Ethiopia: Is the Conflict Between Ethiopiawinet and Oromummaa Irreconcilable?
It is interesting to follow the ongoing discussion and dispute regarding Ethiopiawinet (Ethiopian nationalism) and Oromummaa (Oromo nationalism) in the cyberworld and at the real community level. It was two months ago that we first listened to a cyber conference of about eight political leaders and scholars, in which Dr. Bayan Asoba, one of the leaders of the Oromo Democratic Front (ODF) took part and showed the vision of his party regarding the futurity of both Ethiopia and Oromia. His position was moderate, which could have been taken as a middle ground for all the political groups in the Ethiopia Empire (the pro-independence, the pro-federation and the pro-unitary) to have a consensus if they really want to agree on a common ground. Then, Dr. Fikre Tolossa wrote an appeal open letter directed to Dr. Bayan, asking him, above all, to “accept Ethiopiawinet identity and struggle for the territorial integrity of the country.” One of the arguments he used to convince Dr. Bayan was attempting to present Ethiopian history in a totally new form. He asserted that Ethiopia, above all, belongs to the Oromo, who “were the rulers of this region for more than 3000 years.”
The Oromo nationalists reacted mostly by rejecting his appeal and one of the reactions was by raising the question, “if the whole empire belongs more to the Oromo than to the others, why don’t we re-name the whole country to be Oromia, instead of Ethiopia?” – as written and hotly discussed here: http://gadaa.com/oduu/20052/2013/05/31/why-not-greater-oromia-instead-of-ethiopia-a-response-to-dr-fikre-tolassas-open-letter/. Following this hot debate on websites, it also became the daily area of dispute in Paltalk. It was during this situation that Jawar Mohammed said on Al Jazeera’s The Stream: “I am first Oromo; Ethiopia is imposed on me.” From this day on, two groups were/are attacking Jawar, Oromummaa and Oromia: the nostalgic Neo-Dergists, who want to divide Oromia into 15 pieces as well as get rid of the “ethnic federation” and the Neo-Nafxenyas (Woyanes), who want to keep the status quo. Slowly, the whole discussion and quarrel is now crystallizing to the ideological conflict between Ethiopiawinet and Oromummaa.
To make clear about which Ethiopia and Ethiopiawinet I am writing here, it is important to look at the different definitions given till now. For the ancient Greeks, the country called Ethiopia was where those with “burnt face” lived, i.e. the land of blacks, which included the whole of Africa; for the Biblical Jews, it is the land of Cush located south of Egypt; for the international community now, it is the currently existing state in the Horn of Africa; to the people like Prof. Megalommatis, Ethiopia is equivalent to the non-Abyssinian part of the Cushland; for the Abyssinian elites, Ethiopia simply means Abyssinia; for the nostalgic and conservative politicians of the empire, Ethiopia is the same as being Amhara; and, for the currently ruling class of the Tigreans, Ethiopia is the mask for Woyane. Such a Babylonic confusion of the term Ethiopia is also reflected in the Oromo liberation camp. For some Oromo nationalists, Ethiopia is the current modern state in which Oromia is located and need to be liberated; that is why the rhetoric Oromia-Ethiopia is not as such contradictory for it is possible to talk about Oromia in particular, and Ethiopia in general. To the other Oromo nationalists, Ethiopia is the same as Abyssinia, the neighboring country of Oromia, which occupied Oromia by force, so, from which, this Oromo land should separate unconditionally; that means for this group, talking about Oromia being within Ethiopia now is logically wrong.
When we talk about any conflict, be it personal or political, we actually should try to concentrate on its way of resolution rather than only being absorbed by its problem part. The problem part is usually described in multiple forms; another term used to replace the word conflict can be a term called controversy even though the two words do have a bit difference in meaning. Controversy is a state of a prolonged public dispute or debate, usually concerning a matter of opinion, whereas a conflict is more of a quarrel of individuals or groups based on their different interests contradicting each other. A conflict resolution is often pursued in a wide-range of methods in addressing the possible sources of conflict – whether at the inter-personal level or between states – and in finding a means of resolving a given conflict or in continuing it through less destructive forms. The processes of conflict resolution do generally include negotiation, mediation, diplomacy and creative peace-building. We may then ask: can the conflict in the Ethiopian empire be solved in such approaches? What is actually the main conflict in this region?
