Viewpoint

The counter-productive demonization of Jawar Mohammed

Given the activist’s revered status among many Oromo, the attempt to silence and defame him will surely backfire.

Since the popular uprising that swept across Oromia in 2015, Jawar Mohammed’s reputation grew tremendously, leading him to become arguably the most influential figure in Ethiopian politics. Today, Jawar is in prison, yet he has become a household name among both supporters and detractors.

Beyond the Oromo, he enjoys a wide audience among other historically marginalized nations such as Afar, Somali, Sidama, and Wolayta. Even his political antagonists, such as the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), are said to be impressed, rather grudgingly of course, by his foresight and intellectual acuity.

On the other hand, Jawar is hated, even demonized, by a small but very vocal group (hereafter addressed as the ‘vocal minority’) that are politically and psychosocially linked to an Abyssinian heritage.

Historical background

To understand the roots of the seemingly irrational hostility Ethiopianists harbor towards Jawar, one needs to examine the psychosocial and economic impact of the Abyssinian southward expansion on the indigenous inhabitants.

Following Menelik II’s conquests, the army that settled in Oromo land kept the nation under siege. Divisive policies were crafted to keep the incorporated nations under control. The imperial powers expropriated Oromo and other incorporated peoples’ ancestral land and appropriated it to members of the invading army and the Orthodox church they had institutionalized in the occupied nations.

The peoples of incorporated nations were reduced to serfdom, denied the use, exercise, and development of their political, linguistic, cultural, and religious identities. On the contrary, the imperial rule instituted a largely Amhara culture, language, and religion in all of Ethiopia. Jeylan Wolyie Hussein articulates this phenomenon as follows:

 “Following Menelik II’s conquest of the Oromoland, the Oromo were forced to relinquish their land and to pay tribute to the conquerors. They were also made to relinquish their religious, cultural, linguistic, and political identities. The conquerors created hegemonic structures through which they would perpetuate their cultural, economic, and political domination.” (J.W. Hussein, p.34)

The children of the marginalized people were denied access to education as the schools were found only in garrison cities where the settlers were located and not in rural areas where the predominantly farming community of the occupied people resided. Moreover, even those near the schools were largely unable to benefit from the opportunity as fluency or at least a passing grade in the Amharic (the settlers’ language) was required for a child to move from lower grades to the next level. The few who broke the language barrier and managed to get into these government schools were conditioned to reject their own people, deny their identity, change their names, and assimilate through marriage.

In contrast,

[Afaan] Oromo was denied any official status and it was not permissible to publish, preach, teach, or broadcast in Oromo. In court or before an official an Oromo had to speak Amharic or use an interpreter. Even a case between Oromos, before an Oromo speaking magistrate, had to be heard in Amharic. I sat through a mission service at which the preacher and all the congregation were Oromo but at which the sermon as well as the service was given first in Amharic, which few of the congregation understood at all, and then translated into Oromo. The farce had to be played out in case a Judas informed and the district officer fined or imprisoned the preacher. (Baxter 1978, 288)

In sum, these divisive policies conferred on the vocal minority unprecedented opportunities to sustainably dominate the country’s bureaucracy, defense, politics, diplomacy, external relation, and wealth. On the contrary, the Oromo and other occupied peoples were relegated to serfdom, poverty, and second-class citizenry.

Over the last three decades, however, the multinational federation, though imperfectly implemented, has nonetheless gradually eroded the foothold that the vocal minority had in the cultural, educational, and linguistic arena. The formation of federal structures has allowed the historically marginalized nations to develop their culture and languages, though political and economic progress were muted since power, decision making, and resources effectively remained at the center.

Moreover, during these three decades, the vocal minority maintained its dominance over the bureaucracy, culture, language, diplomacy, and media outlets, which they disproportionately influence, to control narratives and disseminate bogus allegations that targeted individuals and groups advocating for self-rule and equality.

It is at this critical juncture, when the many opposition groups could not do much beyond reeling at its loss of political power, that Jawar appeared in the political arena. He infused vigor in the Oromo political discourse by providing fresh analyses, commentaries, and eloquent defense of the Oromo cause at a moment when the Oromo politics was disenfranchised. He helped to spearhead the Qeerroo protest,  studying and modeling it after Orange Revolutions.

Furthermore, he pioneered the establishment of the first successful private international Oromo media house, Oromia Media Network (OMN), that gave voice to the voiceless Oromo nation and the incorporated peoples in Ethiopia. Using OMN, social media, and the Qeerroo organization, he became instrumental in pushing the TPLF out of power and ushering the OPDO-led current government in Ethiopia to power in 2018.

