Viewpoint

The ‘epistemological violence’ of Awol Allo

Rather than trying to speak across the divides, the academic-activist has fanned the flames of ethnic bigotry.

The first time that I heard the term ‘epistemological violence’ was at a conference on multilingual nationalism hosted by the Addis Ababa University School of Federalism in the capital city in 2019.

Dr. Awol Allo from Keele University in the U.K. had given an eloquent presentation, and when an audience member insinuated that Awol had made a certain assertion because of his ethnic background, he responded, politely, that this line of questioning was a form of “epistemological violence”.

I was fascinated by the idea of epistemological violence—the concept that one’s question of how you know what you know may be construed as an act of brutality.

Epistemology is the study of the theory of knowledge, or of how we know what we know.

It is partly shaped by personal experience, and, as a feminist, I recognize that most epistemology is gendered. We know what we know through the experience of learning, or the mental processing of that knowledge.

Where the knowledge is formed by empirical data that is nevertheless open to interpretation that could go in several directions, but when a subject assumes that that the object-person has understood it in such a manner because of their own biases, then they may stand accused of epistemological violence.

Awol knows his influence as a political pundit.

He is a charming, Western-educated intellectual whom I enjoyed speaking to the few times that we met. I think he knows that he, along with other Oromo intellectuals, is setting a discourse that has been left wide open while Ethiopian social media learnt to breathe again.

He has currently stepped into the political void left by the, in my opinion, overdue arrest of Jawar Mohammed in early July, and I for one had been eager to learn what statements he would have on the clashes that claimed more than 150 lives following the murder of Hachalu Hundessa on 29 June. Would he apologize on behalf of Oromos for the bloodshed of innocent others, as he had done in October 2019 following Jawar’s ’Tekebibiyalehu’ (‘I have been surrounded [by security forces]’ battle cry?

Would he set a moderate middle ground for the Qaarrees and Qeerroos who might listen to his words?

The reality hit with the bitterness that many of us did not want to experience.

In the interviews and social media posts that I saw since the unrest, Awol has taken on a defiant position in his commentary on the murder of Hachalu and the bloody aftermath.

His first post after the murder on 30 June, stated: “They murdered our Haacaalluu, our irreplaceable icon, our definitive sound. Perhaps the brightest light of my people has just extinguished. I am heartbroken.”

Awol did not clarify who he assumed “they” were—but, we know who his people are.

The Oromo intellectuals in the Diaspora that we had hoped would lead their communities out of the quagmire of blind hatred were in fact drawing lines in the sand that sunk them deeper into an ‘us-vs-them’ narrative that was dependent on their ethnic and religious backgrounds—and not the more complex reality that most of us living in Ethiopia observe.

A question of epistemological truths— and of epistemological violence—appears when Awol to this day, continues to assert that ‘they’ killed ‘our star’ despite the fact that two people with alleged links to the Oromo Liberation Front have been arrested for their suspected roles in Hachalu’s murder.

In subsequent posts and media appearances, Awol went on to decry the arrest of Oromo political leaders such as Bekele Gerba and Jawar, despite their involvement  in the chaos that ensued following Hachalu’s death, which degenerated into several nightmarish days.

Awol’s insistence on the political nature of the arrests is despite the fact that a non-Oromo political leader such as Eskinder Nega has also been arrested on charges of organizing the resistance to the Oromo youth who came out carrying sticks from all corners of Addis Ababa and surrounding cities.

To date, Awol calls for the release of the Oromo activist-politicians, and he holds his ground that the Prime Minister, whom he nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize last year, has imprisoned them for political gain.

Justifying the unjustifiable

There is no credible threat to federalism in Ethiopia. Awol, and others, have fashioned a bogeyman of Ethiopianness or Ethiopiawinet that neither him nor I, let alone the Ethiopian youth (almost all by definition children of the EPRDF-era) know in order to justify his silence against the atrocities committed by his own side.

We have moved far beyond the times where Ethiopia was a cultural hegemony with one state religion, and we are all the richer for a multiethnic, multicultural Ethiopia with a healthy competition between dominant narratives. We have serious problems, yes, and they are as ethnic-borne as they are gendered, but a risk of return to the reductive version of Ethiopiawinet that Awol rails against is not one of them.

