Kabajamtota wa'ela hojii koo, maatiifi hiriyyoota OSA, akkam jirtu? Yeroo dheeraaf wal hin garre. Asitti argamun gammachuu kooti. Waltajjii kanarratti affeeramun koo, akka gumaata, ulfinna, gammachuu guddaa naaf ta'e naaf hubadhaDubbiin koo kun, marii hegere Oromoofi aadaa mamsiisaa isaaf fayida akka qabu abdii kooti.

broadbeansromanceΤεχνίτη Νοημοσύνη και Ρομποτική

18 Νοε 2013 (πριν από 3 χρόνια και 4 μήνες)

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THREE FACES OF THE OROMO STRUGGLE
*


Donald N. Levine

University of Chicago


Kabajamtota wa'ela hojii koo, maatiifi hiriyyoota OSA, akkam jirtu?
Yeroo
dheeraaf wal hin garre.

Asitti argamun gammachuu kooti. Waltajjii kanarratti
affeeramun koo, akka gumaata, ulfinna, gammachuu guddaa naaf ta'e naaf hubadha
.

Dubbiin koo kun, marii hegere Oromoofi aadaa mamsiisaa isaaf

fayida akka qabu abdii
kooti.
1




The call for papers for
this conference

The State of the Oromo Struggle: Critical
Investigations on the Challenges & Opportunities on How to Move Forward

adjoins a
protest against
the
targeting
of
Oromo citizens by the EPRDF regime,
alleging

widespread
abduction and imprisonment
of Oromo students and civic organization
leaders
. That
is a char
ge I take seriously;

for years
I have assist
ed

Oromo refugees
who suffered from arbitrary arrest and torture by security personnel of the Ethiopian
Government.

M
y remarks today aim to broaden the subject
to

a
wide
range of issues facing
all
Oromo citizens

of Ethiopia
.

A

topic such as “The

Oromo Struggle” is challenging,

not
only
because it
stirs passions
,

but also
since it can

be interpreted in so many ways.
Most valuable conf
erence themes are of this sort; they generate an ambience
for

hearing divergent voices
. Such themes
consist of

ambiguous symbols, which enable
persons with different understandings to exchange views. This
notion
fits well with
the Oromo appreciation of ambiguous language.
Gerarsa

are full of what in Amharic is
known as
sem
-
nna worq

wax and gold;
Oromiffa
recall the proverb:
Dubbiin akka
lama

Every story has two versions.

Assuming
that
those who assemble
her
e
to consider “The Oromo Struggle” own
divergent
views

of that struggle, I seek to facilitate d
ialogue by
offering a framework
for
delineating
such views. I do so in terms I presented at the 2006 meetings of the



*Paper presented at the 2012 Annual Meetings of the Oromo Studies Association. Minneapolis,
MN: July 21
-
2.

Thanks to Obbo Kadiro Elemo for assistance with Oromiffa passages.


1

My

dear colleagues and friends of the Oromo Studies Association. How are you?


It has been
a long time since I saw you.

It brings me great joy to be back here again with
you. Please know
that I regard this as a special gift and a great honor as well as a wonderful pleasure.

I hope
that you will find my remarks of some use as you continue your important deliberations on
the future of the Oromo people and their wonderful cul
ture.




2

OSA. That presentation (published as “Oromo Narratives” in Vol 14, No. 2, of the
Journal of Oromo Studies
, July 2007) described three ways in which Oromo spokesman
appear to define the present by constructing the past. My comments today focus on
how those
narratives generate ways of viewing struggles oriented to the future.

DIMENSIONS AND TYPES OF ETHNIC STRUGGLES

Before
considering

h
ow these divergent narratives generate different scripts for
“the Oromo Struggle
,”

let me

say a word about what it means to
talk about

the stuggle
of an ethnic group or a people? One way to gain purchase on that question is to
employ a common sociological distinction between the
form

and the
content

of a
struggle. The form designates both the
organizational structure

and the
me
ans

used in
the struggle. Organizational forms include, for example, spontaneous gatherings of
private persons, activist associations, focused publications, and the mobilization of
large communities and resistance groups. The means used
include:
pursuing g
oals in
accordance with institutional norms; opposing established authorities through
violence; and resisting injustice through non
-
violent means.

