Fayyis Oromia — Ethiopia, “the ancient country with the history of 3000 years”, is one of the least democratic and least developed countries in the world! Why? We can count a lot of factors as a cause like climate, colonialism, ignorance, arrogance, general public oppression and lack of freedom for individual citizens. But all other nations who are now democratic and well developed have either tacled such problems or they are developed despite these problems. What is unique about the empire Ethiopia? Let me put my own take of the situation as follows.
Democracy is a system of government in which either the actual governing is carried out by the people governed (direct democracy), or the power to do so is granted by them (as in representative democracy). In political theory, democracy describes a small number of related forms of government and also a political philosophy. Even though there is no specific, universally accepted definition of ‘democracy’, there are two principles that any definition of democracy includes, equality and freedom. These principles are reflected by all citizens being equal before the law, and having equal access to power. Additionally, all citizens are able to enjoy legitimized freedoms and liberties, which are usually protected by a constitution. The “majority rule” is often described as a characteristic feature of democracy, but without responsible government or constitutional protections of individual liberties from democratic power it is possible for dissenting individuals to be oppressed by the “tyranny of the majority”.
Economic development refers to increases in the standard of living of a nation’s population associated with sustained growth from a simple, low-income economy to a modern, high-income economy. Its scope includes the process and policies by which a nation improves the economic, political, and social well-being of its people.
In the above both senses, the Ethiopian empire is at the tail of the international community. I think the main factor for this laging behind all nations is the national oppression of the great Oromo nation, which is actually a majority nation destined to lead the empire, but it unfortunately had to endure the assimilation, subjugation, invasion, exploitation…etc in the last 3000 years history of the region. Other multinational states in the world either do have “majority rule”, be it democratically or dictatorially, otherwise they did disintegrate. Ethiopia is one of the very few countries where the nation of a majority is still feared to rule and reduced to political minority by the ruling elite of minor nationalities.
Nowadays almost all historians except the few Abesha elites do agree that Oromo is the indigenous nation who lived south of Egypt for more than 5000 years. It was the expansion and invasion of the Middle-east semetics in the last three tausand years, the destruction of Meroe by the Axume empire, the islamization of the region and the European occupation of the area in the process of colonization, which reduced Oromo to its present national area.
It is almost becoming clear that the other cushitic nations in the region are the differentiation from this original nation called Oromo, so are the Beja, Agew, Afar, Somali, Sidama, Hadiya, Kambata…etc including even the semetized ones like Tigre, Tigaru, Amhara, Gurage, Harari …etc emerged from Oromo. It seems that some are more christanized and semetized, whereas others are more islamized and arabanized. Oromo proper is the one which tried to preserve its original language and its previous traditional religion despite the exposure and pressure from the Middle-east and from the West. Even though many of the above branches of the nation and even some of the Oromo proper have accepted the religions from the Middle-east, the essence of Waaqeeffannaa (the previous belief system of the nation) is preserved and even practiced in the over-taken new religions. That is why we do see a lot of elements of Waaqeeffannaa in the religious practices of the Orthodox, Protestant and Islam Oromo groups. A classical example is the religious practice of the last emperor Hailesilassie (he is 3/4th Oromo proper), who overtly claimed to be a believer of Orthodox christianity, but has used to celebrate Irreechaa yearly at Hora-Arsadi. Of course this practice of him has been defamed as a “sacrifies to Qorix (evil spirit)” by the not good intended Abesha elites.
The actual problem is specially the fact that the christianized and semetized ones aka the Abeshas look at them selves as if they are different from their origin and they oppress the preserved Oromo proper and other nations by using the chance they got in a form of help from the “christian” Western countries. This oppression and subjugation is still going on. By the way now it is clear that, despite their seemingly common origin, each national group of the region has got a separate identity with its own language and way of life. So when I do refer to Oromo in this article, I do mean the national group now identifying its self with Afaan Oromo and with the related way of life. Oromo people fought and resisted this influence from the Middle-east and from the West continously. Actually it is the Oromo resistance which could limit these forces from influencing the empire further. We now look at the Abyssinians as the most influenced part of our differentiated Cush body. Time and again they have been instrumentalized by Arabs and Europeans to conquer and oppress Oromo. The current instrument of these foreign influence is Weyane and its Tigrean base.
Let me now concentrate on the chance the Abesha elites (actually the word Abesha meanse the mixed and the confused) got to oppress Oromo and why they fear to lose this power to Oromo. Since the time that Abesha elites identified them selves with Jews (remember the expression “lion of Juda”), they had to fight against Oromo proper who preserved its identity including its language and religion. After they could subjugate Oromo, they always tried to hinder that they lose power to this big nation. They did every thing possible with the help of their aid from Western “christians” to suppress Oromo. It was this conflict between the Abesha elites and the Oromo which hitherto hindered any sort of democratization as well as development of the empire. True and genuine democratization in the empire meanse Oromo taking power for it is the majority group. Abesha elites do every thing under the sun to hinder this possibility, so that there will never be a democracy as far as Weyane in particular and Abeshas in general are in power.
Of course without democracy and freedom of Oromo nation and other oppressed nations, the conflict will continue and the developement we actually wish to see will not be materalized. It surprises me some times when I read some Oromo nationalists accusing the other Oromo groups with the allegation that they opted for “democratization of Ethiopia” instead of “liberation of Oromia”. Actually democratization of Ethiopia is one of the meanses leading to liberation of Oromia. Abesha politicains know this very well and that is why they never allow it happen. The only option left for Oromo to be liberated is actually armed struggle. No illusion! There will never be democratization and development of Ethiopia as long as Oromia is under Weyane or under other Abesha looting and lording forces!
Oromo who resisted both the Middle-east and Western influences including the battle of Adwa, in which some Tegaru elites were acting as banda, whereas a lot of Oromo individuals fought against the invaders, will continue our resistance till Oromia will be free from the subjugators. My advice for Abesha elites is, instead of crying about a lack of democracy and development, they better look at this main factor of the inhibition and support the well preserved Oromo to be free. Then even they them selves can be free to enjoy democracy and development in Abyssinia as a very good neighbour for a democratic and well developed Oromia. Other wise we all will continue to hinder each other and live under both tyranny and poverty, which are the two anti-theses of democracy and development.
Of course my other theoretical advice (I know this sounds like a joke in the ears of Abesha elites) is that they better strive to come back to their root instead of oppressing and subjugating the nation from whom they have been differentiated and emerged in history. That meanse if they want to keep Ethiopia as it is now and hinder Oromia and Abyssinia from being separated nations, they practically need to recognize that Ethiopia (Cushland) in a wider sense means Oromia, they should accept Afaan Oromo as a national language, they must allow Oromo values like Waaqeeffannaa and Irreechaa to be a national value and a national holyday respectively and last but not least they better know that it is only Oromo people who can decide on the type of sovereignity we want to have per referendum in a process of self-determination. Democracy and development can be realized better in a sepatrate nation-states based on the public verdict of each national group than in a forced unity without the necessary public vote, like what we are now in. The rhetoric of Weyane, which tells us untiredly that “we do have unity of nations and nationalities based on free will” doesn’t mean that there is a real unity based on free will on the ground. Let Abesha elites stop such self-deception. The way forward is to let Oromo be free to determine its destiny, be it in a form of Oromian republic (independence of Oromo proper) or in a form of Oromian renaissance (integration of Oromo progeny that includes all nations which emerged from it). If there is true democracy and freedom, Oromo is the last nation to fear union. Of cource independence without union is better than oppression under forced unity!!
Fayyis Oromia can be reached at email@example.com