It is clear that the main conflict in the empire is political, not only personal (not only that of the leaders); and, of course, it is not biological at all. I am almost convinced that the conflict between Abyssinia and Oromia is also not based on the “real” or perceived difference of our biological origins, but it is a result of the conflict between the two main political ideologies, between Abyssinianism (pseudo-Ethiopiawinet now propagated by both the Neo-Dergists and Neo-Nefxanyas) and Oromummaa/Cushinet (actually, the “True-Ethiopiawinet“). It is not like the political controversies, which can occur in a mono-national state, such as the class struggle in many Western countries, but it is the conflict between different national groups within a multinational state. Just to clarify the nature of the conflict in the Ethiopian empire, I would like to concentrate on the conflict between Abyssinian elites and the Oromo nation; of course, this does not mean the other oppressed nations in the region are not part of the conflict.
Abyssinian elites, being led by their ideology (Abyssinianism masked with Ethiopiawinet), used to act, and they are still acting, against the Oromo people and against our Oromummaa since their emergence in the northeastern part of Africa. This Abyssinianism is characterized by despotism, authoritarianism, terrorization of the indigenous nations, oppression, tyranny, etc. It is the software of alien colonizers, which is implanted in the hardware of the Abyssinized elites, so that these elites could subjugate their own kinds and kin. The result of the move of the hitherto Abyssinian leaders, being influenced by such suppressive Abyssinianism is the present status of Ethiopia, which made the country to be known as a land of hunger, misery and poverty. Not surprisingly, this destructive Abyssinianism is decorated and packed in a relatively good ideological name of the ancient Cushites, i.e. in Cushinet/”Ethiopiawinet.” This is the reason which compels the Oromo people and the other oppressed nations to identify and isolate the evil Abyssinianism from the holy Cushinet described in the ancient books. We don’t have to throw out the baby with the bathwater. In the holy book, Cushinet is associated with righteousness, whereas Abyssinianism is the opposite of this true Cushinet.
Unfortunately, the glorious ancient Cush has been denigrated, smeared and disgraced by the Abyssinian system of domination since thousands of years. It is only because of these dictatorial domination that this region is now at the bottom of the list of countries or regions regarding both democracy and development. Despite this hitherto lowest position, hopefully, through the liberation struggle of the Oromo and that of the other Cushitic nations, Cush’s original strength and glory will slowly come back, be it in a from of a mono-state named Cushland or as a multiple states (including the nation Oromia) living in a good neighborhood to each other in this region called Cush. It is up to the respective public to decide which one of the two forms of living together will prevail. In both cases, we, the Oromo people, will have our freedom from Abyssinianism in order to live and further strengthen Oromummaa or Cushinet in its true ancient sense. We can achieve this on the doomsday of the present Abyssinian rulers. We will definitely not further allow them to hide themselves behind the names like Woyane (the name of the Raayyaa Oromo freedom fighters) and Ethiopia (Cush).
Actually, Cushinet is either the same as Oromummaa (if we consider Cush as Oromo, and Oromo as Cush) or it consists of Oromummaa (if we believe that Oromo nation is only a part of Cush, but it is not the whole Cush). Be it in one of these two definitions of the Oromo, fact is that both Oromummaa and Cushinet are the anti-thesis of Abyssinianism (pseudo-Ethiopiawinet). This way or that way, Oromummaa is the core of Cushinet in its true sense. The cunning Abyssinian elites smartly tried to separate Oromummaa and destroy it, as well they just usurped the name Ethiopia (Cush) to cover their evil Abyssinianism. They tried to attack Oromummaa, especially by suppressing its three main elements: Afaan Oromoo (language), Aadaa Oromoo (culture) and Amanti Oromoo/Waaqeffannaa (religion). These Abyssinized elites (whom we call Abyssinians) are now hated by the Oromo and other oppressed nations, not necessarily because of their blood, but surely, due to their politics. Their politics is that of the colonizers or they are the slaves of the alien colonialists, being instrumentalized in subjugating the true Cush people (the ancient Oromians/Cushites); of course, the true Cush (Ethiopia) being totally different from the fake/Abyssinian/pseudo-Ethiopia, which is now under the influence of Abyssinianism.
