Peter Schwartzstein in Cairo
Published September 27, 2013
“Ethiopia is killing us,” taxi driver Ahmed Hossam said, as he picked his way through Cairo’s notoriously traffic-clogged streets. “If they build this dam, there will be no Nile. If there’s no Nile, then there’s no Egypt.”
Click the following link to read the story at National Geographic website.
Faaruu Dur Oromoon Qabsoo Bilisummaatiif Faarfate
Fago’oo galaa (3)
Fago’oo jennaan fagoo seetanii
Biyya keessattuu rakkoon leetanii
Haga waggaa hedduu fagaatee jiraa
Garaa hidhatee jabaatee jiraa
HRLHA Urgent Action
September 24, 2013
For Immediate Release
The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) has learnt through its correspondents that hundreds of thousands of refugees in Libya, most of whom were from the Horn of African countries, such as Ethiopia and Eritrea, are in a very dangerous situation after they had been evicted from their original refugee camps in Benghazi, Libya, where they stayed for the past three years. The eviction took place following the infiltration and assault of the refugees by those who were described as workers of the Libyan Red Crescent on the 13th of September, 2013. The assault included beating and stabbings by knives. Those who broke out of the shelters to run away from the assaults were met with the Libyan armed forces, that were stationed around the camps, prior to the starting of the assault. Then, the refugees were forced out of the camp on allegations that they attempted to instigate disturbances in the city, and taken to a remote area known as Alshatti.
According to HRLHA correspondents, about 500 refugees are now held in what was known to be a private detention centre in Alshatti, located on the Sahara Desert border with no adequate supply of basic necessities. HRLHA has also learnt that the very adverse weather condition at Alshatti has worsened the situation to the refugees. Even two expecting women, who delivered after arriving in Alshatti and their newly born infants, were not treated differently. The fact that the refugees are now held in isolation where they are not visited by international agencies like the UN High Commission for Refugees and the ICRC until this Urgent Action is documented, as they used to when they were sheltered in Benghazi, added to the very unfriendly living condition has raised their frustrations. The refugees, who were contacted by HRLHA, also mention that there have been detachments and disconnections among refugees who had acquaintances and/or relationships with each other. Most of the refugees, who were taken to Alshatti, are originally from Ethiopia and Eritrea, HRLHA correspondents have added.
The HRLHA managed to obtain the names of the following 33 refugees:
|No||Name||Country of origin|
|1||Foad Kasim||Ethiopian, Oromo,|
|2||Abdi Nagassa||Ethiopia, Oromo|
|3||Derje Gezahegn||Ethiopia, Amhara|
|4||Dereje Tefera||Ethiopia, Amhara|
|5||Abdulhamid Abdurahiman||Ethiopia, Oromo|
|6||Nuredin Haji||Ethiopia, Oromo|
|7||Mulatu Kassa||Ethiopia, Amhara|
|8||Abdurahiman Jailan||Ethiopia, Oromo|
|9||Aman Amid||Ethiopia, Oromo|
|10||Nahom Gebre Mariam||Eritrea|
|11||Hani Gebre Nugus||Ertrea|
|13||Wubshet Tesfaye||Ethiopia, Amhara|
|14||Abdi Husein||Ethiopia, Oromo|
|15||Mohamed Lencho||Ethiopia, Oromo|
|16||Husein Abdulkadir||Ethiopia, Oromo|
|17||Wazir Awol||Ethiopia, Oromo|
|18||Husein Ahmed||Ethiopia, Oromo|
|19||Amadu Tesema||Ethiopia. Amhara|
|26||Abel Tadesse||Ethiopia, Amhara|
|28||Yusuf Tahir||Ethiopia, Oromo|
|29||Abduzamed Mohamed||Ethiopia, Oromo|
|30||Aliyi Haji||Ethiopia, Oromo|
|31||Awol Adam||Ethiopia, Oromo|
|32||Selemon Desta||Ethiopia, Amhara|
|33||Kedir Mohamed||Ethiopia, Oromo|
HRLHA is highly concerned about the safety and future fates of those asylum seekers and refugees in such an isolated and disconnected socio-political environment. Therefore, HRLHA calls up on the Libyan Government, first of all, to ensure the safety and well being of the refugees and asylum seekers by providing full protection against any kind of attacks from any side or angle, and allow access to the new location to the representatives of regional and international UN and humanitarian agencies as well as media organizations so that they could receive all the supports they need, especially to bring their refugee lives to an end.
The HRLHA also urges all national, regional and international human rights groups, donor countries and organizations to join hands in putting pressure on the Libyan government so that it abides by the international norms, the 1951 International Convention of the Refugees and Asylum Seekers and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 14 (1) “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.”
Please send appeals to the Libyan Government, concerned Libyan officials and to diplomatic representatives of Libya who are accredited to your country as swiftly as possible, in English, in Berber or Libyan Arabic language, or in your own language expressing:
Your concern regarding the mistreatment of asylum seekers and refugees in Libya, and they should be treated according to the 1951 International Convention of the Refugees and Asylum Seekers, and other international norms of refugee and asylum seekers rights.
1. His Excellency Dr. Ali Zidan, Prime Minster of Libya
Tel: +218(21) 444 3700
Fax: +218 (21) 360 0889
2. His Excellency Mr. Mohamed Abdul-Aziz, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Libya
Tel: 22 – 2921 340 21 218
- UNHCR Main Office Geneva, Switzerland
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Case Postale 2500
CH-1211 Genève 2 Dépôt
Tel: +41 22 739 8111
- Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Palais Wilson, 52 rue des Pâquis
CH-1201 Geneva, Switzerland
Tel: +41 22 917 9656
- African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR)
48 Kairaba Avenue, P.O.Box 673, Banjul, The Gambia
Tel: (220) 4392 962 , 4372070, 4377721 – 23
Fax: (220) 4390 764
- Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights Council of Europe
F-67075 Strasbourg Cedex, FRANCE
Tel: + 33 (0)3 88 41 34 21
Fax: + 33 (0)3 90 21 50 53
- U.S. Department of State
Ethiopia Desk Officer
U.S. State Department
Tel: (202) 647-6473
- Amnesty International Secretariat – London
Tel: 44 20 74135500
Fax: 44 20 79561157
London, WC1X0DW, UK
- Human Rights Watch – New York
Ethiopia’s Future: Self Rule of Golden Oromia With or Without Shared Rule of Great Oromia (Fayyis Oromia)
More than enough is written about the past and the future of the currently existing Ethiopian empire. Here is a short repetition from my present point of view. Ethiopia is only a fraction of the so called Cushland (Great Oromia = land of proto-Cush) in the north eastern part of Africa, in which several Cushitic nations are found. Certain part of these nations in the northern part of the empire are already Abyssinized due to the cultural and linguistic influence of the Semites from the Middle East, some in the Southern part are Bantunized due to the contact with certain Bantu nations and the others in the Eastern part are a bit Arabinized due to the cultural and religious contact with the Arab world. But at the core of the empire is a relatively unaffected part now called Oromia still preserving the main values of the proto-Cush, the part which I would like to call Golden Oromia, parallel to the original home of the Cushites known as Nubia (land of Gold).
This proto-Cush (the Oromo) has been under immense pressure from all directions since thousands of years. Particulrly the south ward push from the Abyssinized nations of the north was so strong that the Abyssinian kings could occupy most parts of Golden Oromia till the 16th century self-defence and liberation of this Oromia from the Abyssinians of the north and from the others in the east. This liberation movement was wrongly named by the Abyssinian writers and their Western partners as “Oromo migration”. Golden Oromia enjoyed a time of relative peace and stability for about 300 years, till the start of the European scramble for Africa of the ninteenth century, in which emperor Minilik of Abyssinia took part and re-occupied Golden Oromia. It is controvercially discussed whether the Oromo are part of the empire builders due to the participation of some Oromo nobles fighting on the side of the emperor or whether this nation is only an imperial subject. Be it the Oromo are part of both the conquerer and the conquered, as Prof Merera Guddina once put it, or we are only the victims but not part of the victors, fact on the ground now is that the Oromo nation is suffering under the very oppressive system of the Abyssinian elites.
