By: Mulata Gudata
To begin with my first article at the link below remains my shield and arrow whenever I talk of issues related to Oromo politics. For this reason I always advise anyone who have not read it to do so before reading any of my articles that followed it.
We can easily trace our political ideologies of today and the leadership that holds sway on our political landscape for nearly four decades back to the last years of Emperor Hile Silasse’s reign. Furthermore, when we closely scrutinise the progress made and the achievements recorded we recognise it more for its failures and the blood shade it brought to our land than anything else. If we are honest to our self we can easily see more complicated political and social issues on our hand than it was at any time in our history leave alone the invaluable love lost from our midst which is not by any account symptomatic of a healthy society.
This makes it important the reconsideration of that approach with the view of stepping back from the path that kept us getting lost without making any meaningful headway for this long in solving the issues we set out to address from the very beginning at that very early time in our endeavour towards social reform.
In my previous paper I have made my argument in favour of going for federalism on provincial basis as we knew them before the 1991 charter; as I called for the reconsideration of Oromia since there are quite a number of reasons to support that. Let me elaborate a little more:
1- By remaining with Oromia as it is we will risk being seen by other Ethiopians with suspicion as aliens who are bidding for time to bolt out of the union and that makes it difficult if not impossible for us to take our deserved place of playing the leading role in our country as the significant majority that we are.
2- Given the empty name in which we are recognised as Oromos only in Oromia we do not stand tall to capacity as we are mutilated, dwarfed and insulted while others have expanded and stretched beyond capacity at our expense. Oromia as Oromo region is incomplete and unqualified because its benefit to us the Oromo people is not only a mere symbolic and nominal nature without real substance to us in terms of political or economic power but also it left out many Oromos in all corners of the country to whom we cannot simply say go to hell and forget, as it would be not only irresponsible and immoral but also starkly contradicts with the very principle of the Oromo leadership that claim to stand for all Oromos.
In order to correct that we do not need to go to war as TPLF wants us to do but allow people to be the way they have been for generation before the TPLF policy of divide and rule came to the scene. There are also many non-Oromos in the region who want to remain in united Ethiopian.
3- Oromia has been recognised the way it is to keep us busy tearing at each other over it and over many other similar regions prone to conflict because of their deliberate design to court conflict and friction among communities that lived together peacefully for generations prior to the arrangement. It was meant to make the process easy for TPLF to steal from Oromia (remember the 100,000 tone coffee?) and other regions when we are simply happy to defend the empty name with no real benefit to us and then eventually for TPLF to escape with their loot peacefully by throwing us into turmoil if and when things get out of their control.
In a nutshell, all regions under TPLF/EPRDF rule are purposefully designed to keep us apart in disagreement and conflict which makes them liable to reconsideration when we talk about coming together for our common good.
4- Oromia remains the big elephant in the house; unless we address it first we cannot go about correcting other regions that are awkwardly lumped together without the interest of the inhabitants virtually in all corners of the country including the Oromos outside Oromia. We got to be open to the concerns of others as well.
5- Oromia comes up as the most contentious issue which stands in the way of negotiated solution to our differences simply because it has never been in our history before the 1991 charter. This is a bitter fact.
6- The fact that Finffine as the capital of the country is located at the heart of Oromia with its hugely diverse social mix makes the concept of Oromos’ want of independence sound absurd for we are not only the majority in our country but also we are located at the centre with other Ethiopians as minorities all around us wanting to remain Ethiopians.
7- Generally our people have many distinctive behaviours and styles of social life that makes them closely associate in terms of provinces much better than in any other way. Take people from Harare province who are more at home with Harages than with any other group from any part of our country because of their open, easy going and care free character. Ethiopians in general get along better and associate more closely on provincial basis, Gondores with Gondores, Wollaga with Wollaga, Arsi with Arsi and so on. Anyone who stands to dispute this is simply not telling the truth.
8- Provincial federalism makes administrative approach easier with high transparency and accountability for we don’t need cumbersome bureaucratic jungles in which corruption has a higher chance of thriving.