This conflict between Abyssinianism (pseudo-Ethiopiawinet) and Oromummaa is still going on. The Abyssinian elites are still targeting the above mentioned three main elements of Oromummaa (Afaan, Aadaa and Amanti). Fortunately, Oromummaa, being characterized by the principles of freedom, Gadaa-democracy and independence, is slowly, but surely, moving forwards, and it is killing Abyssinianism gradually. The pro-democracy and pro-freedom movement of all nations in the empire are practically the allies of Oromummaa in fighting against Abyssinianism. That is why, the OLF in particular, and the Oromo people in general, should be inclusive of these forces against the on-going hegemony, dictatorship and tyranny, the characteristics of Abyssinianism. I know that, nowadays, even Abyssinian elites do preach and teach about democracy and freedom, but expectedly, almost all of them fail to accept and respect the right of nations to self-determination, which is indeed the alpha and omega of democracy.
These “pro-democracy,” but anti-self-determination politicians, are the “smart” Abyssinian elites, who try to hide their Abyssinianism behind the buzz words like human rights, individual freedom, democracy and justice, but deny the God-given right of all big and small nations to self-determination, including independence. Such a position on the rights of nations to self-determination is in fact the litmus paper to detect these elites, who are led by Abyssinianism and are active in any sort of political organization, wherever they hide themselves. Oromummaa is an ideology which believes unswervingly in the rights of citizens and nations to self-determination, including independence. It fights against all political minds, who want to dictate their causes, instead of trying to win the minds and hearts of the public for their camps. Even in the Oromo liberation bloc, we do observe such dictatorial minds, who want to achieve unconditional independence or unconditional union, instead of leaving the decision for the Oromo public. The minds of these dictatorial Oromo are surely contaminated with the virus of Abyssinianism.
When we look at the conflict areas in the Oromo liberation camp, it is absurd that we, Oromo nationalists, quarrel on the two options: federation vs. separation. Actually, these terms are used by and only appropriate for the minority nations at the geographical periphery like Tigrai. That is why Woyane elites love to preach federation as long as they are in power, and want to promote separation of Tigrai, in case they lose power in Finfinne palace. The appropriate concepts for the nation of the majority at the center, like the Oromo, are independence and integration. That means the Oromo people can benefit if we fight now together for our freedom from Woyane tyrants unconditionally, and then choose between an ‘Independent Core Oromia’ and an ‘Integrative Great Oromia,’ based on an Oromo public’s verdict; of course, after having an extensive and intensive debate and discussion on the benefit and cost of the two types of independence, which Oromia will have (based on the benefit and cost of independence and/or integration).
Specially, knowing the fact that the job of integrating the revived Cush with a genuine Cushinet being the future potential of a great Oromo nation, the present “keeper” of Abyssinianism, the Woyane, tries to discredit the Oromo liberation forces by accusing them as “anti-Ethiopia and separatists.” This is simply a crocodile tear of the tyrants; the fact on the ground being that, true Cushinet and Oromummaa are inseparable. The Oromo struggle rather can be seen as a means to revive the Cushinet on the grave of Abyssinianism, the evil ideology, which is now hidden behind the package of the good “Ethiopiawinet” (Cushinet). The cunning Abyssinian elites do know the acceptance and fame of the name Ethiopia/Cush among the international community, and they use this name simply as a trademark in order to sell their hated Abyssinian identity. It is up to the Oromo nationalists and the nationals of the other Cushitic nations to expose this mischief, to isolate the historical Cushinet from the ongoing Abyssinianism, and to associate Cushinet back to its original good elements like Oromummaa.
That means, Cushinet must be made free from all characters of Abyssinianism and be refilled with the ancient good and glorious elements of Cush. One of these elements is the original monotheistic religion of the Cushites (Waaqeffannaa). Just as Judaism is the core identity of Israel, so is Waaqeffannaa that of Cushland. But, this does not mean that the other religions, like Christianity and Islam, do have no place in Cush. Here also, the same as Jerusalem is the holy city of both major religions, so is Finfinnee – the right home of Christianity and Islam. Oromians need to accommodate the true Cushitic (“True-Ethiopiawinet“) identity, instead of distance ourselves from it, just because of the fact that the name Ethiopia is already contaminated by the repressive Abyssinianism. We need to be confident enough to clean the name of Cush from this dirty ideology, and decorate it with the beautiful Oromummaa, being conscious that Abyssinianism is the symbol of tyranny, whereas Oromummaa is a paragon of liberty.
