Oromo, On The Move

By Laalo Guduru

October 7, 2012 (The Gulele Post) – When the EPRDF came to power I was an elementary school student. Since then I have completed my education and became a lawyer. I grew up in an interesting time – in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when the Oromo student movement was still active and was openly anti-EPRDF and very much pro-OLF, which I was part of. Even though I dodged imprisonment, I saw friends imprisoned, tortured, expelled from school or flee their country and become refugees.
During the same period I have also seen dramatic changes happening with my own eyes in the country. I started my education in Amharic. When I was in junior high school the medium of instruction changed to Oromo. Government functions also started to be conducted, at least in my area, in Afaan Oromo. Therefore, I believe  I am a semi-Qubee generation Oromo.

Although at the initial stage in Oromia we used to see a lot of Tigrean soldiers in our areas and we felt we were living under an occupation force, it has been awhile since this occured – now their visibility has drastically diminished, and their direct interference ceased. Almost all the bureaucracy in Oromia is currently manned by Oromos. If there is any interference it is behind the scenes or only at a higher level.

On the contrary, Oromo independent newspapers, publications and media that cropped up after the fall of the Dergue are slowly but surely disappearing. I have also seen the best Oromo minds and artists fleeing the country and being wasted in foreign countries. At the same time I have seen Oromo culture reviving, Oromo music flourishing and state TV transmitting Oromo programs, and the exiled artists coming back. I have also witnessed thousands and thousands of Oromos graduating in a variety of fields from different universities at a level not ever seen in the past.

There is no question that mainly Oromia’s resources and tax revenue by and large, along with the resource of other regional states, subsidizes the spectacular development in Tigrai and the meteoric rise of Tigrean millionaires.  It is a indisputable that in proportion to their population and even in absolute terms, the number of nouveau riche Tigreans created under EPRDF rule exceeds by far the number of new members added to the business class from other ethnic groups. However, compared to our population size, even though the number of rich Oromos is still pitiful, it is undeniable that today there are more Oromo businessmen than ever in our history.  There are clear indications that the Oromo middle class is in the process of being formed. If things continue the way they are, there is no question that within a short period of time the Oromo middle class will attain a critical mass with a greater influence.

The moral of the story is that the last twenty years of EPRDF rule is the most paradoxical, enigmatic and even schizophrenic era, with mixed bag results.  It is an era characterized by the coexistence of conflicting and contradictory results happening at the same time. On the one hand politically it was a shameful period for Oromos in that we were totally dominated and defeated by a minority population that makes up one tenth of our population size. It was a time in which even an organization that was representing Oromos in parliament was an organization made for us by an alien force.  It was a time when even though the Oromos had the plurality in the parliament they were acting under the command of the TPLF.

–Full Report click The Gulele Post