Nevertheless, the vocal minority felt threatened by the influence Jawar and OMN are gaining in Oromia and other marginalized nations. Thus, it commenced its fight not to yield, and to a certain extent to restore, the undeserved dominance and privilege the north had been enjoying over their southern counterparts since the emergence of the modern Ethiopian state. The model of governance it desires to reinstate had been a vehicle for implementing its divisive policies. Thus, it demonizes prominent activists like Jawar who threatened to unravel its narrative.

Irrational hostility

Jawar’s first and foremost crime is thus, being borne an Oromo. The Oromo, in P.T. W. Baxter’s words, is “Ethiopia’s unacknowledged problem” since “the problem of the Oromo people has been a major and central one in the Ethiopian Empire ever since it was created by Minilik (sic).” The only Oromo the vocal minority seem willing to accept is what they sometimes call “a good Ethiopian”; that is, an assimilated Oromo that rejects his/her Oromo heritage and identity and embraces “Ethiopian identity”—a code word for Amhara identity. Jawar flunks the test of being “a good Ethiopian” precisely because he is proud of his heritage and knows that he cannot become a good “Ethiopian” before he becomes a good Oromo.

Another accusation often directed at Jawar shows the inherent bias the vocal minority harbors to cultural and religious constructs that supposedly threaten northern hegemony on religio-cultural values. Jawar is a product of a Muslim father and an Orthodox Christian mother. He received his primary education at a Roman Catholic school. He is married to a protestant Christian wife.

Regardless of his markedly heterogeneous religious background, which ought to have silenced accusations of religious extremism, and his life-long adherence to non-violence, he is intentionally falsely portrayed as a Muslim terrorist with the intention of gaining the sympathy of the Western Powers.

Jawar’s third crime is that he is a well-educated Oromo with degrees from the National University of Singapore, Stanford University, and Columbia University. Jawar’s academic integrity, is not well received by the vocal minority as it threatens to undo their long-standing propaganda to mischaracterize Oromo activism as archaic and uninformed. Moreover, his well-articulated arguments exposed subtle biases and marginalization engrained in the social, economic, cultural, and political fabric of imperial Ethiopia the vocal minority wants to resuscitate.

Jawar’s fourth crime is that he mounted an incredible challenge to the exclusive control enjoyed by the vocal minority over media and diplomatic relations for more than a century. Successive Ethiopian governments have been using the national media and diplomatic relations to frame internal conflicts and disseminate them for the consumption of both internal and external audiences.

Employing “a systematic policy of ‘showcasing’” these governments have been presenting “carefully designed programs and policies which conform to all the formal characteristics necessary to win acceptance, favors, and a partnership with imperial powers but which are facades without  base or foundation within the empire.” By establishing OMN and using its platform to provide news, analyses, and counter-narratives, Jawar enabled Oromia and other marginalized nations to address their concerns and aspirations.

Jawar’s final crime is his political views, which succeeded in captivating the hearts and minds of the Oromo. Upon ascending to power, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed disbanded the Oromo Democratic Party—ODP (formerly Oromo People’s Democratic Organization), as well as the ruling umbrella organization the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front and replaced it with a quasi-unitary party known as the Prosperity Party. The Oromo public, and even significant members of ODP (including Lemma Megersa – one of the main architects of the reform), rejected the new party on the grounds that ODP is being disbanded before having had the chance to answer fundamental Oromo questions.

In the process of exposing the new party’s desertion of Oromo causes, of which Jawar played a significant role, the Prime Minister lost ground in Oromia. This increasingly pitted Jawar against the incumbent and a fierce diplomatic struggle over the soul of Oromia ensued. And perceiving a shift of allegiance of the premier towards the Ethiopianist bloc, Jawar decided to abandon his previous position as an activist and joined the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC). This brought about immediate impact in terms of soaring support for the party.

However, the overwhelming support Jawar and OFC succeeded in amassing was not received well by Prime Minister and his allies. The subsequent decision by the incumbent to incarcerate Jawar and other influential political leaders on bogus allegations can therefore be seen as an implicit admission of defeat.

Fallacious nostalgia

Jawar Mohammed is on trial based on trumped-up charges; not for any wrongs he supposedly committed—but for what he represents. This is largely true for most Oromo political prisoners including Abdi Ragassa, Bekele Gerba, Dejene Tafa, Gemechu Ayana, Hamza Borana, Lammi Begna, and tens of thousands of Oromo currently languishing in prison. A closer look at the diversity of their political affiliations, their religion, and their places of origin, reveal that they are persecuted not because of these factors but simply because of their fidelity to the Oromo cause. Thus, the war against Jawar and the thousands of Oromo political prisoners is in effect an extension of the war of conquest commenced with the southward expansion of Abyssinia by Menelik II.

