The OLF: Ideological or Leadership Bankruptcy? – Messay Kebede

September 7th, 2009 Print Print Email Email

I am reacting to Jawar Siraj Mohammed’s article, titled “The Failed Journey of the OLF,” in which he mercilessly dissects the inner impediments of the organization and declares it dead for all practical purposes (see http://www.debteraw.com/). The article delivers the deep disappointments of a committed member forced to admit that “the OLF has been damaged beyond repair.” It argues that the present shabby state of the organization, mainly manifested by internal divisions, originates from the lack of tangible results both in the military and political fields, which lack reflects the incompetence and irresolution of its leadership.

While Jawar’s criticisms are both surprising and refreshing, yet they are not bold and insightful enough to bring about new directions of thought. The main reason for this lack of boldness and insight is that Jawar criticizes everything except the most important issue, namely, the ideological guidance of the OLF. Nowhere does he connect the political and military failures of the organization with the ideology that it is pursuing. Still less does he suggest that the failures could result from the insolvency of the ideology whose core demand, we know, is the right to self-determination, including secession.

The lack of a bold analysis of the inadequacies of the OLF leads the author to suggest solutions that fall short of tackling the main issue. He thus wants to contain the political influence of the Oromo Diaspora; he also appeals for a renewed faith in the cause. But because he never questions the ideological goal, these suggestions are hardly up to the depth of the problem. Aware of their inefficiency, but also reluctant to challenge the ideology, the author prefers to pronounce the OLF dead in a desperate attempt to salvage the secessionist agenda by convincing himself and others that the failures originate from the leadership, not from the ideology. I contend that an approach focusing on ideology better explains the failures by showing that the incompetence and irresolution of the leadership are simply products of a crippling thinking.

The Legacy of Radicalism

To begin with, Jawar criticizes some members for weakening the organization by creating factions while he himself could be accused of doing just that. Such a criticism would be unfair, however, for the fact that he has given up the project of reforming the organization proves that the criticisms are not meant to create another faction. Since he is convinced that the organization can no longer be repaired, his intention is to awaken the Oromo to its demise.

What is definitely untenable is a critique of the leadership that stops short of challenging the ideology. Yet, in several places, Jawar comes close to the ideological issue but only to back down by diverting his attention to effects rather than causes. For instance, he assertively shows how the OLF originated from the Ethiopian student movement and inherited the undemocratic and conspiratory mindset inherent in the movement. He writes: “OLF is a foster child of the student movement that brought the revolution; as such it shares some common organizational behaviors and characteristics with all other organizations that came out that era, such as the EPRP, TPLF and EPLF.” Further, he adds: “The political forces that emerged from the student movement were led by individuals who worshiped Mao Zedong and Stalin, so they embraced such undemocratic, rigid and control freak organizational model.”

Seeing the nauseating state of Ethiopia and Eritrea under the TPLF and EPLF, it is inconsistent to expect that an organization born of the same root would disseminate anything other than hatred, war, and famine. What else could worshippers of Stalin come up with but ideas suppressing democracy and spreading national disunity? If what the TPLF and EPLF realized is wrong for Ethiopia as well as for the ethnic groups that they claim to represent, then it is naive to assume that their brother, that is, the OLF, would bring about a better result. What needs to be questioned here is the culture of hatred and disunity that Stalin veiled under the morally loaded language of self-determination up to secession.

In denouncing the undemocratic nature of the leadership, Jawar forgets that the behavior is only part and parcel of an ideological package inherited from the radicalization of the 60s. Unless the whole package is thrown away, there is no way of implanting a new democratic behavior. Since the undemocratic nature of the organization is inseparable from its ideology, the inescapable conclusion is that an ideology fomented by worshippers of Stalin cannot be good for the Oromo. If a new organization is indeed desired, changing the people without changing the ideology will get you nowhere.

Far from focusing on the ideological issue, Jawar dismisses it by stressing the unity of purpose within the OLF. Speaking of the faction that argues for the democratization of Ethiopia rather than secession, he notes that said ideological difference “was never really big enough to split the organization,” as the support for “independent Oromia” was “a more popular position.” Why is secession more popular than democratization? The question makes sense because what appears obvious is actually derived from a Stalinist analysis that the author should have denounced.

Armed Struggle and Secession

The truth is that the lack of democracy is closely linked with the secessionist agenda. The latter leads to the choice of armed struggle as the only feasible method, with the consequence that the subsequent militarization of the struggle becomes incompatible with the maintenance of democracy. Military priorities and leaders take the upper hand over democratic concerns. Contrary to a peaceful form of struggle, the condition of military successes becomes the sacrifices of democracy so that it is inconsistent to want military gains and democracy at the same time. Witness: it is the emphasis on military efficiency that progressively divested the EPLF and TPLF of their original democratic intent.

The secessionist goal is inconsistent with the complaint about the lack of democracy for another reason. When an organization that claims to represent the largest ethnic group opts for secession, clearly it is empowering extremists to the detriment of moderates. So that, militarization and ideological extremism combine to make democratic practices anything but relevant to the ongoing struggle.

