Mankelklot Haile Selassie
August 17, 2011
The question of Oromo people is neither a colony nor a
question of freedom. It is a question of democracy.
question of freedom. It is a question of democracy.
Lieutenant Gezahegn Hailu of Oromo National Congress, Tobia Vol. 5, No. 7, 1989 EC
I sincerely hope that commonsense and logic will guide the readers of this article, including the leadership of OLF. There is a serious and a camouflaged problem in our midst. In my opinion, it is politically correct and practical to wedge war against two fronts at one time, that is against OLF and TPLF. Why? Because both are the enemies of the unity of Ethiopia. But one should be careful when one is focusing on OLF not to be blurred by the evil deeds of TPLF. For me when focusing on OLF, TPLF does not exist. Compartmentalization.
My sources of information are three lengthy interviews, a speech by an OLF leader, articles as well as few related books. I have also referred to Oromia in Brief from OLF website. Oromia in Brief is a document of about 18 pages where one would find fabrications of history, denial of history, and the lack of rationalization and fair treatments of social issues. When an organization built its foundation with these kinds of bricks it is inevitable to crumble under pressure. OLF is crumbling. The signs of crumbling are: its inconsistencies and indecisiveness; being shunned by Oromo organizations; running after the opposition forces like a mad dog to form a union. All these indicate the lack of self confidence and of course the lack of mass support.
The major subtopics discussed are Restoration Endeavor of Menilik II and OLFs Inconsistencies, lies and Fabrications of history, in that order. Under the inconsistencies and fabrications issues, I will discuss the fallacies of linking the OLFs struggle, a) to the Horn of Africa, b) to the independent African states and c) to the struggle of Southern Ethiopian people, to show how OLF is trying its level best to dissociate the Oromo people from the rest of the Ethiopian people. The addition of Self-determination and the Definition of Ethiopia are to augment and strengthen my reasoning. For example, the addition of self-determination is to respond to the misapplication of self-determination by OLF leaders. They repeatedly mention it as if it is the sole property of Oromo people.
Self-determination is not only for Oromo people. Self-determination in Ethiopia of over eighty nationalities is an extremely important democratic instrument when implemented in a democratic environment. Simply put, a democratic environment is where the people are in power. Outside this environment, self-determination should not be left to be used by anarchist organizations such as OLF. OLF is deliberately, in a very subtle way, using it to dismantle Ethiopia. The application of self-determination, democracy and freedom by
OLF is quite different from the application of those of opposition forces. For OLF self-determination, democracy and freedom as its ultimate objective is to separate the Oromo people from the rest of Ethiopian people, at the expense of the unity of Ethiopian people.
I included the definition of Ethiopia, particularly to emphasize that when one stresses the protection of territorial integrity of Ethiopia one has to look into it in depth and scientifically. That is protection has to be extended to the size of land and to the size of population. Ultimately land and people become the instruments of production. Less land and less number of people mean less of the instruments of production. This argument is strongly linked to the OLF issue. For that matter to any secessionists issue.
The Restoration Endeavor of Menilik II is to show to the leadership of OLF that Menilik was an historical instrument that came even to the rescue of the Oromo people as he did to the other nationalities.
Here is a simple and yet a fundamental argument that I would like to make from the outset, perhaps that would resonate throughout this article:
If the Gurages, the Sidamas, the Afars, the Somalis, the Derasas, the Amaras, the Tigrys, etc., etc. consider themselves Ethiopians, how on earth would OLF expect the Oromos whose social, cultural, and political, daily activities that went on for over centuries organically interlocked and interwoven with these ethnic groups, to severe their relationship and declare themselves non-Ethiopians? The leadership of OLF is rowing its boat, blindly at that, up the stream. To make a u-turn and row the boat down the stream would be easier and productive, if the leadership of OLF have that kind of thinking capacity. .
Now, allow me to begin with the definition of Ethiopia.