9- When we remain with Oromia there is a grave risk of it breeding rivalry among us on clan basis that can gradually grow into uncompromising animosity which would in turn make it impossible for us to stand together as a block and form a viable coalition with others to contest and win elections for I strongly believe winning elections after elections in a fair and free democratic process is rightfully ours. In short it can serve as a ground for rivalry among us that can have unforeseen grave impact on our role at national level.
10- In favour of retaining Oromia as it is, there is only one reason which is simply, we Oromos want it that way. We don’t have any more strong reason and that leaves our reason not good enough on its own.
I know I am very harsh and incisive in my analysis and reasoning and that can easily make me appear as anti-Oromo in the eyes of many but far from that I want us to approach our issues with truth and reason, as the saying goes truth and only truth can liberate us.
I had a friend whom I used to describe as a hard line pro unity who could not brook anything as Oromo issues, so much so that whenever I discussed politics with him we often left it on a verge of quarrelling. Finally we had to part ways about five years ago as it normally happens to refugee friends when they go anywhere life offers to take them. Since then the first time I hear from him came to be when he read my first article which he came across in zeHabesha web page from where he picked my email address and contacted me with ‘special urgency’ as he puts it himself.
Then he asked me for my phone and called me a day later. Throughout our discussion about politics that lasted for more than an hour, I was left feeling like I was talking to a different person not the hard headed man I knew five years ago. And that made me amazed at how much the political mentality of our people has changed for better by learning to think wisely far away from only-mine mindset that used to characterise our political mentality. He happened to be one of many people I came across with remarkable understanding of how we should live together as a diverse society that is comfortable with its differences.
I could not believe him when he said he is ready to learn Oromo language himself with Qubee alphabet before he starts to teach it to his children. He concurs with my thought that we have been put in a hole from which we are unable to dig our self out unless we go out of our way to accept one another with a good understanding. Ethiopians have undergone this much change in the way they have come to be ready to accept anything that helps them to live together which is a very good sign indicting towards the possibility of building a healthy society that feels at home with its diversity. Now it is up to our leadership to heed what people are asking for and act up on it.
Talking of friends let me add one more which is about one from Ogaden whom I had to nickname Boqoro (many kings in Somali language) for a good reason. He has also promised to come up for me with one which I may have to announce when it materialises. I often meet with Boqoro whenever we want to have coffee which we never miss in this time and age, thanks to mobile phone no man is alone any more for lack of contact with a friend. We sit for hours especially during weekends at where we talk politics and exorcise our spirit of work and family hassles.
Though he has enough Amharic to get by we often do our chat in Somali language for he is more comfortable when we chat in his mother tongue than in Amharic simply for the ease of expressing himself better. Chatting in Somali language means by default there is a sense of inducement inherent in the language to pick on something that can give rise to a nickname and that makes you sort of a real Somali with the culture to make it complete. So I did my part when I picked out the nickname for him out of our regular conversations.
It came out of Boqoro’s opinion of our tribal politics as he holds the view that we have to be divided and remain that way in order to have our tribal mini-states that should come complete with its unelected respective tribal kings. He often says if we fix our system and remain united by making law the supreme rule of the land and fair and free democratic process the only vehicle towards public office at all administrative levels, we will have only one elected king which is not in the interest of our tribal lords. Remain divided to have many kings without choice seems to be the essence that drives our tribal politics, in his view.
We both agree that our politics had to go tribal for a good reason when the ruling class remained insensitive and unable to properly address the social issues that brought us down the road we have come. But we seem to be wanting to remain that way by choice when we can address those issues now more than ever before without the need of tearing our country apart.
We also understand that breaking our country down will not by any means be in the interest of our poor mass. Our views converge on the fact that it is possible for us to democratise our system by resolving all outstanding socio-political issues in order for us to be able to have an elected leader with term limits of a maximum of 10 years (of two terms) for a leader to be in office. This is what our leaders should have in mind to take us towards resolving our differences amicably.
Correction: though the Ethiopian forces went into Somalia in 2007, I quoted it as 1997 by mistake in my previous article. I apologise to my readers for misleading them, as I request for the correction to be accepted.
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