The Oromo Demand: The Removal of Statues of Menelik II
By Leenjiso Horo, July 5, 2020
Today in the United States of America, the statues of confederate leaders that refused to free slaves were toppled, and the Confederate flag was band. This should be the fate of Menelik II and Haile Selassie statues in Oromiyaa. Here below are the removed statues of the confederate.
The statues of confederate leaders of South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee were removed because they are offensive and racist symbols of America’s dark
legacy of slavery. Among the 114 toppled statues are the statues of Jefferson David, the president of the Confederate, General Thomas Stonewall Jackson, General Robert E. Lee, and silent Sam and others. After slavery was abolished in the United States, the confederate state still held slaves. In the Confederate, the enslaved persons were continuously treated as properties and could be bought, sold, or given away. The American civil war was fought to free the slaves. Finally, the Confederate state was defeated. Shortly after the defeat of the confederacy and the conclusion of the American war, Abyssinian king Menelik II began war of conquest of the Oromo people and other peoples in the south.
Consequently, Emperor Menelik II was the first known African for the extermination of millions of people in history, the Oromo people. His viciousness to annihilate such millions of human beings was unparalleled in history before Adolf Hitler. Now, he is second to Hitler in the world but still stands first in Africa. For this reason, his statue symbolizes his evil did, his barbarism, his destruction of human life, his vicious conquest and colonization of territories and peoples, his crimes of genocide against the Oromo people and peoples of the south, and their enslavement. It stands for fraud, fabrication, fiction, and Abyssinian supremacy in conquest memory. In addition, it stands for his commodification of human beings into commodities in his slave trade. The man who committed, mutilated breasts of Oromo women and hands of men and a known slave trader does not deserve a statue. For this reason, his statue must be torn down, dismantled, and removed from Oromiyaa.
Instead, it must be replaced by statues of the greatest Oromo heroes and heroines of the time: Tufa Muna, Leenjiso Diiga, and Bakar Waare and with statues of the Oromo Children who were his victims of slavery.
Here are the faces of Oromo children: boys and girls who were hunted and captured by Menelik II of Abyssinia during his raids in the wars of conquest and sold into slavery to pay for guns and modern ammunitions imported from Europeans.
Here are also the faces of captured children from other nations and nationalities in the south by Menelik II during his raid and sold into slavery.
The destruction and removal of the statue of Menelik II are necessary for the very simple reason that the crime Menelik II committed is too painful for the collective memory of the Oromo people and other peoples in the south. And yet, PM Abiy Ahmed and his party (PP), admired, adored, exalted, venerated, and glorified this evil man and erected a statue for him in Finfinnee, the heartland of Oromiyaa.
This action of Prime Minister and his party is an approval, a legitimization, and justification of Menelik’s crimes against the Oromo people. We do not need the Menelik statue, the Hitler statue, in our land and city. Unfortunately, for the Abyssinians, it is hard to understand the tragic and violent history that their kings Menelik and Haile Selassie committed against the Oromo people and other peoples in the south. Hence, the Abyssinians have failed to apologize for the actions of their kings. Instead, they have been and are venerating their fascist leaders’ genocidal actions against peoples as heroic deed.
Even though, Menelik II ranked second to Adolf Hitler in genocidal mass extermination, he stands first for his vicious brutality and notoriety in history for the mutilating of breasts of Oromo women and the hands of men and boys at Aanole. At the same time, as an emperor, Menelik II- the warlord, also stands first to none in world history for “commodification” and selling of human beings as property.
Despite the emperor’s war crimes, extermination, and genocide against the Oromo people, Abiy Ahmed, the PM of Ethiopian Empire and the aspirant to be another emperor, is the admirer of Menelik II as Emperor Haile Selassie before him. PM Abiy Ahmed put new clothing on Menelik, the warlord, a well-known slave trader. In the words of historian Harold Marcus, Menelik II was “Ethiopia’s greatest slave entrepreneur” in history and reported to have had personally owned 70,000 slaves. Menelik II was the first Abyssinian warlord king engaged in the commodification of human beings. He sold these human beings in slave markets as
commodities to pay for his imported modern weaponry-guns and ammunition in waging his wars of the conquests of nations and nationalities, and territories in the South.
Knowing all these, PM Abiy Ahmed has organized and systematically campaigned to glorify the image of Menelik II, to whom the Oromo people were and still are the victims of his military campaigns and crimes of genocide. His armies in committing mass atrocities, murders, and extermination, reduced the Oromo population to a half. His crimes of mutilations of breasts of Oromo women, and the right hands of men and boys at Aanole, and the extermination at Chalanqo and Azule are the standing witness today.
The similarity between Abiy Ahmed and Haile Selassie is striking. As soon as he became King in 1930, Haile Selassie immediately erected a statue of Menelik II at the city center in Finfinnee. Following this, the eviction of Oromo from Central Oromiyaa and land robbery were implemented. With this, the waves of Abyssinians immigration into and across Oromiyaa for settlement on the occupied land was high rocketed. With these, the land alienation and dispossession of the Oromo people from their lands have become the standing policy of the successive Ethiopian empire rulers. With this, The Oromo people left landless and became tenants on the land belonged to them, in their own country.
