Oromummaa (Continued)The Ethiopian colonialists have also expropriated Oromo economic resources such as land and destroyed Oromo institutions, cultural experts, and leaders.
(By Prof Asafa Jalata)
Oppressors don’t only want to control the oppressed economically, culturally, and politically; they want also to control their minds, thus ensuring the effectiveness of domination. The mental control of the oppressed causes personal and collective damage. The mental enslavement of most Oromo collaborative elites are the major reasons why the Oromo people who comprise almost the half of the population in the Ethiopian Empire are brutalized, murdered, and terrorized by the minority Tigrayan colonial minority elites today. Most Oromo collaborators have lost their Oromo norms and values through the process of Ethiopianization and suffer from an inferiority complex. Without the emancipation of Oromo individuals and groups from this inferiority complex and without overcoming the ignorance and the worldviews that the enemies of the Oromo have imposed on them, the Oromo collaborative class lack the self-confidence necessary to facilitate individual liberation and Oromo emancipation. Ethiopian Colonialism was and is maintained by engaging in mental genocide, cultural destruction, and the assimilation of a sector of the Oromo population that has lost its basic sense of Oromummaa. The Ethiopian colonialists have denied the Oromo opportunities to develop the Oromo system of knowledge by preventing the transmission of Oromo cultural experiences from generation to generation.
All of these have been designed to uproot basic Oromummaa in order to produce individuals and groups who lack self-respect and are submissive and ready to serve the colonialists at the cost of their own people. The Ethiopian colonialists have caused the physical death of millions, and further attempted to introduce social and cultural death to the Oromo by suppressing their basic Oromummaa and by preventing them from developing Oromo nationalism. Those who have lost their basic Oromummaa developed inferiority complex and self-hatred that Ethiopian colonialism had introduced to them, and they have becomes the tools of the Ethiopian colonial state. To ensure its colonial domination, the Ethiopian state has destroyed or suppressed Oromo institutions while glorifying, establishing, and expanding the Amhara-Tigrayan institutions such as government and Orthodox Christianity in Oromia and beyond. This state has also sought to suppress Oromo history, culture, and language while promoting that of the Abyssinians. The main reason for suppressing or destroying the major Oromo institutions was to prevent the transmission of the Oromo system of knowledge and wisdom, the Oromo belief systems and cultural norms from generation to generation and to stop “each new generation engaging creatively with the circumstances in which they found themselves to find expression for the core values in the way they organized themselves.”
Since some Oromo elites who have passed through Ethiopian colonial institutions including schools and military have not yet achieved psychological and cognitive liberation, they consciously or unconsciously prefer to work for their Ethiopian colonial masters rather than working as a team on the Oromo liberation project. Some Oromo intermediaries who have passed through the Ethiopian colonial education system have been de-Oromized and Ethiopianized, and have opposed the Oromo struggle for national liberation. Colonial education mainly creates some submissive leaders that facilitate underdevelopment through subordination and exploitation. Such intermediaries lack basic Oromummaa, and even collaborate with the Ethiopian colonial state in killing, torturing and imprisoning Oromo nationalists who have embraced different levels of Oromummaa. Oromummaa as a conceptual and theoretical framework is elastic and expands to a political arena. Therefore, an Oromo, who has an Oromummaa as a national ideology, is somewhat different on the level of political knowledge and consciousness from other Oromo who did not yet develop this ideology or Oromo nationalism. The combined process of developing the Oromo nationalist ideology and engaging in the struggle for national self-determination is the second level of Oromummaa.
Between the first and the second levels of Oromummaa, however, there is a stage of having political awareness. Most Oromo have started to develop national political awareness in 1991, when the Oromo Liberation Front joined the Transition government of Ethiopia dominated by the Tigrayan Liberation Front (TPLF) that was then supported by its Godfather, the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front, the governments of Sudan and the USA. The West has been supporting the TPLF financially, militarily, technologically, and diplomatically. At the second level, Oromummaa is seen as a nationalist ideology that attempts to mobilize the entire Oromo people for restoring their national culture, history, identity, language, human dignity, and freedoms that Ethiopian colonialism has destroyed or suppressed for more than a century. At this level of Oromummaa, Oromo political awareness is transformed into Oromo nationalism and enables Oromo individuals, families, groups, and communities to comprehend the illegitimacy, evilness, and criminality of Ethiopian colonialism and to struggle for their national liberation. In other words, Oromummaa as the nationalist ideology empowers Oromo to build and strengthen their ideological determination, solidarity, and capabilities to define, defend, and struggle for the Oromo national cause.
