ODF’s proposal titled, “Our Common Future: A Proposal. Seeking the Next Breakthrough in Democracy and Multinational Federation in Ethiopia”, is nothing more than a document written to solicit fund from the donor class in the west than to address the plight of the Oromo people.
This proposal has received mum reaction from the Oromo people because the vast majority of Oromo do not believe that ODF represents their interest. On the other hand it has received some praises from the donor class and the people who cannot see eye-to-eye with independent Oromo organizations that stand on their own feet. If the objective is to appease the later groups, it has succeeded to some degree. For the Oromo people, the environment is the last thing on their mind when they are losing hundreds of schoolchildren, women, and elderly to agazi brutality and thousands are incarcerated by the minority Tigray-led government every day. The fake development that enriched the few Tigray-elites and uprooted thousands of Oromo farmers from their ancestral land is not a development that included them rather development of others as they perish. This is not a war of choice for the Oromo people. It is a war of necessity. One of survival!
The Oromo people rejected the Oromo Democratic Front (ODF) from its very inception. Since ODF failed to attract the Oromo people, it has been trying hard to be relevant by aligning itself first with TPLF and when that also failed now with groups that refuses to even recognize the Oromo as a people. ODF is formed by a group of disgruntled former Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) members who are dismissed or left the organization voluntarily at different times either for their incompetent and/or because of their poor judgment and failing to follow proper chain of command. The founders fathered many mini-projects that failed before launching ODF as their last stand to stay relevant.
ODF leader’s biggest project up-to-date was to go back to Ethiopia as a peaceful opposition party to the ruling TPLF. That is well and good if there is the courage to see it through. Their vision was predicated on the assumption that TPLF will roll out red carpet and welcoming their peaceful opposition. They even signaled to appease TPLF that in return of the red carpet they would not seek to participate in the 2015 general election before leaving Europe and North America. By doing so, ODF already conceded to TPLF, representing only about 6% of Ethiopian population, as the superior party and theirs representing about 40% of the population, the Oromo people, as a junior partner. A peaceful resistance does not cut and run when the going gets tough. We all know how their fantasy ended. Embarrassingly, they run out of town with their tails between their legs.
ODF leader’s conversion from ardent supporter of “self-determination up to secession” to self-identification, the new slogan, is not one of conviction but it is one of convenience to extend their political life. You self-identify when you appear in front of a judge or for a police officer or thing of that nature. You do not self-identify in your house. The Oromo people and the dynamic Oromo youth in charger of the Oromo revolution are speaking with one voice clear and loud that Oromia cannot be auctioned to the highest bidder and their OROMUMMAA is not up for negotiation with anyone or any group. More than 700 people’s lives at Ireechaa, more than 1000 lives on the streets of Oromia, hundreds of Oromo prisoners murdered in shackles in prisons are not the price the Oromo people paid as an opening bid for ODF to negotiate to be able to self-identify as Oromo.
It is saddening to see different groups coming out of their hibernation to trade on Oromo blood. When ODF leaders run back with their tails between their legs, Oromo youth stood up against injustice in the face of fire and many paid the ultimate price so that their peasant parents stay on their land; their brothers and sisters can go to school without fear of death and incarceration. I wish people calling for peaceful struggle go home and pursue their peaceful resistance in person than preaching from the comfort of Norway or Minneapolis. Have the courage to hop on Ethiopian airlines to Finfinne, cross your hands over your head, and walk from Bole to the palace and show your solidarity first. Be an example! The Oromo people are not going to roll out red carpet socked in their schoolchildren’s blood for ODF. You have to earn it!
The leader of ODF is not new to controversies of his own making or otherwise. The puzzling thing about the marriage of convenience between Ginbot 7 and ODF is that ODF leader’s denounced armed struggle to change the regime in Ethiopia. Ginbot 7 on the other hand claims to have engaged in armed struggle to overthrow the minority Tigray-led TPLF government in Finefinne, many people hard pressed to believe that Dr. Berhanu Nega has seen a day on the battle field. It must be a friendly battle field that you can fly out for graduations and birthdays. So, one wonders, when ODF denounces armed struggle it is only barring the Oromo people from defending themselves or ODF knows that Dr. Berhanu’s armed resistance is indeed a hoax? ODF’s was the leading architect of purring the gallant Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) unilateral in the faces of aggression from TPLF. This yet another chapter in his of disarming Oromo people in the faces of the gathering storm. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me! Stop playing the modern day Gobena.
It is not long ago that the head of ODF is accused by the Amhara elites for genocide and chased out of North America into Europe. Did ODF leader get quid pro qua amnesty to for ago the genocide accusation or it is a card waiting to be used once ODF’s service is over? This marriage of continence is doomed to fail for the simple reason that Ginbot 7 supporters and the Amhara elites cannot stomach seeing Oromo flag and Odaa, Oromo people’s source of peace and unity symbol, standing side by side with Habesha flag. A birth of a new faction of ODF that rejects this marriage is to emerge soon. Stay tuned!
Oromo people are a proud people with history, language, and culture. ODF and all Oromo interest groups should make it a priority to come together and look for solution from within first. We must come together as one people and articulate our visions for Oromia, Ethiopia, and the horn of Africa that to ensure our right place in it as a people and live in peace with others. Ours is not to dominate, it is to ensure our deserving place. We have the Gadaa institution that we can build on to bring us together and chart the next 100 years differently than the last 100 years has been. Oromo people are proud and generous people who love their neighbors and country as much as anyone.
Any party that is genuinely interested to bring a lasting peace to Ethiopia and the horn of Africa should not be afraid to talk to groups with diametrically opposite views with a broad base support and speak the truth for their people. Forming alliance after alliance with people and groups you agree with is not going to change the facts on the ground. The Oromo people are determined to own their future. We should be grateful to the thousands of Oromo schoolchildren, women, and elderly that paid the ultimate sacrifice so that ODF and others are able to even contemplate about the future. The Oromo revolution is what started it all and is here to stay until the end!