Amhara Must Abolish Oromo Special Administrative Zones on its Land

Oromo Special Administrative Zones must be abolished


Yonas Birro, Phd

4/16/20248 min read

As I was preparing an article titled “Oromo and Tigray Tribal Politicians are Cancerous,” an Oromo close relative of mine called me and started talking to me in Oromigna. He knows I do not speak Oromigna though I understand bits and pieces of it. I told him: “cut your crap. I do not speak Oromigna.” He shot back: “It is Afan Oromo, not Oromigna.” He is 64 years of age. Of recent, he has been baptized by Asafa Jalata’s Oromummaa crap and often talks nonsense. I told him: “Spare me your Oromummaa hot air and tell me what you are up to”.

As always, he told me: “One day you will find your way back to your origin.” To which I respond: “One day you will find your way out of your Oromummaa crap and reclaim your humanity in its entirety.” I like to remind him that his Oromoness is a dismally small and insignificant part of his humanity. The worst thing a human being can do is reduce himself or herself to his/her ethnicity.

Anyway, the purpose of his call was about some blog I wrote in 2018 or 2019. At the time I advised the National Amhara Movement (NaMA – አብን) to demand the abolishment of the Oromo and other special zones in the Amhara tribal land until Amharas living in the Oromo, Benishangul and Southern People tribal lands are allowed to establish Amhara special zones.

We have talked about it in the past. He asked me if I have a copy of it. I told him it will be easier for me to write a new article about it than to shovel through a mountain of Facebook blogs that I have written, hence this article that explains why Amhara must abolish Oromo special zones and show touch upon my idea on Oromo and Tigray Tribalists are Cancerous.

Ethiopia’s History is Replete with Tribal Warfare

Both my father and mother come from mixed families of Amhara and Oromo. As I have noted before, at times my Oromo ancestors whipped my Amhara ancestors’ asses and at other times their asses were whipped by them as was par for the course of their time.

During those days, tribes did not settle their political and land disputes democratically or file complaints with international courts. They just brutalized each other. The Americans have done the same, just like European before them went through the same brutalization process. That is how states were formed.

I have, in the past, argued that the cancer in Ethiopian politics is the Oromo and Tigray tribalist agenda that revolves around the philosophy of “What I have taken from you by force is permanently mine, but what you have taken from me by force must be registered as crime against humanity and universally condemned.”

The Tigrayan Tribal Political Cancer

For Tigryans Emperor Yohannes, who became king of kings after defeating Amhara throne-holders, is held in high esteem as a hero worthy of historical legend and praise. In the meantime, Emperor Menilik, who retook the throne after defeating his Tigryan rivals, is seen as a tyrannical usurper and condemned as a black-on-black colonizer.

The Wolkait and Raya conflict between Amhara and Tigray is rooted in the same Tigrayan philosophy of “what I have taken from you by force is permanently mine.”

Historical documents during Tigrayan Emperor Yohannes’ reign (1871 – 1889) indicate the boundaries between Gonder and Tigray is the Tekezé River, lending credence to the Amhara position that Wolkait was a part of what is currently the Amhara tribal land. The same was the case during Emperor Menilik (1889 – 1913). Here is a 1907 map showing Wolkait in Gonder

Ras Mengesha Seyoum, a Tigrayan and former governor of Tigray (1960-1974), told the Voice of America: When I was the governor of Tigray, [what is now known as Western Tigray] was under present-day Amhara region. The same was true when I was a child growing up.” 

The Governor’s statement was affirmed by Dr. Aregawi Berhe, the founding chairperson of TPLF, who publicly stated: “Wolkait was annexed from current day Amhara during the TPLF gorilla days. The land was critical to get an outlet into Sudan to smuggle weapons and transport food for TPLF fighters. It was unjust for the Amhara.” 

There are many TPLF founding members reaffirming this, including Abraham Yayeh who in 1982 confirmed W&R were taken from Gonder – aka Begemder – and Wello (parts of present-day Amhara). He further stated the people in both lands were Amharic speaking. 