The Definition of Ethiopia
The main reason for including the definition of Ethiopia is to enable one to look into the number factor, in relation to the population of Ethiopia and the size of the land factor, more scientifically and in depth and then decide whether these factors of production with the potential to eradicate poverty should be protected at any cost, for to secede is to reduce the number of the population and the size of the land. Do we want this to happen? If we agreed on this rationalization then commonsense dictates that Ethiopia must be guarded against the secessionist fronts such as OLF at any cost.
In my article of The Definition of Ethiopia: Ethiopia = its People + its Land + its History, I said:
In the final analysis, the people of Ethiopia are its precious instruments of production
.Production, in this context, implies innovation, exploration, researching, and experimenting, the product of which is plowed back to facilitate and satisfy the needs of the people who are instruments of production themselves, completing the natural chain process. I argue then,
the more the people Ethiopia has the more the instruments of production, given the right environment, hence, the more the social and economic development. It then follows the more the instruments of production, that is, the people: a) the production of more, in mass, committed elites to choose from, to defend the Unity and territorial integrity of Ethiopia, more effectively and efficiently, b) the greater, in mass, the potential of producing innovators, explorers, entrepreneurs, researchers, etc., c) the greater, in mass, the potential of producing skilled leadership and aggressive manpower to handle the social, cultural and economic development of Ethiopia, more effectively and efficiently, and, d) the greater the depth and the breadth of intermarriage, in mass, hence the greater the potential to strengthen the foundation for UNITY and production. I further argue, then, the breaking away of any of the eighty ethnic groups, big or small, means the less of what are itemized from a to d
Regarding its Land I said:
.here too, it is quite logical to argue that the less the Land the less of the instruments of production . The interaction between the People and the Land feed into each other. That is, the more the Land is developed the more the enrichment of the social values and the more the development of self- confidence .So, it is very important to critically look into the behaviors and the motives of the liberation fronts. For these power hungry, self-proclaimed representative elites are bent to disrupt this potential interaction that Ethiopia is endowed with.
Regarding its history I said:
Its History should be considered as one of the instruments of production, in that, it instills the spirit and the strength of the moral fibers of the leaders and the Heroes past, to aspire the existing generations for the greater good of the society.
Here is what I said in conclusion:
One of the lookouts, in protecting the Unity of Ethiopia is to dismantle AFD immediately. (AFD does not exist anymore). It is very critical to note that Ethiopia is not out of the woods yet. Therefore, let alone an open threat to the Unity of Ethiopia by OLF and the rest of liberation fronts, anything that appears, or, smells suspicious aught to be attacked very viciously.
AFD does not exist anymore). It is very critical to note that Ethiopia is not out of the woods yet. Therefore, let alone an open threat to the Unity of Ethiopia by OLF and the rest of liberation fronts, anything that appears, or, smells suspicious aught to be attacked very viciously.
Now let me bring in Self-Determination to buildup my reasoning.
The major thrust of this article was and still is to redefine self-determination thereby to indicate its true impact and implications to the Ethiopian society. In my opinion, self-determination is not imported from foreign countries as some would like us to believe. Particularly the Ethiopian Student Movement, who innocently in good faith brought it to the surface, is blamed for it. It is a universal phenomenon where a newly born Ethiopian baby coming out of his/her mothers womb breaths in and owns it until his or her death, which later manifests itself in different forms of resistance and challenges to undemocratic system of government. One can find self-determination in uneducated peasant in remote rural areas when defending his right. Isnt this last statement true?
