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HomeOpinionResponse to Asafa Jalata's Composition  

Response to Asafa Jalata’s Composition  

Assefa Jaleta (SM)

Tefera Dinberu

This refers to an article entitled, “Ethiopian Ethnic Politics. The Case of Oromo Nationalism”, written by Asafa Jalata in 1993 and posted on Academia on April 12, 2024.

Asafa says that the population of Oromia is half of the Ethiopian population. Unless a new mogasa process takes place, the Oromo population has never been over 35% of the Ethiopian population. In fact, the 2007 Ethiopian census shows that the Oromo population was 34.4% of the Ethiopian population. The population growth rate of 2007 compared to 1994 shows that the Oromo population grew at the rate of 34.5% in 2007 compared to the growth rate of 32.1% in 1994 while the Amhara population rate was 26.9 % in 2007 compared to 30.1% in 1994. Similarly the population rate of Afar, Guragie, wolaita, and Somali decreased in 1994 compared to the census taken in 2007. On the other hand, after the loss of 7 million Amharas due to systematic genocide and forced identification change, the depopulated number of Amhara social group record went from majority to 27%.

Asafa says that Oromo was colonized by Amharas. However, he does not point out when a sovereign state of Oromo existed, its borders, its leaders as well as its recognition by the world.  

Asafa contradicted himself by saying major economic resources are in Oromia and at the same time Oromos are “denied equal access to economic and political opportunities; he does not want to recognize that arch Oromo nobles/leaders, wealthy feudals, high level military officers had privileged roles in the country and that Oromummaa is dictating the whole nation today; his statement implies Amharas are still political dominating Oromos while the opposite is true. It is questionable if Asafa tries to hide the ring leaders of present Ethiopian state, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, PM of Ethiopia, Shimelis Abdisaa, President of Oromia, Adanech Abebe, Mayor of the nation’s capital, Marshal Birhanu Jula, Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant General Yilma Merdasa, commander of Ethiopian Air Force, as well as their cohorts serving in key positions in the army, police, courts import-export office, and the national bank. All ministers are powerless servants of the Oromuma regime including Tagesse Chafo who, with a title of “Presiding Officer over the House of Peoples Representatives”, is a symbolic appointee only to obey the dictates of the PM.

Asafa’s assertion that the Ethiopian Empire allied itself with European imperialism fails to stand on its own since it did not answer the question as to why Ethiopia was encircled by France, England, Italy, and their cohorts in the 19th and 20th centuries, and why Italy directly invaded Ethiopia two times and England tried to occupy it after 1941 by claiming to be its protectorate. He does not see how imperialists do all they can to disintegrate Ethiopia to create puppet states for their own benefits.

Asafa stated that Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam intensified Ethiopian colonial occupation of Oromia by using “western financial support”. However, his understanding floats on political myth while he as a scholar should have delved into the fact that western imperialism was outraged to see a free Ethiopian nation and this rage was interpreted by denying any support for economic development so that the nation could stay poor to seek dependence. Asafa seems to deny or ignore that Mengistu’s regime followed the communist road and so could have understood why imperialists had not supported the regime either before the fall of the USSR or after its fall. If the regime had the support of imperialism, Mengistu’s regime could have stayed more vigilantly after the fall of the USSR.

Waqu Gutu’s revolt started as a shifta since he killed his neighboring adversary farmer who had conflict with him on grazing land. He went on hiding and pursued his revolt by colluding with other friends of acquaintance. He joined other farmer rebels who had complaints and led the rebels like the ones that took place in Gojjam, Gondar, wollo and Tigray. Waqo Gutu started a peaceful life when the Haile Selassie regime declared pardon and Waqo with other shiftas took advantage of the pardon to come out of hiding and live peacefully. He was not politically motivated and neither joined Oromo refugees in Somalia who temporarily conducted a movement to establish a political organization called Ethiopian National Liberation Front nor had affiliation with the movement of Negaso Gidada group before the formation of OLF.

Waqo Gutu was called by Oromo politicians who revolted against the central government during the 1974 revolution and appointed him as their leader. Somalia armed Waqo Gutu and other rebel groups by systematically organizing them in the name of Somali Abo precisely as Asafa stated to use them for its own ambition of territorial expansion.