Since this time of occupation, the Oromo nation showed a strong resisitance and had a coordinated as well as a sporadic liberation struggle. Leaving the many known examples of such movement aside, it is important to mention the two alternative approach chosen by the Oromo elites, who lead the struggle till now: ‘liberation of Golden Oromia from the empire’ and ‘transformation of the empire to Great Oromia’; the second one usually named as ‘democratization of Ethiopia’. These two visions were followed by the Oromo nationalists being organized in either the same liberation front or in different organizations. Nowadays, organizations persuing the two goals are clearly differntiated, so that some of them fight for an independent Golden Oromia, whereas the others struggle for an integrative de facto Great Oromia (New Ethiopia); of course the common denominator for the two being bilisummaa/freedom of the Oromo nation from alien rule, after which this free nation can choose either of the two goals per referendum. This being the fact on the ground, still some nationalists try to antagonize the two visions and portray one vision as anti-Oromo interest and the other as pro-Oromo interest. These destructive antagonizers are V-minded people in contrast to the constructive integrators – the Y-minded nationalists. Here is what I mean by V-minded and Y-minded thinkers:
To make both a genuine national independence of Oromoland (Golden Oromia) and a regionl union of Cushland (Great Oromia) become a reality and to help the struggle for freedom be successful, certain questions must be answered. For instance, despite the fact that the two Oromo groups (the independencists and the unionists) in the Ethiopian empire are under a very dire situation, why did they fail not to foster an alliance of the Oromo liberation forces (alliance of both the independencists and unionists)? One brilliant Oromo intellectual once raised a nice question: “how can we overcome the mentality of the 19th century?” http://gadaa.com/oduu/9750/201… The answer to this question can be: the only way for us to overcome this mentality is by embracing the 21st century mentality of democracy. The 19th century mentality of brute force and mischieve, under which few of the Oromo elites and most of the Habesha elites in the Ethiopian empire are suffering, is the backward mentality of the dictators (of the V-minded politicians); whereas the 21st century mentality is that of the democrats (of the Y-minded politicians), who do believe in human and national freedom to self-determination. For what do both the letters V and Y stand here? Who are these V or Y Oromo?
To understand the V-politicians, let’s just imagine a big letter V and try to visualize that at the bottom junction of the letter are the Abyssinian dictators keeping the status quo of Abyssinian hegemony; at the left top of the letter are the dictatorial independencists; and at the right top are the dictatorial unionists. If we look at the way how these three forces deal with each other, they just do want to achieve their respective goals unconditionally: the Abyssinian hegemonists want to keep their domination at any cost, the dictatorial Oromo independencists try to achieve Oromian independence at any cost and the dictatorial unionists also want to achieve a union at any cost. Especially, the unconditional positions of the two camps, i.e that of the unconditional independencist Oromo and that of the unconditional unionists, who are continuously antagonizing and attacking each other, is a trillion dollar lottery, which the ruling Abyssinian elites are enjoying now by further dividing and polarizing the two Oromo camps, because of the fact that both the independencist dictators and the unionist dictators (the V-politicians of the two Oromo camps) can not forge a challenging alliance against the Woyane. They do consider that the two ways of the independencists and the unionists are diverging from each other, so that they would have no common route and common objective to move together.
To see who the Y-politicians (the democrats in the two Oromo camps) are, let’s just try to imagine a very big letter Y and try to distinguish four points on the letter (the bottom, the middle junction, the left top, and the right top). Then let’s imagine that the bottom is the status-quo of Ethiopian politics, where both the independencist and the unionist Oromo are under the tyranny of the Abyssinian elites; the middle junction is a point for freedom of the Oromo nation from the tyranny (the common goal of both the independencists and the unionists); the left top is the point of independence; and the right top is the point for union. Then let’s imagine that this letter Y is a route of the liberation journy for both the independencists and the unionists from the tyranny, from our present common situation, towards our short term (common goal) and long term goals (diverging respective goals). Can we imagine that the freedom fighters of this oppressed nation do have a possibility to move from the bottom (point of tyranny) to the middle junction (point of freedom) together? This is our common route of the journey towards this common short term goal of freedom. Then after will come, the two diverging routes towards the two different and diverging long term goals of the two camps: the left top = independence (the long term goal of the independencists) and right top = union (the long term goal of the unionists).
Now if we could imagine this letter Y very well, it is not hard to comprehend that we need the alliance of the two camps to move from the status-quo of tyranny to the point of freedom, not necessarily to move together to the right top (together to the union goal) or together to the left top (together to the independence goal). After achieving our freedom together, it is upto the Oromo public to decide per referendum which direction to move further: to the left top of independence or to the right top of union. If the Oromo majority will choose to move to the right top, then our common national long term goal will be similar to that of the unionists, i.e an integrative Great Oromia (New Ethiopia with flourishing Oromummaa/Oromo nationalism). Otherwise, if the Oromo majority will choose to move to the left top, no dictator can hinder the Oromo nation from achieving this Golden Oromian independence. When we look at the wholistic political visions in the organized Oromo community, we do observe two groups:
- those who struggle for a self rule of an independent Golden Oromia without any claim on the other parts of Great Oromia, and
- those who want to forge self rule of golden Oromia with shared rule of de facto an integrative Great Oromia (federal New Ethiopia).
Regarding those Oromo nationalists, who want to achieve self rule of golden Oromia with shared rule of Great Oromia, I must say that they are very cautious not to call a spade is spade and talk explicitely about Great Oromia, instead of New Ethiopia. They should have asserted this because of the fact that the future rule of the game they want is freedom, democracy and Afaan Oromo as a federal working language and for the whole country will have a potential to be transformed to Oromia and because the only alternative to an independent golden Oromia can be the possible de jure Great Oromia, not the designation New Ethiopia. If the other nations and nationalities are interested in the future voluntary union of peoples in the empire and in its territorial integrity as they usually tell us, they should make public this demand of re-naming Ethiopia as Oromia themselves or they need to accept the offer of this same arrangement from the pro-union Oromo nationalists.
For the Oromo national liberation struggle to be successful and to achieve one of the two visions given above, be it only self rule of Golden Oromia or with shared rule of Great Oromia (black/future Ethiopia), we need to fight against the Melesites, who want to keep the status quo of red/present Ethiopia and we have to check the Menelikites, who still nostaligically cry for the white/past Ethiopia. The future New Ethiopia (defacto Great Oromia) will be the country, in which Afaan Oromo and Oromummaa will flourish without any inhibition and oppression. Even if the name of such country will continue to be Ethiopia, of course based on the voluntary agreement of all involved nations, including the Oromo, it yet will be de facto Great Oromia, so that there is nothing the Oromo nation will lose. But for the sake of durability of the union and political stability, the necessary de jure name change from Ethiopia to Oromia must take place. To come to one of the above two visions, the Oromo nationalists need to build unity of purpose based on common ground, i.e on bilisummaa, and also forge alliance with the organizations of the other oppressed nations against the ruling fascist and racist regime as well as against all the Melesites and the Menelikites.
Unfortunately, we do still observe that few of our leaders, nationalists and scholars are doing the job of antagonizing the two Oromo camps (pro-independence and pro-union), rather than promoting their possible alliance or unity of purpose, that means if they are not DiGa, they surely are FiGo. DiGa is simply Diina Gamna (smart foe), who is doing his job of antagonizing the Oromo liberation camp for the sake of his own advantage intentionally, whereas FiGo is Fira Gowwaa (misguided friend) doing the same job of the foe unintentionally. When we look at the authors and commentators in the Oromo websites, we just do observe two groups of Oromo nationalists: the antagonizers and the integrators. The antagonizers do pray the mantra of “facts and theories”, which can help them in polarizing the Oromo liberation forces in a form of presenting such Oromo nationals as if they are irreconcilable enemies being divided into two camps: pro-union and pro-independence. Usually these antagonizers talk or write as if the pro-union Oromo are collaborators to the Abyssinian camp.
On the other hand, the integrators do see the two post-bilisummaa Oromo goals (an independent Golden Oromia and an integrative Great Oromia) of the Oromo people as two sides of the same coin (two sides of bilisummaa). They try to assert that both the pro-independence and the pro-union Oromo nationalists are de facto pro-bilisummaa (freedom fighters), who do have two reconcilable alternative post-bilisummaa objectives. As we see, Woyanes do camouflage as pro-independent Oromo and curse the pro-union nationalists or vice versa just for the sake of sawing a discord in Oromo liberation camp. Their motive is clear: Oromo should be divided, antagonized and polarized in order to be kept weak and ruled. What is really pity here is that some Oromo nationalists and scholars simply fall in this trap of the Woyanes and do bidding of the enemy. Actually Woyane has a lot of people doing the antagonizing job with the millions of dollars being invested on this project. May Waaqa open the eyes of our misguided antagonizer Oromo nationalists, who are unkowingly still doing this job of Woyane.