In other words, his threats of the annihilation that will swallow Oromos and other non-hegemonic ethnic groups if Ethiopiawinet is unchecked are hollow, and do not justify his refusal to acknowledge the murders of unarmed people who did not choose their ethnicity, or where they found themselves when all hell broke loose.

I am a non-Oromo woman of mixed Ethiopian heritage who has always been drawn to the underdog story of the Oromo struggle, and I gave my son an Oromo name in acknowledgement of a culture that I came to love early on in life. I cannot be silent now when in a sick twist of Teregnanet (‘It’s our turn now’), it is now Oromos who kill and terrorize Others.

In his writings Awol identifies with Oromos who were dispossessed in the past, but many Ethiopians identify with those who are defenseless at the present time. Furthermore, while us pan-Ethiopianists bestow admiration on those Oromo activist-intellectuals who are calling out hate by their own, we also need to confront those who will not, particularly when we used to hold them to a higher esteem than the warmongers of the activist sphere.

The ‘neftegna’ narrative

We need Oromo intellectuals now more than ever before.

However, they lose credibility when they willfully ignore the horrific twists that Oromo Protests have taken. Who should know better than an Oromo intellectual, and one as brilliant as Awol, that ethnic labels are lethal?

I read his stubborn defense  of the term ’neftegna’, a term that used to be harmless enough when it referred to non-ethnic Oromos living in Oromia, but which has now morphed into the rally cry of ethnic cleansing along with the newly coined, ’neo-neftegna’ and question what may be driving the use of this language.

Words are neutral until they are all that you hear as you are being dragged from your home, or until a kindly Oromo landlady saves you by vouching for you in Afaan Oromo as happened to my cousin, a doctor who has lived in Oromia all his life, when he escaped danger in Batu (Ziway) on the second day of the unrest.

I wonder if the non-Oromos who were hacked to death in Shashemene heard the echoes of ‘neftegna’ as they struggled for their last breaths?

Did their children, born third or fourth generation in that locale, with no more options of where to go than I and my children would have if ‘Finfinne kegna’ (‘Finfinne [the political Oromo name for Addis Ababa] is ours’) is still to go lethal? Where can you go when the place where your grandparents were born labels you with a target on your back? What choice do you have but to fight, or to die, or to die fighting?

I do not know whether history will be kinder to Awol and to his fellow discourse-setters than it has been to the ancestors whose hateful words Oromo liberation fighters heard as they were beaten and tortured.

Should he have known better than to articulate the bigotry that would deny the self-proclaimed identities of millions of Ethiopians who view themselves as Ethiopian which, however he cloaks it in academic-speak, is still bigotry? Because epistemological violence works both ways.

When an intellectual with considerable voice like Awol decides to frame empirical truths in a way that belittles and ultimately harms whom he has made clear are Others, that is as much an epistemological violence as the defense he levied at that conference when accused of thinking in a certain way because he is an Oromo Muslim.

The epistemological violence of Awol lies in his denial of the self-proclaimed identities of millions of Ethiopians who view themselves as Ethiopian, and of his selective outrage when Oromo lives are threatened. His brand of epistemological violence puts Awol on the vanguard of the new wave of victimization that could haunt Oromia, and Ethiopia, for another 100 years.

I find his stubborn stance to be deeply regrettable.

I wonder if he could have helped stem the tide of ethnic violence while it was still stoppable? Would any of the killers have listened?

Will he still rectify his discourse, while we are all still here to learn, forgive, and change? Or will he defend his position until it is too late, a 21st century perpetrator of the epistemological violence of his own making?

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Correction: In second paragraph above ‘Justifying the unjustifiable’ subhead, deleted reference to Lidetu Ayalew organising groups to counter Oromo youth, as he was not charged with that offense, and now faces firearms charges.

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

Main photo: Awol Allo.

