According to the ongoing discussion in the Oromo nationalists’ circle, the three possible forms of walabummaa Oromiya (the three types of sovereignty for Oromia) in the forms of the Amhara’s style, the Tigrean type and the Eritrean way are not as such bad for the Oromo people in the future, but preferable are the suggested three Oromian options (independence, autonomy and integration). The Amhara’s style is an ‘assimilative Oromia’ having free development and use of Afaan Oromo at the federal level as well as making the Cushitic Ethiopia being the same as the sovereign republic of Oromia, which will assimilate the other neighboring language groups into being Oromo, thus practically Oromia = Ethiopia. This dictatorial assimilative approach must be distinguished from the democratic integrative option of the Oromo way. The Tigrean type is an ‘imperious Oromia,’ the Oromo people having an independent Oromia, and at the same time, ruling over the other nations. Such imperious rule is also not the same as the democratic autonomy, the other Oromian option. The Eritrean way is an ‘independent Oromia’ as a separate nation-state, free from the other nations; this Eritrean way is similar to one of the three Oromian options.
All these three approaches, which can be now pursued by the OLF and the Oromo people, if we want, are not as such disadvantageous for Oromia so that we necessarily ought not be fixated on only the option of “separation.” That is why the endless cry of the Woyane cadres, who do lament day and night singing about their claim to “know the fact” that OLF is a “secessionist” organization and their accusation of Oromo nationalists as “separatists,” does not hold water. On the contrary, the Gadaa people with our principle of freedom and democracy do prefer the Oromian methods leading us to our desired sovereignty. Firstly, we want to give a chance to an ‘integrative Oromia’ (‘a democratic Oromian-Ethiopia’); secondly, we opt to an ‘autonomous Oromia’ within a Cushitic Ethiopian union, which can only serve as a transitional solution towards the desired integration; and only if these two noble Oromo’s choices of an ‘integration in a form of Oromian-Ethiopia’ or an ‘autonomy within a union’ fail to be materialized, due to the possible arrogance and the authoritarian nature of the Abyssinian elites, that the Oromo people will be obliged to move towards the choice of ‘an independence without a union.’
As far as the Oromo people and our liberation front (OLF) are concerned, we can even try to promote the type of unity, which the “pro-unity” Amhara forces want to realize. But, these Amhara forces have to be sure that the language into which we all need to melt will be the two Afaan Oromo’s, that means – not only Amharinya, but also Oromiffa. Now, the OLF seems to support this view, hoping that the “pro-unity” Amhara forces do agree with this way of solving the language issue. Amharinya was in reality created by the Oromo nobility in the year 1270 around Hanko-bar in central Oromia. The Oromo nobility just wanted to have a language, which was different from that of the ordinary Oromo, thus created “Lisane Negus,” the Amharinya. Now, both Amharinya and Oromiffa are suggested to be considered as Afaan Oromo (as the language of the Oromo people). Sure is that Oromiffa is the language of the Oromo heroes, who did start the liberation struggle of the Oromo people from the Abyssinized rulers of the Agew and the Oromo, whereas Amharinya is unfortunately still associated with the domination and subjugation of the Gadaa people by this Abyssinized part of the Cush nations.
This theory now seems to be entertained by the recent Oromo liberation movement. By the way, is Nagaasso Gidadaa’s UDJ party not one of those with the mentality of this generation? When we look at the program of the party, its §3.2.4 says:
“Amharic shall serve as a working language of the federal state; when approved by a referendum, there can be another language, in addition to Amharic, that serves as a working language of the federal state.”
Why not referendum on Amharinya, whereas it is compulsorily needed to allow Oromiffa to have the same status? Is this not a double standard? Why did Obbo Nagaasso and the other Oromo nationalists in this party fail to put Oromiffa as one of the federal working languages explicitly, just as they did Amharinya? Are they not making the same mistake committed by Emperor Minilik Caalaa and his best general Gobanaa Daacee? Both of these members of the nobility, being Oromos (the first an Abyssinized Oromo, the second a non-Abyssinized), they could have promoted Oromiffa to be the working language of the Ethiopian empire they built, instead of making their “Lisane Negus” the only one used officially in the empire.
