Viewpoint

An imperial narrative gets recycled

More understanding and less blaming are key to a solution for the self-determination crisis of the Oromo and other Ethiopian communities

A powerful and disturbing narrative is gaining traction among reporting on Ethiopia, its bias reflecting the connections of the current and past political and business elites with national and international media, NGOs, and foreign governments.

Most see Ethiopia through the eyes of what has long been Ethiopia’s dominant culture, the Amharic language, script, and calendar, and the Orthodox Church. Subconsciously, most outsiders absorb the sense of entitlement and superiority of those who practise and belong to this culture over the other— majority—peoples of Ethiopia who do not.

Institutional and institutionalized racism against Oromo and against the smaller nationalities in Ethiopia is enabled and empowered by zero-sum politics and its associated societal and domestic authoritarianism. Prejudice against people not represented in the dominant culture portrayed abroad as Ethiopia is rubbing off on journalists and power brokers.

Some commentators believe Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s Prosperity Party plans to dismantle the limited regional autonomy guaranteed in the 1995 Ethiopian Constitution and claim that those who oppose this plan are violent ethno-nationalists who threaten Ethiopia’s democracy. That is the narrative gaining traction. It is as false as it is dangerous and it is a narrative that is driving a response.

In 1991, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) participated in the overthrow of the military regime, and participated for a year in the Transitional Government of Ethiopia organized by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), before it withdrew from the 1992 elections and its troops, encamped by agreement with U.S. and Eritrean mediators, were overrun.

In that year, the Minister of Education, Ibsa Gutama (one of four OLF Ministers), ensured primary education was to be carried out in Afaan Oromo in Oromia and in relevant languages in other regions. Indeed, under the federal system created after 1991 by the TPLF, for the first time Oromo people were governed, taught and were heard in court in their own language. To use the word ‘Oromia’, to use the better-suited Latin script for the Oromo language and to see it written down were each huge steps forward for the recognition of Oromo culture.

Those who promoted anything else Oromo, however, were persecuted.

After 2014, driven by the taking of land from Oromo farmers around Finfinnee (Addis Ababa) and by continuing political and economic marginalization, Oromo students, the Qeerroo/Qarree, launched a series of increasing protests. When these spread to other regions, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was propelled to power in April 2018, launching a series of reforms, including his declaration that political harassment is gone for good, releasing political prisoners, pardoning opposition parties and inviting exiled leaders to return and participate in a peaceful democratic process, declaring freedom of speech and press and ending a 20-year conflict with neighboring Eritrea, which earned him the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.

In September 2018, the return of the OLF leadership to Finfinnee was celebrated by millions. There was talk of truth and reconciliation, mass education about human rights, and real representative democracy. Hope and confidence in progress, prosperity and equality was almost tangible.

It did not last.

Oromia Support Group reports have detailed how extrajudicial killings and large-scale detention have continued and accelerated. Since the assassination of singer Hachalu Hundessa on 29 June, many more have died in violent protests and many properties have been destroyed. Detentions, rape, burning of property and crops—an old-fashioned scorched earth policy—is under way in areas perceived to be supportive of the OLF. In February, many top officials of the OLF were arrested; leader, Dawud Ibsa, is now under house arrest

There is now a media campaign against the OLF and anything Oromo and the Ethiopian government is working hard to persuade the outside world that Oromo journalists and supporters of the OLF and Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) are all terrorists. The similarities to 1992 and the subsequent crackdown on Oromo organisations that were also then labelled as terrorists are depressing.

The killing of Hachalu immediately reminded me of the killing of singer Ebbisa Addunya on 30 August 1996. Like Hachalu, he was inspirational to a generation of young Oromo. Today, just as in the 1990s, national and international media echo government claims of atrocities instigated by organised Oromo groups, amplified by biased social media. Internet and media closures are ensuring that the government version of events, aided by anti-Oromo national outlets, becomes received wisdom in the outside world; just as it did in 1992.

The man difference of the current repression with that of its predecessor is ominous.

The broad consensus among Oromo is that any degree of autonomy enjoyed under the 1995 Constitution is under threat. This would mean one step forward and two steps back: not the other way around. Not back to 1992, but back to 1974, the time of a highly unitary state; of one language, one culture, one religion, and Amhara identity, under the cover of Ethiopian nationalism. Oromo people are being forced against their will to belong to a country in which they feel disempowered and unrepresented. Again, their desire for at least a degree of autonomy is ignored and not taken seriously, as though they don’t matter. This is a recipe for disaster.

It is also necessary to understand that the authoritarian nature of northern Ethiopian society, regional zero-sum politics, and the assumption of rights over and above the conquered peoples of Ethiopia is based on racism. And only when this racism is acknowledged can Ethiopia progress toward a multicultural, rich, resource-abundant state with enough for all its peoples. But there must be equality; no domination of one culture over another. Dismantling the current federal structure of Ethiopia, whatever superficial guarantees of fairness and equality are given, will result in more marginalization of all cultures, except that of the Amhara, which is the lens through which almost all outsiders view Ethiopia.

Acceptance and agreement of the events and facts concerning the expansion of Abyssinia in the late 19th century is a much-needed foundation stone for a stable future Ethiopia. With an agreed history and a degree of regional autonomy, it is possible for all the peoples of Ethiopia to live their own culture with respect for the rights of others, with inclusivity in decision-making at an appropriate level, and respect for natural resources.

