THE NEED FOR FORMING A GLOBAL OROMO ACTIVIST NETWORK (GOAN) AND GUMII OROMIYAA (GO)
Prof. Asafa Jalata*
Although it was more or less ignored, this proposal was forwarded a decade ago to Oromo activists in the Diaspora. The current Oromo struggle led by the Oromo students in Oromia has fundamentally changed the attitudes and behaviors of the Oromo in the Diaspora. So I believe that the ongoing debate on how to continue the struggle in the Diaspora can benefit from this piece. Hence, without revising it, I reproduce the article below.
Statement of Purpose
At the turn of the twenty-first century, our nation and its national movement are at a crossroads just at the moment when capitalist globalization and the Ethiopian empire state are facing their deepest crises. Despite the fact that Oromummaa and Oromo nationalism have been developing and that the Oromo national struggle has achieved an ideological and moral victory over Ethiopian colonialism and the Tigrayan-led fascist Ethiopian government, the Oromo national movement faces serious ideological, political, and organizational crises coming from two main sources. One of these sources is external and structural, and the other one is internal and behavioral. Although it is necessary that all Oromo activists understand these external and structural factors, for this purpose we must focus on internal and behavioral factors in order to critically and comprehensively deal with our current complex problems. The lack of ideological clarity, political confusion, and organizational and leadership shortcomings in the Oromo national movement and society are the major internal problems that hinder the movement from emerging as one of strong political forces in the Horn of Africa. Consequently, our people are targeted for destruction by the Tigrayan-led terrorist regime.
Our leadership and organizational weaknesses have allowed the Tigrayan ethno-fascists to terrorize and repress our society and loot our resources despite the fact that there are several millions of Oromos who are determined to fight and die for the liberation of our nation and country. In the capitalist world system since there are no morality and justice, several indigenous peoples were exterminated and those who have states expropriated their countries. In this corrupt system, might is right. The saving of our nation from extermination requires us to be serious about solving our leadership and organizational crises through the total mobilization of our human, intellectual and cultural resources at grassroots levels. So we must be able to mobilize every self-respecting Oromo to engage in self and national emancipation. All Oromos must realize that it is necessary to have state power to make sure that our nation and country survive forever. What are our specific problems? How can we solve them?
Specifically the Oromo national movement is suffering from: (1) the lack of coherent and organic leadership; (2) the absence of open and honest dialogue; (3) the low level and uneven development of Oromummaa and Oromo nationalism; (4) the lack of accountability of some leaders and followers to the Oromo people; (5) the blind attachment to borrowed political culture and ideologies without adapting them to the gadaa political culture and traditions; (6) the lack of clarity on how to build Oromummaa from diverse Oromo experiences; (7) the lack of unifying and mobilizing formal (political) and informal (social) leadership; and (8) the lack of the total mobilization of Oromo human, intellectual and material resources. Critically comprehending these complex problems and solving them require the establishment GOAN and GO in the Diaspora wherever Oromos live beyond the control of the Ethiopian state. Of course, GOAN and GO will be the global foundation of the Oromo national struggle in Oromia.
We Oromo nationalists in general and the Oromo political leadership in particular have yet to fulfill our national obligations of enabling the Oromo nation to liberate itself from all forms oppression, degradation, and abject poverty. Without building a coordinated and consolidated national movement at grass roots and central levels, we cannot empower our nation. The Oromo national movement cannot solve its ideological, leadership and organizational problems without coordinating and consolidating the movement and without mobilizing all Oromo intellectual, cultural, financial, and human resources. The persistent failure of our leaders and movement to overcome our ideological, organizational and behavioral problems have allowed the strengthening of the internal enemies of the Oromo people which in turn has strengthened the power of the Tigrayan-led fascist Ethiopian state.
The Tigrayan-led minority Ethiopian government is attempting to give a final solution for the Oromo political problem that has existed for several centuries—the relationship between the Oromos and their Amhara-Tigrayan colonizers. The Tigrayan ethno-fascists know that without the destruction of the Oromo nation their dreams cannot become reality. The policy of targeting and exterminating indigenous peoples has occurred elsewhere in the world and has been an integral element of the racialized capitalist world system since the 16th century. European colonialists exterminated indigenous peoples in the Americas, Australia, and Africa over a period of several centuries in order to transfer their resources to the European colonial settlers and their descendants while claiming to promote Christian civilization, modernity, democracy, and commerce. If we cannot stop the genocidal policy of the Tigrayan ethno-fascists by our struggle, the survival of our nation and our country is questionable.
