The inherent danger of Abyssinian extremism and bigotry

Monday, December 12, 2011 | comments

By Gumaa Guddaa

Combination of racism and ideology is a very dangerous cocktail. In the case of the Abyssinians, the combination of their hatred for any human being other than ‘Habesha’ and their fervent cult like belief in the Coptic Orthodox church is unfortunately at the root of all evils in that dying empire.

Listen to the following poem in the Amhara language:

The above Abyssinian war cry in the form of extreme hatred and religious fundamentalism directed against nations that have done nothing to them other than asserting their national identity and claiming their rights to self-determination seems to be not an isolated incident. What is the civilized world to make of this hateful racist agitation against the Oromo and the Somali nations? But, can the world ignore it as an abrasion or should the world look deeper and wider to look for evidence indicating a deeper rooted malaise? Is it an isolated work of someone with twisted mind or a reflection of a culture?

It is nothing more than a rhetoric one may argue. Nonetheless, it is important for every living Oromo and Somali to understand that hatred for their cultures and identities seems to be deeply ingrained in the soul of every Habesha –Tigre and Amhara alike. It appears that anti-Oromo and anti- Somali sentiment is deeply woven into the Abyssinian psyche. Look no further than how they demonised the Oromo Qubee when the Oromo decided to utilize the Latin alphabet and rejected the Ge’ez script which the Abyssinians use to write their languages – Amhara and Tigre languages. The Ethiopian Orthodox church called on all Oromos who learned Qubee to confess their “mortal sin” of attending Qubee classes and seek redemption. Such is the Habasha extremism and bigotry.

The Amhara have been out of power for over two decades. They, however, still dream to return. Whilst we should not be sleepless about Amhara hegemony returning anytime soon, we must be concerned as to what their cousins are doing right now. The Tigre regime in Ethiopia is perpetrating what the above war cry is calling for in a systematic way. I would argue that the ethnic cleansing, in the name of farmland sale, economic and political persecution and extermination of the Oromo people is already happening. The only difference between what is on the ground and what the above propaganda material is agitating for seems only to be the gusto and the speed of the ‘final solution’ to the “Ethiopian problem” – the Oromo and the Somali nations, the two nations to which the above audio makes frequent references.

Who is Habesha? The etymology of the term Habesha is not certain. However, the widely accepted theory is that the term Habesha comes from the Arabic word al-Habash. The Amhara and Tigre peoples constitute Abyssinians. One thing is clear thus far. History indicates that the people known as Habesha immigrated to Africa from Arabia. Axum was in the hands of the indigenous African people at the time of the arrival of the Habesha.

Geography also tells as a lot. They are sandwiched between the Beja people in the north and the Oromo people in the south since their arrival from Arabia, sometime in the first millennia. These two peoples had a common language known as Ge’ez. They now speak Amharic and Tigre languages, derived from Ge’ez. They share similar cultural heritage. They are both warlike. Listen to the author(s) of the above audio and read their history. There is no mistaking their prejudice in the superiority of their ethnic group and their culture, and their contempt for all non-Habasha peoples in that empire and beyond. Why do we not hear this sort of intolerance from Ogaden, Afar, Gurage, Oromo, etc. nations? Simply, it is because, unlike the Habasha, they are tolerant of other ethnic groups and their cultures.

The Oromo are peace-loving people. They have no problems with other peoples such as Agaw, Afar and Somali to mention but a few. They have peacefully co-existed with them except for the Habasha. But, unfortunately, they find themselves in a hostile terrain. Their relationship with their northern neighbours has so far been acrimonious to put it mildly.

Written history indicates that there has been ongoing struggle between the Oromo and their northern neighbours – Abyssinians - since time immemorial. I would like to hypothesize that the animosity even dates back to the first millennia when the immigrant Abyssinians arrived in Africa. It is easy to understand that the new arrivals would have to negotiate or even fight with the indigenous Africans including the Oromo in order to eke out a living.

Throughout out the long history of mankind conflict on resources has shaped the relationship between neighbouring communities. Therefore, the conflict between Oromia and Abyssinia is no different. The difficulty emanates from the fact that the Oromo live in Oromia and only Oromia. The Abyssinians mainly live in their homeland Abyssinia but some segments of the Abyssinian society occupy Oromia to have access to the riches of Oromia. The Oromo have shown their card i.e. quest for sovereign Oromia. The Abyssinians have become aware of this fact. The power balance at the present is with the Abyssinians. This imbalance has placed the Oromo nation at a disadvantage, an imbalance in need of urgent attention.

I have to admit I was taken aback by the depth of the knowledge of the composer of the above Abyssinian call for the extermination of the Oromo. The author of the lyric seems to have done his/her homework. I wonder how many Oromos are well versed with the efforts of our forefathers, mentioned in the negative propaganda poem, including the Raya Oromo, Anole, Calanqo, the Western Oromo Confederacy declaration of independence, etc. The Oromo need to learn history. The old adage says “those who refuse to learn from history will be punished by repeating it”. Especially Oromos in Tinsa’e Ethiopia, Ethiopian Patriotic Front, AFD, and coalition with G7, OPDO etc. political organizations must re-appraise their stand. By the way, do not forget that the Eritreans are Habesha too.

So that you will have a balanced view I would like to offer you the opportunity to tune in to what the Oromo sing and what their aspiration is:

Simply put, the Oromo claim what is theirs. Unlike the Amhara in the aforementioned war cry, they never call for the elimination of nations. What motivates someone to call for the killing of the entire nation requires a leap of imagination to fathom. Perhaps it is the Oromo dream for peace and prosperity that threatens the evil spirit in others. But, do not be deceived by the lack of reason for such hatred. Hitler did not have a reason either.

Finally, one has to think if we could cleanse Abyssinians from their contempt for the Oromo nation. The short answer is may be never. It seems to be a matter of world-view for them. It is actually how they define themselves. So for anyone to be nice to them or force them to change it will mean changing the Abyssinian make up literally in terms of identity and world-view. I truly believe that the only solution to stop this nonsense and spare the coming generation from listening to this sort of venomous dehumanizing and potentially genocidal propaganda is by bringing forward the liberation of Oromia. What ever the Abyssinians think about us will then be limited to their territory- Abyssinia and their sphere of influence. Surely, that can only be a good thing!

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