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About the author

Sehin Teferra

Sehin obtained a PhD in Gender Studies from SOAS, the University of London in 2015. She is the mother of Leeben and Rekka, and the founder of Setaweet Movement: https://setaweet.com/

45 Comments

  • So what i have noticed are the comments, Anyone can guess what someone is going to say just by reading his or her name first. Everyone is polarized where there is a side that is made up of some bigoted boorish oromo by father and geda slaves(gerbas, gebaris) by their grandfathers are trying now to get the benefits of their grandfathers labor ( i guess tht is why they relate their cause to the black life matters movment), by blindly supporting the recent genocide of other Ethiopians(yes it counts as a genocide even if it is just one person) including innocent oromos whose death was due to their religion( explains their confused silence) by a simple oromuma justification of an ortodox singer beeing killed by radical oromo extremists which some how gibberishly changed into a cause for the muslim, wakefeta and raical oromos who are led by an islamic unexplanebly rich activist of unkown background to kill people simmlar to Hachalu( this explains why you say hachalu is ye oromo lig, yegermal yemotut oromouchis yeman leg nachew?). And on the other side are others who are patiently wating for their God to reach out and do something about it on their behalf. Not to forget the political and so called educated elites like Awol who have claimed to organize, use and stop the current youth movments as needed by even ruthlessly killing their own followers on the streets of sheger when the statment they want to make is finshed or are far away riping the benefits of peace created by the blood of other races who fought for justice and equlity so everyone can live peacefully. The Keroo movement like anyother movment in Ethiopia is a 20 year old team Lema or Abadulas project which was made for the a statement that team Lema or Abadula can heal their scars of beeing sidelined by TPLF who first agreed to share what they stole from the people then changed their minds. Like it or not Prime minister Melese gave a painfull birth to the current TPLF, ODP, ADP, Lemma, Abiye, kerroo, the hate you are feeling now for unexplaneable reason. I guess he is laughing at us looking up under us from hell. Dont think to win by playing his game it was designed to grow tigray and separate it from Ethiopia when the time was right. He never got to see it but i think Abiye will at the cost of Ethiopians. Guess who has their fingers crossed…yes alshebab,ISIS or a new comer brewing somewhere else.

  • With due respect @Geleta, do you believe that one language, one religion, one culture could be realized in the present Ethiopia in whatsoever? Unless eleites deleiberately mislead the mass for political/personal reason, I personally, do not think that the term “neo-neftegna” is what is taking place in the present Ethiopia. They (elites/intellectuals) claim this term blindly and intentionally sowing hatred and supspicion among people which amounts to abuse of one’s intellect and wisdom. What’s the purpose of Education, if the elites/intellectuals are part of the problems instead of being a part of a solution on finding the way out rather than adding fuels to the flames.

  • They say those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. From the 1500s, the unmitigated Oromo expansion and invasion inside Ethiopia had resulted in the forceful assimilation, human enslavement and cultural and linguistic domination of many ethnic groups and territories by the Oromo. These whole scale societal assimilations and annihilations by the Oromo include the invasion of Bale in the Southeast, the total annihilation and enslavement of the Dawaro, further expansion into former Adal territories with forced homogenization, 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 Oromo extremists of today do not even show an iota of consideration for the loss of the humanity and dignity of others.

    Astute reader, you are here advised to identify and call out the unscrupulous Oromo political elites, who together with other opportunists from all coroners of Ethiopia, 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, Oromo extremists of today do not mention a word about these victims since that would require an effort to analyze their blind belief and inherent biases of the complex history of Ethiopia. They repeat the mantra of of one language, one people, unitary etc. from the slogan book of Oromo extremists and ethnofanatics , yet fail to even grasp the irony that this supposedly unitary system has remarkably kept over 80 nations and nationalities with their own dialects and languages nearly intact well into the 21st century. Oromo extremists and other political opportunists, would you be kind enough to explain how this 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 from all over the world with as many as over 200 languages and 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; an antecedent 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 of government.

    The rule of law, astute reader, demands that any individual or member of any political group or movement that use ethnic and religious divisions as cover to slaughter helpless victims, inlcluding defenseless men, women, children and the elderly be held accountable before the law. 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 in Ethiopia. The cries of tears and blood of victims and their screams for justice and accountability before the world, that is the caring world, will be heeded in due time.