The Meles regime is completing the forced removal of the Oromos from the areas surrounding Finfinnee. It has settled millions of armed Amhara and Tigrayan settlers in Oromia by removing the Oromos from their ancestral homelands. Furthermore, it has already leased several million hectares of Oromo lands to so-called investors, such as the Chinese government as well as Arab, Indian, Malaysian, and European business people and local capitalists by evicting Oromo farmers from their lands. To achieve its political and economic objectives, the Meles regime engages in political repression, state terrorism, genocidal massacres, and gross human rights violations in Oromia. Furthermore, it has mobilized other ethnonations against the Oromo people. The Meles regime terrorizes the Oromos in order to establish Tigrayan hegemony and dominate and exploit Oromian resources.
The Tigrayan state elites believe that independent Oromo intellectuals, businessmen and women, conscious Oromo farmers, students, and community and religious leaders are the enemy of the Tigrayan national interests. Therefore, they want to eliminate them. The regime has engaged in genocidal massacres with little or no opposition from Western powers, particularly the United States. All these crimes against humanity are committed in the names of democracy and development. The systematic destruction of Oromo nationalists and leadership are characterized as genocide. The Ethiopian state has failed and is on the verge of collapse. It survives primarily by depending on world powers while practicing authoritarianism, terrorism, and hidden genocide. The Amhara elites are also struggling on multiple fronts to recapture Ethiopian state power. This does not mean that we cannot ally to topple the Meles government.
Without clearly articulating the ideology of Oromummaa based on diverse Oromo experiences and solving the incoherence of the Oromo national leadership through concrete policies and actions, we cannot solve the external and structural problems of the Oromo national struggle. The Oromo national movement has been paralyzed by both external structural problems and by the ideological and leadership crises of the Oromo national movement. The survival of the Oromo nation and national movement without strong organizational and military power is doubtful. Accepting these realities will help Oromo nationalists and their political organizations as they seek a paradigm shift in the Oromo national movement rather than waiting for a miracle to happen. Since the Oromo national movement is facing a danger from all directions, leaders and we Oromo nationalists must take pragmatic collective actions to save ourselves and our nation from total humiliation, defeat, and destruction.
We activists should take practical steps for building ideological and organizational coherence and leadership effectiveness and for coordinating and consolidating the Oromo national movement. If organizations and we Oromo nationalists are truly concerned about our people and if we want to achieve liberation, we should show respect for our democratic traditions and practice civility and engage in our political and ideological deliberations. Such responsible and courageous actions require taking accountability seriously and using a single standard for evaluating behavior and measuring performance in relation to the Oromo national struggle.
We need to create and build GOAN and GO as a forum to deal with our ideological, leadership and organizational problems in the Diaspora and beyond. We believe that we can be successful if we are resolute in our objectives because of three crucial reasons. At this historical moment, we can organize and sharpen our human agency because we have adequate human resources, capable and skilled human power, and democratic cultural traditions that we need to reinvent our national movement at grassroots levels. We must realize and convince ourselves that we can use our human, intellectual and cultural resources to effectively solve our ideological, leadership and organizational deficits. Without any doubt victory will belong to us if we believe in it and act upon it in effective and efficient ways.
The Main purposes for establishing GOAN and GO
The first purpose of forming GOAN and GOA is to critically understand and confront our ideological, leadership and organizational shortcomings and to develop central organizing ideas and strategic plans at grassroots for our national movement. GOAN functions as a think-thank body to buttress the formal structures of GO by extending its arms through its activists to various Oromo sectors and communities. All members of the GOAN network establish and maintain the structure and cohesion of the Oromo movement at grassroots levels by regulating tensions, dealing with adversary conditions that destabilize our movement, and by disseminating valuable information in the movement and Oromo communities.
The second purpose is to strengthen our movement that has been built by the sacrifices of selfless and determined Oromo nationalists in general and by the blood and bones of our Oromo heroes and heroines in particular. Thousands of Oromo heroes and heroines have given their lives in Oromian forests and cities, Ethiopian prisons, and neighboring countries. We are the students and followers of these heroes and heroines and our duty is not to gain personal glory or benefit, but to fulfill the objectives for which they have sacrificed their lives.
The third purpose is to translate the objectives of our national movement at grassroots levels by establishing short- and long-term goals. Providing the means of actions by identifying and channeling the talents and energies of our network members effectively and efficiently is our fourth purpose. Our fifth purpose is expanding membership numbers and mobilizing members’ support for building our national movement at grassroots level and intensifying the struggle by appealing to the collective interests of the Oromo people. Our sixth purpose is building Oromummaa through identifying Oromo diversity and unity by invoking Oromo collective memory in order to create a new understanding of contemporary conditions and a new vision of future possibilities. The process of Oromo self-emancipation is only possible by building Oromummaa as a means of mobilizing all Oromos to establish self-confidence, consciousness, and self-organization to achieve total emancipation.
