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Ethiopia’s social media captures Oromo xenophobia killings Live

By Teshome Borago
July 3, 2020

In Ethiopia today, the Prime Minister is Oromo; the Defense Minister is Oromo, the  army chief is Oromo, and the main capital city’s leader is Oromo; but xenophobia and alternative realities continue to fuel a crisis that paints a false portrayal of Oromos as victims. Despite Oromos being just one of 80 minority tribes making up only 35% of Ethiopia, their overrepresentation in federal government has not calmed tensions back home and abroad. This has led to diaspora Oromos, (many in Minnesota) to finance and encourage some of the most brutal crimes back home in Oromia. Thanks to social media, some of these criminal activities were again captured live as they happen.

The popular Oromo musician Hacalu Hundesa is now believed to be murdered by an anti-government network that includes OLF-Shane, according to officials. During his last interview, Hacalu criticized OLF-Shane and Jawar’s OFC while defending Abiy’s Oromoness. But Hacalu also made xenophobic statements about non-Oromos in Addis Ababa. So many anti-Abiy Oromo nationalists used Hacalu’s death and funeral as an opportunity to score political points against the moderate Oromo Prime Minister Abiy. Many of those anti-Abiy Oromos funding the OLF-Shane militant operations inside Ethiopia live in Minnesota and diaspora; so their social media activity suddenly picked up at the end of June. They successfully organized protest rallies in Minneapolis and other western towns while posting disturbing nativist comments online promoting violence. Most Social media Oromo comments said “Time to remove settlers from Oromia,” “burn them out,” “free Oromia,” “Abiy is traitor,” “Abiy must go,” “Kill all neftegnas (non-Oromos) in Oromia!” Etc. 

While these were nativist slogans typically used by diaspora Oromos (also replicated back home by fringe elements of Oromo nationalists) it is rare to capture these online activities when they directly correlate to criminal activities back home. 

Ethiopia _ unrest _ hate speech

However in one of these cases, mass killings and property burnings in Dodola and Asasa towns of Oromia were traced back to social media comments before and after the events. 

On June 29, an Oromo diaspora with twitter handle Safu@qxeen_fia wrote online “my mom just told me that in asasa they’ve started burning down neftenya owned businesses.” Then the person adds “I am here for it! Do it

This person’s disturbing online post received supportive comments, over a 100 likes and many retweets right away; mostly from Oromo & Somali diaspora, and like-minded folks back home. Feeling brave onlineC the same person later posted more comments encouraging violence and adds in “Dodola…(and) every city is doing their part,” and posted a picture of Oromia streets with roadblocks often put by Oromo teenagers to stop the local police from intervening to save minorities from crimes committed by Oromo mobs. 

What follows is a sad chain of events. 

There were already many reports of killings and burnings in Oromia but these events became personalized with social media posts of victims. One post in Amharic was by Amman Chiksa, who said “several fathers of my friends just got killed,” in the same town of Asasa, Arsi. “They were murdered for no reason. They are elderly and all they do is go from home to church and back, everyday.” Then the grief-stricken person asks, “who would commit such savagery?,”…“why would anyone burn down a clinic?,” “why would anyone burn down houses where the elderly congregate?”  

Ethiopians online posted condolences of support and felt sorrow for the senseless killings in Oromia region. The man then said, “my mother survived as she fled in hiding…may God help us,” and added “Asasa and other parts of Arsi currently look like Mogadishu.” 

Ethiopia Social Media

This heart-breaking story comes to a vicious full circle, as the Oromo diaspora who previously posted online comments (encouraging violence in Oromia and boasting with pride about how great his Oromo family/friends are doing by burning & killing) is now faced with the harsh consequences. “This morning, we find out the police in Ethiopia have gunned down 2 of my cousins in Dodola,” the Oromo diaspora individual cried in anger. The person said the victims were young boys. 

This is how the endless cycle of violence are perpetuated in Ethiopia, while such Oromo diaspora are in the comfort of their homes in America, Europe etc. 

Many Ethiopians online pointed out these sad sequence of events; and said those Oromos living Minnesota and diaspora should also be held responsible for these crimes. But facing accountability is unlikely, as most American government officials do not even know the complex issues in Ethiopia. In fact, several Minnesota politicians like Congresswoman IIhan Omar, St Paul Mayor Melvin Carter and others are often misinformed by the local Oromo nationalists; and they are not aware of the nativism violence in Ethiopia inspired and funded by their own constituents. Even worse, some misinformed Americans actually make false equivalency by believing that Oromo victims share the #BlackLivesMatter experience in Ethiopia; not knowing that Oromo nationalists are actually the ones initiating the crimes and ethnic cleansing back in Ethiopia. 

As of Friday, It is unknown how many more innocent people are killed in Oromia by the nativist mob. Another Ethiopian on Wednesday wrote online in Amharic, crying, that both her mother and father just got murdered in the same place in Arsi. “I was counting the days before I see you, now you are all gone,” she mourned.


