From: Dr. Badhaasaa Taaddasaa | November 19, 2018

Dear Obbo Lamma:

I am writing this letter to appeal to you in the wake of the widely circulating news and social media reactions hailing the face-to-face discussion you had with the OLF leaders and the speech you made afterwards.

It is obvious that Ethiopia is a country where poverty is rampant. Gross violations of human right has been the daily experience of the average person. Deconstructing national identities made up of 80+ ethnic groups remain the focus of the political discourse. Given the speech you made at the conclusion of your summit with the OLF leadership, it is important to ask, in such an environment, what it takes to work with opposition groups and bring real change that benefits every Oromo. The answer lies on instituting Social Structural Change!

What is social structural change? It refers to a systemic change that helps create and sustain a new social reality, addressing injustice that fuels conflict, and transitioning to peace and reconciliation. It involves minimizing violent conflict by transforming systems and dynamics that govern social and political relations, as well as access to power and resources.

What does it take to make social structural change happen? Such changes typically involve policy or institutional adjustments, the creation of new institutions to meet basic political and socioeconomic needs; reforms that aim to ameliorate the underlying causes and conditions of conflict, and restructuring the system of broken down social relationships. As you may understand, Ethiopia is a country built on a century old system of injustice and structural conditions (e.g. hegemony of power, economic privation and civil strife). Addressing injustice that provokes conflict, therefore, requires more than cosmetic changes – i.e., making far-reaching changes to the existing government structures and institutions of society.

What is my message to you? Know that bad governance is a form of injustice that needs correction. Embark on state reforms that involve more than reorganization of the administrative machinery and the system of resource allocation. Establish participatory processes. Foster democratic development, nonviolent and just dispute resolution systems, and the primacy of the rule of law. Listen to the demands of the Oromo people and the very person you might despise. Be courageous to call the army battalion recently dispatched in the western and southern parts of Oromia to stand with the people, not against them. Embrace the Oromo liberation army (WBO) as a reckoning force. Most of all, be honest, and show the readiness to go, accepting defeat with grace, shall you fail to garner more votes in a free and fair election. Action speaks louder. History will judge you with what you accomplished, not what you said.

Bedassa Tadesse, Ph.D.
University of Minnesota-Duluth, USA.
Email: btadesse@d.umn.edu

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