Dear Friends and Colleagues, Obboleeyyan Oromoo akkam jirtu, nageennii isan badhaadhaa:
The bigotry against the Oromo people continues unabated to date. It is an established historical fact that the Oromo people, the Somali and other peoples of the South were conquered and incorporated into the Abyssinian Empire at the end of 19th century through an earth scorching policy and savagery of Menelik’s army supported by western powers, such as the Great Britain and France.
Twenty years ago, we were close to defeating the remnants of the genocidal regime of Menelik and Haile Selassie, had it not been for the voice of moderation by some politicians in the Oromo Liberation camp. Back then, some of the Oromo elites wanted to give peace a chance, wanted to negotiate with the colonial settlers. They chose the path of peace and reconciliation. We recall the famous saying of Leenco Lata, “I am not an Ethiopian. However, I would like to negotiate to be an Ethiopian.” The answer to that offer from these remnants twenty years later is the formation of the revivalist groups which are planning to tour Oromiya to dance on the graves of the millions of Oromo martyrs and other peoples of the South – who were brutally massacred while defending their homeland. The aftermath of the conquest was what we now know as one of the worst slave trade empire built by Menelik. I can hardly imagine the extent of the brutality when hundreds of thousands of Oromo children were taken way from under the arms of their loving parents and sold into slavery; tragically, several of them died en route owing to harsh conditions. These were a people, reduced into slavery and tenancy, were once the master of their own destiny and produced to the world a civilization superior to the Abyssinian civilization in East Africa. This is also an established historical fact.
Today, many Oromo scholars, including myself, are profoundly enraged by a decision of a beer company to sponsor a singer who diminishes the memory of the victims by glorifying the legacy of one of the worst tyrants of the modern Ethiopian empire into the Abyssinian hall of fame. This may cause the buried emotions of the Oromo nationalists to re-emerge again. There are millions out there, including myself, who are willing to lead the Oromo people to a full victory through a well-controlled and disciplined struggle. We don’t like to see bloodshed between the oppressor class and oppressed masses, like what we have witnessed in Rwanda. The unwise campaign of these ignorant, never learning and unrepentant sons of our colonial masters may lead to undesired consequences. This is our worst fear. We remember what Dr. Gammachuu Magarsaa recently said when he was asked about his take on the Oromo people being bullied by the northern “superior race” of Ethiopia from one generation to another. He said “what will happen may not be good for them and for us as well.” That is the voice of moderation we hear from some of our elites. Even these very elites who are working to prevent the worst case scenario from happening are despised and bullied non-stop by the Abyssinian chauvinists.
Freedom is never voluntarily given. It has always been earned! Which means we, Oromos, must be willing to pay the necessary sacrifice to earn what all people love, cherish and celebrate every year – Freedom! Talking about earning what you deserve, I always remember what I told one of the college professors on the occasion of my graduation from Gondar College of Medical Sciences after I was suspended and penalized for a year and half for leading students’ protest against the current regime in Ethiopia. She said, “Congratulations Dr. Ibrahim, we have given you your degree and now you are ready to leave us.” I then boldly told her “Dear Doctor, thank you for congratulating me. You may have given others their degrees. But, as far as I am concerned, I earned it.” Just to distinguish myself from others – who bowed to the puppets and all bullies in order to graduate from college with a degree. I was willing to pay the utmost price, and I knew I was not alone. I knew there were millions who suffered and continued to suffer. They needed me more than I needed my very much desired degree; they needed us. The purpose of this short piece is to show our ignorant brothers in the opposite camp that they must cease and desist from their provocative actions. That is precisely what most of us want in this counter-campaign. Or else, they are responsible for all the consequences of their campaign to re-conquer Oromiya.
Last but not least, it is worth mentioning the fact that, judging by their past rhetoric, the forces currently ruling Ethiopia may not be on the side of these sycophants who are so blind as to see the irreversible change of the mind sets of the oppressed masses of Ethiopia. Finally, I would like to conclude by using the words I used to love hearing from the mouth of my late Somali friend, Abdida’ad Ibrahim Bulala, whom I proudly call my Oromo friend, Egereen kan Ummata Oromooti!
Ibrahim Amae Elemo, M.D., M.P.H