Would an Oromo King/Ruler have done better?

March 14, 2008 at 11:25 am 15 comments

First of, I consider myself an Ethiopian, although my head is no longer in the clouds about what the name represents (and been made to represent) after reading, among others, “Oromiya: Yetedebekew YeGif Tarik” and “YeBurqa Zimta”. Not that the racism against Oromos (and the rest of non-amhara Ethiopia) was a news to me. Grew up being abused for being “wolamo” because my father taught among, and knew the language of, the people of Wolaita. Not to mention the bitter memory of seeing my cousins (born from Oromo fathers) tip-toeing to where the teacher sat to whisper their grandfather’s name. Which is why i grew up despising the word “amhara”, even if my father’s father is a “Moja” & “proud Amahra” (so they say) from Shewa. I have an Oromo blood too, like almost every other Ethiopian I know, through my mother’s grandmother; who left home (Homa, Wellega) when young, came, and brought up her children (and grand children) in Addis Ababa. Still, i consider myself Ethiopian because i do not see the word “Ethiopia” as representing neither amhara nor Tigray. And, more importantly, because I have choosen long ago never to judge a philosophy by it’s abuses. (For we all agree “Ethiopianism” is a philosophy and a noble one at that).

Anywho, I joined the group not only because I want to know what it means being a Non-Ethiopian Oromo, but also to post a question, i.e. Do you think an Oromo King would have done better?

I want you to take your time and ponder over this question. It’s true that Oromiya’s children have suffered, just the way the rest of Ethiopia suffered, under the rules of it’s “Abyssinian” leaders. And because Oromos were bigger in number and Proud-er, the atrocity may have looked targated against them (us). However, don’t you think the answer is less complicated and more universal than what we are trying to make it here?. That, rulers kill those who opposed them and refuse to bow for them, period? Especially if they have been obsessed with the concept of “unity at any cost” like our kings and heads of states have been and lately are?. Do you think an Oromo king would have let his opposition roam free and hesitate before killing all those who refuse to come together under his “wing”? Unity, if you haven’t noticed, is what every leader starts preaching when he comes to power even if (in TPLF’s case, for example) “unity” was the last thing in it’s mind before assuming power! Unity Sells, that’s the way i see it, when you are on top. It was the Amhara’s who wanted unity at the time of Dergue (and Haileselassie I), it’s the Tigres (once considered ethnicist) that are preaching Unity these days. If, Insh Allah, a leader from the loins of an Oromo father came to power: do you really think he’d hesitate from trying to sell us (and killing if refused) this very product that was used as an excuse & justification for all the injustice done to children of Oromo, and the rest of non-Amhara Ethiopia?

At the risk of sounding sentimental & you-know-women, I consider you guys my brothers and sisters (whether oromo or Ethiopian) more close to me than I consider non-Ethiopian africans. Because, I have been through what you been through and we are men-in-arms, if nothing else. I think that’s what matters, in the end. Who you can identify with, rather than what type of blood (if such differentiation is possible) they got running in their viens and cappilaries (check spelling) :-).


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“Habesha & Ethiopianism” Did we all came out of Gogol’s “Overcoat”?

15 Comments Add your own

  • 1. zerafff  |  March 22, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    Well abesheet [miss t :)] where to begin… for start my stance is that of a Pan-African. I am for a stronger link between all Africans. And a strong and united Ethiopia. A unity not enforced on the people by who ever to happens to be ruling at one time or another but, one that the people themselves strive for, have a stake in and as they have done before will fight for. My view is borne out of both an innate passion for my Ethiopian identity as well as my understanding of history, world politics and our current global reality.

    You see, you and I differ in our regard for our Ethiopian identity. For me it is a source of great meaning and pride! Not in a sense I need to shout about or make in anyway external, its more a deeper, quite yet powerful link to how I as an individual connect to the world at large.

    This does not mean I see the course of our history as one that run without its troubles. In my view the poor Ethiopian of any given ethnicity suffers and have suffered. And although some claim it, I do not thus far know of any systematic injustice by one ethnicity on another in Ethiopia. One has to understand history within the context of its times. And I am all for cultural progress if it is with in the frame work of a united Ethiopia. But the idea put out in some quarters by the misguided few and that others seem to follow sheep like is short sighted and somewhat laughable to me.