More violence and suppression, however, will eventually lead to the breaking up of Ethiopia, with most of the people in the southern two-thirds leaving the original Abyssinia as a rump state in the northwest. If the country of Ethiopia can only be maintained by state violence against its people, resentment will build until it fragments, like Yugoslavia. Far better to establish a mutually agreeable state structure.

The greater and more ingrained a prejudice is, the harder it is to be aware of it and tackle it. It is time for the Oromo and other peoples of Ethiopia to be treated equally and fairly. To deny people self-determination, to label those who wish to exercise this right as terrorists, and to force an unwilling population to belong to any geographic, political or cultural moiety is as dangerous as it is short-sighted. Equally, it could be so easily avoided if only the two sides of the self-determination debate, which has become ethnicized whether we like it or not, consider, understand and accommodate each other’s point of view. This can be settled in a civilized manner, without coercion or bloodshed.

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This is the author’s viewpoint. However, Ethiopia Insight will correct clear factual errors.

Main photo: Ali Addeh refugee camp, Djibouti, 2011. Hundreds of thousands of Oromo fled from human rights abuses during the EPRDF regime in Ethiopia. Most live in slums in neighbouring countries. Thousands live in Kakuma camp, NW Kenya. Several hundred still live here in the Djibouti desert.

Editors: Patrick Gilkes, William Davison

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About the author

Trevor Trueman

Trevor is a family doctor who helped to train Oromo health workers in camps in Sudan from 1988 to 1991. He has reported and campaigned on human rights in Ethiopia since 1994, writing 52 reports on abuses in Ethiopia for the Oromia Support Group, and has interviewed hundreds of Oromo refugees in Europe, North America and Africa.

59 Comments

  • I wanna thank mr.Trueman for putting forward the century old ethiopian chronic illness in a clear straight forward language without fear of backlash and repercussion from privileged naftegna childreens who are nostalgic of old feudal days……passed for good never to return. If only those delusional people crying for fake ethiopia in these comment platform and the likes of them comes to realize the truth on the ground like mr.Trueman, ethiopia would be peicefull and prosperous country!!!

  • The author has a biased and astonishingly skewed perception of current Ethiopia. He glossed over the mass killing of Amharas, Gamos and Gurages and the destruction of their properties at the hands of barabaric and extremist Oromo youth in Oromia cities and towns. For God’s sake, these savage youth hanged an innocent man upside down in broadday light in Shashemene town and bragged about it in public. The author said nothing about it and this alone shows how biased he has been when he wrote the piece.

    The author’s bias and inherent hatred is glaring in his perception of Amharas. His piece looks to have been written by Berhanemeskel Abebe Segni. The author Should write pieces that are appropriate to age and profession. The piece is juvenile, sentimental and shallow to have been written by a seasoned professional and a dispassionate observer.

    Having spent a long time training Oromo health workers alone (as stated) clouded his understanding of the really on the ground. He misdiagnosed the problem and looks he prescribed a quadruple amputation for a chronic headache. “Dr. Please re-evaluate your assessment!” is what I can say.

  • Mr Trueman seems to have a clear understanding of the Oromo narrative.

    In fact, most nations from the broader south including the Sidama, Wolayita, Somale, Afar and others share the same narrative. It is only because of the sheer size and significant geographic location that the Oromo intellectuals views have gained so much attention. It is for the same reason that uttering these views are subject to the most vicious attacks.

  • For a trained ‘doctor’ it seems very peculiar to me that the author does not see clearly what the real illness and crisis is that is affecting Ethiopia right now and does not call out to stop and prevent it. Whilst the deck chairs of history and ‘definitions’ of identity and who came from where etc are being played out by local elites and diaspora the Titanic is already cracking up. It is strange to me that not one writer for INSIGHT has ever mentioned the ‘greater’ emergency that is affecting the Horn of Africa and could lead the state to its knees. Why has no one mentioned that in June 2020 the Humanitarian Response Plan launched by the Government and its UN partners revised the estimated humanitarian needs for ALL Ethiopians to 20 MILLION people needing 1.7 BILLION USD for assistance. Due to floods, locust plagues, previous droughts, conflict displacements, returnees and the impact of COVID19 on the greater economy 20 million Afars, Oromos, Gambellans, Somalis, Amharas, Tigrayans and the poor in urban areas across Ethiopia will be in need of humanitarian assistance. These numbers are staggering and unprecedented and do not seem to have penetrated the range or the discourse of a single political party, opposition or other member of the various parties vying for power and a seat in AA. The most impacted communities will be those far from the capitals deep in the ‘Woredas’ and ‘Geters’ where city elites and certainly visiting diasporas never go. Due to conflicts, the blocking of roads, the disappearance of public health agriculture and education public sector workers, access to aid and assistance is already difficult. Children are not getting vaccinated, vital shelter and nutrition supplies, water equipment etc etc are not reaching the needy. The usual cycle of malnutrition, disease and death will occur and once again many will suffer.The social contract to ‘protect and to save lives and livelihoods’ in the face of an emergency is being broken. The linkages between regime change and natural disasters in Ethiopia is long and its lessons never seem to be learnt. The emperor fell because of ignoring a famine, the Derg fell because it also ignored a famine and made it worse by forced re-settlement, villagization, forced conscription and prolonged conflicts. The EPRDF had a its time for rectifying all this and was on its way to transforming the economy but overzealous land grabbing, corruption, allowing regional elites to create their own processes of exploitation and not listening to local grievances of those who were ‘losing out’ of the ‘Developmental” state proceeds also led to its downfall. Now once again, as for each regime of the past, essential political changes and transitions, contestations and experiments are taking place in the context of not only the usual seasonal cycles of natural hazards but also against the twin backdrop of two global crises Climate Change and COVID19. This time all parties bare on their shoulders the need to consider their demands and how they are going to proceed to recognize, represent , negotiate, and reconcile their demands in a peaceful way. History will be a harsh judge If 20 million people end up in dire consequences because all political actors put their own needs and ‘constructions’ first and could not come together in a peaceful way to resolve their differences and agree on a reimagined community.