Worst yet, the military option induced by the ideology of secession brought the movement under the tutelage of the Eritrean regime. Jawar speaks of the OLF as a “hostage” and attributes many of its faults to the intervention of the Eritrean regime. Put otherwise, the OLF has lost its independence and has become a pawn in the Eritrean pursuit of regional hegemony. The sad thing, Jawar admits, is that the subordination has no appreciable military gains, since Eritrea does not neighbor Oromia and so cannot provide sanctuaries for Oromo fighters.

The subordination to a regime that has regional ambition is fraught with deep adverse consequences. A good example is the TPLF: its support for the Eritrean struggle for independence, in the name of military necessity, empowered a pro-Eritrean and anti-Ethiopian leadership. As a result, not only the original goal of the movement was diverted, but also the empowered anti-Ethiopian clique is working hard to set Tigreans against Ethiopians through favored treatments whose outcome can only be the spread of suspicion and animosity. The price for military victory through an abnormal alliance was thus the empowerment of a clique that does not even represent Tigray, given that the best and long term interest of Tigray is its full integration into a prosperous Ethiopia.

The drive for secession through military means actually intensifies internal divisions, since together with the demise of democratic practices it raises the question of knowing which faction will become the dominant force in independent Oromia. The more the Oromo elite aspires to create a monoethnic state, the more its internal divisions, especially the religious ones, will stand out. One of the positive qualities of large multiethnic countries is the propensity to diffuse differences by displaying diversity as a normal feature of social life. By contrast, in monoethnic countries differences are perceived as abnormal and quickly generate battling factions, as shown by the example of Lebanon and Somalia.

Jawar knows that the absence of environmental conditions appropriate for guerrilla warfare, such as mountainous areas and helpful neighboring countries, contributes to the dearth of military success. In the face of this formidable obstacle one would expect that the OLF is actively seeking an alternative strategy compensating the inappropriateness of the environment by vast alliances with other ethnic groups, some of whom even possess the required geographical conditions. Unfortunately, the policy of dispersing the TPLF military machine by multiplying centers of military resistance cannot be considered as it comes up against the secessionist agenda.

Let us go further: what prevents the OLF from seeing that military struggle is not the only way to get rid of the regime is the secessionist goal. If unity of purpose could join the Oromo with other ethnic groups, especially the Amhara, then peaceful means of struggle would be enough to topple the Woyanne regime. I do not see how a clique with such a narrow base could suppress for long an overwhelming majority using the strategy of noncooperation. Let us not forget that what brought down the imperial regime was unity, and not military means. In a word, in undermining unity, the secessionist agenda greatly reduces the power of peaceful struggle and, by the same token, remove a much greater prospect of generating a democratic government.

Secession and Self-Mutilation

For Jawar, independent Oromia “shall play the leading role in democratizing, stabilizing and developing the entire East Africa.” This thought overlooks that the secession of an ethnic group that claims to be the largest group both in terms of territory and population is a much more complicated process than the secession of Eritrea and that it is fraught with unpredictable consequences. The secession of Oromia is not a mere amputation; it is a major dismemberment that adversely affects all ethnic groups in Ethiopia as well as neighboring countries. Who can stay that the secession will result in a peaceful outcome? In light of the recent horrible carnage caused by the border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea, one can confidently states that the secession will create such a chaotic and highly explosive situation that the whole region will turn into a battlefield.

In addition to nurturing a reckless thought, the secessionist goal induces a self-mutilating culture. When the largest ethnic group decides to split, it is behaving as a minority group. In so doing, it degrades itself and loses sight of what it can be. What cripples the OLF is thus the secessionist goal: the latter limits its horizon, the means at its disposal and, therefore, its will. Jawar begins his article by asking the Oromo to “think big”; secession, however, is to think small, and hence to be small. Organizations grow and become efficient when they espouse challenging goals, not when they fail to be what they can be. One should seriously reflect on the possibility that the political and military failures of the OLF may be connected with the self-demeaning image enshrined in the secessionist ideology.

Oromo leaders claim to uplift the Oromo people by defending secession. They are actually doing the opposite, given that the Oromo could become the force that democratizes and consolidates Ethiopia instead of dismembering it. The distorting impact of the secessionist ideology is such that Oromo elites do not even recognize greatness. Take the case of Ras Gobena: though in alliance with Menelik he created a formidable empire that even colonial powers feared, he is seen as a sellout and secessionists as authentic Oromo.

To say that a large ethnic group curtails itself when it stoops to the level of a minority group by opting for secession means that the discrepancy between the great potential of the Oromo people and the narrow goal of its elite explains the failures of the OLF. Since the leadership is not up to the potential of the people it claims to represent, like a big load led into a narrow path, the movement naturally goes nowhere. I thus say to the Oromo elite: think big indeed, that is, become what you can be, builder and not wrecker.

