i tried to answer your email ninja ras but my reply was blocked.how did you get my email address when it is supposed to be private? Oromo national history, both its record and analysis, has been suppressed since the time
Amhara colonial rule began at the turn of the century. Of course the suppression is no
accident or oversight on the part of scholars. The size, strength and unified culture of
Oromos to be revealed in the historical account is a great threat to those in the state
power who have fought to control the Oromos and our resource-rich territory since the
time of Emperor Menelik II.
For school children in the Empire State, and for every student world-wide, the history of
Oromia has been wrongly included under the history of the Abyssinian people as part of a
calculated effort to force an "Ethiopianist" concept on the people of this empire. The
Oromos are presented as a brief interruption if they are mentioned. This systematic
avoidance of Oromos unique heritage has been embodied in the policies of the Ethiopian
government. Much time and energy has gone into developing and trying to document a
"unified national culture" perspective for Ethiopia.
The distortions have been fundamental. The world has been told that the Oromo people
originated outside the current boundaries of the Ethiopian Empire. The world has been
told that the Oromo have been an exclusively pastoral nomadic people who learned the
techniques of agriculture only recently from the Amharas. This is offered as evidence that
the Oromos have already broken crucial links with their past and should completely
"modernize" by sacrificing their way of life and clinging to the Empire State of Ethiopia.
Some have argued that the Oromo GADA system of self-government functioned only in
the distant past and is now outmoded, ruined, weak, and useless ritual if not completely
dead. The same Amnhara colonial government presenting and encouraging these views
of Oromo history and society is trying to replace the Oromo way of life at every crucial
point through Amharization-of language, religion, custom, law, form of education, etc.
The process of historical distortion is not new for colonized peoples. In this case as in
other colonial situations, the ruling group (Abyssianian/Amhara) is underestimating the
cultural strength of the ruled groups (Oromo and others). Amharas have always
emphasized their cultural superiority over the Oromos and others by pointing out the
similarities between their own and European forms-in religion, art, written works, legal
traditions, and so forth. This is not to denigrate Amhara culture, but to point out the
weakness of that position and of their claims to superiority based on such criteria.
Europeans also underestimated the national strength of those they colonized and paid
dearly through periods of war and strong resistance. Oromos, however, have not accepted
the view of their own society as static, ruined, or not belonging to the modern era, and
have refused to become accomplices in colonialism by consenting to these views.
We Oromos have taken onto our own shoulders the crucially important task of beginning,
encouraging, and carrying out the reconstruction of Oromo history-i.e., uncovering data,
recording and analyzing the events and finding clues buried in the past and present about
the very structure of Oromo society. The Ethiopians of the Bible are not the Ethiopians of today. When the Bible speak of Ethiopians, they spoke of pure, Black, tall, robust Africans similar in looks to Mandinkas, Yorubas, Nubas, Nuer, Kikuya and people who had not yet mixed with the invaders from the Semitic lands to create the type of Africans one sees in parts of northern Ethiopia, Somalia or in parts of Sudan and along the East African coast. Ethiopia was the name adopted in the course of history while historical name is Habasha (Abyssinia). Ethiopia is the name which your fathers or forefathers took away from Cush people having no historical name of their own. Abyssinia is just the corrupted form of Habsha . So fathers renamed themselves “Ethiopia” because of the term’s significance in the historical relationship between the Cush peoples of the Horn of Africa and the Middle East. The clergy wrote legends, not history, to alienate the name from Cush people and to use it for their own purpose. This was what the clergy did . Ethiopia (lit. black people) was the name given to Cush people by the Greeks not to the Semitic people who were latecomers to the Horn of Africa from beyond the Red Sea. Until the last quarter of the 19th century, the Oromo people had been an independent nation. As a sovereign nation, they had developed and used a unique democratic system known as Gada. This system being ubiquitous across the Oromo land had influenced and guided the way of life of the nation in political, economic, and social arenas. It guaranteed respect for political rights, equal economic opportunity, and full participation in all spheres of social milieu for every citizen. As a result, the Oromo people had been among the well-organized and led community of nations that enjoyed freedom, peace, and prosperity for several centuries.
