Black enough versus Oromo enough (By Pilatos)

“…The struggle between the Oromo politicians to control power in Ethiopia is at best to prove one is better Oromo than the other…”

Oromo _ Politics
Some of the leaders in Oromo ethnic politics. From left to right : Dawud Ibsa, Lemma Megersa and Merera Gudia. (Photo : SM)

By Pilatos
September 30, 2020

The way the current Ethiopian leaders handle the Ethiopian political situation jogged a memory in my mind which I read and listened about the American politics in 2007 when the appearance of Barack Obama to run for the Whitehouse galvanized not only America, but also the whole world.  

When the former US president Barack Obama announced he would be running for the presidency in 2007, the path was bumpy for him as many issues were raised against him back then, among them was race. His main challengers in this regard were vocal black caucus like reverend Jacky Jackson who questioned his blackness saying he is not black enough; thus, I borrowed my title from one magazine published that time. Forgive me for not citing the specific source; after all, like I said in my beginning paragraph, I am writing this piece from a memory. 

Born from a white mother and a black father, Barack Obama run as a black representative, some influential black caucus argued that he grew up with his white mother and has a white mentality as such they vehemently tried to hinder his path to the Whitehouse; however, many white influential politicians who had their own interest pushed Obama to go forward to run for the White House on the democratic ticket. When his fame became a talking point throughout the World due to Western Medias echoing his being the first black to run for the Whitehouse the influential black caucuses too, accepted his blackness.     

Playing with race card for biracial public figures in America 

Barack Obama is not the only public figure pulling his black race for his purpose. Every time they seek to secure prominence, it is not uncommon in America for public figures with a biracial descendant to pull the race card especially if one of their parents is a white. They jettison their white mum or dad taking their black, Jew or red-Indian race as their identity. The conservative writer Ann Coulter wrote extensively on this issue. One such public figure she castigates for denying her white mother only to uplift her own prominence is Halle Berry. Coulter fiercely criticizes Halle Berry saying she denies her white working mother who invested much to get her where she is now only because she thinks her mother’s whiteness curtails her fame.  She went on to argue famous people like her, use it shrewdly to pander to their whims. According to her, it is not only black biracial even whites with Jewish mix deny their white blood for such a purpose. She even further says some whites with no Jewish blood at all, falsely claim to be a Jew to advance their interest. I really find her argument to be convincing. For example, we can take Elisabeth Warren, one of the democratic presumptive presidential candidates for 2020. As we heard through the American Medias, she claimed she is a red-Indian. President Trump questioned her claim and she had to take a DNA test to prove it. I think she had a little percent of a Native American blood, but the question is not that, the question is why did this woman want to amplify her belongingness to red-Indians (Naïve-Americans)? It is the means to meet the end meaning to surprise Americans claiming to be the first red-Indian American to contest for the position. 

Tug of war

So much so about the role race is playing in American politics, but the main purpose of this piece is not that, I raise it as I want to correlate it with the political condition going on in our country, Ethiopia. I believe that the struggle between the Oromo politicians to control power in Ethiopia is at best to prove one is better Oromo than the other, at worst, it is to indulge self-interest just like biracial public figures in America  use it. The Ethiopian Prime Minister is in a tug of war with radical Oromo activists and this has made the country’s future murky. Although the Prime Minister came from OPDO, when he assumed the premiership he depicted himself as an Ethiopian nationalist, that kindled hope for Ethiopians in all corners of the country. Indeed, his popularity among Ethiopians in all walks of life was astounding. Because of his flowery words about Ethiopia, he left thousands of nationalists in euphoria, though that euphoria was short- lived.  The question is why? 

 When the so-called change or reform, whatever you may call it, occurred in Ethiopia, most non-Oromo politicians never cared about the reformers being Oromo ethnically. This is what makes a conundrum answering that question. While most nationalists were rallying behind the Prime Minister because of his rhetoric, radical Oromo politicians were calculating how they may establish Oromo superiority. I think this fact makes the whole matter a debacle. 