Jawar embodies the ideas, values, politics, and a worldview that challenges the domination of the small but vocal minority. The group is mistaken for thinking it could get rid of him by imprisoning him using a “kangaroo court” approach, or through a state-sanctioned extra-judicial killing, and that in doing so it would be able to silence Oromo nationalism. The group fails to realize that the wheels of history only move forward. The old days when a minority maintains hegemony over the majority and keep the atrocities it commits in the dark are gone, never to return.

Irrational fears

But why do Ethiopianists consider the Oromo as a problem?

First, the Ethiopian empire and those who sympathize with it are afraid of the implications of the genuine implementation of majoritarian democracy. Having emerged from a social class that thrived on resources looted from incorporated regions, built its privileged status on the back of the vanquished, being indifferent to sociocultural facets that are demeaning to the Oromo and the other marginalized people it has dominated, the vocal minority seems to agonize over the possibility of losing all these undeserved privileges.

Second, the vocal minority accuses Jawar of inciting Oromo protestors to commit acts of violence. They cite the October 2019 violence that erupted in some parts of Oromia cities after Jawar reported that the government attempted to remove his security in the middle of the night, possibly to assassinate him.  No credible, independent party has substantiated the accusation by Jawar’s detractors.

Human Rights Watch has called on the Ethiopian government to “support a credible, independent, and transparent investigation into the use of excessive force by security forces and by those responsible for communal attacks.” No such credible and independent investigation has emerged.  The vocal minority’s attempt to hold Jawar responsible for government and mob killings in which, in some instances, the alleged perpetrators were reportedly the victims is a typical example of their demonizing tactics.

Third, it seems the vocal minority is gripped with baseless fears of retribution by the Oromo and other peoples of the Greater South. The vocal minority is cognizant of the atrocities that were committed against the historically marginalized people. Imperial Ethiopia had indeed imprisoned, tortured, maimed, and killed students, professionals, and intellectuals for a century and a half. It has silenced voices like Jawar for far too long.

But fears of irrational retributions and categorical persecutions are largely unfounded. Evidence for this is that during the 2015-18 Oromo Protests Qeerroo and the Oromo public have demonstrated a disciplined, matured, goal-oriented struggle against tyranny while protecting members of other peoples who live in Oromia.

Solving the stalemate

The successive governments of imperial Ethiopia’s response to Oromo leaders’ demand for equality, justice, freedom, democracy, and the rule of the law has been to eliminate them. The killings of Oromo leaders are designed presumably to disenfranchise the Oromo people. Prominent Oromo leaders allegedly assassinated by successive Ethiopian regimes in what some see as state-sponsored terror include Lij Iyasu, Lt. Mamo Mezemir, General Tadesse Birru, Dr. Haile Fida, Rev. Gudina Tumsa, Artist Ebbisa Addunyaa, and Artist Haacaaluu Hundeessa.

Yet past killings have not produced the desired outcome of silencing the Oromo. An egg gets harder the more it is boiled. Likewise, the more people are oppressed, the more they resist.

Those who demonize people like Jawar should take note. Imprisonment, demonization, and assassinations do not solve political problems. On the contrary, they just make it harder to reach an amicable solution. Only one thing could take us all one step closer towards solving the current stalemate in Ethiopia, and that is conscientious and thoughtful efforts towards inclusive dialogue—with the participation of Jawar and all other prominent political prisoners.

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

Acknowledgment: The author is grateful to Bahiru Dhuguma (Ph.D.) for reading the draft manuscript and for his valuable suggestions.

Editor’s note: On 9 January, the reference to assassinated Oromo leaders was amended to reflect the fact that the state’s responsibility for some of those killings listed is disputed.

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About the author

Hambisa Belina

Hambisa (Ph.D.), an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, is an assistant professor of accounting at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD.

37 Comments

  • Many people write something every time talk every day. However, they don’t write a solution and talk to find a solution. More than talking 100 times 1 time solution could solve the chronic problem of the Oromo people. Be the first to find a durable solution

  • This writer says JM is in prison on false charges, a flat out LIE.
    He is there for kidnapping the body of Halachu when it was on the way to Ambo/
    He took it into the centre of Addis to encourage a Coup. Facts please.

  • The article based on the Menelik invasion Oromo and Jawar Mohammed activity. Jawar suppoted by the nationalists to lead the Oromo revolution and the TPLF topped from power. He is a member or adviser or leader of the OPDO the 27 years enemy of the Oromo people. Is he a jenuien nationalist?

    According to my understanding Jawar is not a jenuien nationalist. The reason the nationalist not be a member or an adviser of the nation’s enemy. This is a big crime in political history. The first Jawar struggle is to eliminate the OLF disarmed OLA and promote the dead OPDO principle on Oromo people. This is the highest crime in freedom struggle.

