So, “Oromo-First” is fundamentally a neo-radical revivalist movement with the objective to rescue radicalism which was, at one point, perceived to be on the verge of extinction. Based on available evidences in the form of cyber and social media activism, the revivalist neo-radical Oromo movement seem to be a project of young radical Oromo activists who apparently served in the former radical OLF. In fact, there are also elements who at one point appeared to be voices of moderation with a vision to “find a middle ground” – of course Jawar comes to mind. What followed thereafter is series of strategic media campaign to put radical identity politics agenda in the limelight.
“Oromo first” cover is misleading. Consequently, the movement is not understood for what it is. “Oromo first” is a moderate and rational looking cover for neo-radical movement. Unlike constitutions of some African countries with experience of ethnic problem including the infamous case of Rwanda, the existing Ethiopian constitution already insinuates that “nations and nationalities” are “nations and nationalities” first and when they have a will they are Ethiopians. By implication, “Oromo-first” is already constitutionally entrenched. The constitution astutely and foolishly at the same time brings to the limelight and emphasized difference.
The revivalist movement under the cover of “Oromo First” made it appear like a breakthrough. Once given a fairly good treat in the media, including international media with wide coverage – like Aljazeera, the next move was consistently and periodically staging emotion provoking political discussions and campaigns with dual purpose. Jawar’s, “mencha” mobilization whereby he called for a radical combatant movement that combines Oromo ethnicity with Islam is a remarkable example of the neo-radical movement strategy of activism. As much as Jawar’s flaming remark, the response given to it from the quarter which opposes ethnic radicalism helped publicize Jawar and his colleagues’ neo-radicalization agenda, it seems. Not knowing Jawar’s motive and neo-radical strategy, some erstwhile moderate Oromo speaking Ethiopians jumped in defense of Jawar as they had the impression that Jawar was unfairly slandered.
Patterns of radicalism of neo-radicalism
To have a rejectionist and reductionist view of the past is one thing but trying to impose this same rejectionist and reductionist view of Ethiopia’s entire past on others is another. The aspiration, as expressed in the article mentioned above, to impose the view that – “Menelik is Hitler of Africa” –on Teddy and others – is essentially a case of radicalism!
Three weeks ago, I had discussion with Ibsa whom I was introduced to through another friend of mine. To be exact, it was my fourth encounter with him. I thought he already knew my view of Emperor Menelik from our previous discussions. That was not the case and I had to entertain his question “what is your view on Menelik.” Coincidentally (not sure if he planned it), it was the week during which Ethiopians, in the cyber world, were commemorating Menelik II.(Please continue reading on next page)