Yonas Biru, PhD
This article is triggered by Asafa Jalata’s recent op-ed titled “Characterization of Abiy-Led Ethiopian Ruling Elites As ‘Oromummaa Government.’” The fact that Asafa’s op-ed came on the heels of Daniel Berhane’s recently published book “War on Tigray: Genocidal Axis in the Horn of Africa” signifies a dehumanized political culture that is living on a borrowed time.
It is hard to imagine any society in the 21stcentury that has suffered from the zombification of its intellectual class as Ethiopia has. By institutionalizing and constitutionalizing its political system, Ethiopia dehumanized and zombified two generations of intellectuals. It is not without reason the two most tribalized regions (Tigray and Oromo) are suffering the most.
What does dehumanization mean? It is the transformation of ordinary people into zombified souls, lacking intellectual agency, human values, and moral ethos. Asafa’s and Daniel’s narratives personify and epitomize such a political culture. The good thing is that they are in their twilight. The bad thing is that they are still alive, though in a zombified state.
I have written a substantive book review of Daniel’s book. See “War on Mothers of Tigray: A Futile Endeavor in Blood Laundering.” My primary focus on this piece is Asafa’s op-ed. Nonetheless, I find it necessary to highlight some commonalities between the two from the outset.
Daniel’s and Asafa’s narratives share the same principles of grievance politics. Take for example Daniel who still has not gotten over the fact that Tigray lost the throne of Emperor Yohannes to an Amhara king. Never mind that (to begin with) Emperor Yohanes took the throne from Amhara rulers by overpowering and outsmarting them. The fact that Tigray lost the throne back to an Amhara king (Menilik II) who outsmarted and overpowered Tigrayan nobilities is still a sore wound in Daniel’s psychology.
The same is the case with Asafa. He says nothing about Oromo expansion during Mogassa. But he laments ad infinitum, about Menilik’s expansion into the Oromo tribal land.
Neither Asafa nor Daniel take responsibility for the diabolical crimes that their tribal cabals commit. True to their grievance culture, their lives are consumed with whining and mourning about diabolical crime other tribes commit or committed against their respective tribes. Both are oblivious to the injustice their respective tribes commit or committed against others. Shamefully, they try to take the moral high ground of an underdog from whence to launch their grievances that are wrapped-up in lies and deceit.
Part of the dehumanization problem is lack of a value system and a standard to establish truth. This is manifested in Daniel’s book. For example he rejects all international reports (including that of Amnesty International) that depicted TPLF’s and TDF’s crimes against Amhara as “despicable acts that amount to war crimes and defy any iota of humanity.”
There are tens of reports accusing both Amhara and Tigray of savagery with shocking details. Daniel embraces each and every report that presents Tigray as a victim. In the meantime, he vehemently rejects all international report that present Amharas as victims of Tigrayans.
We see the same character in Asafa. He embraces and reiterates all narrations that support the Oromummaa grievance theology as credible. Even Rashid Abdi is quoted as a credible source. Any report, study or data that stands contrary to the Oromummaa theology of grievance is rejected as the propaganda campaign of anti-Oromo forces.
Back to the primary focus of this article. For readers who can decipher an utterly disjointed grievance piece, they will manage to understand Asafa’s op-ed focuses on two issues. The first issue is about Oromummaa being a blend of “cultural, political, ideological, and philosophical” narrative. This has an undergird grievance that birthed and sustains Oromummaa by presenting the history of Oromo as a story of “genocidal massacrer” and an “ongoing forms of terrorism that Fano Amhara forces and other terrorist forces are committing against the Oromo people today.”
The second issue is the presentation of the current government as anti-Oromummaa.
Oromummaa: Whatever It May Be, Philosophy It Ain’t
I am an economist. But I know a thing or two about philosophy from luxury reading. Oromummaa ain’t got nothing to do with philosophy. When we talk about Philosophy and Oromummaa, we are not talking about six degrees of separation. They are not in the same universes. They do not even share the same galaxy.