    • All I have to say is that you are misguided by your own train of thought, listen, poverty is not a disease poverty is a lack of human productivity, for people to be free and productive what they need is free will, a will that is free of oppression and abuse…. it looks like you are working for aid company so your comment doesn’t have any value just shut up.

    • We do not have a lack of resources, we have a lack of freedom, self rule and democracy. Your aid is not going to help us resolve those issues. Unless those issues are dealt with we will keep suffering from all you have mentioned. But they are not the causes but rather the quencequence of the lack of what the people demand. The author is on point and absolutely right. Silencing the people of their demands will not solve any of our problems.

  • The Oromo Abgedas crossed from Somalia to Ethiopia in the middle of the 17th century and until then there was no single person who spoke Oromo in Ethiopia. By the Abagedas account at least 90% of those who speak Oromo today are not Oromos and this is confirmed by modern scientific methods.

    With in the next 400 years, they wiped out at least 28 languages, and cultures subjugated the people, forced their language on them, and sold as slaves hundreds of thousands.

    And the descendants of those who committed genocide then, have continued where their forefather’s left today.

    And this guy is blaming other Ethiopians for this.

    • Fake never ever become fact! You have no a single evidence for your fake assertion which clam Oromo is not present in current geographic area. Several historians including Arab rooted Abyssinian historians such as Tekletsdik Mekiria has clearly indicated as Oromo has been in norther highland Ethiopia before the 16th century. Thus, you have no any evidence to make Oromo outsiders and invaders. For your information the word Amhara as a people never indicated in historian people before 19th century. A large volume of evidence which written by foreigners and Ethiopians indicated as there is no a people called Amhara in Ethiopia. Thus, following fake evidence has no value for the people of Ethiopia. Stop lay which inherited from Abyssinian dictator leaders.

    • What part of the author’s message did you understand?
      Do not tell us what you have not understood. Because it is clear to us.

