The Political Damage of a Voluntary Self Exclusion

May 10, 2014

A recent post on the internet showed photos of the first four Ethiopian Air Force pilots that were trained by Ethiopian Airlines. They were named Girma Bedane, Assefa Ayele, Alemayehu Abebe, and Gadisa Guma. There is no reason to believe that the information posted is inaccurate. Based on this very small sample, it is not difficult to guess that about half of the early Ethiopian Air Force pilots were of Oromo origin.

Fitawrari Habteghiorghis Dinagde was one of the leading figures of the government of Emperor Menelik II. Fitawrari Ibsa Guta Gada was another high ranking official of Emperor Menelik II. He later became a governor of Wallaga, according to a recently published book called Soaring on Winged Verse. He owned a large property in Finfinne (Addis Ababa).

The late Ethiopian Laureate Tsegaye Ghebremedhin, who was arguably one of the masters of Ethiopiaís modern theatre, struggled against three successive Ethiopian governments through his art. His masterpiece works of art were staged in Finfinne under the noses of all these governments.

This is but a short sample that shows the high level of representation of Oromos in the making of Ethiopia, whether it is in Emperor Menelik IIís Palace, ownership of property in the city, leading the art of the city, or flying over the city in its airspace.

The preparation of a new Master Plan for the city is reportedly one of the sources of public unrest in different parts of the current regional Oromo State in Ethiopia. Perfunctory commentators about this issue talk about self-conflicting ideas about the Master Plan.

On the one hand, they rightly suggest that Finfinne is an island in Oromo land. On the other hand, they suggest that if this island expands into Oromo country, it would break apart Oromo people into two parts, western and eastern, forgetting in a moment that, strictly speaking, the ocean is both a natural buffer and its wave a potent source of wind that would influence the climate of the city.

By all accounts, if traffic flow into and out of the city were to be measured every day, it is highly arguable that the flow of Oromos into and out of the city would be the most dominant.

Then we may ask why is it that we are not the makers of the Master Plan that benefits all?

In 1991, when the movement of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) was brought to the attention of a wise man, he instinctively asked at a momentís notice what those in the OLF were doing when the Tigray Peopleís Liberation Front (TPLF) marched from way up north all the way to the capital.

Today, many young people are reportedly marching with grievances that their own countryís capital city, which is considered an island in Oromo land, is expanding through a certain Master Plan by shrinking Oromo land.

Perhaps, what they could and should have asked courageously is how to be influential masters of this Master Plan for the island in the ocean without senselessly damaging important public and private properties in places such as Ambo. Not influencing the Master Plan but damaging public and private properties through spontaneous riots, whether by political calculations of inept cadres vying for power or driven into it by agent provocateurs, may not fall short of a political damage from a voluntary self exclusion.

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