However, by the turn of the 20th century, the Oromo nation lost its sovereignty. For generations, Abyssinian rulers had ambition to conquer and rule the Oromos and other peoples south of Abyssinia. But every venture they made to invade their neighbours had never been easy. They found it quite frustrating and at times humiliating. The Oromo people put up fierce resistance and defended their country often repulsing and inflicting humiliating defeat on the invading army of Abyssinians. This has dashed the aspiration of Abyssinian until the European powers of the time involved in the politics of the region. Such involvement has ultimately altered the balance of power in favour of the Abyssinians. With the material, technical, and moral support of Europeans, the war of colonization that the Abyssinians launched against the Oromo people for years finally succeeded. Consequently Oromia has been annexed and incorporated into the Ethiopian Empire.
To conquer Oromia, the architect of the Ethiopian Empire, Minilik II waged the most vicious war against the Oromo people. In effect, Mililik actually conducted a genocidal war to exterminate the Oromo people. Supplied with modern armaments and guided with the advice of military strategists of European powers, the army of Abyssinia for the first time overran the Oromo defense force. The Oromo fighting force with much less sophisticated weapons was ruthlessly killed by Minilik’s army. Captives were massacred or sold as slaves. The army indiscriminately burned alive the elderly and children they encountered all across Oromia. They terrorized and plundered the Oromo people. Such a wide spread brutal action of the army reduced the once prosperous people to abject poverty. The Oromo people were exposed to war induced famine. As a result of the incessant war of colonization for nearly two decades and famine, historians indicate that Oromia lost about half of its population.
Menelik II, the slave trading Abyssinian king of the nineteenth and twentieth century was responsible for the massacre and disappearance of millions of Oromos, Sidamas, Wolayta, Somalis, and others. He was responsible for the physical and psychological torture of the Arsi Oromos at Anole, where his soldiers chopped off every man’s arm, and every woman’s breast.
In the cultural front, Minilik outlawed the Oromo cultural practices. He campaigned extensively to denigrate the Oromo culture and promote that of the Amahara. As a result, for the Oromos practicing even their own religion was considered a crime. Their ritual sites and shrines were replaced with Abyssinian churches. To at least spare them from slavery, accepting the Abyssinian religion, moral value and norm became the order of the day. The Amharic language was elevated to the language of court and colonial administration, whereas Afaan Oromo was reduced to a home language. Where he failed to physically eliminate Oromos, Minilik used every conceivable method to obliterate every element that characterizes the Oromo people.
Under the subsequent Abyssinian rulers, the Oromo people in essence experienced the same degree of operation. The change of hands of the rulers changed only the system of operation; making it with time more sophisticated and subtle. Following Minilk, Haile Sellasie ruled the Ethiopian Empire for the longest period of time. For nearly half a century, he entrenched a feudal system that kept the Oromos as servitude. Under the feudal system more settlers were encouraged to head south from Abyssinia and live in the sprouting urban areas. The settlers in such urban settings assumed the role of centralized administration of the colonies. They controlled the life of the indigenous people through running newly established coercive state machinery such as court, police, and army. On the other hand the role of the Oromo peasantry became toiling the land and feeding the growing settlers in Oromia.
Again under Haile sellasie by proclamation the Oromos were forbidden to practice their tradition, custom, and religion. Suppression of Oromo culture and language continued with great intensification. In parallel, the degree of effort put to Amharanization and assimilation of Oromos greatly increased. The degree of assimilation to Amhara culture became one of the criteria for an Oromo to get employment opportunity. Access to modern education was restricted only to the children of naftanyas. When in fact schools were built with the resource and labour of the Oromo people, Oromo children were denied access to school. The relentless struggle of the Oromo people, especially the peasantry, against the archaic feudal system of Haile sellasie resulted in a popular revolutionary surge that ultimately ended his reign in 1974. For a while this appeared a new era of emancipation for the Oromo people. However, realizing such a trend of the Oromo movement, the sons of naftanyas wrestled not to lose the grip on power. Deposing the decaying monarchy, new breeds of naftanyas from the rank and file of the military usurped the political power. This group of junta known as Dergue ruled the empire for 17 years. During this period, the Oromo people faced yet another form of colonial rule. This time around the colonial rule of the Dergue took the name of Ethiopian socialism.