    • The Oromo are one of the Cushitic-speaking groups of people with variations in color and physical characteristics ranging from Hamitic to Nilotic. A brief look at the early history of some of the peoples who occupied north-eastern Africa sheds some light on the ethnic origin of Oromo. The Cushitic speakers have inhabited north-eastern and eastern Africa for as long as recorded history. The land of Cush, Nubia or the ancient Ethiopia in middle and lower Nile is the home of the Cushitic speakers. It was most probably from there that they subsequently dispersed and became differentiated into separate linguistic and cultural groups. The various Cushitic nations inhabiting north-east and east Africa today are the result of this dispersion and differentiation. The Oromo form one of those groups which spread southwards, and then east and west occupying large part of the Horn of Africa. Their physical features, culture, language and other evidences unequivocally point to the fact that they are indigenous to this part of Africa. Available information clearly indicates that the Oromo existed as a community of people for thousands of years in East Africa (Prouty at al, 1981). Bates (1979) contends, “The Gallas (Oromo) were a very ancient race, the indigenous stock, perhaps, on which most other peoples in this part of eastern Africa have been grafted.”
      In spite of the fact that there are several indications and evidences that Oromo are indigenous to this part of Africa, Abyssinian rulers, court historians and monks contend that Oromo are newcomers to the region and did not belong here. For instance, the Abyssinian court historian, Alaqa Taye (1955), alleged that in the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries the Oromo migrated from Asia and Madagascar, entered Africa via Mombasa and spread north and eastwards. Others have advocated that during the same period the Oromo crossed the Red Sea via Bab el Mandab and spread westwards. Abyssinian clergies even contended that Oromo emerged from water. On this issue, based on the points made in The Oromo’s Voice Against Tyranny, Baxter (1985) remarked, “… the contention that the first Oromo had actually emerged from water and therefore, had not evolved to the same level of humanity as the Amhara (i.e. treating a myth of origin as a historical fact); or, more seriously, that Oromo were latecomers to Ethiopia and hence, by implication, intruders and not so entitled to be there as the Amhara.”
      The history of the arrival of the Oromo people in the sixteenth century in East Africa from outside is a fabrication and denial of historical facts. It is a myth created by Abyssinian court historians and monks, sustained by their European supporters and which the Ethiopian rulers used to lay claim on Oromo territory and justify their colonization of the Oromo people. Several authorities have indicated that the Oromo were in fact in the North-eastern part of the continent even before the arrival of theHabasha. According to Perham (1948): “the emigrant Semites landed in a continent of which the North-East appears to have been inhabited by the eastern groups of Hamites, often called Kushites , who also include the Gallas .” Paulitschke (1889) indicated that Oromo were in East Africa during the Aksumite period. As recorded by Greenfield (1965), Oromo reject the view that they were late arrivals, “… old men amongst the Azebu and Rayya Galla dismiss talk of their being comparative newcomers.”
      Their own (Abyssinians) oral history and legends attest to the fact that Oromo have been living in Rayya for a long time. Beke (cited by Pankurst, 1985-86) quoted the following Lasta legend: “Menilek, the son of Solomon, … entered Abyssinia from the East, beyond the country of the Rayya or Azebo Gallas .” There are also evidence (Greenfield et al, 1980) that at least by the ninth and tenth centuries that there were Oromo communities around Shawa and by about the fourteenth century settlements were reported around Lake Tana. The recent discovery, (Lynch and Robbins, 1978), in northern Kenya of the pillars that Oromo used in the invention of their calendar system, dated around 300 B.C., is another indication that Oromo have a long history of presence as a community of people, in this part of Africa.
      The so called “Galla invasion of Ethiopia” is also a tale. It was first written around 1590 by a monk called Bahrey and henceforth European historians and others almost invariably accepted this story as a fact. From his writing, it is evident that he was biased against Oromo. The following quotation from Bahrey, (in Beckingham et al, 1954), vividly illustrates typical Abyssinian cultural, religious and racial biases against Oromo. He began his book “The History of the Galla “: “I have begun to write the history of the Galla in order to make known the number of their tribes, their readiness to kill people, and the brutality of their manners. If anyone should say of my subject, ‘Why has he written a history of a bad people, just as one would write a history of good people?’, I would answer by saying ‘Search in the books, and you will find that the history of Mohamed and the Moslem kings has been written, and they are our enemies in religion.” In fact, it appears that the main purpose of his writing was to encourage Abyssinians against Oromo. Bahrey, Atseme, Harris, Haberiand and others description of what they called the ‘ Galla invasion of Ethiopia’ as an avalanche, a sudden overwhelming human wave which could be likened to a flood or swarms of migratory locust is unrealistic and difficult to imagine to say the least.
      The Oromo’s Voice Against Tyranny argued that: “… the so-called Galla invasion of the sixteenth century was neither an invasion nor a migration. It was rather a national movement of the Oromo people … with the specific goal of liberating themselves and their territories from colonial occupation. It was nothing more or less than a war of national liberation.” In fact, the last 2000 years were occupied with a gradual expansion of Abyssinians from north to south. This expansion had been checked throughout by Oromo. It was only with the arrival of Europeans and their firearms that Abyssinians succeeded in their southward expansion mainly in the middle of last century.
      Abyssinian and European historians alleged that there was a sudden population explosion in the Oromo community in the sixteenth century that enabled it to invade Ethiopia. The claim lacks a scientific base. During that time no significant, if at all any, technological development such as discoveries or introductions of medicines, new and improved tools for food production, etc. took place in the Oromo community that could have been the cause for the sudden population explosion. The Oromo community had no advantages of these sort over neighboring communities.
      Different areas have been indicated as place where the Oromo developed or differentiated into its own unique community of people or ethnic group (Braukamper, 1980).
      According to some ethnologists and historians, the Oromo country of origin was the south-eastern part of Oromia, in the fertile valley of Madda Walaabu in the present Baale region. This conclusion was reached mainly on the basis of Oromo oral tradition. Based on scanty anthropological evidence, others have also pointed to the coastal area of the Horn of Africa, particularly the eastern part of the Somali peninsula, as the most probable place of Oromo origin. Bruce, an English traveler, indicated that Sennar in Sudan was the Oromo country of origin and that they expanded from there. It should be noted here that many European travelers have suggested the origin of peoples, including Oromo, to be where they met some for the first time, which in most cases happened to be peripheral areas.
      There are several groups of people in East Africa very closely related to the Oromo. For instance, the Somalis are very similar in appearance and culture. The fact that the Somali and Oromo languages share between 30 percent and 40 percent of their vocabulary could be an indication that these two groups of people became differentiated very recently. Other Cushitic-speaking groups living in the same neighborhood that are closely related to the Oromo are Konso, Afar, Sidama, Kambata, Darassa, Agaw, Saho, Baja and other groups.
      The Oromo are also known by another name, Galla . The people neither call themselves or like to be called by this name. They always called themselves
      Oromoo or Oromoota (plural). It is not known for certain when the name Galla was given to them. It has been said that it was given to them by neighboring peoples, particularly Amhara, and various origins of the word have been suggested. Some say it originated from the Oromo word ‘galaana’ meaning river in
      Oromiffa . Others indicate that it came from an Arabic word ‘qaala laa’ . There are other similar suggestions as to the origin of the word. The Abyssinians attach a derogatory connotation to the
      Galla , namely ‘pagan, savage, uncivilized, uncultured, enemy, slave or inherently inferior’. The term seems to be aimed at generating an inferiority complex in the Oromo.
      Oromo have several clans ( gosa , qomoo ). The Oromo are said to be of two major groups or moieties descended from the two ‘houses’ (wives) of the person Oromo represented by Borana and Barentu ( Barenttuma ). Borana was senior ( angafa ) and Barentu junior ( qutisu ). Such a dichotomy is quite common in Oromo society and serves some aspects of their political and social life. The descendants of Borana and Barentu form the major Oromo clans and sub-clans. They include Borana, Macha, Tuullama, Wallo, Garrii, Gurraa, Arsi, Karrayyu, ltu, Ala, Qalloo, Anniyya, Tummugga or Marawa, Orma, Akkichuu, Liban, Jile, Gofa, Sidamo, Sooddo, Galaan, Gujii and many others. However, in reality there is extensive overlap in the area they occupy and their community groups. And since marriage among Oromo occurs only between different clans there was high degree of homogeneity.
      The Oromo make up ~55% of the population of the Ethiopian Empire. They are found in all the regions of the Ethiopian Empire except for Gondar. They make up a large proportion of the population of llubbabor, Arsi, Baale, Shawa, Hararge, Wallo, Wallagga, Sidamo and Kafa. They are also found in neighboring countries such as Kenya and Somalia. Out of the 50 nations of Africa, only three have larger population than Oromia. (Excerpted from “Oromia: an Introduction ,” by Gadaa Melbaa, Khartoum, Sudan 1988.)
      References
      *Asante, M. K. (1990). Kemet, Afrocentricity and knowledge. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press.
      Baxter, P. T. W. (1994). *The creation and constitution of Oromo nationality. In K. Fukui and J. Markakis (Eds.), Ethnicity and conflict in the Horn of Africa (pp. 166-185). Athens: Ohio University Press.
      *Bruce, J. (1973). Travels in Abyssinia and Nubia 1768-1773. Edinburgh, UK: Adam and Charles Black
      *Donham, D. (1986). Old Abyssinia and the new Ethiopian Empire: Themes in social history. In D. Donham & W. James (Eds.), The southern marches of imperial Ethiopia (pp. 1-48). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
      *Harris, W. C. (1844). The highlands of Ethiopia (Vol. 3). Philadelphia: T. B. Peterson.
      *Hassen, M. (2001, June 10). Is genocide against the Oromo in Ethiopia possible? Paper presented at the Fourth International Biennial Conference of the Association of Genocide Scholars, Minneapolis, MN. Holcomb, B., & Ibssa, S. 1990. The