Our cultural and political road map is clear. While solving our ideological, leadership and organizational crises and problems at grassroots levels, we will build the structures of our networks that will gradually evolve into an assembly of delegates of civic organizations and institutions known as GO in every country wherever Oromos reside. Gradually we will consolidate the Global Oromo Activist Network and GO that will articulate the voice of the Oromo nation on the global level. Undoubtedly this will end the isolation of Oromia and its people from the global community forever.
The Oromo assembly of delegates will have two major bodies: 1) the management body that is called the General Assembly of Oromo Civic Associations and Institutions (Gumii Oromiyaa), and 2) the Research and policy body. The management body consists of all chairpersons and representative leaders of Oromo civic associations and institutions including churches and mosques, concerned individual members and notable Oromos; it forms its executive committee and other functional committees.
The general assembly (GO) will have eight standing committees: 1) the executive committee, 2) the publication committee, 3) the public relations committee, 4) the diplomacy committee, 5) the technology and media committee, 6) the audit committee, 7) the leadership nomination committee, and 8) the Oromo welfare committee.
The research and policy body will have five branches: A) The frame transformation activist group (Garee Qormataa fi furmaataa), B) the frame amplification activist group (Garee gudddisa aadaa, enyummaa, fi Oromummaa), C) the frame extension activist group (Garee burqisiiftuu yaadaa fi beekumsa haaraa), and D) the frame bridging activist group (Garee Qunnamtii keessa fi alaa), and E) the policy group that includes the management body (Garee Imaammata).
A) The frame transformation activist group (Garee Qormataa fi furmaataa)
The frame transformation activist group studies the strengths and weaknesses of the Oromo national movement and suggests how to maintain the strengths and how to overcome the weaknesses. This group focuses on how to overcome the current crises in the movement.
B) The frame amplification group (Garee gudddisa aadaa, enyummaa, fi Oromummaa)
This group designs cultural and political activities that help in deepening and broadening Oromummaa. It further researches and develops various Oromo social and cultural experiences as the self-representation of the Oromo nation by focusing on the diversity and unity of the Oromo people. The group also engages in the Oromo cultural restoration and rebuilding and promotes an Oromo-centric worldview.
C) The frame extension activist group (Garee burqisiiftuu yaadaa fi beekumsa haaraa)
This group develops new principles, ideas and values for the Oromo national movement. It also focuses on domestic, regional and international practical issues and policy formations.
D) The frame bridging activist group (Garee Qunnamtii keessa fi alaa)
This group engages in building social, cultural and political bridges by identifying some Oromo sectors and organizations that share some political and national concerns and grievances and facilitates ways of forming the organizational base for the Oromo solidarity network. (2) It also designs ways of dealing with non-Oromo communities on regional and global levels. In other words, while developing national Oromummaa, this group frames the essence and characteristics of global Oromummaa.
E) The policy group (Garee Imaammata)
This group includes members of the four activist groups and the management body. It develops guidelines and policies for the four activist network groups and the General Assembly of Oromo Civic Associations (GO). The GO interprets all the guidelines and policies developed by this group.
Organizational Structures of Gumii Oromiyaa
Gumii Oromiyaa (GO) shall have an Executive Committee elected by the General Assembly for a two-year term. Each committee shall develop its own internal guidelines without contradicting the principles that are outlined in this document.
1. The executive committee
A) The Executive Committee shall implement the decisions of GO.
B) The Executive Committee shall be accountable to the GO.
C) GO’s executive Committee shall be composed of the President, the President-Elect, the Secretary, the Treasurer, and chairpersons of all committees.
D) GO officials will be elected by the General Assembly for two years, except the president-elect who will serve for four years, i.e. two years as the president-elect and two years as the president.
E) GO’s President shall be the Chief Executive and Representative of GO.
F) The President shall convene and chair all meetings of the Executive Committee, prepare its agenda, organize and coordinate the General Assembly conferences and activities.
G) The President-Elect shall perform duties given to him/her by the President, and when the President cannot discharge his/her duties, shall execute all duties and responsibilities of the President.
H) The Secretary shall keep records of all actions of the Executive Committee, the minutes of all meetings, the reports and recommendations from the Association’s various committees, and keep current files of the Association’s records.
I) The Treasurer shall be elected by the General Assembly to serve for a two-year term.
