What Do the Oromo Want? Looking Back and Looking Forward on Oromo Studies


by Bonnie K. Holcomb  | October 13, 2012

Keynote Remarks, Oromo Studies Association
Annual Meeting
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
July 14-15, 2012

The Oromo want dignity, self-expression, self-governance.
The Oromo want their voices to be heard.
The Oromo want sovereignty
They want to live together at peace with their neighbors, who themselves also live in freedom exercising their own sovereignty.
The Oromo want friends and allies across the world who will work with them to protect their forests from decimation, their water from pollution, their animals from starvation, their minerals from exploitation, their sons and daughters from capture.
The Oromo want to protection from dispossession of their ancient homelands.
The Oromo want control of their own story.
The Oromo want security.
The Oromo want healthy babies.
They want a clean water supply, and even plumbing.
They want to be free of AIDS, thyroid diseases, malaria and toxin-borne diseases introduced by unregulated industries.
The Oromo want to live in and govern their own land filled with their own trees, in which live the birds whose calls they know well.
They want freedom of communication
They want access to the Internet, a window on the world – which requires electricity, education, languages, spelling
Oromo want to be part of the global conversation
They want to form their own association
They want to form their own associations.
The Oromo want experts and specialists to assist them on their terms rather than impose alien ways on them.
Oromo want cell phones,
Oromo want education.
Oromo want freedom to express their culture.

  • They want to dance without fear
  • Dress in ways that they find beautiful, comfortable and meaningful.
  • To hear and respond to the cries and interpretations of their poets and theirmusicians without fear of reprisal
  • They want to drink their own coffee.

They want jobs.
Their list is the list of aspirations of those who suffer oppression and injustice worldwide.  How do they get it? Let’s talk about that in terms restricted to this association.

When the world hears the Oromo aspirations and grievances loud and clear, they will stand with the Oromo as they did with the protesters in the Arab Spring. The Oromo will know that they are not alone that others do stand behind them. But Oromos must also stand with others, make connections, establish two-way streets in the formation of alliances. How can this come to pass? What is the role of the association of Oromo Studies?

The natural allies of the Oromo are everywhere. Oromia is a case study in the major issues of the day, but her voice is not clearly heard. OSA is now strong enough to consider taking on initiatives which encourage and equip activists to join forces with others internationally who suffer and with those who work to bring justice and peace.

–Full Report  OSA Annual Meeting July 14-15 2012 Partial Report