To make the difference between Abyssinian pseudo-Ethiopia and Oromian “True-Ethiopia”/Cush clear, let’s imagine two bottles of apple juice; one is filled with the true apple juice and the other with poisonous-chemical having the same color as the apple juice. On both bottles, it is written the name apple, and we are given the chance to buy the juice. Surely, we can not identify the two externally for they do have similar color and the same name. To differentiate the two, we have to taste them. Then, we know that the contents are totally different; one is nutritive and useful, whereas the other is poisonous and destructive. The same is true about the name ‘Ethiopia.’ What matters is the content, not the bottle (name). Ethiopia with Abyssinianism as a content is like the bottle filled with the poisonous-chemical, i.e. despotic and destructive, whereas Cush with its true ingredients like Oromummaa is democratic and constructive. That is why, what we need in the region called Ethiopia/Cush is to get rid of Abyssinianism and to promote Oromummaa.
I know that this approach may sound Ethiopian-friendly and, surely, certain Oromo nationalists can accuse me of “being an Ethiopianist.” But, fact is that I personally do have no problem in liberating the core Oromia, the size of this Biyya-Oromoo being either as small as that of OPDO, about 360,000 SqKm; or as big as shown here: http://www.gadaa.com/thepeople.html, about 800,000 SqKm. The reality on the ground is that, it is not less beneficial for the Oromo people in particular, and for all nations of the region in general, if we can re-build the Oromian Cush (“True-Ethiopia”) on the grave of the hitherto Abyssinian pseudo-Ethiopia. The Oromo people, as the majority at the center, can be confident enough to have this second type of sovereignty as another option or as an alternative. That is why the job of choosing between an ‘Independent Core Oromia’ and an ‘Integrative Great Oromia’ must be left to the Oromo public.
To bring the Oromo people to this level of decision making, all Oromo nationalists in the walk of life should learn to work together, instead of fighting against each other on minor issues. It is really disgusting, when we read from any Oromo nationalist supporting one faction of the Oromo liberation movement and turning her/his pen or verbal gun against another faction of our common liberation movement. As far as I am concerned, such pal-talkers and pal-writers are simply fools who do shy fighting against our current tormentor, against Woyane, but try to “roar like a lion” against another Oromo group, which may have a different approach to achieve our freedom. They are simply the dalga-fiigdota (horizontal runner, for it is an easy job) as described in Oromo proverb: ‘kan gaara bahuu dadhabe, dalga fiiga’ (who can’t walk uphill vertically will run horizontally). I am happy that some of these dalga-fiigdota already stopped the senseless wasting of their precious talents, money and time in fighting against their fellow Oromo, and I encourage the rest to start exercising the process of conflict resolution like negotiation, mediation, diplomacy and creative peace-building. To this effect, the conflict among the Oromo liberation forces is not irreconcilable as our foes try to suggest and want to make us believe.
But, it is clear that the conflict between Abyssinianism (pseudo-Ethiopiawinet) and Oromummaa (“True-Ethiopiawinet“/Cushinet) is irreconcilable, which should end with a victory for Oromummaa. To assure this victory, there is no other way bypassing unity of the Oromo nationalists for our freedom. My wish here is as always to see all of us, Oromo nationals, fighting together against the oppressive Abyssinian elites’ system of domination and their Abyssinianism ideology in order to foster our freedom and independence, be it the future independent Oromia in a from of an ‘Independent Core Oromia’ or an ‘Integrative Great Oromia,’ with the common flag, which I already suggested: Abbaa-Gadaa’s flag (black-red-white) with Odaa and its surrounding golden sunshine in the middle. This newly constructed (mixed) flag can be used as the symbol of our unity for freedom, because it is the combination of OLF’s Odaa surrounded by golden shine, and Abbaa-Gadaa’s tricolor, the new mix which we can choose as a national flag of the future ‘Independent Core Oromia’ and/or that of ‘Integrative Great Oromia.’ By getting victory on both the Neo-Dergists and Neo-Nafxanyas, we can lead our Oromummaa to an indispensable victory over the pseudo-Ethiopiawinet (Habeshanet/Abyssinianism), and then we can conditionally foster, where possible, True-Ethiopiawinet (Cushinet) – including Oromummaa in the future union of free nations as an alternative to an Independent Gadaa Republic of Oromia. So, in short, Ethiopiawinet in a sense of Abyssinianism is irreconcilable with Oromummaa, whereas Ethiopiawinet in a sense of Cushinet is not only reconcilable, but also the same as Oromummaa. We just need to distinguish between the two meanings of Ethiopia. May Rabbii/Uumaa/Waqaa help us!
* Fayyis Oromia can be reached at email@example.com.