G) The Treasurer shall record and account for all incoming funds of the association as well as their expenditures according to the directives of the Executive Committee, and shall establish a bank account in the name of GO, keep up-to-date financial records of the association, and shall open the financial records to the Auditor when requested.
K) The President and the Secretary shall have the authority to jointly withdraw up to $1000 for miscellaneous expenses.
L) A single withdrawal from the Gumii Oromiiyaa’s account that exceeds $1000.00 shall require written approval of the Executive Committee.
M) The Executive Committee may form ad hoc committees and determine their duties and responsibilities and term of office in so far as the activities do not contravene directly or indirectly any provision in the Constitution.
N) The Executive Committee shall have written guidelines, consistent with the Constitution that regulates its business meetings, decision-making process and other internal matters.
O) The Executive Committee shall organize an Oromo national convention (ya’ii Oromoo) once a year.
P) The Executive Committee shall design innovative ways of mobilizing and involving Oromo women and youth in GO.
Q) The Executive Committee shall develop ways and means of generating income for GO.
R) The Executive Committee shall engage in the process of rebuilding the self-administration of Oromia on the principles of Gadaa and other relevant democratic principles and processes.
S) The Executive Committee shall engage in the restoration of Oromo democratic culture, reorientation of values on the foundation of Oromummaa, and the process of liberation education to ideologically empower its members.
T) The Executive Committee shall develop mechanisms of forming alliances with progressive social and cultural movements to promote the Oromo national cause.
U) The Executive Committee shall develop policies and mechanisms of helping Oromo refugees who are suffering in Africa, the Middle East, and other places.
W) The Executive committee shall organize seminars and town hall meetings by collaborating with its local members in cities wherever many Oromos reside.
2) The Publication Committee
A) The publication committee shall have three members.
B) It shall publish periodic newsletters and the findings of the policy group and distributes them.
C) This committee shall prepare slogans, issues, flyers, posters, etc.
3) The Public Relations Committee
A) The publication relations committee shall have three members.
B) It shall serve as a spokesperson of Gumii Oromiyaa.
C) It shall issue statements, press releases and works with different media outlets.
D) It shall monitor and collect information on the Oromo and shall respond to them if it is necessary.
E) It shall prepare brief information on the Oromo people and disseminate it.
4) The Diplomacy Committee
A) The Diplomatic Committee shall have three members.
B) It shall contact and work with different entities including governments, NGOS, religious groups, and international organizations.
C) It shall provide these entities with relevant information to educate and inform them.
D) It shall study views, positions, and policies of these entities toward the Oromo nation.
E) It shall engage in public diplomacy to win sympathizers, friends and supporters for the Oromo national cause and struggle.
F) It shall build strong relationships with every society in which the Oromo Diaspora lives.
5) The Technology and Media Committee
A) This committee shall have five members who have expertise in media technology and communication.
B) This committee shall create a website for Gumii Oromiyaa and shall update it with relevant information.
C) It shall connect all Oromo civic associations, institutions, and organizations all over the world.
D) It shall develop TV and radio programs to broadcast them.
6) The Leadership Nomination Committee
A) The committee shall have five members with high level of credibility, integrity and commitment for Oromummaa and the Oromo national cause.
B) It shall recruit individuals who have proven records for the Oromo national cause and who have demonstrated capacity for leadership and shall present them as candidates for various leadership positions.
C) It shall study Oromo leadership experiences of the Oromo during the gadaa system and that of other democratic experiences and shall inform the candidates and the general assembly.
D) It shall make sure that candidate pools should reflect Oromo diversity in region, gender, age, profession, and religion.
7) The audit Committee
A) The auditing committee shall have three members.
B) It shall audit the financial resources of GO and the performances of all committees and their members and shall report to GO.
C) The members of this committee should have professional expertise and commitment for the Oromo national cause.
8) The Oromo welfare committee
A) The welfare committee shall have five members.
B) The committee shall develop ways of financially and morally supporting members of GO who shall face unexpected emergencies such as death or legal problems or other emergencies beyond the capacity of a family or an individual. In other words, the committee shall develop guidelines on how to care for its members during the time of emergencies.
C) It shall produce ideas and disseminate them to all members in order to educate them on ways of caring for and protecting one another as extended Oromo families.
D) It shall mobilize members’ professional expertise to provide counseling on important matters for concerned individual members.
*Asafa Jalata, Ph.D.,
Professor of Sociology and Global and Africana Studies
University of Tennessee
Department of Sociology
901 McClung Tower
Knoxville, TN 37966-0490