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CAN DEMOCRATIC PLURALISM DELIVER A COMPREHENSIVE SOLUTION TO A

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CAN DEMOCRATIC PLURALISM DELIVER A COMPREHENSIVE SOLUTION TO A

    Proceedings of the 2007 Oromo Studies Association

    Annual Conference

    Held at

    The University of Minnesota Coffman Memorial Union

    Great Hall

    on

    July 28-29, 2007

    Minneapolis, Minnesota

    Edited by Abebe Adugna, Ph.D

    OSA Vice President

    July 2008

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    Table of Content

1. Editor‘s Note ................................................................................... 4

    2. Keynote Speech I ............................................................................. 5

    By Dirribi Demissie Bokku, Matcha-Tullama President ....................................5

    (Read out by OSA President) ............................................................................5 3. Keynote Speech II .......................................................................... 12

    By Zegeye Asfaw Abdi ................................................................................... 12 4. Human Rights Violations by the Ethiopian Government: The Inquiry

    Commission Report ....................................................................... 16

    y Frehiwot Samuel ....................................................................................... 16 B

    st5. Applying Gada Principles in Constructing the State in the 21

    Century Oromia ............................................................................. 24

    By Asafa Jalata, The University of Tennessee Knoxville .............................. 24

    6. Can Democracy Deliver A Comprehensive Solution to A Multi-

    Nation Ethiopia? ............................................................................ 41

    By Alemayehu Biru (Ph.D), Berlin, Germany ................................................. 41 7. The Challenge of Establishing Democratic Governance for

    Development in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa: The Critical Role

    of the Oromo in the Development of Ethiopia ................................ 52

    By Sisay Asefa, Professor, Western Michigan University................................ 52 8. Some of the Challenges and Solutions for Oromo‘s Self-stDetermination in the 21 Century .................................................. 57

    By Daba S. Gedafa, Ph.D. Candidate, Kansas State University ....................... 57 9. Deforestation is Putting Fresh Water Resources at Risk in Oromia 67

    By Tolessa Deksissa, University of the District of Columbia, and Bula Atomssa,

    Metropolitan State University ......................................................................... 67 10. A Grassroots Oromo Organization: Activities of the Saphalo

    Foundation in Kenya ...................................................................... 72

    By Berdri Kabira Mohammed ......................................................................... 72 11. Comparison Of Oromo‘s Gada System With Maasai‘s Age-Set

    System ........................................................................................... 77

    By Daba S. Gedafa, Ph.D. Candidate, Kansas State University ....................... 77 12. Hugo Chavez: The Bolivarian Revolution...................................... 92

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    By Beka Jalata, University of Tennessee ......................................................... 92 13. Oromo Heroes and Heroines .......................................................... 97

    By Kulani Jalata .............................................................................................. 97 14. The Pen is Mightier than the Sword: The Role of Waldhaansso and

    Ejerssa Journals in Promoting and Propagating Oromo Struggle in

    North America ............................................................................. 100

    By Jimma D. Tufa ......................................................................................... 100

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    Editor’s Note

     stThis publication contains the 21 Annual Conference Proceedings of the Oromo

    Studies Association, held at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota on July 28-29, 2007.

    As has been OSA‘s tradition for the last twenty years, I am honoured to follow in footsteps of many before me to present to you, as the Vice President of OSA, a collection of papers and essays discussed during the two-day conference.

    The theme of 2007 Annual Conference was "Challenges and Opportunities for Oromo Quest for Self Determination in the 21st Century". It was rich and diverse in its coverage: it included issues ranging from human rights and democracy in the Horn of stAfrica, to challenges and opportunities for Oromo self-determination in the 21 century,

    to education and health in Oromia, to Oromo entrepreneurship and business opportunities, to women empowerment, to Oromo music and culture. It was also marked by a higher than usual participation of the Oromo youth in the discussion of these issues, thereby injecting a lot of fresh ideas and perspectives into the discussions.