  1. Molla
    | #1

    No surprise that Messay references Debteraw web page known for its penchant against oromo organizations. Similarly, Messay is rehashing the same old narrative aired by Amhara political elits that have been the corner stone of their discourse in the last 20 years. On the other hand ICG states that “the Oromo people are viewing OLF as a messianic organization waiting for deliverance from century old bondage”. Whose version do Oromos believe? I for one very well know the Amhara elites poltical wishes and will never yield my corner any more.

  2. Ogina
    | #2

    OLF as a Trinity (one and three at a time)!!

    This short essay is just presented as a clarification for Oromo foes like Ato Robele and Prof Messay, who are nowadays delighting by “percieving” a division of the Oromo liberation vanguard in to “three”. To their information OLF has got from the very beginning only one Kaayoo (goal), which also at the same time can be interpreted as three Kayyos, in a pocket and it played with the three cards based on the objective reality it is in, aka according to the “here and now” of the situations. Even though the only one Kayyoo is self-determination, the 3 interpretations of the Kaayoo are:
    - independence without a union
    - referendum on the issue: independence without a union vs independence within a union
    - independence within a union.

    OLF permanently advocated that it fights for Oromian independence, for Oromos’ right to self-determination and for a union of nations in the empire/region. It emphasizes one of the three interpretations according to the condition of the time (Zeitgeist). Whenever Abyssinians become arrogant and start to sing about the unconditional unity of their empire with supression of Oromos’ right, it streses independence of Oromia from Abyssinian colonialism underming the possible union. The logic behind this is, where ever there is supression, there will be a move for separation. When reasonable politicians from different nations in the empire start to recognize the God given right of the great Oromo nation to self-determination, it starts to play the card of self-determination (decision per referendum either for independence within a union or for independence without a union).

    Now the one structural OLF we Oromos had seems to have been devided in to three, each of them just taking as a goal one of the three interpretations of the Kaayyo:
    - OLF1 of Ob Galaassa seems to make no compromise on independence without a union.
    - OLF2 of Ob Daud has self-determination as its goal (being open for both independence within a union and independence without a union as far as Oromo people decide for one of the two).
    - OLF3 of Ob Hassan (the new) seems to have decided for the independence within a union of nations in the empire/region so that it sympathizes with and seems to seek an alliance with Oromos in the ruling party aka OPDO and strives for an understanding from the reasonable “pro unity” Abesha forces. Here I must say, it is not yet clear whether this group moves to the position of OLF1 for it wants to consolidate all members of ULFO who do stress independence without a union under one structural organization. Time will tell us, whether this group will be either pro OPDO or pro ULFO. Or is there any association between the two (OPDO and ULFO)?

    Any ways a Merdo to the foes of Oromo Liberation Movement is that the one/three OLF(s) will never give up the struggle for the right of Oromos to self-determination till we Oromos be the determiners of our own destiny, be it within Ethiopian union or without the union.

    Other wise, let’s differentiate rhetoric from conviction! I do hear nowadays certain Oromo politicians talking about the “fact” that Oromo people doesn’t want “secession”. I do consider talking about Oromos wanting independence or not is a wrong generalization. One thing we need to know as a fact is that almost all Oromo politicians (including those who do make the above mentioned rhetoric) deep in their heart believe in the right of Oromo nation to self-determination. This is the whole mark of Oromos and aim of our mindset (spiritual Organization) aka OLF. This mindset, OLF has got one Kaayyoo, but also three Karaas (including three rhetorics)
    - OLF mindset in the rebel organizations has got an explicit rhetoric of self-determination and it fights for this Kaayyoo by all meanses,
    - OLF mindset in the opposition organizations has got the rhetoric of struggling for liberation in Ethiopian context, but it covertly struggles for the Kaayyoo,
    - OLF mindset in the ruling organization has got the rhetoric, which says: “we have already achieved the liberation”, but yet it covertly pushes for the Kaayyoo.

    So fellow Oromos, let’s allow the mindset move to the Kaayyoo in all the Karaas, despite the rhetorics of some Oromos in the opposition and ruling Oromo organizations. Let our foes know exactly, despite the different rhetorics, Oromo Liberation Movement can never be stopped till it achieves the Kaayyo. We need to motivate our selves to do our rhetoric and our practice in the liberation movement on the Karaa each of us did choose to come to the Kaayyo. Long live OLF as a trinity (OLF with one Kaayyoo, but with three Karaas)!

    We have to forget the current rhetoric of Oromo politicians in the ruling party and in the opposition parties, who are doing their talk under the gun point of Weyane (they are just denying the right of Oromo people to self-determination at gun point) and let’s strive to our END Kayyoo, which is already determined by our mindset. I am personally against any sort of dictatorial unity and I am a supporter of a union of free nations in the empire/region based on free will. Any unity without Oromo public verdict will fail, take it only 1 year, about 10 years or as long as 100 years. That is why I do advocate for a lasting solution based on free will of all stakeholders, instead of the temporary hoyaa-hoyee of unity as a wishy-washy solution. MEDREK seems to have chosen unconditional-unity as a precondition for the alliance, but the unity they do strive for will surely never last long, because it is not based on self-determination of peoples, but on pre-determination by only few elites. TIBIBIR aka revived AFD, which may be forged by OLF et al must be based on a solid ground and take self-determination rather than unconditional unity as the precondition for an alliance!

