(By Tedla Asfaw)
The Stream, Al Jazeera’s show, “Oromos Seek Justice in Ethiopia” of June 25, 2013, on the persecution of Oromos hosting my friend Jawar Mohamed at their studio in D.C. including two “Oromo Ethiopians” appearing on Skype. My good Oromo friend Jawar ignored deliberately the Ethiopian Muslims more than one and half year struggle for religious freedom in this discussion. This was well calculated because it will totally disprove Jawar and the others claim of the Oromos as the only victims of Woyane persecution.
Jawar Mohamed who has been sharing a stage with the Ethiopian Muslim Activists and other Ethiopians in the Diaspora many times is now considered himself First Oromo and declared for the first time in public that Ethiopian identity was imposed on him. My friend Jawar if he wants to be known as Oromo First good for him we should call him as such. The problem I have with Jawar is why he then very much involved on the Ethiopian Muslims issue rather than concentrating on “Oromo Muslims” issue.
The Ethiopian Muslims should be asked if they follow the ethnic wisdom of Jawar who they are first. They have to align themselves which ethnic group they belong. According to Jawar statistics of 40 percent of the people of Ethiopia are Oromos then we should see the struggle of Ethiopian Muslims in that ethnic prism. The multi ethnic led religious movement in Ethiopia has indeed shattered the ethnic slogan of Jawar who without shame said that if you speak only Afan Oromo you are thrown in jail in Ethiopia at this very moment.
The Ethiopian Muslim leaders were labelled as terrorists by preaching in Amharic not in Afan Oromo which some are fluent too but for uniting Ethiopian Muslims as One not dividing them by ethnicity like Jawar and his friends did on “The Stream”. Woyane more than 22 years of “empowering people” let freely use their languages in their region but left the land, water and other resources of the region under its control.
Woyane let you use your language but keep on exploiting resources of all regions for itself. Woyane care less for what language you are speaking as long as you do not have economic power to empower you. Ethiopian many nationalities have used their languages at local levels for years that is why they have strong cultural identity.
If we are telling the world that Oromos for that matter any other ethnic group were not using their languages at local level the fact is that so many of magnificent musics and dances we see today are not the product of Woyane’s 22 years of power but years of long tradition and culture. Jawar grand parents were speaking their language and pass it to their grand kids like many parents.
My late father and step mother were fluent in Amharic and Afan Oromo. My mother fluent in Amharic, Oromo and Somali. My aunts speak fluent Amharic and Sidama. Jawar talking about his grand parents persecuted for speaking Afan Oromo is out right lie. Yes Oromo was not the national language of Ethiopia but spoken widely for hundreds of years by all who lived in that part of Ethiopia.
Jawar Mohamed and the other guests whole argument was to let the Woyane Oromia be a State only for Oromos to live and prosper, other minorities should be kicked out like Woyane thugs have done in Gura Ferda and Beni Shanguel. All ethnic minorities in Oromo dominated areas have to submit to the Oromia State. After 22 years of ethnic federalism experiment we are now back to square one. Where is the lesson from 22 years of divide and conquer? Why is Jawar and others argue as if it came yesterday?
I was surprised why Jawar did not provide Al Jazeera with Woyane Ethnic Map to demonstrate his wish for the Oromo people. He should be honest about supporting that ethnic map and work to realize the final dream of establishing Oromia by Oromo Referendum to declare Independent Oromia Republic which will soon go to war with other ethnic group to establish its “international border”.
One of the Oromo guest brought the experience of South Africa. Bring a large coalition of blacks and whites that started reconciliation and ended apartheid. However, if we follow Jawar’s model of Being Oromo First, South African blacks should have felt First Black and redraw a map to have Black South Africa by referendum. Two South Africans, one for Black and the other for White.
Brother Jawar by distancing himself by design from the Ethiopian Muslims struggle for justice in the discussion on “The Stream” he lost good opportunity to be the spokesperson for the oppressed Ethiopians. His love for only Oromos has no doubt hurt his reputation as a young voice of Ethiopian Muslims. I wish I have the wisdom of learning many languages like my old parents to tell him in his mother tongue. But for now I only say I am disappointed by his divisive comments on the show. The wise Oromo people will not be happy with his unwise ethnic rhetoric to say the least.
You can listen to Jawar’s rhetoric below