    Ethiopia and Ethiopians have been the guinea pigs for the political experimentation of political ideologues for the past nearly 50 years. These political opportunists have been changing their colors like chameleons and confusing the innocent helpless people for decades. They have worn many hats as communists, socialists, proletariats, Marxists, Leninists, and so on. Now when all that failed, the Marxists Leninists of yesterday like Meles Zenawi, Merrara Gudina etc type flip flopped and became ethnofedearlists of today. They would capture state resources, occupy government posts and milk Ethiopians for years. They would live in comfort, live in better houses, send their kids to private schools and abroad ALL ON A GOVERNMENT SALARY!!!! They never ever solved a single problem of the nation. They politicized and continue to politicize every problem and topic, from potable water to bread, and prevent the establishment of a meritocratic system of governance based on technocratic efficiency, professionalism and true problem solving.

    Who in his or her right mind would ever think the epistemological studies of George Berkeley, or the writings of David Hume or the ethics of Spinoza would ever violate the sanctity of the individual human being to live freely, to think freely, to be conscientious, to aspire for truth and to be independent for a mass bulldozing of group or herd mentality?

  • Do not mix up! There is no relation between non-oromo living in Oromia and Neftegna!Oromo is owner of Geda system!, the owner of gudifacha(adoption). Oromo embrace any human being who respects its language, culture, religion and values. Neo-neftegnas are those neftegna minded who wish to see one language, one religion, one culture in Ethiopia. which is impossible in 21 century. self rule and self determination is constitutional in Ethiopia. so, what Oromo is struggling for is self determination, self rule.

    • Do you personally know anyone who wants one religion and one language? I have never met an Ethiopian who wishes for such . Certainly there are no political parties in Ethiopia that are fighting for one language and one religion. You’re exactly what the writer refers to . You’re scared of the bogeyman , but remember the bogeyman does not exist!

  • This is a neo-neftegna outlook of Ethiopian problem. Your article clearly shows that you were suffered of Oromo-phobia. Good back to your mind!!

    • The lady has a good command of the English language ( atleast written one). The rest is meh… for a person who is criticizing ones political and religious affiliation ,you did a terrible job in throwing punches that you were blaming him for. FYI there is a huge difference between what you believe/understand and the object reality in our country.
      The comment by the user Ale summarizes my opinion more or less and there is no need to repeat what has been said on this thread.

      I feel like you draw your punch lines i.e Finfine in the context that you put it, teregninet and Oromos are the killers and put nice words around it so that you don’t seem to have a blind hate for Awol and his people as you have put it. Dropping your ” kids name” was another level😀.

  • Interesting read and Good Job, Sehin! But, some of your assertions looks a form of “epistemological violence”
    We are a victim of it without knowing about it and would have been great if you researched more before making a concluding remark in some of the issues you have raised. For example, you assumed all Ethiopians are instrumentalist and haven’t reflected on the ethnic constructivists perspective. You tried to show us you are progressive among the primordialists by giving your kid an Oromo name. Why does it matters unless you are a primordialist or instrumentalist? The things happening in Ethiopia after the reform would provide us a holistic and comprehensive perspectives if presented with different Ethnic theories as a lens, contextual analysis, youth unemployment, political parties interest and role especially TPLF, #GERD, regional powers etc.
    If we start to create assertions for “they” then we are locked in the box of “us” and forgets the fact one person is all persons and all persons are one person. Adam had no Ethnicity!

