By: Mulata Gudata
Oromos fought for Ethiopia to remain independent, Oromos fought for their right, Oromos fought in all the wars that happened anywhere in our land unfortunately even some did on the side of the Woyanes. There was no war that succeeded in our land without Oromos playing a significant part in it. We are known and recognised for gallantry, we are not cowards, this much is a fact. This being as it is with due respect I beg to differ, as all of us should do, with the call for us to go ahead and destroy our country to show what we are capable of. Unfortunately the fight we wage for our rights had to come after all other wars we fought, which we have also won and won it big. Which means, thank God, the sacrifice made by our martyrs is not in vain. Let me repeat what I like repeating for me to be heard loud and clear. When Ethiopians have accepted issues such as the reforming of our flag with a clear mark of Oromo identity at the centre, we have won; when they have accepted our language at national level with our preferred alphabet, it is our victory; when they have accepted to work out a resource sharing mechanism, we have achieved everything.
But sometimes when you are busy insisting on a fight you fail to notice what you have won peacefully. I am afraid that seems to be the case with some of our leaders who needlessly insist on fighting on our own, far away from the rest of Ethiopians, by failing to recognise what we have already won. I fear we have won too many that we seem to be unable to know which is which like our ancestors who used to own over 1000 heads of cattle, simply too many to recognise one from the other.
As a child my grand mum (she died at 97 years of age which was on record because of a church that was newly built at where she was born in which she was among the first to be baptised as a two month old) told me that during those happy good days when somebody’s cattle got to over a thousand heads, the person had to undergo a celebratory ritual where by a big well had to be dug and filled with milk as a pool. Then the man dips himself in it full length as a thanks giving ceremony. Such a man understandably had real trouble recognising members of his own cattle particularly when some wander away from the heard and had to be looked for or when his cattle mingled with others from a different heard.
Similarly I feel like we need some sort of dipping ritual where we can immerse some of our leaders in a ‘victory pool’ to make them feel and recognise the victory we have achieved so far to make them agree to the will of the people for us to stand with other Ethiopians with the aim of making our country a real democracy, the only thing standing out to be won. Even as a good soldier you don’t keep on needlessly blasting on into God’s thin air, you have to pause and assess your victories and losses before you continue fighting if there is need. When I decided to write on Oromo issues and came up with my first article, I came out determined to fight any one who would stand up to resist it but thank God Ethiopians seem to have no issue with it. And this is what I consider as one of the real indicators of how far we have all come in our willingness to recognise our diversity and fix our system by putting in place the necessary reform to acceptable level which the overwhelming majority of our people need.
This being the case the ball remains very much in the court of the Oromo leadership for them to go with the will of the people and take us forward. The message here is short and clear: let’s recognise our victory, stand with fellow Ethiopians, bring a positive change to our country, fix our system to make democracy the only means of governance and law the supreme rule of our land, focus on poverty thereafter and live life extra large!!!
Having said that let me pose a very timely question by asking the obvious: who said everything is hunky dory in independence? Does the tragic problem unfolding in South Sudan have anything to do with lack of independence? Definitely the answer is No. What we see playing out in there is the same problem they had all along even when they were in the bush fighting for independence. Once they got the independence, the leaders quietly went into the business of enriching themselves and the cronies around them making use of their position in the government and whatever access they had to the national kit and coffers. This left their differences temporarily pushed to the back burner gradually growing from sour to the very bitter as the poor mass remained with their usual problems of suffering under abject poverty. All that followed is what we see unfolding for the whole world to see. Who are the most losers? The poor mass!!! Who suffered the most during the fight for the independence? The poor mass!!!
This should serve as a practical evidence to make all of us understand and accept the fact that what is extremely important for human beings on the planet earth whether we are in America, the UK, Asia or Africa, whether we are independent or not is a properly reformed and fixed system made to work for all not for few lordship. And that is what we can do better together as we play the role of check and balance to one another not by going into our petty tribal fiefdoms where our woes are more likely to get worse than better as we witness the ugly sight in our newly independent neighbour.
As the saying goes what is good for the goose should be good for the gander. Similarly, what is good enough for our poor mass should be good enough for our leaders, since leaders are expected to lead for the sake of the people and not for their own sake. Furthermore, our leaders lead us best when they are able to listen to us and give directions to our wishes and aspirations. As things stand at this point in time, the interest of the Oromo people is best served by putting into action a united front with all Ethiopians far from thinking and acting in our divided ways. Anyone who advises anything different is simply saying let’s go ahead and give our country to the wind from where we cannot stand any chance of a snow ball in the hell of salvaging anything. That is not expected of any leader to advise as it is neither of any sane lay man to suggest.
