By Ibsaa Guutama*
After occupation, the world around the Oromo was sealed. They were the few who were able to see through narrow holes created by wear and tear. They were those few who kept on moving until they founded the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and set in motion a concerted political movement for liberation. The OLF was able to break the seal wide-open and effect the renaissance of Oromummaa, the moving force of Oromo spirit for survival and liberty. Oromummaa, as an outlook, is greater than its disciples for it reflects aspirations of a great people: their past, their present and their future. That is what many narrow-minded, self-serving individuals and groups fail to understand. That is what the enemy and its agents try to distort. Oromo difficulties are big; and their solution requires big thinking.
The OLF, as a great organization in the history of the Oromo liberation movement, as it is, is not as great as the outcome that Oromummaa envisions. Oromummaa is the guiding principle for all Oromo in their efforts towards liberation and the life of happiness for all citizens of Oromiyaa, irrespective of race, tribe, nationality or creed. It is the manifestation of Oromo aspiration for humanity, in general, and its African neighbors, in particular, to lead a harmonious and tranquil life.
The Oromo Liberation Front is the leading instrument for the renaissance of Oromo culture and pride. The youth that rose then in unison had advanced Oromummaa to a level never-seen-before in the colonial past. They were productive because they were united and committed to break the sealed environment once and for all. But, for evil minded infiltrators entrenched within its ranks and file, no body could have stopped them short of their goal.
It is unfortunate that they have failed to resist forces of disunity and reaction to an extent of being dismembered into pieces. They became analogous to broken clay utensils or shard (qiraacii) back in the countryside. The pieces cannot perform the job the whole is supposed to perform. To be of use, the broken pieces may be repaired by a handypersons or crushed into fine pieces and remolded by mixing with fresh clay. Only then can they be made into use once again.
To mend and reuse them, as a unit, is the fastest solution. Some cracks need more plastering to go into them to avoid leakage. If they are left as pieces, the owner will throw them out. But, others may use them for different purposes. Some may be used by anybody to fetch fire from the neighborhood or to burn incense on them or used as containers to feed dogs, cats, etc. The fate of OLF factions will not be different unless they change, change for betterment of the national cause.
Oromo nationalists, and even the factions that broke apart, have started to show concern about the deteriorating situation of the liberation movement. As long as it could create pressure on all actors, such concern is never too late. It is a national disgrace to break apart and be seen as pieces that anybody can manipulate at will. The Oromo cause is greater than all its wholesome organizations - let alone the pieces. It cannot be served by pieces scattered all over the place. The pieces must be brought together and repatriated to their own country. There is no shame greater than subordinating the cause of this great people to petty idiosyncrasies. There is still time to correct past mistakes and start anew.
It is now a public secret that all those that went apart are talking about coming together. Past efforts have failed because everyone was at each others’ throat. But now, most have realized that no one is capable of severing the others’ head. Rather, they are more weakened and rendered impotent than ever. That is why - it seems the right time to create national reconciliation has come. That is why - Oromo of good intentions have started to air their wishes for the coming together of all liberation forces of Oromiyaa. The unity of OLF factions will make it easier for all other forces to form a formidable union. That is what their nation is longing for. It will give the nation the advantage of facing the enemy or in executing public relation duty from one front. But, showing intention alone is not enough by itself, everyone has to start to act towards the intended goal, and act fast. Otherwise, evil wishers who lie in ambush could sabotage this blessed intention. The burden of mending this schism lies with nobody except the groups involved.
The task ahead is overwhelming. All Oromo liberation forces must be brought together. Because of them, repression is growing in folds back home. Allegations of being a member of OLF are herding people to prison in amass. Many are killed, tortured, kidnapped and disappeared, still several are exiled. That has to be stopped and stopped fast. There is no use to call oneself a freedom fighter unless one serves as a shield for one’s people. The circumstance calls for sacrifice, not to find ways and means of hobbling and outsmarting each other. The enemy is out there shaming and dehumanizing their people. They are also facing ignominious experiences in alien hands by their own making.
So, the solution is to get together, patch up the differences, cement the broken parts and act as a united front. OLF is a front formed by people who had difference in outlook, but had a common goal. It is not a party. It was by subordinating all other interests and beliefs to a higher cause, the national kaayyoo, that they created this organization. The time to run on a different platform is yet to come. Until then, the common program of liberation has to be upheld if OLF has to present a united struggle that encompass all Oromo irrespective of region, religion or political ideology. Otherwise, they will remain potsherds and so irrelevant for the cause. Oromummaa and the Oromoo cause are greater than organizations and individuals that run them. The frailer to understand this will finally lead the actors to disgrace. All black tongues will curse them for being indifferent and try to advance a hidden divisive agenda when Oromiyaa is burning.
As far as the great cause, the kaayyoo, is concerned noone can stop it. It will find its way as it did when creating the OLF. Oromummaa is now mature enough to rally all Oromoo from north to south and east to west. No primitive thinking tribalist can hinder that. Enemy machinations and conspiracy may slow its pace with the help of the galtuu, quislings, but that will be only for the time being. Those who started the movement may not live longer to see the final result. But, to watch the movement taking the right direction gives no less joy than participating in the final victory parade. The message to all “manguddoo” (elders) in and out of liberation organizations is that this is the moment they are expected to play their national age role.