    God gave instant justice and separate Jawar from OPDO the dangerous wild in Oromia. If he stay with OPDO until today he removed OLF from political activity and destroyed OLA more than the neftenga government. Based on the above evidence there is no difference between neftenga and Jawar principle that intended to kill the prominent Oromo political organization OLF.Therefore, I don’t give him a value or a compliment.=00 I reserved to give more information the deep problem he created in Oromo.

    • I wonder why you say jawar preached hate. Is it because he says he is an oromo first, because he fights for the under represented?

  • This article is about the history of the marginalized people in the current empire. It tells the subjugation, past and present, of the marginalized nations. The author is reading the current situation through the lens of history. As a member of a marginalized nation, he cannot divorce history from the current realities. History has formed, shaped, and sustained the present reality. To read, understand, interpret, and experience what is going in their daily existence, the marginalized should see things through that lens.

    Understandable to a brute nature, member of the oppressor group would like to hide, neglect, and minimize the past since the past poses a formidable inconvenience to the current narrative, he/she likes to promote. What is not understandable is the nonsense, illogical, and unproductive attempt to silence the oppressed from telling their truth.
    As any sensible person understands, history is just that: history. No one can reverse what historically took place. No one can obliterate what his forefathers have committed, however, horrible those might be. You stand in my way, and force me to fight you to the last-man-standing when you are unwilling to accept and forge an understanding about the past, and, to add insult to injury, try to blame me for refusing to be bamboozled with your made-up lame stories of shared history, shared value, and shared identity. We have nothing in common except the history of war, marginalization, forced coexistence, and of course my proud resistance.

    The author of the article has pointed to a way out–an inclusive dialogue. Such an inclusive dialogue is only possible when you are prepared to recognize the atrocities of the past, authenticate the pain of the afflicted, accept the truth of the oppressed, affirm my right to chart the course for my nation’s future, and then possibly how we could forge a future commonality as we see it fit.

  • As for the education wise system of the old, empire, I don’t think it was intended to help or teach anything fo the kids of the conquered people at all . As you mentioned , its main purpose was for the young generatios of the settler groups. Eventhough in my generationin in the 1970s things improved so much, it seemed as if some teachers were trained to discourage the kids, whose their parents barely afforded or motivated to attend in the class. On top of the language barrier and other struggles, the targeted corporal punishment with minor things, constant bulling, threats and beatings of the little kids like an adult without restraint were appalling. Some of them would banish from school at no time and vanish forever. There was little recourse for few parents who desperately tried to deal the school administrators, if especially if they lacked connection to the system and the local players.

  • If we trace back the history of Ethiopia or Abyssinian, there was no ethnic group called Amhara – none at all. Today Amhara claims the second largest population. How they get here?

    The answer is clear – by either forcefully exterminating others minority using govt structures & policy tools, or systematically assimilating them. Until today. Ethiopia is perceived as a Christian country – which isn’t true. If you accept the so called “Amhara identities”, which is an artificial identity – Amhara language, dress Amhara “shama”/ attire, and recognizes their ancestral history, and accept orthodox Christian, you become Amhara. That’s how the so called Amhara has been constructed.

    Today minorities such as Ifat, Agaw, Argoba, Beja, Oromo,…. among others either are extinct or reduced to a minority in Gondar & Gojam.

    These Amhara identities become an Ethiopian identity. To be a good Ethiopia, you MUST be a good “Amhara”. Any thing less, you are labeled as narrow minded, regionalist or secessionist.

    Jawar has struggled against these injustice & oppression. He sowed hopes in the lives of several minorities who were facing subjugation for centuries. He is a symbol of freedom. That’s why Amhara & their collaborators targeted him.

    • Amhara people did not ask to be named Amhara. They have always been Ethiopian.

      Ethnic nationalists like tplf and olf came up with the Amhara ethnicity in order create an image of the boogeyman they’re fighting against.

      Similarly, what you Oromia today is a forced assimilation of native tribes who lived around rift valley for centuries.

      Just because one speaks the language of Amharic or Oromiffa, it does not mean the person is an Amhara or Oromo by blood.

