Attempts to discredit Qeerroo will not deter the movement from pursuing its goalsYou might well have heard mischaracterizations of Qeerroo and its institution, Qeerroo Bilisummaa Oromoo (QBO), as part a defamation campaign against the Oromo and the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).
To mischaracterize and attack Qeerroo organization whose sole mission is to end tyranny is disgraceful. Yet, the Abiy Ahmed administration and some media outlets including ESAT, Ethio 360 Media and all government affiliated medias continue to undermine Qeerroo, going as far as tainting the popular peaceful resistance it waged that once aroused the glimmer of hope for Ethiopia until it was snatched away by the new regime.
Some have opposed just about everything QBO has been doing. The question is why.
Who is Qeerroo?
Qeerroo is an Afaan Oromo word literally meaning ‘unmarried young man’, as Qaarree is for ‘unmarried young woman’.
In Oromo’s Gadaa socio-economic and political system, Qeerroo represents the youth in the social strata of Gadaa structure that signifies the potential force of the Oromo society who are full of energy, enthusiasm, and defenders of the dignity of the Oromo people and their homeland Oromia.
Qeerroo played a vital role in the organized Oromo struggle of the early 1970s.
For example, the song Gaaddisaa Abdullaahii sung titled ‘Qeerroo-mataa-tuutaa, hin jarjartu suuta’ in 1970s was to signify that Qeerroo is the engine of the Oromo Struggle. Since 1991, Qeerroo has re-occurred as what is called the “Qubee generation” to mark the era of introduction of Qubee script and Afaan Oromoo as medium of instruction in schools for the first time in Ethiopian history. This was the result of decades resistance spearheaded by the OLF and realized during the brief period that the OLF participated in the transitional government of Ethiopia.
Unlike its traditional meaning, the origin of the Qeerroo term in Qeerroo Bilisummaa Oromoo’s setting, is derived from the word “Qeerrensa/Qeerramsa” whose literal meaning is “tiger,” to symbolize a fierce fighter, a dignified being, active and defenders of survival and dignity. “Qeerrenso” and “Jaajjabee” are very common terms in OLF and Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) often used to adore those fierce young fighters.
In short, as Qeerroo represents the dynamism of the Oromo youth in a peaceful struggle against tyranny, Jaajjabee represents an admirable special young force in Oromo armed struggle. Hence, in this context, Qeerroo and Jaajjabe are gender neutral. Qeerroo is an idea of cultured resistance, represents a relentless pursuit of liberty, equipped with mental readiness and resilience which leaves no stone unturned to get what it pursues.
Qeerroo are organized—but not under Jawar MohammedThe term “Qeerroo” was introduced to the Oromo political scene in April 2011 when an Oromo youth organization named “Qeerroo Bilisummaa Oromoo (QBO)” or simply “Qeerroo” was established.
Soon after its formation, Qeerroo released its first manifesto, opened a website, and organized a series of protests in many higher education institutions. Oromo student protests led by Qeerroo continued intermittently throughout Oromia until a major series of protests broke out in 2014 and 2015, which continued nonstop, resulting in the collapse of the TPLF-Tigrayan hegemony in Ethiopia.
The purpose of this article is to impart the beginning of the Qeerroo movement and correct some misconceptions about Qeerroo. Specifically, I will rebut a widely held misconception, that “Qeerroo is a spontaneous social movement without formal structures.” I will also attempt to shed light on the role of the former activist and now political prisoner Jawar Mohammed in shaping the early movement of Qeerroo.
Since 2009, I have written at least eight articles on Oromian Student Movement (OSM) and the Qeerroo unrest, posted on various websites but mainly on Gadaa.com using an alias name. On 12 November 12, 2009, I wrote about the 2005 widespread protest. On 11 November 2010, I published on the continued resistance that took place between 2006 and 2010. On 19 November 2011, I released a chronological review of OSM from November 2010 to November 2011. On 7 November 2014, I published about the chronological summary of the widespread Qeerroo movement from November 2013 to November 2014. More of my publications are available at this link.
Furthermore, I have made at least two scholarly presentations on Qeerroo, one at the 2019 OSA annual conference, presented by Lammi Benya on my behalf, the other at the 2018 OLF Policy symposium in Finfinne.
Apart from writing and making scholarly presentations on Qeerroo, I was involved with Qeerroo activities including supporting the movement personally. I have intimately known about the preparations that led to its establishment in 2011, including the adoption of the term “Qeerroo”. I remained up to date about Qeerroo’s activities thereafter. After the formation of Qeerroo, I have been continuously involved in translating their public statements into the English language to this day.