Notwithstanding the rich discussions, this edition presents only some not all--of the

    papers discussed at the conference. Following past tradition, I made a request to all conference participants to send in their full paper for publication by May 31, 2007. Included in this edition are thus only those papers, which were submitted at this due date.

    The papers are presented to you in the order in which they were discussed at the conference. Please note that the last paper by Jimma D. Tufa was presented and discussed during the 2006 OSA Annual Conferencea carry-over from the previous

    year that nonetheless contains useful insights on the useful role that two previous Oromo journals played in the Oromo struggle.

    You will note that this is a new presentation format as well. OSA is publishing, for the first time, its proceedings on a CD-ROM. The rationale for this has to do both with the desire to reduce the financial costs associated with such publications as well as to make it easier for our members to file and store the useful data, research, and analysis contained in these proceedings. I would like to thank Dr Mesfin Abdi for providing the technical support needed to publish it on a CD-ROM.

    Finally, just as the human soul animates the human body, so too the pursuit of knowledge and advancement nourishes the soul of a nation and defines its status. For the past twenty years, OSA has been in the forefront not only of researching and understanding the soul of the Oromo people, but also of assessing its status as a nation. The papers in this edition, modest as they may be in terms of quality and coverage, can nevertheless be seen as a continuum in that worthy effort.

Abebe Adugna, Ph.D.

    Vice President, 2008

    Oromo Studies Association

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    Keynote Speech I

    By Dirribi Demissie Bokku, Matcha-Tullama President

    (Read out by OSA President)

I would like to join fellow speakers in congratulating OSA for organizing its 21‖

    Conference. Above all I wish to congratulate those dedicated officers of OSA who worked to promote the goals of OSA in general. I am grateful to OSA‘s current

    president Dr.Gobena Huluka and all Executive Committee Members for their concern and timely invitation as a keynote speaker. I remain grateful for your understanding the work of Matcha and Tulama Association (M.T.A) and its current executive committee leadership. The current M.T.A. leadership tried its level best to carry on the struggle initiated by Oromo heroes like the late Haile Mariam Gammada who was a foresighted and talented organizer of the Oromo people. I am honored to make a keynote speech on stthe 21 Annual Conference of OSA about the history of M.T.A., self-help Association, and the role of NGOs in Ethiopia and elsewhere in the world. Unfortunately, I couldn‘t

    participated in this conference representing M.T.A. because of the rejection of my request for entry visa at USA embassy. Before I say a few words abut history of M.T.A. and its future plan, I would like to state the historical conditions that led to the creation of Matcha-Tulama, Oromo Nation eldest self-help Association.

    By mare geographical coincidence, Oromos are close neighbors of the birth places of the three Semitic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam). These religions have been competing to get more followers using all means including brutal military aggression. The brunt of the problem fell on the Oromo people and hindered their political, economic and cultural development for more than 500 years. Typical example is the Abyssinian king Zerayakob (1434-1468) who killed four of his sons and three daughters who refused to accept Christianity (T. Mekuria 1951:158). The Semitic

    ideologies forced the Oromo people to reject its Gada democratic system of administration and imposed the Solomonic dynastic rule. They also forced the Oromo (Cushitic) people to reject their traditional religion Waaqeffanna and imposed Christianity on them. The Oromo people resisted the imposition of political, economic and religious system of Semitics by organizing themselves under the famous Gada thorganizational leadership. Of the 16 century‘s Oromo resistance, Gada Michelle‘s

    (1554-1562) is worth mentioning what they did at Dego against Christian army that were supported by Portuguese artillery and at Azalo against Muslims army which were thsupported by Turkish Musketter (Bahire, Getachew Haile, 1997 E.C., 82). In the 19

    century, after European interference, Oromia was conquered and our political leaders (Hayyus), our religious leaders (Ayyantus) were systematically hunted and killed. Oromo‘s invaluable historical, cultural and religious knowledge‘s were also destroyed.