In distinguishing different contents of such struggles, one might talk about
struggles for political and eco
nomic resources; for social status; and for cultural
identity. My comments here will deal with these different types of content.
To open
up this discussion, I

suggest that the C
olonialist Narrative leads to a

focus on
resources
; the Ethiopianist Narrative

leads to a focus on
status
; and the Traditionalist
Narrative leads to a focus on
identity
.

THREE OROMO NARRATIVES


In my 2006 presentation, I labeled those types of narrative as Traditionalist,
Colonialist, and Ethiopianist. The
Traditionalist

Narrative focuses on the
sociocultural system embodied by Oromo in their ancestral homeland in the south
central part of present
-
day Ethiopia.
It has
always important
for Oromo males to
possess a living sense of the past.
Oromo tradition draws nourishment

not only from
language and culture, but also
from
myths of origins, historical memories, and a vivid
sense of the continuing impact of the past on present events and fortunes.
Ayyantu

time
-
keepers and learned laymen
reckon

genealogical lineages with dep
ths of up to
four to five centuries.


The Traditionalist narrative was embedded in
three
key institutions: the
gadaa

system of generational classes of eight years’ duration; the office of the
qaaluu
; and an
octennial general assembly, the
gumi gayo
, whic
h constituted the ultimate authority
for all groups represented in it.
2

The centerpiece of this narrative concerns the
sequence of leaders installed and the laws proclaimed in
gadaa

assemblies every



2

For a summary of the traditional Oromo system and related literature see Levine [1974]
2000, 129
-
34. More recent discussions include Elemo 2005 and
Kassa 2012.


3

eight years

as far back as the memories of the oldest eld
ers can reconstruct. Its topics
include the influence of previous generations on succeeding generations, through a
distinctive structure

the
gogessa

which links the classes of fathers and sons across
many generations, offering a channel for
dachi
, “the mys
tical influence of history on
the present course of events
,

as Asmarom
Legesse
(
1973, 194)

has so evocatively
worded it
. That narrative

includes discourses about

how Oromo traditions were
preserved among the Boran and the Guji up to the present; and how adaptations into
other types of social system following the 17
th
-
century expansions involved a falling
away from their

traditions. The Traditionalist Narrative

fin
ds

some of
the most
valuable features of Oromo life
today
in heroic

efforts to preserve and sustain those
traditions.

The Traditionalist Perspective on the Oromo Struggle

Regarding

the Oromo struggle

today, t
he Traditionalist Narrative
would focus on
what

is needed to keep the classic Oromo traditions alive and well at a time when they
are being eroded by processes of
modernization
, the sedu
ctions of chemical
stimulants (Fayissa 2012),

and corrosive teachings of Pentecostal
missions.
The
Oromo Struggle becomes a struggle to revitalize whatever can be preserved of the
traditional institutions of the
ga
daa

system and of practices associated with the
qaaluu
. Internally, this involve
s

heightened efforts to transmit those beliefs and values

to coming generations. It also involve
s

efforts to retrieve some features of the
traditions of
gadaa

that have been lost. That such efforts are not futile is
demonstrated by the remarkable recovery of the Gumii El
-
dallo, a historically
important

assembly
that was revived, after a lapse of more than 200 years, thanks to
the leadership of Gada Liiban Jildessa

in 2003 (Elemo 2005, 147
-
62).
This perspective

may

also
emphasize

efforts to reclaim land that is being appropriated by outside
investors.

Externally,
it
implies

efforts to publicize traditional Oromo achievements and to
ensure that the legal and other supporting structures remain solidly in place
.

Such
work is facilitated by the provisions of the Ethiopian Constitution of 1995, in which
Articles 34 (5)
and 78 (5) stipulate that previous customary laws and courts can
continue to function when recognized by the Federal legislature and State
legislatures.
3

The Colonialist
Narrative


While the Traditionalist
Narrative
celebrates the continued functioning of
whatever can be preserved of the
hallowed

practices of the Oromo past, the



3

Such recognition further functions to extend the reach of the state legal system,
enhancing
some of the legitimacy it lost resulted from the super
-
imposition of Western legal codes upon
the living laws of Ethiopia’s diverse cultural communities
(Weldemariam 2010, 68 ff.)




