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(OPride) — Ethiopia’s leaders continue to improvise a workable response to the popular uprising in Oromia state. An estimated 400 people have been killed and tens of thousands arrested in the ongoing upsurge in Oromo protests that broke out last November.

Initially, Ethiopian authorities pointed fingers at the usual scapegoats, “anti-peace elements” and armed opposition groups operating from archrival Eritrea. As the size of the protesters swelled, officials started to admit — albeit timidly and tangentially — that the protesters’ grievances are legitimate. As the death toll rose inflaming the populace, the authorities stated that the disproportionate use of force was a mistake, an admission made to a visiting U.S. state department delegation in January.

Next, federal authorities and their surrogates tried to lay all the blame at the feet of the governing Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO). The latter, meeting in an emergency session, reversed course by canceling the implementation of the controversial Addis Ababa Master Plan that triggered the protests and promised to address the people’s grievances. After months of muddling, threats of stern action and confusing bluster, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn — addressing the country’s rubber stamp one-party parliament — on March 16 offered to pay compensation for victims’ families and made a vague apology for failing to heed the people’s grievances. Little has been said about the sheer lack of accountability and impunity for security forces. [Please see a detailed timeline of Ethiopia’s convoluted response to Oromo protests at the end of this article.]

On March 22, the Voice of America reported that the OPDO is purging more than 300 local government officials. And that some may soon face criminal charges. The mass purge follows the demotion in early March of two senior OPDO officials:Dhaba Dabale, Head of Party Office, and Zelalem Nemaneh, Head of the Natural Resource Bureau of the Oromia Regional State Government, both members of the Executive Committees of OPDO as well as EPRDF.

The sacking of OPDO officials is not unexpected. The ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) faces unprecedented opposition from Oromos in all walks of life, including the nationalist regional leaders, police, and the local militia.

Yet Desalegn and his party want to reduce the question of good governance to whether the local government officials that citizens come in contact with to meet their public service need is corrupt or not. The fact of the matter is the entire system is riddled with corruption. And a majority did notgo on the streets in reaction to abuses suffered in their interactions with local officials. In fact, the protesters had little to no altercation with one such local officialdom, the regional police. Neither are they grieving about the quality of public service provided by local officials, poor as that is. In fact, one doesn’t need to come in direct contact with a government official to feel the influence of the state. The suffocating effects of the all-embracing one-to-five structure known as Shane or Got and Gare is felt by the public as they go about their daily lives.

The master plan, which triggered the current Oromo protests, is not the handiwork of local government officials. The orders to shoot and kill protesters were not issued by local government officials. The order to detain thousands of protesters and herd them in concentration camp like detention centers is not issued by local government officials.

As speaker of the house Abbadula Gamada implied recently, local government officials have no say in the daily propaganda manufactured by state-owned media, full of highly convoluted narratives and over the top claims about development that are foreign to the lived experiences of average Oromos. Local officials were not the ones that ordered the detention of prominent opposition leaders and journalists critical of the regime.

Regional authorities have no say in tilting the balance of power between the federal government versus the states. Local officials had no say in crafting a land policy that dispossessed and displaced thousands of poor farmers from their ancestral lands.

The decision to make Ethiopia a one-party state is not made by OPDO officials. The decision to keep 99 percent of the top brass of the security forces in the hands of the Tigrayan ethnic group, which makes up a mere 6 percent of the population of Ethiopia, a country made up of many ethnic groups.

This week Desalegn also hosted the traditional Abba Gadaa leaders — the first such encounter between traditional Oromo leaders and state leaders in modern Ethiopian history — in what appears to be a last-ditch attempt to calm tensions in the populous state. While pledging to help calm the situation, the elders pressed the PM to make amends with the Oromo, pay compensation to victims and remove federal security forces from Oromia to reduce the current insecurity and standoff.

As with hitherto mixed messaging from EPRDF officials, the ensuring purge of OPDO leaders is unlikely to quell the uprising. The reason is simple: the Oromo grievance includes but is not limited to questions over the lack of good governance, rampant unemployment, and corruption. The longstanding issue of the political, economic and cultural marginalization of the Oromo is at the core of the Oromo and Ethiopian state conflict.

Neither the purges nor the rhetorical gymnastics and charm offensives by the PM can tackle the core issue of marginalization. In fact, these measures do not even scratch the surface of the problem, let alone address it meaningfully. For example, despite making up close to half of the county’s population, the Oromo account for a mere 11 percent of the federal bureaucracy.

While Oromo members form a numerical majority in the rubber stamp parliament, the Tigreans or their minions hold the key posts. During the past 25 years, Tigreans occupied the positions of Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Army Chief of Staff. When a non-Tigrean is placed at the head of a pyramid, power shifted to a Tigrean minder who ran the show behind the scene as a puppet master. For example, when Meles Zenawi first came to power, his title was President and the presidency had all the powers. When he decided to instead become Prime Minister, the presidency was rendered a mere ceremonial position. The same is true with other ministries. Currently, Desalegn, a non-Tigrean, holds the premiership but, in reality, power is wielded by senior hardline Tigrean advisors.

The government claims that power is devolved to the states. The reality is such that the regional states, especially Oromia, do not have the powers of a province, let alone a sovereign state in a federation.

Economically, the Oromo sit on the most fertile lands. But land is owned by the federal state, which is ready to displace farmers in the name of investment and development. Farmers are compensated $0.80 per square mile whereas the market rate is $17,777.

Culturally, the Oromo language, the most widely spoken language in the county, is relegated to the countryside, which is fast dwindling in the face of rapid urbanization. A farmer whose farmland is gobbled up by the sprawling capital, Addis Ababa, could not even plead his case at the courts in the city in his native language, Afaan Oromo, let alone receive public service there. Reduced to being security guards, beggary, and menial labor, local Oromos will also have to forfeit their cultural identity and pride in self. Such is the fate of the Oromo in general and those born in the small towns and countryside adjoining Ethiopia’s capital.

Ending Oromos longstanding marginalization in Ethiopia is not an easy task. For starters, Ethiopian authorities must heed the protesters’ demands and release all political prisoners detained as part of the ongoing crackdown as well as previous ones. It should also set up an independent, transparent, and credible commission of inquiry into the killings of hundreds of unarmed protesters.

In the intermediate period, EPRDF needs to address the issue of its legitimacy to rule. Six months after winning 100 percent of the seats in parliament, the Oromo public had dealt the party a total rejection. Holding new elections under a level playing field at least in Oromia is another measure that could reduce tensions. The EPRDF regime must also elevate the Oromo language as a working language of the federal government at par with Amharic.

As a long-term measure, the ruling party needs to make the federation more meaningful by separating and delineating state and federal powers and moving back the encroachment of federal powers in all matters and opening up the political system so that the Oromo, as well as other people in Ethiopia, could govern themselves through a representative and accountable government they freely chose in open, free, and fair elections.



የኢሬሳ/ኢሬቻ በዓል ትውፊትና አከባበር

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ፀሐፊ፡ አፈንዲ ሙተቂ
የኢሬቻን በዓል በማስመልከት አንድ ጽሑፍ እናበረክታለን ባልነው መሰረት ይህንን ኢትኖግራፊ ቀመስ ወግ ጀባ ልንላችሁ ነው፡፡ ታዲያ እኛ ባደግንበት አካባቢ በሚነገረው ትውፊት በዓሉ “ኢሬሳ” እየተባለ ስለሚጠራ በዚህ ጽሑፍ ውስጥም “ኢሬሳ” የሚለውን ስም መጠቀሙን መርጠናል፡፡ ወደ ነገራችን ከመግባታችን በፊት በዚህ ጽሑፍ የሚወሱት ጉዳዮች Carcar and the Ittu Oromo በተሰኘው የኢትኖግራፊ ጥናት ውስጥ በሰፊው የሚዳሰሱ በመሆናቸው ጥያቄ ያላችሁ ሰዎች የጥናቱን የመጨረሻ ውጤት እንድትጠባበቁ እጠይቃለሁ፡፡ ምክንያቱም በጽሑፉ ውስጥ ከቀረበው ትረካ በላይ ሄጄ ወደ ዝርዝር ጉዳዮች እንዳልገባ ጥናቱን የማከናውንበት ደንብ ስለሚያግደኝ ነው፡፡
ጽሑፋችንን የተሳሳቱ ምልከታዎችን በማስተካከል እንጀምራለን፡፡

የዋቄፈንና እምነት ተከታይ የሆኑት ኦሮሞዎች በሙሉ የኢሬሳን በዓል ያከብሩታል፡፡ ይሁንና በዚህ ዘመን በዓሉ በከፍተኛ ድምቀት የሚከበረው የቱለማ ኦሮሞ ይዞታ በሆነው የቢሾፍቱ ወረዳ መሆኑ ይታወቃል፡፡ ታዲያ የበዓሉ ማክበሪያ በሆነው ስፍራ ቆሪጥን የመሳሰሉ በሀገር አቀፍ ደረጃ ከፍተኛ ስምና ዝና ያላቸው ጠንቋዮች የከተሙ በመሆናቸው ብዙ ሰዎች ኢሬቻን ጠንቋዮቹ የዛር መንፈሳቸውን በህዝቡ ላይ የሚያሰፍኑበት ዓመታዊ የንግሥ በዓል አድርገው ይመለከቱታል፡፡ አልተገናኝቶም!!

