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The Alternative to an Independent Golden Oromia Can Be an Integrative Great Oromia

By Fayyis Oromia*

More than enough has been written about the ultimate goal of the Oromo national liberation movement. Still, the necessary discussion on this issue is going on and the discord among Oromo nationalists regarding the known two objectives is also obvious. Here, I want to discuss in short on the ideas which are not new as such, but for the sake of continuity. Firstly, let’s ask ourselves: what is the common objective of the Oromo national liberation struggle? No question that we all may automatically reply that the objective of the Oromo people is to achieve bilisummaa/freedom from the alien rule and to exercise self-determination on the national future destiny. This being the common ground, yet we do observe in the public that there are two specific post-freedom goals pursued by individuals and groups in the Oromo community: an independent Golden Oromia and an integrative Great Oromia – this second option being usually told as the democratization of Ethiopia.

To comprehend what I mean by the two concepts, I would like the readers to look at the following two articles (the one I wrote to elaborate the concept of Great Oromia, and the other which I wrote originally as a response to the Ethiopianist author, who tried to persuade us to accept the Ethiopian identity by denouncing our Oromummaa). By Golden Oromia, I just mean the conventional Oromia (the map given by the OLF), which was also named as Core Oromia and “Little” Oromia in my previous opinions. Despite the intentions implicitly put in the above linked articles, the concept of Great Oromia is rejected by all three political movements in the empire: the Ethiopianists, the Federalists and the Oromianists. The Ethiopianists vehemently oppose the name change for they thought it is a “systematic way of deleting the glorious name of Ethiopia.” The Federalists are not happy about the move for they are very cautious not to be suspected as the future authoritarians to impose Oromummaa on the other nations. The Golden Oromianists are very suspicious for they thought the suggestion is a subtle way of saving the empire from the indispensable disintegration.

Those who want to achieve an integrative Great Oromia actually tend to use the name Ethiopia as a trademark just as the Abyssinians used to instrumentalize the name until now. The colonizers just named our Finfinnee as Addis-Ababa, and our Oromia as Ethiopia. The Amharas are hiding their Amharanet behind Ethiopiawinet for more than 80 years, while the Tigreans are doing the same masking of Tigrawinet behind Ethiopiawinet since 1991. Now, the dilemma for the Great Oromianists is whether trading with the name Ethiopia like the Abyssinians are doing or whether boldly re-naming the whole country as Oromia, whatever risk it may entail. I do recommend using both: towards the international community and when approaching the other nations in the empire, it is possible to make business using the name Ethiopia, whereas the concept of Great Oromia is more palatable for the Oromo nationals. So, it is necessary to weigh the advantage and disadvantage (calculate the benefit and cost) of using the name Ethiopia as a trademark. After all, the common goal of the Oromo nation is bilisummaa to get a chance for referendum on: Golden Oromia vs Great Oromia.

The name Ethiopia is positively connotated for the colonizers, who enjoyed the privilege of power and profit within this political community in relation to the name, whereas it is negatively associated with all the variables of oppression for the colonized people, who suffered under the empire’s system of domination and who thus fought against the empire. That is why the argument of some Oromo nationalists, who usually say “what matters is the content, not the name,” does not hold water. If the content is what matters, then the Abyssinianists should have easily accepted the re-naming of Ethiopia as Oromia just for the sake of promoting unity and keeping the territorial integrity they are craving for. I think the Oromo nationals should move further and rename not only the country, but also the whole of its institutions. For instance, we just should call ‘Oromian Airlines,’ instead of Ethiopian Airlines; ‘Oromian coffee,’ instead of Ethiopian coffee; ‘Oromian international sport team,’ instead of Ethiopian sport team, … etc. This re-naming is actually based on the fact that all the institutions are based in Finfinnee, Oromia. So, Oromo nationals should feel free and use this new re-naming just as we did use the name Finfinnee, despite the official name of Addis-Ababa. We do not have to wait for any permission or recognition from the Abyssinian authorities or from anybody else.

When we will be able to rename the whole country as Oromia without waiting for any permission or recognition, just as we did to Finfinnee, then we can clearly differentiate the past assimilative Ethiopia of the Amhara elites and the present apartheid Ethiopia of the Tigrean rulers from the future possibilities of an independent Golden Oromia of the pro-independence Oromo or an integrative Great Oromia of the pro-union Oromo, which can be achieved based on the free will of the future free Oromo nation and free other nations in and around Oromia. The matter of the fact that Oromo federalists tend to instrumentalize the name Ethiopia, instead of boldly accepting the demand of claiming Great Oromia should not confuse us here. The demand actually should come from the pro-unity Abyssinians or the other nations and the pro-independence Oromians need to make the same offer, so that both the demand from he Abyssinians and the offer from the Oromians can match. To clarify the Babylonic confusion regarding the name and the use of Ethiopia, we have to repeatedly look at the following seven definitions:

1) 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;

2) for the Biblical Jews, it is the land of Cush located south of Egypt;

3) for the international community now, it is the currently existing state in the Horn of Africa;

4) to the people like Prof. Megalommatis, Ethiopia is equivalent to the non-Abyssinian part of the Cushland;

5) for the Abyssinian elites, Ethiopia simply means Abyssinia including its system of domination;

6) for the nostalgic and conservative politicians of the empire, Ethiopia is the same as being Amhara; and,

7) for the currently ruling class of the Tigreans, Ethiopia is the mask for Woyane.

