"We the habesha people are not only black but we are the defenders of our race the black race" is this statement consistent with the treatment the oromo and others have received for over a century up to and including the present?first by amhara and currently by the tigrina rulers.
The Oromo people are crying out for their freedom but the west continues to ignore these cries. Thousands are killed and many more forced to leave their country. Today there are more than 250,000 Oromo refugees throughout Africa. Some sources suggest that up to 20,000 Oromo people are still political prisoners.
The oppression of the Oromo people has been a linchpin of neo-colonial policy since last century. As Oromos number in the millions and have traditionally lived in much of the north-east of Africa, their subjugation was critical for neo-colonial ``stability'' in Ethiopia, Sudan and Somalia. Until 1934, southern Oromia maintained its independence, and between 1928 and 1936 the Oromo Independence Movement rose up in northern Oromia.
After an internal power struggle among the Abyssinian ruling clique, in 1930 Haile Selassie came to power. Selassie's strategy relied on dividing the Oromo people - establishing regional administrations and coopting a section of the educated Oromo population. Under this regime the Oromo people faced probably their worse oppression.
In 1974 the super-exploited Oromo peasantry revolted by refusing to pay the 75% of their produce in tax required by the Selassie regime. The revolt started in the north, spread throughout Ethiopia and played an important role in the collapse of the regime. While the Oromo gained same temporary respite, the new Mengistu regime proved to be another dictatorial yoke.
Mengistu used the Oromo people to wage his war against the Eritrean independence struggle. Some 80% of army used against the Eritreans was composed of Oromo. Knowing that they could not win without Oromo support, the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front and the Eritrean People's Liberation Front established the Oromo People's Democratic Organisation (OPDO).
The development of some links with the Oromo national movement and formation of the Ethiopian People's Democratic Revolutionary Front (EPDRF) helped bring about the end of the Mengistu regime and the establishment of a new republic, inaugurated August 21, 1995.
While the new regime has allowed for some Oromo autonomy, including the restoration of the Oromo language, the Oromo people remain without the statehood that they demand. The current regime has minimal Oromo support, mainly the OPDO, with which Negaso Gidada, the new regime's president, is associated. (A largely ceremonial role is reserved for the president under the new constitution.)
Most of the Oromo people's national organisations remain outside the EPDRF. This includes the Oromo Liberation Front, the Islamic Front for the Liberation of Oromia and two other Oromo organisations. Only the OPDO is formally aligned with the EPDRF.
With the increasing pressure on the new regime to consolidate the structural adjustment program begun in 1992, there is likely to be a range of further austerity measures. Privatisations already began in 1995.
This sort of pressure is likely to lead to further national conflict in east Africa. The starting point for real progress must still be the self-determination of the Oromo people.
In its attempt to oppress and eliminate the essential elements of Oromo culture, the present regime has used cover-up words such as 'development, relief, settlement, villagization and literacy campaign' to mislead the world. In fact most of these programmes and projects have been aimed at displacing Oromo people and denying them freedom, justice, human dignity and peace, thereby hastening the process of Amharization or de-Oromization.
The struggle of the Oromo people, then, is nothing more than an attempt to affirm their own place in history. It seeks equality, human dignity, democracy, freedom and peace. It is not directed against the masses of a particular nation or nationality, nor against individuals, but rather against Ethiopian colonialism led by the Amhara ruling class and the naftanyas (Amhara colonial settlers) and against feudalism and imperialism. Thus it is the Ethiopian colonial system and not the Amhara masses or individuals which is under critical consideration.
Today when nearly all of the African peoples have won independence, the Oromo continue to suffer under the most backward and savage Ethiopian settler colonialism. All genuinely democratic and progressive individuals and groups, including members of the oppressor nation, Amhara, who believe in peace, human dignity and liberty should support the Oromo struggle for liberation.
Although the Oromo nation is one of the largest in Africa, it is forgotten by or still unknown to the majority of the world today. Unfortunately even the name Oromo is unknown to many, and this should not be allowed to continue.
The Oromo people are one of the ancient people of the region. The Oromo people belong to the Cushitic group of people that inhabited the southern half of the western Red Sea coast, and the whole of Horn of Africa including the coastal areas and hinterlands. The Afar, Somali, Saho, and Sidama are some of the Cushitic people of Africa. These people are related to ancient Egyptian (Nubians), and are the original inhabitants of the region. Their history in the region is more than the three thousand years claimed by the Abyssinians.
Ever since their arrival from south Arabia, the Abyssinians have been encroaching on the Cushitic land, and slowly pushing the Cushitic people in different directions. This movement was checked and stopped by the Oromos in the sixteenth century. The make believe history of the so called "Galla Migration" of the sixteenth century is a war of liberation from the Abyssinians who were slowly encroaching on the Cushitic and other people's lands.
Abyssinians desire to control the resources of the Oromos and other people living in what today is known as southern Ethiopia, led to a bad relationship of war and instability in the region. During the second half of the nineteenth century, Abyssinia with the help of European arms, military advisors and commanders from Russia and France succeeded to colonize Oromiyaa and other people of the southern Ethiopia. Ethiopia, as it is known today has never existed before, and present Ethiopia is a colonial creation of no more than a century old. At no time before the conquest by Menelik was the present day Ethiopia a single country. What existed were independent polities--kingdoms in Abyssinia to the north, various confederacies in Oromia and others under the Gada system, the southern kingdoms of Walayita, Kaficho, and Yem, and various communal systems in the Nilotic and Omotic regions. The official Ethiopian history that, echoed by some less critical scholars, presents Menelik's era as "the unification of Ethiopia" is a fabrication, pure and simple. As in the rest of colonial Africa, the Oromo and other southern peoples were subjugated, their peace, their cultural identities and human dignity deprived.
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