ጠንቋዮቹ በቅርብ ዘመን የበቀሉ ሀገር አጥፊ አራሙቻዎች ናቸው፡፡ ከበዓሉ ጋር አንድም ግንኙነት የላቸውም፡፡ ኖሮአቸውም አያውቅም፡፡ የኢሬቻ በዓል ግን ከጥንቱ የኦሮሞ ህዝብ የዋቄፈና እምነት የፈለቀ እና ለብዙ ክፍለ ዘመናት ሲተገበር የኖረ ነው፡፡ ጠንቋዮቹ በዚያ አካባቢ የሰፈሩት ከጣሊያን ወረራ ወዲህ ባለው ጊዜ ነው፡፡ እነዚህ ጠንቋዮች እዚያ የሰፈሩበት ምክንያት አለ፡፡ የገላን፤ የቢሾፍቱ እና የዱከም ወረዳዎች በጥንታዊው የቱለማ ኦሮሞ ደንብ መሰረት የነገዱ ፖለቲካዊና መንፈሳዊ ማዕከላት ናቸው፡፡ እነዚህ መሬቶች በቱለማ ኦሮሞ ዘንድ “ቅዱስ” ተብለው ነው የሚታወቁት፡፡ “ቃሉ” የሚባለው የህዝቡ መንፈሳዊ መሪም የሚኖረው በዚህ አካባቢ ነው፡፡ የቱለማ ኦሮሞ ኢሬቻን የመሳሰሉ ታላላቅ በዓላት የሚያከብረውም በዚሁ ስፍራ ነው፡፡

በ19ኛው ክፍለ ዘመን መጨረሻ ላይ የኦሮሞ ህዝብ በነዚህ መሬቶች የሚያካሄደውን በዓላትን የማክበርና “ዋቃ”ን የማምለክ ተግባራት እንዳያከናውን ታገደ (ዝርዝሩን ለማወቅ የጸሐፌ ትዕዛዝ ገብረ ሥላሤን “ታሪክ ዘመን ዘዳግማዊ ምኒልክ”፣ ወይንም የኤንሪኮ ቼሩሊን The Folk Literature of The Oromo ያንብቡ)፡፡ ይሁንና ልዩ ልዩ የኦሮሞ ጎሳዎች እየተደበቁም ቢሆን ወደ ስፍራው መሄዳቸውን አላቋረጡም፡፡ በጣሊያን ዘመን ደግሞ እንደ ጥንቱ ዘመን ሰብሰብ ብለው በዓሉን ማክበር ጀመሩ፡፡ ጣሊያን ሲወጣ እንደገና በጅምላ ወደስፍራው እየሄዱ በዓሉን ማክበሩ ቀረ፡፡ ነገር ግን ኦሮሞዎች ከጣሊያን በኋላም በተናጠልና በትንንሽ ቡድኖች እየሆኑ መንፈሳዊ በዓላቸውን በስፍራው ማክበራቸውን አላቋረጡም (እዚህ ላይ ጣሊያንን ማድነቃችን አይደለም፤ ታሪኩን መጻፋችን ነው እንጂ)፡፡

እንግዲህ በዚያ ዘመን ነው ጠንቋዮቹ በአካባቢው መስፈር የጀመሩት፡፡ እነዚህ ጠንቋዮች ይህንን ስፍራ ምርጫቸው ያደረጉበት ዋነኛ ምክንያት አለ፡፡ ጠንቋዮቹ ህዝቡ መሬቱን እንደ ቅዱስ ምድር የሚመለከት መሆኑን ያውቃሉ፡፡ “ቃሉ” የሚባለው የጥንቱ የኦሮሞ ሀገር በቀል እምነት መሪ በስፍራው እየኖረ የህዝቡን መንፈሳዊ ተግባራት ይመራ እንደነበረም ያውቃሉ፡፡ የኦሮሞ ቃሉ በህዝቡ ከፍተኛ ክብር እንደሚሰጠው እና ንግግሩ በሁሉም ዘንድ ተቀባይነት እንዳለውም ይገነዘባሉ፡፡ “ቃሉ” አስፈላጊ ሆኖ በተገኘበት ጊዜ ከ“ዋቃ” የተሰጠውን ገደብ ሳይጥስ “ራጋ” የማከናወን ስልጣን እንዳለውም ይረዳሉ፡፡

እንግዲህ ጠንቋዮቹ የዘረፋ ስትራቴጂያቸውን ሲወጥኑ በጥንታዊው የኦሮሞ የዋቄፈና እምነት ተከታዮች ዘንድ እንደ ቅዱስ የሚወሰደው ያ ማዕከላዊ ስፍራ ብዙ ገቢ ሊዛቅበት እንደሚችል ታያቸው፡፡ በመሆኑም በዚያ ቅዱስ ስፍራ ከትመው ከጥንቱ የኦሮሞ ቃሉ ስልጣንና ትምህርት የተሰጣቸው እየመሰሉ ህዝቡን ማጭበርበርና ማወናበድ ጀመሩ፡፡ ለረጅም ዘመን ማንም ሃይ ባይ ስላልነበራቸው የውንብድና ስራቸውን በሰፊው ሄደውበታል፡፡ አሁን ግን ሁሉም እየነቃባቸው ነው፡፡

ታዲያ በሁሉም የሀገራችን አካባቢዎች የሚኖሩት ጠንቋዮች ተመሳሳይ ስትራቴጂ የሚጠቀሙ መሆናቸውን ልብ በሉ፡፡ ለምሳሌ በወሎ፣ በሀረርጌ፣ በባሌና በጂማ የሚኖሩት ጠንቋዮች እነ ሼኽ ሑሴን ባሌ፣ እነ ሼኽ አባዲር፣ እነ አው ሰዒድ፣ እነ ሼኽ አኒይ ወዘተ… የመሳሰሉት ቀደምት ሙስሊም ዑለማ በመንፈስ እየመሯቸው መጪውን ነገር እንደሚተነብዩና ድብቁን ሁሉ እንደሚፈትሹ ይናገራሉ፡፡ በሰሜን ሸዋ፣ ጎንደር፣ ጎጃም ወዘተ… አካባቢዎች ያሉ ጠንቋዮች ደግሞ ቅዱስ ገብርኤልና ሚካኤል ራዕይ እያስተላለፉላቸው መጻኢውን ነገር ለመተንበይ እንዳበቋቸው ያወራሉ፡፡ ነገር ግን ሁላቸውም አጭበርባሪዎች ናቸው፡፡ እነዚህን ጠንቋዮች ከክርስትናም ሆነ ከእስልምና ጋር የሚያገናኛቸው ነገር እንደሌለ ሁሉ ከዋቄፈንና እምነትም ጋር የሚያገናኛቸው ነገር የለም፡፡ ሶስቱም እምነቶች ጥንቆላን ያወግዛሉ፡፡ እናም የቢሾፍቱ ቆሪጦች እና ኢሬቻ በምንም መልኩ አይገናኙም፡፡ ስለዚህ ኢሬቻን ከጥንቆላም ሆነ ከባዕድ አምልኮ ጋር ማያያዝ ስህተት ነው፡፡

ከዚሁ ጋር ተያይዞ መወሳት ያለበት ጉዳይ ለጠንቋዮች መጠሪያ ሆኖ የሚያገለግለውን “ቃልቻ” የተሰኘውን ስም ይመለከታል፡፡ ይህ ስም በአንድ ጎኑ “ቃሉ” የሚለውን የኦሮሞ መንፈሳዊ አባት ያመለክታል፡፡ በሌላኛው ጎኑ ይህ መንፈሳዊ አባት የተወለደበትን ጎሳም ያመለክታል፡፡
የቃሉ ሹመት እንደ አባገዳ በምርጫ የሚከናወን ሳይሆን ከአባት ወደ ልጅ የሚተላለፍ ነው፡፡ ይህ መንፈሳዊ አባት አባል የሆነበት ጎሳም በዚሁ ስም “ቃሉ” እየተባለ ነው የሚጠራው፡፡ የጎሳው አባላት የሆኑ ሰዎች ሃላፊነት ህዝቡን በመንፈሳዊ ተግባራት ማገልገል ነው፡፡ የዚህ ጎሳ ተወላጆች በከፍተኛ ደረጃ ይከበራሉ፡፡ ቃላቸው በሁሉም ዘንድ ተሰሚ ነው፡፡ ይሁንና የፖለቲካ መሪ እና የጦር መሪ ለመሆን አይችሉም፡፡ የአባገዳ ምርጫ ሲከናወንም ለእጩነት አይቀርቡም፡፡ እንግዲህ “ቃሊቻ” የሚባሉት ከዚህ የተከበረ ጎሳ የተወለዱ ወንዶች ናቸው፡፡ ሴቶቹ ደግሞ “ቃሊቲ” በሚለው የማዕረግ ስም ይጠራሉ፡፡ የሁለቱም ትርጉም “የቃሉ ሰው” እንደማለት ነው፡፡ ጠንቋዮቹ “ቃሊቻ” ነን ማለት የጀመሩት ቃሉዎች በኦሮሞ ህዝብ ዘንድ ያላቸውን ክብር ስለሚያውቁ ነው፡፡ ነገር ግን “ቃሊቻ” እና ጠንቋይ የሰማይና የመሬትን ያህል የተራራቁ ናቸው፡፡
እነሆ አሁን ወደ ኢሬሳ ገብተናል!!

በጥንቱ የኦሮሞ የዋቄፈንና እምነት መሰረት ብዙዎቹ በዓላት ወርሃዊ ናቸው፡፡ እነዚህ ወርሃዊ በዓላት የሚከበሩት በየአጥቢያው ባሉት መልካዎች፣ በኦዳ (ዋርካ) ዛፍ ስር እና “ገልመ ቃሉ” በሚባለው ቤተ እምነት ነው፡፡ ኢሬሳን የመሳሰሉት ታላላቅ በዓላት የሚከበሩት ግን በነገድ (ቆሞ) ደረጃ ሲሆን በዓላቱን የማክበሩ ስርዓቶች የሚፈጸሙትም በዞን ደረጃ ባሉ የበዓል ማክበሪያ ስፍራዎች ነው፡፡ እነዚህ የክብረ በዓል ስፍራዎች የሚገኙትም የእያንዳንዱ የኦሮሞ ነገድ የፖለቲካና የመንፈሳዊ ማዕከላት ባሉበት አቅራቢያ ነው፡፡ ምሳሌ ልስጣችሁ፡፡

ከአዲስ አበባ ወደ ሀረር ስትመጡ “አዴሌ” እና “ሀረማያ” የተሰኙትን ሐይቆች ታገኛላችሁ አይደል?… አዎን! የአዴሌን ሐይቅ አልፋችሁ ወደ ሀረማያ ከመድረሳችሁ በፊት ወደ ጋራሙለታ አውራጃ የሚገነጠለው የኮረኮንች መንገድ ይገጥማችኋል፡፡ መንገዳቸው ወደ ጋራ ሙለታ የሆነ ተጓዦች እዚያ ከመድረሳቸው በፊት የአውቶቡሱ ረዳት በዚያ ስፍራ እንዲያወርዳቸው ይነግሩታል፡፡ ታዲያ ስፍራውን ምን ብለው እንደሚጠሩት ታውቃላችሁ?….. Mudhii Irreessaa ነው የሚሉት፡፡ ቃል በቃል ሲተረጎም “የኢሬሳ ወገብ” እንደማለት ነው፡፡ አውዳዊ ፍቺው ግን “የኢሬሳ በዓል ማክበሪያ ስፍራ” እንደማለት ነው፡፡

በዚህ ስፍራ በአሁኑ ወቅት የኢሬሳ በዓል አይከበርም፡፡ በጥንት ዘመናት ግን የምስራቅ ሀረርጌው የአፍረን ቀሎ ኦሮሞ የኢሬሳን በዓል የሚያከብረው በዚህ አካባቢ ነው፡፡ በዓሉ ይከበርበት የነበረውን ትክክለኛ ስፍራ ለማወቅ ካሻችሁ በዋናው የአስፋልት መንገድ ላይ ለጥቂት ሜትሮች እንደተጓዛችሁ ከመንገዱ በስተቀኝ በኩል ፈልጉት፡፡ በዚያ ስፍራ ላይ ከትንሽዬ ኮረብታ ስር የተጠጋ ሰፊ መስክ ራቅ ብሎ ብሎ ይታያል፡፡ ይህ ረግረጋማ ስፍራ በጥንቱ ዘመን አነስተኛ ሐይቅ እንደነበረበት ልብ በሉ፡፡ ሐይቁ ከጊዜ ብዛት ስለደረቀ ነው በረግረግ የተዋጠው መስክ እንዲህ አግጥጦ የሚታየው፡፡ እናም የአፍረን ቀሎ ኦሮሞ የዋቄፈንና እምነት ተከታይ በነበረበት የጥንት ዘመናት የኢሬሳን በዓል የሚያከብርበት ቅዱስ ስፍራ በዚህ የደረቀ ሐይቅ ዳርቻ የነበረው መሬት ነው፡፡