    As for what you called ‘abuse’ for belonging to one ethnicity or another. I’d term it more of a name calling mostly done in jest, and this sort of tereba exists about every ethnic group and region. In recent times some terms have been seen so derogatory they have become largely out of use. As you know I’ve had an incident with the term abesha, I have since learnt there are many ethnic groups in Ethiopia that this term doesn’t apply to, so I am careful about how I use it. I applaud the fact different languages are being thought in the different regions I think this enriches Ethiopians. There may be other similar scope for an improved relationship between the many peoples of Ethiopia. If there had been such grand misdeeds this is the way forward.

    Peace to all Ethiopians 😉

  • 2. abesheet  |  March 24, 2008 at 6:17 am

    Well, Zeraff. I’m not interested in “korsho meqosqosing” either. And ofcourse you are right on some of them points. But the “zer sidib” thing, it was more than ‘name calling done in jest’. Children were made to change their names to go to school into an “amhara” one, and those lucky enough to have gotten away with the name their father gave them, were told they can’t stand infront of His Majesty (to receive an Honorary student award, nontheless) “with that type of name”. Regarding what you said about every ethnic group being mistreated, i have my doubts. It was only yesterday, while waiting for the “EELPA office” of my sub city to open and pay my electric bills that i heard two elderly people discussing their past. (Such a sad sight, watching old women and men standing in the sun, trying to support their wegeb with their hand, to pay electric and water bills). And one of them was bragging about how he “meGzat” arsi and how he was “yetera amara”. I neither envy nor hold his ignorance against him. But, as Meles Zenawi repeatedly said, the amhara farmer atleast had *that*, you know! Sounds so unfair.

  • 3. Tsegaye  |  March 27, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    Very good post.

    I will be the first to admit I haven’t read “ye burqa zimita” or “Oromiya: Yetedebeqew Yegif tarik.” I normally read everything that comes my way, but the reason I haven’t gone after these books is probably because of my suspicion.

    Let me summerise life for me: born and raised in Addis. Now, since childhood I’ve had all sorts of friends, and I mean that in the real sense. Best friends, if you will. I can with full confidence say I never gave the fact that they were of other ethnic groups until EPRDF came in. I’ve always believed for good or bad we were all in it together, as a school (for example) as friends … as a city.

    I suppose you can say I am Amhara (Define it.) Such views of “Ethiopia” have disappeared for me, or like you say, my head has come out of the clouds.

    This is not in a good sense. All these years I have been on the side of the philosophical Ethiopia as you say, not intentionally, but just the way I was raised by my community. As such I had a naive belief everybody felt the same way EXCEPT the separatists.

    Now my views differ. I pay attention to people’s attitudes, and try to understand their views. I am seeing the amount of people who not only consider themselves “non-Ethiopian” but also view “Ethiopia” and “Ethiopians” as oppressors. In the same breath, some organizations and their followers say Amhara. Come to think of it, there are no Amhara separatists groups I am aware of.

    This steers me more in the direction of paranoia. Maybe this is my personal nature. I feel I’ve been asleep all these times and it is time to wake up and smell the coffee–Maybe it is time for “Amhara” to say Amhara first (all generations) then Ethiopia second. If somebody/anybody has any issue with me or my own on the basis of ethnicity(because I am Amhara), I will defend myself and my own both intellictually/verbally/physically.

    I feel all this energy focused on dividing Ethiopia is paying off, and my view is if people as majority are not going to stand for Ethiopia then why must it exist? As they say, “Be ij yale worq…”

    Of course, trouble is people as a whole have been stupid repeatedly historically. But why should I worry? Is it time to start thinking about Amhara interests? Maybe everybody should do that.

    If I can guess right, none of the two books speak FOR Ethiopia and do a good job of separating layers on philosophical layer. I have never heard anything of substance on these books, or read them like i said, but this is my guess.

    Which political organization speaks for how many of the people? Is it possible to sound the horn and act like to reperesent the majority?

    “Ethiopia” exists today, and in this present we are around. We will be responsible for what we do/say/think for the generations to come.

    Could an Oromo king have done a better job? Ask a separatist: he will say YES. Their (whoever they are) system is more democratic. OK.

    So much energy and money being spent on promoting a non-existing Ethiopia. Ethiopia is the land and the people TOGETHER. Now, look at every other part of the world..they are coming together forming unions. The British and Germany are in the same union now–even though Germany had ass-raped the British only…how many years ago? And our status is this.