Last, but not least, for every move towards freedom and democracy is a tantamount approach to the realization of the self rule of Golden Oromia with/without shared rule of Great Oromia, there is nothing disadvantageous for the Oromo if we support all groups promoting these values. Eventhough the Abyssinian colonizers seem to get all sorts of support from the regimes of both the Eastern and Western world to keep their hegemony, the political and social development of the globe towards freedom, justice and democracy is in favour of the Oromo national liberation struggle. That is why it is a high time for the Oromo freedom fighters of the two camps (pro-independence and pro-union) to build alliance in this first phase of the liberation struggle (bilisummaa phase) with each other and with the non-Oromo democrats, in order to put pressure on the ruling regime. Be it we achieve our common goal of bilisummaa in a revolutionary way or in an evolutionary way (step by step), the Oromo people will be free and then decide per referendum in the second phase (walabummaa/independence phase) either for only self rule of Golden Oromia without shared rule of Great Oromia (an independent Oromian republic) or for self rule of Golden Oromia with shared rule of Great Oromia (New Ethiopia). May Rabbi/Waaqa help Oromo nationalists work together in bilisummaa phase and help this nation excercise its free will to choose one of these two good alternatives during the walabummaa phase.
Sabboontota Oromoo biyya Swiss fi naannoo maraaf! Waamicha Kabaja Irreecha 2013 (22.09.2013, Ouchy/ Lausanne, Switzerland)
The ODF Chronicles: Resentment, Remorse and Repenting
Posted by: bilisummaa
September 15, 2013
By Suutumaa Guutaa
The newly mint Oromo political organization named the Oromo Democratic Front has become the talking point for so many over the last four or five months. Among the media outlets that had been scrambling to air what the ODF is up to, the social media and the gossip rooms ranked first followed by the Ethiopian satellite TV (ESAT)while the dust seems to settle after the first wave of all the mixed emotions about this infant politico.
As a prelude to our understanding of ODF’s metamorphosis, it is of paramount importance to recap the evolution of the Oromo people’s struggle for justice and liberty. With the formation of the modern Ethiopian State during the last quarter of the 19th Century that incorporated the Oromo people through conquest, sporadic and isolated upheavals in different forms continued for decades. The petition by a group of Oromo notables in the western provinces of Ethiopia to the British consulate in Gambella during the Italian occupation of the 1930s was one of the testimonies as to the desire of the Oromo people to break loose from the newly formed Ethiopian State and establish an independent entity of their own. As premature as it was, this venture did not come to fruition but was monumental in its significance as a precursor for all attempts that followed. The Bale rebellion of the 60s and the formation of the Matcha & Tulama self-help association were all parts of the desire to mobilize the Oromo masses in pursuit of a distinct Oromo identity symbolized by a national state of its own. This gave rise to the formation of the first pan-Oromo modern political organization, namely the OLF that has also changed the political landscape of the Ethiopian empire state to last for generations and beyond.
The Terrains of OLF’s Journey
As the only organization that is still thriving while its contemporaries vanished in to thin air in the course of the last four decades, OLF has become the covenant of the Oromo spirit as it has cemented the bondage of Oromoness across the spectrum. That brilliant generation went against all odds in shaping the Oromo Liberation Front as the sole asset all Oromo people own and cherish to this date. Founded in the mid 1970s when Marxism was at its hay day and class struggle was the main paradigm preached by almost all as an instrument to eradicate all forms of exploitation, that generation was still wise enough to weigh in the path of national struggle as the only means to do away with the type of predicament the Oromo people was in. Rightfully so, the tenacity and stamina of the Oromo Liberation Front and Oromo Peoples’ quest for the right to self determination is best deservedly credited to the cream of this Great nation.
The dynamics of setbacks and successes alternated themselves in the life of the OLF as an organization that is also quite natural to any association of similar settings. Hence, the OLF has exhibited major successes that range from demarcating the territorial boundaries of the Oromo country giving birth to the current regional State of Oromiya and Oromo language (Afaan Oromo) partly replaced Amharic as the language of instruction and administration within the limits of the Oromo territory.
It is to be noted that opponents of the Oromo Peoples’ struggle belittle the OLF as a useless Organization that did not even control a single town after 40 years of operation while the Oromo masses adore it as its guiding Sprit leading up to an independent Republic of Oromiya in which national opression will cease to exist once and for all. Thousands have sacrificed their lives and several thousands are still in line to pay the ultimate price until OLF’s agenda of the universally accepted right to self determination materializes. Knowing that OLF has already conquered the hearts of 40 million, getting in to polemics with its opponents has no meaning as it is tantamount to arguing with a mindset that is not prone to change. As the saying goes, “one man’s trash is the other man’s treasure.” Let’s leave opponents and supporters alone for now as the unfolding events take their own due course and either of the two sides will eventually be vilified.
Exploring the setbacks suffered by the OLF in the 1992 transitional arrangement and thereafter is not the scope of this piece but some self evident causes of stagnation, split and purges leading up to the formation of the ODF would be pinpointed to explain the chronological and logical sequences that gave birth to this infant. Subsequently, the rumor mills of the last 22 years regarding two contending ideologies within the OLF would come to light explaining all the odds as to why OLF could not advance during the last two decades in spite of the popular support it commands and a just cause it espouses.
Halfhearted “Tegadalays/Compatriots” within the OLF Leadership or contending ideologies?
Apparently, the newly minted ODF boasts of incorporating the founding fathers of the OLF in its ranks along with its low level Diaspora cadres who were very much known for shifting loyalty from time to time. The “New Vision” this group is preaching about, has never been new in essence because the so called founding members of the OLF, now at the helm the ODF have been anextremely controversial personalities pertaining their old subscriptions to “a Democratic empire”, now came back as a “new Vision”. At times they had vented their frustrations of being a minority within the OLF while attempting to divert the organization’s hitherto agenda of self determination for the Oromo people, just to trade it for the democratization of the Ethiopian State. The debate about a hollow “New Vision” preached by the ODFites versus the leverage Leencoo Lata is using to make it a seemingly substantial “new vision” will be dealt with separately in the upcoming series of articles to follow this.
When asked about this rumor back in the late 90s, Leenco Lata did not deny that he is pursuing the democratization of Ethiopia instead of seeking a free Republic of Oromiya as enshrined in the Political program of the Oromo Liberation Front finalized and ratified in 1976. He was also part of the generation that has ratified the program under discussion. Leenco, at the same time, proclaimed that regardless of the contentions surfacing at different times he believed in the organizational integrity of the OLF and had no any intention of breaking away from it even if his proposals could not win a majority vote within the ranks of fellow leaders and his proposals kept being “shelved” as he puts it in his writings. Even if Leenco remained a minority with his bold ideas for over two decades that now re-emerged as a “New Vision”, the lethal wounds of the two contending ideologies within the OLF are so visible resulting in to splits and purges particularly in the Diaspora and gave rise to the birth of the ODF. The 2001 split within the OLF was primarily an outcome of the perception by the then dissident group (OLF-TA) customarily known as QC, that Leenco’s idea is winning a majority within the ranks of the OLF leadership to which he (Leenco) is emerging as a chief ideologue that would culminate in to abandoning the very idea of self determination for the Oromo People. This had a devastating effect from which the organization is still attempting to recover to this date. In 2008, another round of split and purge occurred and this time also Leenco Lata is believed to be the architect of the reform known as “Jijjirama” while the course of events took a different direction undesirable to the architect so that he immediately distanced himself from it. The “reformists” boasted of being patriotic and wise (Jagnaa fi Gamna) from a particular region of Oromia by tracing the legitimacy of their claim to the fierce resistance they put to Menelik’s forces a century ago at Aanole and the sacrifices they had paid. Contrary to their claims and their hollow promises of occupying Finfinne within three months of launching their gibberish, the 2008 “reformists’’ had successfully defeated themselves and Leenco Lata’s venture of utilizing them . Some had even compared Leenco’s loss of control over the very “Reform” he was believed to have been an architect of, with that of Michael Gorbatschov’s reformist politics known as Perestroika in which the mighty Gorbatschov and the Soviet Union along with it went in to the dust bins of history over night.
One thing Leenco Lata has to be credited for is his persistence of clinging to his agenda, however contentious it was. But the everlasting moral question he cannot forgo would remain as to why he persuaded, organized, trained and deployed thousands of Oromo sons and daughters to fight and perish for a just cause spearheaded by the OLF while he himself did not believe in the same value.