  • First of all, there is no reason for Any Oromo intellectuals and Oromo at large to apologize for the clash that claimed more than 150 lives in the region following the heartbreaking assassination of beloved human rights activist and Popstar artist Hachalu Hundessa Bonsa. If someone has to apologize for the bloodshed and life lost, they are the ones who planned, organized, and executed the assassination of Hachalu Hundessa. Because they knew while they were planning to murder him that there must be huge turmoil following the incident. Therefore, it’s even an insult for Oromo to be expected to apologize for losing their loved SON.
    Second, Oromo has nothing to do with the lives lost in October 2019 following Jawar call “Tekebibiyalehu” (‘I have been surrounded by Security forces’).
    Literally this “call” if it was a call is similar to ‘cuhet’ when your house is broken by robbery. Assume you are sleeping in your house and armed robbery attempt to broke into your house after midnight. Then you wake up and start screaming. Your neighbors went out to reach for you. But on their ways heading to your house few of your neighbors attacked by unknown people and wounded and died. Are you responsible for what happened to your neighbors whose life lost and wounded while they were trying to reach for you to help you?
    Third, you said “they” and “his people” as if Awol said if not “his people”, then “they”. The “they” denotes two or more,….even too many; and doesn’t indicate specific person, personality, ethnic and religious group, and peoples as you tried your convince your followers and played the victim. Even you went further to try to convince us that you have named your child with Oromo name ‘Liban’ that you don’t even know what it means and the narration behind giving the name ‘Liban’ to his/her child in Oromo culture. Here you have full right to give whatever name you like to your children, no one question why you did that.
    But you can’t play your dirty politics as if you like Oromo. You have claimed that Awol is repeatedly reflecting selective outrage when Oromo lives are threatened. Yes, he has to do that, he doesn’t have to be silent when his nation needs more voice than ever from him.
    If Finfine is a political name (perhaps given by Oromo politician and intellectuals as you claim to be without any evidence), then what was the initial name of the land before Minelik II conquered the land? Was its name Addis Ababa? Berera? Sheger? A just black and white conclusion is that Fininfine belongs to Oromia as Bahirdar belongs to Amhara, as Mekrle belongs to Tegray, ad Hawassa belongs to Southern regions, but not even Ethiopians, other peoples from all over the world are living, working, and creating wealth in Finfine and they will continue living as far as they fulfill what is expected from them. The same way Ethiopians living in Washington DC do.
    You have said “I cannot be silent now when in a sick twist of “teregninet”, it is now Oromo who kill and terrorize others”. But the reality is that the word “teregninet” is a term you and your likes used to ashame Oromo and lambast all the crime committed by others on Oromo. Because the truth is that, it is Oromo students who were thrown down to death from building in their dormitory at University, stubbed, beaten, and murdered in University for being Oromo during the time you name it “Oromo time”. The majority of those who have lost their lives during the October 2019 crises were Oromo and even among those more than 150 live claimed after Hachalu murder includes Oromo too.
    Regarding “Neftegna” issue, Awol claims Neftegna as a system that destabilized and destructed Oromo and other nations during the past state formation under the Minelik II to Dergue regime and here you are claiming “Neftegna as Amhara ethnic group?” If there is a person and/or a group who claim himself a neftegna then I can assure you that he/she is adding salt to a wound of Ethiopian nations and dismantling the country rather than merging it. That’s why the likes of Awol are standing against the Neftegna system and mentality.
    Let all of us

    • 1) After jawar screamed that he was surrounded the people that got killed were non oromos by oromo mobs
      2) In Shashememe and Zeway those who got murders in the worst way imaginable were killed by oromo mobs. These people were labeled as Neftegnas although they have lived in the area for generations and spoke the language. Who are those mobilizing these groups? Who’s responsible for these killings? What’s the motivating factor?

  • Another biased article with neo-neftena mentality….doesn’t seem to know reality on the ground.. character assasination is a quality of neftengya’s……

  • Good piece. As for Awol Allo, he is trying to take over Jawar’s role since Jawar got locked up. Awol’s visual foot print is the small Muslim majority Oromia areas like that of Jawar and this is an abysmal fall for an academic.

