borkena, Ethiopian News
It seems the case that radical ethno-nationalist Oromo activists have managed to engage the international community, mainly in the west and middle east,and now in Africa, with the narrative of “Oromo protest.” At times it was even branded as “the largest language speaking groups in Ethiopia being persecuted for being an Oromo.” The narrative is given, one can note, a historical context where the Oromos are depicted as people who were treated as second class citizen and marginalized by previous governments. Media outlets like Aljazeera exploited the narrative to produce a program, “Are you Oromo first or Ethiopia first”, that rather put the cause of radical ethno-nationalist activists in the limelight. This group of activists relentlessly campaigned to misrepresent Ethiopian history for a political purpose. [adToAppearHere]
The truth? For purposes of convenience, let us put aside the political and social history of Ethiopia before the 1974 Ethiopian revolution for now. The narrative of marginalization of Oromo does not make sense at least as far as the military government of colonel Mengistu Hailemariam is concerned. Many of Mengistu’s comrades who were active participants in toppling the imperial government of Haileselassie were Oromos. In fact, Mengistu himself revealed in an interview with an Ethiopian news outlet that his father was an Oromo. Many of his high ranking officials -whether in the military or otherwise- were Oromos. Of course, all these are missing from the conversations of “marginalization of Oromo.” Young Ethiopian activists, even those who pride themselves as “liberals” who seem to capitalize on “political correctness” – with apparent connection to the liberal establishment in Washington and what not, were unable or unwilling to challenge the false narratives of radical Oromos.
It was in this condition that experienced Ethiopian historians like Professor Haile Larebo had to speak out on the history of Ethiopia. What happened after is unbelievable. Radical Oromo activists launched an attack campaign against Professor Haile Larebo and even demanded Ethiopian Satellite Television – a US based Ethiopian news provider – an apology for featuring professor Haile Larebo. (Read the detail here). As a matter of fact, Professor Haile Larebo is not from what radical Oromos labelled as “neftegna” – a reference radical ethno-nationalists gave to Amharic speaking Ethiopians. Professor Haile Larebo is from Kembata language speaking family of Ethiopians. As a matter of fact, these radical ethno-nationalists even attack Oromos when they think differently. A protestant pastor, Gudina, was bashed simply because he reminded his congregation that the Biblial reference is to Ethiopia, not to ethnic identity – Oromo, Amhara or whatever.
Professor Haile Larebo is not the only person to have a different view of Ethiopian history. Assefa Chabo, a notable Ethiopian, also tells Oromo history like it is. He,too, is not from Neftegna- if we have to talk in terms of ethnic identity. A proud Gamo, he has been unflinching to tell Ethiopian hisotory, including Oromo, like it is. In the 1990’s, he extensively wrote columns to magazines published in Amharic in Ethiopia. A researcher by profession, he currently lives in the United States. Now, he regularly shares his views and opinion on Ethiopian history,politics and society on his Facebook page and he has got a big following. His detractors are mainly from Oromo activists of radical ethno-nationalist political spectre. In the above video,in Amharic, he talked about atrocities that the Oromos committed in history – something one can not even imagine due to prevalence of “marginalization of Oromo” narratives. He pointed out that Oromos refer to people whom they hate as “Sidama.” It is because, says Assefa chabo, the Sidama resisted Oromo expansion in history and put up a resistance against oromo. Sidamas live in the southern Ethiopia, what was known as Sidamo. Assefa also made a reference to the Oromo practice of cutting man’s penis as a demonstration of bravery to get wives.
Writer can be reached on twitter : @dimetros
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