The radical Oromos chide the Prime Minister only for his nationalistic words, the Prime Minister on his part, except his lip service performs little, next to none to satisfy his nationalistic fans that in return makes him lose these fans. This further complicates matters. This Prime Minister is really untrustworthy, by his words he hoodwinks Ethiopians saying Ethiopia won’t collapse, but it is crumbling under his watch. Look, radical Oromos accuse him of not being Oromo enough, to counter that he advances only the Oromo agenda feeding hollow words to Ethiopian nationalists. We can take what is happening in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. First he contravened the very constitution he claims he stands to defend and installed a non-Addis Ababa deputy mayor who is committed to implement an Oromo agenda. This mayor, like his boss, appears on a TV screen doing something seemingly sacred like feeding needy students in public, but secretly he executes Oromo Agenda. This is disingenuous which marginalizes Addis Ababa dwellers in many ways, the poor dwellers keep moaning. The Prime Minister has only contempt for Ethiopian Nationalists that is why he replaced this mayor with another person from his own party for whom Ethiopian nationalists may have doubt about her trustworthiness, not because she is an Oromo, but because her past experience is linked with nepotism. When he deposed the mayor the hope was that he would bring someone from Addis Ababa dweller, but he couldn’t do that because his struggle is with Oromo radicals who accuse him of being not Oromo enough. Another thing we are observing in his administration is the rush to impose Oromo culture in Addis Ababa. It is okay if Oromo culture becomes Addis Ababa culture, but it shouldn’t be imposed. The Prime Minister’s patience when it comes to Oromo radicals is also perplexing. We can take the recent action his administration took against Oromo radicals following the assassination of Hachalu Hundesa, the famous Oromo singer. First there were myriads of reasons to file a charge against some of these guys. Before Hachalu’s killing, they were left unbridled in the country. For example, when Jawar claimed he was surrounded, 86 people were killed. The Prime Minister and his team didn’t dare to make him accountable, rather they were appeasing him, but now when his move threatened his power he detained him. What is weird, in an attempt to coax Oromo extremists, his administration detained innocents who are determined to struggle non-violently against injustice with the radical Oromo activists who are determined to establish Oromo dominance violently. When these radicals were detained, they were involved in the violence that happened that day, so no one questions why they were arrested, but why Esikder Nega and his cohorts were detained is utterly mystifying. Esikder Nega and his cohorts are struggling for justice to prevail. They are seeing Oromo partiality in Addis Ababa and when they expose that Oromo extremists depict them as anti-Oromo.  This is always the crunch when activists and politicians attach themselves with one tribe. In the previous administration every time one criticized the government some radical Tigreans tended to rush to describe the critic as anti-Tigrean.    

Spoiled child

Oromo radical politicians are like a spoiled child for the Prime Minister, I would say, that is why he is trying to babysit them. Some of these politicians or activists living in the Western World, incite the Oromo youth for violence. They are totally unscrupulous, determined to betray the Ethiopian nation. Like the biracial Americans, in the name of the Oromos, they toil to amplify their fame, otherwise I don’t think they care for the Oromo people. When I think of these Oromo activists and Tigrean activists, it reminds me of one interesting story I found when I read John Paul II’s autobiography. It goes like this the Polish say when you fight with a German and a Russian at a time, first kill the German then go for the Russian. You ask them why? They say first business then pleasure. By the same token, I would say for the radical Oromo and Tigrean activists the death of an Amhara because of their incitement seems to be a pleasure and if somebody is killed politically in Ethiopia from their respective tribe, it is a business. Why I say this because, beginning from the time EPRDF controlled power till today the Amharas are killed in Ethiopia, we never heard from these people uttering a word denouncing that, but when it is from their respective tribe they clamor day and night claiming the cause of the victim’s death is because of his ethnicity, not because they feel sympathy for the deceased but because it is a means to thrive their business. 

If it were not for their greed, so called Oromo intellectuals were really given opportunities should they need to improve the lives of Oromo youth in Ethiopia, but unfortunately, their claim to stand for Oromo rights is only a pretext. Inciting Oromo youth for violence, is it really caring for the Oromo? Here too, I want to bring up one of Ann Coulter’s arguments with liberals. I enjoy reading her works. As a conservative she is against government welfare, I find her argument persuasive. Liberals claim they stand for the poor and they push for government gargantuan assistance to be provided freely, but Coulter says it is wrong because it causes laziness, it discourages people not to work. One good example she cites is the case of a single mum. In her argument how too much government help kills the youth, she describes it convincingly.  American girls in their early teens even before they get in their 20s become a mother, they break up with their boyfriend and then apply for government welfare.  Taking the money they dissipate it relaxing in bars, taking drugs and so on, caring less for the child, because they are too young they don’t look after the child, if the child is a boy he spends his time on the straight, this way not only she, but her child too, will become a burden to the society or the country. Therefore, Coulter suggests instead of merely giving the money, it can be invested in something that can educate these youth to become self-sufficient. Again, this is not to talk about America, I just want to correlate it to Oromo activists who encourage the Oromo youth for violence, these youth accepting their inane cause destroy infrastructures, kill peaceful citizens. These people living in America, Europe or Australia, they mislead the Oromo youth. Look, the Oromo youth when they destroy infrastructure, they wreak havoc not the government or the non-Oromos only, primarily the loss is for themselves. Investors will be discouraged to go to what they call their region, movement will be restricted; therefore, in a way they are ruining their own life. If truly, radical Oromo activists care for the Oromo youth, why don’t they work to make the Oromo youth to be competent, to advance themselves educationally? To do this, they can invest the money they use to incite the youth to foment violence in the region so that the Oromo youth can equip themselves with the technology today’s world needs.  When they do this firstly, the business they destroy will be kept enabling dwellers to continue their lives peacefully, secondly and more importantly the youth will make their region more prosperous by establishing new businesses. This way they can improve Oromos’ lives if they really care for the Oromo.

The writer can be reached at yilmagebru2000@yahoo.ca 



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