I think now at this “hot season of election,” it is the right time for Medrek to make Birtukan Midhagsa its formal chairperson through nominating Andinet as the party in turn of taking the leadership from OPC of Merera Gudina. Of course, the representative of the chairperson will be Gizachew Shiferraw. It is both tactically and strategically important for Medrek to do this specially at this “time of election” for Birtukan is seen as a moderate politician by almost all citizens, nations and parties of the empire, including the members of the ruling party. She is like “Mandela” for most of them as Merera Gudina described her in one of his interviews. The question yet to be answered is: can Medrek be the same to the ANC of South Africa? Can it lead the troubled empire to a democratic transition as the ANC did in South Africa in the year 1994? If Birtukan is like “Mandela,” can Meles Zenawi act as Frederik Willem de Klerk? Why are the Ethiopianists, including Ethiopianist Oromos, and even the Oromianists (including both the federalists and the liberators) are in favour of Medrek? I here try to give short possible answers.
On Being Biologically Oromo, Psychologically Oromo and Ideologically Oromo
First, we need to answer the questions like who is Ethiopianist or Ethiopianist Oromo? I think this group of people includes those who give priority to Ethiopiawinet (Ethio-nationalism) rather than to their ethno-nationalism like Oromummaa (Oromo nationalism). Ethiopianist Oromos are not those who, despite being biologically from Oromo origin, psychologically never identify themselves with Oromo. Such people may be Ethiopianists, but they are not Ethiopianist Oromos. Ethiopianist Oromos accept at least that they are from the nation Oromo and do also identify themselves psychologically as such, but ideologically they are vehemently the supporters of Ethio-nationalism. Otherwise, it is estimated that there are a significant number of the Amharinya- and Tigrinya-speakers, who do not identify themselves with Oromo, but who are in reality biologically from national Oromo origin.
Defining the Ethiopanist Camp Ethio-nationalism/ Ethiopiawinet is almost like an ideology with the belief in Ethiopia with the history of about 3000 years, be it myth or reality. People, who do belief in this ideology, including Ethiopianist Oromos, try to keep the “national unity” and “territorial integrity” of this Ethiopia at any cost. Here is the very short definition given for such ideology:
“The meaning of Ethiopiawinet seems to be identified with Ethio-nationalism, and it was said that the term Ethiopiawinet was used by the late Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie to describe the virtues of the divine nature of a multi-cultural Ethiopia, which was tolerant, and economically flourishing, i.e a movement assisting in helping to restore justice and democracy to Ethiopia. In short, Ethiopiawinet, as believed till now is – When Myth Becomes Reality.”
In relation to this definition, nowadays we do observe in the empire the following two types of Ethiopianists:
- the Conservative Unitarists are in the first group which includes those who do try to reverse the kilil-federalism and build unitary Ethiopia for they fear that this language-based federation can lead to the disintegration of the empire. There are Ethiopianist Oromos who also believe like this; for instance, those in AEUP and those in EDP. This Ethiopianist group specifically targets Oromia, and they want to get rid of this Oromo-state, which according to them is almost a “country with in a country.” Some supporters of EDP have started to explicitly advocate for fostering “Shoa-kilil” at the center of Ethiopia – which will contain almost all areas of the previous Shoa province. With this maneuver, they want to divide Oromia into at least three pieces: Western Oromia, “Shoa-kilil” and the rest South-Eastern Oromia. Some very conservative parties like the newly re-organized AEPO (All Ethiopian People’s Organization), the pro-Asrat Weldeyes party (different from AEUP of Hailu Shawel), have started even to cry for the restoration of the monarchy. To describe them in short, such Ethiopianists are simply people with obsolete mindset.