Now, the Oromo liberation movement should take heed of the Habesha organizations, which want to repeat the same mistake. No other move, except the following three ways of the OLF movements, is acceptable to the Oromo people: the first-generation OLF, which concentrates on achieving only an ‘independent Oromia,’ as a fair goal without influencing other nations; the second-generation OLF talking about either an ‘independent Oromia’ or an ‘autonomous Oromia;’ and the third-generation OLF being more inclusive and open for an ‘independent Oromia,’ for an ‘autonomous Oromia’ and for an ‘integrative Oromia.’ I think these three options of our future walabummaa are not bad, but the question lies on the timing of stressing one of the alternatives vis-à-vis the other two. Clear is that any nation under oppression and with a threatened security prefers and stresses independence, whereas the nation, which does have a confidence to survive, to thrive and which is even sure to be able to rule over other nations do emphasize the other two alternatives (autonomy and integration).
We may then ask: which position should the Oromo people, who are still under the colony and domination need to emphasize now? Surely, we need to stress independence, just as the first-generation OLF correctly had done and is still doing. Even though it is not bad that the second-generation accepted a possible autonomy as another option, and the third-generation has now started to further entertain even the third alternative of ‘integrative Oromia,’ the smart side of all the three generations is that they have never given up and will never give up the independence option. As long as the Oromo people are under oppression, the question for ‘independence’ is mandatory and a must. But, care must be taken for this position is used by Woyane cadres as a means to neutralize the “pro-unity” Amhara forces, which are also nowadays the archenemies of the Woyane. Clearly, the Woyane regime is surviving and thriving by making these Amhara forces and the pro-independence Oromo fronts neutralize each other. Thus, it is better to tone down the independence rhetoric and emphasize the integration option.
As repeatedly mentioned, the common denominator of the three OLF generations is ‘bilisummaa Oromoo,’ which is good. The first-generation is for bilisummaa Oromoo + walabummaa Oromiya (in a form of an ‘independent Oromia’). The second-generation for bilisummaa +walabummaa (in a form of an ‘independent Oromia’ or in a form of a ‘union of autonomous nations’). The third-generation is for bilisummaa +walabummaa (in a form of an ‘independent Oromia’ or in a form of a ‘union of autonomous nations’ or in a form of ‘Cushitic Ethiopia = republic Oromia’). As I do see, we are moving from the occupied Oromia of the subjugated Oromo people — through the smallest OPDO’s Oromia — through the smaller OLF-SG’s Oromia — through the small OLF-QC’s Oromia — to the great Oromia (either Oromia extending from Hashange to Lamu or the republic Oromia = the Cushitic Ethiopia) with respected bilisummaa and realized walabummaa of the Oromo people.
When we look at such theoretical options and moves, the Oromo people are actually in a very advantageous position regarding the possible three future outcomes of the political struggle in the present Ethiopia. The three outcomes are a ‘disintegrated Ethiopia’ resulting in multiple independent nation-states, including an independent Gadaa republic of Oromia, a ‘federated Ethiopia’ like it is now under the Woyane (just changing its fake status quo to the true federation) and a ‘transformed Ethiopia’ from its present Abyssinized nature (Ethiopia with Oromo oppression and Habesha domination) to the Cushitic Ethiopia (Ethiopia with freedom for all citizens and nations). The Oromo nationalists can use these three options to our advantage for all of the three options are not against the required bilisummaa of the Oromo people. The Amhara elites are limited to the third option in which they think Amharinya will be the only federal language of all in Ethiopia so that they do hate the second option and do fear the first option, because the first and second options do limit this opportunity of expansion for Amharinya. TheTegaru elites can use the second option as long as they do dominate the Ethiopian politics, and they surely will opt to the first option in case they start to lose their domination, but they will never be able to exploit the third option for it will not give them the opportunity to dominate over the other nations in the future Cushitic Ethiopia.
