By Dimetros Birku
It is only reasonable to expect presentations and/or reports riddled with misconceptions, inaccuracies and biases when foreigners write on a topic as complicated as “Oromo question.” William Davison demonstrated all those in his “Indepth report” headlined “Oromo nationalism on the rise in Ethiopia,” which is published,first, on Aljazeera. Whether they are deliberate or not, it is hard to tell. If Mr. is serious about what he is doing, presuming that he does not have any other agenda other than reporting, he should explain how these mistakes happened. Was he misinformed? Was it because of bad interpreter? Let him tell it like it.
For example his description of Tewodros Kassahun as “Amhara” strictly in an ethnic box is uncalled for and problematic too. His description about Ethiopia’s struggle with colonialism in terms of ethnicity is wrong too. Oromos were in the forefront of struggle against colonialism as military leaders. In fact, Menelik’s Defense minister, Dinegde, was an Oromo.
Seemingly, William Davison’s narrative is ominated by radical Oromo political thoughts, which at times manifests radical religious sentiment too, rather than accurate historical informations. How did that happen?
With regard to omission, it is perplexing, to say the least, on what basis the government before current ethnic based TPLF government is considered to be “Amhara” government.
It should be noted that the Ethiopian revolution in 1974 did away with, , in fact brutally, vestiges of feudal Ethiopia which could only be indicted on grounds of what looks like cultural domination. Otherwise, political oppression and exploitation was shared by all Ethiopians which explains very well why the actors in the revolution were Ethiopians from all walks of life and from many language speaking groups.
For that matter, even intellectuals from social backgrounds of privileged aristocratic elements of HaileSellassie’s Imperial Ethiopia played crucial role in the revolution along with revolutionary Oromos and other language speaking groups of Ethiopia.
When Lieutenant Debela Dinsa, who is an ethnic Oromo by the way, read out a letter demanding Emperor Haile Sellasie to step down almost in the final moments of the imperial regime, he was flanked by other revolutionary soldiers from Amharic speaking parts of Ethiopia and from Tigrigna speakers too.
The other important omission is that almost all Ethiopian opposition parties, in the country or abroad, have a progressive view with regards to cultural dominations in feudal Ethiopia. Presumably readers might have benefited from it had it been reflected along with the narrative of “Oromo Nationalism.” To that end, opposition parties are struggling and even calling for Oromigna (it is pronounced “Oromiffa” in Oromo language) to be one of the working languages of Ethiopia.
Still an important omission is that all Oromos do not have radical agenda which is creating all kinds of atrocities and misery including forceful evictions for farming communities from other language speaking groups who have settled for decades in what it now Oromia (which is omitted too). There are Oromos who unequivocally condemn political and social experiences under Feudal Ethiopia and who want to address it within the framework of democratic Ethiopia. Even the writer of this comment is from parents who are Oromigna speakers. With all honesty, one of the ideals for which progressive Ethiopians struggle is to create a new Ethiopia where all the past grievances are resolved for good. Ethiopia is a country of diversity – ethno-cultural and religious – and subjecting the future to differences that should rather be taken in a positive note is not a wisdom or revolutionary character.
Just as a closing remark,what is standing between the new Ethiopia and the current political repression, which obviously has an economic and social implications, is the regime in power: TPLF. This very regime is not only terrorizing Ethiopians irrespective of language but also it has pursuing an interventionist policy towards the neighboring countries. Ethiopia has never been known as an invader especially in the neighboring region until the time that this mercenary regime of TPLF projected what seem to be a paid military adventure.
Follow Dimetros on Twitter: @dimetros