There are those who hate the movement taking the right steps. The colonizers, the hidebound, the misfits, the intriguers, and hatemongers are among these. It needs determination and real commitment to the cause to overcome it. Only the courageous can transcend individual and group interest, and make peace for the sake of the nation’s well-being. The temptation to changing tracks by influences of external forces and own ignoramus could be an obstacle. Any change has to come according to set policies and programs, not group or individual whim. There is nothing permanent in the universe - let alone tactics and strategies. It only demands mutual understanding of the process to be followed and the basic national interest. That may help avoid mistakes similar to the past.
Much is being fanned about regionalism and other societal subdivisions. Are they factors to worry about? Yes, for the time being, they are. Politicians, whose aim is not long-term interest of the nation, but the satisfaction of their ego-driven greed, may try to appeal to people’s irrational primary feelings. When they fail to get followers with platforms based on outlook, they could revert to such primary feelings to galvanize support. They may succeed until the people realize they were being manipulated to break traditional bonds, which are humiliating to gosa (the tribe). Given the traditional Oromo wisdom, there will be no doubt that it will boomerang and dishonor the initiators. The Oromo have the mechanism and skill of keeping their differences in their proper place. This is not the time to ask for a seat for a separate constituency, but the time to sacrifice for national liberation. Leadership positions must be earned with outstanding performance as periodically evaluated by peers.
The basis of Oromummaa is democracy and respect for the right of all beings. That is part of Oromo politico-social DNA. An Oromo cannot be a dictator unless under spell of aliens. A member of ruling class of the colonizing nation cannot be democratic unless denied the chance to be a dictator. We can see those in power appearing as all-knowing and perfect in their administration. There is no country in the world that is more fair and smarter than them. For them, democracy, human and individual rights exist only as words, and so fake. They cannot appreciate them as an ideal that the world aspires to achieve. They are not comfortable even with the concept.
That is the nature of all dictators or dictators-to-be. They trample or plan to trample on people’s rights, and they claim it is for their good. That is why - they cannot create stable society. That is why - we say all that have faith in Oromummaa will outlive these butchers and form a better world for all. Those aspiring for power are not different from power holders. Name one who is not against Oromo’s right to national self-determination. Name one who has not abused the Oromo directly or as a tool of others. Whether through our faith or experience, it is clear for us that justice will prevail.
Oromo are greater than their organization in thought and deeds. They will not accept humiliations brought to them through those who claim to represent their cause. The pieces must soon become a whole if they wish to serve the nation. There is no reason that struggle of over forty millions be held hostage by a handful. The message is, think big, as big as your nation, and then only you will deserve the honor of being a liberation foot soldier and the leader. Do not listen to detractors for they are in service of the enemy or are mentally grafted.
Why do people insist for these groups to unite when they have already proved their incompatibility to operate together? The Oromoo is a nation of consensus. They will not give up to majority dictation ignoring the feelings of disgruntled minority. The Oromo liberation movement has several difficulties. The major among them is the divided leadership. Three groups move under the same name, but separate leadership. It is crippling for the movement and confusing to the nation and third parties. Therefore, these groups have to come together, identify the causes for their division, remove the obstacles and agree on the best way to call Kora Sabaa, the National Congress. The Kora can take their findings into consideration and map out strategies that could lead to the national goal, the Kaayyoo. From then, there will only be one ‘body’ under the name “OLF”. Oromummaa does not allow us to give up on each other.
The causes that brought to the schism could be several. Some may remain confidential for ever. Leaving that aside for history to dig out, those that meet must be willing to bring forward the rest of the causes for the dissention and address them with sincerity. Together, they must face the public openly and explain their findings as to avoid similar mistakes in the future. Little minds may try to inject poison to create a backlash. But, those who think big are required to tackle even more exacting problems. To overcome, they have to approach the problem in good faith. They have to give their compatriots the benefit of the doubt with all genuineness. Building trust has priority over all others. They have to put aside what they have done to each other in the past. Otherwise, it will amount to going back and splash in a quagmire from which it would be impossible to extract oneself. Those that pretend to change cannot hide for long without exposing themselves. Then, the nation will recognize who the culprit is.
Those who cannot surmount petty manipulations and smears cannot be expected to lead such a great nation to freedom. They remain good-for-nothing bunches-of-simpletons. It will then be time for the nation to look for alternatives. Those who are worthy of national respect are those who think big; small problems will fall in place. So think big. Be selfless; otherwise, you cannot THINK BIG.
Blessed are those who open their hearts for nagaa and araaraa.
Unite! You have a world and honor to gain!
Honor and glory for the fallen heroines and heroes; liberty equality and freedom for the living and nagaa and araaraa for the Ayyaanaa of our forefathers!
* Ibsaa Guutama is a member of the generation that drew up the first Political program of the OLF.Gubirmans Publishing - July 2009