- the Democratic Fedralists are those in the second group of Ethiopianists, who seem to have understood at least that it is not constructive to try to get rid of Oromia, but who smartly try to win the hearts and minds of Oromos for keeping the “Ethiopian unity and territorial integrity” with the help of Oromo people. This group includes those in UDJ of Birtukan Midhagsa and in other non-Oromo parties, which are now participating in the alliance, Medrek. If they are successful, they are on the very good track to foster a country like a post-apartheid South Africa. Note that Oromo “federalists” in OFC, who do believe in the unconditional right of Oromia to have at least its status of autonomy in the Ethiopian context are in the category of Oromianists, not Ethiopianist Oromos. They are not similar to the Ethiopianist Oromos in UDJ, who have now opted to be ready to accept the status of autonomous Oromia only as the compromise solution, but who do not necessarily believe in the right of Oromia to have its own autonomy.
Why Ethiopianist Oromos in AEUP/EDP Should Join Medrek Instead
Looking at the above two groups of Ethiopianists, it is simply a naivety of the leaders of the first group (i.e. the Conservative Unitarists) that they decided not to join the second group in order to effectively fight against the ruling fascist Weyane, which they also want to get rid of unconditionally. AEUP of Hailu Shawel opposing to join Medrek and its signing the Code of Conduct with Weyane were the main mistakes done by the group in this “time of election.” The joint action of the two main opposition parties (AEUP and Medrek) would have send a message to the fascist regime, which could have make it shiver and tremble. I think specially Ethiopianst Oromos in the first group of Ethiopianists should now reconsider their stand and try to join the Medrek of the Ethiopian “Mandela” in order to support the struggle against the current apartheid in Ethiopia.
The Helen Suzman of the Ethiopianist Camp
As far as Habesha unitarists are concerned, we just would like to ask: can any of them act like, for instance, Helen Suzman of South Africa, who was a white South African, but supported the genuine cause of black Africans and spent a total of 36 years in the parliament defending the right to freedom and democracy for all South Africans, for their individual as well as group rights?
I personally used to ask a question like “is there any Habesha who genuinely support the liberation cause of Oromo?” till I read few years back a very nice article from Fekade Shewakena, and heard the different testimonies given by Berihanu Nega and Siye Abreha after they came out of prison and started to talk about the suffering of Oromo nationalists in the prisons of fascist Weyane. Despite some Habesha scholars who do still lament against the “kilil-federalism”, we started to observe that a lot of democratic Habesha individuals have now started to accept and respect the legitimacy of Oromo people’s question. Of course, kilil-federalism is the least form of political arrangement, which can be accepted by Oromo nationalists in the groups of federalists (who struggle for TRUE Oromian autonomy in the Ethiopian context) as well as in the groups of liberators (who do fight for Oromian independence, be it within or without a union of nations in the region).
Join Our Own “Mandela” to Make History Like 1994 South Africa
Looking back to history, the best thing what Oromo nationalists being organized in Meison achieved as Derg came to power was the land for tiller program. The best thing Oromo nationalists being organized under OLF in TGE (the Transitional Government of Ethiopia) achieved as Weyane came to power was the kilil arrangement and the promoting of Afaan Oromo to be the working language of Oromia. Now, the best thing Oromo nationalists want to achieve if Medrek takes power is the further promotion of Afaan Oromo to be a working language of the federation and the necessary change of the federation from its current fake status to true federation. I hope no democratic Habesha elite with sound mind will be against this move. We do even expect to see a lot of “Helen Suzmans” from both Ethiopianist groups and even from the potential democrats in the hegemonist Weyane camp to join this move of Medrek.
Specially Ethiopianist Oromos serving both the conservative unitarist camp and the dictatorial hegemonist camp as foot soldiers are expected to take this step. Conservative unitarists definitely will not have any big influence in the politics of the empire without the service of such Ethiopianist Oromos. Similarly, the fascist and hegemonist Weyane camp also will have no power without the enslaved servant Oromos still doing the dirty job for them. At the time, when such Ethiopianist Oromos in these two camps of conservative unitarists and fascist hegemonists stop their service and join the movement for freedom and democracy being now led by Medrek, then we can wholeheartedly say that we are not far from making similar history, being led by our own “Mandela”, to the 1994’s history of South Africa. Unfortunately, we are still in search of Ethiopia’s future “Frederik de Klerk” – a true partner to effect change; can Meles Zenawi be the one? Unfortunately, most unlikely!
