Qeerroo Bilisummaa Oromoo (QBO) and Waraana Bilisummaa Oromoo (WBO).
Two inseparable Pillars of OLF: Yesterday’s QBO, Today’s WBO!
By Worku Burayu (PhD), August 28, 2018
As divided as individuals, politicians, and activists are over the causes and establishment of the QEERROO BILISUMMAA OROMOO (QBO), they are in even greater disagreement over its names and objectives. For the author of this script the QEERROO BILISUMMAA OROMOO is the most organized, secretive underground structure and most far-reaching third pillars of the Oromo Liberation Front in the Oromiyan history that have mobilized the popular movements inside the country. It is like other pillars of OLF such as Voice of Oromo Liberation (SBO, the second pillar) and Oromo Liberation Army (WBO, the first pillar). Let make it clear here. It is unquestionable that every member of the QBO is part and parcel of the Oromo society. Be mind, every Oromo youth is not necessarily the member of QBO. As there are millions of youth who are not organized as an institution, there are many who organized as QEERROO BILISUMMAA OROMOO and have mobilized millions of Oromo youth under this institution.
QBO is evolved through time and space by paying huge scarifies; it is the extension of Fincila Diddaa Gabrummaa (“Revolt Against Subjugation”) that was started in 2005. Before the year 2005, there was protest in Oromia against the move of Oromiya capital city from Finfinne to Adama (in 2000) that resulted in the dismissal of more than 300 students from Finfinne University alone. The continuous Mecha-Tulema Welfare Association (MTA) organized student protests forced the TPLF to officially announce plans to move the regional capital back to Finfinne on June 10, 2005. These gave an important lesson for Oromo youth to realize that without being organized and mobilized together as Oromo, the struggle for their own freedom would not be achieved. During these times there were underground works to organize youths particularly, in the Universities and high schools under the guidance of OLF. The government deployed thousands of spies during these times to control the movements of students and crush the legal activities of MTA.
The government of Ethiopia sued the author of this script as being one of the Oromo youth organizing leaders in the end of 2004 in the Central Prison (aka “Ma’iikeelaawwii”) from November 2004 to March 2005 (the author detained 12 times between 1993 to 2005). On the same day arrest we were 15 (7 from Adama, 8 from Finfinne) including as young as 24 years Badhaadhaa Dhaqqabaa Waario to as old as Oromo elders in 60’s such as Margaa Dabaloo, Fiqaadu Jireenyaa, Abbaa Nagaa, Tesfaye Benti and Hajji. At times Oromo of all walks of life from all zones of Oromia with all religion backgrounds were in the prison.
Indeed, the prison cells were like one of the Oromia zones. The proportion of Oromo in the country was manifested in the prison alone; not in equality, freedom or right. In the compound it seemed as if Afaan Oromoo was officially declared as spoken language of the prisoners while Tigrenya is given for the authority of each level. Bright Oromo youths such as Dechasa Wirtu, Habtamu Beyene, Fikadu Zekaria, Abebe Tolaa, Endale, Jalata and Caala (OLA), and others were some of them I could remember to mention. There were many students, teachers, lecturers from different Universities, business owners and Oromos of all walks of life in the prison. My cell room was the room where his excellency, Ibsa Gutama, one of the founders of OLF, was arrested. The time was when OLF’s third general assembly was conducted in Eritrea.
After my release in March 2005 they shot and killed Alemayehu Gerba (November 4, 2005) after four years of impressment and other prominent Oromo youths in their cells. But that didn’t stop the unstoppable Oromo journey. Other Oromo mastermind, such as Tesfahun Chemeda and Mesfin Abebe who flee their country continued the unstoppable Oromo journey with unbreakable sprit, the spirit of OLF. The mass mobilization of youths and the civil resistance had no rest even for a second. It rather transformed itself to the next high level better known as Fincila Diddaa Gabrumma (FDG). Oromo nationalists in Oromia and around the globe commemorate the popular student uprising known as FDG that broke out on November 09, 2005 (four days after the sacrifices of Alemayehu Gerba) following a call by the OLF to Oromo students and entire Oromo people to peacefully oppose the government and bring to the forefront the demands of democracy, justice, and most importantly, the realization of the right of the Oromo people to self-determination.
