Let OLF Have Its Own Office and ODP Listen to the People
By Worku Burayu (PhD), October 28, 2018
Why protest now? Let ODP listen to the people: ODP considered any type of protest at this time as destructive, damaging and anti-development (Addisu Arega Kitessa’s Facebook, Oct 26, 2018). Anti-development, anti-unity, terrorist etc., haven’t we heard this type of saying for the last 27 years? That is why I have been repeatedly mentioned ODP performs, speaks and even thinks still in certain ways its grandfather the TPLF does. The organization also stated “Daboo walif bahuun malee daboo walirratti bahuun jijjiiramni hindhufu,” Literally it means, “change can’t happen by pitting each other but by supporting each other.” On one hand, they already declared the country is in transformational change. On the other hand, as if change is not commencing they want support and time to bring about a change. It is undeniable that the change is already commenced but can’t be achieved its final goal by ignoring the questions of the revolutionaries, those who fight and scarified the change to happen. The present peaceful revolution is not damaging, not negative, but it is a warning to clearly show the change Qeerroo Bilisummaa Oromo striving for is not the present cosmetic type. So, the present peaceful protest is seeking to correct some injustices happing right now:
- the continuous killing and eviction of Oromo from their livelihood,
- the hunting and killing of Oromo Liberation Army aka WBO,
- The ignoring of the evicted more than two million people,
- the public media campaign against the political organization
- the people intimidation by Military and security forces, and
- for the thousand’s youths still languishing in prisons.
Majority of the situations is created by the ruling party whether it is ODP (Western, Eastern, Southern and Central Oromiya), TPLF (Rayya and the surroundings) or EPRDF (the military all over the country). These all prompted the resumption of peaceful demonstration and created an anger, but still with hope to realize the change they wanted to see. Qeerroo Bilisummaa Oromoo (QBO), as organization, has been waiting for a reply for the last 6 months from the government body to make a positive case with confirmatory tactics. Presently, no one is campaigning against ODP; but ODP is campaigning against the people, the Oromo people. Qeerroo Bilisummaa Oromo clearly defined changes they want to see consistently for their movements to become successful (https://qeerroo.org).
As Gandhi wanted independence from the British: the color revolutions wanted a change in leadership; the QBO wanted to see the realization of self-determination of the Oromo people. They have tangible goals that they are struggling and striving to achieve. To truly revolutionize how things are done, it’s not enough to change a policy or shift leadership to a new old. You must change the attitudes that lead to actions. The old attitudes, the negative approach, is still there. In such occasions, protest has played an important role, highlighting the Qeerroo Bilisummaa Oromo’s ability to make their disapproval heard. This type of activism is crucial for creating the groundwork for the change they desired to see.
Consider the recent protest in the country concerning an unpopular Master plan law. They inspired millions to take further actions that forced the TPLF led EPRDF to back down. Qeerroo Bilisummaa Oromo revolution initiated with a clear vision of the change they wanted to see. That doesn’t mean they need to be rigid. As we have seen on the ground, they are not trying to impose their vision; they are sharing it, they are listening to their people, and are respectful to the different structures of the government body who actually don’t hold the same views as them. But above all, they are clear and everybody knows where they stand. Simple campaign can’t bring fruitful change or develop a country. The start of democracy and its main purpose is to allow peaceful protests.
In 1962, John F. Kennedy famously said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” The Oromo community, as it became increasingly aware of the TPLF intentions, persistently opposed further land grabbing because it posed a real and imminent danger to the very existence of Oromo on their own land. Because of this opposition, the entire TPLF project suspended or collapsed. In short, TPLF was based on a faulty, colonialist world view that the rights of the indigenous inhabitants didn’t matter. The QBO opposition to the land grabbing and farmers eviction wasn’t based on anti-Tigray development, but rather on a totally reasonable fear of the dispossession of their people.
Being Oromo myself, the position I present here is critical of EPRDF particularly ODP, but it is in no way anti-individual in the organization. I do not believe that the Oromo individual or as a society acted worse than any other group might have acted in their situation. The TPLF (which was a distinct minority of the Tigray people) had an understandable desire to establish a place where Tigray could be masters of, not only their own, but to the entire country’s citizens, given the miserable history of Tigray oppression, which was nothing worse than it happened on Oromo or other groups. In the last movements, the revolutionary group QBO saw arrests not merely as an act of revolution, but as an opportunity to build positive relations with the police. In fact, the leaders of protesters were trained to defend officers from any provocation within their own positions. Until ODP listens to the real problem of the people the QBO movements shall continue. Let ODP listen to the people.
Let honeymoon is over and OLF have its own office: The Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) in its history of origin, is enjoying a second most notable political celebratory in the motivation of its leaders’ entrance on the September 15, 2018 into the country with a sequence of national welcoming ceremony and unprecedented turnout of the Oromo people almost from all over Oromia. This has showing us, the OLF acceptance rating has been moving ups and downs from the higher rate in 1991 to the lower rate in 2001 and probably to the lowest rate in the August 2008 through what is being called by some activists as “break beyond repair,” status in 2009. The acceptance recovery level elevated in the 2012 and to became to its usual territory from 2013- 2015, to higher level from 2015-2017, and probably climbing to the historic highest level right now in 2018.
