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‘Takers’ and ‘Givers’ of Human Rights?

By Mosissa Gamtessa | Ilma Orma

Currently, there is a fundamental issue concerning ‘Oromo first’ or ‘Ethiopia first’ based on the assertion of the Oromo political analyst Jawar Mohammed as an ‘Oromo first.’ I am a person who always feel angry about the lives of my people, like any other Oromo, but I have never participated on any dialogue or struggle yet. Now, the denial of Abyssinians about the very obvious human rights and facts about Ethiopia has awakened me, and from now on, I assure you, I will give myself for the Oromo cause.  I am an Oromo, and my assertion is even different from that of Jawar; I do not know even whether I am an Ethiopian or not. My assertion is not just offensive, but based on real facts. Basically, God created me as an Oromo and I speak Afan Oromo; I am brought up under an Oromo culture descended down to me through many generations. I have been fed with what Waaqa blessed Oromia and much more that attaches me firmly to my Oromo Nation, next to my very parents. This is the basic natural law that is valid for all human beings. The Jews are Jews first; the Palestinians are Palestinians first; the Afar are Afar first; and the Wollayta are Wollayta first; so are Oromo or Amhara accordingly. Why do we overtly deny ourselves while we cheat people for our own hidden agenda under the umbrella of Ethiopia? An Eritrean was Tigre first while they were part of Ethiopia a few decades ago, and they are still Tigre under Eritrea. Why should we deny truth and nature?

There is no natural country or God drawn borders; all are historical and man-made. Countries are bounded by geographical boundaries formed as a result of some historical phenomena. The word Ethiopia in the bible is tactically used by Abyssinian elites as if it relates to the current boundary. It is meant ‘all black people’ in all ancient scriptures and in the bible. If it were the word of God to current geographic location, Eritrea would not have separated, as the words of God are forever. Some historical boundaries change from time to time based on the real existing situations. For instance, recently, Eritrea was part of Ethiopia, but not anymore; South Sudan was part of the Sudan, but it is now an independent country. It is only in 1992 that the once Yugoslavia in the eastern Europe was also divided into Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia Herzegovina. History teaches us that, when people no more tolerate the oppressive nature of a government representing only a certain group, the oppressed people tend to form centrifugal force against the existing system. In this information technology era, we need to open our minds and swallow the reality than digest old and expired pasture. Besides, there is no ‘giver’ of human rights, and there shall no mere ‘taker’ of it. All human beings are equal; ‘Elect of God’ does not function today.

Atse Menelik was the first to build the current boundary of Ethiopia. Before that, Oromo had its own unique Gadaa democratic leadership that changes power every eight years in its own territory. Contrary to this, Amhara and Tigray (Abyssinia) used to live under despotic feudal rule for many hundreds of years. Can you imagine how the two contradictory systems, the Oromo’s Gadaa system and Abyssinia’s feudal system, had ever existed in one country at the same time? Shortly, Atse Tewodros and Atse Yohannes never ruled from today’s Finfinnee and south of it; some do not know Shoa and all other previous Abyssinian rulers never ruled the Oromo land and the southern peoples until Menelik. Wollayita, Kaffa, Sidama, Afar, Benishangul and all other nations had their own kingdoms (and Sultanate in the case of the Afar) before Menelik’s wars of invasion. All of the nations use their respective languages in their respective territories before Menelik. As peoples sharing common borders, border conflicts, however, were normal. They also had embraced their own cultures and identities without being ashamed of them in their respective countries. Let anybody who dare say Yohannes, Tewodros and all Abyssinian rulers before them ruled the Oromo, the Afar, the Benishangul, the Somali, the Sidama, the Wolayita and so on, and lets discuss.

