Toxic Politics of Ethnic Extremism
Tesfaye Z. Yigzaw
Half a century old toxic politics of ethnic repulsions once again is flaring up due to a mafia operative terrorist organization of Tigray People Liberation Front’s 27 years ethnic conflict-ridden rules, supported by its subservient and political servitude of ethnocentrists, while the country rallies behind a new leader with a better vision than it had been to bring people together. People have been aggrieved for a long time, needs years to heal. The presiding Prime Minister, started out with a good faith, nevertheless, his effort for an impending reform must overcome the hurdle over the old guards and noxious ethnic old farts. The desired reform for democracy is absolutely impossible unless a fundamental change takes place with a wacko constitution that is a root cause of conflicts in the country. Equally important, activist of unionist (Ethiopianism) must be strengthened to support the current reform, and challenge the rising radicalized ethnocentrism groups.
An individual or a group that lacks a slightest political program most often organize under tribal or religious consortium to stir up with emotions to its comfort to sprint on the back of those they think are inferior in intelligent than their own to make themselves valuable. They live off of others and never had steady jobs. This is applicable to extremist group as explained next.
There are two forms of undertakings to bring about changes in a society: either through a peaceful activism or radicalism. Peaceful activism is in a simplest term to be organized to bring about social or political changes. On contrary, radicalism is to bring social and political changes through revolutionary measures using forces, ideally, this form of undertaking is intolerant to other ideas, they are militant, immoderate, and prejudice is a notions embodied in radicalism. Ethiopia has entertained these two irreconcilable forces for years. The main groups: Ethiopianism comprises groups or peaceful activists that advocate a respect of universal declarations; justice, democracy and freedom to all citizens. They are inclusionist. On the other hand, ethnocentrist is most often misrepresents facts to inspire violence to seize power. They are exclusionist. In Ethiopia, ethnocentric group can be further divide into two: Here, I would like to discuss one of the oldest groups in the country: a radical group led by Abdulkarim Ibrhim Hamid (known by his alias Jaaraa Abbaa Gadaa) and Baro Tumsa. The following are the chronological names they have borne before becoming an Oromo Liberation Front: Liberation Front for the Somali West (LFSW). Western Somalia Liberation Front (WSLF or “Somali Galbeed”, Sheikh Hussein Sura was the Secretary General of WSLF, both were appointed by the late dictator Syed Bare. Abdulkarim Ibrhim Hamid and Sheikh Hussein Sura were joined together to form a single force, afterward they received material assistances and military training from the archenemies of Ethiopia: Egypt, Iraq and Syria. The Iraqi and Syrian governments supplied weapons while the Palestinian Fighters trained the combatants in Syria (apparently they did not listen to the teachings of a prophet Mohammed, as a result they have been crumpled to the ground). It was at this time that an Oromo radical group’s flag was established. I will explain about the flag, shortly. Meantime, the successive names continues; Islamic Front for Liberation of Oromia (IFLO), and Union of Oromo Liberation Forces (ULFO), Somali Abo, and finally Oromo Liberation Front. The late Assefa Chabo a friend of Baro Tumsa explained: the Abdulkarim Ibrhim Hamid group is from Hararghe, eastern Ethiopia, they are Muslims, and poor farmers with nomadic lifestyle, while the Baro Tumsa group was from Wellega, western Ethiopia, a protestant Christians, with modern education, and “Naftegna” from wealthy feudal back grounds. Inapprehensive, Baro Tumsa went to Hararegha to join Abdulkarim Ibrhim Hamid to wage a war, but he was beheaded for a reason that is described above. The speech to obliterate Ethiopia by Oromo radical group in London, and subsequently a formation of Oromo army and a Command Center in Atlanta, GA. are the most recent events. Currently, the lineage of Abdulkarim Ibrhim Hamid and Baro Tumsa groups are in unholy matrimony. Thus, an Oromo Command Center’s second in a command recently told a news media in Addis, “Ethiopia at this time has two governments”: the Abey’s government and an elusive Central Command’s group. In view of the current chaos in Addis and Oromia region, I believe this is a group that is responsible for upheaval.