I stated above some of my contributions and sources of information about Qeerroo not to brag about my very modest contributions, but to qualify myself for this article and solicit the readers’ confidence for my argument. With this done, let me present a brief history of the origin of Qeerroo from my vantage point. To keep the focus on the subject at hand, in this issue I will address only matters directly related to the history of the Origin of Qeerroo.
Unless specifically stated otherwise, by the term “Qeerroo” I refer to the organization of “Qeerroo Bilisummaa Oromoo” (QBO), translated as Youth for Oromo Freedom. When a reference is made to an individual “Qromo youth” the term “qeerroo” will be used – with the letter “q” not capitalized. QBO is used to distinguish this original organization from other imposter groups that were created later for promotional purposes.
The origin of Qeerroo
As a prelude to pinpointing the beginning of Qeerroo, it is helpful to note that in my November 2011 article I indicated that the Oromo Students’ Movement (OSM) has gone through a qualitative change by forming a coordinating body for civil disobedience known as Qeerroo. Here is an excerpt from that article.
“In April 2011, the Oromian Students Movement (OSM) underwent a qualitative change. Inspired by the Arab Spring, Oromian youth all over the globe came together by forming a coordinating body for civil disobedience known as the National Youth Movement for Freedom and Democracy (NYMFD) aka Qeerroo. In Afan Oromo “Qeerroo” literally refers to an unmarried young person. It can also mean simply a young person.”
A National Call To Stand In Unity Against The New Wave Of The Neo-Nafxanya Government’s Attacks On The Oromo Nation, The OLF And Its Leadership
Oromia Global Forum 6909 Laurel Ave, Suite 5219 Tacoma Park, MD20913 Email: Oromiaglobalforum@gmail.com Phone: 612-483-0161
Friday, July 31, 2020
Oromia Global Forum (OGF) is a global alliance of Oromo civic, professional and faith-based institutions, and human rights organizations, as wells as prominent individuals, residing in North America, Europe, Australia, Asia, and Africa. Our mission is to enhance Oromo unity, discuss, analyze, and take actions on man-made and natural disasters as well as human rights abuses plaguing the Oromo nation, and to design strategies and tactics to mitigate the plights of our people.
OGF’s values are based on the egalitarian Gadaa/Siiqqee System of the Oromo nation, in which the dignity of all human beings is equally respected and defended, irrespective of their national origins, cultures, and creeds. OGF advocates for the protection and promotion of all human rights in Oromia and beyond. It also upholds and defends the moral and ethical values of the Oromo nation, in which all human beings are equally treated, truth is defended, and justice is served without discrimination. Furthermore, OGF stands for and defends Oromo national unity, integrity of Oromia, equality of its citizens, freedom of expression and organization, social justice, egalitarian democracy, self-determination, and respects all forms of diversity in Oromo society and beyond.
OGF has national and moral obligations to defend the Oromo national interest by exposing the new wave of attack by the neo-nafaxanya government, which is intervening in the internal affairs of Oromo organizations, including the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). We have learned that the neo-nafaxanya government of Abiy Ahmed is working day and night to change the independent leadership of the OLF, led by Chairman Dawud Ibssa, to weaken and control the organization. OGF believes that the OLF is the principal architect of Oromummaa, which is engraved in Oromo national history, culture, identity, and language. The OLF is the symbol and embodiment Oromo nationalism, which has resurrected Oromo nationhood that was fragmented into local, regional, and religious identities by the Ethiopian settler colonialism and its nafxanya system.
The front clearly mapped out the ideological and political roadmap of the Oromo nation in the 1970s and introduced an ideological innovation and the knowledge for liberation to the Oromo people by challenging Ethiopianism that has been degrading and abusing Oromo humanity and identity. Consequently, it has liberated the minds of millions of Oromo, and mobilized them to struggle for their own freedom and the liberation of their country, Oromia. Hating and opposing Oromo political consciousness and the development of Oromummaa, all external and internal enemies of the Oromo people are attacking the OLF and its independent leadership to deny the people the institutional and organizational capacity, which is absolutely necessary to empower the Oromo nation.
The main objectives of the neo-nafxanayas and their collaborators are to continue disempowering the Oromo people by dispossessing their lands and other resources and by keeping them in the status of colonial subjects, who are disorganized, easy to be terrorized and dominated. But the flourishing of Oromo nationalism and the consolidation of Oromo unity as demonstrated by the recent Qeerroo/Qarree movement have revealed the potential of Oromo society to bring about fundamental transformations in Oromia, the Ethiopian Empire, and the Horn of Africa.