Can we deny this fact or do we deny that Menelik waged successive wars for 30 years, with the aid of large stockpiles of weapons he got from European powers, thereby decreasing the population of Oromo and other nations by half? Is there any person who denies that the boundary of today’s Ethiopia had been a result of the Berlin conference where colonizers drew Africa in their office? Can a knowledgeable person deny that Menelik was an accidental beneficiary of European colonizers in Africa in that he unexpectedly became a colonizer himself?  Do we deny that Menelik imposed the Amhara culture, religion and language on the Oromo and other southern peoples like any other colonial power would do? Do we deny that Menelik enslaved all he conquered and took over their basic economic base, their land? Do we deny that the Oromo and the southern peoples became mere subjects without right, but with obligations to serve the colonizers? Do we still hide that the Neftegna settlers shared the Oromo’s and other southern peoples’ lands among themselves and even the peoples among themselves as gabars? Do we deny that layers of myths were fabricated to sustain the ill formed empire under the same domination, instead of, at least, accepting the background and trying to draw some common measures to form true unity, despite past genocides and atrocities against the Oromo and the southern nations? Do you think this will continue?

Why do the Amhara elites give deaf ear to these very basic facts in this 21st century? On the other hand, they promote the Amhara culture, language and identity to continue as imposed on other nations, under the pretext of ‘Ethiopian unity.’  Why do they insert sticks into the wounds of the oppressed peoples? I think they are not only against basic human rights and democratic rights, but also against unity itself. This is 21st century that information disseminates easily throughout the globe. We are talking about the oppressed peoples accounting for more than 80% of today’s population in Ethiopia. Fabricated myths served in the past, but will not assist in keeping the Amhara/Abyssinian domination under the pretext of Ethiopia in this century.

There was a friend of mine whose name was typical Oromo, and a teacher used to make students laugh at his name that he bitterly refused to go to school during his early childhood in Addis Ababa (Finfinnee). The family itself was laughed at when they requested for a solution, and they had no legal means of protecting their child from the abuse by the teacher and the students. Therefore, his parents decided to change his name to ‘Teferi,’ an Amhara name, which he still uses even if he is PhD-holder today. I know many talented Oromos and other southern peoples who could not proceed with their education due to such discrimination. Can you see how Ethiopia of Amhara is heaven for the Amhara and hell for those who are not Amharanized? Is this a country that represents Obsa, Waticho, Ujulu, Mohammed, etc.? Do I belong to this? This is a timely question for all Oromo and southern peoples to devise a way forward for equality and democracy. I am for Ethiopian unity, but I will never be for that Ethiopia in which I am intimidated under the pretext of unity.

You reminded me of children program on Ethiopian Television where a child started telling story, ‘there was a  … ’ – even under this regime. The child tells only what their parents teach him at home and the media transmit programs that insults half the population of the country. I also recall what an Amhara said when Hailemariam Desalegn was named the Prime Minister. The Amhara held his both hands on his head and shouted, ‘Oh my country, Ethiopia, are you to be led by ‘’? He did not hesitate to use derogative word against the Wollaiyta people in this 21st century. The Oromo and the southern peoples will never forget insults like ‘’, ‘’ etc. and all sorts of their ‘unifying’ words. On the other hand, the Oromo and the southern peoples do not have such derogative words, as peaceful people.

If you travel all the day in Finfinnee or any other major town in Ethiopia, all music, newspapers and the whole culture are of Amhara, generally it smells nothing of the Oromo or the southern peoples although they comprise of more than 80% of the population. There is no single Oromo night club or other southern establishments. If you go to the night club, you may hear, as a chance, a single Oromo music throughout the night or not any more at all. But, the Oromo is still half the population. How can the Oromo feel that Ethiopia is his or her country while facing all rounded economic, political, psychological oppression even if the Oromo Nation accounts for half the population?  Leave alone about rank of either first or second, I don’t feel I even belong in this Ethiopia.

Still today, Abyssinians (Amhara and Tigre), accounting for only 20%, enjoy all economic, cultural and psychological benefits at the expense of the Oromo and other nations. As a result, they need to praise Ethiopia. But what do you think if things were the reverse? If the Oromo values were imposed upon them on their Amhara land? By the way, do you know any Oromo or any southern national who has a single house or business in Amhara or Tigray? But millions of Abyssinians have in Oromia and the south, why has such a big disparity happened? Is it political or natural, is there hidden agenda behind it? I leave the questions open.

