Is Ob. Lammaa Magarsaa’s “Ethiopiyan Keenya” an Oromo Politics of 2020?
It is interesting to observe Oromo politics nowadays. I used to advocate for Oromo unity and that is exactly happening; I tried to promote Amhara-Oromo alliance and this is emerging, despite TPLF’s divide and destroy machination. Qeerro Oromo went to Bahr-Dar to cleanse our biggest lake carrying the slogan “Xanaan keenya” and Ob. Lammaa Magarsa visited Amhara region to start an Amhara-Oromo dialogue with an intention: “Ethiopiyan keenya”. I am glad to observe my political position being implemented by the ongoing Oromo movement. Both tokkummaa/unity of the Oromo and tumsa/alliance with the Amhara are the best anti-dotes against TPLF’s tyranny. The question is only: what hindered us till now from excercising this solutions? Why couldn’t we try to come together for the sake of overcoming the challenges? One of the reasons is that the Oromo till now hesitated to accept Ethiopia as “biyya keenya = our Country”, whereas the Amhara rejected their ethnic identity in order to save Ethiopia. Now, the Amhara starting to struggle for their ethnic right and the Oromo begining to entertain the rhetoric, “Ethiopiyan keenya” are good common grounds to approach each other and fight against the fascist TPLF in unison.
When we look at the mindset of Oromo freedom fighters, we can classify ourselves into three, based on our confidence level as well as our visions regarding the post-freedom kaayyoo (goal) and according to an approach to our rivals. Concerning our level of confidence, I would like to say that we opted for independent gadaa Oromia (kaayyoo ganama = “morning’s goal”) as we were under worst oppression and had low confidence. Then after achieving some rights through our bitter struggle, we developed more confidence in our self (now have intermediate confidence) and started to entertain federal union Ethiopia (free Oromia within federal Ethiopia) as kaayyoo guyyaa = “midday’s goal”. Slowly, we are seeing and recognizing our future potential to transform Ethiopia to Oromia, so we will have high confidence in the future in order to envision an integrative Great Oromia (transformed democratic Ethiopia, which surely will be de facto Oromia), thus we surely will develop kaayyoo galgalaa = “evening’s goal”. Based on our visions and approachs to our rivals, there are the following three political generations of Oromo nationalists:
– the 1st generation are communist oriented, who believe in “my way or the high way” principle of the 1960s. Out of the three known types of post-freedom sovereignty (1. independent Oromia = Gadaa Oromia, 2. federal Union & 3. integrated Ethiopia = Great Oromia), they choose one and say “that is the only solution”. Thus, they are called “arrab-tokkee” (single tounged). Oromo nationals, who opt for the other two types (different from their position) are considered as enemies to be destroyed. For instance, the pro-independence OLF of Ob Galaasa, the pro federation OFDM of Ob. Bulcha and the pro integration MEISON of Dr. Haile Fida belong here.
– the 2nd generation of 1990s are a bit open minded and entertain two of the three post-freedom visions, but reject one of the three vehemently. As examples, the pro-self-determination OLF of Ob. Dawud entertains referendum on ‘independent Oromia’ vs ‘federal Union, but vehemnetly opposes those who struggle for ‘integrated Ethiopia’ (geo-federation); and the pro-unity AG7 of Ob. Andargachew (also Oromo) supports referendum on ‘federal Union’ vs ‘integrated Ethiopia’, but vehemently rejects any possible vote for ‘independent Oromia’. These two organizations seem to entertain a limited democracy, but just trying to dictate the public not to excercise our full right of choice. Thus, they are refered to as “arrab-lamee” (double tounged)
– the 3rd generation of 2020s is yet to emerge! There is no single organization now, which is ready to accept popular free will to choose one of the three types of sovereignty (independence or federalism or integration). Only Fayyis Oromia is advocating these approach and may be some individual politicians like Dr. Nagaaso Gidaada seem to be open for the three post-freedom eventualities. As an organization, ODF and OFC seem to develop in this direction.