More or less, the ideology of national Oromummaa increases the determination of Oromo individuals, groups and communities to be ready for paying a sacrifice of different forms and levels including sacrificing lives for the Oromo national cause. Basic sacrifices include joining Oromo associations, investing in Oromo material and intellectual products, and spending time, energy, and money to promote the Oromo national cause. Levels of sacrifices depend on the level of national Oromummaa consciousness as well as commitment. There have been Oromo nationalists who have been killed or tortured and imprisoned while struggling to liberate their people and country. Without developing the national Orommummaa ideology, it is impossible to raise Oromo political consciousness in order to organize and build a formidable leadership and organizational capacity that can challenge and defeat the Ethiopian colonial state that is supported by global powers. Oromummaa as the Oromo nationalist ideology defines and promotes the Oromo political, material and cultural interests in order to develop an Oromo political community and transform it into a state through destroying all powers and ideologies, mainly Ethiopianism, which have been keeping the Oromo society under political slavery by all possible ways.
According to Antonio Gramsci, political domination is practiced through ideological hegemony. Ethiopianism as an ideological hegemony has been imposed on the Oromo via physical coercion including terrorism and mental genocide and other political and cultural mechanisms. All forms of domination, including colonial domination, cannot be practiced without imposing “a structure of meaning that [reflects] its leading beliefs, values, and ideas;” the process through which the dominated internalizes the ideology, worldview, culture, and mentality of the rulers as natural order is called ideological hegemony. In order to consolidate the Oromo national movement, it is necessary to recognize its current ideological inadequacies and overcome them. Oromummaa as a theory of liberation refutes false or biased knowledge and challenges reactionary narratives that naturalize and justifies colonialism and all forms of social hierarchies, injustices, and exploitation because it is mainly informed by the principles of egalitarian Oromo democracy of gadaa/siqqee system. Furthermore, as a theoretical foundation of the Oromo national movement, Oromummaa with other critical theories enables the Oromo to engage in producing knowledge for critical thinking and liberation to promote egalitarian democracy.
Despite the fact that the development of this theory is mainly based on the Oromo cultural foundation, it recognizes the importance of multicultural and critical knowledge and theories. Without having the knowledge for liberation that develops cognitive liberation, the Oromo society cannot effectively struggle against the forces of unfreedoms. Also, national Oromummaa as a revolutionary ideology promotes the Oromo struggle to build horizontal organizations through dismantling gender and class hierarchies instead of vertical organizations that buttress injustices and exploitation. This cannot happen without creating and building the third level of Oromummaa that promotes a revolutionary liberation knowledge and cognitive liberation. This stage of Oromummaa requires developing an Oromo epistemology and critical social scientific knowledge that promote a revolutionary transformation by dismantling all reactionary forces that hinder the liberation and democratization of Oromo society. On the fourth level, Oromummaa as a national project mobilizes the nation to build its national culture, history, political economy, sovereignty, and ethos that are the markers and emblem of the Oromo nation. Developing this kind of project requires the knowledge of Oromo history and culture for many centuries, critically and thoroughly understanding Oromo and global politics, and predicting and assessing possible scenarios for the future of the Oromo nation.
Furthermore, Oromummaa as the national project empowers the Oromo people to plan about the future of their society. Oromo nationalists not only need to know about the Oromo past and the current condition, but they also need to develop policies that will help them in developing Oromo national culture, ideology and action. Based on the accumulated past traditions, knowledge, and wisdom, Oromummaa introduces an ideological and theoretical innovation and facilitates the emergence and development of new cultural elements. As Antonio Gramsci explains, “Creating a new culture does not only mean one’s own individual ‘original’ discoveries. It also … means the diffusion in a critical form of truths already discovered … and even making them the basis of vital action, an element of coordination and intellectual and moral order.” In reviving the best Oromo cultural elements, Oromo nationalist intellectuals have a central role to play; such scholars must unearth the Oromo past and provide a critical theoretical guidance for the future of Oromo society. Again, Gramsci asserts that “one could only have cultural stability and an organic quality of thought if there had existed the same unity between the intellectuals and the simple as there should be between theory and practice. That is, if the intellectuals had been organically the intellectuals of those masses, and if they had worked out and made coherent the principles and the problems raised by the masses in their practical activity, thus constituting a cultural and social bloc.”
Without being limited by disciplinary boundaries, Oromo organic intellectuals need to form research working groups, study circles, policy advocacy groups and other bodies to critically and thoroughly study Oromo national problems and produce various white papers that can be disseminated among Oromo communities in Oromia and the diaspora through various outlets. The Oromo people have been chained mentally and psychologically by Ethiopian ignorance, evilness, and darkness that must be smashed by the liberation knowledge of critical Oromo studies and human-centric critical knowledge of the world. Oromo organic intellectuals need to develop white papers based on series of research projects that can be presented to Oromo communities on various subjects such as cultural and social capital, Oromummaa and its various aspects, knowledge for liberation and cognitive liberation, sexism and gender equality, democracy and equity, regional and global politics, Habasha culture and politics, Oromo networks and national conventions, leadership and capacity building, Oromo national institutions such as gadaa/siqqee, irrecha or ireessa, religion and religious diversity, and state building and sustainable development. Mechanisms should be developed to encourage particularly the Oromo youth and women to participate on forums, workshops, discussion groups, and study circles.