History in the Making – The Oromo is Recognized as a Community

African Immigrant (Oromo) Community Briefed on TANF Changes at Washington DC Metropolitan Oromo Community Organization Center on Nov 30, 2011

December 4, 2011 (Ayyaantuu) – I remember listening to an interview of Meles Zenawi on the Ethiopian Television right after he came to power by force in 1991 and entered Menilik’s Palace in Finfinne/Addis Ababa. He was asked to explain about the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), one of the groups that participated on the London Conference in 1991. The new incumbent, Meles said, “It is a group of less than a dozen stubborn intellectuals.” He couldn’t hide his fear of these “stubborn” people because he predicted what this “group of less than a dozen intellectuals” could do to his long range aspirations of Tigrayan hegemony.

The tyrant Meles knows one fact. He knows that the Oromo is the major threat to his long-term dreams and aspirations of domination that is now becoming his nightmare. There is a Chinese Proverb behind his nightmares:

If you want one year of prosperity,
Grow grain.

If you want ten years of prosperity,
Grow trees.

If you want one hundred years of prosperity,
Grow people.

What the “stubborn intellectuals” did was exactly growing people. They did not waste much of their precious time. They were teaching the Oromo people about their rights that were universally recognized in the Universal Declarations of Human Rights, their own true history, and they introduced the Latin alphabet – Qubee to write Afaan Oromo and above all Oromia to their people and the world. These achievements were a victory to the Oromo people and a nightmare for their enemies.

David Marcum and Steven Smith wrote in their book Egonomics that, “Leadership is best reserved for those who don’t need positions of leadership to validate who they are.” This is becoming evident in the lives of the Oromo people’s struggle for freedom, peace, justice and a just democracy. As the International Crisis Group (ICG) wrote in their popular report dated September 4, 2009, Oromo nationalism is growing. It is not only in Oromia but also in all corners of the world.

The recent recognition that the Oromo Community Organization (OCO) of the Metropolitan Washington has got from the District of Columbia Mayor’s Office is evident to the observation of the (ICG.)

A team of the District of Columbia Office on African Affairs came to the OCO House in D.C. on November 30, 2011. It was an outreach to African communities from the Mayor’s Office on African Affairs to build partnership with the Oromo people. The objective was:

–     Sustaining cultural identity

–     A better response to the needs of the Oromo community in the region

Mr. David Rose explains about TANF

Mr. David Ross, Chief Income Maintenance Administration, Office of Performance and Monitoring said that, “According to numbers, you do not exist” The subsequent brutal Abyssinian regimes have tirelessly worked hard to hide the existence of the Oromo people. We are the second largest ethnic group in Africa next to the Hausa of Nigeria but remained obscure to the rest of the world. Thanks to the herculean efforts of our heroines and heroes, we are recognized as people in the capital city of the world – Washington. Keep on identifying yourself as an Oromo.

The sum of our small efforts that we have repeated day in day out have started giving results and people of integrity must keep on doing the right thing until we realize our full aspirations to live as people freely without any fear of persecution. As Steven Biko of South Africa said, “The most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” The liberated minds have transcended regional and religious differences and agreed to work together and we will soon prove to friends and foes about Jefferson’s observation that “… Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate to prefer the later.” Even though our budding media and independent newspapers like Urji and Seife Nebelbal and magazines like Madda Walaabuu, Gadaa, Innika, etc. were suspended and the reporters and editors were persecuted and sent into exile, we have proved Jefferson’s wisdom and we never hesitate to prefer newspapers without a government. That is why Ayyaantuu Oromia’s reporters and editors are working hard tirelessly to educate our people. As Jefferson observed, “Democracy depends on the educated populace.” We are not implying that we know everything. Rather, we are saying that we will work hard in creating a medium and platform where different opinions and ideas are entertained.

Unlike in the past, we do not have to rely entirely on politicians alone to do everything. I am not undermining the contributions of our politicians. We honestly recognize their contributions. However, they have also polarized the people because they are too much overwhelmed by capitalizing on minor issues and tactical differences to get to where we want. Having an independent media will create a platform for a good lawyer who should teach us about the importance of the rule of law. It must be an economist who should tell us what is good for our economy, a health professional to teach and tell us what to do about our health…etc.

As Abraham Lincoln said, “Defeat is not the worst of failures. Not to have tried is the true failure.” We know why our enemies persecute us. As the great public intellectual, Noam Chomsky, precisely puts it: “…coercion works; those who apply substantial force to their fellows get compliance, and from that compliance draw the multiple advantage of money, goods, deference, [and] access to pleasures denied to less powerful people…” Hegemony or Survival, p 52.

Make no mistake! This will not continue forever. The people have invented something and the Arab Spring has left a permanent lesson for the oppressed people of the world. The old tactics of divide and conquer are defeated by the Arab Awakening. Unity is the most singular power to defeat tyranny and the turnouts that we see in recent days are evident to this statement.

While he visited Ghana, President Obama said that, “Africa does not need strong men. You need strong institutions.” We need to build a very strong and independent media and free press so that it will eventually lead us to build the rest of our institutions – an independent judiciary, our own financial institutions, civil services, and electoral board and our own defense force that protects these institutions.

The editors of Ayyaantuu Oromia would like to congratulate the Oromo Community Organization of the Metropolitan Washington area for your achievements.