The first congratulatory was in 1992, where Oromo gathered in high number for the first time, probably after the collapse of the Gadaa System, in Shagar at the “Walttajji Hora Finfinne.” Subsequent high turn gathering were made in Odaa Bultum, Odaa nabee, Makko Billii, Odaa Buluuq and some other places. Previous than these days the notable Oromo gathering was in Dhera, Arsi during the Mecha-Tulama Association public conference.
There are similarities and differences in the gathering in the 1992 and the present one. I will not be going to compare and contrast the 1991 to the 2018. But there are lessons to be learnt from the 1991 happenings. It is obvious that the time, level of consciousness, technology, generation, political atmosphere in the country and the surrounding countries, the status of competent political groups, and many other things are different. In 1991, OLF entered to Ethiopia to make awareness about Oromo in general and its political program in particular. In doing so it participated in the foundation of “The Transitional Government of Ethiopia” with the present ruling party. OLF achieved many objectives including the implementation of Afaan Oromoo in Oromia with its qubee alphabet, declaring the map of Oromia and other undeniable facts with that one-year time.
At that moment, what the OLF knew was the positive response it will get from the Oromo people, but in more unhurriedly time. OLF didn’t expect the response from the Oromo overwhelmingly burst within the surprising shortest time. Because of the occurrences of the un-expectation, OLF was not prepared to the height of Oromo people and consequently its capacity to accommodate the inspiration of the people was so limited, so that it couldn’t utilize fully the opportunity to the benefit of the Oromo people. OLF couldn’t settle because of the daily new assignment created by the ruling party was so penetrating, but extensive enough to all parts of Oromia. The engagement with the ruling party was so bad: conflict, war, dislocation of people, and clash were the daily routine from the four direction of Oromia perpetuated by TPLF and its alliance, the EPLF, at that time. On one hand, in the day light TPLF negotiated and discussed about the peace and the rule of law which officially aired for the political consumption. On the other hand, TPLF agents secretly killed prominent Oromo and members of OLF during the dark night. The case of Gammachis Dhaba in Borana can be sufficient enough for my claim. The talk between the two was externally seemed wonderful, but their actual talk was painful and it was a machinegun talk. The most notable mistake was the camping of OLA to the military camp. OLF paid huge scarifies at that time and lost many of its precious comrades. The negotiation between TPLF and OLF was unbalanced. It was the type of boss and subordinate type. Although OLF has not admitted yet, it was overwhelmingly cheated by TPLF and EPLF at that time and finally OLF expelled from the transitional government.
The present time is different. Some of the stakeholders, however, are the same and their approach this time is honey coated with venom in more dangerous and sophisticated tactic. We have no guarantee that the things would haven’t repeated itself. The indications and signs of unhealthy approach is surfacing right now which has been going on in aggressive way since the entrance of OLF leaders to the country. TPLF, Ginbot 7, including ODP and crooked activist practically wanted to dismantle OLF, or impose OLF that its idea of self-determination watered-down. Then, OPDO worked for its employer or creator, the TPLF. Now OPDO claimed it has gone through reform including the name change from OPDO to ODP as it is the same for ANDM to ADP. But it is still too immature to tell the ODP departed from its grandfather, the TPLF, and going through its content change. ODP already started doing bad thing and blaming others. The fundamental differences between ODP and ADP is the later practically believes in rearmament of the people it has believed and struggled for, the Amhara people. The Amhara has had already enough arms from the very beginning; TPLF trial to disarm them was unsuccessful because of the then ANDM and the now ADP was internally stood with its people. On the opposite side, in the history of Oromo, there was no single organization that disarm Oromo people than the OPDO did. ODP still believes to disarm the Oromo people and exposing to unseen before damage to the people. The miscalculation they speculated and wanted to apply on the Oromo people is the dangerous road. Though claimed, ODP never learned from its mistakes or the history of that country.
But how long will it last without having the office? The pertinent question now is how long it will last without having the office? and what the OLF can get done between now and until the coming election? The answer remained for OLF. There is no survey data or poll on the lengths of political celebratory in Ethiopian history. There is a common-sense agreement, however, that the acceptance levels for political organizations are not what they used to be at the beginning. A period of popularity enjoyed by OLF continue as long as the OLF goes to its main objectives and able to compete aggressively compared with other political organization. However, there are four obstacles for OLF to continue at present pace of support it has enjoyed.
- the well-organized propaganda targeted to its existence from other non-Oromo political organizations and affiliated media (http://ayyaantuu.org/oromo-phobic-cant-halt-the-inevitable-oromo-journey/, and http://ayyaantuu.org/revisiting-our-thinking-towards-oromo/
- The envious Oromo political organization action http://ayyaantuu.org/oromo-democratic-party-odp-beautiful-in-name-ugly-in-action/
- the crooked activists,
- the hinderance to have offices in the capital city and many other Oromiya cities.
The envious political organization or individuals and the still unchanged vestige behavior in the ruling party will be headache for OLF for sometimes to come.
Worku Burayu (PhD)