The pioneers of the modern Oromo national struggle appear to be farsighted and most certainly done their home work. Revolutionary vigilance was the order of the day during my youth. It remained the same until 1991. It would appear that we have dropped our gourds since the 1991 by forgetting the warnings of the pioneers not only against the Naftanya offspring but all sorts of hidden enemies. Collective amnesia is said to be the route to all political demises.
Most unfortunately, however, just as collective amnesia was setting in during the mid 90s the difficult complex issues of the Oromo society began to raise their heads. One definite source of such difficulties involves the minority latent hopefuls who were not completely weaned of their Ethiopianist dreams. This group showed their true colour gradually but surely in the fullness of time. Bergen, the Asmara Group (now both factions) declarations of their commitment to democratize Ethiopia, AFD etc are but few examples.
A more lethal challenge on the other hand, the problem of regionalism, a by-product of the Haile Sillasse’s divide and rule tactics, also began to bare malignant fruits since 1991. The proliferation of different Oromo political ‘organization’ or grouping is one aspect of such malaise. Groupings such as IBSO, OPLF, Gumii, AWO etc are breakaways from the OLF. They however epitomize a symbolic representation of the division among the Oromo, albeit artificial and the figment of the imagination of some people. They pull resources away from the OLF whilst declaring themselves pro independent Oromia. It is interesting to note that, however, none of the websites of these breakaways state clearly what they stand for. It would appear that they are not fully immune to the virus called ‘Ethiopia’.
More worrying has been a recent development in the Oromo diaspora. The Oromo diaspora appear to be more divided these days than ever before in our history. They are divided primarily politically; the politics of Oromia and Ethiopia. Some believe in liberation of Oromia but some believe in regime change in Ethiopia that would allow them to return. Those who believe in Oromia support the OLF-TA whilst those who wish to preserve Ethiopia or just feel that they should go back home support the OLF-Asmara Group.
Another more diabolic division is the recent split within the Asmara Group that is driving wages between Oromos. It is an open secret that these splits have been appealing to their supporter’s regional affiliations. Regional attachment is perfectly natural human behaviour. Political stand, however, is very personal and cannot be determined by these attachments. Nonetheless, the Asmara Group (both sides) exploit the apparently harmless natural phenomena for a harmful end to enhance their short term gain and out manoeuvring each other. The long term effect can be devastating.
The other factor that complicates the difficulties is that there are two groups call themselves the OLF; the OLF-TA and the OLF-Asmara Group. They stand for two different aims and goals. The Asmara Group is again divided in to two. Both stand for democratization of Ethiopia. But they confuse people by saying two things two sets of audience. To Oromo they say they stand for ‘bilisumma’. To the Ethiopians and the ‘Faranjis’ they inform them they stand for unity of Ethiopia.
What is more, there is yet another third split within the Asmara Group. This latest split is simply mindboggling. The old guards of the Asmara Group, led by Dima Nogo, Lencho Leta and Aba Biyya Aba Jobir, among others have formed a separate group and began talking to TPLF. This faction is the most malignant bit of the Asmara Group. They are the architects of predicament. The entire Asmara Group project was their mind child. They caused by all account an incalculable damage to the OLF. They caused the divisions in order to use the name of the organization to gain some sort of power in the Ethiopian power structure. Alas it has failed and now they are heading for Finfinnee even without their Asmara Group. As to their fate, time will only tell.
No doubt we have a serious problem on our hands. The lack of maturity of the Oromo diaspora is only making matters worse. It seems to me that it is only by getting back to basics that we even begin to think to sort out the problems; political, religious, regionalism or otherwise. After a decade of in-flight I should imagine that we must by now know who stands for what. I hope those of us who stand for Oromia will come together sooner than later. That to me is the basics. I do not suggest that the problems will be solved overnight. What I would like to suggest is that let us take in deep breath and start to think.
The warning of the founders of the OLF still rings loud after 30 years. Today, sons of naftanyas include, ex-Dergs, ex-EPRPs, ex-OPDOs, regionalists, Ethiopiansts, opportunists, etc because they all have common ideology; unity of Ethiopia. Thus, it requires rethinking and reorganizing oneself. I am sure it can be done but not until we understand what has befallen us.
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