Self determination aught to be redefined strictly within the context of Ethiopian economic, political, and social situations. I have provided the new definition of self determination in my article, Grow Together of 04/12/7. Here is how I defined it in the article on page 3 with more explanation:
The new definition should embody when defining the new self- determination: a) individual rights, b) group rights, c) ethnic rights and d) state or country rights, in that order. Here, I hope, one can sense, i) the developmental logic of the process, and, ii) the up to and including secession which is attached by Meles Zenawi outside of self-determination to encourage ethnic nationalism, is automatically embedded in the above definition provided. These four rights will replace the three elements that were used to define the old self- determination, namely, a) oppressed and oppressing ethnic groups of a state (country), b) the liberation of oppressed states by colonialists, c) the strengthening of the hold of the proletariat dictatorship. What is important to note here is, that, assuming one is part and parcel of the countrys developmental process, unless one is fully preoccupied with ones satisfaction of ones political interest to intentionally disrupting this logical process of development, one cannot, in good conscious, jump to ethnic rights before satisfying the individual or group rights, for the satisfaction of individual and then group rights will inevitably follow and satisfy ethnic rights . In a situation where individual rights are trampled upon, to think of promoting ethnic rights is a fake one. It is fake because it is pushed by power hungry, political entrepreneur elites, such as the liberation fronts including TPLF. Political elites never refer to their real interests, such as quest for power and wealth when they invoke ethnicity. (Mafeje 1999). In fact, for the promotion of ethnic rights to be successful, mass based and democratic, first, itself, should be based on the promotion of the fulfillment of the individual rights.
I further discussed this concept of self determination by using OLF as an example. Here is what I said on page 3:
Here, however, one should be careful in balancing the individual rights with that of group rights, ethnic rights, and country rights, respectively. That is, the protection and the promotion of individual rights not to be at the expense of the rights of the larger society. In fact, the promotion of any one of the three rights at the expense of the society at large is inviting anarchism. Accepting the balancing principle and, how to balance it, is a very important issue to be considered very seriously. Once a state or a country is founded on this type of full-fledged democratic process, that is, that follows the logic of the developmental process, it is inevitable, a) for the rule of law to be part and parcel of the governance, b) for the right of the nationalities to be protected, and c) for the power hungry political entrepreneur elites to be isolated and denied to use it as an instrument of self promotion, as being used by the current liberation fronts such as OLF. The theory of OLF fully depends on the old definition of self-determination, which is based on class struggle and colonialism. The new definition contradicts the theory of OLF. Given this new definition of self-determination accepted, if an issue arose in line of self-determination, for example to secede, the issue will be economic and cultural related. It will not be in denial of ones association with Ethiopia, which is what OLF is still asserting publicly. Then, the issue can be solved amicably, one way or the other, to the benefit of the whole society in general and of the concerned nationalities in particular, through democratic discourse. The redefined self-determination is to be used, ultimately, as a unifying instrument not as the instrument of fragmentation. Had these liberation fronts succeeded to maneuver their respective nationalities to accept their ideology of fragmentation, they would have gone to the extent of sacrificing unsuspecting masses for their own immediate interests, which is the struggle for political and economic power.
In addition I have discussed in the article, Grow Together, the two frequently used terms, namely, nations and nationalities. These two terms are being used divisively, perhaps as a vengeance particularly by the leadership of OLF. Some left oriented elites use it as a fad too. In my opinion it is a very shallow application to the society that does not fit it. Amara is not a nation it is a nationality. Oromo is not a nation it is a nationality. Therefore Ethiopia has eighty or more nationalities. Detailed discussion is provided in the article. It is discriminatory, above all, it is chauvinistic, to use nation for one group and nationality for another minority group. Therefore this discriminatory and undemocratic labeling should be rejected permanently. Unlike self-determination these discriminatory terms were imported from communist oriented foreign countries which does not fit the situation of Ethiopian people. Now, I will begin discussing one of the two major subtopics.
Restoration Endeavor of Menilik II
OLF accuses Menilik to be the root cause even to the current social problems. It uses this argument to protect its failing credence and to imbue the extremists, as there are extremists in every society, to join and support it. But what OLF is not able to swallow the bitter reality is that Menilik is the redeemer of all nationalities, big and small, by instilling the sense of looking, collectively, into a bigger picture, that is living by being a part of a strong and big body of people and land for protection and economic survival. In my opinion the era was where collectively positioning oneself was the essence of survival, particularly for those minority nationalities. It is commonsense.
Please note that I am going to deal with the restoration effort only. Not with the other incredible achievements of Menilik, a leader black Africa should be proud of.