Asafa’s narrative reminded me of a story I heard in middle school. I hope my ጎጃሜ and ጎንደሬ friends will not get mad at me. The story goes as follows:
Asafa’s article is a tad short of 3000 words. Nearly half of it is focused on puffing up Oromummaa to put life into it. His article was a response to two of my articles titled “The Oromummaa Politics: Weaponized with Lies and Soaked in Blood” and “Oromummaa is a Low Grade Nazification Movement.” The two articles led to a plethora of spinoff articles that obliterated the foundational myth of Oromummaa. Some Oromos of known quantity went as far as distancing themselves from Asafa.
Asafa is the Godfather of Oromummaa. Surprisingly, his rebuttal of a sort came nearly six months after my first article on Oromummaa was published. Together my two articles have 36 hyperlinked reference materials. His article failed to address the substance of the two articles, choosing instead to wallow in grievance-laden አቱቶ ቡቱቶ and drowning in his own river of tears.
One such አቱቶ ቡቱቶ reads:
“The false claim that Oromummaa equates to Nazism is an evil attempt at ideological warfare meant to intimidate and silence the Oromo people.” Some Ethio-Amhara elites, to promote the neo-nafxanya project of forcibly taking Oromo land and resources, have made baseless claims that equate Oromummaa with Nazism. Ironically, it is the Ethiopianism ideology that these elites hold that is premised on Amhara supremacy and that glorifies the genocide that occurred against Oromo communities in Annole, Chalanqo, and other parts.
The funny thing is that, as part Oromo, I am no less Oromo than Asafa is as far as tribal identity is concerned. The difference between the two of us is that he descends from Oromo commoners. I descend from Oromo nobilities and kings.
I do not subscribe to his whining about “Dismantling the political ignorance, fatalism, and inferiority complex that have chained the minds of some Oromos who have subscribed to Ethiopianism is the first step toward individual freedom.”
Oromos do not have inferiority complex. Oromos were kings and kingmakers in Ethiopia. If Oromos embraced the psychology of Ethiopianism it is because: (a) they were part of the elemental foundation of it, and (2) they were among the principal architects of Ethiopianism. Only Oromummaa advocates suffer from psychological damage after they became traumatized by the false narrative they have been brewing and consuming.
Asafa may have a different opinion from me, but he does not have any authority to decide what my tribal identity is. So, his effort to label me as Ethiopianist-Amhara is a spineless intellectual escape clause. I am used to being labeled anti-Amhara and anti-Tigray. Such moronic labels do not bother me a bit.
Here are some of the attacks I endure from Amhara extremists. As part Amhara, I am as Amhara as they can get. Two social media trollers wrote:
A medical doctor on the People-to-People discussion forum wrote:
“Yonas continues to regurgitate his anti-Amhara anti-Orthodox sentiments. Any time Amharas and orthodox are asking to be treated equally and humanly, his blood curdles, which is sad and pathetic. He is an open enemy of Amharas and orthodox. His writings are filed with hate and anger.”
Why are Amhara tribal extremists against me? Let me use one example. One of the articles I wrote in the past was titled “The Passive Aggressive Amhara Politics Explains Why Amhara Lacks a National Agenda.” The gist of its argument is contained in the following paragraphs.
The truth is that Amhara is driven by a unitarist agenda. In the meantime, Amhara intellectuals, scholars and political elites are aware that championing a unitarist agenda is an uphill battle. Consequently, the Amhara agenda has become anti-ethnic federalist without providing an alternative agenda, strategy, and roadmap. This is cowardly.
Amhara does not have an organized party pushing for a unitarist agenda. What it has is more of an off-grid and high-bandwidth network of activists who aim to dial back the time to when the Amhara played a dominant role in state politics.
The network’s ideological doctrine coalesces around Amhara nationalism at its nucleus from whence a unitary mindset radiates outward and expresses itself as a national identity. The network has neither a written manifesto nor an organizational platform. But it has a network of intellectuals of known quantity.
You have heard Shaleka Wolde-ማነው ስሙ who said “ኢትዮጵያ የሚያስፈልጋት አማራ አማራ የሚሸት መንግስት ነው::” You have also heard Eskender Gebre-ማን ይሉታል who often talks about “አባቶቻችን.” We cannot go forward in a reverse gear.
