Is Oromo a Tribe? What Is Wrong With Oromo Tribalist?

Is Oromo a Tribe? What Is Wrong With Oromo Tribalist?

In anthropology, a tribe is a human social group. Exact definitions of what constitutes a tribe vary among anthropologists, and the term is itself considered controversial in academic circles in part due to its association with colonialism. In general use, the term may refer to people perceived by a population to be primitive and may have negative connotations. The concept is often contrasted with other social groups concepts, such as nationsstates, and forms of kinship.(From Wikipedia)

Oromo is not a tribe, Oromo Politicians are not Tribalist!

Having its origin from the latin language (referring to the three (tri) main divisions of the Roman people representing Latin, Sabine and Etruscan settlements) the word “tribe” refers to a social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by a blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized group leader. In evolutionary anthropology tribe is the second stage in human political evolution, only next to band & often connotes “primitive,” “uncivilized,” “backward” and “inferior” stage of human evolution, which is a derogatory description in modern society.

As far as my understanding is concerned Oromo is a nation – a large body of people united by common descent, history, culture, language, associated with a particular territory (perceived or real) and sufficiently conscious of its unity to seek or to possesses their own government. Oromo fulfills all of the above criteria and thus qualify to be a nation.

It is not only tribe, there are many unrelated also derogatory and mischaracterizing words in our political discourses. Ye gosa (clan) & Ye zeri (race) politics are among the well situated terms with no real existence. It is time to stop denigrating ourselves with those terms. Their wrong use has multiple consequences in our political evolution. It is not only about mischaracterizing people, failure to choose the right and powerful words to express/communicate our political identity is downgrading ourselves.

Birhanu M Lenjiso


All things being equal, in a truly democratic Ethiopia, an Ethiopian of Oromo heritage will have a better chance than her/his counterparts to govern Ethiopia for decades to come. I can see Abiy ruling Ethiopia up until 2020, followed by Lemma Megersa for 10 more years, assuming term limitations of two 5-year terms. Do not take me wrong. It does not have to be Abiy or Lemma. It can be any Ethiopian nationalist of Oromo heritage such as Bertukan Mideksa, Merera Gudina or any other.

What I do not understand is, why some Oromo politicians still insist on tribal politics, including the right to secede. They are the only politicians in our galaxy who are advancing a minority tribal agenda when they are the largest tribe in the country.

Can you imagine Han-Chinese, who constitute the majority in the People’s Republic of China, advancing a tribalist agenda or demanding secession from the other minority Chinese tribes to form a country called Han?

In Canada, 58 percent of the population declare English as their mother tongue, compared to 21 percent who identify themselves as native French Speaking. Can you fathom the idea of English speaking Canadian provinces demanding secession from minority French speaking provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec?

It would be outside of the cosmos of common sense to imagine, fathom or envision Han-Chinese or Anglophone Canadians worshiping in the temple of liberation theology, much less singing the hymn of secession. That would be high-octane stupidity and plenty moronic.

Since homosapiens got tired of roaming planet earth barefoot and established swaths of lands as their country, majority tribes have served as a bulwark for their country’s indivisibility, be it by ጡጫ or by ምርጫ.

In the US, during the civil war in the 1860s, 21 million people lived in the Northern states, compared to the 9 million people who were native to the Southern states. The minority Southern states wanted to split from the Union. The majority North used ጡጫ to keep them in the union. In total 620,000 people perished to keep America indivisible.


Be they part of the ruling coalition or a member of the oppressed class, majority groups do not embrace a minority agenda. That was why the majority Shia (60-65 percent) population of Iraq who were ruled by the brutal hands of Saddam Hussein of the minority Sunni sect did not have a secessionist agenda.

The Oromo liberation enterprise is the only known political establishment that champions a minority agenda while representing the largest tribal population in the country. This is the legacy of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).

The OLF has another legacy: An exponentially negatively slopping learning curve. In existence for nearly half a century, OLF has not only failed to learn from its mistakes, but it seems that it leverages on it to speed up its descent down the slippery slope into the comfort of political oblivion and a slow eternal death.


Abiy and Lemma stormed the political scene with a winning strategy of embracing Ethiopian nationalism and assuring the indivisibility of Greater Ethiopia. They were embraced by all Ethiopians, including by an overwhelming majority of Ethiopians of Oromo heritage.

The new political reality threw a monkey wrench in the calculus of Oromo liberation enterprise that is anchored in grievance politics of the operation of the Oromo by other tribes. Marketing victimhood became a difficult undertaking in the present-day Ethiopia with an Oromo sitting at the apex of the political architecture.


  1. It seems this article is written by a person who forgot even the immediate past reasons which led us slave and master type of relationship of our co-existence and rush to hastily conclusion.

    Without need to defend the well-designed tactic and strategy of OLF, the author of this article seems myopic in that he never sees existing reality and the rude approach of non-Oromos’ (particularly habesha peoples) and their tendency to deal with issues of unity.

    Also, the person seems to analyze the effect without dealing with the cause. Comparative study necessitates consideration of cause and effect level analysis.

    Do you know why all the majority cases you mentioned rejected session of the minority in their respective territory? Is there any grazing cow willing to be blood sucked by tick considering its bigger in size, even among your examples above?

  2. Oromo is a nation by any measurement capable of sustaining itself. The world several nations that amount to 1/10th of Oromo people by all accounts.

  3. This is typical Habesha political thought: If the person at the apex of power is the person they approve of, whatever politics he/she does is OK. “Ethiopiawinet Sus naw” is enough for them to worship the man who uttered the words. That is not enough for the Oromo.

    The Oromo people have been subjucted to the most brutal system of political oppression, repression and suppression in addition to economic exploitation and marginalization for the last 120+ years. The devastating negative impact on Oromo as a people and the damage to its economy, culture, language and history can not be mended just because an Oromo is made the political figurehead of the country. The Oromo nation must be empowered to take its destiny into its own hands, control its country and resources, to restore its rich cultural heritage of Gadaa democracy for the benefit of not only itself but for all peoples of the country and the wider region. A symbolic jesture of premiership and the likes without real political and economic readjustment won’t change the underdog status of the Oromo. True federalism, where all local states control their land and resources and administer themselves with little interference from some authoritative central power, must be put in place. In addition to doing justice to the daylight economic robbery of the TPLF regime, undoing the blatant colonial economic structure imposed by successive regimes is a must. Only then can we talk about a fair and representative power-sharing at the federal level. Only those with wrong perception of the history of the Ethiopian state formation, and those who lack the basic understanding of democracy and federalism make such comments as the above.

  4. The writer seems to be Menelik’s ghost. No matter, we are hearing such a drum beating and dancing since the last 50 years. But, as the saying goes on, dogs are barking and camels are marching, Oromo’s struggle is getting its momentum leaving the nostalgics crying from behind. Anyway, the writter’s action indicates his ignoramus of present Ethiopian situation.

  5. The core problem of Ethiopia is that the Abssynocrats are always by hook or crook trying to keep their dominiant position from generation to generation.still oromocrats couldnt stand on their feet to confront shrewd and selfishAbssynians.At each turning turning point of history the core Abyssinian elites or ruling class try by all means to reverse the intended change.The author of this artcle is simply atypical Abyssinian or brainwashed Oromo that think as an Abyssinian.The Orginal OLF strategy to emancipate it’s people from Abyssinian colonization sponserd by foreigners as proxy colonization.still in 21 th century they try to fool us by writing what cannot Bebe acceptable.the world is advancing leaving them behind

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