Published on July 28, 2013.
One would always ask how successive Abyssinians regimes managed to rule over the Southern nations, including the Oromo’s (currently known as the subjects or colonies), who constitute over half of the population of the Ethiopian Empire for so long?
The answer to this intriguing argument could be a) because the Abyssinians were and still are more intelligent and superior races compared to their subjects in the South; b)because the Abyssinians were always supported and armed by foreign governments, who view the geo-political importance and proximity of the Ethiopian Empire to the volatile region of the Arabian Peninsula and the Suez Canal, where two-third of the entire world oil out-put is transported; C) successive Abyssinians regimes managed to hold on to their Southern Colonies( People of the South and the Oromo’s) due to the fact that the colonies themselves failed to wage coordinated and sustained struggle.
The last but not least argument many people agree on why successive Abyssinian regimes managed to rule over their Southern subjects is that the all past and current regimes managed to sell or present their Empire as a Christian island that is surrounded by hostile Muslim dominated region. It is true that the above arguments hold some strong truth in them by which successive Abyssinian regimes managed to deflect a century old questions of freedom by southern peoples., but the degree to which these tactics were exploited depends on the then or current world political order.
For example, the first colonial ruler of the Ethiopian Empire, Menelik II successfully managed to invade and conquer the South by exploiting the then disagreement among the European colonial powers, namely Italy, Britain, and France, who were jostling to expand their empire. Emperor Menelik, not only exploited the then disagreement among the three European colonial powers, but managed to convince the three of them that if they (the three European powers) arm him with modern weapons, he, on his part was willing to provide the un-fêted access to the untapped human and natural resources of the his new colonies to all of the three European powers. With the help of these European powers, and the subsequent deal he made to give access to the rich ivory, gold and coffee of the new colonies, emperor Menelik II got away with unprecedented genocide he and his foot soldiers committed on the Oromo’s and other people of the South. According to some official and some unofficial documents, Menelik II has reduced the population size of the Oromo from ten million to five million. This indicates genocide has happened on unprecedented scale by Menelik II and his foot soldiers against the Oromo’s.
After the death of emperor Menilik II, the next king of this new Empire was Haile Selassie I, who ruled the empire for nearly half a Century. During his rein, Haile Seallsie I employed both his predecessor tactics of presenting his empire as a Christian Island surrounded by unfriendly and hostile region. Just like Menelik II, King Haile Sealssie effectively used both the direct and in-direct rules (direct rule being the French colonial policy in Africa, & indirect rule – the British colonial rule) to rule his empire with iron and fist for such a long time. By direct rule, King Haile Selassie introduced and imposed Orthodox Christianity as the official religion of the empire against the traditional religion of the colonies. The Amahara culture and Amharic language were made the official culture and languages of the empire by decree. The Derg (the military Junta), which ruled the empire from the 1970s to late 1980s ruled and kept the empire intact using the guise of popular revolution movement of the time and by partially responding to the urgent demand of the popular demand named “Land to the tiller” leap service recognition of the existence of other nations and nationalities in the empire state. However, when it came to responding to the century old demands of freedom by these nations and nationalities, the Derg Junta employed the Socialist Revolution slogans and under the guise of “protecting the boundaries and territorial integrity of the empire” to quash the dream of the Oromo’s and the Southern people to set themselves free, and counted as citizens rather than subjects. The current TPLF regime of the late Meles Zenawi has been the most brutal, harsh and in-humane towards the Oromo’s and the Southern peoples when comparing with Menelik II, Haile Selassie and the Military Junta rules of the empire. Why is TPLF rules of the empire and the un-precented scale of human rights abuses different from the past three regimes of the empire rulers?