Mecha and Tulama were two interrelated Oromo racial groups who had gone into war with each other due to territorial and power struggle during the gada expansion. The two racial groups negotiated and lived in peace for many years. In 1963 they renewed their bond by forming a self-help organization but were not politically motivated until their association was outlawed in 1967 since the government banned all other associations in fear of political movements. Then some former members of the association joined OLF when it was formed in 1973. Asafa’s assertion that Mecha Tulama Association, with over two million members, built roads, clinics, schools, churches, and mosques is mere exaggeration based on lies. He reiterated an uncorroborated assertion that General Tadesse entered into the Oromo movement due to a secret discussion to exclude Oromo tribes from joining the national army; that was not supported by any tangible evidence. Additionally, he mentioned that a bomb blast on a theatre building was a pretext to kill General Tadesse Biru and Captain Mamo Mezemir. However, he did not mention who planted the bomb. His other farce statement that the junta regime tortured and murdered Oromo cultural troupe in the late 1970’s was uncorroborated. He did not mention who was killed. In fact, the Dergue regime indiscriminately shot at national artist demonstrators that come from Amhara and other social groups when, for example, an Amhara artist known as Getu Ayele was killed. Asafa’s statement that OLF did not have support from the Oromo people contradicts his own latter statement that Oromo people called upon OLF to defend them from military rule.  

Asafa stated that OLF was a junior partner of the transitional government in 1991. However, although Dr Negaso Gidada was symbolically appointed as the president of the nation, OLF was forbidden from participating in the transitional government; its troops were forcefully subdued and jailed, and the rest fled to Sudan, Eritrea and other countries while OPDO was formed as a surrogate or symbolical political party to form a tentacle of Weyane-led EPRDF symbolical coalition.  His statement mentions that OLF liberated Oromo territories, but it does not specify when and which territory was liberated. After Prime Minister Abiy became the leader, OLF committed genocide on Amhara and other people that lived in Oromo region and its neighbors. If that is his liberation, the action was technically supported by the newly named Oromo People’s Organization after OPDO. It is vividly observed that Oromo politicians neither created unity among themselves nor were able to lead Ethiopia using democratic equality but practiced the worst type of ethnic apartheid ever seen in the world. 

A short conclusive message for Asafa and politicians like him 

Ethnic divide is a shaggy, outdated, and cruel scheme that disintegrates people of the same destiny like Ethiopians of all walks of life. Ethnic divide mainly helps foreign invasion and domination that ends up in dependence and poverty of the large people of any country. Let us leave aside old stories since we cannot live in the past but the future. Let us teach the new generation to advance a great nation that can compete with the USA, China, Canada, India, and other great nations. Lets not dream to be smaller and smaller but bigger and better. Lets learn from the weaknesses of the past and try our best to rectify them for equality, justice and humane fairness. Let’s work together to build our future since we have more common things than differences. Trying to alienate any people from its fellow citizens does not benefit them but only a handful of native dictators that can have privilege over their people on one side and eventually forced to be agents of foreign domination on the other ethnic advancement alienates friendly social groups and only turns them into adversaries; ethnicity is rather prone to fascism. There is no growth and advancement of sovereignty of the people where poverty prevails. Let’s dream to develop our common human, geographical, and natural wealths.  Let’s stand together to eradicate any form of dictatorship. When we stand together, we can be in a better position to withstand imperialism.  Linguistic and cultural promotion of any community can take place in a democratic atmosphere where all politicians compete for the good of the common nation. No nation in the world advanced its development through advancement of ethnicity. No nation can develop through fictitious stories. Nations like Ethiopia should rather stand together to prevail on international monopolies and put their natural resources to the benefit of their citizens. In short, we need to stand together to survive. Divided we fall! united we stand!

Editor’s note : Views in the article do not necessarily reflect the views of


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  1. I did not go through all line by line, but it’s natural if the oromo kept on increasing in number as many are expected to come out from where they hid, particularly those who used to call themselves the Amhara while they were not. This might be the reason behind the decline in the Amhara population.

  2. The present day Oromia is the gift of Tigray to the Oromo people which professor Jalata and the other Oromo elites are cognizant of. Oromia is a relatively new political entity Tigray forces liberated and made it a self rule region. Professor Jalata and Oromos are thankful to Tigray as their liberator and supporter


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