These latest crimes are instigated by the killing of Oromo singer Hacalu Hundesa. The late Oromo musician is famous for infusing nativist politics into his lyrics. That is why several Oromo politicians, like Jawar Mohammed, who share his politics attempted to use his death & funeral as a weapon to mobilize Oromos and incite violence in areas surrounding Addis Ababa, as they did during the October 2019 massacres. 

While the singer Hacalu is praised as a nationalist folk hero among some Oromos, equivalent to a popular white-nationalist in America; for the rest of Ethiopians his musical lyrics drive the ethnic-xenophobia and tribalism fueling ethnic cleansing in much of Oromia. In 2018, Even Oromo leaders like Lemma Megersa cringed when Hacalu performed on national tv as his nativist lyrics tend to alienate the national audience of 79 other ethnic groups in Ethiopia. In recent years, nativism crimes were so common that Oromos in Shashemene hanged a non-Oromo in a broad daylight Lynching. 


Most of the crisis today is connected to the apartheid system called ethnic-federalism, also known as Zenawism, which tried to segregate Ethiopia by tribe since 1991. It was a faulty system designed to address past injustices ,but it is now believed to have caused the most civilian death, displacement and destruction in Ethiopian history in less than 30 years. Like southern confederate states defended racial segregation in America, many Oromo nationalists still defend ethnic-segregation.

The system mostly uses alternative history to legitimize segregation and nativism. In reality, while some Oromos in peripheral regions of the Ethiopian state did suffer from discrimination; like all other ethnic groups, central Oromia region of Shewa has actually been the most infrastructurally developed area in the entire country for a century. Many of Ethiopia’s largest cities are also located in central Oromia and were administrated predominantly by a Shewan Oromo and Amhara bureaucracy in the previous century. But these urban growth were driven, not only by Shewan Oromo and Amhara, but also by a hardworking working class made up of Gurage, Tigrayan and dozens of other ethnicities. So when the government suddenly changed in 1991 and imposed ethnic-federalism to allocate regions based on tribe; what now became known as “Oromia” was already made up of millions of non-Oromos. Therefore, the historical infrastructural advantages for Oromia came at huge cost; as it became the region where ethnic federalism simply does not work, because it’s cities are the most diverse. So the idea Oromia only for Oromos became a false hope that could not be achieved. The one size fits all system of “ethnic-federalism” is now collapsing as its central and main driver (aka the Oromos and Oromia), continue to became its Achilles heel. 

Now Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is faced with a harsh reality. He knows ethnic federalism is collapsing in Oromia, but he can’t simply de-ethnicize, rename or re-draw regional boundaries since his Oromo base will abandon him more. Thus he has tried to work from the top-down but renaming his political party: from ODP to PP. 

So far it is not working. 

There are now two possible solutions but both will not be quick fixes. One solution is holding elections faster to let the multiethnic cities in Oromia (Addis Ababa, Adama etc) and nationwide self-rule; and gradually drive out the rural’s tribalism mentality thru urbanization and multiethnic economic development. Democratic opposition groups like Ezema provide hope for individual rights and peace in the Urban. But the rural will likely remain at the hands of tribal parties, even after an election. The second solution is the government engaging in a mass education campaign about past history and the future: to promote peace, co-existence and harmony.

One of the issues in Ethiopian society is that each group has its own version of history; so the government needs to develop a nationwide and common historical narrative that can bring people together. For example, Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) has its own alternative history where Oromos were victims and were never aggressors. In reality, all ethnic groups in Ethiopia had moved around and have been both victims and aggressors, over the last millennium. Ironically, let alone the Addis Ababa city that singer Hacalu said belongs to Oromos, even most of present day Oromia was annexed by Oromos during a gradual expansion from the 1600s and beyond. Many southern tribes and communities have became extinct due to centuries of Oromization. Even today, several southern tribes boxed into tiny zones used to live in the western and central Oromia territories that Oromos now call home. The southerners lived there for centuries before Oromo expansion. Morehouse College historian and Prof. Haile Larebo even suggests that millions of Oromo speaking people today speak the language but actually have ancestors from non-Oromo southern tribes. 

Thus, the best medicine to cure nativism in Ethiopia might be educating the population until the majority learn that the ancestors of most Ethiopians have moved around over the centuries. Therefore, no ethnic group will have that entitlement of being “native” and calling others “foreign” or “settler.” To achieve this, not only should Ethiopia engage in a massive re-education campaign; but the country also needs “census reform” so that the population can be categorized using a holistic approach recognizing ancestral identity; instead of just a snapshot count of linguistic identity. The end goal should be to eradicate tribalism mindset and create some national consensus needed as a foundation to democracy. Ethiopia can foster a multilingual and multicultural peaceful society without continuing to fail in this unholy and deadly project of segregating people by tribe.
Follow Teshome Borago on Twitter@MTBorago

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  1. TPLF is preparing deals to build factories and sweatshops across Ethiopia mostly in West Oromia with many Oromos diasporas names upon the completion of GERD.