4

Colonialist

Narrative

a notion I adopt from Prof. Merera Gudina

emphasizes the
suppression of pa
st
traditions and the people who bore them
.
T
his narrative
resembles what has been called a lachrymose narrative in accounts of Jewish history,
one that makes episodes of victimization and suffering the benchmarks of their
historical experience. As
described earlier, this
account
says:

In the course of the
19th

century . . . the Oromo were overrun, their
traditions suppressed, and their status reduced to that of serfs. . . . Despite the
egalitarian pretensions of the . . . Derg and EPRDF, the Oromo to this day
remain second
-
class citizen
s in a country of which they constitute the second
largest if not the largest ethnic minority and have arguably become victims of
a disproportionate percentage of human rights violations.

The benchmarks of this narrative would include the martial victorie
s of
Tewodros against the Oromo in the 1860s, the defeat of autonomous Oromo
regions . . .

by Yohannes and Menelik . . . and the consequent appropriation of
vast Oromo lands by Amhara and Tigrayan
nefteññas

. . . They include the
centralizing efforts of H
aile Selassie who carried out an extensive program of
Amharization . . . An effort to redress these grievances was carried out with
the Mecha
-
Tulema Association in the 1960s, but it was brutally suppressed.
(Levine 2007)

The Colonialist Perspective on t
he Oromo Struggle

In

the Colonialist Narrative,
since
the
Oromo experience is perceived mainly in
terms of being victims of a century
-
and
-
a
-
half of unrelieved subjugation, the heart of
the struggle will be focused on resentment against inequities.
Its central
themes

include
dispossession of rights to land (as Obbo Makkamuu Jaatee
[2012]
has
described in detail),

loss of political autonomy, and restrictions on use of the
vernacular language. Accordingly, those inclined to a Colonialist
perspective ar
e likely
to view the Oromo Struggle as a campaign to attain one or more of three objectives.
One
objective
would be a political effort to ensure more adequate representation in
the Ethiopian Government. A second would be an economic struggle to regain cont
rol
of their land. A third would be to secure more resources for promoting literacy and
publications in Afan Oromo.

The Ethiopianist Narrative

In contrast, the
Ethiopianist

Narrative

views Oromo culture as evolving through
a multi
-
millennial process within

a Semito
-
Cushitic cultural matrix, and regards the
Oromo expansions of the 16th century as advancing the transformation of Ethiopian
Empire into a multiethnic national state. In this view, it was thanks to their openness
for adoption, assimilation, and in
termarriage that Oromo settlers blended with
peoples wherever they penetrated. Oromos became Christians in the north and
Muslims in the east; they established kingdoms in the southwest and farming

5

communities in Shoa. Oromos who settled near Gurage adopted

the
ensete

culture and
came to be teased by other Oromo
s

as “half
-
Gurage.” The Otu branch of the Guji
assimilated Sidamo culture so fully that many came to speak only Sidaminya.
Conversely, Guji incorporated groups of Sidamo and Wallayta people through the
fiction of adoptive patrilineal affiliation.
4



At

the
national level
,

Oromo
s

became significant actors. The Ethiopianist
Narrative stresses Oromo penetration of the national arena from the late 16
th

century
on. They served Sertsa Dingil (1563
-
97) in battles against invading Turks. Through
Oromo companions, S
usneyos recovered the throne in 1603 (Hassen 1994). Future
Emperor Bakaffa escaped from the Wohni prison fortress to l
ive among Yejju Oromo
in Gojjam, became

became fluen
t in Oromiffa,
filled
his

court
(1721
-
30)
with Oromo
friends, and sent Oromo fighters
to
control

rebels in Begemdir and Gojjam.
His wife
Empress Mentwab

arranged for their son Iyasu II to marry an Oromo princess, Wubit
(Wabi), daughter of the Wal
lo Oromo chief Amito. Their son

Iyoas, Ethiopia’s first
emperor with Oromo blood
,

assembled a Ro
yal Guard of 3,000 Oromo soldiers under
two Oromo uncles, and introduced Oromiffa as language of the court and imperial
administration. Queen Wubit appointed her kinsmen to high positions throughout the
empire.
5



When the imperial center declined after I
yoas, power shifted
to Tigray
an Ras
Mikael Sehul and then to Yejju Oromo chieftain Ras Ali I of Wallo, who commanded
Oromo supporters in many regions.
6

Ali’s brother and
his nephew Ras Gugsa
maintained that strength.
Ironically, one part of the so
-
called A
mhara homeland

Am
ara Saint in Wallo

was occupied by Oromo for most of the 19
th

century.
From
intermarriage with royal lines
,
7

high positions, and military appointments, Oromo
became central to Emperor Menilek’s project of expanding the Ethiopian state.
Menelik’s historic encounter
s

with invading Italians
before and at the Battle of Adwa



4

This narrative is one that I learned from Asmarom Legesse when

the two of us co
-
taught a
seminar at the University of Chicago some four decades ago.