    Any ways, our foes need to know that, they can only manipulate and delay the realization of Oromo’s right to self-determination, but they can never hinder it. Oromo’s mindset is leading us to our Kaayyoo aka self-determination, take it how long it might be. Our foes like it or not, in reality almost all Oromos are lead in our liberation struggle by this mindset. That is why an International Crisis Group (ICG) put it: ” despite its organizational flaws and divisions, many ordinary Oromos retain an almost messianic belief in the OLF as the major nationalist organization”!!

  3. Guest
    | #3

    It is good point. The ideology of OLF must be questioned. An organisation that claim to fight for the freedom of 28million people hasn’t done anything in all areas. Some of the achievements like using own language, a region with some ‘autonomy’ were brought about by the EPRDF government for its own tactical reasons. Therefore, it will not be wrong to question that ‘Does OLF really refelcts the political interest of the Oromo people? or is it just upholding the fantasy of power-monger elites? A substantial number of Oromo people are sympathetic to OLF as they believe in its independence from TPLF, but few really understand or support its goal of self-determination, particularly secession

  4. Sammy
    | #4

    It is of course that Oromos are migrated long ago from central east Africa ,mainly from the current Rwanda .The famous Historian Richard Pankhurst call them the Animists .The prime example of all this is the pure Oromos in deep south, which they still retain their cousins Hutu and Tutu complexion . like anybody would suggested otherwise, I do not wish to see no Oromos to go back to Rwanda either, but, to exercise their identity, liberty, the pursuit of happiness in their (new home land)Ethiopia. Here the discussion shouldn’t be that of succession or not. Their beloved country Ethiopia loves them not as a Diaspora but patriotic citizens like the rest of us( Ethiopians). Forward with a united Geez speaking Ethiopia.

  5. Anonymous
    | #5

    The EPRDF rulers have prepared internet bloggers to comment on all issues raised in support of the tribal, tyrant rulers. These are thugs which receive money from the tyrants, which came from western countries in the name of the poor. They will try to tell us there is development…and expect us to believe them when we are struggling to eat at least once a day, and when millions have died from drought repeatedly.

    They tell us, many roads have been built, many schools and clinics have been built. However, on which planet has development been measure by the number or the lenght of roads built??? Even if we say road construction means development, and the schools and health facilities are built by the money of the western countries. It is a fact. What EPRDF did was to put some of the money it receives to construction but allow a larger portion for corruption. If what the Ethiopian people want from EPRDF is to say ok when western countries and int. agencies come and say ‘ let us do this’, if that is the only thing the Ethiopian people want…then EPRDF would have been rated greately. But is that the only thing the Ethiopian people expect from their leaders?

    1. Average daily income (GNI) is about USD 0.5 for the last 20 years

    2. There is not any adequate population policy for the past 20 years, there fore, population is grwing like never before, and the tyrants ignored it or could not understand it

    3. when millions are on the verge of famine and drought, they prefer to play with statistics than mobilize resources and help the poor and they enjoy to watch millions die

    4. They have planted the seeds of ethnic divisions and hatrade, many have died as a result and the country faces great dangers like that of the case in Rwanda

    5. They have caused the death of thousands to protect Badme, but they have given away what the thousands died for by foolishely signing at Algers. So much to say here…think about this deeply, ask: Thousands sacrificed their life for Badme, they got it back from Shabia, but will they have badme forever? Why? For how many years for Ethiopia and Eritrea to stay like this?

    6. What are they doing in Somalia??? They tried and failed for two years. a) They are making Somali people very angry. They made and are making Somalis to hate Ethiopians even more. b)How many Ethiopian soldiers die and from which ethnic group in Somalia from the first time they entered? Why dont they tell us? Is not life precious? Dont Ethiopians have the right to decide on the worthiness of war? What are they leaving for the next generation???

    7. Its agricultural policy…the famous ‘ADLI’ evidently failed,when many farmers failed to feed themselves let alone feed the urban area.

    8. There is not fair and free election

    9. Freedom of speech is much threatened

    10. Freedom of press has been almost crushed…The tigray people having the worst experience in this respect

    Soooo many, sooooo many, more to say, I mean sooo many…all you need to do is to see things critically, be unbiased, see the facts,

  6. wer
    | #6

    The EPRDF rulers have prepared internet bloggers to comment on all issues raised in support of the tribal, tyrant rulers. These are thugs which receive money from the tyrants, which came from western countries in the name of the poor. They will try to tell us there is development…and expect us to believe them when we are struggling to eat at least once a day, and when millions have died from drought repeatedly.

    They tell us, many roads have been built, many schools and clinics have been built. However, on which planet has development been measure by the number or the lenght of roads built??? Even if we say road construction means development, and the schools and health facilities are built by the money of the western countries. It is a fact. What EPRDF did was to put some of the money it receives to construction but allow a larger portion for corruption. If what the Ethiopian people want from EPRDF is to say ok when western countries and int. agencies come and say ‘ let us do this’, if that is the only thing the Ethiopian people want…then EPRDF would have been rated greately. But is that the only thing the Ethiopian people expect from their leaders?