Following in Haile Selassie’s footsteps PM Abiy Ahmed, the aspirant to be the seventh emperor, as soon as he became PM, he erected a statue for Menelik II in the Imperial Grand Palace compound close to his own heart. Named it a “Unity Park.” Having done this, he created the Prosperity Party (PP), a party that he believes may enable him to fulfill his wishes to be a king. This Party is today, undertaking a war campaign of extermination of the Oromo people in the style of Menelik II, killing women, infants, children, and elders and burning homes and villages, combined with the style of that of Haile Selassie. In the words of George Santayana, “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.” Indeed, this statement is truer than ever before. PM Abiy Ahmed and his party’s conducting wars and crimes against humanity and erected statues of Menelik II and Haile Selassie in Oromiyaa is a failure of learning from history. For this Abiy Ahmed is repeating the crimes of Menelik and Haile Selassie all over again, against the Oromo people.
Throughout the conquest of Oromiyaa to date, genocide has been committed against the Oromo people by the successive Abyssinian regimes. Such genocide had been committed throughout history in other parts of the world. Here, what is to be understood is this. Before taking any action to commit genocide, the perpetrators must have to establish the conditions for it. The dehumanization, devaluing, and demonization of the image of the victims are the conditions. Here, the perpetrators must have to dehumanize, devalue, and demonize the image of the targeted people. That is categorizing the targeted people as a subhuman creature to rationalize, to justify, and legitimize their acts of destruction of the targeted people. The purpose of these conditions is and has been to erase any human relationship between perpetrators and their victims. That means the perpetrators do not feel or have any human sympathy for those people suffering at their hands, in their extermination actions. In Oromiyaa, such had been happening to the Oromo people under the successive Abyssinian settler colonizer regimes during the feudal rules of the Ethiopian empire from Menelik II to Haile Selassie. And yet still today, continuing at full strength or intensity.
For instance, the successive Abyssinian colonialist rulers of Oromiyaa from late 1800s to 1974, attached a derogatory name “Galla” to the Oromo people. This word means “aramane” in the Amharic dictionary. In the English language, it means “infidel” or “heathen.” Using this dehumanizing, devaluing, and demonizing pejorative name, Menelik II of Abyssinia exterminated 5 million Oromo out of the total population of 10 million and mutilated breasts of Oromo women and the rights hands of men at Aanole. His and his successors, the neo-Nafxanyas and army used to boast “Galla gaday” with excessive pride and self-satisfaction as it exterminates the Oromo population. The Abyssinians have been using the phrase “Galla gaday” as a slogan for over a century to date. “Galla gaday” means killer of “infidels.” They had been using this derogatory name in killing any Oromo individual or group. Similarly, in 1915, Ottoman Turkey attached the name “infidels” to the Armenians. With this name, 1.5 million Armenians were exterminated, out of total population of 2 million.
Nazi Germany considered Jews a “subhuman” and compared them to “rats,” “lice,” and “maggots.” Using this name as a pretext, Nazi Germany exterminated 6 million Jewish. In 1994, in Rwanda, Hutus referred to Tutsi as “cockroaches” and “snakes”, and using these names as the pretext, exterminated over 800,000 to a million Tutsis in three months. The European settler colonizers of North America referred to the American Native Indians as “vermin,” “nets,” and “wolves in the human form.” Using these dehumanizing names as a pretext, they reduced the population of Native Americans by 90% out of 125 million. Not only this, but the term “negro” with a racist connotation was also used against African Americans in dying them full humanness, making conditions for their lynching, murdering, socially isolating, and discriminating.
From 1991 to 2018, TPLF attached the name “terrorists,” and “flies” to the Oromo people who want their freedom and liberation. Under this name, hundreds of thousands of Oromo nationals killed; hundreds of thousands disappeared; hundreds of thousand put in concentration camps, a tenth of thousands physically and mentally incapacitated. Today, the Prosperity Party (PP) is repeating what its predecessor, the TPLF, had been doing. Like its predecessor, from 2019 to date, the Prosperity Party (PP) has attached the name “Shane” representing it as a derogatory term to any Oromo whom it does not agree with within the political discourse.
As a consequence, PP has been falsely using “Shane” as a pretext in its viciously and violently killings, exterminating, committing crimes against Oromo humanity, making disappearances, maiming, and the jailing of the Oromo people in more extensive, in scale and intensity than that of its predecessor, the TPLF. The name Shane is not derogatory. It means the executive committee. The Oromo nationalist and the Oromo people should not fall victim to propaganda of the Oromo enemies, neo-Gobanas and to its mater the neo-Nafxanyas. Every Oromo should stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Shane to fight against the common enemies of Oromo struggle for independence. Political difference can be resolved through discussion. But killing each other only serves the enemy.