On their part, Tigrayans present historical maps showing Wolkait in Tigray. There are enough historical maps going as far back as the 16the century that each Tigray and Amhara use to bolster their claims and counterclaims.

Coming back to current day politics, in the 1980s TPLF annexed Wolkait by force and incorporated it into Tigray. After the TPLF took power in 1991, it changed the demography by settling tens of thousands of Tigryans into the annexed lands and made Tigrigna the official school and bureaucratic language. The TPLF squashed peaceful protests, arresting, murdering, and exiling protestors. Those who attempted to file formal complaints to the Ethiopian parliament were thrown to jail.

In 2020, Amhara recaptured the land. It started its own demographic change by expelling Tigrayans and ushering in Amharas. They silenced protest through brute force, including murder.

Tigray’s position is that its forceful annexation of Wolkait in the 1980s must be recognized as a legitimate and Tigray’s irrevocable right to the land, but Amhara’s forceful recapture of it in 2020 must be condemned.

The Oromo Tribal Political Cancer

There are many regions and cities in the Oromo tribal land where Amharas constitute the largest tribe, if not the majority. They are not allowed to establish Amhara special zones. If Amharas are not given their constitutional rights to administer themselves in special zones in the Oromo tribal land, there is no reason why the Amhara tribal land should allow Oromos to enjoy a special right of administering themselves in a special zone.

The Oromo tribal cancer is signified in their demand to have a special zone in the Amhara tribal land while forcefully displacing over a million Amharas from the Oromo tribal land. Nearly one million Amharas have been displaced by Oromo-Shene. Further a large part of the nearly 500,000 people who were displaced from Sheger City by Oromo-PP are Amhara. Let alone having the right to have their own special zone to administer themselves, Amharas are not allowed to live in peace.

There reason behind the forced displacement is the cancer that originates from Oromo’s tribal philosophy of “What I have taken from you by force is permanently mine, but what you have taken from me by force must be registered as crime against humanity and universally condemned.”

As part of their perpetual political grievance, they erected the Anolee statue that portrays a hand holding a mutilated breast. The story behind the statute is that Emperor Menelik brutalized women, going as far as cutting their breasts to terrorize the Oromo and force them into subjugation. The evidence for their claim is a 1999 book titled “የቡርቃ ዝምታ – የታሪካዊ ልብ ወለድ ድርሰት” (The Silence of Burqa: A Fictional History Essay.” It was written by Tesfaye Gebreab, a member of the Tigryan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

The Silence of Burkqa is based on an Oromo folklore about a river that was flowing underground. The story is that the river sank into the ground, feeling ashamed by the people of Oromo who were not able to win their freedom. The folklore was that the river will reemerge, and flow overground, only after the people of Oromo win their freedom.

The utterly disgraceful Oromo political elites adopted Tesfaye Gebreab’s fiction as a real story and insist it is a historical fact. Soon after the TPLF was dethroned, some Oromos started to speak up. For example, On April 21, 2019, Addisu Arega (the current head of the Prosperity Party’s Public and International Relations Office) gave a speech on the topic. He stated: “Time and resources were spent [by TPLF] to create intractable conflict between Amhara and Oromo. Tesfaye Gebreab’s book is one example.”

Here is his statement verbatim. “አማራ እና ኦሮሞን የማይታረቁ እና አብረው መኖር የማይችሉ ለማስመሰል ገንዘብ ተበጅቶ ብዙ ስራ ሲሰራ ነበር። ከዛ ውስጥ አንዱ በተስፋዬ ገብረአብ የተፃፈው የቡርቃ ዝምታ መፅሃፍ አንዱ ነው። Soon after, he faced a coordinated attack from the Oromo political class. Extremist Oromos demanded for his resignation. He was forgiven after he issued a public apology, attributing his statement to his ignorance and lack of experience.

Addisu was not the only Oromo who accused TPLF of concocting the Anolee story. Merera Gudina, the chair of the most prominent Oromo opposition party shares Addisu’s opinion. Speaking of TPLF Merera said: They build industries in Tigray. For us they build a statue, symbolizing a mutilated breast (እነሱ መቀሌ ላይ ትልልቅ ኢንዱስትሪዎችን ይገነባሉ ለኛ ግን የተቆረጠ ጡት የሚያሳይ ሃውልት ይሰሩልናል). Shamefully, this has not stopped him from using the Anolee fabricated story for political gain.