Unfortunately there are some of us who tend to portray our loud voice, when we call for Oromos’ unity with other Ethiopians, as an agitation against the founding leaders of the Oromo struggle. By that they gravely fail to understand the fact that those leaders are part of the people and cannot be seen in a different class of their own by any means, for the benefit of the people should be their benefit, too. There is no denying the fact that all our leaders have made significant contributions to our struggle in their own ways for which they deserve credit and respect. Yet, it is completely wrong to consider them as flawless supper humans who cannot make mistakes for it is human to err. If and when they offer to be governed by the will of the people and turn around provided that they are in business primarily for the interest of the people and not for themselves, we should welcome all of them in order for us to closely follow on their footsteps to make sure that they lead us well and no failures like the once we have seen so far will ever be repeated, for we have fallen once too many.
I challenge all of us to have in mind millions of lives and extremely complicated social mix when we think and talk of our country, not just a lifeless shape with uneven curly and bendy lines around it on the world map. Then bring in the image of all our neighbouring countries that are quite averse to entertaining any idea of divided Ethiopia into ethnic based petty countries partly because they consider that as setting a bad example for their own countries in the long run and partly for they all either as individuals of influence in their respective governments or as a country are closely tied by their own economic interest with those who rule us today since our country is open for cheap sale in exchange for any help towards keeping TPLF/EPRDF in power for ever. Add to that mix a highly divided society with the government that is determined to remain in power by recklessly manipulating our division against us.
Given these circumstances, as I have said over and over again, the only viable alternative at our disposal is the strong will, desire and determination of our people to bring change to our country which can only be successful when we will be able to stand together. Any probable move different from a united effort simply means either running in the face of the wind from where there is no return for any of us, or remain under Woyane’s kleptocracy as we enjoy our talk-shops in exile in our petty talk-easy clubs where we listen to our own voices with like minded fellows as we fiercely resist the call for considering any different ideas and opinions that are potentially helpful.
I mentioned ODF in my previous article and that does not mean that I do not have my reservations about them as a good number of well-meaning Oromos do. Though ODF are yet to come clear with their future political moves, a good number of Oromos hold the view that ODF is in the business of smoothing out a runway from where to take off back into Fifinne to be the bosom buddies of their old friends, namely the Woyanes. If that is the case it is simply a déjà vu all over again with nothing to promise as a benefit for the people, since by that they effectively mean let’s go and save our old friends (the Woyanes) at the time of their dire need and get something in exchange for our self in the corners of power– as simple as that. It is very fresh in the memory of the Oromo people that the leading group in ODF had played a key role in installing the Woyanes in power before they were pushed out of government leaving the people in the crocodile jaw for which a lot of questions still hang on their heads.
At this point in time, when the public anger against the Woyanes has reached boiling point all we need is a political party that can promise to do all it takes to take that anger to a new level by standing with other fellow citizens to ensure it culminates in a victory for the people not one that misleads us into capitulating with the sole purpose of quenching individuals’ hunger for power. So a clear message should go out to those who have offered to support them not to unwittingly offer themselves for individuals’ free ride into power, before checking out what the people they support stand for, only to help prolong the suffering of our people at the time when it is getting closer to an end with the victory for all the oppressed people in the country.
As long as they remain in charge, Woyanes have been the same Woyanes in early 1990s, they are the same today and they will be the same tomorrow. All they want is the Woyanes’ control and supremacy over all aspects of our political and economic life. If they can recognise Oromo right and be democratic they will do it with Dr. Mararra Gudina, Dr. Nagasso Gidada and others who are in the country. They do not need the ODF group back in Addis to be democratic, we need to open our eyes and see things for what they really are. Never forget that Woyanes and democracy are mutually exclusive, for in a free and fair election they stand to lose and that is what they always work hard to avoid. We have to stop being naïve by expecting democracy from them under any excuse.
All we should expect of ODF group is an approach similar to that of Kamal Galchu’s group where they will do business with the unity groups that are very friendly and positive to Oromo issues like G7 with the sole purpose of ensuring victory comes for all the people in our country instead of plotting to take us into the Woyanes’ trap once again only to legitimise and endear themselves to Woyanes there by giving them another lease of life in power at our cost, if they are really in for that option. Why do I give unquestionable credit to the group lead by General Kamal Galchu? It is because they have accepted to stand with Ethiopians who want a future democratic and stable Ethiopia in which Oromo rights I mentioned above are accepted, recognised and implemented.
Let me ask this: when it comes to our country’s politics, something which both the hard line unity groups and the Woyanes do not want to see and hear about belongs to who? To Oromos that is G7, but the unfortunate thing is that our leaders are not smart enough to see this and devise a way of working with them, why? Power and only power but they come to tell us in a different language we are open and ready to hear – the language of tribalism which will only help to prolong our woes.
I don’t belong to any political party; if I do I simply say come and join us I am here because of A B C D. I only belong to my country and my people, and that is why it disturbs me and makes me sleepless when I look at how things are badly going against the interest of the people only because individuals are busy seeking their own interest and the crowd is happy to unwittingly offer itself for their free ride.