Between 2005 and 2010, Oromo students poured into the streets of major cities and towns throughout the region several times to protest government policies. Police and security forces tried to put those demonstrations down with unnecessary force-and the regional government reacted by subjecting students in schools throughout the region to persistent and intrusive surveillance, both in and out of the classroom. The protest galvanized all Oromo in Oromiya and abroad that transformed FDG to the higher-level organized institution, QEERROO BILISUMMAA OROMOO, in 2011.
Since 2011 QBO has been continued the popular peaceful demonstration and movements in well organized, strategized, disciplined and tactic full manner lead by highly intellectual youths. Between 2011 to 2014 QBO was working restlessly on systematizing, structuring and extending their organizations in each district level in Oromia with only low-level protest in many parts of the country. Since 2014, some Oromo persons start defaming, devaluing, and demoralizing QBO and their works in any possible social media particularly, through Facebook and live video stream. They hated even the name QBO. They went far to list the name of QBO’s leaders on Facebook and other medias. They exposed these young brilliant masterminds of QBO to the brutality of ruling party. Many except those far reaching persons didn’t know why those Oromo’s do that. How did they get the name list of QBO’s active players and leaders? Time will tell us.
In October 2016, OLF chairman announced and revealed that OLF founded QBO and has been helping them in training to equipping them with advanced political consciousness. For Oromians in the country and many other Oromo, including myself, outside the country, the claim was too late though the declaration triggered some undesirable effects for those who didn’t want to see or to hear the QBO to be related to OLF.
Before the OLF announcement, QBO has already declared in many occasions including their Radio that they are the true offspring of OLF. While the offspring claiming their father is OLF and OLF is consenting that they are its offspring; there are some who denied these facts and still are trying to convince us, otherwise. Does this matter. Absolutely, it matters. Those who detested the word Bilisummaa have been restlessly trying to rebrand the name of the organization with the intention to disassociate the QBO from its father, the OLF.
There are also other camp who claim QBO is just a spontaneous uprising against specific situation bounded by time and space such as protest land grabbing, eviction of farmers etc. They claim as Qeerroo has no structure and objectives. They wanted to re-invent the wheel by re-writing the history and trying to revise the main objectives QBO is striving to achieve. It is here why it matters to know the founding father. The insincerities of many individuals are revealed when they tried to hijack the victory so far achieved by these marvelous youths. As J.F. Kennedy stated precisely, “Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan.”
For the author, the QBO movement is the broad engagements for the rights and liberties of the Oromo People on one hand, and a culturally, socially and economically defending movement that Oromians had so far enjoyed, on the other hand. There are many undeniable facts in the making of this process to happen:
- OLF and its three pillars: WBO, SBO & QBO built the powers (Organizing). The readiness of QBO to give what is needed including their ultimate life for the interest of Oromoo, the enhancement of communication through SBO, and the commitment of OLF to establish sound organization of highly conscious, socially acceptable, well-ordered, self-steamed, and dedicated QBO and the continuation of guidance in a sustainable manner, have a lion share in the making process. OLF not only guided QBO but also supported in giving them modern training and required items and defending them including preparing site where to go if situation is worse. That is why we see the yesteryear Qeerroo is today’s WBO.
- Media and Mobilization (Spending Power for Good). The birth of modern and active Oromo televisions such as OMN & ONN; radios such as Seife Nebelbal, Simbrtu, Raadiyoo Sagalee Oromiyaa, VOA Afaan Oromoo etc. newspapers, bloggers, websites and other social medias that reach unreachable area to hasten the movements have significant contribution. TAAJJABBII and DIINQA OROMO media that overcomes many difficulties and prevails truth to our society had unforgettable work in the making process.
- The thriving of highly influential and outspoken individuals, activists, politician, religion fathers, and many concerned Oromos have their own inputs and mobilized Oromos in thousands.
- The internal readiness of individuals for change in the ruling party had also undeniable inputs for the so far achievements.
Is QEERROO fighting for reform or fundamental change (next topic of my writing)?