Another controversial man of with a less magnitude is the notorious halfhearted Dima Nogo, who has never earned a full trust of compatriots during his years in the OLF. He is described by many as a consumer rather than a “Tegadalay” in the true sense of the term as he was known by his traits of asking for more from the meager resources of the organization. Even if he claims to be the first chairman of the OLF, most of his contemporaries testify that he took his ”chairmanship” out of context because his short lived “reign” was more of a provisional cell like structure in the Urban areas in which Finfinne was the nucleus of such urban patches leading up to the General Assembly. As a revelation to his half-heartedness, he rather went to Dakar, Senegal for a scholarship in the midst of his reign without notifying his compatriots and without formally discharging his duty of “chairmanship”, to say the least. A year or so after the end of his tenure in Dakar, he decided to go back to his beloved Ethiopia. This was, in fact, aborted by the precarious state of the country at that time that included the bloody red terror campaign. The flip-flopper did not take much time to change his mind and he immediately changed his destination from Finfinne to Khartoum. That is the irony of the whole story about Dima’s OLF Chairmanship and his subsequent rise in its ranks. When it comes to a claim of “first chairmanship”, he could have legitimately claimed his MALERID chairmanship until he was deposed by a certain Tesfaye Mekonen, in which ECHAT finally came to his rescue. ECHAT’s actions might have been a rapprochement, per se, to have him returned to the Oromo camp with his controversies all along. Dima also did not deny that his participation in the OLF was primarily for a camouflage in order to disguise himself as an Oromo nationalist on the surface while working as a counterbalance in favor of keeping Ethiopia intact, at heart. He has revealed this during an interview with Sisay Agena of ESAT television in 2011 or 12 on the eve of launching the Oromo Dialogue Form (ODF) to be followed by another ODF.
There are also more controversial late comers to the OLF leadership that now joined the ranks of ODF. The likes of Bayan Asooba, Leenco Baati and Hassan Huseen are all aspirants of the Ethiopian throne through the mighty miracles of their creator, Leencoo Sr. With no need to go far, the Trio servants were the main actors of the 2004 Bergen Conference with no results. This was followed by the OLF General Assembly in December of 2004 in which they all ascended to the OLF hierarchy. Somehow, Leenco Lataa had succeeded in consolidating a team of his proxies within the OLF on a stronger basis but to turn against each other in 2008, 2010 and keep changing course in 2011 and 2013 gain. God knows, what will come out of these renegades next. Bayaan was the first deserter in OLF’s history who naturally followed the same course ever since. During the 2001 Split, the dissidents’ (QC) main grievance against Shane Gummi was mainly the issue of Shane Gummi embracing Bayan Asooba in the OLF leadership. Partly, they were right: Byaan was not a type of beast that could not be tamed by the OLF as he simply could not coup up with its principles. Leencoo Baati was a man who turned the OLF office in Washington DC in to a Liquor Store and a butcher. Additionally, his clientele ship with the Ethiopian bars and nightclubs in the District of Columbia coupled with his cheap behavior had remained the basis of an embarrassment, not only to the OLF but to Oromo as a people . OLF is way much better off with no representation or an office than Leenco Jr.’s presence as the face of this organization in the World’s Metropolis. Hassan Hussein is vulnerable to any thing and as such could not be relied up on. There is not much to say about him since his own personal life speaks volumes.
Given the above controversial events and personalities within the OLF for so long, there is no wonder as to why the OLF was dwarfed. The prevalence of halfhearted “leaders” within the ranks of the OLF and two contending ideologies that could not co-exist, could sufficiently explain the odds of the OLF and most of the Organization’s handicaps to be intrinsic.
The Split, purge and some surrenders
Natural to many organizations, OLF suffered splits, purges and surrenders. The incumbent TPLF is also a living example to such course of events, but managed to attain its final goal of conquering political power in Ethiopia with persistent leadership and firm ideology. Most of you may recall the notorious propaganda drums of the then Ethiopian Television and radio in late 1989 that two dissident TPLF members namely Abraham Yaye and Gebremedhin Araya abandoned TPLF and joined the DERG’s WPE. The higher echelons of the ruling party had rejoiced and attempted to persuade the Ethiopian masses through their only propaganda outlets that the surrender of the two named above had sealed the fate of the TPLF. What happened in real life was quite to the contrary.
Similarly OLF had lost many to such practices from within its ranks and the foot soldiers alike. It is true that the Organization has been weak ever since its conception but the capitulation and half-heartedness never deterred it from pursuing the popular agenda it was conceived to pursue. Even long before the OLF became part of the short lived transitional arrangement, Ethiopia’s version of Paris Commune, in 1992, hundreds succumbed to Colonel Mengistu’s security personnel, though, the military regime was not interested in parading them on their TV screen. The reason was of course deeply strategic and it did work for the regime in that it kept OLF in obscurity for a lengthy period of time while its contemporaries such as the TPLF and EPLF were already publicized to the Ethiopian people and the international community as enemies of the State, the Ethiopian State.
In a new chapter that came after 1992, still many had abdicated the OLF but the most notable ones were those which were orchestrated by the seeds of today’s ODF. For one, the project of encamping OLF fighters in the midst of bloody skirmishes with the TPLF militia (TPLF’s militia because the peasants that arrived in Finfinne from the wilderness of Tigray are still very remote from being characterized as a standing regular army expected of a national defense force) in 1992 is blamed on the founder of OLF and ODF plus its senior associates. The issue of encampment is the epicenter of the controversies that has remained a mystery until today while ODF could be one of its organizational manifestations. The second phase of it could be the attempted sabotage of the 1998 General Assembly of the OLF in Mogadishu, Somalia even if the head of the saboteurs was partly clever enough for a while to cleanse himself by saying that the intention of him and others was to give way to a new generation of leadership. Because a spade is a spade, that same spade is also blamed to have orchestrated a controversial change of leadership through his proxies in 1999. This inflamed to the split of 2001 and subsequently the surrender of a certain Kumsa Gada in 2006 , the split of 2008 in the name of Reforming the Organization that attracted a crowd of newly arriving refugee peasantry with a very few pity elite at the top. The peasant crowd dispersed shortly but the venom of driving OLF compatriots out of the fields remained at work and reached its climax in 2011 when the onetime OLF executive committee Member who was in charge of its foreign affairs at one point, Licho Bukhra, paraded members of OLF’s southern command in front of the ETV Camera and foolishly posing as a war hero and leader of the group. Millions of Oromos express their anger and the shame brought to them by this OX when they remember that ETV footage and some even blame their very creature that destined them to be an Oromo. The national shame spearheaded by Licho Bukhra is, of course, widely believed to be orchestrated by ODF’s chief ideologue and executed by his henchmen.
Evidently, the ODF (Oromo Dialogue Forum) Cadres and now members of ODF (Oromo democratic Front) Central Committee were actively campaigning to win support for their scheme and their very points of persuasive strategy in this regard was that they (ODF both as a Forum and a Front even though there is no any distinction)claimed to have a very strong base in the country by clearly revealing that the likes of Kumsa Gada and Licho Bukhra are actively working for them as they were dispatched for this very purpose. In fact, the name Licho and Kumsa had a repelling factor or so to say a boom rang effect so that the “flexible” group shifted their propaganda of selling such familiar names as Obbo Bulcha Demeksa and Dr. Merera Gudina as having Conformity with ODF’s political ideology. The two “top leaders” of ODF had miserably failed their own cadres by bashing Dr Merera. In a meeting in Norway, Dima Nogo pronounced that the difference between his party and Merera’s Party is mainly that “Mararan Biira dhugaa qabsaa’a” while Dima did not have the courage to weigh in his own vagabondism who is primarily bent on auditing his supplies of perfume brands than the lots of Oromo people from day one. Very lately in another round of meeting in Colombus, Ohio again, Leenco Lata paraphrased that Marara’s original intention of forming a party was solely to partake in the rituals of the Ethiopian national elections every five years and to sit in their clumsy parliament. Other than that Marara has no basic grievances with the Ethiopian State System while HE (Leenco and his disciples) has fundamental differences with that very system, and hence are incompatible.
Those splits, purges and surrenders were finally concluded with the “resignation” of the newly hatched Diaspora members of the OLF in Europe and North America that was so theatrical and has remained a laughing stock for many. Some even sent their resignation Letters to the leaders of the OLF Central Committee, without an a priory knowledge of being known to the Organization as members. The irony of their resignation was that it was coordinated by their “New Visionary” Leaders as they had to follow a circular in which every member sending resignation letter to the OLF hierarchy should send the copy to all “resigning compatriots,” a mechanism for the bosses to oversee the checks and balances. The Prisoners Dilemma scenario had very much worked in favor of the shepherds, and less for the herd.