Needless to say, for a century and a half, the successive Ethiopian colonial regimes had tried, yet failed to impose Ethiopia as a single artificial national identity on nations, nationalities, and peoples and attempted to make Menelik II as a hero. Today, the same failed policy is picked up by PM Abiy Ahmed and his party in the name of “medemer” (synergy) and erected a new statue for Menelik II to try to impose on the Oromo people and other peoples. The fact is the Oromo people have already rejected it.
Now, let us face the truth. The truth is as to who erected statues of Menelik II and Haile Selassie. The truth is this. It is the neo-Nafxanyas/riflemen and neo-Gobanas/traitors in unity who erected these two statues. The Neo-Gobanas are the brainchild of the TPLF and the TPLF entrusted them to the guardianship of the neo-Nafxanyas. Now, the neo-Gobanas are under the direction and guidance of neo-Nafxanyas. With the direction of neo-Nafxanyas, the neo-Gobanas have become the
Master of deception and manipulation. They deceived and fooled the Oromo people at every level. They came to Oromo, wearing Abba Gadaas’ and Ilmaan Gadaas’ clothing. However, inside the clothing are neo-Gobanas sitting on neo-Nafxanyas’ lap taking orders from them. Failing to recognize this, the Oromo people at all levels danced, clapped their hands singing “ijoollee Abbaa Gadaa”, hugged them, and opened their hearts and minds to these evils. The fact is, inside the clothing hiding their intentions gives neo-Nafxanyas the chance to manipulate the Oromo people to advance their own agenda. They had hidden agendas. Their hidden agendas were the erecting of statues of Menelik II and Haile Selassie and the extermination of the Oromo people. The erections of the statues of Menelik II and Haile Selassie were already accomplished and now, their war of genocidal extermination of the Oromo people is underway.
Sadly enough, the Oromo people are looking on their outside at “Abbaa Gadaa’s clothing,” failing to see their inside clothing were wolfish neo-Nafxanyas. Neo-Nafxanyas and neo-Gobanas of today are not the same as their predecessors. Both are cleverer than their predecessor. For this, both are able to disguise themselves as “Ilmaan Abbaa Gada” meaning ‘children of Abbaa Gadaas’ to deceive and fool the Oromo people. This political tactic served them well and so deceived the Oromo people. The fact is, both neo-Nafxanyas and neo-Gobanas share the same commitment to the empire. The truth is neo-Nafxanyas are inside the neo-Gobanas and Vice versa.
Today as ever before, along with Abyssinians there are some Oromo nationals, the neo-Gobanas, the traitors to Oromiyaa and its people as their predecessors were. For years, they have turned their backs on the Oromo people and on the sacrifices of their ancestors in the War of liberation and Independence of Oromiyaa. They have been working hand-in-hand with the Neo-Nafxanyas/riflemen to destroy their own nation to defend the interests of settler colonizers and their aspiration to control Oromiyaa. They have the same shared commitment with Neo-Nafxanyas. Today, these neo-Gobanas are fighting in the name of federalism” and “democracy’ to maintain the settler-colonial empire of Menelik. This is another reason for the removal of the statue. It is time to tear down and remove this statue along with the Ethiopian empire flag from Oromiyaa soil since both are symbols of occupation, colonization, repression, exploitation, intolerance, violence, atrocities, and hate that inspired their attempt to destroy the Oromo nation.
A way forward
We have seen the crimes of successive Abyssinian colonial regimes and the crime committed throughout the world. So now, the question remains as to what we must have to do.
Today, the United States of America set an example for the rest of the world by removing the statues of Confederate leaders those that committed crimes against humanity, against African Americans and Native American populations. Long before American people, the Oromo people had been demanding the removal of the statue of Menelik II for years for the genocidal crimes he committed against them, but to no avail. Now, it is time for the Oromo people to use the United States example to intensify their demand for the removal of statues of both Menelik II and Haile Selassie I from Oromiyaa soil. And for this, it is time for the immediate organization and mobilization of Oromo people against these statues being in Oromiyaa.
Furthermore, it is time again that the Oromo people actively oppose the policy of this regime; actively fight against it with all available means, and it is time to collectively stand together in defense of ourselves and our country. It means to unite for the struggle for total independence of Oromiyaa. Here is the standing truth; no political organizations fighting for the independence of their country, either through peaceful means or armed liberation struggle would ever expect their goal of liberation to be realized or come to fruition while at the same time working with settler-colonists. So, the Oromo political organizations and activists should understand this truth. And hence, it is time to abandon the futile debate about centralist vs federalist political models that maintains the colonial empire. The fact is neither the maintenance, democratization, nor federalization of an empire is possible. And so, it goes without saying that the Ethiopian empire cannot be maintained, democratized or federalized. Therefore, it is time for those who naively believe in it to come to their senses and renounce or relinquish the unattainable idea.