  • First of all, there is no reason for Awol and/or other Oromo intellectuals and Oromo at large to apologize for the clash that claimed more than 150 lives in the region following the heartbreaking assassination of beloved human rights activist and Popstar artist Hachalu Hundessa Bonsa. If someone has to apologize for the bloodshed and life lost, they are the ones who planned, organized, and executed the assassination of Hachalu Hundessa. Because they knew while they were planning to murder him that there must be huge turmoil following the incident. Therefore, it’s even an insult for Oromo to be expected to apologize for losing their loved SON.
    Second, Jawar has nothing to do with the lives lost in October 2019 following Jawar call “Tekebibiyalehu” (‘I have been surrounded by Security forces’). Literally this “call” if it was a call is similar to ‘cuhet’ when your house is broken by robbery. Assume you are sleeping in your house and armed robbery attempt to broke into your house after midnight. Then you wake up and start screaming. Your neighbors went out to reach for you. But on their ways heading to your house few of your neighbors attacked by unknown people and wounded and died. Are you responsible for what happened to your neighbors whose life lost and wounded while they were trying to reach for you to help you?
    Third, you said “they” and “his people” as if Awol said if not “his people”, then “they”. The “they” denotes two or more,….even too many; and doesn’t indicate specific person, personality, ethnic and religious group, and peoples as you tried your convince your followers and played the victim. Even you went further to try to convince us that you have named your child with Oromo name ‘Liban’ that you don’t even know what it means and the narration behind giving the name ‘Liban’ to his/her child in Oromo culture. Here you have full right to give whatever name you like to your children, no one question why you did that. But you can’t play your dirty politics as if you like Oromo. You have claimed that Awol is repeatedly reflecting selective outrage when Oromo lives are threatened. Yes, he has to do that, he doesn’t have to be silent when his nation needs more voice than ever from him.
    If Finfine is a political name (perhaps given by Oromo politician and intellectuals as you claim to be without any evidence), then what was the initial name of the land before Minelik II conquered the land? Was its name Addis Ababa? Berera? Sheger? A just black and white conclusion is that Fininfine belongs to Oromia as Bahirdar belongs to Amhara, but not even Ethiopians, other peoples from all over the world are living, working, and creating wealth in Finfine and they will continue living as far as they fulfill what is expected from them. The same way Ethiopians living in Washington DC do.
    You have said “I cannot be silent now when in a sick twist of “teregninet”, it is now Oromo who kill and terrorize others”. But the reality is that the word “teregninet” is a term you and your likes used to ashame Oromo and lambast all the crime committed by others on Oromo. Because the truth is that, it is Oromo students who were thrown down to death from building in their dormitory at University, stubbed, beaten, and murdered in University for being Oromo during the time you name it “Oromo time”. The majority of those who have lost their lives during the October 2019 crises were Oromo and even among those more than 150 live claimed after Hachalu murder includes Oromo too.
    Regarding “Neftegna” issue, Awol claims Neftegna as a system that destabilized and destructed Oromo and other nations during the past state formation under the Minelik II to Dergue regime and here you are claiming “Neftegna as Amhara ethnic group?” If there is a person and/or a group who claim himself a neftegna then I can assure you that he/she is adding salt to a wound of Ethiopian nations and dismantling the country rather than merging it. That’s why the likes of Awol are standing against the Neftegna system and mentality.

    • If you were a reasonable man, you will not pursue the same path of TPLF with your teregna mentality ( it’s Oromos turn). Ethiopia and Ethiopians are perseverante and resilient people- we know that the Sum is the collection of the total. Today for your trust of power and easy money, you are using small incidents to galvinize Oromos and divide them from Ethiopia. Tomorrow, you will do the same as TPLF to organize fake elections to oppress the very Oromo nation you self-proclaim to represent. I am a proud Nefetgna compationate of the plight of the Oromo and will never approve your violence to silence and kill people. I will not be silenced, my neighbor will not be silenced, the Ethiopian people and Nationalities will not be silenced. Brief, there will never be an opportunity for you to freely loot and kill the people of Ethiopia. Shame on you!

  • What really struck me is the mentioning of ‘finfinee as a political name of addisababa, but in reality finfinee is original name the local oromo used to call the city. Looks like all writer trying to do is downgrading the oromo struggle. The article looks biased.

    • Technically it was not a city before Minilik II. So it is not correct to assume any former/current village name (berara, finfine, kolfe, jemo …. ) that the current city lies on as name of the city. Yes it is a conservative/restorative political name.
      Disclaimer: the fact that it is a political name doesn’t make it wrong.

