All things being equal, in a truly democratic Ethiopia, an Ethiopian of Oromo heritage will have a better chance than her/his counterparts to govern Ethiopia for decades to come. I can see Abiy ruling Ethiopia up until 2020, followed by Lemma Megersa for 10 more years, assuming term limitations of two 5-year terms. Do not take me wrong. It does not have to be Abiy or Lemma. It can be any Ethiopian nationalist of Oromo heritage such as Bertukan Mideksa, Merera Gudina or any other.
What I do not understand is, why some Oromo politicians still insist on tribal politics, including the right to secede. They are the only politicians in our galaxy who are advancing a minority tribal agenda when they are the largest tribe in the country.
Can you imagine Han-Chinese, who constitute the majority in the People’s Republic of China, advancing a tribalist agenda or demanding secession from the other minority Chinese tribes to form a country called Han?
In Canada, 58 percent of the population declare English as their mother tongue, compared to 21 percent who identify themselves as native French Speaking. Can you fathom the idea of English speaking Canadian provinces demanding secession from minority French speaking provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec?
It would be outside of the cosmos of common sense to imagine, fathom or envision Han-Chinese or Anglophone Canadians worshiping in the temple of liberation theology, much less singing the hymn of secession. That would be high-octane stupidity and plenty moronic.
Since homosapiens got tired of roaming planet earth barefoot and established swaths of lands as their country, majority tribes have served as a bulwark for their country’s indivisibility, be it by ጡጫ or by ምርጫ.
In the US, during the civil war in the 1860s, 21 million people lived in the Northern states, compared to the 9 million people who were native to the Southern states. The minority Southern states wanted to split from the Union. The majority North used ጡጫ to keep them in the union. In total 620,000 people perished to keep America indivisible.
THE LEGACY OF OROMO LIBERATION FRONT (OLF)
Be they part of the ruling coalition or a member of the oppressed class, majority groups do not embrace a minority agenda. That was why the majority Shia (60-65 percent) population of Iraq who were ruled by the brutal hands of Saddam Hussein of the minority Sunni sect did not have a secessionist agenda.
The Oromo liberation enterprise is the only known political establishment that champions a minority agenda while representing the largest tribal population in the country. This is the legacy of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).
The OLF has another legacy: An exponentially negatively slopping learning curve. In existence for nearly half a century, OLF has not only failed to learn from its mistakes, but it seems that it leverages on it to speed up its descent down the slippery slope into the comfort of political oblivion and a slow eternal death.
JAWAR MOHAMMED: THE OROMO TRIBAL KNIGHT IN A SHINING ARMOR?
Abiy and Lemma stormed the political scene with a winning strategy of embracing Ethiopian nationalism and assuring the indivisibility of Greater Ethiopia. They were embraced by all Ethiopians, including by an overwhelming majority of Ethiopians of Oromo heritage.
The new political reality threw a monkey wrench in the calculus of Oromo liberation enterprise that is anchored in grievance politics of the operation of the Oromo by other tribes. Marketing victimhood became a difficult undertaking in the present-day Ethiopia with an Oromo sitting at the apex of the political architecture.
Members of the tribal Oromo intelligentsia went into a disarray. Their only hope was a knight in shining armor to come out of hiding, riding a white horse to save the temple of their liberation theology. In the absence of a miraculous knight, the tribalist class was left with no alternative but to call upon Jawar Mohhamed as a substitute knight for a rescue operation.
Jawar has stated in public that he does not support OLF as a political entity, but fully embraces its liberation enterprise as the spirit of the Oromo continued theology. Can Jawar resurrect OLF’s liberation spirit without giving OLF (as a political establishment) a viable political currency? Therein lies his dilemma.
His strategy is to create a political space between OLF and the Oromo Democratic Party (ODP) that is led by Abiy. He understands that he cannot overtly oppose the Abiy administration’s Ethiopian nationalism agenda because doing so will obliterate his image within the broader Oromo community and accelerate his slowly eroding Qerro following.
His approach, therefore, is garnering support for his brand of Finfine politics, which is a cross between OLF’s liberation theology and ODP’s nationalist ideology. This is clear in his not-so-subtle stab at Merera Gudina, the Founder and President of the Oromo People’s Congress (OPC) and one of the prominent Oromo political leaders championing Ethiopian nationalism. This is further affirmed in his public support to Bekele Gerba, the uncoronated and unanointed Caesar of Finfine politics.
Within the Finfine political doctrine, Ethiopia will consist of regions that will be separated and demarcated as tribal homelands with a quasi-independent status. The Oromo homeland will not be an integral part of Ethiopia. It will be nominally united with the other tribes by a transactional relationship.
In Jawar’s dream land, Ethiopia will establish sole proprietorship of the Oromo tribal lands (including Addis Ababa) to the Oromo tribe. As an act of overture, not of right, the Jawar clan will grant non-Oromo Ethiopians leasing privileges to live in any part of Oromia, including Addis Ababa.
This is the terms of the transactional engagement that seeks to maintain Oromia as a quasi-independent country, without breaking it apart from the Ethiopian geographic proper. The arrangement will disenfranchise Ethiopians of non-Oromo origin of their birthright for equal ownership of their country, not least their capital city.
In Jawar’s Ethiopia, the transactional arrangement will be executed on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. If it is rejected or proves difficult to implement, Jawar, the substitute knight on a white horse, will reserve the right to resurrect the secessionist OLF manifesto from his shining armor’s back pocket. This is evident in his vehement defense of Article 39, stating: “Multinational federalism engrained in the current constitution is here to stay. It’s not up for discussion, let alone negotiation.”
Unlike Mustafa Omer, the President of Ethio-Somali tribal land, who believe his “Somali and Ethiopian Identities are Intertwined,” for the Jawar clan, the “intertwined” thingy is a foreign concept. The term is expunged from their political lexicon.
The Jawar clan is binding Oromo, the largest tribal group in Ethiopia, to a minority political strategy anchored in Article 39. In a sort of a subversive way, Jawar’s Finfine politics will follow the arc of OLF’s political trajectory to its final place-of-rest: The Cemetery of Greater Oromia.