  • For all those who can read Amharic and are interested to know a more balanced view of the history of the Oromo people within Ethiopian History a brief summation can be found at Borkina Site titled:
    From Ormania to Oromia
    written by Ayalew ታህሳስ 22 ቀን 2013 ዓ.ም.
    and published at Borkina website presented, in pdf form.
    ጽሁፉን በፒዲኤፍ ለማንበብ እዚህ ይጫኑ

    a few historical input via excerpts are also cited in the English language:
    The name “Gallas” in their own language means immigrants, and has been given them by Arabs and Abessinians. They call themselves “orma ” or “oroma” strong or brave men and their language they call ” Afan orma,” the mouth of the Ormas; so as the Gallas have no general name to indicate their nationality or its seat, I propose to include under the desigination of “Ormania” ( pg 73)
    ” The Gallas received their names from their own language and not from Abyessinians as most others supposed.
    The word is derived from the verb to go home, to seek onès home gala,
    and is to be brought in connection within the historical fact that the Gallas; driven by some cause or other from their homes in 1735 rushed in torrents towards Abyssinia and made this country their home.” (
    Karl Tuschek: Lexicon der Galla Sprache, (München:1844) P.XX)
    “Galla-uncultured ” (http://www.oromoliberationfront.org/hist )
    “The term Galla is loaded with negative conotation.”
    (M. Hassen, the Oromo of Ethiopia: History 1570-1860, (Cambridge:1990) , P. Xi)

    read more at: https://amharic.borkena.com

    ጽሁፉን በፒዲኤፍ ለማንበብ እዚህ ይጫኑ
    Hope this helps.

    • So they just wanted to tell their Amharic speaking audience of their racism not in any language of other communities in Ethiopia can understand, , specially not the one in question? Oh brother 🙄 talk about priveleged

    • I can barely read Amharic eventhough my compression and speaking are still intact and well after 30 yrs plus of the fact, but I presume the guy who wrote such comedy had drunk
      too much ketikila mixed with tejj while scribbling things down. He is way into his demonic and psycho world. Loool!

    • Jawar is demonized by the demonic and unfounded and hateful statements and destabilizing roles, including the politicization of Hachalu’s killing he is in Jail.
      Historical comments:
      – I am an Oromo first – it is like an American politician born and raised in the US stating I’m Irish/German first.
      – He stated on the record “Addis Ababa is founded on the blood and bones of Oromos, i.e. Oromo genocide – untrue and unfounded
      – He is responsible for hundreds of death
      – He exploited the Oromo nationalist’s grievances based on false narrative to gain financially and a fame which he kept alive by
      – He created a dangerous tension with qerro rioters gathering in a newly built condominium and threatens peace by declaring “on our dead body”
      – His anti-Ethiopian nation rhetoric is toxic for nation building and peace among ethnic groups. Despite the Oromo heroes, statesmen, and artists who made Ethiopia today, his rhetoric makes Ethiopia a hell for Oromos which doesn’t represent facts nor helps for the peace and stability of Ethiopia.

      Historical background

      The narrative of Menelik is skewed and known to us coming from the revolutionary socialist era which mixes up the feudal system with the
      Amharic was the only written state language and Amharic speakers in the north (Gondar, Gojjam, Wollo) were neither part of the Menelik Shoan dominated empire. There is a lack of understanding of how Amharic ended up becoming the state language.
      When it comes to conquest, the Oromos during the Oromo migration brought to extinction 21 ethnicities along their languages and culture.
      The Menelik southward expansion did not impose Orthodox religion on the people. My own relatives from present-day Oromia have either traditional beliefs, are Protestant, and Muslims, and only a few are actually Orthodox. The writer himself Lutheran protestant can attest to his own family background and the German Evangelical Lutheran influence at his place of birth, Wellega.

      Jawar’s accession to prominence comes from his anti-Ethiopian/anti-Amhara rethoric that resonates well with the Oromo nationalists and diaspora who were fed with the narrative the writer is repeating here.
      He also advised Oromo Muslims to use a machete to cut the neck of anyone who is perceived enemy.

      The comment on the Oromo language is also not accurate. Ethiopia is a poor country and the only language that was a written language and developed was Amharic (this is not a language of ‘Amharas’). Therefore, the nation could not accommodate 83+ languages in public services nor it can do now!
      It was not deliberate oppression that the writer tries to portray. In fact, if we see the Oromo culture, it forcefully assimilates others who are conquered by the Oromo clans and makes the proudly Oromos. The writer conveniently ignores this fact.
      Further, Oromo language based on scholars have been more of oral tradition than written language.
      While Amharic was used in Churches along Geez, in states operations for governance and public services, the Oromos were pastoralists, and agriculturalists who were passing on traditions and cultures through oral traditions. No one denied them per se to develop the language.
      One can ask , if it is blamed on Menelik and subsequent Ethiopian governments (which by the way have Oromo leaders – including King Haile Sellassie has Oromo on one side), why did the Oromos fail to have a developed written language and culture prior to Menelik’s southward expansion?
      Why does the rest of colonized Africa doesn’t use its language versus English or French?
      The writer’s representation of the historical account is from the angle of victim mentality.
      He himself is well educated within Ethiopia as well as his medical doctor wife and there was no traceable oppression in their own life.