On Oromianist Ethiopians
The very encouraging political development we did observe after the election 2005 was the emergence of Oromianist Ethiopians, i.e. Ethiopian citizens of non-Oromo origin who are now sympathizing with Oromo cause. I must say election 2005 was the time, at which both conservative unitarists and fascist hegemonists lost their shaking position strongly. The unitarists, who were almost on the verge of taking power, were beaten by the fascist regime, who already lost the election. The fascist hegemonists since then also lost the “legitimacy” they thought to have. They have already lost the legitimacy from the Oromo people as OLF exposed them and left the TGE in 1992, but they had got the support of the unitarist Ethiopianists with the peak of the support being at the time of the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, between the years 1998 and 2000. It was the time when Weyane almost felt to be part of the unitarist camp and even started to reverse the kilil-arrangement it already accepted during the beginning phase of the rule by the Transitional Government of Ethiopia, because of the pressure from OLF at that time.
So Weyane started to fulfill the political wishes of the unitarists. For instance, it separated Diredhawa from the Oromian regional government; it planned to make more than 250 other towns in Oromia to be Amharic-speaking special “town administrations” which should have been free from the influence of Oromia; it compelled OPDO to make Adama be the capital city of Oromia instead of Finfinne, and so on. During the election 2005, both the unitarists and the hegemonists betrayed each other and back-stabbed each other. Then followed the formation of AFD as an alliance specially between the democratic Amhara elites and the liberator Oromo groups against fascist Weyane and planning the new arrangement for the region in the future. I did appreciate the position of the visionary OLF leaders and some leaders of the democratic unity forces who signed the formation of the alliance, which took a necessary step to deal with the Weyane regime’s tactic of “divide and rule.” This was the moment at which time we started to observe the presence of Oromianist Ethiopians in the political scene of the empire, for instance, individuals like Fekade Shewakena and Andargachew Tsige, who explicitly started to sympathize with the cause and question of the Oromo people.
Now there are thousands, if not millions of such people, who do believe in the legitimacy of the Oromo question and who even started to accept the Oromia-state as one of the should-be autonomous federal states of the future democratic Ethiopia and who have now started to suggest that it is possible to solve the Oromo question within the Ethiopian context, without a necessity of dismantling Oromia. I personally do salute such Oromianist Ethiopians in contrast to the conservative unitarists, who still have not recognized Oromia and who do still write in their articles the expressions like “the so called Oromia” instead of Oromia-kilil or Oromia regional state. My hope is to see that Ethiopianist Oromos, who are still rallying behind the conservative unitarists and who are still serving the dictatorial hegemonists, do learn from such Oromianist Ethiopians and then join the movement for freedom and democracy now being led by Medrek.
Medrek is an Alliance to Stop the “Divide and Rule” of Weyane
After the farsighted political leaders forged AFD and with that killed the very important instrument Weyane used in order to rule over Ethiopians, i.e by divide and rule method, the political trend was towards re-approaching to one another of specially the very polarized Amhara democratic forces and Oromo freedom fighters. The two sides started to ask: why was it easy for the Meles administration to rule over Ethiopians in the last about 20 years? Why even can it probably be easier to rule for further many decades? Then, they got an answer which can be put in a simplified form as “it is just because of some misguided elites, specially some elites from the two big nations, Amhara democratic forces and Oromo freedom fighters.” It was already written that the ruling party’s leader, Meles Zenawi, must have said: Amhara-Oromo conflict, i.e. the historical face-off between Oromo and Amhara, is a unique historical advantage for Weyane to perpetuate its rule. He also said regarding the dialogue between two forces within AFD, that it is a marriage between “fire and water (isat ina wuha).” It is really pity that the elites of the two big nations did live in such a conflict against each other, which is just caused by the hitherto ruling class of the empire and by the sponsors of the ruling class, the European colonizers, the effect being the fate of both nations to live now under the subjugation by the minority group of fascist Weyane.