Politically, the Oromo experience under the Dergue was not any different. The only difference if any was that unlike its forerunners the Dergue nominally recognized the rights of all peoples in the Ethiopian Empire being equal. Practically, however, political power was concentrated still in the hands of the Dergue and Abyssinian elite. In other words, Oromos remained subject people taking orders from the Dergue and its cadres instead of the king and the landlords. For them it was just a change of lordship. In many respects, they were as marginalized as ever from involvement in any political process affecting their livelihood during the regime of the Dergue.
As a result, the Oromo people became subjects in the Dergue experimentation of socialism. The Dergue tried on them two most notorious policies, resettlement and villagization. Following the legacy of its predecessors, the Dergue pursued with the implementation of the policy of resettlement of Abyssinians in Oromia. Resettlement projects carried out in various parts of Oromia displaced hundreds of thousands of Oromos. For ease of control of the political, economic and social activities of the Oromo people, millions of Oromos were dislocated and herded to ‘socialist villages’ through out Oromia. The Dergue called this exercise of literally creating a regimented society as villagization. These two policies created unprecedented havoc in the Oromo society. They tore apart the social fabric of the Oromo society and caused millions to flee as refugees to various countries.
Economically, the Oromo people were reduced to destitute mass due to some draconian policies of the Dergue. Nationalization of land was one of the policies. As the state became the sole owner of the land, over 80% of the Oromo people whose livelihood was based on agrarian economy had lost any right to ownership of land. Leave alone ownership, they had no guarantee for sustainable use of land. For the piece of land they were allowed to use, they had to pay hefty taxation. Not just in monetary term they were also forced to render either military or other services without remuneration. This coupled with the resettlement and villagization programs of the Dergue compounded the grinding poverty of the rural populace. The Dergue socialism was therefore instrumental in perpetuating the economic depravation of the Oromo people and maintaining their servitude status.
Culturally, the extent in which the Dergue suppressed the Oromo language, norm, and value far exceeded any of its predecessors. It promoted the Amhara culture in a grand scale. Amharanization that was limited mainly to urban centres expanded to rural villages. Oromos were subjected to forced assimilation within the settings of its social engineering scheme that resettled Abyssinians across Oromia.
The growing discontent and struggle of all oppressed people in the Ethiopian Empire against the Dergue led this tyrant regime to collapse in 1991. With the demise of the Military regime, the century old Amhara rule ended. In its footstep the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) emerged and took the state political power. Seeing the debacle of the most backward and oppressive Amhara rule was a significant historical moment for the Oromo people. It was historical because it signaled the beginning of disintegration of the Ethiopian Empire. The Oromos hoped that this moment would usher in a new era of freedom. However, with the rise of Tigreans to the rank of Amharas they lost yet another opportunity of determining the fate of their nation.
The Tigrean ethno-national regime did not take much time when it replaced the Amhara hegemony with that of its own. Initially the TPLF, the avowedly communist organization, sounded democratic and entered into an agreement with various political forces to change the political landscape of the Ethiopian Empire. That is, to change the imperial nature of Ethiopia and to redress the injustice done to all oppressed peoples within the empire. However, as it consolidated power its deep-seated Abyssinian polity emerged with full swing. It assumed the custodianship of the subject peoples of the empire and made maintaining the empire its historic responsibility.
In less than a decade since it assumed this responsibility, the extent of political suppression and economic exploitation that the Oromo people have faced/are still facing in the hands of the TPLF has no proportion. They have been denied the freedom of association and assembly. Their independent political organizations and free press have been banned. Political dissidents have been subjected to mass arrest and imprisonment, torture, extra-judicial killing. Tens of thousands have been thrown to concentration camps and treated with cruelty. Even those who managed to flee to neighbouring countries have been pursued by TPLF squad and assassinated. In short, the political persecution is so severe that fear and terror have overwhelmed the life of the Oromo people under the fascist regime of the TPLF.