Since the ideological and intellectual victory of the Oromo national movement has disturbed the colonial settlers and their neo-nafaxanya government led by Abiy Ahmed, the enemies of the Oromo people are worried that they cannot successfully implement their grand plans of dismantling Oromo nationhood by fragmentating it into local and religious identities, dividing Oromia again into colonial administrative regions, imposing Habasha culture and the Amhara language, pitting the Oromo against other nations, and impoverishing them by dispossessing their resources and transferring to themselves and their cronies. The OLF and its chairman, Mr. Dawud Ibssa, have become the main obstacle to these grand projects when some Oromo organizations and former activists are willingly becoming the agents of the neo-nafxanaya government to satisfy their personal interests at the cost of the Oromo nation. Therefore, Abiy and his government are trying to remove the resolute and independent leadership of the Oromo people and the OLF and replace it by the leadership that they can easily manipulate and cannot defend Oromia’s national agenda and interest.
Under the direction of Abiy Ahmed, the neo-nafxanaya government and its security forces, the police, and the army have taken the following steps to achieve their political objectives:
First, the regime and its security forces have created the condition for their evil acts by illegally putting Chairman Dawud under house arrest for almost two weeks, cutting his telephone lines and internet connections, and preventing him from travelling to his office, communicating with his leadership team and supporters, and obstructing to fulfill his duties and obligations.
Second, the Ethiopian government forces that have put Chairman Dawud under house arrest protected and enabled those leaders that called the so-called general assembly meeting of the OLF on July 25 and 26, 2020.
Third, the involvement of the police and the illegal search of the OLF office demonstrates the Ethiopian government’s violations of its agreement with the OLF when the leadership of the organization returned to the empire in September 2018 to carry out peaceful political activities and the lack of respect to the right of an opposition political party. By sending security forces to enter the OLF office and financing a few individuals in the OLF leadership to hold a meeting not authorized by the chairman, the government of Abiy Ahmed was illegally interfering and impeding the political activities of an independent Oromo organization.
Fourth, a few members of the OLF leadership who held a meeting at the OLF office last week, with assistance of the Abiy Ahmed government, shamefully orchestrated a crisis in the leadership instead of strongly demanding the government to remove the illegal restrictions it imposed on Chairman Dawud Ibssa and to release imprisoned OLF leaders and members and all political prisoners immediately. This indicates that the individuals who organized the meeting never cared about the security and safety of the chairman and other OLF leaders, members, and supporters.
Fifth, the so-called meeting was arranged without the knowledge and the permission of the chairman of the OLF when, in fact, he could be contacted or visited at his residence in Finfinnee.
Sixth, the press release that the so-called general meeting released almost resembles the commentaries of the OPDO/PP cadres, and never exposed the crimes the neo-nafxenya regime has been committing on the OLF officials and members and the Oromo people before and after the assassination of the famous artist and human rights activist Hacaaluu Hundeessa, and
Finally, the declaration of all agents of the government of Ethiopia and the neo-nafxanya media outlets that the chairman of the OLF was replaced by his deputy chairman was intended to spread confusion and to demoralize the supporters of the organization and the Oromo people. OGF urges that the Oromo people expose this sinister propaganda and an open declaration of war on the identity and wellbeing of the nation.
If the Oromo people in general and Oromo nationalists in particular allow the neo-nafxanaya government to dismantle the OLF and its independent leadership by creating subservient leaders for Oromo society, our survival and the survival of our country, Oromia, will be in question. Hence, OGF calls upon all citizens of Oromia to reject all machinations and manipulations of the neo-nafxanya government of Abiy Ahmed and oppose its interference into the internal affairs of any independent Oromo organization. OGF strongly warns all Oromos to be vigilant and clearly understand the emerging national danger our nation is facing under the Abiy regime and stand in unity to defend the OLF, the principal Oromo liberation front and its independent leadership that have been struggling for more than four decades to liberate our country, Oromia, from the Abyssinian/Ethiopian settler colonialism and its nafxanya system.
Furthermore, OGF would like to remind the government that it has obligations to ensure the security and safety of political leaders in general and that of the OLF in particular, and we call upon the Oromo people and the Qeerroo/Qarree to be vigilant and follow and protect the safety of their leaders.
Oromia Shall be liberated by its determined daughters and sons!
Oromia Global Forum
Bilal Oromo Dawa Center
Canaan Oromo Evangelical Church
Charismatic International Fellowship Church
DMV Oromo Islamic Center
Gaadisa Sabboontottaa KP
Global Gumii Oromia
Global Oromo Advocacy Group
Global Waaqeffannaa Council
Horn of Africa Genocide Watch
Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa
International Oromo Lawyers Association
International Oromo Women’s Organization
International Qeerroo Support Group
Network of Oromo Studies
Mana Kiristaanaa Fayyisaa Addunyaa
Oromo Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church
Oromo Communities’ Association of North America
Oromo Evangelical Lutheran Church of Los Angeles
Oromo Evangelical Lutheran Church of Washington DC Metropolitan Area