From Tunisia to Where?
By Ibsaa Guutama
The abuse of power has led a Tunisian citizen, Bouazizi to burn himself. The despair that led to that citizen’s demise was in the feelings of majority Tunisians. They all rose against the dictator Ben Ali before they were forced to burn themselves like their compatriot. The Middle Eastern countries that have the same problem learned from Tunisia how to sacrifice for their rights. They rose in unison to tell their rulers enough was enough. Whether they achieved their goal now or not, they have shown the world that the sovereign is the people, not the gun wielder. It is not foreign interest, but the national need. These uprisings may be sabotaged for the moment, but the struggle can never be stopped.
Popular uprisings are like epidemic they pass from country to country. The panacea is respect for peoples and individual rights, the rule of law and democratic governance. Where these lack, people learn lessons from those that have dared to challenge the abusers. The possibility of decease being transmitted immediately or after a break is very high. Patience usually wears out though the level of tolerance may vary. This we have learned from world movements of the 60s.
Nowadays, many elites with like minds from the Ethiopian empire are dreaming of the day when the Habashaa rises against Mallas, who is as dictator as Ben Ali or leaders of other countries that are following Tunisia’s example. The Diaspora is echoing these events wishing the epidemic of uprising to reach their country. These elites want to set fire at home from an arena where they will not directly burn by it. They are calling the people to follow North African example. The situation of their people is known to be worse than their North African brethren. But they are either waiting for Wayyaanee to fall entangled in its own mischief or their saviors come from overseas like their last emperor to rescue them. The Emperor’s model of transplanting rulers seems obsolete for the time. The discontent and expectation of uprising had been there before the explosion in Tunisia. Why the drumbeat now? They tried and failed to take by ballot box the power Mallas earned by sweat and blood. Insurrection will also face the same hurdle unless they are more prepared than before.
Years has passed since the Oromo had risen against the colonizer demanding for their rights. Popular insurrections are inevitable when both objective and subjective situations are congruent; not by inducing rebellion of the enslaved before the situation is ripe. Otherwise, it will be empowering the powerless adversary. The Oromo people had no worst situation as the present. They are being dislocated from their ancestral grounds; they are daily being harassed, poisoned, tortured, disappeared, imprisoned and killed. Their demand for the right to national self-determination is still being joked at. Oromiyaa still lags behind in organization. Nobody knows when the situation will explode. Therefore, to get self-reliantly prepared before it happens is imperative.
The OLF is a liberation front. Its goal is to dismantle the Empire state and form an independent republic of Oromiyaa. No equivocation on this issue will serve the purpose of peace and mutual understanding with Ethiopian organizations. The goal of the Ethiopian opposition is to overthrow Mallas and replace him as leaders of the empire. Their goal thus is irreconcilable with that of OLF unless they openly recognize Oromo’s stated rights. It will be irresponsible to call upon the people to rise against Mallas from a distance. The caller must be ready to shape the outcome and live with the people in order to share any backfire. As for alliance with Oromo, show better offer than the incumbent, then OLF will be all ears. Otherwise, the old lady has said long, long ago, “Maal haa baasuuf dhama raasuu?” (To produce what do they churn whey?).
Honor and glory for the fallen heroines and heroes; liberty, equality and freedom for the living, and nagaa and araaraa for the Ayyaanaa of our fore parents!
Ibsaa Guutama is a member of the generation that drew the first Political program of the OLF.