  • To Daniel,
    I disagree that the article is biased, unless your intention is part of the marginalization campaign by denying the rights of all people in Ethiopia except one. To reflect on your points:
    (1) Please remember the number of liberation fighters in Ethiopia prior 1991 – they were not fighting to make movies, rather to create their own countries. To settle for ethnic based states was a blessing
    (2) It’s true Addis Ababa was part of Shewa. So what? Are you suggesting it’s less of an Oromo land because of this name? It used to be Finfinne too, as the author indicated. That also doesn’t make less diverse than it currently is. However, your assertion that the city didn’t take land from farmers is another clear deception, unless you don’t understand numbers or consider those displaced as humans unless they’re Amhara – another madness that became a culture among the so called elites from this group.
    (3) You claim you’re from Addis Ababa, and that’s how you learned Amharic, but you’re not Amhara..fair enough! Addis Ababa should have spoken Afan Oromo too – given the rural-urban movement’ you indicated and the fact that the city is encircled by Oromos. Instead Addis Ababa displaced not only Oromo farmers but also their language, culture and identity. I don’t expect you to see that or agree with it because you could have spoken an additional local language in addition to English, btw you write good English – which shows you’re likely from one of those elite schools and it’s hard to know whether farmers are displaced. The best thing one can do to help with the current crisis is to shut their mouth if they’re ignorant of the topic at hand.

  • Shewa Oromo needs to rise up and stop this coalition of extreme Muslims/Protestant Oromo revenge on their old mighty kingdom. These extremists are attempting to take over using the controversial story of being colonized by Orthodox. They are envious because the modern state was formed without them.

    • let me tell you religion is another enemy of that country, your master used the religion to keep the people in the dark, what the hell why brag saying we are the lion when you are worest than a monkey? why people think they are God chosen when they worship the devil? oh boy it is endless the debteras are bunch of ignorant people.
      we must change the religious places to a factory that is what we need, prayer doesn’t fix ignorance why waste your time praying just work work work work ……..emmmmm

      • Aren’t the extremists forcing their religion too. The more you try to force your religion on Shewa Orthodox, the more you will alienate yourself. They were not in the dark either. They are the most civilized Oromo compared to the other ones. Once again, you all are envious.

      • Aba Geda, you want to destroy shrines and build factories? You are behaving like a monkey with a bombs in its hands. You just confirmed what innocent people are afraid of. Would you please go to your mirror and check your head is still in its place?

    • Thank you Mr Trueman. You touched the very problems of Ethiopian politics. Its about accepting every culture and having equal opportunities for each tribe, as well as sharing political power. This the base for the stability of the country.

  • DOWN DOWN ABIYE AHMED THE ONE AND ONLY DOUBLE TALKER AND MASTER MANIPULATOR! SHAME AND DISGRACE, HE WORKS AGAINEST THE VERY PEOPLE THAT BROUGHT HIM TO POWER THE HUMBLE OROMOS. HE IS NOT ANY DIFFERENT THAN MINILIK AND HAILESELASSIE

    STOP MAKING THE GRAVE YARD RICH.
    DOWN DOWN THE AMHARA IGNORANCE.
    THE WRITING IS ON THE WALL FOR YOU TO LOSE READ IT.