One thing should be clear for fellow Oromos and that is the fact that our political future lies in a well reformed stable democratic Ethiopia, any other issue apart from this only serves to distract us from this important fact. Furthermore, we should stop being cheated by naively believing that whoever calls us donning that Odaa centred flag we hold dear really aims to work for us with the dedication we expect. As the saying goes, everybody for himself only God for us all. This being the case it is up to us to carefully look and choose what is good for our people and our country and who is really in business to ensure that before we gleefully jump on board only to regret somewhere down the road.
We should always remember that the simple reason for us having a number of Oromo political parties and myriads of other parties in the name of unity is not because our problems need all those parties to be solved rather it is all these ugly groups are first for themselves and then for us. In short it is a struggle for power. This being the case, if any group in the unity force promises to work towards ensuring our right is enacted and respected we should be able to stand with them even as individuals. In a nut shell we have to start looking beyond petty issues like tribe and start focusing on issues and facts of real substance, in terms of how our interest is served, our issues are addressed and our problems solved to acceptable level. The message is short and clear: the leaders and the people should closely work together with transparency and accountability in the interest of the mass, for a better result and stable democratic country regardless of tribe or clan.
It is not unusual to hear some of our leaders unwittingly whine their accusation of influential countries like the USA and UK of impartiality for siding with the TPLF/EPRDF government not knowing how that kind of accusation easily reflects on them badly as a futile attempt to deflect attention from their own failures as leaders. Because we should not miss the fact that in the first place we have to do enough to help our self before we accuse others of not helping us. It is wise to remember that there is no justification for such accusations when we are unwilling or unable to solve our differences and stand with fellow citizens to focus on the common enemy which is the dictatorship in 4kilo.
Here again the Syrian case is the best example to be cited. As we all know, the Syrian opposition wanted and got all sorts of good will from the makers and breakers on the international stage but they were not at all available for it, simply because in their fragmented and amorphous conditions they appeared to be an unpromising entity to be feared and avoided rather than one to be supported and promoted. Unfortunately the Syrian poor mass is paying a deadly price for that failure of the leadership.
Where is our difference from them? Of course, there are no potential terrorists among us, that much even the world knows well but if our divided ways have the potential of destabilising the country as big and as diverse as ours, no one wishes for our existence leave alone being interested in supporting us. Yet we should always remember that if and when we are able to be united and speak in one voice we do not even need any support what so ever for the mere gesture of our unity is enough to send a shock wave in the TPLF/EPRDF camp and throw them into panic and pandemonium even before we move into action to remove them or force them to surrender to the will of the people. Simply imagine the Woyane conglomerate as uncemented house of rocks that crumbles by rolling in all directions with a slight push from a solid object. The moment they see our strong unity, all the ‘hodam’ group starts to scamper for safety with the sole aim of saving his/her skin and loot. Some of them will even start jumping ship before it is too late as they rush to be on our side.
Finally, I read an article, by heart, concerning the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments’ undergoing secret negotiations (at the links below), which only reminds us that one thing always remains true: Woyanes will do anything that keeps them in power. Furthermore, we have no doubt that the more they compromise our national interest the more they push themselves into the corner, getting isolated from
the people including some of their Tigryan supporters. This in turn means they will remain only with their guns which will not be of any use to them once all the citizens stand up against them in one voice.
What does this mean for Shabiya? By going for a shoddy deal that has not taken to heart the interest of the people in both countries they simply postpone a disaster that will have to come back to haunt them badly one day, just after a matter of time. It helps to remember that Woyanes now more than ever are worried by the public anger against them and they seem to be back to their deceptive tactics with Shabiya to pass this challenge and buy time. By falling for that trick the Shabiyas are not doing anything new as it is a déjà vu all again, for it is fresh in our memory how the deals made behind the back of the people of both countries took us into unnecessary war that claimed thousands of precious lives. I hope no one wishes for the repetition of the same.
Rather what is better for both the Eritrean and Ethiopian people? Work together and take Woyanes’ brinks-man-ship, grand-standing and deceptive tactics out of picture to negotiate in the best interest of both people free from mischief and underhand deals that only serves to increase the anger of the people. As long as fishy tactics with unacceptable outcome are used there will always be trouble lurking ahead to hit one day no matter how long it takes.
It is wise not to under estimate the fact that both people in Ethiopia and Eritrea are asking loudly for real democracy which is too trendy and timely for anyone to stop it without delivering just that. Any deal made between the two countries should take this fact into account to come up with a solution that can avoid future trouble and stand the test of time when a democratically elected representative governments come to place in both countries, not forgetting the fact that no one can suppress the wishes and desires of the people by gun forever. Anyone who has the interest of the Eritrean people at heart would be expected to do something that can open the heart of the people in both countries to culminate in reconciliation, nothing more or less.
In the meantime what should be our focus? Keep informing and educating our people, men and women alike as we work on our unity diligently for that will be more than enough to force Woyanes to listen to the will of the people and act accordingly.
As usual some quotations of wisdom as a parting shot:
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. Mahatma Gandhi.