  • It’s really sad how far you go to defame and belittle intellectual Awoll. You didn’t present consistent evidence about the topic ‘epistemological violence’. Let me ask you one question. Did you know how many of them of were oromoos who been killed during and after the killing of Hachalu?? You would have been impartial if you have love to all citizens.

    I know your tactics of silencing Oromoo heroes not to speak about the atrocities happening on our people.

  • Used to be the so called Educated contributed in bettering society. Now through the light of technology instead of educating and improving the lives of the poor, the poor are being manipulated in destroying the very development and factories and hotels that are capable of uplifting them out of poverty. It is a living hell the violence and inhumanity plus lack of knowledge and independent thinking. May God Hear the Cries of the Victimes of Hate.

    With education one can go into opposition and conflict or one can cultivate and expand and develop the individual in the most self serving way in infinite ways. May all who have been privileged choose to serve others in society in the most constructive way.

  • Thanks Sehin for a great piece!
    Our people are reduced to discussing issues framed only in terms of tribal affiliations. While Ethiopians, regardless of tribe, are one of most deprived in the whole world. Why can’t we see this and try to work to improve the lives of all of our people. In most comments on this article, you can hear loud hatred for one tribe or another. It is also interesting that most of these people live in the western world.

  • This is nothing but a selective commentary and clearly biased article. You are a victim of ethnocentrism. Your reading might please certain group in the community but it has no meaning to the oromos. Your mention of his religion is outrageous. Good luck with your future writing.

  • Much appreciated, Sehen.Awol gkve no care to the deadly impact of the word “Neftegna” on the lifes of non-Oromos and he repeatedly and perhaps nausatingly chants now and then on twitter and FB.It goes witout saying that,Neftegna is conventionally understood as enemy of Oromo and non-Oromo ,specifically Amharas who remain victims of any unrest in Oromia. To the dismay of millions of Ethiopians Awol has gone attacking Ethiopianess as a camouflage to opress Oromos , while Oromos ,my ancestors of Shoa origin ,are the founding father of Ethiopia. For Awol ,it seems thkt we have to be muslims to be defendants of Oromo and we should stand aganis Ethiopianness. Crazy.

  • Bogus! It is it not an uncommon practice to try to assassinate someone who speaks out for his people in the so called “Ethiopianist” culture. When are you going to learn how to respect others identity and an opinion that is different from yours? Why can’t an intellectual be critical of a dysfunctional government that is of decisive and deceitful?

  • Thank you for your insightful view. These days, it is difficult, though nay impossible to convince, hard-core tribalists as their mindset is impeccable to change and to make ‘them’ feel the creedal identity of Ethiopia. Awol is one of the victims of megalomaniac sociopath though he has a good manner of communication on social and mainstream media. As an eminent scholar, much is expected from him more than a mere hodgepodge. We have to see things beyond our ethnic and religious circles in this tough time. Anything more than what we see today would doom us into insurmountable social and political havoc.

  • Its a brilliant read. And i also reed awols reply. As she said its regrettable he wouldn’t budge from his stance. He could have simply renounced both hachalus death and the hundreds that followed. But stating “they killed hachalu” and “hachalu is killed” have different feel. Where the first one almost gives justification for any angry mob looking for a pay back and further helps rectify thier moral dilemma of killing the others by creating a disconnect of them vs us. These disconnectednes between peope of the same country and even the same village is the same exact precursor, Which conditioned evil to be unleashed in ruwanda.
    I pray God forbid that.

  • The naked truth is finally coming out, thanks to Sihin. Hate speech has to stop. Our youth is being brainwashed by so-called Intellectuals to hate, kill, our neighbors. Preaching hate from Europe, USA, Australia, is causing misery in Oromia. The investors are leaving, and we have no peace or jobs. We want to peace and prosperity, and only Abiy is able to do that.

  • Thank you,,we Ethiopians are living in fear for our lives because of peoples like awol allo,,people are getting murdered left and right because of their ethnicity and religion thanks to the propaganda of awol allo and his likes,

  • 1. Jawar never said “Tekebibeyalehu”! This has been intentionally misconstrued  to hold him responsible for the killing of many people by the government forces, following that disgraceful incident.
    2. One doesn’t have to be a legal expert to understand the difference between allegation and conviction – you are ahead of the court in saying “…despite their involvement…” because they have not yet been convicted by the court.