    The young and strong men and women were sold as slaves. Historical and religious artifacts of Oromo origin such as Chaachu, Kaallacha, Challe, and Bokku were destroyed by Semitics religion leaders. They changed names of persons and places to Semitic names. After Oromos were colonized, the self- identity of individuals as being Oromo primarily remained on individual and group levels and any mention of Oromo national identity was forbidden. Oromos identity was targeted for destruction by the colonial administrative regions that were established to suppress the Oromo people and exploit their resources. As the result, Oromo relational identities have been localized, and not strongly connected to the collective identity of Oromumma. Oromos have been

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    separated from one another and prevented from exchanging ideas and information for

    more than a century.

    Gada ceremony at Chaffee under Odaa tree was outlawed. People were forbidden to go to Dirre Muuda or Ardaa Jilaa. Odaa tree of the Gada Assembly was cut down and military garrison were built on its site. They destroyed our Galma and Ardaa-Jilaa. Holy places were replaced by church and mosque (Qullabbil, Dirre Shek Husein). Thus,

    Oromo and Oromumma were systematically destroyed for a century. Ororno elites, who realized the deteriorating situation of Oromumma designed the way out of these difficulties. Hence, M.T.A was founded in 1962. Before the formation of M.T.A., there were two Edirs in Finffine (traditional association to help each other especially on burial ceremony). Tulama is the indigenous clan of Finfinne, while Matcha is indigenous of central and western Oromia. These two major Oromo clans were under one Gada administration under Odaa Nabe. In the good old days, they were competing to take slate power, until the Abyssinian regimes banned the Gada system and created suspicion and enmity between them. The designer of M.T.A. first merged these two Edirs and named it Matcha and Tulama Edir that advanced the formation of wide self-help association.

    Since it was impossible to be organized in the name of all Oromos, the founding fathers of M.T.A. started their organizing projects safely under the guise of reconciling and pacifying these two ―opponent‖ Oromo clans. Under this reconciling guise, they got

    permission to gather people at one place and teach Ororno history for a short while. They also advised other Ororno clans to be organized or to join M.T.A. with the main aim of raising Oromos‘ sell-awareness. The organizers of M.T.A. refrained from the

    use of Oromo names due to the fear of the then prevailing imperial regime. Almost all Oromo clans joined M.T.A. Thus, M.T.A. organized mass gathering in various town of Oromia, and encouraged the Oromo people to build schools, clinics, bridges and road. M.T.A. built many schools and clinics in various places in Oromia. M.T.A. taken as the pioneer of modern Oromo nationalism, has contributed immensely to the construction of self awareness among the Oromo people. The seeds of modern Oromo nationalism emerged among the Ororno elites, who were increasingly aware of their second status in the imperial regime‘s military and civilian bureaucracy in the first years of l960s, (Alana 1993; Merera, 2006). By mid 1960s, the M.T.A.had began to attract Oromo elites of the day and signaled to the imperial regime for the possibility and coming danger of Oromo Nationalism. Then M.T.A. was quickly banned and its leaders were killed, imprisoned or deported to solitary confinement in remote areas. The ideal of M.T.A. lived on and was taken up by Oromo students and the younger intellectuals, who totally elevated the Oromo question by demanding for the right to self-determination.

    During the military regime, M.T.A. remained banned while the imprisoned and deported leaders were released. After the fall of the Military Regime in 1991, M.T.A. opened its office and resumed its organizing project. Under difficult conditions, the M.T.A. continued its work of educating and organizing the Oromo people in different parts of Oromia. The Abyssinian led government of Ethiopia, who was uncomfortable with the rise of Oromo self-consciousness, started plotting against M.T.A. and the interest of Oromos. The EPRDF decided to change the capital city of Oromia from