      Unlike what Mr. Hambissa wanted us to believe, the issue with Jawar and his likes and followers is not about trying to demonize prominent activists like Jawar who threatened to unravel what the writer refers to as “vocal minority” and its narrative, but the very survival of the nation-state and millions of human lives at stake (imagine a civil war in Ethiopia where the core participants are the Oromos and the Amharic speaking citizens).

      To the “Irrational fears” the writer states “‘Jawar’s first and foremost crime is thus, being borne an Oromo.” Not true – he is a criminal, for the aforementioned reasons.
      To the “Solving the stalemate” the writer lists people killed in different eras and made it look like it is an Oromo killing for being Oromos. No, the American government may kill Americans as part of law enforcement and for related reasons. The issue of artist Hachalu is another example where the killers are believed to be OLF scene, led by Jal Maro and the writer draws completely a different pictures.

      The wriers conclusion is self-created reality. He thinks Ethiopia is in a political stalemate just because Jawar is jailed. What kind of logic is that?

      An amicable solution would be for all political parties to forge cooperation and discuss on agreeable terms on rules of behavior, code of conduct etc. and work peacefully toward the election.

      Instead, most Oromo nationalists want to have the cake and eat it as the same time. The diaspora Oromos as an example say “down down Ethiopia” and they have no place in Ethiopia for peaceful participation.
      Most diaspora Oromos support the armed wing of OLF (OLA) and still want to participate in the peaceful process. The same is true for the OLF party in Addis Ababa led by Dawud Ibsa. You can’t have it both ways my friend!
      The writer doesn’t even want to acknowledge that the Ethiopian federal government in power is Oromo dominated, starting from the PM all the way to army leaders and other political leaders.

      It is sad to see such an article from an Oromo scholar, in good standing when it comes to Character, Christian faith, and everything else, who is blessed by his creator to enjoy life and education at his place of birth and now in the US. Yet, when it comes to Ethiopian affairs, he doesn’t represent facts independently. This itself is the challenge the current administration of PM Abiy is facing in Ethiopia.

  • I hope the author sees the contradiction in the statement:

    “Among prominent Oromo leaders assassinated in state-sponsored terror by successive Ethiopian regimes include Lij Iyasu, Lt. Mamo Mezemir, General Tadesse Birru, Dr. Haile Fida, ….”

    The above statement tells me Oromos were part and parcel of the Ethiopian state at the highest levels. By the way the fall of Lij Iyasu was planned and executed by another prominent Oromo: Fitawrari Habtegiorgis Dinagde. The father of Lij Iyasu is the Oromo King of Wollo: Ras Ali Michael.

    I am ~70% Oromo and ~30% Amhara and Gurage. The current political discourse leaves no room for people like me who are of mixed heritage. I am proud to be Oromo, Amhara, Gurage and also to be an Ethiopian!

    I want people to stop and ask: What history of Oromo will be left if we remove Oromo’s contribution from Ethiopian history? Is Ethiopian history created just by Abyssynians? Really? There needs to be intellectual honesty in these historical analysis.

    Finally we need to live in the present and plan for the future — not chain oursleves to the past. We should learn from our past, try not to repeat the mistakes, and move on.

    • This fact and dwelling articulated.And we have to more focus on how the strategy how we get rid off this neo neftegna regim soon

    • Dibiya, don’t get so carried away by personal paranoia, you don’t have to choose ethnicity, but truth. Rather than vehimently oppose the great articulation of others insight see, see to it if you are part of the problem or the solution. The idea that I am so many % this and that does not have to inflict you with split personality. Ethiopia is not a problem as is, but those who use it to only represent them at the expense of the rest. If you don’t know which ethnic group that is, then you have exposed yourself as a major suspect yourself.

      • G Paulos: it seems what I wrote touched nerve with you. Is it because maybe I made you realize you and your kind were sitting in an echo chamber and giving each other high fives on what you consider to be the truth. Speaking of truth, since you mentioned it in your reply, can you tell me what the “truth” is? Maybe I missed something and I am open to hear and learn.

        No I am not paranoid at all. I am totally at ease being a proud Oromo and Ethiopian. I am proud of the rich heritage of my ancestors from all corners of Ethiopia. This heritage also contains blood shed and oppression. My generation and future generation will need to learn from this and ensure it is not repeated.

        Good luck.