    • Keneni – 1) What Jawar said is a well established fact and not questionable like milk is white or the sky is blue. 2) Their involvement is not disputable but as to whether that involvement raises to a level of terrorism is yet to be determined by the court. I hope this will shed light for you.

  • Being stuck in a grievance-mode and acting political actions on that base is the ingredient of such epistemology.
    As the author stated, the non-Oromo residents who are 4th generation (and more) in Shasemene don’t know any other homeland. They have equal say in the city they developed. It took a whole era to build such a city.

  • First, this should have been a fb update than an article.

    If you accept the government’s report on Hundessa’s suspected killers, shouldn’t you also accept their report on the identities of the victims- which were majority Oromos – “his people”?

    “overdue arrest of Jawar Mohammed “- you clearly do not have any idea about legal proceedings or what constitutes a crime.

    And pointing out Awol’s intellectual limits is just a pot calling the kettle black. At least, he can justify his position without basing his assertion on unexamined government reports.

    I am not trying to defend Awol. Nor did I see a good reason to single him out. His beliefs are not that different from the rest of Oromo intellectuals and the so-called social media activists. If you want to have any meaningful engagement with them, you should probably reexamine your beliefs and biases, stay away from labeling them as anti-Ethiopians, and understand and embrace their position and find a middle ground.

    To be clear, I do agree with the notion of your argument that everyone, regardless of ethnic or religious identity, should condemn the killing of innocent people in the strongest and clearest terms. In fact, there should be a bipartisan effort to curb such heinous crimes. I also hope one day we will have a truly independent investigation on who was behind these heinous acts- God willing.

  • Thanks Sehin for your critical response to Dr. Awol Allo’s recent social media messages which disappointed a lot of us who still admire his intellectualism as they are more emotional and ethnic blind and doesn’t help in bringing solutions to current Ethiopian impasse.
    I am hoping this kind of critical voices from his friends and admirers who still believe in his intellectualism will be a nudge and wake up call for him to come back to his constructive role.

  • Academic or not, this reeks of personal
    and professional character assassination on the basis of ethnic and religious affiliation that some elites ( don’t name names) have been engaged through varied media outlets recently and I don’t think I would be helpful . Pros Mesfin Gebramarian et al academics have been insulting and spreading false narratives against others like the Somalis, Eritreas, Tigrai s Oromos, ,etc. over half a century and no one heard a peep from his quarters and backers . Even worse, while the likeS him were advisors and others held position of influent, that doesn’t seem Awal”s case, who is self-made young man. .Think about that!

  • Tell us evidenced “finfinee” is not not a political name?

    Can you present any piece that shows Awol is not partisian and selective?

    Evidence only can guide us, not politically induced fabricated narratives. No more no less!

  • 1. You used “they” and ” “his people” binary (yours) as if Awol said if not “his people”, then then “they”. But he didn’nt mean this in reality. The “they” denotes too many; and doesn’t indicate specific person, personality, group or people as you tried your best to convince followers of him (Awol) and played victim. Here, I want you know that I condemn every violence against any body. You have full right to name your child with whatever name available to you and be fan of Abiy but this is can’t used as a pretext to blaspheme Oromo and generation. This is nothing less than character assasination.
    2. If Finfine is political name (perhaps given by Oromo intellectuals as you claim it to be), what was the original name of the land before Minelik conquered the land? “Berera or something else?
    3. …… “and of his selective outrage when Oromo lives are threatened.” What else should he do? Keeping silent? Oromo lives doesn’t matter to him? If you were truly brave and impartial enough, you would have written or speaken against selective ‘Ethiopian’ media coverage of the aftermath of Hachalu’s assasination.
    #SKEWEDISYOURANALYSIS.

    • hhehehe…..so you’re saying white people are bad. I’m pretty sure, your broke immigrant ass is been support by white system one way or another.
      by the way you’ve just proved her point by referring as neftegna.

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