The master plan is only immediate cause
Unmistakably, the new Addis Ababa Master plan is only immediate cause to the recent students’ movement across Universities in Oromigna speaking parts of Ethiopia. I am deliberately using the description Oromigna speaking part! The way major media outlets described the universities in this part of Ethiopia is inaccurate, to say the least. There is no such thing as Oromia university! It speaks of ownership and full fledged de facto state rather than simply a federal part of Ethiopia. Of course the Universities belong to the rest of Ethiopians too as much as they belong to people in Oromigna speaking parts of Ethiopia.
The slogans in the movement were not just about opposition to the Master Plan of the city of Addis Ababa. Bold slogans were shouted that “Oromia” belongs to “Oromos” only. Had these slogans represent a resistance to land grab by Asian and Arab “investors” ( The new forms of conquistadores ) and corrupt and illegal acquisition of land by business people close to the ruling party, the tone and expression would have been different and the movement could have been truly broad based and nationwide.
Unfortunately, the slogans appear to be directed against poor Ethiopians who have been living for decades, even all their lives, in those parts of Ethiopia. And this is justice for the radicals! It is not secret that farmers with small land holdings are being displaced from different parts of Ethiopia including “Oromia” region on the basis of their language background. This too is “just” for the radicals including the ruling TPLF!
In the first place why did the opposition to the Master Plan took an ethnic line? why did it not travel along the contours of economic class rather than ethnic line?
The answer is most definitely related to the project of radicals! The pattern of mobilization they employ combines traditional and modern means spanning from the cyber world to the villages. They have taken their propagation to the ground and in the villages. On the contrary, political activists interested in advocating for pan-Ethiopian agenda, whom the radicals refer to as Unitarian,hardly exist in villages and towns of this part of Ethiopia.
So People are either in the hands of OPDO which is a submissive TPLF servant or within the network of radical group which openly propagates hate against Ethiopia with the pretext of Ethiopia’s feudal past. Why on earth would we hear a call for “Oromia for Oromos only” in a peaceful movement which is supposedly meant to oppose the new Master plan for Addis Ababa? Because the Master Plan is only an immediate cause and much like a cover!
Had the nation wide movement in 2005 , which claimed hundreds of lives, was successful, probably the recent killings would not have happened. The 2005 movement lacked continuity for which the politics of ethnic radicalism has played its own part.
It is imaginable that the radicals are now living a sense of euphoria at a time when a sense of tragedy and sorrow is hanging over Ethiopia. There is this sense of transformation of the radical movement.What they failed to understand, in my opinion, is the role of TPLF repression in transforming their cause. If a truly rational young group of Oromigna speaking Ethiopians emerge with a pan-Ethiopian agenda- with a cause for justice and democracy, it is clear that TPLF and other radical groups will lose ground in no time. Because hate is not as appealing as it appears to be.
Otherwise, I oppose the Master plan not because the land to which the city is planned to expand is a land that belongs to Oromia but because the expansion project has a potential to disposes small land holdings of peasants. The language the peasants speak doesn’t matter to me at all so long as they are Ethiopians. I do not believe that any ethnic group has a right for an irridentist claim of land on the basis of ethnicity. This is wrong!