I also associate their ‘war’ on Oromo First with the ignorant Dergue slogan of Ethiopia Tikdem,’ to kill all who demanded their human rights. Like the Dergue, they are saying, ‘do not ask for your rights – just keep quite, because Ethiopia is first.’ Imagine a ghost land where the rights of the people is a taboo – never to be spoken of, for the sake of ‘just the land?’ – just keep quite and live the way we designed for you, i.e. the minority subjugating and dictating the majority.

I leave to witness how long ESAT and related Amhara media cover an issue of the Oromo or the southern peoples as compared to an Amhara issue, unless it has some specific advantage for the Amhara. For instance, before the eviction of the Amhara from Benishangul region, many Oromos were killed and evacuated by the Liyu police under the federal army observation from their ancestral lands located deep up to 200km from the Oromia-Ogaden border. But, the ‘Ethiopian’ ESAT media whispered few words for a single day. On the other hand, an observer can witness how long they cemented on the eviction of the Amhara from the Benishangul region. Compare the two situations – one is the Oromo case, where an armed governmental body, the Liyu police, killed innocent Oromos, evicted them from their ancestral land and penetrated for more than 200km beyond the Oromia border, where children and women were eaten by hyena in the forests while trying to escape for their lives – where they were deprived of any humanitarian assistance; and they have not returned yet, and still neglected by the large media today. On the Amhara case, they were migrants to the area in Benishangul; there was no killings, and the issue was raised on daily news updates even after their return to Benishangul. From this comparison, are both ETV and ESAT Amhara/Abyssinian media or Ethiopian media? Because they said nothing about the heavy Oromo casualties.

Recently, many Amhara elites released derogative words and waged war similar to that of the ‘anti-terrorism law’ of Woyane on Jawar Mohammed. I am ashamed on behalf of them, but they have awakened me and other sleeping Oromos up. Among them, a certain guy released an audio on YouTube under the title ‘Jawar Mohammed: Oromo and TPLF parallelism’ – it has a message to Ethiopianist politicians and journalists accusing them of being the reasons why Ethiopia is a failed state, because they work with ‘non Amharas.’

Basically, the YouTube video editor is worried of the politics – probably why Amhara did not come back under the cover of Ethiopia for the last 20 years. Second, he does not believe in dialogue, as most of his fellow Amhara elites. I think this guy is closer to the reality; Amhara should strive for Amhara without any pretext or cover of Ethiopia. Bu, he has to understand that if we all struggle for the sake of one country, let’s put down all the myths, condemn the atrocities conducted upon southern nations under the pretext of Ethiopia and respect human rights without any leftover. By the way, human rights are given by the Creator for all human beings, and there is no ‘giver’ and ‘taker’. I am amazed when some Amhara elites portray themselves as sole decision-makers on the fate of other nations, crying for ‘Ethiopian unity,’ where the Oromo and the southern nations, accounting for more than 80%, are supposed not to have a say at all. The Amhara elites are the ‘givers’ of all rights, and the 80% are the ‘takers’ of rights.

As I would not be a ‘giver of other rights,’ I would not entertain any person who wants to be a ‘giver of my right’ anymore. Rights are from the Creator, and it is not a gift from dictators. All Oromo and other southern peoples should understand the real motives of this – bodily 21st century, but mentally 19th century – people under the name of unity, although they are really against it. Their only objective is to impose Amhara/Abyssinian culture, language and system back on the Oromo and the southern peoples hidden under Ethiopian unity. Let all Oromo and all southern peoples reject their hidden agenda to take us back to slavery under the cover of Ethiopia, instead establish a genuine Ethiopian unity where all peoples’ national, democratic and human rights are respected by ourselves.

* The author, Mosissa Gamtessa, can be reached at


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