Mudhii Irreessa የሚባለው ስፍራ ከደረቀው ሐይቅ አቅራቢያ መሆኑና ይኸው ስፍራ አሁን ካሉት የሐረማያ እና የአዴሌ ሐይቆች አቅራቢያ መገኘቱ የአጋጣሚ ነገር እንዳይመስላችሁ፡፡ በነገድ ደረጃ የኢሬሳ በዓል የሚከበርባቸው ማዕከላት በሙሉ በሐይቅ ዳርቻ የሚገኙ ናቸው፡፡ ይህም ምክንያት አለው፡፡ አንደኛው ምክንያት የጥንቱ የኦሮሞ የዋቄፈንና እምነት “ፍጥረት የተገኘው ከውሃ ነው” የሚል አስተምህሮ ያለው በመሆኑ “ዋቃ” ፍጥረተ ዓለሙን በጀመረበት የውሃ ዳርቻ በዓሉንና የአምልኮ ተግባሩን መፈጸም ተገቢ ነው ከሚል ርዕዮት የመነጨ ነው፡፡ ይሁንና ሁሉም የውሃ አካል ለዚህ ክብር አይመጥንም፡፡ ኦሮሞ ከሰው ልጅ ነፍስ ቀጥሎ ለከብቶቹ ነፍስ በእጅጉ ይጨነቃል፡፡ በመሆኑም ኢሬሳን የመሳሰሉ ታላላቅ በዓላት በዳርቻው የሚከበርበት የውሃ አካል ከሰዎች በተጨማሪ ለከብቶች ህይወት አስፈላጊ መሆኑም ይጠናል፡፡ ይህም ማለት ውሃው በኦሮሞ ስነ-ቃል “ሃያ” (ቦጂ) እየተባለ የሚጠራው ጨዋማ ንጥረ ነገር ያለው ሊሆን ይገባል ለማለት ነው፡፡ በዚህ ማዕድን በአንደኛ ደረጃ የሚታወቁት ደግሞ “ሆራ” የሚባሉት በከፍተኛ ስፍራዎች ላይ ያሉ ሐይቆች ናቸው፡፡

ታዲያ የእነዚህ “ሆራ” ሐይቆች ልዩ ባህሪ ነጠላ ሆነው አለመገኘታቸው ነው፡፡ በተለያዩ ክልሎች ያሉት ሆራዎች በቡድን ተሰባጥረው ነው የሚገኙት፡፡ በአንዳንድ ስፍራዎች እስከ ሶስት ያህል ሆራዎች አሉ፡፡ በአንዳንድ ስፍራዎች ደግሞ እስከ ስምንት የሚደርሱ ሆራዎች ይገኛሉ፡፡ ብዙዎቹ የኦሮሞ ነገዶች እነዚህን በማዕድናት ክምችት የበለጸጉ ሐይቆች ወጥ በሆነ ሁኔታ “ሆረ” (Hora) እያሉ ነው የሚጠሩት፡፡ የአፍረን ቀሎ ኦሮሞ ግን “ሀረ” ነው የሚለው፡፡ “ሀረ ማያ” የሚለው የሐይቁ ስያሜም የሚያመለክተው ይህንኑ ነው፡፡ እንግዲህ ኢሬቻ የሚከበረው በእንዲህ ዓይነት ሐይቆች አቅራቢያ ነው፡፡
ከላይ ስጀምር “የኢሬሳ በዓል ማክበሪያ ስፍራ ለነገዱ የፖለቲካና የሃይማኖት ማዕከል የቀረበ ነው” ብዬ ነበር፡፡ ይሁን እንጂ የ“ሀረ ማያ”ን ሐይቅ ያየ ሰው በአባባሌ መደናገሩ አይቀርም፡፡ ነገሩ ግን እውነት ነው፡፡ በዛሬው ዘመን “ሃረ ማያ” በትውፊት ውስጥ ያለው አስፈላጊነት እየተረሳ የመጣው የአፍረን ቀሎ ኦሮሞ የኢኮኖሚ ስርዓቱን ከከብት እርባታ ወደ ግብርና ማዞር በጀመረበት ዘመን እስልምናንም እየተቀበለ በመምጣቱና የፖለቲካ ማዕከሉም በዚሁ ሂደት ውስጥ በመረሳቱ ነው፡፡ ነገሩን ጠለቅ ብሎ ያየ ሰው ግን የጥንቱን የአፍረን ቀሎ የፖለቲካ ማዕከል ከሀረማያ ከተማ በቅርብ ርቀት ላይ ያገኘዋል፡፡ ይህም “ቡሉሎ” የሚባለው ስፍራ ነው (ስፍራው ለወተር ከተማ ይቀርባል)፡፡ በዚህ መሰረት የዛሬዎቹ የሀረማያ እና የቀርሳ ወረዳዎች የጥንቱ የአፍረን ቀሎ ኦሮሞ የፖለቲካና የመንፈሳዊ ማዕከላት ነበሩ ማለት ነው፡፡

ከአፍረን ቀሎ ኦሮሞ ምድር ወደ ምዕራብ ተጉዘን “ጨርጨር” በሚባለው የኢቱ ኦሮሞ መሬት ውስጥ ስንገባ ደግሞ ነገሩ በግልጽ ይታየናል፡፡ የኢቱ ኦሮሞ የኢሬሳን በዓል የሚያከብርበት ስፍራ በአሁኑ የምዕራብ ሀረርጌ ዞን የቁኒ ወረዳ፣ በደነባ ቀበሌ ውስጥ ይገኛል፡፡ ስፍራው እስከ አሁን ድረስ Mudhii Irressa እየተባለ ይጠራል፡፡ ይህ ስፍራ ከዝነኛው “ኦዳ ቡልቱም” በሁለት ኪሎሜትር ያህል ብቻ ነው የሚርቀው፡፡ “ኦዳ ቡልቱም” የኢቱ ኦሮሞ ጥንታዊ የፖለቲካና የእምነት ማዕከል ሲሆን በኢቱ ኦሮሞ ትውፊት መሰረት ስድስት “ሆራዎች” አሉት፡፡ እነርሱም “ሆረ ባዱ”፣ “ሆረ ቃሉ”፣ “ሆራ ቁኒ”፣ “ሆረ ባቴ”፣ “ሆረ ጎሄ” እና “ሆረ ዲማ” ይባላሉ፡፡

እነዚህ ሃይቆች በበጋ ወቅት አነስ ብለው ቢታዩም ሙሉ በሙሉ የጠፉበት ሁኔታ አልተከሰተም፡፡ ከነርሱ መካከል ትልቁ “ሆራ ዲማ” ሲሆን በተለምዶ “ሀሮ ጨርጨር” እየተባለም ይጠራል፡፡ “ሆረ ዲማ” የምስራቅ ኢትዮጵያ ትልቁ ሐይቅ ነው (የአስፋልቱ መንገድ ወደዚያ ስለማይደርስ የመሃል ሀገር ሰዎች በአብዛኛው ሃረማያን ነው የሚያውቁት፤ ይሁንና “ሆረ ዲማ” በስፋቱ የሀረማያን ሶስት እጥፍ ይሆናል)፡፡ “ሆራ ባዱ” ደግሞ ለኦዳ ቡልቱም በጣም የቀረበው ሐይቅ ነው፡፡ የኢቱ ኦሮሞ የኢሬሳን በዓል የሚያከብረው ግን “ሆረ ቃሉ” ከተሰኘው ሐይቅ አጠገብ ነው፡፡ ይህም ሃይቅ ከሆረ ባዱ በስተምስራቅ ይገኛል፡፡

ስድስቱ ሐይቆች ካሉበት ስፍራ ጀምሮ እስከ ገለምሶ ከተማ ድረስ ያለው መሬት በኢቱ ኦሮሞ አጠራር “ፎዱ” ይባላል፡፡ “ማዕከል” ማለት ነው፡፡ ይህ ማዕከላዊ ወረዳ ለሶስት ጉዳዮች ብቻ የተከለለ ነው፡፡ አንደኛ “አባ ቦኩ” የሚባለው ርእሰ መስተዳድርና “ቃሉ” የተባለው መንፈሳዊ መሪ መኖሪያ ነው፡፡ ሁለተኛ የኦዳ ቡልቱም የገዳ ስርዓት ማዕከላዊ ተቋማት፣ የህዝቡ መንፈሳዊ ተቋማት እና የዞን አቀፍ በዓላት ማክበሪያ ስፍራዎች የሚገኙበት ክልል ነው፡፡ ሶስተኛ ለህዝብ ጠቀሜታ ብቻ የሚውሉት ስድስቱ ሆራዎች የሚገኙበት ክልል ነው፡፡ በመሆኑም የኢቱ ኦሮሞ ተወላጆች በሙሉ በዓመት ወይንም በሁለት ዓመት አንዴ ከብቶቻቸውን ወደነዚህ ሐይቆች እያመጡ ውሃ ያጠጧቸዋል፡፡ የኢቱ ሽማግሌዎች እንደሚናገሩት ከብቶች የሆራን ውሃ ካልጠጡ እንዳሻቸው ሳር አይመገቡም፡፡ ስለዚህ ከብቶቹን ወደ ሆራ መውሰዱ እጅግ አስፈላጊ ተግባር ተደርጎ ይቆጠራል፡፡ ይህ ስርዓት Nadha Baasuu ይባላል፡፡

የቱለማ ኦሮሞ የኢሬቻን በዓል የሚያከብርበትንም ስፍራ ካያችሁ ተመሳሳይ ነገር ታገኛላችሁ፡፡ በኦዳ ቡልቱም ዙሪያ ያሉት ስድስት ሐይቆች በቱለማ ምድርም አሉ፡፡ እነርሱም “ሆረ አርሰዲ”፣ “ሆረ ኪሎሌ”፣ “ሆረ ሀዶ”፤ “ሆረ ገንደብ”፣ “ሆራ ዋርጦ” እና “ሆረ ኤረር” ይባላሉ፡፡ የቱለማ ኦሮሞ ኢሬቻን የሚያከብረው “ሆረ አርሰዲ” በተሰኘው ሐይቅ ዳርቻ ነው፡፡