Whatever the outcome might have been, a series of purges, surrenders and resignations were all reflections of a very coherent and consistent course pursued by the ODF founding fathers with a permanent mission of weakening and disbanding the OLF for no less than four decades.
The “unthinkable” but the inevitable storm and the final divorce from the OLF
The man who was so controversial and so influential at the same time for close to four decades had to go per resolution of OLF’s Central Committee in October 2011. The most controversial figure of all times within the OLF in particular and that of the Ethiopian polity in general, Leenco Lata, fell from grace and sought refuge in to something one cannot call an organization for a man of his caliber. As I have reiterated above, Leenco was not in favor of divorcing from the OLF but he, apparently, was forced to depart as he himself testified on Radio program known as Simbirtu. He was heard saying with a shaky voice “na geggeessani” meaning they chased me away. This was very much unthinkable to him and to many but given his unruly tenure for so long it was inevitable. There is no any specific date for Dima’s departure from the OLF but he was even believed to be in paralysis for the last 20 years as he did not have any specific role. Apart from the five years he spent on his PhD in the United States, his role in the OLF was limited to being invited to meetings of the OLF as an Ex-Minister, Ex-Executive committee member and many other EX-attributes. Any ways, Dima’s departure has never been News and did not excite anyone for good or bad. He was a neglected man by the OLF to this extent since he was known for his shrewd moves and puffy persona with no use. Rather, his current tenure as ODF’s Vice president is very much akin to his OLF chairmanship 39 years ago. The last time Dima had made headlines as an OLF executive was when he surrendered his Jeep to the Kenyan gang in Nairobi back in 1995. Besides these two, all the foot soldiers of ODF today do not warrant to be enumerated as the divorcees of the OLF because they had never been a member as such but cheer leaders of the OLF in the Diaspora whenever needed.
The politics of Resentment
It is widely believed that Leenco’s infant organization is a serious miscalculation on his part because his deep resentment against the Shane Gumii OLF is the main driving force leading up to formation of this amorphous association known as ODF. It is true that he was yearning for so long to materialize the idea of democratic Ethiopia to be the final solution for all of the social, political and economic ills in which the Oromo question could also be resolved. But the quickly backed ODF has never been in his mind for the big scheme of “Democratizing Ethiopia”. Leencoo has always been straight forward in this respect: he believed that reforming OLF’s political program should remain the most desirable way to get there because dissolving OLF would meant for him assassinating ones’ own offspring. He was right but fell short of the principle he has harbored for close to four decades when that fateful day in October 2011 stormed him out of the very organization he took for granted as his own enterprise. Subsequent to his divorce from the OLF many discontented repenting Cadres and those who had been exhibiting a deep remorse for conspiring against Mama Ethiopia saw this as an opportunity to approach the bitterly disappointed man to come up with an irritant. The disgruntled individuals and disenfranchised groups in the Diaspora coupled with the dissatisfied cheer leaders finally flocked to a clandestine discussion group known as “Maree” or ODF Sr. Anger and resentment have become the common bond for the new franchise. ODF Jr. is an offspring of this series and that is why we say it has no form or shape nor content; it is just an irritant to the OLF as the main objective of it was also to act so. The reason is simple: OLF and ODF could not co-exist because they pursue a diametrically opposite end while claiming the same basis of Operation; one has to wither away for the other to march forward. In the immediate aftermath of ODF’s (the organization, not the forum) formation, its vice president was the guest of an Ethiopian Paltalk room managed by a certain Aba Mela or Berhanu Damte. Dima was asked as to what the fate the OLF would be in the face of the newly formed organization. Dima replied that OLF has evolved to ODF and he kept repeating the catch phrase in all of his subsequent appearances until very recently, even though it did not hold water. One has to read between the lines; Dima was short of saying that OLF was dissolved. At the same time he repeatedly attempted, though in vain, to give the impression that OLF’s transformation in to ODF was supposedly an outcome of a consensual process across the spectrum and hence is the legacy of the founders of the OLF-ODF is perpetual.
The Politics of remorse and repenting
Remnants of the “reformist” group who later joined the ranks of the ODF started to confess about their blindfolded Euphoria when they embarked on the infamous Jijjirama in 2008. They did not hide that they were overwhelmed by a cheerful crowd that was not cognizant of what it was cheering out for. The crowd, mainly composed of an agrarian subsistence farmers and pastoral clans in the southern belt of present day Ethiopia who emigrated to the to the United States, was equally overwhelmed by the abundance and the life style the “new homeland” had to offer and falsely convinced of a capability to take over the OLF as a closely knit clannish society with no alien interference. This is a very crude bunch that always alienates anybody outside of the clan structure. In other words, Oromumma is alien to this group unless one is recognized as a member of one of the clan layers as they know it.
The street smart pity elite of the “Reformists” woke up shortly after the quarter Million fund raiser finances started to dwindle away. They betrayed the very crowd that crowned them to a clan prominence and they were not shy to repent also. They said they were wrong while many believe they are still wrong because after repenting they did not come back the drawing board. They rather continued on their opportunistic path and are currently swimming in the pond of controversy. If joining ODF is a remedy to their repentance that is to be seen.
Those who were very much weary of their treason to Mother Ethiopia were incessantly hanging on the pendulum and have no way of getting off of it. A remorseful mind is always prone to fear and inferiority. This group is of no use to OLF or ODF, and for that matter to any project with an Oromo Prefix at all. ODF is a temporary sanctuary until they come up with another pretext for their guilt and remorse.
From ODF to ODF: What next?
The yeast of the first ODF (the Forum) was fermented immediately after October 2011 and was “distilled” by late Spring of 2013 when the second ODF (the Front) was declared to be a culmination of a two year long thorough consultation with the “best and the brightest” of the Oromo Diaspora in Europe and North America. The Euphoric founding members and cadres went on a spree of press releases and interviews in which they were heard of boasting that they came up with a “New, really really New Vision” hitherto unheard of that is capable of building a very fair common home for all polities in Ethiopia. Paradoxically, some shallow cadres were also caught on tape saying that ODF’s goal is to seat an Oromo in Menelik’s Grand Palace and that is it. In principle, I am not against the desire of seating an Oromo at the helm of a political hierarchy in our own homeland. In fact, whatever the OLF or any other Oromo Political organizations were trying to achieve is to have an Oromo as our own leader in our own Country. But that can only be achieved when Oromos have power as a people and are free to seat or unseat whoever they deem right for the position. But beating a drum and blowing trumpets to crown an Oromo vis-a-vis empowering the Oromo people are absolutely incompatible acts.
The transition from ODF to ODF was relatively smooth even if some reports leaked about a small scale discontents during the last days of the second ODF’s founding congress. The rough terrain was blamed on some unruly protests regarding the naming of the new born and the flag the baby was supposed to hoist. Anyways, the protesters were easily subdued and succumbed to the majority mainly because they were cognizant of their fate if they continue the course as they had no any other political home to go to. They hate political homelessness and hence ODF is their best sanctuary for now.
As to what is next, Dima Nogo on Aba Mela Paltalk interview and Leenco Baati, on the Washington DC based Addis Dimts Radio interview hosted by Abebe Belew, already gave us an adequate hint that ODF will eventually evolve to EDF (Ethiopian Democratic Forces) and that they are working towards that end. This next move, as they naturally had to evolve to or otherwise surrender to the wholesale politics of Ethiopian citizenry, is a fetus being eagerly awaited by all sides of the aisle even if some satirists exclaim that what comes next will be a hermaphrodite as misconceived as it was and incapable of bearing anything meaningful.
Another hint coming from Finfinne indicated that ODF’s Liaison, also a Businessman in the “Real estate industry” who is an actual facilitator of the land grab, Abba Biyya Abba Jobir, had filed an application at the office of the Ethiopian Election Board to register ODF as one of the contestants of the 2015 Ethiopian national election. Abba Biyya had become instrumental in meditating the wealthy caliphates and sultanates of the Arabian Peninsula with the TPLF land grab tycoons and he was believed to amass some in the process. The comprador lately fled to Saudi Arabia in the wake of a tax evasion rumor he was sought for as he apparently did not pay taxes on the money gleaned from an intermediary role he played to get our country looted. In light of Abba Biyya’s absence as a liaison at the moment, ODF is said to have dispatched a replacement from Minnesota but this is not confirmed yet. Whatever the outcome of ODF’s application for election is going to be, it will come to light soon and we will take it from there.