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    Finfinne to Adama (about 100 km east of Finffine). M.T.A. opposed this illegal attempt constitutionally by writing letters to the concerned authorities, to the House of People Representative, Prime Minister and Oromia‘s Regional Government to reverse the

    unconstitutional decision. In additions, it delegated Oromo elders for further negotiation. But all was in vain. Finally, M.T.A. called public demonstration in accordance with the constitution to show public grievance against the illegal move of the government to expropriate Oromia‘s ownership over Finfinne . In response to thM.T.A call about, 100,000 people gathered on the 4 January 2004 at Finffine Square

    early in the morning. Unexpectedly, police force with armored vehicles dispersed the gathering by brutally beating the people. On the incident, M.T.A. leaders including the president were detained for a day, Oromo elders, Gutu Marga (82) and Mengistu Jalata (73) were brutally beaten by police and dragged on the ground by police.

    This brutality offended Oromo youth. The university student requested to demonstrate against the expropriation of Finffine. Their legal request was answered by detaining about 500 Oromo students in Kolffe police training camp for 24 hours. After very harsh corporal punishment, police confiscated university ID cards and were refused entry to the campus. Since most of them were from peasant family who joined the university from remote region of Oromia, they became homeless. From the 500 expelled students, 347 students became homeless and were thrown on Finffine Street without food and shelter.

    M.T.A. tried to supply these students with food and shelter by coordinating donors from domestic as well as from abroad. M.T.A. supported 347 students for about three months meanwhile it also strongly opposed the inhuman, illegal and immoral action of expelling 347 Oromo students of whom more than 60 were female. It also delegated elders to negotiate about their immediate readmission with the university authorities. This good will of M.T.A. sheltering the students and pacify the condition was also considered crime by Ethiopian authorities. After repeated intimidation and harassments thon 18 of May 2004, police arrested M.T.A. leaders, alleging that they were found agitating people against the government. Police searched the office and their homes and took many valuable documents. While the association leaders were under investigation

    in police custody, Ministry of Justice issued a letter dated July 2, 2004 to confiscate M.T.A. property and its permission was revoked. At the same time, the police imprisoned the guard on duty and left the office gate open irresponsibly. Thus, whatever M.T.A. had was looted including the historical archive, financial documents, registration books, magazines, books and historical canvas paintings of M.T.A. emblem, the portrait of the martyr general Taddasa Birru and Abba Gada, office materials and all office furniture.

    Oromo elders and M.T.A. members of the board of directors accused Ministry of Justice for the illegal confiscation and revocation of the license. The First Instant Court decided in favor of M.T.A. on October 2, 2006. Due to the disobedience of Ministry of Justice to the court decision, M.T.A. was unable to resume its operation. Until now, negotiation is under way between Ministry of Justice and Oromo elders to renew M.T.A. license and enable it to be operational. After three years of imprisonment, some M.T.A. leaders were released on bail on March 6, 2007 with a high probability to be detained again. A secretary and four members of board of directors of M.T.A. are still

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    in jail. Personally, I prefer to stay in Oromia at any risk to continue my obligation as President of M.T.A.

    M.T.A is not the ideal type of NGO or political party. It is a sort of mass and national organization. As clearly indicated in its amended action program, its main objectives are:

    a) To create conducive conditions for the Oromo people to come together, know each other, and exchange ideas on the problems of Oromo People

    b) To encourage Oromo Nationalism, enable the young generation to know about their back ground, language, culture and history.

    c) To organize and urge the Oromo people, to develop their economic and cultural wealth.

Of course as the Oromo saying goes ―Yoo milaan dhaabatan, mormaan sirbuu‖ (one

    has to get where to stand before dancing), the territorial integrity of Oromia is our concern and M.T.A. never compromise on the question of Oromia‘s national integrity.