If one read the history of Menilik II with unbiased and with a fairly set of mind one would come to a conclusion that Ethiopia had one of the geniuses, far looking, and authentic leaders of that century. He was an individual who was well informed about the measures taken by international governmental organizations in nation building. Therefore he cannot be, by any means, the exception. Blaming Menilik is out of place and it is a deliberate avoidance of the reality. A reality that one can feel and touch to this day.
Here is what individuals of international origin and perhaps governments, who are whites told and wrote about Menilik II:
Emperor Menilik was variously depicted as a prophet, a genius, a man of almost superhuman activity and astonishing energy, and one extraordinarily well acquired with what is going on in the world, not only from a political, but from a general and even scientific point of view. (Levine1974)
He was a man of military genius. (Marcus 1975)
This was Menilik. An individual, not a nationality, who emerged from among a society, and, who systematically, through negotiations of different natures and at different times, even bending on his fours with a rock on his back, build himself to reach to the level of power where he can be able to dictate and implement his plan for Ethiopia. This is an individual who already had built a vision in his being. I argue that what Menilik did could have been done by any motivated and determined individual from any other nationalities.
It seemed Mother Nature randomly selected Menilik for Ethiopia. Natural selection. If natural selection worked for other animals and plants why not for human beings in general and for Ethiopia in particular. Meles Zenawi is an accidental natural selection, who does not fit the design of progressive development of Ethiopia, therefore he should have been culled (removed) long time ago. This is going to be a very controversial argument, any way, there you have it. If this paragraph affects continuity please delete it. Dont waste your time on it.
A motivated and determined individual of his caliber, and one extraordinarily well acquired with what is going on in the world, not only from a political, but from a general and even scientific point of view. (Levine1974) , one can boldly assume that, Menilik new the centuries old boundaries of Ethiopia therefore he had to take upon himself the responsibility of restoring it to its traditional boundaries. If Europeans were able to build nations why not a well informed far looking Menilik?
I will refer to two authors regarding the boundaries of Ethiopia from which Menilik became fully aware of. An Italian author Conti Rossini ( Referred by Sergew Habte Sleassie in his Ancient and Medieval Ethiopian History to 1270 book) puts the boundaries of Ethiopia: North–as far as the frontiers of Egypt, South–Northern Somalia, East–Red Sea, and West–Assossa. Levine (1974) puts Ethiopian boundaries during the period of 1400 and 1500 AD to be: in North–Beja, in South–Bale, Sidamo, and in South West–Keffa and Gomu Gofa. According to a Greek merchant of 1st century, in the West Gambella was the boundary of Ethiopia. Menilik was fully aware of these facts.
The liberal distributions of the activities of trades and trade routs of 16th and 17th century validates the above mentioned boundaries of Ethiopia. According to Lappiso (1982) there were many trade routs. Here I will mention three of them. The three trade routs were: from Maji (South) all the way to Mitsiwa (North), to Djibouti and Berbara (East). The last two were separate routs. One goes to Djibouti and the other one goes to Berbara. The starting town for all of them was Maji in the South. They branch into two at Inaria. One goes to North and two of them to East. The two that are going to East branch off at Soddo, where one goes to Djibouti and the other one to Berbara. At every town of the trade routs people came from far places to buy and sell and exchange goods and services. There was no interference or impediments from any direction to limit or hinder the activities, ultimately the interactions of the society.
According to Levine (1974), in the 19th century, Hirmata in Jima, Seqota in Wello, and Ankober in Shewa were important trade centers. He goes on to explain that Hirmata in 1905 drew 30,000 ethnically diversified people who participated in the market including
Amara from Gojam and Shoa; Oromo from all the Gibe Kingdon; and Timbaro, Qebena, Keffa, Janjero, Welamo, Konsa and several other from the Ometo cluster. Note here that Menilik died in 1913.