The Multiple layers of the ODF membership
The self appointed OLF founding fathers who claim an absolute right to drive the organization in any direction of their wish. This includes the controversial man (now President) and his co-hort. By the way, one awkward thing people comment on the structure of the ODF is that the title of President conferred to the man in charge of the entire drama and now at its helm. It is not that common for organizations like this to call the person at the top of the pyramid a “president”. Such positions are usually given the titles of Chairmanship or so. May be it could be part of the “New Vision” or nihilism at its best.
Remnants of the leftist political groupings of the 1970s and 80s for whom the politics of vilifying Oromo Nationalism has worked superbly with ODF’s emergence. This group was originally the anti-thesis of the OLF in the early days of its inception and was known to have played a crucial ideological role in stabilizing and corona ting the military junta, just to be whipped by the very of soldiers they had helped ascend to the killing spree. This Neo-Marxist group was also a proponent of punitive campaigns against “narrow nationalists” that included OLF activists known and unknown to them. May be they were also victims of their own times and the Marxist preaching in which proletarian internationalism was accepted as a universal norm for man’s brotherhood and as a means to defeat humanity’s lots through it. After a lengthy hibernation, some members of the said group propped up with the birth of the first ODF, and in fact had become sub-ideologues of the process that ended with the second ODF. One thing they are good at it is that they intentionally assumed obscure but crucial roles in the process ODF Sr. & ODF Jr. went though. If things do not work as they wished; they can easily coil themselves in to their shells but for now they had achieved one important mile stone. With OLF’s & ODF’s founders claim or short of saying that Oromo nationalism is an outdated venture and OLF is irrelevant, this group’s original position of despising “narrow nationalism” was partly vindicated. Their final vindication would come with ODF’s assumption of the throne in a “Democratic multi-national Ethiopia,” as this was the main tenet they embraced under the slogan of proletarian Internationalism.
Remnants of the WPE (ISAPA) and REYA functionaries of the last regime-the politics of nostalgia. This group is just good for nothing other than looking for an opportunity that they believed is, no matter what, attainable through Leencoo’s miracles and they did not want to lose a once in a life time opportunity. The nostalgic group, then, will go back to assume their surrogate roles for whoever is in power, all they need is their bossy gestures over the villagers to be restored. This group is useless for the ODF itself which the non-ISAPA ODFites are also well aware of. But they badly needed company at this juncture and anyone who believes in the scheme is welcome.
The newly hatched members of the OLF in the Diaspora (the syndicated cheer leading cliques) whose politics of perceived self importance (the false consciousness) contributed to the defamation of the OLF as an Organization and paralyzed the Oromo social fabric in the Diaspora. OLF is, in fact, a victim of its own making when it comes to the wound inflicted up on it from this corner. The group encompasses the ones’ who were also tribal chiefs of the Reformist group and some low level cadres in Diaspora communities. Characteristically, these were also known by their fierce rivalries amongst themselves in the matter of hosting the visiting top OLF leaders in Europe and the United States as a show off of loyalty and allegiance. Behaviorally, the group did not change in essence, what has changed is just the visiting fellows. Besides these, there is not much to say about this group since their role was limited to either subordination or insubordination to the hierarchy depending on what is on the ground at a given time. If need be, it is still possible to unmask the social anatomy of each and every one of them and how their behavior affected the discourse of the Oromo movement. Some had presided over a large crowd of Diaspora Oromos in the process, and mistook their role for decisiveness. But the way they portray themselves and their “crucial” roles in the OLF is, of course, quite contrary to what is being said here. We will wait and see where they end up in ODF’s election campaign in the coming two years and thereafter.
The elderly and the helpless is the last group lured in to adherence of the ODF simply because this group is always vulnerable to any news or project that would likely get them back home, and this is one of the strongest bastions in the arena of beliefs in Leencoo’s miracles.
More or less the process of the Forum and the Front during the last two years has brought birds of a feather together on a fragile basis. Fragile, because the chief ideologue’s love for OLF is still unconditional and he has no heart to dismantle it, if not for his bitter resentment against the Shane Gumi’s actions of October 2011. His and his Disciples’ attitude towards the OLF is also diametrically opposite. He cares(even though some argue otherwise) very much because OLF is his own making to the extent that the name Leencoo Lata and OLF were used to be interchangeably used for over three decades. Undeniably, Leencoo was the face of the Oromo revolution and hence the face of the Oromo nation at one juncture in our history. He also dearly paid a price in the name of the same OLF others are trying to assassinate. Therefore, their next move on the issue of their upcoming relationships with the OLF will be a defining moment to solve the paradox. Again Fragile, because some of the top leaders of ODF are inherently halfhearted (Dima et al) and inherently traitors (Bayaan Asooba), they have no problem of withdrawing their allegiance whenever they deem the time is right for them. The Neo-Marxists are already conscious of the possibility that things could go wrong and they already put themselves on the edge so that they can easily slide in to their usual past in any eventuality.
Further more Fragile, because the low level cadres had always remained the best spare parts for the fighting giants; it does not take them much time to shift their loyalty at any given moment. The remaining layers of the ODF membership do not warrant any further scenario analysis. Given all these possibilities, ODF is a house of cards for now unless foreign intervention (TPLF, Faranjis and True Ethiopian Nationalists) comes to their rescue or unless the main fortress from which ODF was assembled together to operate is those foreign forces from the very outset.
What is at stake?
The ODF will continue the course as long as Leencoo Lata remains at the top. If, for any reason, he leaves the post or ceases his activism, ODF will also cease to exist. If ODF’s resolve is to attain political power in Finfinne as it is yearning for it right now, every member and rank & file of the ODF as well as all Oromos have to be weary of a bloody battle that follows between Oromos supporting ODF and OLF. These two cannot co-exist due to the nature of their antagonistic destinations. So, ODF has to work hard towards completely eradicating the OLF, otherwise the OLF has to reciprocate the same course of action in order to clear ideological divides that is confusing the Oromo people. The fake proposition of tolerance uttered by both sides is of course a public relations exercise, but the self evident course would be the decimation of either of the two for the survivor to thrive. OLF’s and ODF’s co-existence and the call for futile tolerance have nothing to do with political pluralism. It is rather an imperative for existentialism as a nation.
Statement of peaceful demonstration of the Oromo Community in the United Kingdom
The aim of the protest was to stand against Human rights abuses and the brutal killings of thousand s of Oromos including Engineer Tesfahun Chemeda and the Massacred Muslim Oromos in Arsi. The arbitrary arrest, torture, extra-judicial killings, mass murder & disappearances are not only the day- to- day practices in Ethiopia, but also reached the highest peak. For example, the Oromia Support Group in United Kingdom, a non-political organization that raise awareness of human rights violations in Ethiopia, has reported four thousand two hundred seventy nine (4,279) extra-judicial killings and 987 disappearances of civilians in Ethiopia from 1994 – 2010. These figures do not include the unreported killings and secret arrests that are exercised at several corners in the country particularly in Oromia region. The recent shocking incidents were the killings of twenty- seven innocent civilians including five children in Kofale, Arsi region of Oromia on August 3, 2013. http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/ethiopian-repression-muslim-protests-must-stop-2013-08-08 and the murder of Engineer Tesfahun Chemeda who has been tortured and killed in Kaliti prison custody on August 24, 2013.
The surprising news was that, despite all the repressions and killings, the Ethiopia Government was privileged to be the top aid recipient in Africa. Currently, the Ethiopian government is receiving $500,000,000 every year ($2 billion in the next 4 years) from the UK government alone. http://www.voanews.com/content/ethiopia-is-top-uk-aid-recipient-117204413/157544.html.. According to the current trend, the size of this aid is increasing and there is also a plan for huge investment at the cost of poor Oromo farmers’ displacement due to the land grab. The donors say ‘’we are trying to help the millions of very poor, very vulnerable Ethiopians improve their lives’’. But the reality on the ground is that they are financing the government who is terrorizing and suppressing its people and increasing poverty, while enriching the government officials and few of their cliques.
A number of independent bodies accused the Ethiopian government for using the aid money for repression and sidelining the opposition into submission. Also the Ethiopian Government officials openly use their power to enrich their families and close friends with the aid money. The corruption, poverty and injustice increased alarmingly at a higher rate in Ethiopia as the aid money goes up. So where is the help for the poor?