    • Regarding your comment about the participation of prominent Oromos at the highest level of the state apparatus, the author didn’t imply that it has been exclusively the Amharas who contributed to the oppressive rule of the Oromos over the last century and half. Actually, history tells us that the main instrument of Menlik’s conquest was the Oromo warrior, Gobana Dachee. The author carefully called the culprit for the current suppression of Oromo voice as “the vocal minority”. So there is no contradiction. In fact, even today the main creators and enforcers of the current oppressive policies in Oromia are largely Oromo ruling party members and Oromo security forces acting contrary to the interest of their own people.
      Regarding your identity or heritage, it doesn’t matter where you belong, what matters is whether your views are objective and progressive. There are those who deny objective reality to achieve political goals
      You have to realize the assimilation policies of the regimes until at least the Woyiane regime where all people except the Amharas were reluctant to identify themselves with their true heritage because of political and career repercussions.
      Regarding history, it doesn’t matter who played the role in making history but who was recognized for it in writing the history. What we know until at least 1991 Ethiopian history has been predominantly Amhara or Abyssinian history for which they often brag about it in arguing their superiority over all others albeit suppressing the history of all other nations and nationalities. So, it is better to identify those historians and question their intellectual honesty.
      Regarding forgetting about the past and focus about the present and future, it is the same saying that history has no value which is a major fallacy. The foundation our present actions and future plans is our past actions and you cannot get any where without it.

  • There is no story of a country filled only with good stuff. It wasn’t only one people or tribe who suffered in the past in Ethiopia it was many. We can’t change the past but the present and the future. Those who dig deep of the past, I would have respected your intention and works if you could have delivered ideas on how to heal the past and how to make sure that Oromo, Amhara, Somali, Tigre, Gurage, Sidama, Afar, Gambela, Gumuz, Hadya, Wolayta, etc. children will live in peace after this. No one of you including your respective figures and elites tried to present ideas. So, unless you come to power, you believe no Oromo could stand for another !? If you don’t trust your ethnic group now, you don’t believe in Democratic systems to make your case and you believe your own preaching only, how can anybody help you?
    I beg you to please share with me /everyone/ your miraculous plan of solving Oromo’s issues, any plan that will not create more chaos in the region, then let’s support you, if your cause is strong enough you will have many more voices.
    Hate only knows how to curse others, complain, offend and careless.
    What is it that is driving you?

  • ምድረ ደደብ የፈረንጅ በርገር ትርፍራፊ እንብርትህ እስኪገለበጥ እየበላህ እዚህ ያለውን ድሀውን ወገናችንን አታስጫርስ። አሁን ኢትዮጵያ በኦሮሞዎች በእነ ሸመልስ እየተመራች ነው። ህዋህት በሰራው ችግር ምክንያት በሁሉመ የኦሮሚያ ከተሞች ሥራ-አጥ ወጣት አጣና መስሎ ቆሞልህል. ጎበዝ ከሆንክ ሥራ ፍጠር!

    • Dagim Asrat, may I respectfully disagree with your mind set. In my opinion you are divisive and suprmacist who does not want to know grievances of others. That makes you part of the problem and not the solution. You lack knowledge of histroy and hence denial of it makes you appear cruel and ignorant. I hope Ethiopia is spared of cowards like that anymore.

  • We, the oppressed people of the Southern Ethiopia have suffered for so long in the hands of Northern Ethiopia Vocals especially Oromoo people whom Northerners fear Oromoo for their numbers. Since Oromo struggle intensified, this scared them to loose their historic Ethiopia. Their fear is understandable, but that cannot stop oppressed people from moving forward for justice.

    • OLF does not represent the people of southern Ethiopia. Most of the people in the current SNNPR state probably feel more Ethiopian than Amhara.

  • This is a very powerful account scholarly prepared and presented for viewers. Great work. I have wanted to edit my response to Dagim but seems no option to do that. Some of the wording is either missing or incorrectly put due to the system recognizing English terms only

  • Kudos to Rev Professor Hamdisa for this elegant and truthful piece. As you rightly put it, an irrational fear and other psychological hysteria gripped with such groups since Jawar Mohammed came to the media and poltical spotlight few years ago. Suddenly there were these howls and cries of baseless terrorism accussation and name-calling against to intimidate him and secondly to enlist the sympathy of westerners and like-minded the like-minded. And I think the main reason was that they couldn’t challenge intellectually and articulately the facts of the historical dirty secrets and genocidal records of the backward empire against conquered nations, including the Oromos.. As you aptly pointed out “.. Jawar is hated, even demonized, by a small but very vocal group … that are politically and psychosocially linked to an Abyssinian heritage.” I may add that this vocal group and their sympathizers not only demonize anyone suspected of inquiring of their past and current ecploitative way of life, but would retort into violence, mayhem and destruction given an opportunity and means to achieve them. But the sad thing is a leader who supposed to know better is drinking unwittingly their boundless fantasies by promoting even their wicked ideological and political schemes against in this day and age, where marginalized Nations and Nationality are fully awake and conscious . Talk about crazy stuff!