Therefore, given the above social, economic and geographical extensive interactions, and the history of the time, what Menilik did was to formally unite Ethiopia that was already informally united. Culture, religion, and trade played extremely important roles for Ethiopia to be united informally. Of course, ultimately, individual leadership played by Menilik was the determining factor. I argue that Menilik was imply the catalyst of the time. Levine asserts the presence of the very strong and routine interaction between the rent nationalities of Ethiopia by stating the following:
.The image of Ethiopia as a collection of distinct peoples neglects what these people have in common, how they interact and the nature of Ethiopian society as a whole. (Levine 1974)
In my opinion, it appears, the restoration process was simply a natural process inevitable to take place. If not Menilik some one with the type of aspiration that Menilik had would have stepped out of the society and done it as Menilik did it. It seemed the Ethiopian society of the time, with the kind of social, economic and cultural interactions, of liberal nature, for hundreds of years, from South to North and from West to East was open for Menilik types of leaders to be inspired and take charge. So, let us accept this natural reality, deal with it, and move forward to make this country endowed with productive human and natural resources to develop in science and technology and ultimately eradicate poverty. The eradication of poverty should be the ultimate target that should go hand in hand with the struggle to build a democratic system in Ethiopia. That is, the ultimate objective must be to eradicate poverty.
Menilik died on December 1913. He died about 25 years after completing the campaign of formally uniting the informally united Ethiopia. In the absence of the individual who brought them together, twenty five years was insufficient time frame for Ethiopian people to stay together and form a body of people, if you will, and continue living the manner they used to live. Had it not been for this informal unity that developed through time, trade, culture and religion being the catalysts, people would have rebelled against the central administration established by Menilik, immediately after hearing the death of Menilik. Regional insurrection would have taken place. But it did not happen. That was almost 100 years ago. Yugoslavia was broken into seven separate states after Titos death.
Czarist Russian Empire when Soviet Union collapses seventeen new states were created. But when Menilik died, mind you after only 25 years of the completion of the campaign, Ethiopia did not experience what these two countries experienced. One can boldly argue then, that the inherently deep-rooted sense of unity existed then and still exists and thriving now. That is why Meles and his regime miserably failed to dismantle Ethiopia. That is why the prophesy of Isayas did not hold. Isayas gave Ethiopia ten years to exist. And, that is what the secessionists, particularly the OLF leadership was unable to factor in, this historical, social and economic interactions and come to a reasonable objective for the people of Oromo, which should have been the democratization of Ethiopia for all nationalities that includes the Oromo people, but not to secede. For the question of Oromo people is neither a colony nor a question of freedom. It is a question of democracy.
In the decades after 1896 Ethiopia had been so secure that no possibility of domestic conflict had existed (Marcus 1975)
The coming of Menilik to the stage during that particular century was, in my opinion,critical to the unity of Ethiopia. It did, unquestionably, help to bring the different nationalities, groups, and sub-groups within the nationalities, together, including those who would have been incapable of surviving alone. Take the Oromo people for example. According to Levine (1974) there are 13 Oromo groups. There are sub-groups within these groups. For example, Gibe cluster has five groups, and Eastern Oromo has four sub groups. One of the Eastern Oromo sub-groups has five sub-sub-groups, namely Ala, Babille, Jarso, Nole and Oborra.
An open minded individual can clearly sea a very highly productive nation building effort of Menilik. The far looking, intelligent Menilik–I am just echoing what the internationalists had unequivocally stated about Menilik–helped to bring these nationalities, groups, sub-groups and sub-sub-groups within the nationalities into one body called Ethiopia. If it were not for Menilik the leadership of OLF itself would have not existed. Because, one body of a united Oromo nationality, mind you then and now with different cultures, would have not existed. The same argument applies for Amara, etc. Zemene Mesafint (Age of Judges) would have come back in a more formidable and destructive way.
I think it is time, in fact, it is long over due, to accept the historical reality and to give credit to this genius individual, Menilik II. The means and the strategies he applied were inevitable. One has no choice but to look into those means and strategies through these observable achievements, that is, the Ethiopia and its people we have today, built in a manner of any other nations worldwide. Ethiopia cannot be the exception. Deal with it. Live with it.
To be continued.
Mankelklot Haile Selassie
August 17, 2011