    1. Average daily income (GNI) is about USD 0.5 for the last 20 years

    2. There is not any adequate population policy for the past 20 years, there fore, population is grwing like never before, and the tyrants ignored it or could not understand it

    3. when millions are on the verge of famine and drought, they prefer to play with statistics than mobilize resources and help the poor and they enjoy to watch millions die 4. They have planted the seeds of ethnic divisions and hatrade, many have died as a result and the country faces great dangers like that of the case in Rwanda

    5. They have caused the death of thousands to protect Badme, but they have given away what the thousands died for by foolishely signing at Algers. So much to say here…think about this deeply, ask: Thousands sacrificed their life for Badme, they got it back from Shabia, but will they have badme forever? Why? For how many years for Ethiopia and Eritrea to stay like this?

    6. What are they doing in Somalia??? They tried and failed for two years. a) They are making Somali people very angry. They made and are making Somalis to hate Ethiopians even more. b)How many Ethiopian soldiers die and from which ethnic group in Somalia from the first time they entered? Why dont they tell us? Is not life precious? Dont Ethiopians have the right to decide on the worthiness of war? What are they leaving for the next generation???

    7. Its agricultural policy…the famous ‘ADLI’ evidently failed,when many farmers failed to feed themselves let alone feed the urban area.

    8. There is not fair and free election

    9. Freedom of speech is much threatened

    10. Freedom of press has been almost crushed…The tigray people having the worst experience in this respect

    Soooo many, sooooo many, more to say, I mean sooo many…all you need to do is to see things critically, be unbiased, see the facts,

  7. አማራ
    | #7

    አቶ ሰሚ እርሶ ከየት እንደ መቱ ያዉቃሉ? ደደብ የማትማር ሩዋንዳ በካርታ ይሆናል የምታውቀው የደደቢት ግ እዝ ለአንተው !!
    በልመና ስለምታዳደሩት ዘሮችህ አስብ !!

  8. ገላን
    | #8

    አቶ አማራ ልክ ነዎት::አቶ ሳሚ ስውር TPLF ይመስላሉ::የሃሳብ ድሃ ናቸው::ባለእንክርዳዱ የተንኮል ሃሳባቸውም የክሰረ ነው::

  9. Anonymous
    | #9

    There is one thing that I admire most in Prof.Mesay.He is a consistently engaged public intellectual.He is really really engaged.

    His writing is elegant.He is superbly analytic and reflective.He has a graceful manner towards and deep respect for his detractors.

    These websites are all the more richer for his beautiful contributions.

    Dear Ogina,I also like your cogent and spirited arguments for your cause.They are terrific.And thank you for letting us being challenged by them.

    I believe this is the way forward.We need to talk,argue,debate…

    Let us therefore keep these conversations going.By God,do you know how much depends on these conversations?

  10. Woube
    | #10

    Thanks Professor Messaye for contributing on senstive issues like the question of the oLF and others. It has become a culture among the leaders of the OLF and some others groups like EPRP to paly the role of oppostion has become so addictive, denyed them the importance of the queation lke, why this organisations were formed in the first place? and now their are busy of celebrating bitrth days until they lose count. Please wake up and ask the question what is wrong with us? to remain in so much crippled state.

  11. AbaDama
    | #11

    Ogina,

    Can you please expound how terrific EPLF turned out to be for our brothers up north? Can you please take a moment to help us see how marvelous TPLF has been for Tigray and the rest of Ethiopia? Provided you take a few more minutes, you will have no problem convincing every soul under the sun that OLF is a party of Angels.

    You are a very sad creature energized by ethnic hatred and unable to see a very simple reality.

    AbaDama

  12. AbaDama
    | #12

    Ogina,

    Can you please expound how terrific EPLF turned out to be for our brothers up north? Can you please take a moment to help us see how marvelous TPLF has been for Tigray and the rest of Ethiopia? Provided you take a few more minutes, you will have no problem convincing every soul under the sun that OLF is a collection of angels.

    You are a very sad creature energized by ethnic hatred and unable to see a very simple reality.

    AbaDama

  13. ተስፉ
    | #13

    ሳሚ

    እውነትም ደደብ ነህ. ለመሆኑ ምን ማስረጃ አለህ ኦሮሞ ከሩዋንዳ ለመምጣቱ. ዝም ብሎ ለማውራትማ አማራም ከየመን ነው የመጣው ይባላል