According to the first definition, the whole blacks can claim to be called Ethiopians, thus the religion called Ethiopianism was the black movement commenced in both North America and South Africa. Taking the second and fourth definitions into consideration, the name Ethiopia is more appropriate for the Oromo than the Abyssinians, who claim to be from Semitic origin. The third definition was – which Jawar Mohammed regarded as an identity ‘imposed on the Oromo.’ The last three definitions are the contamination which made this name, Ethiopia, to be seen as not appropriate, if we want to use it as a common identity for all the nations in that empire. That is why the name is rejected by part of the Oromo nationalists. When we talk about the future possible Great Oromia, it actually means the re-naming of Ethiopia as Oromia based on the future free will of the free nations in the country. Till that decision of nations, the Oromo nationals can call the country Great Oromia, whereas at the same time others call it Ethiopia. That a certain country does have two or more names at a time is not new. For instance, the Germans call their country Deutschland, whereas the Americans call it Germany and the French people name it Allemagne … etc.

Be it the Oromo nationalists struggle for either Golden Oromia or Great Oromia, we need an indispensable force to get rid of the currently ruling oppressive regime. To get such effective force, there is no other better alternative to the imperative unity of purpose among the Oromo nationalists as well as an important alliance with the forces of the other oppressed nations. In order to get such alliance, those who struggle for an integrative Great Oromia will have more chance for their goal is the same as forging the ‘new federal democratic Ethiopia,’ which is the wish of most oppressed nations in the empire. If we really opt for this version of the liberation process, in which both unity and integrity of the Great Oromia (“Ethiopia”) will be kept intact, we will definitely have basic decisions on five areas as shown below.

It is the fact on the ground that despite this goal of Great Oromia, the currently ongoing campaign of Ethiopiawinet (Ethiopian nationalism) to dilute Oromummaa (Oromo nationalism) is a futile exercise. If keeping the territorial integrity of the union will be chosen by the Oromo people, then we need to move on and struggle to realize the following five important virtues: 1) freedom from the hegemonist Woyane and from any sort of national domination so that we can decide per referendum on Golden Oromia vs Great Oromia; 2) if we opt for the second, then Great Oromia (land of the braves) to be the name of the future true federation, replacing Ethiopia (land of the burnt face); 3) Democracy, including the national self-determination, to be the future rule of the political game in the federation/union; 4) Afan Oromo to be the primary working language of the federal government in Great Oromia; 5) Odaa to be the central part of the flag for the union. Only the fulfillment of these five parameters can be the possible guarantee for the future long-lasting multinational federation. If the other nations, including the Abyssinians, fail to put this demand forward and/or the Oromians fail to give this offer, the further push for an independent republic of the Golden Oromia is inevitable. It is up to the pro-unity forces to choose and demand an integrative Great Oromia in order to avoid the disintegration of the union, which will be caused by an eventual independent Golden Oromia.

If all other nations agree on this concept of Great Oromia (“New Ethiopia”), all freedom fighters in the empire can cooperate on basic principles of freedom from the Woyane and democracy after the Woyane. For this purpose, let’s leave the past pre-Woyane events to the professional historians and the future post-Woyane eventualities to the public verdict, so that we can concentrate now on how to get rid of the present oppressive regime. After getting rid of the fascist and racist regime, the Oromo nation surely do have two good alternatives from which we can choose: decolonization of the Golden Oromia and democratization of the Great Oromia (“democratization of Ethiopia”). For the Oromo people, there is no disadvantage in both options, as long as the decision will be made per Oromo public verdict. It is just as a choice between the first-class cars, such as Chevrolet and Ford, if one does have enough money to buy one of the luxury cars, such as Mercedes and BMW. That is why denouncing Great Oromianists as “the betraying Ethiopianists” is logically and morally wrong.

Last, but not least, be it that we will opt for either Golden Oromia or Great Oromia, now all the Oromo nationals should agree on Oromia and Oromummaa. Ethiopiawinet, in a sense of Habeshanet (Abyssinian nationalism), which is opposing Oromummaa, should be vehemently rejected. That is why we need to wholeheartedly support the current ‘Oromo first movement.’ This movement is actually a common project for both the pro-independence Golden Oromianists and the pro-union Great Oromianists. By the way, the main carrier of the project are the pro-union Oromo nationalists, whereas those who are most proud of the movement are the pro-independence nationalists. That is why this project has classically and successfully shown how the two groups of the Oromo nationalists do not actually have an irreconcilable conflict as they have usually tried to portray their image. I have personally never believed in such irreconcilability of the conflict, and I have always tried to show the common denominator of the two groups, i.e bilisummaa and self-determination of the Oromo nation per referendum. Now, I just would like to conclude my short opinion with my usual prayer: may Rabbi/Waaqa help us promote this common movement of Oromummaa against the Abyssinianism masked with Ethiopiawinet.

Galatooma!

* Fayyis Oromia can be reached at foromia@yahoo.com.

 

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