SECESSION OR AUTONOMY: Two cents from one Oromo

Thursday October 29th 2015

By Muhammed Umar

First of all, as a disclaimer, I am just an ordinary Oromo. I don’t speak for the great Oromo nation nor do I seek any personal fame, power or leadership position in the Oromo society. If my people overwhelmingly voted for me to be in such a lofty position, I would only consider it after knowing I had both their consent and blessing to undertake such a tedious task. I am just an Oromo who wants to return Oromia to her glorious days, the days in which Oromos ruled themselves and lived as dignified kings and queens on their own land. However unfortunate and tragic it maybe, Oromos were more prosperous prior to Menelik’s expansion and incorporation of Oromia into the Abyssinian state. Hearing stories of how my great grandfather lived honorably in Jimma prior to Haile Selassie’s takeover brings tears to my eyes and fills my heart with the desire to bring about a change in Oromia or die trying. Contrary to what some Ethiopians may believe, a ‘free’ Oromia doesn’t necessarily mean I want to dismantle the Ethiopian state, but it means, I want my people to administer their own land: just like any other free nation would. Just like the way Texas has its own local government, military, air force and other institutions, but still remain American: the Oromo should strive to achieve a similar situation for themselves within the context of an united Ethiopia.

Aba Jiffar Jimma II, ruler of the Kingdom of Jimma. His rule predated the expansionist conquests of the future Emperor Menelik (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Aba Jiffar Jimma II, ruler of the Kingdom of Jimma. His rule predated the expansionist conquests of the future Emperor Menelik (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the major causes for division within the Oromo nationalist movement is the difference of opinion or ideology in regards to the future of Oromia in Ethiopia. The movement generally consists of two types of Oromos: those who support an autonomous Oromo within the Ethiopian state and those who tend to lean towards full secession from Ethiopia and the establishment of an independent Oromia. In my humble opinion, difference of ideology should not stop us from uniting our resources and manpower towards accomplishing a goal we all aspire to achieve; self rule and self determination for the Oromo people. If we can agree on the fact that all Oromos deserve the right to self-determination and to be seen as equals in Ethiopia, then we should have no problem working in unison to achieve this goal.

The fate of Oromia should not and will not be subjected to the whims or desires of a single man or even a few men, since this is contrary to both Oromo cultural ethics and the interests of the nation at large. A referendum on what self determination entails for the Oromo people should be organized and every sector of the society, from college students to the respected manguddo [elders] should vote and a have say in the future of their nation. I am sure that if Oromos can have their rights respected and maintained within a united Ethiopia, they would not be opposed to a voluntary union that would benefit all the people that reside in the country. However, if the oppression of the Oromos continues or worsens in time; the concept of secession will only attract more Oromos who were once opposed to the idea.

I myself once considered myself a proud Ethiopian [and Oromo second, how ironic] before I picked up books of history and found out the dark truth about how the Ethiopian empire was formed. The Ethiopian state was formed on the blood and bones of my mutilated ancestors and is based on the misery of my family. Anytime I think of Ethiopia’s past, I remember the mutilation inflicted on my family, the forced deportation, the immense human rights abuses that I couldn’t even dream of occurring in today’s world. The memory of ”Harka Mura Anole” will remain in my heart until I depart from this world….

”One year after the final defeat of the Arsi Oromo, all the able bodied men and women of the area were ordered to come to Anole [a town about 25km north of Assela, the capital of Arsi] by the Abyssinian general Ras Darghe Sahle Selassie, the Uncle of Emperor Menelik:

When the people came, they were told to enter the narrow pass one by one. All males who entered had their right hands cut off by the order of Ras Darghe. The Shoans tied the hand they cut to the neck of the victim. In the same manner, the right breasts of the Oromo women were also cut and tied to their necks. Asa result… everybody who went to Anole.. returned by losing his right hand and her right breast. This widely known as ”Harka Mura Anole” [Abas Haji, 1982:42) [Flight and Integration: Causes of Mass Exodus from Ethiopia and Problems of Integration in the Sudan, Mekuria Bulcha pg40]

There are both many benefits and many potential consequences if Oromia were to split off from Ethiopia. Some of the benefits would be the ability to finally control the resources our land is endowed with [as opposed to having others mismanage and exploit the resources Oromia was blessed with], the ability to have our own free press with no fear of our journalists being murdered or harassed simply for doing their jobs, the formation of our own military to safeguard the resources and interests of the Oromo people and numerous others. Some of the potential consequences I fear would be endless conflicts with other nationalities in Ethiopia over borders [such as our conflict with the Somali regional state in regards to ownership of cities/towns like Dire Dawa, Harar, Babile, Mieso, Qumbi, Moyale, and so on], the inevitable involvement of the worlds superpowers which would no doubt be in the favor of maintaining the Ethiopian state at the expense of respect for human rights and dignity and many others that should make Oromos think twice at the very least. In conclusion, it does appear to me, an autonomous Oromia within an united Ethiopia would contribute to the stability of an already volatile region and end up being a win-win situation for the Oromo’s and the Ethiopian unionists. Ethiopia would remain intact and be more united than ever and Oromia would finally gain it’s inalienable right to self-administration and be able to rule its own land.

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