  14. ሙሉ
    | #14

    Response to “ሳሚ” ጽሁፉ የሚያትተው ስለ “ኦነግ” ሆኖ ሳለ ስለኦሮሞ እንድትዘላብድ ያነሳሳህ ነገር ምን እንደሆነ በፍጹም አልገባኝም :: ለመሆኑ የኦሮሞ ህዝብ የተከበረ ህዝብ ነው :: ባንተ የህጻን ጭንቅላት ስለኦሮሞ አመጣጥ እንዲነገረን አንፈልግም :: የመጣንበትን እናውቃለን :: አንተ ግን ምናልባት ልጅ ካለህ ከሱ ጋር ወደመዋእለ-ህጻናት ገብተህ ግብረ-ገብነትን መማር አለብህ :: ያልተማርክና ባለጌ ሰው ስለሆንክ ካንተ አይነት ዶማ ጋር ቃላት መለዋወጥ በራሱ ስህተት ነው :: እሺ ስለኦሮሞው ይህንን ካልክ በየመንገዱ ዳር ተኮልኩለው በልመና መንገድ ስለማያስከዱት ዘመዶችህ ብንነግርህ ቅር የሚልህ ያለ አይመስለኝም:: ጭንቅላትህ ከቀንድ-አውጣ ጭንቅላት ምንም የሚሻል ባለመሆኑ ራስህን ለማሻሻል ሞክር :: ስለኦሮሞ አትጨነቅ :: እንዳንተ ባሉ የመንገድ ዳር ልጆች የኦሮሞ ህዝብ ማንነት ሊነገር አይችልም ::

  15. Mamo
    | #15

    OLF is gone like a fart in the wind and there is nothing to talk about this organization.

  16. tell the truth
    | #16

    Messay Kebede!

    Old habit die hard.

    Participants in Discussions?
    Or
    Minstrel Show Performers?
    I raised the above questions to respond to Messay Kebede’s article titled “On the Right to Self -Determination.” In his article, Messay has stated that his article is a public reaction to a long email letter to him by an Oromo interlocutor. Interlocutor means “a participant in discussion or a performer in a minstrel show who acts as the master of ceremonies and stands in the middle and banter with the end men.” Is this discussion or a concert?
    At the surface, the article seems laden with the second alternative meaning, i.e., the sense of “minstrel show performer.” As it is revealed on the article, Messay and the so called Oromo interlocutor perform a theatre standing in the middle of their correspondence and acting as masters on an overarching political issue of “the right self-determination. Messay mocks at the “interlocutor”, by writing: “though the author claims not to be a representative of the OLF, I am not convinced to what extent his views differ from the official position of the organization.” Further, he wrote that his purpose is less to respond to his interlocutor than to propose some general reflections. If both Messay and the “interlocutor’’ were participants in discussion, then what motivated Messay for a “public reaction?” Is that the behavior that Professor Donald Levine calls “an intrusive and biting? Is that the politics of denial that is the habitual way of the Habasha? Is that the will to entertain old mentalities with “the habit of the heart”? Posing these questions for readers, let us now turn to the content of Messay’s article. He calls it “general reflection.”
    The main point among his so called general reflection is the serious fallacy of attempting to solely attach the principles of self-determination to Stalin. He wrote: “the defenders of the right to self-determination have rejected everything of Stalin (Lenin and the Soviet Union), except his view of nations and nationalities.” He wrote that this “amazes most.” What amazes me most is Messay Kebede himself. I am amazed at him for two reasons. One is his past career. The other is the emptiness of his argument.
    If Messay Kebede is the one I know, a teacher of “Marxist-Leninist Philosophy” in Addis; the one who had been advocating his teaching as more scientific than sciences; the one who had lived on the earnings from that same vocation; and the one who had brainwashed hundreds of students for a decade or more with that ideology; then his aforementioned statement is amazing. If this Messay Kebede is not the one I know, then I beg pardon on this point. The second amazing point is the emptiness of his argument. He presents his argument as if self-determination is Stalinist doctrine. This kind of presentation is totally erroneous as well as deceptive.
    The fact is that, historically, the concept of the “principles of self determination” has been developed, in large part, shortly after the end of the Second World War. It was first coined by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Then the idea of self-determination was underpinned by International Law and enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations. To be specific, Article 1 (2) of the United Nations Charter, drawn up in 1945, stipulates that the UN is to “develop a friendly relationship among nations based on respect of the principles of equal rights and self-determination of peoples and to take other measures to strengthen universal peace.”
    Subsequently, the principle of self-determination was recognized in two key United Nations’ General Assembly Resolutions adopted in 1960 and 1970. The UN Resolution adopted in 1960 –Resolution 1514- provides that “all people have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” In addition, UN Resolution 2625 that was adopted in 1970 widely restated the already existing principles of Customary International Law and provided similar provisions. Both resolutions principally addressed the issue of self-determination for non-self-governing peoples and territories. Both recognize that peoples of colonial states and territories administered by alien powers have a right to decide their status.

    Further, the principles of self-determination were embedded in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); and in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) of the 1966. These covenants affirmed self-determination as a “right of peoples” and guaranteed it by treaty laws. The Common provisions of the covenants under Article 1 read as follows:
    1. All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right, they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural rights.
    2. All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their national wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic cooperation, based upon the principles of mutual benefit and international law. In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.
    3. The states parties to the present covenant, including those having responsibility for the administration of Non-Self-Governing and Trust Territories, shall promote the realization of the right of self-determination, and shall respect that right, in conformity with the provision of the Charter of the United Nation.

