Equally annoying was the belligerence on Teddy Afro. At one point the article goes on to make a point that Teddy’s comment would not have been a problem if Teddy was a “private citizen.” The problem is, for the writer, that Teddy “… is a public figure. His music and words have significant influence. His willful ignorance and simplistic interpretation of historical events and figures have generational consequences.”
To say that Teddy is a public figure does not mean that he does not have his personal views. He is not elected into an office. In the interest of rationality, suffice to say that Teddy’s fame and fortune gives meaning essentially because he made it doing the thing he like and without compromising his conviction and he paid for that dearly –which is misrepresented in the article in the form of character assassination. Neither the allegation of “plagiarism” nor the more serious allegation of getting his way out of prison by “corrupting prison officials” were presented not because they make sense but because they could help to provoke emotion.
Again, the issue is not just Teddy Afro. What the neo-radical movement brewing is a serious conflict of higher magnitude and reversing the pattern of conflict requires tact and foresight, and of course the service of rational activists from the Oromo-speaking community as well. Apparently, one of the reasons for the success of the campaign was that rational Oromo activists with distaste for radical ethnic politics and hate mongering against other language speaking groups didn’t have strong online presence. If there was any, their voice was not given the coverage it deserve.
Sabotaging Teddy’s tour by way of sending ultimatum like message to a third party to withdraw its business deal with Teddy Afro or risk a potential market in the Oromigna speaking part of Ethiopia with “Oromo first” mantra seem to presume political monopoly (of ownership) over Oromigna speaking part of Ethiopia.
It gives no room for the fact that there are Oromos who are equally disenchanted with the part of our past that caused legitimate grievance for Oromos and other language speaking groups in Ethiopia but who are thinking in terms of reconciliatory approach one that emphasize justice and democratic governance. Oddly enough, some of the neo-radical Oromo activists were recently praising the political career of Nelson Mandela and yet they overlook how Mandela did try to combine identity politics with activism for justice transcending even color line – not just ethnic identity. Mandela would not have been an inspiration for a generation had he espoused radical ethno-centric identity. In retrospect, we can even pose the question if Mandela’s political career and the struggle he led would have been successful had the preoccupation of ANC under his leadership been manufacturing conflict against ethnic line (Zulus or Nedebele’) as opposed to manufacturing unity for the sake of the struggle and as a goal in itself. It does not mean that Mandela lacked love and/or attachment to his Xhosa ethnic identity; among other things, the fact that he preferred his childhood Qunu as his final resting place tells it all how he valued his ethnic identity. And of course, we Ethiopians didn’t have a social history (even political history for that matter) which worse than South Africans as far as oppression is concerned.
“Oromo-First” – as neo-radical movement
About a year ago, what are now neo-radical Oromo activists were not at a point of actively venting belligerence on what they refer to as “Abyssinian camp.” Rather, from what I read, back then, on ‘opride’ website and social media, the now neo-radicals were primarily engaged in bashing the very people who were co-founders of OLF and instrumental in broadening Oromo identity politics consciousness on grounds that they rejected radicalism and espoused moderation. The moderation which revealed itself in the form of ODF aimed to redress past and present grievances within the framework of a projected democratic Ethiopia while maintaining ethnic based political movement. Another faction from the former radical OLF opted for insurgency against the ruling Tigray People’s Liberation Front government and pledged to co-ordinate its struggle with other rebel groups and embraced the idea of democratic Ethiopia where all identity politics and other issues would be addressed.(Please continue reading on next page)