    That is what we paid dearly including lives of many Oromo youth (Gadissa Hirpasa, Alemayoo Garba and many others). That is why we defended the cause of Finfinne at a high cost, while the fate of Harar and Dire Dawa integrity are still undecided. According to Asnake Kefale and Hussien Jemmas‘ research report of 2006 on

    population size of these cities, ‖ The Harari region is multiethnic which include: Oromo

    (52.3%) Amhara (32.6%) Harari (7.1%) and Gurage (3.2%). Dire Dawa, the second largest city in Ethiopia next to Finffine and multiethnic in its character in which the Oromo constitutes (48%), Amhara (27.2%), Somali (13.9%) and Gurage (4.3%) (Asnake and Hussein 2006-77). Without taking into consideration historical evidences and the population living around these two Oromo cities, Oromo population in both cities is a clear majority. So there is no natural or cultural reasons that justify the alienation of these two cities form Oromia national territory.

    M.T.A.‘s immediate plans are to open its offices in various districts of Oromia, and to preserve historical and religious centers such as Odaa Nabe, Madda walaabuu. Tulluu Mormor Tullu Nam Dur, Dirree Muuda, etc. and to build museum, theater, conference halls, and cultural centers in the above mentioned reserved historical places and propagate Oromo culture and Oromumma among the young generation of Ororno. Concerning other NGOs, M.T.A. welcomes their existence. There are various types of NGOs in Ethiopia with different objectives. Some are religious oriented others are humanitarians or those in tendency for rural development and poverty alleviation. There are different expatriate and indigenous NGOs such as CARE Ethiopia, Oxfam, World Vision, Christian Children‘s Fund and Gudina Tumssa Foundation (G.T.F). As

    Dr. Kassahun wrote ―in a situation where political regimes did not address the needs of the marginalized and the needy, NGOs interventions are considered as crucial in the

    mobilization and effective deployment of underutilized local resources. NGOs arc therefore considered as promoters of self-help initiatives and they are viewed as promoters of local mobilization of communities and group‖ (Kassihun Berhanu,

    2006,84). Among various NGOs operating in Ethiopia the G.T.F. is an indigenous NGO founded in 1992 with a broad objective of serving people in a holistic manner. This is in line with the vision of the late reverend Gudina Tumssa, after whose name

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    the organization was established. Reverend Gudina Tumssa and his brother Barro Tumssa, martyrs for the Oromo cause, were founding members of M.T.A. Accordingly, G.T.F. vision revolves around and contributing towards realization of an integrated human development, the fulfillment of the spiritual and physical needs of target groups (Kassahun, 2006, 87). G.T.F. first encountered with the Karrayu pastoralist who are inhabiting the Fantale Woreda of Oromia Region in November 1994. When consultation was made with Karrayu elders on pressing local needs by way of problem identification, the Karrayu attributed the root cause of their impoverishment to lack of education and thus put the need to initiate a school at the top of their top priorities (Kassahun, 2006:88).

    As cited above and mentioned repeatedly by many Oromo‘s, the major shortcoming of Oromo people is lack of education and national self-awareness and that is why M.T.A. planed to organize a committee of culture and history that will evaluate and reward individuals and groups who worked hard for tile kayo of Oromo. In comparison with our land mass and population size of Oromo, Oromo are unorganized nation. This has to be realized and we should work hard to reverse this condition. In the past, our ancestors were prime example of organized human cultural development and a pride for black people. Because of our unique organization of the Gada system, George F. Carter wrote ―… of greater interest, perhaps is the Gada Republic a unique political

    invention found in Negro Africa. In addition to primitive family band democracy common to mankind and the despotic states simulated by contact with the near East and Egypt. The Oromos invented an age-graded political structure not found elsewhere in the world. In this structure, duties fell upon age groups and men progressed through various groups (warriors, councilors, governors) and were retired as elders and they were respected and listened to but they have no official duties. Few people in the world can claim such great invention. It is at the same level of originality as the Chinese invention of civil service examinations.