    Could an Oromo King have done a better job? Define Oromo. Some Eritreans say Isayas is Ethiopian, and of course, this is after they started feeling his grip. What is an Oromo? How many generations do you have to be to be Oromo? If you were born in Welega from Half Oromo half Amhara parent, can you be excluded from being in a “Oromo Community”? Will the REAL Oromos doubt you? What if you are “yeshewa oromo”? Will they call you names? Will you tip toe to your teacher to whisper the name of your Amhara father?

    What does common sense say?

    This is, funny enough, is being played out in Eritrea (current) and all a person has to do to begin to understand of the consequences of such foolishness is to look at Eritrea.

    As final word in this half vent half..don’t know what, I remember almost everybody in class being ashamed of their names…once you go past parents. This includes me. Can you guess why?

  • 4. abesheet  |  March 28, 2008 at 8:59 am

    That was heart-breaking, Tsegaye! Thank you so much for baring your soul (your confusion and frustration) and showing willingness to see the issue from angles that aren’t yours, with humility! When I wrote the post, i was feeling pretty “self-righteous”, sure that I knew what i was talking about and what the answers would be. It suddently felt like I was playing with fire. Must be why I’ve always hated politics, although you can never be uninvolved (wededkim, telah). But i feel your pain, nefse. It used to be mine too, and now is?! (I must be that generation, or man, who “is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind” that the bible talks about). Anywho, the brother who made the “Habesha & Ethiopianism” post (who is the most logical, friendly, respectful and intelligent person i’ve talked this over with, by the way) has e-mailed me the reply. He didn’t wanna get involved here, for personal reasons!

    Here follows:

    Well my answer would be that had it been an Oromo king, the result could be the same. I do not think there is such a genetic factor that influences our decisions. Regardless whether it was Oromo, Amahara or ferenji my position is simple. Any oppressor must be condemned.

    In the other side one could argue that the Oromo culture is different than that of Abyssinians- a factor which could have prevented an Oromo king from committing similar crimes.As you might know Oromos have been known for their democratic socio-political system- the Gadaa. In that system all leaders are elected every 8 years and every adult citizen had the right to vote. It takes about 4 years to campaign and filter potential leaders. This democratic system plays significant role in restraining the leadership from having excessive power and abuse it. For instance it was because of these culture that the Oromo fighters were forbidden from killing women.In contrast the Minilik army was mutilating their breast and known for using rape as a weapon.The culture also allowed a lots of the neighbouring ethnic groups to assimiliate to Oromos.

    There are several cultural elements that could have prevented an Oromo leader from suppressing its subjects. In fact the Gadaa system is criticized for weakening central power that eventually prevented the Oromos from waging a united front against their enemies of the time…

    any way I am just trying to present two arguments among many.

  • 5. Dileargachew  |  October 30, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    The Problem is Oromo Vs king never go togther. U know oromo’s cultaral administration is Gada system where there is no king rather elected elders. To have Oromo’s king, Oromo have to abolish his own system. There are some good culture i noticed from oromos who live at the boundary of Somalis and GUji oromos. whenever they collide with their neighbours, they will never kill or rape women,they will never take women or kids as slaves.

  • 6. M_Op  |  October 31, 2009 at 7:31 am

    Interesting question to ask. A novel question, but I think it misses the mark. If the question is on the cultural level, that is to ask if the Oromo cultural leadership style would ever allow for such atrocities to occur, then of course there is always a possibility. But since you are asking if an Oromo ruler “would”, then the answer is both yes and no. Technically, an Oromo ruler already HAS.

    Technically, Haile Selassie was more “Oromo” than anything else by blood, as were a number of other prominent leaders, regents, governors and kings. He would, in effect, by definition be considered an “Oromo King/Ruler”. But I suspect that doesn’t satisfy your question. This leads me to assume that your question isn’t so much about individuals of Oromo ethnic groups per se, but more of a question of cultural predispositions.

    To answer that question, however, we would need to separate culture from ethnicity, as one’s cultural heritage is acquired, not innate. So, based on this understanding, we can readily conclude that it wouldn’t matter of the “Ruler/King” was Oromo or not. What matters is the leadership system by which that “King/President/Aba Geda” ruled. If it’s under the Gadaa system, irrespective of the ethnicity of the leader who adheres to its principles, the chance that he would abuse his power is significantly less for various reasons, not to least of which is its inherent democratic nature.

    I know I am going on and on ad nauseam to answer a simple question, but it’s important that we separate the person from the culture and try to answer this question in a more nuanced way than a rigid yes or no.

    To answer your question in simple terms, chances are Yes, an Oromo ruler would likely have done better. Not because he’s ethnically Oromo, but because being an Oromo, he would likely have ruled under a democratic system. An Amhara leader, ruling under a likewise democratic system, would therefore, be just as unlikely to abuse his powers.