They push a passive-aggressive strategy to take the Ethiopian political center stage, using grievance politics both as the power cylinder and transmission belt of its political machinery.
Asafa knows I am not a peddler of Amhara supremacy. His problem with me is that my articles completely decapacitated his Oromummaa tribal theology, showing not only its philosophical emptiness and foundational cracks, but also its political primitiveness and savagery.
The only response he could muster was to characterize me as a peddler of an “Ethiopianism ideology” that is “premised on Amhara supremacy” with a wish to “solidify the Ethio-Amhara supremacy or Ethiopianism.”
Asafa is a professor. He could have refuted my articles on its merits or lack thereof. But he did not even bother to provide the link or the title of my articles, much less to refute them. He did not want to name the articles or share their hyper link because he did not want people to read them.
The fact is Oromummaa cannot be defended through intellectual argument because it lacks philosophical foundation. Oromummaa ማገሩ ኡኡታ (grievance) ምስሶው ዋይዋይታ (whining) and የታሰረበት ገመዱ የተፈበረከ ውሸት (myth) ነው. The myth Asafa has single handedly created is “the ancient Gadaa civilization.” The purpose of my articles on Oromummaa was to debunk this.
Here is the tone and tenor of Asafa’s rebuttal.
“Ethio-Amhara colonialists devastated these communities and others by cutting the breasts of thousands of women and the hands of the men who survived Abyssinian colonial terrorism and genocidal massacres. The false claim that Oromummaa equates to Nazism is an evil attempt at ideological warfare meant to intimidate and silence the Oromo people. It is an attempt to discredit the Oromo struggle for national self-determination and egalitarian democracy in front of the world community and to justify the ongoing forms of terrorism that Fano Amhara forces and other terrorist forces are committing against the Oromo people today.”
From a political narrative point of view this is a zero-calorie ranting, proving nothing other than reaffirming my point that Oromummaa ማገሩ ኡኡታ (grievance) ምስሶው ዋይዋይታ (whining) and የታሰረበት ገመዱ የተፈበረከ ውሸት (myth) ነው. Asafa goes on to reiterate the same አቱቶ ቡቱቶ, stating:
Ethio-Amhara elites falsely equate Oromummaa to Nazism to continue their attempt to delegitimize the Oromo people and their national movement against Ethiopian colonialism and Amhara supremacy. By labeling Oromummaa as Nazism, these elites believed they could create a global alliance that would help them defeat the nationalisms of the colonized peoples, particularly that of the Oromo, and destroy the nominal ethno-national federation. Further, to distort the total meaning of Oromummaa, some Ethio-Amhara elites isolate the political and ideological Oromummaa from the cultural one. It is practically impossible to dichotomize Oromummaa because it includes Oromo culture, politics, ideology, and philosophy. It cannot be reduced to political, cultural, or social elements or eliminated with absurd false claims and propaganda. Oromummaa is the totality of Oromo life and is here to stay.
This is supposed to be a rejection of my article that deconstructed Oromummaa into its elemental components of culture, politics, and ideology. Suggesting that it is “practically impossible to dichotomize Oromummaa because it includes Oromo culture, politics, ideology, and philosophy” is enigmatic because of a key underpinning of Oromummaa.
According to Asafa, Oromo religion (Waaqeffanna) is “at the heart of Oromo tradition and culture, which shapes the basis of Oromummaa.” If a society’s culture, politics, religion, ideology, and philosophy are seamlessly integrated to a point that one disappears into the other dimension(s), we are NOT talking about civilization or enlightenment. We are knee deep into a cult.
As I have argued above, Oromummaa does not have philosophical foundation. Its undergird is the politics of victimhood. Historically, the story of Ethiopian politics is a story of different political groups brutalizing each other until the losing party submits.
In Ethiopia’s brutal history, no group was more brutal than Oromo. Here is what one foreigner wrote about Oromo during the era of Mogassa.