እነዚህ ስድስት ሐይቆች የቱለማ ኦሮሞ የፖለቲካ ማዕከል ከሆነው “ኦዳ ነቤ” በቅርብ ርቀት ላይ ነው የሚገኙት፡፡ ይህ ኦዳ ነቤ በዱከም ወረዳ ውስጥ ከሸገር በ37 ኪሎሜትር ርቀት ላይ ይገኛል፡፡ በዚሁ የፖለቲካ ማዕከል ዙሪያም ህዝቡ ሃይማኖታዊ ጉዞ የሚያደርግባቸው Sadeettan Tulluu Waaqaa (ስምንቱ የአምላክ ተራራዎች) የሚባሉት የሸዋ ከፍተኛ ስፍራዎች ይገኛሉ፡፡ እነዚህም “ቱሉ ጩቃላ”፣ “ቱሉ ኤረር”፣ “ቱሉ ፉሪ”፣ “ቱሉ ገላን”፣ “ቱሉ ዋቶ ዳለቻ”፣ “ቱሉ ፎየታ”፣ “ቱሉ ወጨጫ” እና “ቱሉ ኤግዱ” የሚባሉት ናቸው፡፡ የህዝቡ አባ ገዳዎች መቀመጫ የሆኑት የአዋሽ መልካ በሎ እና የገላን ደንጎራ መስኮች የሚገኙትም በዚሁ ወረዳ ነው፡፡ እንግዲህ የቱለማ ኦሮሞ የኢሬቻን በዓል የሚያከብርበት “ሆራ አርሰዲ” ያለው እነዚህ የፖለቲካና የሃይማኖት ማዕከላት ባሉበት መሬት ላይ ነው፡፡

እላይ ከጠቀስናቸው ሶስት ነገዶች በተጨማሪ ሌሎች የኦሮሞ ነገዶችም በዓሉን ያከብሩታል፡፡ ይሁን እንጂ ከኦሮሞ ነገዶች መካከል ከፍተኛ የህዝብ ብዛት ያላቸው የአርሲ እና የመጫ ነገዶች በዓሉን በአንድ ስፍራ የሚያከብሩት አይመስለኝም (መረጃው ያላችሁ አካፍሉን)፡፡ታዲያ ከቱለማ በስተቀር ሁሉም ኦሮሞዎች በዓሉን “ኢሬሳ” እያሉ ነው የሚጠሩት፡፡ ቱለማ ግን “ኢሬቻ” ነው የሚለው፡፡ ይህ ልዩነት ግን ሌላ ሚስጢር የለውም፡፡ በሌሎች ዘዬዎች በምንናገርበት ጊዜ በ“ሳ” ድምጽ የምናሳርገውን ቃል በቱለማ ዘዬ “ቻ” እያሉ መናገር የተለመደ በመሆኑ ነው፡፡ ለምሳሌ “ለሜሳ”፣ “ከሌሳ”፣ “በሬሳ”፣ “ሙርቴሳ” የመሳሰሉት ቃላት በቱለማ ዘዬ “ለሜቻ”፣ “በሬቻ”፣ “ሙርቴቻ”፣ “ከሌቻ” በሚል ድምጸት ነው የሚነገሩት፡፡
ለመሆኑ የኢሬሳ በዓል የሚከበረው ለምንድነው?……
የኦሮሞ ሽማግሌዎች ይህንን ጥያቄ ሲመልሱን “የኢሬሳ በዓል የሚከበረው ለዋቃ ምስጋና ለማቅረብ ነው” ይላሉ፡፡ መነሻውንም ሲያስረዱ “ዋቃ ክረምቱን በሰላም ስላሳለፈልንና ከሰማይ ባዘነበው ውሃ መልካም ፍሬ ስለሰጠን ያለ ክፍያ በቸርነቱ ለሚንከባከበን አምላክ ምስጋና ማቅረብ የተገባ በመሆኑ ነው” ይሉናል፡፡ “ዋቃ” ፍጥረተ ዓለምን ያስገኘውና ሂደቱንም የሚያስተናብረው አንድ አምላክ ማለት ነው፡፡ ኦሮሞ ችግር ሲገጥመው አቤቱታውን የሚያቀርበው “ለዋቃ” ነው፡፡ በደስታ ጊዜም ተሰብስቦ “ዋቃ”ን ያመሰግናል፡፡ ኢሬሳ የዚህ ዓይነቱ የምስጋና ማቅረቢያ በዓል ነው፡፡

ኢሬሳ በክረምቱ የወንዞች ሙላት ምክንያት ተቆራርጠው የነበሩ ቤተ ዘመዶችና ልዩ ልዩ ጎሳዎች የሚገናኙበት በዓል ነው፡፡ በመሆኑም በበዓሉ የተገኙት ሁሉ ይቅር ይባባሉ፡፡ ገንዘባቸውን ለሌሎች ያበደሩ ሰዎችም በሌሎች ላይ ያላቸውን እዳ ይሰርዙላቸዋል፡፡ በዓሉ የሚከበርበት ቀን የዓመቱ መጀመሪያ ተደርጎ የሚቆጠር በመሆኑ ዓመቱ የደስታና የብልጽግና ይሆን ዘንድ የመልካም ምኞት መግለጫዎች ይጎርፋሉ፡፡ የህዝቡ መንፈሳዊ መሪ የሆነው “ቃሉ” ለህዝቡና ለሀገሩ “ኤባ” (ምርቃት) ያደርጋል፡፡ ታዲያ ማንኛውም ሰው ወደ በዓሉ ስፍራ ሲሄድ አለባበሱን ማሳመር ይጠበቅበታል፡፡ በእጁም የወይራ ቀንበጥ፣ እርጥብ ሳር አሊያም የአደይ አበባን ይይዛል፡፡

በነገራችን ላይ በጥንቱ ዘመን ከዚሁ የኢሬሳ በዓል ትይዩ ሌላ በዓል ይከበር እንደነበርም ልብ በሉ፡፡ ይህኛው በዓል የሚከበረው የክረምቱ ዝናብ ሊጀምር በሚያስገመግምበት የሰኔ ወር መግቢያ ላይ ነው፡፡ የበዓሉ ማክበሪያ ስፍራዎች ደግሞ ተራሮችና ኮረብታዎች ናቸው፡፡ ይህ በዓል “መጪው ክረምት መልካም የዝናብና የአዝመራ ወቅት እንዲሆንልን ለዋቃ ጸሎት ማድረስ” በሚል መንፈስ ነው የሚከበረው፡፡ በዓሉ በምዕራብ ሀረርጌው የኢቱ ኦሮሞ ዘንድ “ደራራ” እየተባለ ነው የሚጠራው፡፡ የቱለማ ኦሮሞ ደግሞ “ኢሬቻ ቱሉ” (የተራራ ላይ ኢሬሳ) ይለዋል፡፡ በዓሉ በሌሎች ኦሮሞዎች የሚጠራበትን ስም ግን አላውቅም፡፡ በደራራ ጊዜ የሚፈለገው ትልቁ ነገር “ጸሎት” (Kadhaa) ማብዛት ነው፡፡ መዝፈንና መጨፈር አይፈቀድም፡፡ በኢሬሳ ጊዜ የሚፈለገው ግን “ምስጋና” (Galata) ማብዛት እና ደስታን ማብሰር ነው፡፡ በዚህኛው በዓል ዘፈንና ጭፈራ ይፈቀዳል፡፡

በሁለቱም በዓላት የዋቃ ስም ይለመናል፡፡ ለዋቃ መስዋእት ይቀርባል፡፡ ለመስዋእት የሚታረደው ጥቁር በሬ አሊያም ጥቁር ፍየል ነው፡፡ ይህም በጣም መሰረታዊ ነገር መሆኑን ልብ በሉ፡፡ በበሬው ቆዳ ላይ ቀይ ወይንም ነጭ ነጥብ በጭራሽ መኖር የለበትም፡፡ የበሬው ገላ ከጭረትና ከእከክ የነጻ መሆን አለበት፡፡ በተጨማሪም በሬው በደንብ የበላና የደለበ ሊሆን ይገባል፡፡

አንዳንድ ሰዎች “የበሬው ቆዳ ጥቁር መሆን አለበት” የሚለውን አስተርዮ እንደ ባዕድ አምልኮ እንደሚያዩት ይታወቃል፡፡ ነገሩ ግን እንዲያ አይደለም፡፡ የበሬው ቆዳ ጥቁር መሆኑ የሚፈለገው በዋቄፈንና እምነት መሰረት “ሰዎችን የፈጠረውና በሰዎች የሚመለከው አምላክ ጥቁር ነው” ተብሎ ስለሚታመን ነው፡፡ ይህም “አምላክ በመልኩ ጥቁር ነው” ማለት ሳይሆን “ዋቃ በስራው እንጂ በአካሉም ሆነ በሚስጢሩ ለሰው ልጅ በጭራሽ አይታወቅም” ለማለት ነው፡፡ በመሆኑም የጥንቱ ኦሮሞዎች ዋቃን ሲለማመኑት እንዲህ ነበር የሚሉት፡፡

Yaa Waaqa (አንተ አምላክ ሆይ)
Jabaa hundaa olii (ከሁሉም በላይ ጥንካሬ ያለህ)
Tolchaa bobbaa fi galii (ወጥቶ መግባቱንም የሚያሳምረው)
Guraacha garaa garbaa (ጥቁሩ እና ሆደ ሰፊው)
Tokicha maqaa dhibbaa (በመቶ ስም የሚጠራው አንድዬ)

ይህ የጥቁር ነገር ከተነሳ ዘንዳ በኦሮሞ ባህል መሰረት ጥቁር በሬ ከፍተኛ ዋጋ ያለው መሆኑን ልብ በሉ፡፡ የቢሾፍቱና የገላን አካባቢ የኦሮሞ አርሶ አደር ሁለት ነጭ በሬዎች የሚገዙበትን ዋጋ ለአንዱ ጥቁር በሬ ብቻ ሊያወጣ ይችላል፡፡
የኢሬሳ እና የደራራ በዓላት በጥንቱ ዘመን ከኦሮሞ ህዝብ በተጨማሪ የምስራቅ ኩሻዊያን (Eastern Cushitic People) በሚባሉት የቤጃ፣ የሳሆ እና የሶማሊ ህዝቦችም ይከበሩ እንደነበረ ተረጋግጧል፡፡ እነዚህ ህዝቦች ቀደም ብለው የእስልምናን እምነት በመቀበላቸው በዓላቱን ማክበሩን ትተውታል፡፡ ይሁንና እንደነርሱ የኩሻዊ ቋንቋ ተናጋሪ የሆነው የአፋር ህዝብ እስከ ቅርብ ዘመን ድረስ የኢሬሳን በዓል ያከብር እንደነበረ ልዩ ልዩ ጥናቶች ያስረዳሉ፡፡