    Many Oromo diaspora Ethiopians amazingly are arguing it is better to work for TPLF rather than to work for foreign international investors , some are organizing to lobby the ban of foreign investors starting factories in Ethiopia using GERD’s electricity.

    With GERD’s electricity going towards to these factories out of the sixty five percent of Ethiopians that are currently said to be living in darkness maybe one tenth of them will get electricity while the rest remain in darkness.

  2. What should be done by harmony ad peace-mongering people is bring such terrorists among us to the FBI. They might have attained US citizenship and if that is the case then the US bears the obligation to restrain its citizens who advocate terrorism. I believe concerned individuals such as Obbo Teshome would be more successful in getting better audience with the US intelligence folks due to his stature as a professor. Others with similar prestige should do the same. These demons have one common trait, they lie. They tell lies about their loved ones being shot to death, imprisoned and who just disappearance after being arrested. They usually tell such lies before or after they press others to murder civilians. It is their sinister scheme so others will cut them some slacks thinking their ‘legitimate’ anger. These pushers of terrorism must be reported to US law enforcement officials.

  3. If you follow most of the threads with this blubber mouth you will see the hallmarks of jihadists, our version of jihadists born to the former concubines and ‘khaddamis’ of the Wahhabis. Please refer to them as jihadist individuals and strike out the term ‘Oromo’ or ‘Oromos’. They are not Oromos but jihadists who were born to those in utter servile to the modern day Wahhabis. Again, these are not Oromos but a disgrace to my dignified and Almighty fearing Oromos..

  4. I am really happy to see this issue taken care off. These chain of events have been going the last 2 years and no body held accountable for It! The hate speeches on social media was really inhumane and the actions that followed them were even worse: the mob killing people and putting them in trash cans in a place near to where I used to live in, Burayu Massacare. Enough is Enough! Everyone should be accountable for their actions online in facilitating genocide, and should be charged in hate speech charges internationally, where every they are. Enough is enough!

  5. Ato Teshome Borago is acting a demagogue. He writes, “Despite Oromos being just one of 80 minority tribes making up only 35% of Ethiopia, their overrepresentation in federal government has not calmed tensions back home and abroad.”

    1. It is true Oromo is one of 80 tribes. But it is not a minority tribe. It is the majority. Next is the Amhara with 28 % of the pop. Next is Somali with 6.1%.
    2. Teshome levels accusations by saying the “Prime Minister is Oromo; the Defense Minister is Oromo, the army chief is Oromo, and the main capital city’s leader is Oromo” and therefore it is not fair. He would not say the Foreign Minister and deputy PM and so on are Amhara!

    Remember we are still in the era of Eprdf, an ethnic party coalition. Tplf was a minority party with 5 % of population but with disproportionate power. It was voted out by Dr. Abiy’s party, 108 to 2 for Tplf! Teshome was a Tplf sympathizer though he himself is from a southern minority.

    And then Teshome would not tell us other appointees in the Federal gov because it will reveal his real intentions to sow disturbances in the country just like Tplf is doing now. Talk of dishonesty and malice.

  6. Perfect articulation.

    Oromo was not suppressed because they were Oromo. Shewan Oromo were equally part of modern Ethiopia structure and politics while using their language. The Oromo of Arsi and Wellega were suppressed not because they were Oromo but were living under yet another aristocracy which suppressed everyone. Every ethnicity including Amhara was suppressed. The only group which had privilege was the Shewa aristocrats.

    That is the real narrative.

  7. I can’t emphasize strong enough about the dangerous call by these jihadists. The tweet by this blubber mouth Safu goes ‘my mom just told me that in asasa they’ve started burning down neftenya owned businesses. I am here for it! Do it worldwide’. Jihadi Jane is going full throttle here. She wants everyone she thinks is the ‘n’ word to have his property burned down and hacked to death not only in Oromia region but even also here in the USA. It can’t be more egregious. It can’t be anymore clear. She is not alone. You can see them in these tweets. There was another one I came across yesterday where you can see her inciting violence on innocent civilians everywhere. That one seems to have a serious problem in herself which may lead her to not waking up one of these days. She seemed to have just empty two full pints of sugar loaded ice cream and swallowed up the whole chicken skin and feathers on!!! These jihadists will not be a problem to our community only but also to the USA itself. This has nothing to do with the freedom of speech but it is an act of terrorism. FBI knows how to deal with such demons and nipping them in the bud.