In any rate, the ethnocentrist prime targets for a long time has been an attack on Ethiopianism by scapegoating ethnic Amhara, and Ethiopian Orthodox church. Also, they are in continuing spree attacking on Shewa Oromo in a derogatory term “Gobena”. Ras Gobena is an Ethiopian hero, not a shame as they depicted of him. In fact, he deserves a statue along Empress Taitu. This extremist group went further by hosting Dr, Muhammad Shasaddin Megalommatis, a Middle Eastern man who appeared in many occasions on one of an Oromo websites until a few years ago, he literally called on for Oromo to rise up annihilate Amhara. Obang Mato, a human rights activist is the only person I knew who condemned such malevolent act.
About the Flag: the Ethiopian flag is a rainbow color symbolizes the promise God gave to Noah (equally important to every human being without religious affiliations). Second, the rainbow color often appears at Blue Nile false or Tis-isat, this is a color that signifies peace, and a love of God. Based on this perception, our forefathers imitated a symbol for the country’s flag.
The Oromo heroes along their country men and women died for this flag, keeping an independent nation for generations to live on vanity. It is very pitiful hearing the Oromo extremist group dishonoring and patronizing Ethiopian heroes. Col. Abdissa Aga and General Jakama Kelo are among many highly decorated recent protagonists. His Holiness Abune Petros who sacrificed his life for Ethiopia’s freedom was an Oromo.
In contrary, the Oromo Liberation Front’s flag was designed when 37 exclusive Hararghe Muslims “Qyeroo Ganamaa” were receiving military training in Syria by Palestinian Fighters. It seems, except the emblem on the center, the flag was designed in a combination of the flags of these countries.
The Oromo extremist has been telling a bedtime story for generation by twisting factual history of Oromo. Here is the truth, the Shewa dynasty was established about 150 years ago by Emperor Menelik II, and continued through Emperor Hailesseliase through Mengistu H/Mariam (with no royal blood), these men established strong central government of modern Ethiopia, predominated by Oromo elites. How many people really know that the biggest landlord and the country’s coffee plantations in Wellega, Keffa, Sidamo, and Hararghe were owned by a single person from Wellega Oromo during Emperor Hailselase?
“Give credit to whom credit due”; the city of Addis Ababa was named by Empress Taitu also an Oromo by birth. Finfine (also called Sheger by Hararghe society), as the name implies, it is a location of hot spring, it was never a city. The Oromo extremist group has been obsessed with changing names of places. What is their intention? For example, freedom fighters established a place of worships close to their garrisons and named cities using biblical names, such as Hager Mariam now changed to Bule Hora, which is a pond located miles away. Another example is Nazareth (Nazret), it has been changed to Adama probable for a tree. Not only Ethiopia, Kenya must worry as they have claimed Mombasa, Moyle, and Nairobi, Kenya as a country itself with use of homophone. This is a retrospect of a “Greater Somali” a dream of the late Somali’s dictator. Do they have anything better to offer to the people of Oromo or Ethiopians in general? People need peace, democracy and justice. Young people needs work, elders needs to be looked after, children must fed healthy nutrients and schooling, there is degradation in environment, and the land is barren in most areas because of misuse, which requires reforestation and ecological attentions. Extremist groups do not offer a minute solution because they never struggled for democracy, neither for justice nor humanity but for them to seize power on the expenses of poor young Ethiopians’ bloodshed.
Finally, languages by no means would be a criteria to classify people in ethnicity. Speaking an Oromo language or Amharic neither makes one an Oromo nor an Amhara but an Ethiopian. For instance, intermarriages, and adoptions, and war captives are among which society was melded in history. Nevertheless, there is something else: lost society. I would like to mention one as example;
In 1947, Wolf Leslau had made a visit to Ethiopia to study its numerous languages. Among the languages he mentioned on his writing, there is one in particular I am interested in is a gafat language. He found that only the last four people who were alive to had spoken this language. This language believed to be spoken in a vast area below Abbay River, predominately in Wellega, and Shewa, as well as part of Keffa and Arsi. What happened to the Gafat society? I believe society cannot just vanish, but languages would as had been seen in most part of the world. I can speculate that the Gafat society might have been either intermingled or subdued by war to lose its mother tongue, and afterward they probable adapted an Oromo language. This is one example that the Ethiopian society is not homogenies, we all are interrelated by blood, but on the eyes of ethnic extremists they make us believe we are ethnically different for their political exploitation.