting home-based inclusive non-violence struggle against oppressive regime.
I did not make either a blind rejection on the past but I objectively reasoned as follows and indicated way forward; “Historic Ethiopia in mind, let’s blame no particular social group as a sole liability to an injustice or oppression but our less accommodative and less tolerant institute of governance [social, political, economic and environmental interaction] induced by our collective or individual behavior and attitude. Our past is our collective history; no group is exclusively free of blame because everyone must have something to account for it. Therefore, the war should be not on social/ethnic or class manifestations but importantly on behaviors and attitudes that habitually embeds and institutes our thinking. Reactions against wrong tongues and actions are mainly emotional, unsustainable and quick fixes, then [w]e have to work to together to change our mindset”.
But on any account the above paragraph in quote and the preceding assertion, given you read me well, cannot be justified to fit in to […denial is not an option] frame much as you tried to paint it so. Few who had subscribed to your view implicated me of switching ‘camp’. Well holding my opinion close to my heart I am trying to reach out to relevant audience. It was meant and served the purpose intended. Otherwise I could have just pegged it on to a wall in my own bedroom. Therefore, I don’t see any problem seeking an audience for something worth public domain. Folks get me right; you are simply either substituting away the sensible issues hanging around or futilely trying to jeopardizing the message employed.
I am not convinced if you [Naomi] believed that one group is justice giver on one hand and the other group is justice receiver on the other side in absolute terms. It is a variation of time and magnitude otherwise the groups were victor and vise versa. This is not only on Oromo-Amhara plane. Many inhabitants and peoples in Ethiopia are structurally made to be in odd terms to one another. At the end of the day the beneficiaries are those few who have been standing tall on such an ill-project. But I agree with you that we need national reconciliation. This was why I made clear concluding remark; “We [People of Ethiopia] shall continue as a Whole. Tolerance, Respect, Dialogue, Compassion, Humanity, Forgiveness and Togetherness should be the order of the process.”
On Ethiopia’s political discourse, my take is simple and clear. Ethiopian Nationalism is the way forward. In this move we will be all winners. You can proof me wrong. In the analysis made before I deliberately neither outlined work plan nor listed points of negotiations. So I don’t know why you’re so worried of bargaining power. I simply at least beyond wishful thinking indicated its necessity and possibility. It is the best alternative. It’s practically but should be struggled for.
While ‘insidious Anoole’ and the likes are hot at home and in the Diaspora, for some of you [olf brainchild] I know I must have tickled your patience because you fed on the worst version of it. You can hardly imagine standing with someone whom you’re told to hate or you already called an enemy to hold as your comrade. But this is what it really means and it takes to stand for human values and sacrifice for genuine change. The late Nelson Mandela shared dinner and livelihood with those who killed his fellow Africans, those who killed his comrades and those who blindly imprisoned him for 27 years. We all Ethiopians regardless of our social setup (Afar, Somali, Gumuz, Tigre, Amhara, Oromo, Hadiya, Walayita …) should join hands to quest for better Ethiopia. The center of the matter is our mindset.
You [anybody who doubts Ethiopian nationalism can work] are never given chance to imagine the other side or maybe you did not bother to do so. Of course these are some of the ugly faces of Us and Them politics where you are either a friend or a foe which is a complete mess. We must [all stakeholders] in that case first unconditionally accepts that we belong to the House then it would be easy to sit and dialogue on the rule of the House. You can jump to probe how? Why? Who? When? I insist, look at things around you critically. Be honest to yourself and judge. We sacrificed a lot on our own, for our own side. The return was little and unpredictable. That is a chapter by itself. Now we should face another chapter at different configuration, scope and target. Vow we [those in fresh unity] shall pay cost in unison for our common assets. The return will be big and predictable. This is just a simple highlight. It sounds incomplete and hasty to outline on how Ethiopian nationalism can be asserted short of proper engagement of the stakeholders. But there are commendable initiatives underway to this effect back home and at the Diaspora. Surely circumstances are leading us to such a forum. I am hopeful; Ethiopian Millennium generation will move on, and some time to come we will say ‘The Ethiopian odds, yes we won’.
Ethiopia is undertaking unavoidable transition; harvesting significant internal and external resources, revitalizing local capacity, and playing before powerful eyes. But she still has unwarranted corridors and black holes where political opponents still fugue to fit in. Equally important, power contenders’ unsound excuses in forging and coalescence resources against the regime which gave it safe haven and encouraged its indefinite grip on power should be overcome.
Presumably politics is a game with various players; comprehending relevant internal and external dynamics, and compromising on better tomorrow is an inextricable phenomenon. But power holders are playing on our weak differences and freely riding across our shallow strategic thinking.
Hope I shaded light on the discourse, and refreshed you.
By Biraanu Gammachu