Similarly, TPLF has denied the Oromo people every economic opportunity. It has launched a sinister plan meant to create impoverished mass. Under the guise of free market economy, it has created a situation for itself to have free access to the resource of the empire. Commercial establishments and industries have been systematically taken over by organizations that function as TPLF economic wings. It has full authority on the land use, and its good will determines who should and should not use the land. Under different pretext, properties of individual Oromos are confiscated. It made free entrepreneurship the exclusive right of one ethnic group: Tigreans. Such a monopoly of resource in the hands of the TPLF and its own people has made Oromos totally marginalized in the economic scene.
In summary, the successive Abyssinian rulers robbed the political, economic, and social life of the Oromo people. For more than a century, generations of Oromos went through similar colonial experience. They all suffered from policies of the colonizers geared to alienate them from active involvement in the affair of their nation. The policies include: waging genocidal war on dissidents, systematic confiscation of the Oromo land, resettlement of naftanyas, campaign of obliteration of Oromo culture, prohibition of the development and use of Oromo language, assimilation and Amharanization, deprivation of access to modern education, economic marginalization of the Oromos in all economic sectors.
THE OROMO NATIONAL LIBERATION STRUGGLE
The Oromo National Liberation Struggle has a proud heritage of long resistance to alien domination. The long history of the Oromo national struggle can be divided into three periods: the first period lasted from about 1887, when Menelik, a European supported king of a part of Abysinian embarked on the conquest of the entire Oromiyaa, to about 1900, when he with the assistance of European powers managed to colonize Oromiyaa. By the year 1900 therefore, Oromiyaa had ceased to exist as a free and independent nation. During this period, the gallant sons and daughters of Oromiyaa fought in the defence of every inch of their territory with astonishing bravery that has left them a priceless legacy of heroism. In the battles of Arsi, Gulalee, Abichu, chalanqo, Wallo, Meta, Borana and many more, they gave their precious lives in the defence of their country and their freedom.
The second period lasted from about 1900 to 1964. During this period, the struggle against the occupier took various forms. There were numerous and widespread peasant uprisings in various parts of Oromiyaa. In 1928, the Raya Oromo rebelled against Haile Silassie's colonial government. Haile silassie was able to suppress the rebellion only with the assistance of the British Royal Airforce stationed in the British colony of Aden. In 1948, the Raya once again rose up in arms. The British forces once again were called for assistance. In 1958, the Dawee, Kara Qorree and Dhummugaa rose up against the colonial government; hundreds were massacred. In 1935, Oromos formed a confederation and petitioned the British government for the establishment of an independent Oromo Republic. They also appealed to the League of Nations for membership that was rejected. In 1963, the Bale Oromo peasant uprising against the colonial regime was put down with the help of the British army, Israeli experts and the American Airforce. Until about the end of 1963 and the beginning of 1964, the Oromo National struggle for Liberation however widespread was generally uncoordinated.
The third period was opened with the formation of a mass Oromo organization called the Macha-Tulama Association in 1964. The Association expanded its membership very rapidly all over Oromiyaa as a Pan-Oromo movement. The creation of the Macha-Tulama Association marked the beginning of a new era in the Oromo resistance movement. The Oromo people were long hungry for a liberation movement that would marshal their resources, unite their activities and channel their creative energies against the forces of oppression. It championed the social, educational, cultural and political rights of the Oromo people. The Macha-Tulama Association among others, had a dynamic Youth Wing that produced revolutionary literature, politicized and organized Oromo masses. Many of the brilliant leaders of the Association including Mamo Mezamir in 1966 and General Tadesse Biru 1974 were either martyred or sentenced to long term imprisonment. Between 1967 and 1974 some members of the Macha-Tulama Association and Oromo students continued agitating for Oromo independence and raising the political awareness of the Oromo people through underground papers such as the "Voice of Oromo Against Tyranny".