Interestingly, we can see that the first-generation OLF is shooting against the Woyane forces from only one position (from the position of an ‘independent Oromia’); the second-generation from two positions (from the position of an ‘independent Oromia’ and from the position of a ‘union of autonomous nations’) and the third-generation from three positions (from the position of an ‘independent Oromia,’ from the position of a ‘union of autonomous nations’ and from the position of an integrated Cushitic Ethiopia). Furthermore, we do also observe the clear supportive position of all the three generations for an independent Oromia; yet, all Oromo nationalists of these three generations just should take care not to play into the hands of Woyane cadres, who also continuously sing “supporting” the unconditional independence of Oromia. The motive of these cadres is not hard to understand. They want to antagonize the Oromo movement for liberation with the pro-democracy movement of the Amhara people. We should try to kill this divide-and-rule machination of the Woyane. Otherwise, the third-generation OLF, with an additional vision of transforming the Abyssinian-Ethiopia (the hitherto Ethiopia characterized by oppression, hunger, exploitation, tyranny and torture) to the Oromian-Ethiopia (to the Cushitic Ethiopia of liberty, freedom, democracy and autonomy of nations), is really great. The Oromo liberation struggle has already compelled the Abyssinian elites to sing about these values of the Oromian-Ethiopia, the values which are actually against their own culture and nature. Thus, the anti-thesis of Obbo Boruu Barraaqaa’s Abyssinian-Ethiopia (http://gadaa.com/oduu/10224/2011/07/26/ethiopia-their-ethiopia/) is this suggested Oromian-Ethiopia.
We like it or not, Ethiopia can never go back to the past Amhara-dominated empire, and keeping the status quo of the Tigrean domination sustainably is also not an easy job. Slowly but surely, the empire has been changing because of the pressure from the Oromo liberation movement, and it will continue to change from the Abyssinian-Ethiopia to the Oromian-Ethiopia. It is up to us, the Oromo people, to choose which form of Oromia to have in the future: OPDO’s map, OLF-SG’s, OLF-QC’s, the present Ethiopia being transformed to Oromia or the future Oromia’s map being the same to that of the Cushitic Ethiopia? The idea of the second-generation OLF in thinking about the second type of sovereignty (autonomous Oromia) as another way of Oromo’s walabummaa, which is alternative to the original goal (independent Oromia) was very disappointing for the first-generation OLF and its supporters. In the meantime, this second option seems to have been accepted by many Oromo nationalists, as long as the Oromo public will decide in the future per referendum. Now, the third alternative sovereignty (integrative Oromia), which is now entertained by the third-generation OLF seems to be very “disgusting,” not only for the first generation, but also for the second-generation. It may take a long time till Oromo nationalists of these two generations will start to realize that the Oromo people, as a majority in the region, will have no disadvantage in all the three types of sovereignty, if really the future politics of the region will be that of freedom and democracy. Fortunately, the world is developing and moving in this direction of politics; the Horn of Africa can not be an exception.
The hitherto main mistakes done by both the Amhara elites and the Oromo elites, so that Woyane could beat them turn by turn, are the facts that the Amhara elites still think as if they are in control of the Finfinne palace and as if they do have the political domination demanding from the Oromo elites to give up the agenda of “Oromian separation” as a precondition to an all-inclusive alliance. The Oromo elites, on the other hand, think as if we have less power and influence, compared to the Amhara elites, so that we still fear the comeback of the old “era of darkness.”Woyane cadres know this fallacy of both elite groups and play with their emotion in order to polarize the opposition camp. The recent move of the OLF to correct these faults is an indication of a growing Oromo self-confidence to tackle such impasse and make a difference, not only in Oromia, but in the whole Ethiopia/the Horn, that is why it is a nice step. Of course, this will be fruitful only if the effort towards the third alternative of walabummaa (integrative Oromia) is going to be seen on the real ground. A move in this direction is yet more of a theory rather than being the ongoing practice; nevertheless, I think the plan of an Oromian-Ethiopia (Ethiopia being transformed into Oromia) is a best vision, and it will be a possible reality in the future. Only if the Abyssinian elites and their Western handlers try to hinder the realization of this vision, then either ‘Oromian autonomy within Ethiopian union’ or ‘Oromian independence within African union’ are the other options we need to strive for. The truth, in general, is that in all these three ways of achieving Oromo’s sovereignty, the hitherto oppressed Oromo people will have nothing to lose in the future.