  • 7. keshimastesaseb  |  October 31, 2009 at 10:16 am

    the heart of this question makes an offensive supposition. Weren’t oromos part of the reincarnation of Ethiopia? Why absolve them of outrages while accussing other Ethiopians? In your attempt to ask an “intelligent” question you’ve only shown your deep seated discomfort with Ethiopian history. So you feel you must apologize for it.

    I advise you to stop referring to yourself as Ethiopian, or abesheet (since according to YOUR people that implies Ethiopian or at least non oromo) start using ur ethnic identity (perhaps oromo is the best one for u) since that is all you are able to stomach. Those of us who are Ethiopian don’t need a flawless history to embrace who we are, nor do we apologize to racist losers who want to target certain groups. The ethiopian identity is supra ethnic, and if u weren’t so brainwashed by the current mood u’d appreciate how such diverse ppl managed to maintain a coherent unity.

    I certainly will not condemn our leaders based on second rate scholars, when the contemporaries both domestic and foreign where always awed and full of praise of Ethiopian rulers. Ethiopia is a special country, if you don’t believe that please join the nearest liberation front and stop acting like a wolf in sheep clothing. Don’t think the current state of affairs will continue, even Meles and co are realising the Ethiopian state is a beautiful thing,

    Finally, the way to address injustice is to look beyond ethnic baiting and uniformly apply the laws of the land. However, people like YOU have exposed your deep seated chauvinism (iby giving voice to racist sentiments never before heard outside bars and dark corners) and yet almsot comically accuse others of injustice. I hope next time you’ll be honest and post under your ethnic tittle instead of using Ethiopia as a convenient cover to give ur views some weight. After all the name does come with its own credibility and quality.

  • 8. abesheet  |  October 31, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    Love the nick, Qeshim :-). Selam Dileargachew. And nice to see you here, M_Op darling. When i am in an “esett agebba” mood or have the freedom of mind to be passionate about, and pursue, the things i once had the ferver to pursue, I’ll answer your questions or comments.

    I thank you for visiting.

  • 9. sistuks  |  October 31, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    hi abesheet! deg nesh wey? yeHalloween digis endet yizoshal? i hope u r ready with the gunfan keremelas. anyway “Jas!” biyeshalehu in the spirit of the day.

  • 10. abesheet  |  November 2, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    Hi Sistuye,

    Nice to see you here. Unfortunately, Halloween was also the evening after my birthday and the only Saturday in which I could drive to the branch stores i don’t work in (that are spread all over San Diego) to use the 20 dollar worth of free buck our company dons on us every quarter we went without an accident, costing it an arm and a leg. By the time we were done with the “asheshe gedame”; the number of kids ringing the bell and saying “trick or treat”, as a pre-requisite to garner as much candy as they can, was dangerously low.

    So.. yeah.. I still have 2 bags of Hershey’s’ assorted goodies [I may sell on ebay for half the price]; a barely half-eaten DB ice-ream cake with the picture of the horses still intact, and bits and pieces I don’t know what I was thinking when paying for them with my hard-earned free buck. [Free stuff, how much do i love thee. Lemme count the ways….]. Not to mention the Wal-Mart gift card I got from my colleagues two days earlier after an embarrassing summon to the break-room and an awkward “happy birthday to you”. [Since i won’t be working on Friday].

    On the plus side, [Mazzi is gonne love hearing this] I got K’naan’s first album, “The Dusty Foot Philosopher”, from my husband. Loved the lyrics, by the way, the beat could use a bit of brushing up. Hopefully, by the time he “maraGefs” the “abwara”, and is able to properly rap, he doesn’t lose the poetry.

    That is, my darling girl, abesheet’s first halloween [tarik] bachirru. Hope you enjoyed yours.

  • 11. keshimastesaseb  |  November 2, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    hey i read the rest of your blog and you seem like a balanced individual so I maybe rushed to judgment, but specific to this post I think I make a better case 🙂 lol…dena hugni.

  • 12. Mazzi  |  November 3, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    Melkam (belated) Lidet Abesheet!

    So you are a child of Haloween season, huh? Should be fun celebrating the occasion with all kinds of ‘characters from the dark side’ of the season :-). If you can’t beat them, joint them I say!

