Dear Farenji/ Musungu
By Seenaa Jimjimo, April 1, 2019
I want to thank you for your love for the country so called Ethiopia. For over a century you have helped make that country what it is. In the process, you have shaped its culture and narratives. Since the Scramble for Africa, you have dived in Ethiopian affairs like no other country in Africa. Your involvement has created progress but also some pretty significant damage to the country and the people. This may not mean much but I thought you hear it from some of us.
This time we hope you will hear the voices and the concerns of the majority of the Ethiopians. Please, bear with me in case our logic may make sense and finally you will accept the old Ethiopia are gone to never return. I hope the new Ethiopia will be the nation that belongs to all ethnics and hopefully influenced by an indigenous democratic system such as the Gadaa. As an Oromo who grew up in the west and loved its democracy, I am fascinated each time I learned the hidden or forgotten indigenous culture and its way of life.
Today I am not here to talk about the best thing this world is missing but dearly craving for. I am here to remind those who are infatuated by Ethiopian people and history that some of the truth you may know are made up facts. Please dive into the rural parts of Ethiopia before you make another mistake in supporting/ opposing certain Ethiopians at the expense of others. While at it, please notice our parents and grandparents fought to bring this change that took over a century. I do hope the country survives this tumultuous time and someday soon this great nation will be renamed to Kush land/kingdom. Hope begins with a new name:).
For now, as a fellow American, I ask you to consider below five points before you make your conclusion?
- Which Ethiopian are you speaking for: let’s be honest, who’s land, whose resource, who’s people are we talking about when we push for one Ethiopian identity? We must be clear whose lives were eliminated to make this glorious nation called Ethiopia. If you’re interested to help Ethiopia and want to be part of the solution, you must be willing to speak the truth. Justice must be given where it belongs. It belongs to oppressed Ethiopians that struggled for over a century. We cannot whitewash justice. MLK said, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice”.
- The fact to be reckoned with/the ugly truth: In recent times I hear Amhara’s are the prime victim to TPLF hegemony, but how or in which Ethiopia? If we are honest, over 95% of all Ethiopian political prisoners were Oromos, over 95% of refugees from Ethiopia were Oromos, over 95% of torture survivals were Oromos and among 60,000 recently released political prisoners’ majority were Oromos. These facts matter. Next to Oromos, the prime victims of TPLF were Somalis. For decades they were butchered and terrorized. Even in the era of alternative fact/ fabricated facts cannot be accepted as truth. So, if you want to be taken seriously and wants to appear fair, first you must acknowledge the ugly truth, and clearly and unequivocally state where wrongs are done.
- When certain Ethiopians face human right violation: As an activist and human rights defender, we have tried hard for a long time to no avail for international media attention on gruesome human rights violations. Yet, it feels good to see foreign media covering human rights violation in Ethiopia. It should be covered often because the loss of one life does matter. However, I call caution to a journalist on their reporting. The life of 90,000 Qemant displaced by ethnic Amhara or burned boy by boiling water in the Amhara region should get equal attention to other similar incidents. In case you forgot, last year an Oromo man was sadly hanged in Shashamane and media went ballistic. Shashamane incident was used by journalist and foreign government so much, today the world sees Qerros as a dangerous force. Yet, Oromo Qerro’s blood freed individuals’ like Eskinder Nega.Is it fair to call Qerros dangerous when individuals like Eskinder are calling to fight against newly and weak fragile government? If Qerro’s were as dangerous as some of you put it, how come we still have millions of Amharas in Oromo land? I am sure it is not the weak government that is protecting them. I am sure you can assume if Qerros were anti-Amhara they could easily retaliate against them as they have done against TPLF, which were armed with a machine gun. If I may draw your attention once more, Eskinder enjoys his rights at the heart of Oromia and calls upon his people to decide the fate of Oromia. If the goal of a journalist to create accurate reporting and peace in Ethiopia, you must denounce individuals like Eskinder Nega’s dangerous rhetoric.
- One-sided media coverage: I see many foreign media and foreign government intelligent officers raising concern level in the latest event. It is true the situation in Ethiopia is getting intense. However, as journalists and intelligent officer, have you wondered why only one ethnic group screams the loudest and are heard by you while the rest of the country’s ethnics remained silent? What about the millions forcefully displaced and thousands killed in another part of Ethiopia? How come illegally built houses have more legal rights than the forcefully displaced farmers? Personally, I think it begs the question of why only a single ethnic group were able to build thousands of illegal houses while farmers were forced from their land.
- Land theft: would it be a fair assessment to say in the past Oromia didn’t have an owner and TPLF sold Oromo land to the highest bidder? Let me ask you this, is it fair to sound the horn for illegally built houses when America is removing dreamers who grew up in her territory? Shouldn’t that apply to Oromia? Yet we see you speaking for anyone but Oromos. It seems like it is okay for a region to get raped for as long it serves certain individuals. Don’t Sidama’s, Somali’s and other nationality have the right to the land for which their ancestors occupied? Where is justice for forcefully removed farmers?
- Ethnic federalism: How can we say ethnic federalism is disastrous? Is it because it didn’t favor certain ethnic group? TPLF ethnic federalism was only by name where Tigrians were above the law and every other Ethiopians. True ethnic federalism must be given chance. Ethnic federalism does not mean Ethiopians cannot live in another part of the country. Amharas in Oromia were fine for the last 29 years and are still fine. In fact, to a certain extent, they were the most beneficial of the TPLF rule as they are the great majority of land takers.
In the end, to all foreign intelligence officers and lover of Ethiopia looking for moderate Oromos to negotiate with, please allow me to tell you one last point. Majority of Oromo political parties have become moderate over the course of ten years and certainly with the birth of ODP. However, none of them can be moderate enough like Team Lema, the birther movement of Oromar. I am afraid that the window of opportunity may be closing soon even for ODP. I am afraid to say that you may never find any better individual or party that can possibly get away as Team Lema did. No up and coming political parties can win Oromo vote without explicitly and unconditionally supporting the demands of the Oromo which includes land rights and Addis Ababa. The Qerro’s did not die so few Oromo elites can make a senseless compromise. Our beloved ant-federalist and Amhara elites must know individuals like Lema and Abyi are trying their best to preserve Ethiopia as it exists now. Even them, they have no mandate to sell the interest of Oromo people. Ethiopia is no America, the land of the immigrant.
If we are to build a democratic nation and you will agree that democracy means majority rules the minority, we must make the ugly truth clear to individuals like Eskinder. I don’t think by any means what Team Lama’s are doing are is all great. It is only after they were attacked by certain elites Oromo Qerros are coming to their defense. The truth is, Team Lama is being attacked only because they are Oromos. Like many Oromos, I am very dissatisfied about ODPs policies, their inability to stop the killing of Oromos, the continues displacement of millions, the rise of ethnic tension. Above all, I am disappointed they couldn’t solve the Oromo political crisis. As much as I am dissatisfied with OLF-Shane, they are not only at fault. By distracting Oromo people, ODP is using OLF as a scapegoat for power consolidation. I hope they know this kind of game has no winner. If one cannot clean his/her house, she/he has no right to tell someone else what to do. ODP must first solve Oromo issues.
But, for you, my dear Farenji, fairness, honesty and decency are what we ask of you.