    • Look yourself in the mirror and read what you wrote to yourself i am sure you will vomit the blood of my of my father and grand father. you can blabber as much as you want but until you come clean and admit to the crime of your father and grand father committed no Oromo will listen to you. by the way you guys are bunch of liers and deniers it is next to impossible to have civilized conversation with the debteras, you preach what you are not and when the humble oromo understand your fraud you turn around and deny. come on now the sky is blue…. argue…..LOL!

      nothing changes until the way you think changes, send all the debteras to school to brush off their ignorance

  • As I read on, I was sure a person who lived the system/a native wrote it. This is by far the best and mature understanding of Ethiopia and the plight of the Oromo. The writer is well-informed on Ethiopia. The best viewpoint published this year!

    P.S. The comments given down here re-affirm the notions of ‘systematic superiority’ and unwillingness by the privileged side to accept historical injustices. As Franklin Leonard said — ‘When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.’

  • To discuss and dialogue is matured and everyone has a right to voice opinions.

    Not at all choosing language or writing for anyone here simply stating the false narative.

    We can all argue that violence. Killing, and genocide has to stop. It is against the law of existence. This whole article is in summary making a case for committing evil in the world by creating false narative. It is about revenge. Not about fact or finding solutions.

    The youth today are used as weapons to commit crime. The end cannot be glorious, nothing is through violence.

    We should all come together to solve the issue of poverty in the country. Every people have been oppressed in Ethiopia by each successive regime. We are looking for a new breed of leader who is above tribalism and religion and who prizes life equally for all Ethiopians. A leader who is aligned with the intentions of creation.

  • The article is extremely biased
    1/ 25 year or so ago there was no region caled Oromia, Amhara.. there was Wollo, Shewa, Wollega etc…. – a new identyty was created by converting etnicity into state hood
    2/ the surroundings of Addis Abeba is Shewa. which is traditionally a mix of Oromos and Amharas (like Minjar amharas who actually reside around Mojo) – Addis Abeba didnt take farmers land. the city grows mainly due to rural-urban migration – are these people from Mars?

    3/ on language – we interact with all world, Arabs Chinese,… no problem there are transletors. I speak Amharic because I am from Addis Abeba, but I am not Amhara. I also speak English – but I am not from England – I am ok with both

    I honestly dont know what the ‘question’ of the oppression is – its not like one region is better off than the other. Also no solutions are being proposed -just blame!

    Personally I believe both camps are needed in our country and they need to be represented in Parliament – all debates should be in parliament and not on social media – hence the 2021 Election is paramount. Also there are other countries who tried ethnic federalism notably India and Switzerland (even if they dont identify as such) and have found ways to resolve their language issues, federal structure, governance etc

    • Yes Daniel!
      There needs to be a party for ‘non-ethnic Federalists’. We believe in self-rule but not based on ethnicity-rule. All ethnic groups can learn and grow their language but that is not the requirement to form a state.

      • The irony..You are so biased and call other people biased. Let’s admit that we are all biased. All the things you said are not true. If you want to know truth, expand your circles. You kept hearing the same narratives for so many years doesn’t mean that you know the truth. Oromos used to occupy Addia Ababa until Menilik made it a capital city. Yes, farmers were thrown away from their place in the name of development. If Addis needs to develop, it can develop in it’s empty land. California doesn’t expand to Arizona to develop. Yes, there were no regions, but there were identities. There were Oromos, Gurages and so on. What created regions is the interest for those identities to be together under the same governance to develop their culture. So regions didn’t create ethnicities, ethnicities created regions. About the language, Oromos speak Amharic. But when you are asked to learn Oromiffa, you say the country is going to fall down. So, you think you have the truth, the other group has truth too.

        • “…until Menilik made it a capital city” – No Menelik and the Shewa Oromo leaders made it their capital city.

          “…interest for those identities to be together under the same governance to develop their culture” – Nobody is denying that and it should be promoted. But that is not an excuse to claim power to a state. You don’t see black Americans getting together and forming a state to be run only by black people.
          State is naturally ethnic-blind. Ethnicity is naturally a civil matter.

          “…when you are asked to learn Oromiffa, you say the country is going to fall down” – Instigator! This is typical example of staring friction between Amhara and Oromo. Menelik and HaileSelassie spoke Oromiffa and the country was more respected back then.

          • First, America can’t be a comparison to Ethiopia because it’s different. In india, Telegu speaking people live in Andra, Tamil speaking people live in Tamil Nadu and so on. Find a country similar to us and compare. Well in the country I know, Oromo people are called zeregna just for speaking their language, made fun of, and so on. So please don’t try to cover up. People get mad when the subject of adding Oromegna as an official language and the need to learn it gets raised. And also it doesn’t matter if Minilik with Shwea Oromo Leaders made Addis a capital, The occupants were Oromos. I say all these as a non Oromo who is born and raised in Ethiopia and know about Ethiopia very well. We have this definition of what an Ethiopia should be and we go crazy when it is challenged.