    You first Haloween sounds just about right … hectic day/weekend, and lots of left over candies that were not given out to trick-or-treaters that is in danger of being eaten by the adults in the house in excess! I don’t think it will make it to ebay as you hope. Watch out for sugar induced highs ;-).

    Glad to hear you got the ‘Dusty Foot Philosopher’s’ first album from your hubby for your b-day. I too hope DFP will not lose his poetry while navigating the world of rap. LOL about him ‘maraGeffing’ his ‘abwara’ :-). No doubt the amount of ‘Abwara’ he needs to ‘marageff’ over time will be inversely proportional to his wealth from his new found fame. I sure give him credit for rising above his circumstances, and daring to be different.

    @Sistu … simply love your senes of humor. You don’t know how tickled I was by your “Jas!” Haloween greeting to Abesheet in the spirit of the season :-).

    Pleasand day to you both.

  • 13. abesheet  |  November 3, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    Hi Mazzi,

    Endet nesh bayalew? Yeah, i’ve felt my 200 pieces of Hershey won’t be a match to the various sweet Halloween-left-over-candies’ deal franchises like Wal-Mart and Vons would offer. [big giant corporations vs. the little guy; we know how that would turn out]. Bihonim.. bihonim.. not even my background with its strict non-food-wasting policy would make me forget the health-hazard them sugary delicacies would induce in the innocent gobbler. Which is why I’ve taken the necessary precautions that the man of the house comes no where near their plastic cover, and the half-eaten ice-cream cake (by washing the later down the drain).

    No doubt the amount of ‘Abwara’ he needs to ‘marageff’ over time will be inversely proportional to his wealth from his new found fame.

    Hmm. I meant the “awara” on his rapping skill. Lol. Not his abwara. That’s something 13 years of stay in Canada should take care of (not that I believe he’d have a “neQuut” of abwara even back then. You gotta have either a “qiltite” relative or some solid connection to end up in Canada with your whole family!) . But again.. the dust and the feet are symbols of the roads he traveled and the trouble in them, innit? So maybe he would “maragef” them once he reached the said height of success.

    One thing that bothered me about his bonus DVD (featuring an introduction; the filming of “Soobox”, two other songs and a semi-documentary from 4Real about the Somali-slums in Kenya) was a statement he gave about Somali refugees, that showed how easily truth gets shot in the leg to accommodate politics. It went something like: “[when the war broke out, etc] most Somalis made their home in neighboring Kenya”.

    Now I’m not sure how much the percent with which Ethiopia and Kenya received the refugees from this luckless country is. And that “most” doesn’t mean “all”. Still, I couldn’t help but remember how you can’t throw a pebble without hitting a weriha in my “Commercial College” days. A shout-out to the hectic streets of Bole Medhanialem should have been in order.

  • 14. Mazzi  |  November 3, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    Hey Abesheet….

    So you had the wisdom and courage to restrict access to left over Halloween candy by the man of the house (and I assume yourself included) in fear of health hazards sweet delicacies sure induce on the body in abundance. That was a wise move on your part. I can see myself throwing candy, but I have such a weakness for ice-cream cake! Such sweet, addictive, so-not-good-for-you, and sinful treat. That is why I don’t buy it anymore coz I over indulge and this aging body can’t take much sugar induced abuse as it used to ;-). Ah lijinet … how short lived!

    LOL on K’naan’s “Abwara” being on his rapping skill and not on his person :-). I guess I also meant it both ways though like you I too doubt how much of an “Abwara” he had on his person even before setting foot in Canada all those years ago. I too cannot fathom how whole families manage to emigrate to Western countries with all members intact unless it is via UN sponsored third country refugee settlement programs. Even then there is bound to be some wealth or at least established connections in the new country involved. How lucky are those families that don’t get separated even in migration.

    And sure enough, though many legitimate refugees from war torn or unstable countries sure have stories to tell about what they went through before making it to safety, many immigrant stories from the ‘old country’ get exaggerated to suit the ears of immigration officers in the ‘new country.’ And as you said, often the truth gets distorted at best or sure gets shot in the leg at worst for the sake of politics, and it definitely would have been nice if K’naan mentioned Ethiopia as well in the poor motherland’s part in housing/resettling massive numbers of Somali refugees after the ‘war’ despite lack of proper resources and support. A shoutout to Ethiopia sure would have been nice.

    Enjoy his poetry even if the rap thing ain’t quite doing it for you :-).


  • 15. Dianna Arvidson  |  July 30, 2011 at 8:12 am

    Really like your approach.You’re providing information I can use at this moment, and fixin’ to. Thanks!.

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