While denying the cruelty and savagery of Mogassa under Gadaa militarism, the Oromo elite’s complain ad infinitum as victims of “an Amhara forced assimilation.” Here are some excerpts of history as documented by foreigners. In the 1924 issue of the Journal of the Royal African Society, Vol.23, No. 90, C. F. Rey wrote:

“[Oromo’s] Gadaa methods of warfare were cruel even for that age, and it was they who introduced the horrible practice mutilating the dead, and even the wounded and prisoners.”

Pedro Paez described Gadaa warriors as follows.

“The Oromo slaughtered many people and carried out extraordinary cruelties, because they cut to pieces the men and many of the boys and girls that they seized, and they opened up pregnant women with their spearheads and pulled the babies out of their wombs. The people of that land therefore came to fear them so much that nobody dared resist them.”

Let us consider what Oromo historians have written. In his 530-pages long documentary titled “The Oromo Ethiopia, 1500-1850,” Mohammed Hasen took note that the Gadaa conquest complete assimilation, requiring the vanquished to stop using their language and adopt Oromo language; disavow their religion, culture and tradition and embrace the Oromo religion, culture, and tradition; and even disavow their genealogical heritage and use Oromo genealogical heritage.

Those who refused to retroactively Oromize their body, spirit, soul, and genealogy were wiped out of existence in a bloodshed. Let us hear it firsthand from Mohammed Hassen.

The Oromo warrior classes which fought with frenzied determination astonished the elite of the Christian and Muslim states and terrorized the populace.

When new areas were attacked, the men were killed, and animals were captured. Probably the killing was intended to spread terror among the resisting population while the taking of cattle booty was to enrich themselves. Once the newly conquered areas were turned into safe bases coupled with the increase of animal population, extra hands were needed for herding the cattle, producing grain, and contributing fighting men.

Most of the conquered people who had earlier submitted with little or no resistance to the Macha, found that they were no longer equal members of a clan within which they were incorporated, but slaves who were used as gifts and commodities for sale.

In “The Oromo of Ethiopia: A History 1570-1860” that is published by the Cambridge University Press, Mohammed Hassen, touted Oromo’s history of savagery, including terrorizing the people, using the conquered tribes as “gifts and commodity for sale”, “open[ing] up pregnant women with their spearheads and pull[ing] the babies out of their wombs” and “mutilating the dead, and even the wounded and prisoners” as “The Oromo genius for assimilation…”

While ignoring their own atrocities, they lament, for example, they were forced to adopt Amhara names and cities such as Adama and Bishoftu were given Amhara names – Nazriet and Debre Ziet, respectively. Shamelessly, they say nothing about hundreds of originally non-Oromo cities large and small that have been changed to Oromo names during the era of Oromo expansion. What is today Kemisse and its surrounding in Wello was called Gegn (ገኝ). Western Wollo including Worehimenu, Woreillu, and Borena used to be Bete Amhara (ቤተ አማራ).

Fano fighters are justified to use armed insurrection to bring about change. They need to be prepared for a negotiated settlement and their preconditions must include:

(1) dismantle Oromo special administrative zones until Amhara administrative zones are institutionalized in Oromo, Southern People and Benishangul tribal lands; and

(2) the Oromo tribal land must cease and desist institutionalizing lies and take down the anole statue. If not let them have statutes showing Oromo Gadaas “selling people into slavery like commodities, “open[ing] up pregnant women with their spearheads and pull[ing] the babies out of their wombs” and “mutilating the dead, and even the wounded and prisoners” as “The Oromo genius for assimilation…”

The Oromo tribalist elite class has not only shown its disgraceful traits but also inhuman savagery. The kind of savagery and atrocities Ethiopia has seen during the last five years is far worse than the atrocities of Derg and TPLF combined and multiplied by many factors, as measured by human life, human displacement, and institutional corruption.

Editor’s note : Views in the article do not necessarily reflect the views of InformEthiopia