    This review, then should remove the picture of African as a vast tropical forest occupied from time immemorial and backward people. Instead, a picture emerges of considerable accomplishments by the Oromo (Man and Land, A Cultural Geography by George F. Carter 1967:158- 59). What has to be stressed and appreciated is that what George Carter expressed remarkably by saying that ―The Oromo invented an age-

    Graded political structure not found elsewhere in the world‖. This is a great historical

    reward to our ancestor‘s organizational capacity. Our previous Hayyus and Ayyaantus had the determination and patience to organize and lead their contemporary society, but hy not us? They were at head of organizational skill. But we are at the tail of current w

    world nations. This has to he reversed by our determined effort, and we shall not remain at the back indefinitely. Our elites have to sacrifices their intellect and material wealth for the sake of Oromos‘ self-awareness. Of course I realize that there are some

    enemy agents or evil thinking personalities in every society who make the organizational works harder than it should be. Even though there are no other ways to emancipate the Oromo people from backwardness, we have to work hard to overcome it.

    Why is the Semitics religion and culture propagated in the Middle East and around the world? I do not think it is due to the quality of thought that is in their religious books,

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    but it is the quality and determination of their organizational network that enabled them to expand their religious and culture. Their religion and culture expanded at the expense of destroying Oromos‘ religion and cultural values. Some scholars wrote about

    political and economic inflicted on colonized people, but knowingly or unknowingly they evade the damage done to our people morale values and psychological make-up due to cultural subjugation. Oromo elite‘s organizations suck as OSA have to pay

    attention to this side of our problem. It was not only George F. Carter who were amazed at former Oromos‘ organizational efficiency, Abba Bahire and Professor

    Getachew Haile had also written the following, ―It was not Oromos becoming majority

    in number neither being blessed to be as many as grass that enabled them to expand easily to ward the north, but it was their organizational efficiency that enabled them to win the contemporary king and occupy the country‖ (Getachew Haile, 1997, 106). Here

    we have to pay attention and learn from the roles our ancestors played by being organized. If we are unable to learn from our past parents organizational history, at least we have to learn from Jewish people who arc still the most organized nation in the world.

    One may strive for personal success, intellectually or for material wealth. Of course attaining that it by itself is a great success in life. But it is an incomplete success unless one gets self-rule as a nation. Until we achieve self-rule, our intelligence remain underestimated by others.

    So Oromos‘ have to strive to achieve personal as well as national success. We have to double our duty to the historical backlogs. If we are determined and organized, we can overcome it easily. That is what is expected from every Oromo. We should not expect miracles from others, we have to participate and do it ourselves. No other man or nation is duty bound to solve our problems, it is we who have to handle it on timely fashion. Thus, Oromos should get organized. Wherever we are, we should get organized locally, nationally and international with the common goal Orommuuma. We shall be organized in profession, in art, in gender and intra-gender and in business. OSA is a typical example of the types of organizations Oromos are looking for. OSA‘s

    contribution in exposing and disseminating current Oromo people‘s problem, with

    possible solutions by issuing timely magazines and books such as the Journals of Oromo Studies are remarkable. In Oromo Studies Journal, Volume 4 number I, Professor Asafa Jalata and Harwood Schaffer have written almost what has to be said about Oromos. What remains is to disseminate it and work for its application. Hence, OSA deserves appreciation from all Oromos. I wish to express my respect and appreciation to OSA in the name of Oromo, the Great Nation of Africa. As the Oromo saying goes ―Akcaakayyuun obboleessaa‖. OSA is an eldest grandson

    of M.T.A. According to Oromos tradition of Oboo-Coora, Obbo in Matcha society, and Qudaadduu-walannaa, Qudaadduu in southern Oromia. Grand father and grand sons are allies, while father and sons are rivalry, in Oromo Gada system. So M.T.A. and OSA are allies.

    The present day young generation of Oromia is in need of materials to be read. Since there are no books in Afaan Oromo except school text books. At least some books such as:

    1. GADA three approaches to the study of African society

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