Lencho Letta evolved? How long could radical Oromo ethno-nationalists claim moral authority over oromo identity?

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November 27,2016

Dearth of visionary political leader in Ethiopian political landscape is evident in the fact that a considerable number of Ethiopians seem to have embraced ethno-nationalist political conviction as if it is a higher form of political consciousness.

The origin? Obviously, people with different political conviction will respond to this question differently. Without discounting the role of relentless and active works of foreign powers to nurture and exploit political differences as a strategy to weaken,perhaps to dismember Ethiopia, and the role of the ruling Tigray People’s Liberation Front which went as far as mobilizing against Ethiopian values, early political works of people like Lencho Letta – who used to be leader of the radical ethno-nationalist Oromo Liberation Front – have immense contributions in shaping ethno-nationalism as a form of “progressive” thinking in Ethiopia. What is problematic about it is that it is, to a great extent, informed by demonization of Ethiopia and the Amhara. Such negativist political view is rooted in misinterpretation and misrepresentation of historical periods of Ethiopia and events.

At times, it makes omission of processes and facts in order to protect the negativist view as the basis of political mobilization. Other times, it employs reductionist view of assimilation and integration processes that gave rise to mosaic culture and society. Still at other times, it engages in the production of polarizing views and belief consuming the past as a raw material.

The video below shows Lencho Letta working, apparently among Oromo students group in North America, on his radical ethno-nationalist agenda under the umbrella of his former political organization – Oromo Liberation Front.A few years ago, Lencho and some of his comrades abandoned Oromo Liberation Front, which exists still as a radical ethno-nationalist entity with anti-Ethiopia agenda, to form new opposition party,Oromo Democratic Front.

Currently, Oromo Democratic Front joined hands with three other political organizations to form a coalition movement called Ethiopian National Movement- held its second public meeting today, since its formation, in Stockholm, Sweden.

Perhaps, Lencho Letta is politically evolved. The fact that, at least, he is working with political forces with a national agenda, as opposed to ethnic one, in itself is an evolution if seen from the trajectory of his radical ethno-nationalist political conviction in the past. How it happened? It could be a function of maturity and experience or just a pragmatic move, which could be seen as the outcome of the former.

However, the relevance of his presence in a group Ethiopian National Movement could be transformation if he, and his ODF party, actively work to undo radical ethnic consciousness among the Oromos.

There has to be clarity that the notion of ethno-nationalist political conviction as the highest form of political consciousness is fundamentally wrong, if not a form of illusion. If we have to go elsewhere to prove that, the conversations around the world following the death of most brilliant Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro seem to be axiomatic that radical ethno-nationalist political convictions are in fact short sighted and the antithesis of political consciousness.

As such politicians and/or activists, with radical ethno-nationalist sentiment do not have a rational basis to claim moral supremacy as progressive thinkers.

And those Oromo activists with a tendency to create the impression that they possess moral authority to represent Oromo cause, irrespective of how it is perceived, need to be taken for what they are ; weak and shortsighted activists who lack the capability to mobilize the entire Ethiopia as leaders to bring about change that will benefit all Ethiopians. And they need to be told to stop exploiting the ethnic identity Oromo – to bargain with external forces who will pay any amount so long as they think that it will help them demolish Ethiopia.

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