by Dawud Ibsa
The fact that the Oromo fell under occupation 130 years ago should be clear to all Oromos by now. The power holders of the Ethiopian state that succeeded to build this empire and hold on power used massive foreign assistance and control of human and economic resource from subject nations under the Ethiopian state. In this long history of oppressed and oppressor relationship between the Oromo and the Ethiopian ruling elites, the military and civilian bureaucracy was monopolized until today by these ruling elites. The Oromo have served the state as an individual professional in these state structures and most of the time excelling their masters in profession and performance.
It is only in the last 40 years that Oromos started to be organized under politico-military or political organization as a nation in quest for their aspiration for emancipation and to decide on their own destiny. No one can deny that 40 years is no short time to achieve some promising progress at minimum.
In these 40 years, we have also seen other people reverse similar situations that Oromos faced in the last 130 years. It will be important to remind oneself how RPF (Rwanda), EPLF (Eritrea), SPLM (South Sudan), TPLF (Ethiopia) and others asserted themselves on their adversaries. It has no other formula; it is simply by investing blood and sweat for their liberation. Other external forces that assisted them came after they asserted themselves as organized force. For this, a nation has to mobilize itself under a formidable organization be that a politico-military or political organization.
Oromos have to learn from the history of these forces and others – and learn the discipline of working under an organization and prepare to pay all that the struggle demands. In a tyrant state with long history such as Ethiopia, there is no other alternative. OLF’s attempt in 1992 to go through a smooth road did not work. Short cut attempts to snatch or share power, by aspiring foreign assistance only, appendaging one-selves to other forces (OPDO with TPLF, OPC and OFDM to Qinjit and Medrek) will remain a dream unfulfilled.
The empty notion that the big number of Oromos will bring change by itself is a false hope fed to Oromos either by naivety or deliberately soothing Oromos not to prepare themselves for the hard work and sacrifice. Big number by itself did not save China from Japanese occupation, India form British Colonial Occupation, and many others.
Thus Oromo have to learn the nature of the state they are struggling against, the brutal nature of political situation in Ethiopia and the Horn, the various political actors that work against the Oromo aspiration and the type of organization they need to overcome all these hurdles. It will be only through consolidating the gains and the sacrifices in these aspects that one can come closer to its goals. The current situation is promising for Oromos if they play the game properly in this direction.
*Dawud Ibsa is Chairman of the Oromo Liberation Front (ShG).