  8. Alem

    Abiy Ahmed and Worqneh Gebeyehu done so much wrong with the GERD negotiation finally he put Amara on the spotlight as a FM so the Amara FM takes the blame.Same as he put Health Minister An Amara when CoronaVirus came out.

    Worqneh Gebeyehu was Abiy’s favourite who was put as a FM but he was unable to perform the duty with Abiy doing his work for him but Abiy was not successful either.
    Deputy PM got no power also he is just a symbol , name one decision he made , name one difference he made as a deputy PM.

    Shimles Abdissa , Lemma Megerssa. Takele Uma …. got the power not Gedu or Demeke.

    Abiy Ahmed had no other choice but to become a Prime Minister to survive, some of the many reasons why he became a PM , I list below.

    1. His wife was living in exile with his children, he knew he can gather his wife and children to live with him by becoming a Prime Minister. He just builds peacocks , he plants flowers , he go around clowning across the globe so he impresses his wife and kids, his failure as a Prime Minister is ridiculous but he thinks he succeeded because he got his wife and children living with him.

    2. He was in neck deep committing crimes with EPRDF, as an INSA spy snitching at first to Lemma Megerssa against Oromos Amaras then next he even passed Lemma and started snitching directly to Gerachew Assefa while working for TPLF as a spy, Abiy even was the only spy who caused a little friction between Meles and Getachew because of the clumsy spy work Abiy performed , even Meles and Getachew were for the first time arguing because of Abiy , that’s when Abiy for the first time felt threatened because until then he thought he was Getachew’s and Meles’s right handman. After that clumsy work Abiy did get scared sent his wife to exile right away and Abiy became a psychopath a man of no substance just to survive , his wife was active in the propoganda media against TPLF almost as big as Jawar was with the anti TPLF propoganda at the time. She even became involved with ESAT.

    3. Then when TPLF decided to go to Tigrai because they didn’t want to look like Derg who killed fifty thousand during the red terror when they killed five thousand querro fano…. When TPLF admitted for their record that was too much numbers bad enough for TPLF because they found themselves same as DERG with the rates they were killing each day ,then Abiy was afraid without TPLF in power he would get killed or imprisoned so he resorted to become a Prime Minister by cutting a deal with TPLF just for his safety and for TPLF’s safety. (ABIY DOES NOT MIND IF SAFETY OF ETHIOPIANS IS JEOPARDIZED HERE AND THERE AS LONG AS HE DOESNOT LOOK AS BAD AS TPLF OR AS BAD AS DERG) . He doesn’t order his security apparatus to shoot Ethiopians if he sees Ethiopians getting mutilated, He wants to not be held responsible by amnesty , human rights watch… because he wants to keep his record better than the red terror or the TPLF’s. Balderas and Amara National Movement are threats for him by reporting what is going to the international powers so he wants to silence them.

    Abiy Ahmed would give up his job as a Prime Minister to whoever if only he doesn’t get prosecuted for his crimes working for TPLF. He doesn’t care how good of a job or how bad of a job he is doing as a Prime Minister because his reason for being a Prime Minister is not about that . To make matters worse he presented himself as the main target , close to three hundred people lost their lives and he wants to say to the world is he was the main victim and fouled civil war by just three hundred casuallities. There was no civil war attempt or coup attempt , all there was is a Prime Minister holding the government apparently apparatus hostage to save his own skin, repeatedly failing to keep peace and order at the expense of poor vulnerable unsuspecting innocent Ethiopians lives.

  9. Let me get this correct you said Ezema is democratic and other parties are tribalistic. You sure sound one sided yourself. Ezema is a very tribalistic party like any other. ” you can fool us once but you cant fool us all the time.

    So your final solution is to teach our kids about the “great solomonic dynasty anointed by God himself right”. Havent you tried that before and it never worked out.

    Your other solution is to teach our kids your mother tongue and totaly annihilating other languages.didnt try that one too, no.wonder you have many oromo shewa who have lost their identity.

    Look i agree with you its wrong to ncite hatred based on ethnicity or religion and like you said some of these people knows no other home and they should be safe and their is no but. People like you should not do what you have done ” copy and paste other people”s tweets and blame it on the entire community. We could do the same and i am sure we can find tweets from your Neftagna group with same feeling toward other ethnicity.
    If most oromos are as bad as you say the country will in a critical mess.

    Please spare us your ideology and stop playing the victim. The oromos, Somalis and Tigrai will never allow you to assume power.

    • Oromo shewa did not ask you or any other ethno-nationalist to ‘save’ them from losing their identity. They were using their language and are happy to work with other Ethiopians in building a country that other Africans looked up to. Don’t forget Oromiffaa was the government language once.

      Tigray, Amhara, and Shewa were the core founders of Ethiopia. Southern kingdoms of Sidama, Keffa, Somali, etc which were incorporated later are now happy to continue working with the above regions while using their own language. Others can do the same or leave the great nation Ethiopia!


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