The spontaneous uprising of February 1974 in the Empire State of Ethiopia was brought about in part by the Oromo masses. It was also out of the Macha-Tulama Association underground cells that the Oromo Liberation Front was formed in 1974. In the meantime, the Oromos in Diaspora broke away from the Ethiopian student unions and formed their own Oromo organizations. This marked the end of a phase and a beginning of another in Oromo Movement. Since then, scattered armed struggles waged in different parts of Oromiyaa gained momentum gradually and emerged as an organised national liberation struggle led by the Oromo liberation Front (OLF), Islamic Front for the Liberation of Oromiyaa (IFLO), United Oromo peoples Liberation Front (UOPLF), Oromo Peoples Liberation Organization (OPLO) Oromo peaples Liberation Front. The armed struggle was also promoted by different different organizations, such as Union of Oromo in North America, Union of Oromo Students in Europe (UOSE), Oromo Democratic Organization in America(ODOA), Waldayaa Tokkummaa Oromoo America (WTOA) etc.
The struggle of these militant organizations however divided was by far well co-ordinated and well organized Oromo National struggle that the Oromo have waged since their colonization. However, they failed to form a united front against their common enemy and at times even fought among themselves The Oromo consciousness came as a shock to the military rulers of the Empire of Ethiopia. They launched a ferocious campaign against the Oromo freedom fighters and all Oromo nationals at home and abroad. During Mengistu's era, tens of thousands of Oromos were killed and over a million Oromo people became refugees in different parts of the world. Thus, the military government of Ethiopia managed to consolidate the garrison state.
After the fall of the Mengistu regime, the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front named itself the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front, took over the power with the help of the Eritrean Peoples Liberation Front and the United States of America. Some Oromo individuals and organizations began to entertain the hope that the Oromo question will be resolved through peaceful means. These expectations have not been without grounds. For the first time the problem was internationally recognized as a part of Ethiopia's political problems. But the recognition had no effect upon Oromo's political situation, or upon replacing authoritarian rule with democracy in Ethiopian Empire. Most Oromos knew all along the true intention of the EPRDF. Their objective was to topple the Mengistu government and to assume the colonial power. The Oromo on the other hand have as their objective the formation of an independent Oromo Republic. The Oromos died not to democratise Ethiopia. But as expected the EPRDF openly manipulated the 1992 elections and started a most brutal and savage rule over Oromiyaa. Under this diabolical and brutal government, hundreds and thousands of Oromos have been killed. Hundreds and thousands are living in desperate situations in refugee camps. The TPLF/EPRDF is vicious in dealing with anyone who disagrees with them, they are dehumanising the Oromo people, plundering the economy and degenerated the country in order to remain in power.
Successive Ethiopian governments have deceived Oromos repeatedly during peace talks and negotiations. Because of this fact, peace talks and negotiations have little or no credibility among the Oromo people today, and the majority see armed struggle as the only option available to regain their fundamental individual and national rights. The struggle will continue. Unity is Oromos strength. All colonial governments from Menelik to Meles have effectively used the divide and rule policy against Oromo national struggle. The issue of national unity has been the most raised issue among Oromos of all ages. The antithetical force that can reject and dismantle a well-organized colonial government is a force that is organized at a higher level through discipline, excellence and unity. Because of the fact that the Ethiopian colonial rule is based on notorious divide and rule policies the revolutionary experience of this modern world also repeatedly proves that national unity, common understanding and sense of belonging together are necessary conditions without which successful freedom cannot be achieved.
The Oromo national struggle for liberation reached this higher and dynamic phase as the four prominent Oromo liberation forces met on July 20 to 25, 2000 and decided to end the past which was a time of fragmentation, separation and division that contributed to the weakness of the Oromo national struggle and signed a memorundum of understanding that became the base for bringing together all Oromo forces. Based on the principles of the July memorundum of understanding, a congress in which six Oromo liberation forces participated was convened on September 16 to 20, 2000. On this Historic congress, known as the Founding Congress of the United Liberation Forces of Oromiyaa, participant organizations agreed to work together and formed an umbrella organization known as UNITED LIBERATION FORCES OF OROMIYAA ( ULFO ). This historic event, more than any thing else expresses the unmistakable growth of oromo nationalism. Thus, the rebirth of an independent Oromo nation state will not remain a dream. It will soon be a reality! yes a lot of reading i hope this answers your questions or misunderstandings of the oromo people and their history.
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