ሁለቱ በዓላት የሚከበሩባቸውን ወቅቶች፣ የየበዓላቱን ዓላማ እና በዓላቱ የሚከሩባቸውን አውዶች ያጠኑ ምሁራን በዓላቱ በጥንት ግብጻዊያንም ይከበሩ እንደነበረ አረጋግጠዋል፡፡ ይሁንና ተመራማሪዎቹ “የበዓላቱ ምንጭ ጥንታዊት ግብጽ ነች ወይንስ ከግብጽ በታች የሚኖሩት የኩሽ (ኑቢያ) ህዝቦች?” የሚለውን ጥያቄ ለመመለስ ተቸግረዋል፡፡ ጥያቄውን አስቸጋሪ ያደረገው የግብጻዊያኑ እምነት ብዝሃ አማልክት (Polytheism) የተቀላቀለበት መሆኑ ነው፡፡ ኩሻዊያኑ ግን “ዋቃ”፣ “ዋቅ፣ “ዋቆ” እያሉ በተቀራራቢ ቃላት ከሚጠሩት አንድ አምላክ በስተቀር ሌሎች አማልክት የሏቸውም፡፡ በዚህ ረገድ የሚደረገው ጥናት ሲጠናቀቅ ውጤቱ የሚታወቅ ይሆናል፡፡

ይህንን ጽሑፍ ከማጠናቀቄ በፊት አንድ ነገር ልናገር፡፡ ይህም “ኢሬቻ ባህል ነው” እየተባለ የሚነገረውን ይመለከታል፡፡ ሁሉም የምርምር ውጤቶች እንደሚያሳዩት ኢሬሳ በመሰረቱም ሆነ በይዘቱ ሃይማኖታዊ በዓል ነው፡፡ አከባበሩም የዋቄፈንና እምነትን ደንብ የተከተለ ነው፡፡ ስለዚህ ሚዲያዎች በዓሉን ሲያስተዋውቁ “ኢሬቻ ሁሉን አቀፍ ባህል ነው” ማለታቸውን መተው አለባቸው፡፡ ምክንያቱም ከራሱ እምነት አንጻር በዓሉን ማክበሩ የማይሆንለት በርካታ ኦሮሞ ስላለ ነው፡፡ ወደ ክብረ በዓሉ ስፍራ መሄድ የሚፈልግ ማንኛውም ሰው መሄድ ይችላል፡፡ የማይፈልገውም እንደዚያው!
አንዳንዶች እንደሚያደርጉት “ኢሬቻ የኦሮሞነት መለያ ነው” ማለቱ ግን አግባብ አይደለም፡፡ ለምሳሌ እኔ ስለበዓሉ እዚህ የጻፍኩት ሙስሊም ነኝ፡፡ ጽሑፉን የጻፍኩትም በምርምር ሂደት ያገኘሁትን መረጃ በማቀናበር ነው እንጂ በዓሉን ስለማከብር አይደለም፡፡ ለሁሉም ግን ኢሬሳን ለሚያከብሩት የዋቄፈንና እምነት ተከታይ የኦሮሞ ወገኖቻችንን መልካም በዓል እንዲሆንላቸው እመኛለሁ!!
አፈንዲ ሙተቂ
መስከረም 22/2008
ሀረር -ምስራቅ ኢትዮጵያ
1. Afendi Muteki: The Ittu Oromo of Carcar, Origin, Institutions and Dispersions (A Project on Progress)
2. Gada Melba: Oromia, An Introduction to History of the Oromo People: Khartum፡ 1988
3. Enrico Cerulli: A Falk Literature of the Oromo People: Harvard: 1922
4. Johann L. Krapf, :Travels, Researches and Missionary Labors during an Eighteen Year’s Residence in Eastern Africa, London, 1860
5. Mohammed Hasasan: The City of Harar and the Islamization of the Oromo in Hararge, Atlanta, 1999
6. የኦሮሚያ ባህልና ቱሪዝም ቢሮ፣ “በገዳ ስርዓት የቱለማ ኦሮሞ ፖለቲካ”፤ ፊንፊኔ፣ 2000
7. ልዩ ልዩ ቃለ ምልልሶች

Guddaa Saalphaa Fariddi Guniddaan Dhessa

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Befqadu Hailu (Mana Hidhaa Kalitti Kessaa)

Dhumnii jaarraa kudha saglaffaa dhuma yeeroo Awuroopaanoonnii ardii Afrikaa hirachuuf murtteeffatan ture. Mootootnii awuuroopaa kan ga’ee isaanii yoommuu fudhatan, ga’een Xaaliyaanii naannawa Itiyoophiyaa tuuree.Weerartoonnii Awuroopha sababni weerarreef ‘’ummata Afrikaa hirriba irra damaqsiinee qaroomsuufii’’ yoo jedhan illee dhugaan yeeroo sanaa garuu kanarraan adda.Sababnii weeraraa innii guddaan omisha warshaaleetif meeshaa dheedhii argachuu dabrees gabaa barbaaduuf ture. Amantaa Afrikaanoota jijjiraa gocha fakkoo isaanii taasisuus walfaana raawwatuu.Afaan, aadaa fi duudhaa ummatichaa eega qoratanii booda afaan, aadaa duudhaa ammayyaa dha jedhaniii amannan kan offii uwwisuu tuuree.Egaa Afrikaa qaroomsuu kan jedhan gocha akkanaa kanaan.Sababa gocha awuroopaanoota kanaan biyootnii Afrikaa baayyeen afaan,aadaa,duudhaa ofii guutumaan guutuuttii dhabanii enyummaa gita bittootaatin buluttiideemaniruu. Gama kanaan Itiyoophiyaan dhibbaa awuroopaanoota irra hafuu baattuus, hamma tokko aadaa fii dhudhaa adda ta’ee qabbattee turuu dandessee jirtii.

Itiyoophiyaan weerartoota Awuroophaa qolachuu dandessuun ishee tuumsa ummattotaa walirrattii godhaniini.Injifanno aduwaa loola Xaaliyaani wajjin godhamee irrattii shoorrii ijoolleen oromo kana akka Baalchaa Safoo maqa fardaatiin Aba Nafsoo taphatan akka laayyootii kan ilaalamu mitii. Sababnii Fiit Awraarii Habta Giyoorgisi Dinagdee (abba malaa) sadarkaa hoggansaa abbaa duulaa ga’uun isaanii innii guddaan jagnummaa adda waraana aduwaa irrattii raawwataniin turee. Xiiqii waggaa afuurtamaatiin Xaaliyaan deebi’ee biyyattii yoommu weeraruu, qabsoo bilisa baasaa Itiyoophiyaa fiiniinsuu kessattii, Itiyoophiyaanoota kaan wajjiin hinkoo isaanii bahanii jiruu. Gama kanaan Garasuu fi Jaagamaa maqaa kaasuun ni danda’ama. Jaagamaa keelloo Gootichii, kitaaba seena dhunfaa Fikira Maarkoosi Dastaa barreesseefi kessattii ‘’dame malee Jirmiii hin binxamuu’’ jedhanii ibsaniruu.Jeechi isaanii kuun dhugaa turee.

Saboota biyyattiin qabduu keessaa Oromoon lakkofsaan guddaa dha.Seenaan Oromoo seenaa barraayee jiruu irrayyuu guddaa dha.Sirnii ittin bulmaata Oromoo, Sirni Gadaan, dimookraasiin Oromoof aadaa akka ta’ee kan mullisuu dha. Sadarkaa hawaasa wajjin walqabatee Aadaa Oromoo kessattii guddaa fi xiqqa jeedhanii qooduun hin jiruu. Sirna gadaa kessattii nama sadarkaa hoggansa kamuu qeequun aadaa oromootii.Aadaan akkasii kuun bakka buutoonni ummata qeeqa ummataa miliquu akka hindandeenyee taasisa waan ta’eef ummanni Itiyoophiyaa biraatiifisi muxxannoo irra fayyadamuu qabanii dha.

Ummannii Oromoo hamma baayyina isaa fayyadamoo ta’uu baatuus, ijoolleen Oromoo angoo siyaasa Itiyoophiyaa argachuuf falmaa darbaniruu. Beektootnii siyaasa tokko tokko kutaa seenaa biyyattii ‘’Zamana Masaafinti’ jedhamee yeeroo beekamuttii biyyattiin Oromoo yajjuu jala bulaa akka turtee nii ibsuu.Yeeroo kanattii afaan masaraa Goondari afaan Oromoo akka turee seenaan nii ibsa.Gama biraatiin yoo ilaallee mootootni Amharaa fi Tigree looltota Oromoo wajjin fuudhaafi heerumaan firummaa horatanii falmii angoo siyaasa hambisuu tuuree. Intaltii Mootii Teewoodrosijaalalaan boojitee intala Oromoo Wollo Raas Alii kantaatee Tawaabachi turtee. Kana qofaa mitii.Nitii Mootii miniliki ‘’Ibsituu Itiyoophiyaa’’ jedhamtee jajamtuu xaayituu bixuuli dubara Oromoo yajjuu dha.Bara Oromoonnii Itiyoophiyaa hin bulchinee kessattii ilee murtee karra dubaan dabruu kessattii qooda qabuu tuuree.

Akka carraa ta’ee seenaaItiyoophiyaa keessattii yeeroon ummannii jireenya mijoo dabarfatee hin turree.Ummannii Oromoos dararoo kana dhandhamatee jira.Bulchitoonnii yoommuu jijjiraman fedha isaanitiif jecha qootee bulaa dhippisuu turee.Mootootnii biyyattii ummata isaan faana hin hirirree tarkaanfii humnaan gutamee fudhatuu.Callaa Qootee bulaan omisheemootii bulchuu wajjiin dirqama qoduu qaba tuuree.Qootee bulaa gibira kafaluu dadhabee ijjii isaa otoo arguu looltoonii motichaa omisha isaa akka hin fudhanne calla dafqa isaatiin omishee gubee baqataturee .Mootin tokko dabreee mootiin biraa yoo dhufuu ummanni boqonnaa dhabaatii kan jiraatee.Namoota muraasa angoof dhama’an malee jiruun ummannii dabarsee jiruu deegaa turee. Haata’uu malee Cunqursaan akkasii kuun waanjoo gabrummaa bakka bulchaan ummataa kara dimookraatawaatiin hin filamnee marattii kan fe’amuu dha.

Baballina ummatnii Oromoo Seena kessa raawwateen kaaba fi kibba biyyattii keessattii bakka ummannii Oromoo hin qubannee hin jiruu.bakka tokko tokko afaanii fii aadaa isaa barsiisaa bakka birattii immoo aadaa fi afaan akkasumas ammanta bakka sanaa dhaalee jiraata. “Walakkaa sidaama” fi “walakkaaguuraageen” warra aadaa sidaama fi guraagee fudhatanii dha.Oromoon woolloosi afaan Amhaara fi amanta Islaamaa fudhataniruu.Raayyaa fi Azaboon Tigriffa fi kiristaanummaa fudhataniruu. Gama kanaan ummannii Oromoos ummattoota Itiyoophiyaa kaan wajjin walittii hidhinsa umee jiraa.Soosiyoolojistii Donaald Leevan jedhaman akka ibsanittii amala dafanii ummata biraa wajjin makamuu oromoon qabutuu Itiyoophiyaa gudittii uumee jedhu.