    Besides these international treaties, the right to self -determination has been affirmed by plentiful regional human rights instruments, declarations, and resolutions. For instance: African (Banjul) Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights, adopted on June 27, 1981, affirms under Article 20 (1) that: “all peoples shall have the right to existence. They shall have the unquestionable and inalienable right to self-determination. They shall freely determine their political status and shall pursue their economic and social development according to the policy they have freely chosen.”
    Moreover, the right to self determination is part and parcel of human rights. Building upon the principles stipulated under Article 28 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), self-determination is about all the three generations of human rights:
    • The first generation of rights, Articles 3-21 of UDHR and the ICCPR, that are civil and political in nature;
    • The second generation of rights, Articles 22-27 and the ICESCR, that are economic, social, and cultural; and
    • The third generation of rights, Article 28 and demands that are drawn upon the first two generations of rights.

    Further, practically, through self-determination scores of conquested and occupied nations and colonized peoples have freed themselves from the shackles of alien dominations.
    Irrespective of all these widely acknowledged historical, legal, political and practical hard facts; Messay begins his “public reaction” with misleading ideas and offers an unacceptable advice for “…the refusal of self-determination….” Recognizing that self-determination is about fundamental rights wrought in the core instruments stated herein above, what does Messay’s agitation against it imply? The implication can be nostalgia of the Amaranization policies of the 70+ populations by the triple forces of “mekuanent, mesafint, and kahenat.” It can be longing for dominance. It can be intense desire for hegemonic empire. Or, conversely, it can be a call for the abolition of minority rights. But, such a political stance must be called by its name: reactionary, undemocratic and anti-human and peoples’ rights. The Amhara elites need to conduct soul searching. As members of a “dominant minority group”, they need to reflect on their political history, fairy-tales, review the wrongs of their establishment and shift their way of thinking and self-definition. Even if it is bitter, they must swallow that this era is the era of identity politics. They must understand the renewed legitimacy this era of identity has brought to the ideals of democratic self-determination. They must take note of the fact of the de-legitimation of the notions of suzerainty and hegemonic control.
    Jumping from one invalid argument to another, Messay suggests “…to reject the usage of the terms “nations and nationalities”; and recommends, instead, the usage of “ethnic groups.” Here again, Messay reveals his detachment from realities, lack of intellectual integrity and breadth of thought, and a concern for public issues. The terms Messay wants to discard away at his will and whim carry meanings. More than literally meanings, they have extensive political, sociological and anthropological concepts. In contravention with these scientific concepts, the Amhara elites (including Messay) have for long been scornfully labeling the terms “nation, nationality and ethnie” (to use the French term) as “gossa”, which is the equivalent of ‘tribe and/or clan’. Now, Messay and his likes want to ban the usage of the terms nations and nationalities and replace them with ethnic groups. The intention behind this is clear: demeaning the concepts attached to the terms and belittling them to the lowest forms of human developmental stages. In so doing, the Amhara élites emulate white colonialists, who used to describe political malfunctions in Africa as “tribal” problems assert the lesser evolution, development and humanity of Africans; to portray the picture of a people without culture, and without history in order to justify colonialism. As that was racist and ahistorical, so is the attempt of Messay to reduce nations to ethnic groups.
    To conclude, this kind of thought is rigid and unchangeable. In the recent past, fool outcry of the type are immense. It is not clear what made them so noisy with so much scale. Yes, the crime of Woyane is enormous. But, reactionary ideas can not make it right.

  17. anonymous
    | #17

    Dear Mr ‘tell the truth’,

    I am sure Prof.Messay,with his characteristic civility,will respond to your criticism.

    While disregarding your ad hominem and vitriol directed against him,however,I would like to make the following simple observations.

    Like Prof.Mesay and indeed like Prof D.Levin(refer to his ‘Greater Ethiopia:The Evolution of a Multiethnic society),I also hold the view that Ethiopia today is a multiethnic NATION comprising many ethnic groups whose history,culture and languages differ but also exhibit many affinities.

    Needless to say,the Oromos are one of the major ethnic groups,who,by dint of historical fact,have suffered marginalization and injustice that definitely need to be addressed through our democratic struggle.

    The recognition of ethnic subjugation and the fight against it,I hasten to add,was not something that started with the advent of EPLF,OLF and TPLF.
    It is a known fact that in the 60s Ethiopian students and intellectuals of multiethnic origin and Marxist orientation spearheaded the movement with emphasis on the pivotal class struggle.

    But thanks to their inchoate political ideas at the time,the decimation of their movement later by the Dergue/TPLF/EPLF and the subsequent discredit of their Marxist class ideology,they have sadly left the stage for ethnicists who can now preach about a mythical separate past and a separate future.

    The propagation of ‘Amhara colonialism’ subjugating the Oromo nation and the self determination of that ‘nation’ resulting in its eventual independence from the so called Ethioipian ‘empire’ must be seen as a direct result that development.