We believe that the UK and US Governments are fully aware of all sorts of human rights abuses exercised by the Ethiopia Government.
http://allafrica.com/stories/201304231206.html?viewall=1. However, they give deaf ears to these repressive and brutal government actions and provide the huge tax payers’ money and give moral and technical supports. Therefore, we appeal to the UK government, the US government and the international community:
- To stop indirect or direct involvements in activities suppressing the struggle of the Oromo and other victims of the brutal Ethiopian Government by revising their aid plan.
- To seek justice for Engineer Tesfahun Chemeda who has been murdered while he was under the custody of the Ethiopian regime.
- To seek justice for the twenty seven innocent Muslims, including 5 children, who have been massacred in Kofale, Arsi region of Oromia by the Ethiopian Government?
- To support the Oromo and other victimized communities in Ethiopia to overcome injustice and help them to live in freedom, peace, and democracy and achieve stability in the region.
The Oromo community in the UK
London, September 13, 2013
Ethiopian man claims he is 160 years old and can recall the Italian invasion of his country in 1895
- SOPHIE JANE EVANS
- The Daily Telegraph
- September 12, 2013 7:09PM
Ethiopian farmer Dhaqabo Ebba claims to be a staggering 160 years old, which would make him the world’s oldest living man.
MANY people won’t be aware of Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia in 1895, but one man doesn’t just know about the battle – he claims to have lived through it.
Retired farmer Dhaqabo Ebba, from Ethiopia, says he is a staggering 160 years old, which would make him the world’s oldest living man.
He claims to have clear memories of Italy’s invasion of his country in the 19th century – however, there is no birth certificate to prove his age.
Japan’s 114-year-old Misao Okawa poses with the Guinness World Records certificate of the world’s oldest woman. Picture: AP
In a statement to Oromiya TV, he provided so much detail on the history of his local area that reporter Mohammed Ademo became convinced that Mr Ebba must be at least 160 years old.
This would make him 46 years older than the oldest ever recorded man.
‘When Italy invaded Ethiopia I had two wives, and my son was old enough to herd cattle’, said Mr Ebba.
He then recounted his eight-day horseback rides to Addis Ababa as a child – a journey that takes only a few hours today.
IF Mr Ebba’s claims are true he will knock off the previous titleholder Jeanne Calment, 122. Picture: AFP
As Mr Ebba grew up in an oral society, there is no paper trail and no living witnesses to verify his age.
However, if his claim can be medically confirmed, he would oust 115-year-old Misao Okawa, who is currently recognised by the Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest living person.
He would also overtake French woman Jeanne Calment as the oldest person to have ever lived.
Ms Calment died in 1997 at the age of 122.
The last man confirmed to have lived in the 19th century was Jiroemon Kimura, who was born in Japan on April 19, 1897.
Jiroemon Kimura smiling as he celebrates his 116th birthday, he died in June this year. Picture: AFP
He died in June this year at the age of 116 – making him the longest-living man in history.
Mr Kimura, who lived in Kyotango, Japan, left behind seven children, 14 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren and 15 great-great-grandchildren.
According to 2011 government data, Japan has more than 50,000 centenarians, reinforcing its reputation for longevity.
Gufuu Maaf Komatu ???
Buqqisanii maqsuuf harka osoo qabanii,
Arganii irraa maquuf ija osoo qabanii,
Gufuu maaf komatu ofumaaf dhiitanii?
Rakkina miilla ofii qorachuu dhiisanii.
Takkaa ishuma maqsuu, yookaa irrumaa maquu,
Gufuu karaa keessaa maal komee ishee dhaqu ?
Fulbaana, 10, 2013 Malkaacaffee@gmail.com
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Yeroo hundaa abbaan maasaa ganama ganama midhaan ilaaluu maasaa dhaqa. Hennaa ilaaluu midhaan kama nyaatame arga. “Maalumatu nyaata midhaan kiyya?” jedha kophaa ofiititti. Guyyaa lammataallee yoo deebi’ee ilaalu waan isa nyaatu hin argu garuu midhaanuma nyaatame arga. “Amjaajjii kamtu midhaan kiyya nyaata?” jedhee karaa itti baasuu jalqabe. Erga karaa itti baasee geessee booda akkana jedhee yaade “Hiddatti muree kuffisee kan nyaatu jeedala” jedhee biraa gale. Bariisaa yoo deebi’ee ilaalu:-
“Amma kan duraatuu yaa caalu;
Fixeensa keessa deemuu hin xaaru.”
Jetteet abbaa maasaa galatoomfataa karama inni irra deemaa hamjaajjota too’achuuf fayyadamu irratti kuffiftee nyaatte ammas hin saalfattuu! Guyyaa biraa ammo “Maasaa kiyya waan isa nyaatu argee mirkaneessu malee hirriba hin argadhu!” jedheet arguudhaaf murate. “Amjaajjiin midhaan yoo nyaattu muka wajjiin kuffiftu tami tan muka osoo hin kuffisin dhaabatatti cabsattu hoo tami?” jedhee namoota firaa gaafate. Namoonnillee “Dhaddeenis inuma cabsiti garuu kan muka waliin kuffisu jeedala” jedhaniin.
Abbaan maasaa midhaan kiyya jedha malee jeedalli nyaachuu irra dabartee akka waan maasaan abbaa hin qabneetti ilaaltee dhaddeen “Maaf nyaatta midhaan kiyya?” jetteen. Dhaddelleen maashillaa corqataa “Atuu asheeta kiyya maalif nyaatta? Bara kana ana qotatee mitii?” jetteen.
Abbaan maasaa guyyaa midhaan isaa nyaata qabu irraa eegalee galgala galgala midhaan isaa eeguu jalqabe. Osomaa eeguu hamjaajjotni gaafa tokko yeroo duraan baratanitti dhufanii nyaachuu yoo isaan jalqaban argee itti iyye. Dhaddee fi jeedallis heddu rifatan. Dhaddeefi jeedallis gaafas rifatanii maasii keessaa ba’an. Jeedalli dhaddeen akkana jette “Ati kunoo qoree uffattee abbaan maasaa yoo woraana jabaan sitti ba’e malee ofirraa waraanta anumti maaluma ta’a? Sima jalaan yoo nyaadhe malee.” Jettee dhaddee kadhatte.
Guyyaa kana abbaan maasaa akkana jedhee yaade mataa ofii keessatti “Erga rifatanii halkan qixxee dhokatanii yoo dhufan malee galgalaa fi obboroo hin dhufan.” Jedhe. Haa ta’u malee hamjaajjotni caalatti nyaachuuf guyyaa beellamatan.
Gaafa kanallee yoo abban maasaa waareffatu dhadee fi jeedalli midhaan nyaatanii quufanii ibidda bobeessanii gamaa fi qamanatti gareedhan wal fooyanii; gareen jeedalallee gara tokko dhaabbatanii gareen dhaddlelee cinaa tokko dhaabbatanii seekkaran; seekkaraanis wal arrabsuu jalqaban.
Seekkarri isaanillee akkana jedha:-
“Dhaddiyowoo jaalaloo abba shubbee;
Darasaan keessan midhaan nu lubbe”
“Keessan biyyoon yoo nyaataa laafu namuu;
Nurraa dhoorgaa akka hin nyaanne lamuu”
“Keessaa biyyon nyaata wal saamaniwoo
Corqataan maasaa nu saabaniwoo”
“Kee dhiiftee ka nama hin sadinii;
Keetimitii afaanii hin badin”
“Dhaddiyyowoo nyaattanii quuftaniwoo;
Kuffifattanii irra ciiffaniwoo.”
Erga sakkarri hamnaatee oo’ifatanii dhaddeen aartee jeedala qoree itti kaafte “Maasaa koo keessa bayi” jetten. Achamaan jeedaalli “Dhaddiyyoo waan ati jettu haalaf siin jedhe male miidhaa keetif hin jenne” jette araarfachuuf waan qalbii qabduf. Dhaddeellen “ Ati yero duraa na gowwoomisitee ufii keetif kophaan boqqoolloo nyaachoo barbaaddee turte garuu hin dandunne” jetteen. Isaanis akkanatti maasii abbaa qabu nyaatanii irraatti seekkaran; seekkaraas bulanii itti bariinaan adda bayan.
Ethiopia seen outside the box
Michael Tsegaye turned to photography because of an allergy to oil paint. Caitlin Chandler talks to him about ‘African art’, Renoir and his upcoming exhibition in Oslo
It’s hard to catch photographer Michael Tsegaye; photography jobs frequently take him to remote parts of Ethiopia, while his personal work graces urban art meccas such as Paris, New York and Bamako. He’s soon Scandinavia-bound; Oslo will host his next exhibition later in September.