  • Mr. Trevor Trueman, your article and biased portrayal of the false history of Oromo extremists cannot be the result of a conscientious and rightful mind to redress past wrongdoings, if any. Your claim of institutionalized Oromo marginalization cannot be any farther from the truth. The astute and righteous reader is herewith to be warned of the wolf in sheep’s cloth.

    From the early 1500s, the unmitigated Oromo expansion and invasion inside Ethiopia had resulted in the forceful assimilation, human enslavement and cultural and language domination of many ethnic groups and territories, including the invasion of Bale in the Southeast, the total annihilation and enslavement of the Dawaro, further expansion into former Adal with forced homogenization, cultural linguistic and cultural domination of the Hararis and Somalis. To this day, these historical antecedents can be traced to the displacement, subjugation and marginalization of the various ethnic groups for whom Mr. Trevor Trueman does not even show an iota of consideration for their humanity and dignity.

    Astute reader, you are here advised to identify and call outthe unscrupulous Oromo political elites who together with other opportunists from all coroners of Ethiopia, who want to usurp state power for personal enrichment, mass exploitation, taxation without representation, mass extinction, genocide and crimes against humanity. You are reminded of the infamous dictator Mengistu Hailemariam (half Oromo on his mother’s side and from the South on his father’s side) who was responsible for the massacre of tens of thousands of Ethiopian youth and for a famine that perished and displaced millions of Ethiopians on a scale over 10 times of what occurred a decade earlier. His right hand help in the red terror included people like Kelbessa Negewo (an Oromo henchman of the Mengistu era originally from Wollega) who was responsible for the massacre of many youths. Of course, Mr. Trueman, does not mention a word about these victims since that would require an effort to analyze his blind belief and inherent biases of the complex history of Ethiopia. He repeats the mantra of of one language, one people, unitary etc. from the slogan book of Oromo extremists, yet fails to even grasp the irony that these supposedly unitary system has remarkably kept over 80 nations and nationalities with their own dialects and language nearly intact well into the 21st century. Mr. Trueman, would you be kind enough to explain how this is became possible in Ethiopia while in a truly federal system like the USA, the official working language is English despite the US being the melting pot of many people with as many as over 200 languages from all parts of the globe? Dear reader, please remember that Amharic has been the official language of the courts, trade and communication since the 12th century. This is a historical incident which Oromo or Tigre (TPLF) ideologues cannot blame on their usual scapegoat, Emperor Menilik. Prior to Emperor Menilik, Emperor Yohannes IV too used Amharic language as the official language.

    The OLF, astute reader, from the ons sided and biased narrative of the author has been found to be a criminal organization that uses ethnic and religious divisions to slaughter many helpless victims, inlcluding defenseless men, women, children and the elderly.The hunger for power of a few sick individuals blinded by ethnic hatred of the other has resulted in the massacre, annihilation and displacement of the many voiceless and helpless people whose cries of tears and blood shout for justice and accountability before the world, that is the caring world.

  • Ethiopia is predominately defined by Amhara culture, true, which by the way is shared by Tigray’s and is acceptable to most Southern nations. Somalis are okay with it as long as they have regional autonomy. Half of Oromo are Orthodox Christian, and Oromo Muslims share a culture with Oromos. In in all, there a lot of overlap because we all share a unique Horn of African culture. Oromos are not oppressed anymore, and Amharas are no longer oppressors. What the people of Ethiopia do not want is forced Oromization of the Ethiopian state. Extremist Oromos don’t want equality, they want revenge and domination. Yes, there are reactionary Amharas, but most Ethiopians, especially Southerners, Somalis, and Afars are more afraid of Oromos because they have a collective memory of the Oromo invasion of their homelands and subjugation. Amhara conquerers and settlers were mild by comparison.

    Also the largest group of Oromo refugees are those that fled Somali region.

    • You can tell lies again and again but you cannot convince one soul. First Trevor Trueman knows Ethiopia for the past 30 or more years. He has lived with the people, read about their history and wrote about it. He follows the human rights violations very well, thus you cannot teach him about who is the abuser and the abused.

  • There is Ethiopian saying, “Jib Keayawkut Ager Hido…” Roughly translated, ” A haena travel to a new place and wants to be…”
    I mean this writing is very simplistic, evident of a person who traveled to a new place and still pretends to know everything.

    Long Live Ethiopia another 5000 years as s symbol of freedom for black race.

  • What I understood from this article biasness as well as a mixed-up history narrative. Nevertheless What it’s surprised me is the bloggers of the comments upon this articles, which their comments and counter comments are based on the names rather than the ideas!

  • Not your place to choose what Oromo wants to use. You can use whatever you like for yourself. That way, there will be peace!

  • The writer deserve full respect, in a country called Ethiopia the whole story of that country was scam, those trying to silence the will of the people is making historical mistake, the enemy of the Oromo people is strictly the NEFETGA Amhara’s , they play the game under Ethiopiawenet scam, this people need to learn how to mind their own business, nobody can force the Oromo to the scam Ethiopiawenet period, make no mistake you can jail our hero’s, you can also kill them but you will never kill or jail the will of the humble Oromo.
    Stop denying your crime, come clean and give the oromo unconditional freedom on their land, as simple as 1.2.3….. respect the right of the ormo people or get out of my land.