We hope that the Qubee Generation will be smart enough to be open for the three types of sovereignty and to forge an inclusive alliance of all freedom fighters from these three camps against the fascist TPLF. The common denominator for the three groups can be freedom from TPLF and democracy after TPLF. Such arrab-sadee (tripple tounged) freedom fighters are unique to the Oromo liberation movement, in contrast to single tounged Africans (persuing only the independence version), who fought against European clonizers and double tounged minority at periphery (like Eritrea and South Sudan), who had only two options (independence and federation). The Oromo, as majority over all the country, have three possible types of sovereignty to be realized after our freedom (independence, federalism and integration). As far as future accomodative Ethiopia (in contrast to Derg’s assimilative Ethiopia and Woyane’s apartheid Ethiopia) is concerned, the Oromo with high confidence will be pro-integration, whereas the Amhara with low confidently will start to entertain the pro-independence politics. Till now, the two nations played the opposite (Amharas being pro-integration and the Oromo pro-independence), due to their past experience and still being fixed on Amhara’s past assimilative Ethiopia, not yet seeing Oromo’s future accomodative Ethiopia.
Oromo nationalists usually seem to have a bit conflict regarding which land to call “biyya keenya = our country”. Which one is our country? Oromia (Biyya-Oromo)? Ethiopia (Biyya-Kuush)? Africa (Biyya-Haam)? Actually, all the three are ours (Biyya-Keenya); it depends only at which level we are talking. The conflict mainly lies on claiming Ethiopia as our country. Some Oromo nationalists vehemently reject this country as their own. In reality, Ethiopia is Tuulama Empire, not Habesha Empire as usually told. It was formed by an alliance of the Habeshanized Tuulama led by Emperor Menilik and the non-Habeshanized Tuulama led by General Goobana Daacee. These two leaders were founders of the present empire and majority of their army were Oromo. We can even call it Oromian Empire and now we need to transform this to Oromian (Ethiopian) union.
The difference between an empire and a union can be summarized as: “an empire is a dictatorial bringing together of nations by force; union is a democratic coming together of nations per free will.” Gadaa Oromian independence as advocated by some nationalists can happen, either if all our neighbours reject such a union by free will and forge their independent countries or if Oromo people decide for such independence per referendum. ODF prefers the first approach (let other minority nations go from us for we are majority at the center) and the OLF opted for the second (let our people decide either for an independence or for a union)! Anyways, Biyya-Oromo is imperatively our country, Biyya-Kuush is optionally our country and Biyya-Haam is inevitably our continent (also country); we can call the three levels Biyya-Keenya! We also can call Biyya-keenya (our country) in double sense, considering Africa as our continent: both Biyya-Oromo (Oromia) and Biyya-Kuush (Ethiopia) are Biyya-keenya! Either of them or both of them can be the final result of our self-determination per referendum as planned by both the United Oromo Forces and the PAFD. As far as I am concerned, self-rule of Biyya-Oromo within shared rule of Biyya-Kuush is a pragmatic solution for the Oromo at present.
Ob. Lammaa seems to persue this option, which is shared by the ODF and OFC. Also the OLF is not far from this, it only wanted to give chance to choose for Oromo public. Having autonomous Oromia within united Ethiopia is a pragmatic solution, but the Oromo should not necessarily limit ourselves within the small Gadaa Oromia instead of owning the big Great Oromia (democratic Ethiopia). Now, Oromophobic Ethiopia, which we vehemently rejected is dying, whereas Oromophilic Ethiopia, which we want to save and keep is growing. I think this second version of Ethiopia can be loved by the Oromo and this love is an Ethiopiawinet which will be an addiction to us (“Ethiopiawinet inde hashish suus new” according to Ob. Lammaa’s recent speech in Bahr-Dar. Oromo politics of 2020 may entertain this re-claiming of Ethiopia by the Oromo and say “Ethiopiyan keenya”. If Ethiopia (Great Oromia) is ours, Gadaa Oromia is not necessarily for what we should struggle unconditionally. At the moment, we can be open for three types of post-freedom sovereignty: 1. only Ethiopia, 2. both Ethiopia & Oromia in a form of federation, 3. only Oromia). May Waaqa help Oromo nationalists to tolerate each other in persuing our common cause of freedom together and then excercise democracy in order to decide for one of these three post-freedom sovereignty options per public verdict!