Fortunately, the trend which was started by the forging of AFD continued till the recent formation of Medrek, which brought together not only Amhara democratic forces and Oromo freedom fighters, but which also included democrats from Tigrai, Somali, Southern nations and others. The “legal and peaceful” political parties as well as the reasonable citizens came together to forge the ALL-inclusive alliance, Medrek, at home in order to seek a lasting solution for that troubled empire/region, Ethiopia.
Medrek’s members include those:
- who were part of the unitarist Amhara elites (e.g. UDJ),
- who were part of the hegemonist Tegaru elites (e.g ATSD),
- who were part of the “secessionist” Somali elites (e.g SDFC),
- who were part of the federalist Southern elites (e.g UEDF), and
- who were part of the unionist Oromo elites (e.g OFC)
For all these political groups, by whom being an Ethiopianist and being, for instance, an Oromianist at the same time, is accepted, the concept “Ethiopianist” is very different from the Ethiopianist version of the conservative unitarists and even from the version of the dictatorial hegemonist Weyanes (who do talk federation, but walk unitary centralism).
Most of the opposing opinions from Ethiopianists against AFD were because of its “ambiguity” regarding Ethiopian unity. But now, Medrek came with the very clear and unambiguous stand on the issue. Theoretically, there is no reason why there should be any opposition from the “unity forces.” Medrek is so far the very good compromise and consensus solution as far as the conflict in the empire is concerned. So it is now the right time for all citizens, nations and parties to come together under this alliance and to rally behind it with the motto: ALL against the one EVIL (fascist Weyane). No question the evil in the Horn of Africa is this hegemonist party; all nations in the region have now this one common enemy. All nations in Ethiopia and the neighbouring countries need to build an alliance against this evil. I think the above mentioned Ethiopian parties of different nations, which have started to cooperate in Medrek, have rightly decided for the new version of such a necessary alliance. This will be surely the beginning of the end for the evil of the Horn. Specially, the necessity of such alliance is clear, when we read one of the best sentences said by Berihanu Nega till now: “weyanewoch iyekefafelun yalut, kenesu bilxinet yetenesa sayihon, kenya monyinet yetenesa newu”! (i.e. Weyane is not dividing us because they’re smart, but because we’re !)
Rally Behind Birtukan “Mandela” and Hope Meles “de Klerk” Becomes a Dialogue Partner
Last but not least, we need to comprehend and accept the two phases of the struggle for freedom and democracy planned firstly by AFD and now propagated by Medrek and other oppositions. The first phase is struggling to achieve our freedom from the evil hegemonists, and the second phase is to build the necessary institutions for our future multi-national and multi-party democracy in the future union. Now in the first phase, we all need to cooperate for achieving the freedom from Weyane, who is lording over as well as looting all nations in the empire, and then later in the second phase, all parties can compete for the power in the union to be forged in a democratic way. It is now the time for all opposition democratic parties to come to their senses after the last 20 years of foolishness and division. All of them need to agree on one common ground joining the parties in Medrek. The common ground is fostering national autonomy for all nations like Oromia within the necessary regional federation like the future Ethiopian union. I do now believe and think that parties with such common ground have already forged a new all-inclusive alliance, in a form of Medrek, in order to get rid of the fascist Weyane. Other parties with similar motive should join them as soon as possible. Of course, the central figure of this alliance is Birtukan “Mandela”. If she gets the right “Frederik de Klerk” as a dialogue partner now, definitely Medrek can do similar history to that of ANC. I think this is the reason why Medrek is nowadays an attraction for both Ethiopianists and Oromianists. It seems that the compromised vision of both nationalists (Ethio-nationalists/