Ammas taanan ummannii Itiyoophiyaa gita bittaa cunqursitoota jala hin baanee.Itiyoophiyaan harraa akka Itiyoophiyaa kalessa san bakka nammoonni mirgasaani gaafatan humnaan ukkaamamanii dha. Itiyoophiyaanoonni hundii Cunqursaa kana karaa filataniin qabsaa’atii kan jiran. Haata’uu malee ummannii tokkummaan ka’ee cunqursaa kana ofiirraa qolachuu waan hin dandeenyeef cunqurfamuun hin hafnee.Ijoolleen Oromoo baayyeen fallii kana foxxoquu dha jedhuu ta’a. Jabina duraan qabuu haa dhabuu malee afurrii ykn miirrii ABO ammas jira.Namoonnii baayyeen afurrii ABO afura ‘’foxxoquu dha‘’ jedhanii amanuu.Namoonnii hedduun galma kanaaf wareegamani, hidhamani biyya irra baqataniis jijjiramnii barbaadamuu hin dhufnee. Akka hubannoo kiyya yoo ta’ee sababnii galmii kun hin ga’iniif sababa lamaanii. Sababni inni Tokkoffaan jirmii Itiyoophiyaa hundessee (ummatnii oromoo) akka dameettii binxama jechuu isaatinii.lammaffaan dina keenya kan ta’ee cunqursaa mo’uu kan dandeenyuu walin dhaabbachuun malee adda bahani waan hin taaneefii dha.

Weerara xaaliyaanii qolachuun kan danda’amee irree gamteessuutini malee qabsoo dhunfaatiin hin turree.Ameerikaan addunyaa dursaa kan jirtuu kutaaleen biyyaa walin waan dhaabbatanifii. Dhiibbaa Ameerikaa dandamachuuf Awuroopaanoonnii gamtaa Awuroophaa hundessani jiruu.Afrikaanisi gamtaa ykn tokkummaa Afrikaattii deemaa jirtii.Tokkummaa keenyaan dina seenaa kessa kan ta’ee cunqursaa mo’uu ni danda’ama.Adda bahuun garuu sirumaa humna nuu dhabsisa malee nuu hin toolu.Foxxooquun Eritriyaa ummataaf bilisummaa hin fidnee.Foxxoquu Sudaan Kibbaatin nagaa horachuun hin taane.Saba tokko ta’uunifii amantaa tokkoo hordoofuun ummata Soomaaleetiif waa hin buusnee .Kan looluu qabnuu cunqursaamalee tokkummaa ykn gamtaa keenyaa ta’uu hin qabu.

Source: Negere Ethiopia Newspaper

Ummata Itiyoophiyaa hundesseef Oromiyaa foxxoqsina gaaffiin jedhuu arraba. Mo’amuu dha.Qabsoon kan ta’uu qabuu Itiyoophiyaa bilisaafii cimtuu dhugoomsuu dha. Hayyootiin siyaasa Oromoo(hayyulee siyaasa biro wajjin wali galuu baatanis) aadaa dimookraasii qabanittii fayyadamanii qabsaa’uu qaban malee biyyaa Itiyoophiyaa ijaarree dhisnee foxxoqna jeechuu hin qaban.Iccitiin haangafumma tokkumaa ykn gamtummaa dha malee addaan bahuu mitii. Injifannoon keenyaa gamtaa keenyaanii!

If Ethiopia is so vibrant, why are young people leaving?

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By, Hassen Hussein

Within a week, Ethiopians were hit with a quadruple whammy. On April 19, the Libyan branch of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) released a shocking video purporting to show the killings and beheadings of Ethiopian Christians attempting to cross to Europe through Libya. This came only days after an anti-immigrant mob in South Africa killed at least three Ethiopian immigrants and wounded many others. Al Jazeera America reported that thousands of Ethiopian nationals were stranded in war-torn Yemen. And in the town of Robe in Oromia and its surroundings alone, scores of people were reportedly grieving over the loss of family members at sea aboard a fateful Europe-bound boat that sank April 19 off the coast of Libya with close to 900 aboard.

These tragedies may have temporarily united Ethiopians of all faiths and ethnic backgrounds. But they have also raised questions about what kind of desperation drove these migrants to leave their country and risk journeys through sun-scorched deserts and via chancy boats.

The crisis comes at a time when Ethiopia’s economic transformation in the last decade is being hailed as nothing short of a miracle, with some comparing it to the feat achieved by the Asian “tigers” in the 1970s. Why would thousands of young men and women flee their country, whose economy is the fastest growing in Africa and whose democracy is supposedly blossoming? And when will the exodus end?

After the spate of sad news, government spokesman Redwan Hussein said the tragedy “will be a warning to people who wish to risk and travel to Europe through the dangerous route.” Warned or not, many youths simply do not see their dreams for a better life realized in Ethiopia. Observers cite massive poverty, rising costs of living, fast-climbing youth unemployment, lack of economic opportunities for the less politically connected, the economy’s overreliance on the service sector and the requirement of party membership as a condition for employment as the drivers behind the exodus.

A 2012 study by the London-based International Growth Center noted (PDF) widespread urban unemployment amid growing youth landlessness and insignificant job creation in rural areas. “There have been significant increases in educational attainment. However, there has not been as much job creation to provide employment opportunities to the newly educated job seekers,” the report said.

One of the few ISIL victims identified thus far was expelled from Saudi Arabia in 2013. (Saudi deported more than 100,000 Ethiopian domestic workers during a visa crackdown.) A friend, who worked as a technician for the state-run Ethiopian Electricity Agency, joined him on this fateful trek to Libya. At least a handful of the victims who have been identified thus far were said to be college graduates.

Given the depth of poverty, Ethiopia’s much-celebrated economic growth is nowhere close to accommodating the country’s young and expanding population, one of the largest youth cohorts in Africa. Government remains the main employer in Ethiopia after agriculture and commerce. However, as Human Rights Watch noted in 2011, “access to seeds, fertilizers, tools and loans … public sector jobs, educational opportunities and even food assistance” is often contingent on support for the ruling party.

Still, unemployment and lack of economic opportunities are not the only reasons for the excessive outward migration. These conditions are compounded by the fact that youths, ever more censored and denied access to the Internet and alternative sources of information, simply do not trust the government enough to heed Hussein’s warnings. Furthermore, the vast majority of Ethiopian migrants are political refugees fleeing persecution. There are nearly 7,000 registered Ethiopian refugees in Yemen, Kenya has more than 20,000, and Egypt and Somalia have nearly 3,000 each, according to the United Nations refugee agency.

Ethiopians will head to the polls in a few weeks. Typically, elections are occasions to make important choices and vent anger at the incumbent. But on May 23, Ethiopians will be able to do neither. In the last decade, authorities have systematically closed the political space through a series of anti-terrorism, press and civil society laws. Ethiopia’s ruling party, now in power for close to 24 years, won the last four elections. The government has systematically weakened the opposition and does not tolerate any form of dissent.

The heightened crackdown on freedom of expression has earned Ethiopia the distinction of being the world’s fourth-most-censored country and the second leading jailer of journalists in Africa, behind only its archrival, Eritrea, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

There is little hope that the 2015 elections would be fundamentally different from the 2010 polls, in which the ruling party won all but two of the 547 seats in the rubber-stamp national parliament. The ruling party maintains a monopoly over the media. Authorities have shown little interest in opening up the political space for a more robust electoral contest. This was exemplified by the exclusion of key opposition parties from the race, continuing repression of those running and Leenco Lata’s recent failed attempt to return home to pursue peaceful political struggle after two decades of exile. (Lata is the founder of the outlawed Oromo Liberation Front, fighting since 1973 for the rights of the Oromo, Ethiopia’s marginalized majority population, and the president of the Oromo Democratic Front.)

A few faces from the fragmented and embittered opposition maybe elected to parliament in next month’s lackluster elections. But far from healing Ethiopia’s gashing wounds, the vote is likely to ratchet up tensions. In fact, a sea of youth, many too young to vote, breaking police barriers to join opposition rallies bespeaks not of a country ready for elections but one ripe for a revolution with unpredictable consequences.

Despite these mounting challenges, Ethiopia’s relative stability — compared with its deeply troubled neighbors Somalia, South Sudan, Eritrea and Djibouti — is beyond contention. Even looking further afield, across the Red Sea, where Yemen is unraveling, one finds few examples of relative stability. This dynamic and Ethiopia’s role in the “war on terrorism” explains Washington’s and other donors’ failure to push Ethiopia toward political liberalization.

However, Ethiopia’s modicum of stability is illusory and bought at a hefty price: erosion of political freedoms, gross human rights violations and ever-growing discontent. This bodes ill for a country split by religious, ethnic and political cleavages. While at loggerheads with each other, Ethiopia’s two largest ethnic groups — the Oromo (40 percent) and the Amhara (30 percent) — are increasingly incensed by continuing domination by Tigreans (6 percent).

Ethiopian Muslims (a third of the country’s population of 94 million) have been staging protests throughout the country since 2011. Christian-Muslim relations, historically cordial, are being tested by religious-inspired violence and religious revivalism around the world. Ethiopia faces rising pressures to choose among three paths fraught with risks: the distasteful status quo; increased devolution of power, which risks balkanization; and more centralization, which promises even further resistance and turmoil.

It is unlikely that the soul searching from recent tragedies will prompt the authorities to make a course adjustment. If the country’s history of missed opportunities for all-inclusive political and economic transformation is any guide, Ethiopians might be in for a spate of more sad news. As long as the answer to these questions focuses on security, the door is left wide open for further exodus and potential social unrest from an increasingly despondent populace.

Ignore Lencho Lata’s compromise idea at your own peril

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By Olaanaa Abbaaxiiqii

I read Lencho Lata’s recent op-ed, “Electoral Absolutism in Ethiopia,” with great interest. Ethiopia is approaching a political dead end and there is no better alternative to seeking compromise and a third way.

The absolutist idea of the Ethiopian elitist that Lencho so aptly described and the severe political and ethnic polarization that currently exists will eventually end all of us in mutual annihilation and self-destruction. Far from being a panacea, as Lencho noted, elections may in fact aggravate these acute divisions.

It’s not difficult to envisage that yesterday’s Somalia and Rwanda could pale in comparison of what awaits us unless we do something about it. Yes, Ethiopia’s dire situation is that much serious. Instead of seeking the way to save ourselves, we are feasting, drinking, dancing and quarrelling among ourselves when the ship we are all riding on is sinking and sinking fast. Our hatred and acute divisions have blinded us from seeing what is right in front of us. We are heading towards disaster of epic proportion, oblivious to the ferocious storm on the horizon.

As Lencho hinted at, there are three dominant visions about Ethiopia’s future among the elites: The forces of status quo, status quo ante and the centrifugal force. The first one refers to the ruling party. For Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), nothing should be changed, for they have already resolved the country’s political problems; democracy is flourishing and the ethnic problem is behind us and development is taking root. For them, this government is highly stable and no force under the sky could challenge or replace it, through force or otherwise. The EPRDF sees opening the political space as a risk that endangers peace, stability and development.