    • If you think it was a scam, then leave Ethiopia. But don’t force the Orthodox Oromos to change their identity and believe in your fake narrative of being colonized by Orthodox kings. Almost all the regional battles of the past were based on religion and not racism.

      • I am an orthodox Oromo and I have no problem with my Muslim Oromo brothers and sisters. But I have a massive and irreconcilable problem with the Amhara who are trying to reincarnate the archaic, barbaric and brutal neftenya system!

        • What you call Neftegna is successors of Ras Gobena. There is no clear-cut Amhara. There was a governing system which originated in Shewa and made up of all ethnicities including Oromo. There was no Amhara domination of Oromo. There was domination of Shewa on Bale, Arsi, etc…

  • How in the world is latin script better suited for Oromo language? It takes more space to write a paragraph using the latin script compare to using the geez script

    • Unfortunately it was well marketed, politicized, lied about. Really sad. Geez is so practical in saving paper it is a miracle how idea of Latin was sold. Latin in whole Africa is a symbono of colonialism and this is a fact no one can deny. Best avoid pitivizing language and writing, gathers too much deception

      • So why Geez didn’t expand it least to one of neigbouring state let alone to other African countries. The days of imposition and subjugation has gone for good by all eligtened people from Somali to Sidama, Walayita, Afar, Oromo to use the script that suits them

      • Possibly Geez could have been chosen if the other side had any respect for the Oromo and the others from the broader south.

        You know it is like love making (sex)

        It is ugly when it is forced upon you

    • Fikire Tolosa Jigsa, renowned author and a professor, has debunked it. Mr. Trueman is a British who knows nothing about Geez. He is just blatantly lying.

  • Mr Trueman, One way to tell the correctness of your analysis is by viewing the comments section. It corroborates pretty much what you wrote about. Tigist and Mohammed went on to Label the Oromo as Extremist while Mariam pretty much verified the arguments you raised on identity.

  • Thank You Truman for the detail analysis about the current chaos in Ethiopia. You well understood the situation in the country and exposed the Neo-Nephrenya system gaining upper hand on other nations.

  • Many articles simplify the problem and solution, and the current article is just one more of that. Respect the right of, so and so, then everybody will be fine, else all hell breaks loose. This article is mute, for example, about the plight of minorities in 1991, 2016, and 2018-present, in different parts of the country. The writer either does not know or want to introduce the complex issues into his simplified view of Ethiopia. The sad thing is the absolute lack of sensible discussion on the matter. While sites like EI are putting the effort, the dearth of balanced viewpoints can only drive people apart rather than bring them together. Does EI put any weight/consideration on balance and fairness on point-of-view articles?

  • How about the Amhara colonialism? It is not that far behind when history tells us that Amharas owned and sold slaves. Took over the land of nations and nationalities by force, conquered the people to labor for them. Nations and nationalities are not going back to being slaved by Amharas again.

  • Thank you Mr. Trueman for raising this timely and important ssue . The recycling of the virtues and relics of the that empire by its acolytes and enthusiastic left-overs of both outside and inside in the country is on the march again. Here is my take on the topic, along with a piece I wrote recently about it, which unfortunately I suspect that the Ethiopia Insight probably deemed unsuitable for its readers? Unsurprisingly, The empire’s old guards and sone of their foreign accessories and acolytes always try to avoid the inevitable and bitter truth when it comes to the reality about Ethiopian history and what has been ailing for so long

  • The author does not seem to have adequate information about the actual power distribution in current Ethiopia. Furthermore, the author does not pay attention to the sequence of events. It is the inhumane and barbaric killings and destruction of property instigated by the Oromo extremists that forced the current Ethiopian government, the premier of which is an Ethnic Oromo, to resort to aggressive law enforcement. Even then, it is not only the Oromo political leaders that are in detention. The leaders of the Amhara, presented by the author as dominant, are in detention.

    • You feel in that way because you are one of whom he is exposing!
      Who expect justice from perpetrators like you!
      Thanks you Trueman as usual….100% balanced and truth on the ground!
      Don’t listen to those kinds of idiots! TPLF used to cover their barbaric acts, and now neftegna led Abiy Ahmed is repeating the same rhetoric!

  • More understanding and less blaming goes both ways! Start by defining what is Ethiopia as people and territory! Also, try to understand the issue at hand if more about political economy than that of language! With that,
    since this question is mostly fanned by ultra extremist Oromos, ponder upon the history of Oromos and what happened in their path for centuries! It’s not about self determination, the issue is rather about self preservation by Ethiopians and an intentional territorial expansion by the Oromos!

    Still,
    What’s important is to look at the matter in totality of history and era of globalization!
    Cheers!!!

  • Wow
    For European colonialists to adopt Latin writing is a dream in Africa. All african countries using European language and writing system feel subjugated. Irony here a European advocating for his writing system. Amharic is not suitable or geez. What may be best solution?

    • Is the writing system (the choice of Latin for Oromo and others) still an agenda? After 30 years? You still hope you can reverse it and take it back to Geez? With this backward looking sentiment of yours, do you blame Oromos and others if they opt for Oro-Exit? Somali-Exit? I hope you guys come back to your senses. If not, ….. the consequences are grave.

    • Not your place to choose what Oromo wants to use. You can use whatever you like for yourself. Each group should have the right to choose what best represents them. That way, there will be peace!

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