Abyssinian empire’s colonial or domination history, which started at the end of the nineteenth century together with the European colonizers’ scramble for Africa, has not yet come to end. Europeans could formally give up their colonies, even though they still do indirectly control and influence every political, economical and social life of their respective colonies, because of the liberation struggles of the colonized nations and the support subjugated nations got from the socialist bloc during the Cold War. The only black de facto participant of the Berlin conference on the scramble for Africa, i.e. the black colonizer Abyssinia is still enjoying the status quo, just because of the neglection from the so called international community regarding the dominated nations in the empire in general and concerning the Oromo nation in particular.
Despite this neglection, the empire’s oppressed peoples being guided by their liberation movements, even including the masses of the two Abyssinian nations being led by the very few democratically thinking Habesha elites, did struggle against all forms of domination, injustice and tyranny. They struggled together against the European colonizers like at the Adwa Battle and the patriotic fighting against the Italian occupation during the World War II, against the feudal monarchy as shown during the Students’ Movement, and against the communist military regime; and this struggle is still going on against the present fascist apartheid administration of Meles Zenawi.
Unfortunately, this fascist administration could rule for the last twenty years, specially by using the divide-and-rule method. It could divide the opposition against its rule into three main blocs: the left oriented unionist liberators, including all liberation fronts of the oppressed nations – particularly the Oromo, the middle positioned democratic federalists now organized under MEDREK and the right oriented unitarist patriots, which comprises of all forces emphasizing the unconditional unity of the empire. The elites in these three blocs of the opposition couldn’t forge a lasting alliance against the fascists for the fact that it is easy to polarize them and make them fight against each other. The ruling administration is always busy producing articles and dispatching cadres being camouflaged as either the unionist liberators fighting against the unitarist patriots, or the vice versa.
It is because of such activities that the hitherto formed alliances like AFD could fail and the existing alliances like MEDREK are not as effective as intended. All individuals and organizations opposing the fascist apartheid regime should develop a common ground to cooperate and to tackle the regime’s divide-and-rule machination. I think after many years of debate and discussion, they are getting the common ground, i.e. the two-phase struggle: the first phase of liberation from fascism, and the second phase of democratization. Talking now, being under the apartheid rule, about the democratization process is simply self-deception to say the least. Some organizations got this fact earlier during the election in 1992, and the others realized it lately, and the election in 2010 being the final evidence for the fact that any attempt of democratization under the fascist regime is a pipe dream.
Interesting is to observe that even the oppressed people of Amhara and their democratic leaders started to taste what it means to live under domination, even few of them have started to call the present fascistic domination as Tigrean colonization. Note that Tigreans under the domination of Amhara elites till 1991 felt the same. This recent political process among the currently oppressed Amhara people and the movement of even the very few reasonable Tigreans against this Weyane fascism is an encouraging development. Peoples in the empire in general, and politicians of each nation in the empire in particular seem to pass through a sort of political evolution.
When we do observe the politics of the empire, we may face it or evade it, but the national question is the only conflict area. All peoples and politicians in the empire, except the tyrants, do agree on the political values like democracy, freedom, human rights, justice, good governance, etc., but the hitherto dominating Habesha elites are not ready to agree with Oromo and other oppressed nations on the question of national freedom of each people in the empire. That is why I do suggest to all concerned to have a look into the political evolution, which is regarding mainly the Oromo people, but which can also be applied to other nations. We like it or not, all Oromo individuals and Oromo institutions do pass through a certain political evolution process, from level one to level five of the following Oromo political evolution:
- the first level of the evolution is that of those who do support the unitary Abyssinian colonial empire as Oromo and others in the Habesha dominated organizations like AEUP, EPPF, EPRP, G-7 and UDJ. They do deny the existence of Oromia, but cry only about imiye Ethiopia.
- the second level of those acting like OPDO, who do claim to be Oromo and believe in the existence of Oromia, but do accept and adore Abyssinian rule over the occupied Oromia.
- the third level of those acting like OFC, who do claim to be Oromo and demand Oromian autonomy at least within Ethiopian union.
- the fourth level of those acting like ULFO and do claim the unconditional Oromian independence in a form of an independent Gadaa Repubic, disregarding the possibility for a union of independent nations.
- the fifth level of those searching to foster the Oromian union as planned by AFD, i.e. a union of independent nations in the Horn for common economical benefit, which brings all Oromo in the Horn together.
Then, we may ask: at which levels of the Oromo political evolution are the Oromo people and politicians as well as the peoples and polities of other nations moving? It is clear that a lot of Amhara elites move at the first level, the majority of Tegaru elites at the second level, and most of those from the other peoples taking differentially the levels from the third to the fifth. Despite these differences, the recent call of OLF for an alliance is a nice take. OLF itself seems to be flexibly moving between the third, the fourth and the fifth levels of the Oromo political evolution based on the timing of the geopolitical situation of the region. This Oromo vanguard organization is the promoter of Oromian union (the name based on the biological origin of the majority in the area) = Horn union (the name based on the geographical origin) = Kush union (the name according to Hebrew) = Kas union (according to old Egypt) = Ethiopian union (a designation according to Greeks).