Unlike the past three regimes, who rose from the Amahric speaking Abyssinians, the TPLF originates from a much less population of the Tigre region, which comprises only about five percent of the current Ethiopian empire. Secondly, the TPLF rose from a century old power struggle with its close kin the Amahars, who defeated the Tigre king Yohannes IV. In other words, the TPLF came to power not only to rule over the empire but also to avenge their century old wounds against their kin, the Amaharas. Thirdly, TPLF’s cleverly learnt the shortcomings of the Amaharas rulers over the colonies and for the first time in the history of the empire forcefully accepted the existence of independent nations like the Oromo’s, and allowed some form of self-rule and the use of their languages in office and schools. However, when it comes to responding to democratic and justice demands of the Oromo for total liberation, TPLF created satellite organizations that speak the languages of the indigenous population and killed harassed, displaced and jailed thousands of innocent Oromo’s. According to official reports by Amnesty International, Oromia Support Group and other local human rights bodies, currently there are close to 45,000 innocent Oromo’s in different TPLF incarceration cells.
The late TPLF ruler, Meles Zenawi loudly and clearly declared on many occasions that, TPLF conquered the empire’s power by the use of guns and violence; therefore, it can only be forced out of power by those who can use the same tactics. This reminded me of that famous saying “Power never gives up by will” but only by force.
While committing un-precented human rights abuses in glaring day lights against the Oromo’s, TPLF managed to harvest billions of dollars from its Western backers. Someone might ask how they managed to get away with these crimes in the 21st Century. The simple answer would be, TPLF successfully presented and sold itself as the best, less brutal and democratic of all the regimes the empire has seen. By portraying itself to its Western backers as less evil than all the past Ethiopian regimes, Current minority TPLF regime quickly jumped on the band wagon of fighting Islamic extremism in the region, and managed to receive billions of dollars and military aid to crash its opponents. Then came the September eleven attack on the United States by Al-Qaida. When the then president George W Bush declared “ you are either with us or”, the TPLF leaders and its backers within the USA governments and other European cities bought the TPLF ploy that Ethiopia is surrounded by evil Islamic nations, who wanted to establish an Islamic state in the entire East Africa and the Middle East. Please note, as I indicated above, all successive rulers of the empire rulers used the “Christian Island” surrounded by hostile Muslim nations card to gain backing and support from varied USA presidents and governments plus many European states.
All Abyssinians regimes invaded, conquered and maintained their empire until now, and managed to hide their atrocities against the Oromo’s and the Southern nations by portraying themselves as the defenders of a Christian nation against Islamic states in the region.
Of all the Abyssinian regimes, the current minority regime of the TPLF not only committed un precented human rights atrocities against the Oromo’s and other nations in the South, its determinations to displace millions of Oromo’s from their ancestral land to the lowest bidder ( not the highest bidder), destroy their forests by clearing in the name of development, and expose current and future generations of Oromos and the southern nations to environmental genocide.
In my conclusion of this article, let me make very clear to all of my southern friends and the Oromo nation that in the history of human kind, empires were built and also destroyed by people on which the empires were built. As the famous quotes goes “ power never gives up by will”, Oromo’s and other Southern nations have to intensify their struggle in all forms until the Ethiopian empire is dismantled like any other empires that were built and dismantled by the indigenous populations of Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The challenge for the Oromo’s and the people of the South is that the old guards of the empire are so starved and furious by losing the empire they built to their junior partners ( the Tigirians). These old guards of the empire barking loudly inside and outside of the country against the symbolic self-rule that is currently in-place, in the name of one person one vote and as the guarantors of democratic rights slogans to undo the gains that we have earned by much blood and sacrifice.
The Ethiopian Empire state is on the verge of collapse like other empires in history. The empire rulers can no more hide the Oromo struggle for liberation under the guise of religion and territorial integrity. The Oromo question is the Elephant in the room for the current Ethiopian rulers and its foreign backers, and any attempt to delay the inevitable would be not a wise thing to do before the people of the south and the Oromo’s take things in their own hand to stop the killings in their own backyards. Therefore, the immediate and urgent task for the Oromos and the southern nations is to intensify their struggle and realize the total victory that is within reach for the total emancipation of their people.
May Waqaa Bless our forefathers, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters who paid the ultimate price for the dignity of the Oromo People and the southern nations.
For any comments or suggestions, Bakalcho Barii can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org