“It must be borne in mind that they are and have been for nearly four hundred years, invaders on strange soil… Their methods of warfare were cruel even for that age, and it was they who introduced the horrible practice mutilating the dead, and even the wounded and prisoners.”
Another one added:
“The Oromo slaughtered many people and carried out extraordinary cruelties, because they cut to pieces the men and many of the boys and girls that they seized, and they opened up pregnant women with their spearheads and pulled the babies out of their wombs. The people of that land therefore came to fear them so much that nobody dared resist them.”
The fact that Oromo is the loudest whiner about past atrocities is nothing short of the theater of zombified souls who lack intellectual agency, human values, and moral ethos?
Are Abiy, Shimelis and Adanech Friends or Foes of Oromummaa?
Over the last two years Abiy has been being christened in the unholy water of Oromummaa in slow motion. The process picked up steam over a year ago to a point where it became difficult even for seasoned political analysts to distinguish him from Oromummaa commissars. Shimelis’ and Adanech’s cases are different. They do not need to be christened. When Abiy gets christened, they get his holy spirit through symbiosis.
Asafa presents the trio (Abiy, Shimelis and Adanech) as enemies of Oromummaa. For whatever reason he does not name Shimelis and Adanech by name. He refers to the trio as “the Abiy government, the president of Oromia, and the mayor of Finfinnee.”
Over the last two years the trio have been catering to Oromummaa demigods, chief among them is Asafa Jalata himself. Asafa tells us:
(1) “The main foundations of Oromummaa are enshrined in Gadaa principles.”
(2) “Gadaa as the main institutional emblem of the Oromo national character marks Oromo national culture and identity at all levels.”
(3) “The Concept of Oromummaa and Identity Formation in Contemporary Oromo Society,” requires retrieving Oromo’s indigenous cultures such as Irrecha
With the same fervor and passion, Shimelis tells us “the future of Ethiopia is Gadaa.” To ensure this eventuality, the Abiy government is working on three fronts.
(1) On the political front, “Prosperity Party is built in such a way to advance the interest of Oromo. The head of the Party will always be an Oromo or an Oromo plant.”
(2) On the implementation of Gadaa front, the government is “spending billions and erecting Oromummaa markers in Addis Ababa.”
(3) On revitalizing a unifying Oromo culture front, plan is underway to ensure that, in the coming years, Irrecha is celebrated from the coats of Red Sea to the shores of Indian Ocean.
Asafa and the Abiy government agree on the most important and foundational strategies of Oromummaa. Why then is Asafa raving and ranting? And why now?
The answer is “ታላቁ ትርክት” (the grand Ethiopian narrative). Fanno is to blame. As Fanno asserted itself and started to gain support not only in the Amhara tribal land but also outside of it, Abiy smelled trouble. He betrayed the Oromummaa clan and turned to Ethiopianism.
Fanno is disarming the Field Marshal of Abiy’s military. In the meantime, it is forcing the Czar of Oromummaa to pop up the volume of his wailing and whining. At this moment, Abiy’s preoccupation is with the Field Marshal who is getting good old ass kicking by Fanno. He is not paying attention to the cacophony of the Oromummaa colony’s wailing and whining.
Bottom line is that the new emerging narrative is that there is no Gadaa in the future of Ethiopia, not because it is an Oromo thing, but because it is a 16th century intangible traditional artifact whose place is in anthropology and history books.
There will be no Irrecha as a national celebration much less as a regional jamboree, not because it is an Oromo thing, but because it is a futile political agenda that is aimed at puffing up and pumping out Oromummaa. When Oromummaa dies, so goes Irrecha.
Grievance politics of the ኡኡታ and ዋይዋይታ genre ሁሌም መውደቂያው አይምርም ይሉ ነበር የወሎው ሼክ ሁሴን. The sooner the Oromummaa and ተጋሩummaa colonies realize this, the sooner will the dehumanized zombies get resuscitated to life. With God’s help this will emanicipate them from the bondage of tribalism.
Editor’s note : Views in the article do not necessarily reflect the views of borkena.com
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