Now the opinion of any Ethiopian on “Oromo cause” could even make Oromo news
borkena Ethiopian News
What makes Oromo news is increasingly turning out to be something rather trivial,if it is to be told like it is, and a tendency to dictate conversation is growing within that radical quarter, which unfortunately seem to have influence among gullible, uninformed and misinformed oromo youth.
In what was said to be “Oromo Lawyers conference” in London, a few months ago,a certain radical Liben Waqo told participants of the conference that “the guarantee for the peace of Oromo people is the disintegration of Ethiopia.” He was applauded for it. For the rest of Ethiopians, the words of Waqo Guttu and the applause for it was outrageous.
Radical Oromo activists dared to depict the remarks of Liben Waqo “as a personal opinion” and that it does not necessarily represent the rest of Oromos. The only truth about that claim, however, is that his words does not indeed represent Oromos but it does represent radical Oromo ethno-nationalists’ambitions: disintegration of Ethiopia.
Professor Haile Larebo, a notable historian with clarity about Ethiopian history, teaches at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia,had an elucidating lengthy interview with Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT)on Ethiopian history. Of all the insightful contents of the intterview, radical oromo activists had to pull two words – “galla” and “eregna” – to make oromo news and create a trending conversations in social media the impacts of which is much broader. In the process,they unveiled a desire to dictate how a historian should make use of words in reference to the past.
No question that “Galla,” as a reference to Oromos, is used in historical writings by traditional Ethiopian historians ; historians with no formal and methodological training in writing history – as in western educational traditions. Note that the number one university in Ethiopia, Addis Ababa University, is a little over sixty years old. History as a field of study ,in the sense of “modern education”,is much younger in Ethiopia. “Galla”is also used by foreign historians and travelers who wrote in the years predating the reign of emperor Menelik whom radical Oromos accuse for everything. Incidentally, had there been a tornado in what is now Oromia region of Ethiopia during the reign of Emperor Menelik, Oromo ethno-radical activists would have blamed him for it.
In a writing under “Opinon” column entitled “ESAT must apologize for broadcasting Haile Larebo’s derogatory ” on Opride, the writer (apparently, Mohammed Ademo) seem to be in search of a new target audience for “Oromo Revolution” campaign. He likened “galla” to “nigger” which is totally wrong.
Perhaps, the radical group is thinking in terms of broadening their advocacy campaign to African American community.Their campaign has always been about portraying Ethiopia and anything Ethiopian in light of negative perception. Who knows, perhaps that propensity emanated from the wrong presumption that African Americans, in the minds of radical ormo ethno-nationalists, are oblivion of Ethiopia’s relentless commitment during the struggle to liberate Africa from the yoke of colonialism. That they think African Americans are not aware, in their minds again, that Ethiopia stood taller in terms of advocating for the rights of African-Americans in the United States when there was gruesome institutionalized racism. Just because Professor Haile Larebo is not subscribing to radical ethnic ideology, they have to tarnish him by misrepresenting the intention and content of his interview with ESAT.
After jihad like historical revision initiated by radical groups, a sort of understanding is created that the term “galla” is derogatory. It became politics, which is absolutely acceptable in the political sense of it. But what is really the rational ground to impose restrictions on a historian not to use it as a historical reference?
With regard to “eregna”, it is a complete misrepresentation by radial activists. It is an English equivalent for the noun pastoralist – which obviously is a form of economic activity. If some one refers to, for example, settled agriculturalists as pastoralists, it is valid to say that it is wrong. But on what grounds can it be labelled as “derogatory”? The alternative English word for the Amharic “eregna” is shepherd,which is a reference to a person rather than to whole activity of animal husbandry. Again, what exactly is derogatory about shepherd ? Professor Haile Larebo was kind enough to give clarification about his interview with ESAT. He even pulled from biblical usage of the term “eregna.” In the Christian traditions, as professor Haile Larebo clarified, Jesus is referred to as shepherd; the term has in fact a positive connotation.
Radical Oromo activists have extensively used a strategy of appeal to negative emotions of young Oromos while playing a victim politics in dialogues and conversations with other Ethiopians of different political convictions for a long time now.
Even internationally, they projected Oromos as victims of an unprecedented attack,”for being Oromo”, in Ethiopia in historical and contemporary times. And the world seem to have taken it on face value in part because of a subtle cajoling online and other campaign strategies of radical Oromo groups and in part because Ethiopians who do not subscribe to ethnic politics failed to organize and launch planned campaigns to clear the fog, misunderstandings, and misrepresentations of Ethiopia that these radical groups created. With apparent links to power centers in Washington and Europe, and with their connection to academia which has a huge influence on mainstream media, Ethiopian activists who consider themselves as “liberal and progressive” could have countered the smear campaign against Ethiopia. But these groups are themselves lost in appeasing radicals which they seem to think is a liberal practice – just in Ethiopia. At times, it is adherence to wrong principles in the hope of winning leadership from a radical quarter. At other times it is ideological rigidity over pragmatism. On the other hand, radical Oromo activists sometimes pretend to be liberals only to exploit it as a means to achieve diplomatic gains and solidarity for what they portray as “Oromo cause.” “Ethiopian liberals” do not use the same channels that radicals use to make a case for Ethiopia. In the end, radicals were left in a position to dictate conversations and dialogues to the extent of telling scholars what to say and what not to.
There was no special repression against Oromo. The truth is experiences were, whatever forms they had, shared in Ethiopia historically. One clear example to show that is the Ethiopian revolution of 1974. There was no such thing as “Oromo revolution or protest.” Had it been an ethnic Oromo revolution, probably there would not have been revolution at all. Back then, it seemed like the revolutionary cause was Ethiopia, not ethno-nationalism. Incidentally, there has to be clarity that the revolution damaged Ethiopia and at the end of it, it gave a solid ground to ethnic politics.There is no rational ground, what so ever, for ESAT to apologize for the interview it had with Professor Haile Larebo. Radical ethnic politicians need to stop dictating what people could say and what not on topics related to history or otherwise.
Join the conversation. Like borkena on Facebook and get Ethiopian News updates regularly. As well, you may get Ethiopia News by following us on twitter @zborkena