Luckily Tsegaye recently had time to meet for a macchiato at the Lime Tree café in the Bole neighborhood of Addis Ababa. He grew up in Bole, before the area became home to the never-ending construction of shiny new office buildings and restaurants. Originally a painter, Tsegaye turned out to be allergic to oil paint, and switched to photography in 2003. Photography brought him out of the studio and into constant negotiation with places and people; he says he’s never looked back.
Tsegaye’s photographic series range from tackling social issues such as climate change to pondering space and time across Ethiopia. He has worked in a variety of mediums and formats, and is increasingly in demand from commercial and non-profit clients. Despite exhibiting around the world, Tsegaye regularly debuts work in his hometown. We chatted over coffee about how the media portrays African artists, which subjects catch his attention, and what reaction to his photos has surprised him the most.
In the bio on your website, you say that you try to escape being pigeonholed. Why is defying expectations important to you? And who usually does the pigeonholing?
There is a certain expectation when you are called an African artist or an African photographer; it puts you in a kind of box. So for me I’m here, I’m in Ethiopia, I’m in Africa – but that doesn’t mean I do a certain kind of photography style. I can work anywhere, and my work should first reflect me as an artist – not as an African or Ethiopian.
Ankober (2007). Photograph: Michael Tsegaye
Your website offers a glimpse into your portfolio. For each series there is a short introduction but besides that, the viewer is left to interpret what he or she is looking at. Are you saying: this is art, and you, the viewer are free to interpret it as you want?
Some works on the website I put just for the viewer to see and imagine, but mainly the work is not meant to be presented online. I do exhibitions, where the photographs are the right size and accompanied by lighting. For exhibitions I also provide more explanation, and the picture becomes stronger, you can communicate more, interact with it. The website is just a glimpse.
Do you work with digital, film or both? How do you decide which medium fits the topic? When to use color or b&w?
For jobs I do digital but otherwise it depends on the subject. For Future Memories, the Addis series, I think the title and the concept led me to shoot in black and white film. If it’s a long-term project I can process film whenever I want.
In a previous interview, you mentioned you prefer not to focus on poverty, yet poverty is also present in many of your photographs. How do you navigate this balance?
Ethiopia is viewed in many mediums as a poor country, with hungry people. I don’t want to show that. It’s not only that we have poverty; there is life, there is everything here like any other country. I know that maybe it sells if I do poverty, but that shouldn’t make it the focus. At least that’s not my focus.
How do you decide to work on a particular topic?
It depends. Sometimes when I travel I see things and it builds up to a story. Or I decide to take on something that’s a big issue here – like for example when I did the Working Girls series which is about prostitution. Prostitution and HIV are big issues here, but I wanted to explore what it is like on the inside, what their daily life is like. Mostly we see how they are dressed, that they are out in bars, but there are other layers to every person.
So sometimes it’s a social issue I explore and sometimes it’s more personal – if I’m happy or depressed, certain things come out. It’s like solving a problem; you have an issue and you try to work with it and see where it goes.
In Working Girls, you document the lives of young women sex workers in Addis. How did the project originate, and for how long did you take photos? How did you gain the trust of the young women? Did you show the women the photos; if so, what were their reactions?
Working Girls II (2008), which focuses on solidarity and humour among sex workers. Photograph: Michael TsegayeI was introduced to the women by a local NGO and I stayed with them for two weeks. I went in the morning to their place and I left when they started work at the bar. Most of my day, every day, was with them. It was a bit difficult in the beginning – they didn’t know what I was like, they didn’t trust me. I didn’t even take pictures the first two days, I just sat with them, and then when they started trusting me I started taking pics.
They came to the opening of the exhibition at the Harmony Hotel in Addis. They liked the photos, and they explained them to the audience.
I showed it also in Paris, and then the photos went online. There was only one guy who didn’t like the idea and the subject; he said Ethiopia is not like this, Ethiopia has many beautiful things. I think that was the only negative reaction – many people liked that it showed a social issue that should be discussed.
What is the public reaction to sex work as a practice in Addis, and Ethiopia more broadly?
I think partly sex work is accepted here, because it’s growing, the number of people involved in it. But it’s a mixed reaction; it’s accepted but it’s not accepted. For the girls, most of them change places – if the girl is from Addis she has to work in Awasa, because she doesn’t want her friends or neighbours to know.
If the girls are working in a bar, they say it’s usually safe. But some of them are working in the streets, so sometimes a guy will come with a gun who doesn’t want them to use a condom and force them [to have sex].
In several series you show the affects of development in Ethiopia through aerial shots which convey the magnitude of the changes, including the way the urban landscape in Addis is changing – Bole road was recently constructed and debuted for the African Union’s 50th Anniversary (although now appears under construction again), new apartment complexes are going up and older houses torn down. What do you hope your photos reveal about these changes?
I think in those photos I wish to show “know what you have when you lose it.” Addis is 120 or 150 years old, so there is a culture that developed in those village areas that were first settled [where there are now new condominiums going up] like Arat Kilo, so when they demolish them and move people to the new apartment buildings, there are certain things that go with them, some of which fit or don’t fit with this new kind of living structure.
For example in Sengatera, there is this main street, and along with it there used to be shops and garages. People used to collect discarded carton boxes from the shops to use as kindle for making injera. Older people lived off washing clothes and selling injera. The neighbourhood had its own system and social fabric; the residents helped each other out, they shared shiro, they called each other for a coffee. Everybody knew everybody. So when people are taken out of that system and put in different places, it destroys the system that existed. For me it’s interesting to follow the people and see how they develop into the new system. And what they take with them.
Working Girls II. Photograph: Michael Tsegaye
Ethiopia, like most countries, has a complex religious history and many people identify as religious. In the series Chasms of the Soul you explore customs around commemorating life via photographs that are overlaid on gravestones. In North Road, you show gatherings of Christian monks; many of the photos in Ankober are grainy and partially obscured, lending them a mystical air. How do you approach religion in your work?
When I do personal work for me it’s all my experience. I went to a Catholic school and my family is Orthodox Christian. I’m also influenced by the Amharic literature, and poetry I grew up reading. The sense of spirituality in my work comes not only from religion, but from my sense of Ethiopia and how I perceive it.
What is the photographer community like in Ethiopia? Where have you found supporters and colleagues? What are the challenges?
I don’t hang out with photographers, I hang out with artists, painters. I come from an art background, and my friends are artists. Taking pictures is easy but producing an exhibition, producing a book, printing – those things can be difficult here. It can be hard to find a good space to exhibit.
What influenced you to become an artist?
I don’t know. I used to draw when I was a child. We used to have in our house books of Lenin and Marx, and on the covers they had portraits, and I would copy them. We also used to get a calendar from this guy who worked for a pharmaceutical company, and the calendar had pictures of Picasso and Dali. In school I illustrated bible stories.
But beyond that I had no exposure to art. After high school I joined Addis Ababa University in Sidist Kilo to study economics. And then I quit – it didn’t make sense to me. I told my mom I wanted to be an artist, and in our family I had a relative, Eshetu Tiruneh, who was an artist, so she took me to him and he was the one who trained me. I used to go to his office and he would show me slides, show me how light and shadow work. After that I joined an art school, but he was the one who first opened my eyes.
Which photographers do you admire, and any particular series of theirs?
I don’t follow photographers; I tend to see painting more than photography. I like Vermeer, Rembrandt, the abstract expressionists. Also Egon Schiele and the Russian painters.
You’ve had exhibitions around the world. Has anyone’s reaction to your photos ever surprised you? If so, how so?
If I sell, sometimes I get surprised.
What are you currently working on, and what is your next project?
My next exhibition is in Oslo, of the graveyard pictures series Chasms. Also my Addis Ababa project is ongoing. There’s also a long-term project I’m starting to work on more – portraits of older people across Ethiopia, all in close-ups. I like portraits and I think with older people you can see more – all the wrinkles.
With portraits, it’s a strange experience – you kind of invade someone’s privacy and they’re uncomfortable, but after a while they become comfortable. Maybe they don’t have a choice – the mask is open and you really see them, you see what’s there.
To see more of Michael Tsegaye’s photographs, visit www.michaeltsegaye.com
Caitlin Chandler works in international public health, with a focus on young people, HIV and sexual and reproductive rights. She is based in Addis Ababa