  • I found Mr Hamsisa’s article is well stated and articulated especially around the influential figures of Oromo.
    You brought the fact on the ground to live. You deserve appreciation for your great contribution. I believe this is parts of the true story that needs to be established on time by the people like you.
    Thank you so much for reminding us our fresh stories that we start forgetting.
    Keep it up

  • An Extraordinary and truthfully written. The Truth of the oppressed people, Great People of the South, will prevail, and that day is nearing. Galatoomaa!

  • There goes another grievance article. Completely one-sided. The usual story which starts Ethiopian history at 1900 claiming Menelik invaded the “indigenous oromia” as if such a state existed back then. The story that purposely ignores all events of Adal conquest and Oromo expansions during the multiple centuries before hand. A story that has invented language-based states in the so-called multinational federalism.

    This article boldly claims Ethiopian identity is a codeword for Amhara identity. Go to Wolayita, Gambella, Gurage, Jimma, Keffa, Afar, and many more places and they will proudly tell you what being Ethiopian means to them. There is nothing apologetic about being Ethiopian, as the world knows it to be a symbol of status since biblical times. If some ethnic nationalists don’t want to claim the Ethiopian identity, it is their loss.

    • I’m tired of this 19xy 18xy stories. They fabricate stories every day and use books of the 1970’s for a thousand years history for others at least the somalis can tell you history of hundreds of years the the rest of Ethiopia also can trace his/her story similarly. But this people (OLF) must be the invadors in the horn of Africa they don’t have a history in horn more than a century why? There are many ethnic groups that are exterminated or assimilated during their invasions by a process known as ‘mogafecha’

    • Mr. Dagim, People like you always unable to face the truth and swallow it.
      I better advice you to chew probably the fact about Ethiopia and swallow it before you react. I know the bitterness of the truth is very difficult to swallow. However it’s a must to swallow it for you if you believe that there are millions of Ethiopians who care about Ethiopia even more than people like you.
      If you are not ready to accept the reality on ground, the slowest truth will swallow you all soon.

      That is the time you will realise and forced to accept undeniable fact.

      To be frack with you Mr Dagim irreversible tough Tsunami of change ahead of Ethiopia believe me it will happen.

    • We tell our (Oromo) histories the way they were, not the way you must want it to be. Since you were thought by dabtara, those dude known by fabricating history out of no where, we can’t help you.

      • You see a problem here, right? The basis of “we tell our histories the way they were” can apply to every group. The problem is that History is not like the stories that the majority of the peoples in the world tell to each other. If you read several scholars who tried to investigate and write the History of the peoples of Ethiopia you will see that History is not really like many of the groups tell it.

  • A great piece from a well-educated writer!

    Much of the ‘vocal minority’ consider Jawar an extremist. They dont know he rose from a town which housed the Eastern OLF command to advocate for peaceful struggle. If this ‘vocal minority’ believed in compromise, it could have been with him.After the arrest of Jawar and co, over 37,000 disenfranchised youth have joined OLA ranks,further strengthening the sentiment ‘freedom will come only by war’ in an already volatile horn region.

    • History has never recorded a fake ethnic group like the one you claim do called Amhara. What we have read in the most popular books including the Bible is a testament to the existence of Cush from the time following the landing of Noah and his people after the Flood. Cush is discussed in Bible in Genesis and Chronicles. Go read for yourself if you have on your shelves. Cush’s settlements described around the area from North and Northeast Africa including Southeast stretching all the way to Misopotamia. Cush’s offsprings who have settled in these great territories includes but not limited to Oromo, Shaw, Ben’s, Kunama, The two grandchildren of Cush who are Sheba and Dedan ( these are the pure Arabs who lived from Yemen to the Greater Sham territories). There’s no record of Amhara ethnic group ever mentioned anywhere other than the do called Qees account only in Ethiopian empire, fake state. History records a tribe belonging to another tribe but Amhara is never existed but an imaginary tribe. Go search for it. So, if Amhara doesn’t exist then, the claim that Ethiopia is state is only a fiction. Other the few like you who goes around and try to silence free speech, no recorded history to prove the existence of the state prior to the annexation aimed to fullfil the divide and rule campaign of the Europeans. Minilik was the puppet of the Europeans then and achieved their purpose by him power forcing the indigenous people of the land. The truth can never be damped but emerged slowly but surely. It’s now fully emerged and it’s only a matter of time before we see it in action. Do not waste your time to try to silence the Media. Your lies in the 21st century is detectable right away. Be proud of Shaw or Qimant or whoever else you might belong to.

      • Ahahahah! When you use the Bible as the main source of Historical account you end up saying things like these… . . ‘

      • There was no record of Amhara because they have always called themselves Ethiopian.
        They still are proud Ethiopians who trace their lines to King Solomon.
        Ethiopia is in the first chapter of the bible.

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