For the Amhara dominated opposition, all of Ethiopia’s political problems start and end with the introduction of ethnic federalism. They maintain that the EPRDF manufactured non-existing conflict, thus pitting ethnic groups against each other and putting the country in danger of imploding. For them, the people in Ethiopia lived in peace and harmony prior to TPLF’s arrival. Therefore, their primary objective is to get rid of the federal arrangement. They want to do this by coming to power by all necessary means.

For the outward looking Oromo forces, the TPLF regime is just an extension of the historical habesha rule, and nothing fundamental has changed since it came to power. Oromia is still under Ethiopia’s colony.  The only option for the Oromos is to liberate and decolonize Oromia by armed means, and establish an independent Oromia. No solution short of Oromia’s independence is good solution for them.

Aren’t these schisms of religious proportion? How does one even venture to dream to close such a huge chasm?  “How dare Lencho try to reconcile such mutually exclusive interests and ideas?” ask those who are initiated among us. And others throw temper tantrums screaming that Lencho surrendered the Oromo position by pursuing a compromise solution. To be sure, Lencho is no body’s fool. He has no illusion that people will so easily leave their deeply held convictions behind. In fact, he is not even suggesting any solution. He is simply submitting that we overcome our long held zero sum worldview. Lencho is saying we should start talking about the country’s general direction and how to manage our differences before going to the polls.

True, we should have had these dialogues before the constitution was adopted. It is unfortunate that the Ethiopian constitution was rushed and adopted before conducting a robust discussion among all stakeholders. In other words, no constitutional moment was generated. This had an effect on the legitimacy of the constitution itself, as well as on the lack of consensus on the direction the county should take. And we are now paying the price for those misadventures. However, that is then and this is now. And we cannot simply sit around and lament how the constitution came into existence and what went wrong at the initial stage. We have to make the best out of the current situation.

There are three fundamental facts that should compel all the forces to come out of their shells and sit down for an all-inclusive dialogue. (1) The current situation is unsustainable and change is necessary, (2) It is impossible to go back to post ethnic “federation” arrangement, and (3) The Oromo question should be solved within the Ethiopian context.

The ruling party clearly is oblivious of the coming danger. As with many non-democratic governments, the EPRDF is either in denial or incapable of seeing what is breeding under. Like in the Titanic, those on the upper deck do not comprehend the gravity of the situation, while we who are under the deck, are seeing that the ship is leaking, and we are scrambling and screaming. As with the Titanic passengers, EPRDF leaders insist nothing could sink this exceptionally well-built ship, and that any problem, such as the recent Oromo students uprising, is just a bump that can be overcome with a little bit of maneuvering. The existing power arrangement, which is dominated by one party, disfranchised many, and monopolized power in one ethnic group’s hands. And the ruling elite’s cluelessness and uncompromising mindset is one of the major obstacles to peace and democracy in Ethiopia.

The second major obstacle is the Amhara dominated opposition’s denial of the change that has taken place under EPRDF and their unhealthy obsession with undoing the federal arrangement. They are oblivious of the benefit that the non-Amhara ethnic groups achieved out of this change. As a result they have failed to grasp that the current administrative structure is here to stay. It is unfortunate that they have become so self-absorbed to see the condition of others. They simply want to wish away the existence and aspirations of other ethnic groups. The only unfairness they recognize is to their own group. The only victims they ever see are themselves. This empathy free, extreme self-absorption has created a rigid mindset that has become a major obstacle to compromise.

The Oromo elites’ outward focus on resolving the Oromo question is another major obstacle to compromise.  The insistence on separation from Ethiopia hinders opportunities for dialogue with other groups. This is further aggravated by the existence of an influential sub-section of this group that is totally obsessed and consumed with past grievances. It’s so unfortunate that such elites with victimhood mentality have acquired a strong foothold in the Oromo movement that has a just cause and democratic tradition. This group is totally disconnected from the reality on the ground and wants to frame the Oromo question solely based on what happened in the past. It’s as if they are saying, “We are miserable therefore we are.” This has a self-defeating quality and assumes Oromos grievances are unique and insoluble. It’s not surprising that this group thinks the Oromo question could not be solved within Ethiopia. However, the Oromo have the potential to be a bulwark of democratic transformation in the Horn of Africa, and not wallow in self-pity and limit itself. We cannot control our past circumstances, but should be able to control our response.

At least in principle, in a truly democratic federation the Oromo could achieve a status that’s commensurate with its population size. Oromos will not be relegated to a minority status forever. Its numeric strength would not allow that in the long run. But these elites are blind to this fact, and underestimate the power of population size in a democracy. And this is a huge hurdle to reach compromise with others.

In general, each of these groups believe that compromise is not possible as a result of the other group’s actions rather than one’s own actions or the situation that both groups are in. Lencho’s characterization of their position challenges these preconceptions. They selectively support his characterization of the other groups, which confirms their prior attitudes and beliefs. The lack of contact between these groups aggravates this uncompromising mindset. It’s easier to demonize a group or person you do not personally know or have no contacts with. This is why Lencho’s effort to establish communication channels between such divergent groups and his recommendation for robust discussion among them is of paramount importance.

A lasting solution for Ethiopia’s political crisis cannot be found especially by excluding any of the major groups: Oromo, Amhara and Tigray people. This is the basis from which we should start going forward. And this could be achieved only through cooperation, not by any one single group’s volition. To be clear, there are serious and acute rifts between these groups. However, by realizing the enormity of the current situation, we also develop the capacity to appreciate the concerns and fears of other groups. Then, may be then, we will start to listen to each other, which is the first step in finding a solution through compromise.

It’ll be difficult to compromise on strongly held beliefs, but moral conviction stymies political compromise. We can keep in check the uncompromising mindset of others by having a cooperating mindset that respects and validates its opponents. Even in such a difficult situation, one must rise to the occasion. Lencho who was the personification of an uncompromising mindset was able to rise above the fray and see the big picture and come up with a compromise idea. The almighty will not get down and solve our problems. It should start somewhere and by someone who will dare to take the first unpopular move at the great risk to his or her physical wellbeing and personal reputation. Lencho just did this, and it’s up to us to build on it.


The origin of ethnic politics in Ethiopia

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Leenco Lata

Controversy has been dogging the policy of structuring Ethiopia as a multinational federation ever since it was publicly aired almost twenty- five years ago.

There are those who vociferously and persistently condemn the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) leaders for introducing the politicization of ethnicity by embracing this policy.

On the other hand, there are those who like wise consistently commend EPRDF leaders for the same reason. However, putting the adoption of this policy in an historical perspective would prove that both stands are wrong.

The erroneousness of the stand of both those who commend and those who condemn EPRDF leaders for structuring Ethiopia as a multinational federation becomes easily explicable by recalling the famous statement by Marx that “Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.” It is the circumstance prevailing when EPRDF leaders came to power that rendered structuring Ethiopia as multinational federation inescapable and not their alleged noble or ignoble intensions.
What was that circumstance? At the time, struggles for national self-determination by the Oromos, Tigreans, Ogadenis, Sidamas, etc. were gathering momentum while more and more communities (Gambellas, Benishanguls, etc,) were joining the fray with every passing year. Accommodating these quests for self-determination by structuring Ethiopia as a multinational federation was, hence, simply inescapable.

The critics of the present multinational federation blame the spokespersons of these struggles for self-determination for politicizing ethnicity/language for the first time in the country’s history. Nothing could be further from the truth. On the contrary, these struggles were simply a natural response to a prior state-driven policy of politicizing ethnicity/language. This state-driven politicization of ethnicity/language goes as far back as 1933 when the then Minister of Education, Sahlu Tsedalu, proposed the following policy:

ያገር ጉልበት ኣንድነት ነው ኣንድነትንም የሚወልደዉ ቋንቋ ልማድና ሃይማኖት ነዉ . . .
በመላ ኢትዮዽያ ግዛት ለሥጋዊና ለመንፈገሳዊ ሥራ ያማሪኛና የግዕዝ ቋንቋ ብቻ በሕግ ጸንተዉ እንዲኖሩ ሌላዉ ማናቸውም የአረማዉያን ቋንቋ ሁሉ እንዲደመሰስ ማድረግ ያስፈልጋል. . .

The rough translation of which is: “Unity is the strength of a country, and the sources of unity are language, custom and religion . . . [It is thus necessary] to legally preserve in the whole of Ethiopia only Amharic and Ge’ez [We can ignore Ge’ez for it was merely a liturgical language of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church largely incomprehensible to ordinary believers.] for spiritual and earthly use [while] the language of every pagan must be erased.”

This policy to erase all languages except Amharic amounts to an ethnocidal intention of eradicating all communities except the speakers of Amharic. The targets of this discriminatory policy had no choice but to launch struggles for self-determination with a view to averting the state-driven intention to eradicate them. These struggles were, hence, the effect of a prior act of politicizing ethnicity/language and not its cause as commonly presumed by the critics of the present multinational federation in Ethiopia.

This language-based policy was ultimately codified in laws proscribing the use of all languages except Amharic at public events, including prayer meetings as if the Almighty could understand only one language.

It is common for all builders of empires to simply impose their language as the only official medium for administrative purposes but the builders of contemporary Ethiopia are perhaps unique in legally proscribing the use of other languages.

This discriminatory language-based policy ultimately influenced how Ethiopian identity (ኢትዬጵያዊነት) was portrayed. It gave rise to the version of Ethiopian identity (ኢትዬጵያዊነት) that was synonymous with being a speaker of Amharic and totally opposed to being an Oromo, Sidama, Tigrean, etc. By implication, this version of Ethiopianness (ኢትዬጵያዊነት) was expected to blossom on the graveyards of Oromonnet, Sidamannet, Tigraynnet, and the identities of all other peoples.

Equating being an Ethiopian with being a speaker of Amharic in due course drew the criticism of the Ethiopian student radicals of the 1960s. In particular, Walillign Mekonen’s article of 1969 cogently stated: “To be a ‘genuine Ethiopian’ one has to speak Amharic, to listen to Amharic music, to accept the Amhara-Tigre religion, Orthodox Christianity and to wear the Amhara-Tigre Shamma in international conferences. In some cases to be an ‘Ethiopian’, you will even have to change your name. In short to be an Ethiopian, you will have to wear an Amhara mask (to use Fanon’s expression).”

This state-driven policy of politicizing identity ultimately fomented the natural response of celebrating one’s identity by those whose languages and other contents of their identity kit were targeted for erasure. Thereafter, the course was set for members of these societies to invoke and launch the struggles for the self-determination of their national communities.

Advocating the right to national self-determination was not restricted to the members of these subjugated nations or nationalities. It also figured prominently in the political programmes of the country-wide leftist ML parties that came on the Ethiopian political landscape in the early 1970s. The debate that raged between the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party (EPRP) and the All-Ethiopia Socialist Movement (more widely known by its Amharic acronym MEISON) concerned not the legitimacy of invoking the right to self-determination per se but it is a possible end point. The EPRP endorsed the right to national self-determination up to and including secession and very vocally faulted MEISON for failing to go to the same extent.

