Indifference and Complacency in the Face of Tyranny Do Not Heal Wounds, They Exacerbate Them

It has been over two months now since an ultimatum was passed to evict Oromo institutions from Finfinne, the heartland of Oromia. Oromos in Oromia and those in the Diaspora, from North America to Europe and Australia, staged demonstrations and wrote appeal letters to various diplomatic communities and leaders, including the U.N. Secretary General Mr. Kofi Annan and the U.S. President Mr. George W. Bush, to pressure the Ethiopian government to reverse its decision in the interest of stability in the Horn of Africa. As shocking as this decision was to the Oromo people, their reaction everywhere in a coordinated manner was unprecedented. It transcended geographic barriers and political differences among the Oromo. 

In the face of such evil decision and an unprecedented uproar from the Oromo people from every corner including even those in allegiance with the EPRDF government, Abyssinian media appear to be indifferent or complacent with this decision. In its online version, Addis Tribune chooses to avoid reporting about this at all, at least so far, but not about “recent disturbances at the Addis Ababa University by Oromo students” and about the government allegation of destruction of property worth over one million birr. Fekade Shewakena, whose recent seemingly reasonable writing on Oromo issues in Ethiopia caught the attention of some Oromo scholars, would spend no time in joining the EPRDF government to condemn the students without getting the facts, except the government allegation, and avoiding to mention everything about the fundamental question that led to the so called disturbance at the Addis Ababa University. He rightly observes and questions the government’s deceptive maneuvering in victimizing the victims, the Oromo people at large, but not so much because of the damage done to the Oromo people but because of his worry about what is “yet to come” in the unknown future.

When Oromo institutions are ordered to be evicted from Finfinne in less than two week time, when Oromo University students are invited to attend a theatre with the government’s intention to use their attendance as if to support its evil decision to evict Oromia’s capital from Finfinne, thus playing into the emotion of the students, when this government induced disturbance and the damage it allegedly caused is estimated literally over night to cost over one million Birr, when over 300 bright Oromo university students are expelled in three days, immeasurably damaging the hope of the students and their poor families, condemning the students based on the government allegation is adding insult to injury. We should all be reminded that all these are happening in the world of the TPLF where the speed of conceiving, passing and acting on legislation to incarcerate its own child is faster than the process of releasing him from jail upon court order.

This episode in the relationship between the Oromo and the Abyssinian tyrants has exposed more the true nature of what existed in the past, which the latter group appears to be pursuing even today. Advising us all to “mourn historical wounds”, as Maimire Mennasemay wrote recently, when our wounds get worse by irresponsible tyrants as we speak and remaining indifferent or complacent with the tyrant’s action will make the relationship anything but better. Imagine Ethiopia’s and the Amhara region’s capitals were in Gondar and Meles would send the Amhara region’s capital to Debratabor without consulting with the Amhara people, imagine Ethiopia’s and the Tigray region’s capitals were in Axum and an Oromo group ruling Ethiopia from there contrives to send the Tigray regions capital to Maychew without consultation with the people of Tigray. How odd do these sound? That is what the Oromo people are going through at this time in their history. The only difference is that Oromos may be outnumbered in Finfinne by the settlers but that doesn’t mean they do not have the right to their land. They enjoyed their Gada assembly in Finfinne before the settlers came over a hundred years ago. No Ethiopian regime before Meles went to the extreme length of evicting Oromos from Finfinne even though each has killed them in numbers in their own country. During Mengistu’s rule, in what appears to be some understanding of the wounds, if not addressing it, Dhakaa Araraa, which translates to Rock of Reconciliation, was named in the heart of Finfinne.

All Abyssinian dictators who came to or dream for power in the present Ethiopia is through this parasitic relationship and the Oromo people have so far failed to learn its true nature although their failures have accumulated and are generating energy in their quest of freedom. In his recent interview with an online publication, the top official of All Ethiopia Unity Party, a splinter group from the All Amhara People’s Organization, would boldly come out and tell us that most of its members are from northern Ethiopia with a plan to march to the center and the south to unveil to them what has been cooking in the north. This is the kind of All Ethiopia Unity coat, a cover of old political machination of subordination. As Lenco Lata put it in his recent book that Ethiopia is not what it pretends to be, All Ethiopia Unity Party can not pretend to be what it is not. The same goes for Hailu Shawel, who is, as the loyalists of AAPO inform us, more of an Oromo than an Amhara.  

In the final analysis, it all boils down to the fact that Abyssinian dictators’ relationship with the Oromo people is a seriously troubled one. Oromos have a choice to determine their future with or without other groups in Ethiopia. Either way, they will fare better in the long run than other peoples in Ethiopia because of Oromia’s strategic economic and geographic significance. The ball of future of Ethiopia is not in Oromos court and that future shall be determined how the beholders of the ball have been playing and will play it.

Confusion and self-deception will not help in this situation. Selective human right reporting as does ERCHO of Mesfin Woldemariam, who once argued that there were no people called Amhara only to witness the All Amhara People’s Organization pop-up under his nose in just a few years, hiding important news that concerns other peoples in Ethiopia as do Abyssinian media, appearing to redress historical wounds while remaining indifferent or becoming complacent with what is on the ground today as do some Abyssinian scholars, or wishing away the problem as do some superstitious dreamers will only exacerbate the problem. They are serious mistakes which will not “vanish in history; they will come back to haunt us”, to use Messay Kebede’s recent remark.