What we can’t deny is that there are significant number of Oromo nationals supporting either of the three types of sovereignty (either independence or autonomy or integration), and none of these three groups do prefer ‘garbummaa Oromoo’ to ‘bilisummaa Oromoo’. Thus ‘bilisummaa Oromoo’ is a common denominator for these three political views in the Oromo community. Even though they do have this same stand on bilisummaa, they do differ on the type of ‘walabummaa Oromia’ they want to realize. The difference is based on the version of the Oromo history each generation does have in mind and based on the personal life experiences of their respective members. If the OLF manages to accommodate these three sections of the Oromo society (the pro-independence, the pro-autonomy and the pro-integration section), it can then surely be pragmatic, inclusive and smart. Bilisummaa Oromoo from the garbummaa under the Abyssinian system of colonization or domination is unconditional; but the types of walabummaa Oromiya, which we, as a nation, want to realize, be it an ‘independent Oromia within African union’ or an ‘autonomous Oromia within Ethiopian union’ or an ‘integrative Oromia by transforming the Abyssinian-Ethiopia of dictatorship to the Oromian-Ethiopia of a democracy’ can be conditional, which depends on the future referendum of the Oromo public.
Now, the best way to attack and defeat Woyane (which is using the two cards of either ‘imperious Tigrai’ or ‘independent Tigrai’) is that the OLF better concentrate on the third alternative, on an ‘integrative Oromia,’ rather than on only an ‘independent Oromia’ and an ‘autonomous Oromia,’ these two methods (independence and autonomy) being theoretically the same ideology to that of the Woyane, who in reality currently exercises an ‘imperious position.’ Fortunately, Woyane can never use the card of an integration for it is a representative of the minority nation in the Ethiopian empire. Thus, according to the opinion given in this essay, an ‘independent Oromia’ (the Eritrean style sovereignty) is not the only type of sovereignty for the Oromo and Oromia, the people and the land, which are at the center and the core of the politics in the region/in the empire. An ‘autonomous Oromia’ and an ‘integrative Oromia’ are also the other advantageous ways of securing Oromo’s bilisummaa and Oromia’s walabumma. Otherwise, we do see that the Amhara elites have only one political card (the card of integration) to play; the Tegaru elites have only two cards (the cards of ‘imperious Tigrai’ and ‘independent Tigrai’); but the Oromo nationalists have three cards, the cards of an ‘independent Oromia,’ an ‘autonomous Oromia’ and an ‘integrative Oromia’ to play. Time will show us whether our Oromo politicians are smart and wise to use these three cards to the advantage of the Oromo people and to the interest of the Oromo land (Oromia).
As far as I am concerned, so long the Oromo people are under colonial oppression, we should fight for an independent Oromia without giving in and giving up. But, Oromia and the Oromo are neither geographical periphery nor demographically minority, like Eritrea and the South Sudan were/are, in order to opt for a separation as the only best remedy. An ‘integrative Oromia’ (transforming the Abyssinian-Ethiopia to the Oromian-Ethiopia) can also be the very good version of our walabummaa; of course, an ‘autonomous Oromia’ being a temporary and transitional solution towards either an ‘independent Oromia’ or an ‘integrative Oromia,’ both as an alternative lasting solutions. So let’s Oromo nationals act as members of a nation with both geographically central position and demographically majority in the empire/region, believing in ourselves and being confident that we can change our present condition of a political minority to our legitimate status of a majority and convert our current situation of being in a political periphery towards becoming a political center. Woyane cadres, who continuously accuse Oromo liberation movement as a “separatist” movement should be told that it is illogical to talk about Finfinne’s “secession” from Meqelee, whereas the simple fact is that it is Meqelee, which will secede from Finfinne. Common sense tells us that the one who is a minority and at a periphery claims a secession from the nation at the center and a majority, not vice versa!