Goaded by the EPRP and cajoled by MEISON, even the military regime (Derg) ended up embracing a watered down version of self-determination in the form of regional autonomy. After prevaricating on the question for some years, the Derg finally extended regional autonomy to a selected group of minorities in its so-called Constitution of 1987. No other evidence is needed to prove that Ethiopia was already on a slippery slope leading to multinational federation than this measure by the highly centrist military regime.

EPRDF leaders thus had no other choice but to go one stage further in satisfying the ongoing quests for self-determination by structuring Ethiopia as a multinational federation when they unseated and replaced the Derg in 1991. Hence, it is the “circumstance existing already” that made adopting multinational federation necessary instead of the alleged noble or ignoble intentions of the incoming ruling group.

Political groups are merely wasting their time and energy by arguing to the contrary.

Multinational federalism is simply the latest natural step in Ethiopia’s political development that resulted from neither the generosity nor nefarious aspirations of any group. What should occupy all concerned is how to refine and polish this political order for the good of all Ethiopian peoples. When posed in this fashion, several cautions that need to be underscored come to mind.
First, those aspiring to undo the extant multinational federation need to carefully re-examine their project for its success does not look likely without horrendous bloodshed. Despite its undeniable practical short comings, no national community would willingly give up the right to self-government enshrined in the present Constitution.

Second, the intimate relationship between federalism and democracy cannot be over-emphasized. While it is certainly possible to exercise democracy without federalism, instituting federalism without democracy is not only an oxymoron but also a recipe for disaster as the recent experiences of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and Yugoslavia so tragically demonstrated.

All concerned should realize that federations are inherently fragile and multinational ones are possibly even more so. The success of any federation hinges on the willingness to strike a proper balance between over-centralization and over-decentralization. Over-centralization is potentially dangerous for it would tend to negate the very rationale of federation, recognizing and respecting local communities’ right to self-government. The frustration bred by over-centralization could lead to unexpected outbursts of the anger of concerned communities. Over-decentralization, on the other hand, could breed institutional incoherence potentially culminating in breakdown.

Let us face it: The cohesion supposedly underpinned by the linguistic and cultural homogeneity of the nation-state model has proven elusive even in its birth place, Western Europe and other parts of the globe settled by Western Europeans. This is evidenced by the invocation of sub-state identity in quintessential liberal democratic countries such as Spain, Belgium, United Kingdom, Canada, etc. Developments in the same countries also obviates the presumption by some in Ethiopia that instituting a liberal democratic order would automatically satisfy demands for group rights.

We are living through an era when the foundation of democratic political order is contested in large parts of the world. Religion, history, culture, economy, etc. are competing to serve as the foundation of an acceptable political order. Studies show that the territorial extension of the state is pulled in different directions depending on its role as the container of power, wealth and culture. When the state is deployed as a container of power, preserving existing boundaries gets greater attention. When it is tapped as a wealth container, encompassing larger territory becomes prioritized. When it is conceived as a container of culture, however, it would tend towards smaller size. What can possibly simultaneously satisfy all three tendencies is forging fora for political participation at supra-state, state and sub-state levels.

Finally, what is the origin of “ethnic politics” in Ethiopia? Who is to blame for this supposedly divisive policy? The rulers of Ethiopia are responsible for uncorking the genii of “ethnic politics” in early twentieth century. In due course, reactive invocations of identity continued to spread to other communities. Instead of aspiring to rebottle this jinni, unlikely without significant bloodletting, all should consider how to deploy it for the good of all.


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(OPride) — The Oromo social web have been buzzing over comments attributed to senior Ethiopian official, Abay Tsehaye. In a leaked audio Tsehaye can be heard threatening officials from the state of Oromia for a delay in implementing the controversial Addis Ababa master plan.

Ethiopia is also gearing up for yet another symbolic election. The two events signal the potential return of crackdown on Oromo leaders and human rights activists.

In recent years the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) has adopted a series of draconian legislations to profile and target dissenting Oromos. If EPRDF’s conducts during the past four elections are any guide, the persecution of the Oromo is likely to increase over the next few months ahead of the May vote.

The Tigrean Liberation Front (TPLF) controlled regime in Ethiopia associates every dissenting Oromo with the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). After proscribing the group as a terrorist organization in 2011, authorities have turned to two legal instruments adopted in 2009 to criminalize and eliminate any presumed threat to its reign: the Civil Societies and Charities law and the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation.

Counterterrorism and Human Rights

Counterterrorism has been on the international agenda since 1934 when states made a failed attempt to come up with a comprehensive international convention to prevent the rising threat of terrorism.

Most states now agree on the increasing risks of terrorism and the need for collective response. However, given the lack of comprehensive convention or even an agreement on what constitutes terrorism, national counterterrorism efforts have contributed to the worsening of human rights and civil liberties, especially in authoritarian states such as Ethiopia.

In its preamble Ethiopia’s Anti-Terrorism proclamation states that it aims, inter alia, to enable the country cooperate with other states in the fight against terrorism and to enforce its international obligations. However, the EPRDF made the true purpose of the legislation clear by proscribing major opposition groups as terrorists, thereby systematically reserving legally sanctioned powerto relentlessly crackdown on any opposition to its rule.

Article 3 of the law stipulates very broad and vague definitions of terrorism, which has enabled the government to severely restrict human rights in violation of both the country’s constitution and its international treaty obligations. The disproportionate targeting of the Oromo using the counterterrorism legislation has been confirmed by independent investigations by human rights organizations such as the Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. The proscription of the OLF as a terrorist organization has made it easier for the TPLF regime to profile and intensify its crackdown on the Oromo.

Restrictions on Freedom of Association

The Ethiopian Constitution provides for the legitimate exercise of the right to assembly. However, the vague provisions of the anti-terrorism law has given the regime a free reign to link any attempt to advocate for the advancement of Oromo rights as a ‘moral’ support for the OLF. Authorities label any conscious Oromo as having involvement or sympathies for the OLF and hence a terrorist.

Multitudes of Oromo youth, activists and leaders involved with legally recognized political organizations, civil society groups; religious and cultural institutions have been victims of such unfounded association. Even critical members of the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) are not immune from this collective persecution.

Restrictions on Peaceful Assembly

The anti-terrorism law classifies ‘damage to property’, natural resources, historical or cultural heritages, and interruption or disruption of any public service as acts of terrorism. The legitimate exercise of the right to peaceful assembly could result in a minor breach involving any of these activities effectively enables the TPLF government to classify them as terrorist activities and make a prior restraint to the right to peaceful assembly. These activities could have been governed under ordinary criminal law. One of the main purposes of an anti-terrorism legislation is to tackle serious threats to civilian lives not minor offenses that could be dealt with within the bounds of the existing criminal law.

Over the past half-decade thousands of Oromo students, teachers, business owners and farmers, who took part in peaceful protests, have been charged with under the sweeping legislation. These include those who were detained, tortured or killed last year following Oromia wide protests against Addis Ababa’s master plan, which Tsehaye has vowed to implement with or without regional support.

Restrictions on Freedom of Expression

EPRDF has no tolerance for any dissenting political views but the impact of suppressing Oromo’s freedom of expression is far reaching. The anti-terrorism law provides harsh punishment for ‘publishing or causing the publication of a statement that is likely to be understood by some or all of members of the public to whom it is published as a direct or indirect encouragement for terrorism.’

Such broad definitions have enabled the government to crackdown on Oromo journalists, bloggers and anyone who is critical about its oppressive laws and policies.

Currently, there is no active independent TV, radio, newspaper or magazine in Afaan Oromo inside Ethiopia. The government actively monitors and routinely blocks media outlets based outside the country. Oromo journalists working for state owned media that dare speak out on the interest of the Oromo nation are persecuted or threatened with dismissal. This restriction on freedom of expression has made independent Oromo press non-existent.

Restrictions on self-determination

In theory, the 1995 Ethiopian constitution provides extensive guarantees for the rights of the Nation, Nationalities and Peoples in Ethiopia. Its preamble commences with the phrase ‘we the nations nationalities and peoples’ asserting the role of the constitution as an expression of their sovereignty and inalienable right to self-determination. The constitution also aims to rectify the oppression perpetrated against minority ethnic groups under previous Ethiopian regimes.

It makes the country’s nations and nationalities the sovereign power holders, entrusts them with the power to interpret the constitution and guarantees their right to self determination which extendsfrom establishing autonomous regional government to an independent State.

The formation of Oromia state was a vital step toward ending the century old yoke of oppression against the Oromo. The constitution gives Oromos the right to establish an organization, which can advocate for its self-determination. The decision to remain within federal Ethiopia or to form an independent state through a referendum is theirs to make.

The broad and vague provisions of Ethiopia’s terrorism law and its aggressive and discriminate application undermines Oromos right to self-determination, violates the country’s constitution and international treaties ratified by the country. The law has made it impossible for the Oromo to enjoy their right to self-determination in all of its expressions such as celebrations of Oromummaa, Waaqeffannaa, Afaan Oromo and Oromo history without fear of persecution. It is unthinkable to even imagine the establishment of a political organization that openly advocates for the creation of independent Oromia through referendum. All these acts are construed as terrorism and punishable under the anti-terror law.

The constitution vs. Oromo rights activism

The 1995 Constitution widely recognizes fundamental human rights for all in accordance with international human rights instruments that Ethiopia has ratified. As the supreme law of the land and its requirement of interpreting these human rights tenets in accordance with international human rights documents ratified by the countryplaces more weight on the document. As such, any law and decisions of state organs that contravenes the constitution is null and void.

This means that the raft of oppressive legislations adopted by EPRDF, including the anti-terrorism proclamation are in clear violation of the constitution and a range of international treaties. This also includes the decision to expand Addis Ababa’s jurisdiction with clear disregard to a series of individual and collective human rights of the Oromo andthe constitution’s “special status” clause with respect to Oromia’s rights.

Unfortunately, the 1995 Constitution suffers from various contradictions including some rooted in the document itself. In fact, it is used to create a facade of democracy and cover up EPRDF’s despotic rule. Besides, the constitution entrusts the task of interpreting the law to the House of Federation. The EPRDF dominated House considers the constitution as a political rather than a legal document. These factors made the constitution practically illegitimate outside the governing party. It serves the sole purpose of defending the regime’s transgressions.

Oromo activists should continue to appeal to international organizations and donors to put pressure on the Ethiopian government to respect human rights and monitor their aid disbursements. Yet real solutions to Oromos quest for liberty, equality and justice lie in locally based response. Given the circumstances, there is no better place to start than demanding the implementation of the constitution itself. Unruly officials like Abay Tsehaye must be challenged using the same constitution that they swore to uphold but break at will. And they must be brought to justice for the gross human rights violations they are committing against innocent civilians.

The writer, Bona Geshe, is a former instructor at the University of Gondar School of Law. He can be reached at