It is because of this attempt of OLF in promoting both the national independence of Oromo and the regional union of the Horn that some Oromo scholars started to talk about a “paradigm shift,” and even few Habesha oriented scholars like Dr. Berhanu Nega are now trying to join them. It is not bad that at last one of the leaders of the Habesha dominated unitarist parties is ready to come to the Oromo conference of OSA and discuss with Oromo. I think the topic of the upcoming OSA-conference is also really good: “Rethinking the Urgency of Paradigm Shift for Democracy, Human Rights and Social Justice in the Age of Intensified Globalization.”
But what do the concerned people mean by “paradigm shift”? Shift of Kaayyoo or shift of Karaa to the Kaayyoo? At which levels of the Oromo political evolution are the panelists and participants moving? How many of the Oromo individuals taking part in Oromo politics and the Oromo institutions they do represent have completed their political evolution process? I know there are some who have already completed their evolution, but tactically make the rhetoric of the lower levels of the evolution. But yet, there are some who are still convinced to live and to move at the lower level of the Oromo political evolution. Which one of the positions, be it compelled or convinced, is the position of the Oromo politicians in general? From those living and moving at lower levels, the position of the compelled ones is to consider the lower levels as their tactical goal because of the compelling political situation and the position of the convinced ones is to accept the lower levels as their strategical goal based on their political conviction.
Even though we consider the step taken by OLF to foster a new alliance against the apartheid regime as a nice measure, I still recommend that Oromo liberation forces first try to promote their own unity like the imperative re-unification of OLF factions. After such unity, it is more easy and politically expedient if we form and strengthen the necessary coalition with forces of other oppressed nations as well even if we forge an alliance with the forces of the Abyssinian democrats as just now planned by OLF. But, whenever we try to form a coalition with other liberation forces of oppressed nations and foster an alliance with democratic forces of Abyssinian nations, we should be conscious enough that our Oromo’s reservation, i.e. our minimal demand, our bottom line or our tactical Kaayyoo is “Oromian autonomy within Ethiopian union”; that we know our Oromo’s goal, interest, i.e. with what we will be satisfied or our CORE-Kaayyoo is “Oromian independence in a form of Gadaa republic”; and that we consider our Oromo’s target or position, i.e. the best, the optimal, the maximum we could possibly attain or our strategical Kaayyoo is “Oromian (Horn) union of independent nations.”
Taking all these facts into consideration, now is the right time for all the opposition forces against the fascist regime to forge an Alliance for Liberation and Democratization (ALD). No question that all these forces do agree on the liberation of all citizens and nations in the empire from tyranny. This move as a first phase does contradict with the political program of none of them. So, no one of them is compelled to change its program in order to foster such an alliance. But, I know the political programs of the three opposition blocs do vary specially on the final types of sovereignty they want to achieve for their respective nations or for the empire during the second phase, the phase of democratization: the unionists want to achieve a union of independent nations in the Horn, the federalists want a union of autonomous nations in the Ethiopian empire, and the unitarists want to achieve a unitary Ethiopia devoid of national autonomy or national independence for each nation in the empire.
I think this difference of the the three blocs must be left for the public verdict in the second phase, i.e. during the phase of democratization after the liberation from fascism, apartheid and tyranny. After liberation, the alliance should be in agreement to establish democratic institutions and facilitate for citizens and nations to decide democratically on the type of sovereignty all nations in the empire should have. An independence of any nation without a public verdict is like an amputation of a limb, an autonomy within a federation without public verdict is bantustanization, and a unitary state without public verdict is like a colonial amalgamation killing the identities of nations. So, any individual or organization who preaches freedom and democracy (like almost all in the opposition are doing now) should be ready to accept and respect such public verdicts. If not, they will only replace the tyranny of Tigrean elites with the tyranny of either Amhara elites, or Oromo elites or with tyranny of the elites of other nations in the empire.
If we want to have a lasting solution for that cursed region and to prosper together, there is no other way preferable to this move of liberation and democratization. I am sure that only the ruling tyrants and the tyrants who want to replace them are against this move. The genuine and matured democrats should be ready to accept and respect the decisions of the peoples during the democratization phase, be it that the public verdicts lead to a peaceful separation like that of Check republic and Slovakia, or to a peaceful unification like that of East Germany and West Germany. The alternative to this civilized and modern way of achieving national independence and regional union is the cycle of replacing one dictator of one nation dominating other nations by another dictator of another nation at gunpoint as the Abyssinian elites of Amhara and Tegaru used to do. This alternative is, of course, the prolongation of the misery and poverty for all citizens and nations in the Horn. It is up to us to choose either the first way of liberation and democratization or the alternative way, which will lead us to further colonization and domination.
If we choose the way of liberation and democratization, then I think now is good time for the formation of the necessary alliance to fight against our tormenting fascist rulers and to move forward. Now is the time, when almost all opposition groups have understood that the tyrants are not ready to give up power per ballot, to allow any sort of freedom for citizens and nations in the empire, or to be open for the necessary democratization process. It is now good timing to initiate the formation of an all-inclusive alliance against the evil of the region and challenge it in a form of a coordinated civil disobedience, armed struggles and public uprisings. All genuinely democratic and pro-freedom opposition groups will have no better timing than now to come together, and to seek a lasting solution for the most troubled part of the globe. Wake up all, it is good timing!