    Prof Mesay,to his credit,fully acknowledges the presence of historic ethnic subjugation in our country and he is one of those people who informs us that we have to come to grips with the issue if we can make any headway in our quest for democracy.

    However,he traces the origin of the notion of ‘self determination..’ as articulated by the Marxist student movement and later adopted by the ‘liberation fronts’ and takes it to task for its current practice under TPLF’s Ethiopia and EPLF’s Eritrea and future viability.In this sense he is takes issue with OLF and argues rather for a genuine federal arrangement where the rights of Oromos,amongst others,are respected in post-TPLF federal democratic Ethiopia.

    He has shared us those ideas of his through his many articles as part of his scholarly studies and diligent reflection on our recent political history.

    As can be seen from all his writings,he does that with eloquence,deep respect to his interlocutors and always being happy to engage them in the democratic conversation.

    In so doing,Prof Mesay tries to show us the way forward.His action can,I think,be reenacted on a national scale.

    Through democratic dialogue,I believe we can engage in national conversation that redresses the imbalance of the past and carve out a better future for our people who should continue to living together under one democratic country.

    What is wrong with that view and why is Prof.Mesay grossly misrepresented in his opinions and even vilified as an ‘Amhara elite’ who wants to perpetuate the old oppression? Is that fair? Is that how you tell the truth?

  18. Ogina
    | #18

    Dear all except the rabid dogs aka flies aka Weyane cadres,

    I do sense that the flies are feeding on the dirty thing (conflict between Amharas and Oromos; between different Amhara groups and bewtween different Oromo factions). That is why the smart Amhara and Oromo politicians nowadays talk about the unity of ALL opposition groups against the fascists without any precondition. Now the issue of self-determination vs unconditional unity has been the best food for the flies. Smart Amharas and Oromos need to take away this food from the flies aka never to discuss such issue at their presence like in cyber world. Let’s kill the flies through making them hungry of such dirty things they need for survival. Thanks!!

  19. ለማ
    | #19

    አቶ ሰሚ እና ፕሮፈሰር ተብየው መሰይ ስለ ኦርሞ ህዝብ ጉዳይ ብዙ ዘባርቅዋል ነገር ግን አማራንና ኦሮሞን ለማለያየት እናት ክልጅ ለማለያት
    ያህል ስለሆነ ግዘያችሁን አታባክኑና የህዝብን ደምበክቱ በማፍሰሰ የነገሰብንን ለመደምሰስ እንተባብር !!ዘረፕነት ;ትምክት የብታችነት
    ምልክት ነውናነው አያምርብንም እነዝህ ትምክቭተርች ሰው ስዋልድና አብሮ ሰኖር አላዩ ይሆን ?

    አመሰግናለሁ.

    አገራችንን እግዚአብሀር ይባርክ.

  20. Minilike
    | #20

    በዚህ አባባል ከቀጠልክ እንስማማለን ግእዝ ቋንቋችን መለያችን ታሪካችን ሃብታችን ውርሻችን ከልጅ ወደልጅ የሚዋረስ ሃብት ነው ምንነታችን አንርሳ!!!!!

  21. jatinain
    | #21

    @Sammy
    OH! Sammy,sammy it is a good point but…
    TO the ormo people if you want to live peace fully and fight for democracy and align yourselves with opposition groups will be ideal but
    if your plan is secession think your ancestrial home Ruwanda.

  22. new vision
    | #22

    Your refusal or inability to accept OLF as Oromo organization supported by all Oromo’s except bands is at the root of your problem. You attack Oromo and their organization by your ill-minded false theories to prove your hidden agenda of undying daydream of Amharization. Messay, the train has left long ago.
    If you are not conscious that you are resisting reality, there is no way to break your destructive habit. At the end, you will die in wishful thinking. It is time for you retire with your stone-age mentality for the sake of future generation who may forge new ideas which enable them to live in peace with one another.
    At the back your head, you believe that people and circumstances are conspiring against Amhara because you can’t face up to what is and so you live in a world of wishful thinking where things “should be” but are not, a certain way.
    YOU CAN’T HELP THE WAY YOU FEEL ABOUT OLF, BUT YOU CAN HELP THE WAY YOU THINK AND REACT TO THEM. Bone headed

  23. Anon
    | #23

    My friend ‘new vision’.

    I am an Oromo.But I am not an OLF sympathiser.I do not like OLF’s Amhara colonialism theory.I don’t share the ‘vision’ of a separate Oromia.
    Yet,I like the political status of the Oromos to be substantially improved.Does that,in your view,make me less of an Oromo than you are? Isn’t my different position worthy of respect? Or am I one of your contemptible ‘Amharanised Oromo’and don’t deserve serious thought?
    Suppose I am not the only one with that view? Suppose there are tens and hundreds of thousands and even millions more who think like me? Will you still dismiss us as inconsequential? What are going to do with Oromos like us? Don’t you have a place for difference of opinion? Or has your ‘train left’ us behind as well? How do you go about realising your ‘new vision’ which you declare is for ALL Oromos?

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