As Legesse summarizes this
whole process:

The Oromo seemed to assimilate the conquered populations as frequently as they
were absorbed by them. In this process the [Oro
miffa]
-
speaking region of central
Ethiopia developed into a veritable cultural corridor. It opened up extensive
cultural exchanges between societies which would otherwise have remained
isolated and atomistic. (1973, 9)

5

“From the eighteenth century on,”

historian Mordecai Abir notes, “[the Oromo] became
enmeshed in the already intricate web of the country” (1968, 73).

6

W. Cornwallis Harris observed in 1840 that the Wallo Oromo “form the stoutest bulwark of
the decayed empire” (1844, 354
-
5).

7

Royal figures with Oromo blood included Negus Tekle Haymanot of Gojam, Atse Menelik II,
Itege Taitu Betul, Atse Haile Selassie I, and Itege Mennen.



6

depended crucially on Oromo warriors, incl
uding Ras Gobena, Ras Mekonnen
(son of
Fitaurari Wolldemikael
Guddessa
)
, Dejjach Balcha Safo,

Negus Michael of Wallo
, and
Fitaurari Habte Giorgis.
Ras Gobena was also famous for many services under
Menilek, including conquests of some Oromo areas and battl
es against Mahdist
invaders at Hinbabao and Gute Dilie. Before Adwa, Bejirond Balcha served as royal
treasurer under Menilek; after Adwa, Dejazmatch Balcha served as governor in
Sidamo and Hararge provinces. In 1916
,

he played a key role in defeating the
s
upporters of Lijj Iyasu; twenty years later, he mobilized a large force to attack the
Italians in Addis Ababa. The fact that
eminent Oromo figures like General Mulugeta
Buli and Minister Yilma Deressa played central roles in
the government of Emperor
Haile

Selassie

himself three quarters Oromo

simply manifested what had long
functioned as

a multiethnic ruling elite.

The Ethiopianist Perspective on th
e O
romo Struggle

For those holding an Ethiopianist perspective, the Oromo Struggle
is perceived

differently. Viewing

the Oromo as participants in a five
-
century process whereby
diverse peoples interacted to form a multiethnic society, this version of the Struggle
includes efforts to promote awareness of the Oromos’ integral role in building modern
E
thiopia. It regards the issues of scarce economic and political resources as an issue
for Ethiopians all over the country. The Ethiopianists will strive to change the
Oromos’ self
-
understanding, from occupying the status of second
-
class citizens to that
of

players historically essential to Ethiopia’s survival as an independent nation

in
Gojjam and Gonder, at Adwa, in Eritrea and in Wallo, and in Finfine aka Addis Ababa
.


In addition, they will assert their full entitlement to enact laws and build
institutio
ns in the constructive and collaborative mode that informs Oromo political
process. As many scholars have taught us, these include a robustly egalitarian ethos; a
strong sense of communal solidarity; customs that ensure democratic governance;
separation of

powers; and cultivated civility in deliberation (Levine 2007, 46
-
50). In
this view, then, one important part of the Oromo Struggle appears as a struggle to
l
end the resources of Oromo poli
tical culture to strengthening democratic institutions
in modernizi
ng Ethiopia.

ON DISCOURSE WITHIN THE OROMO COMMUNITY

As many of you will recognize, my
depictions of
the three
Narratives and their
derived
versions

of Oromo Struggles consist of what sociologists refer to as Ideal
Types: abstract constructions that rarely

appear in pure form

and indeed, can often
be held conjointly by the same person

but are useful for teasing out the logic of
intellectual and
normative positions.
8

T
hese depictions represent what I believe to be



8

For pure exemplars of Traditionalist, Colonialist, and Ethiopianist perspectives Levine (2007)
suggested

the names of
Gemetchu Megersa,

Asafa Jalata, and Fikre Tolossa as embodiments,
respectively.



7

genuine differences, differences that at ti
mes can generate heated conflicts. So now I
want to offer four considerations that bear on ways in which Oromo holding different
positions on these matters can communicate with one another productively.

Two of these considerations represent
old

Oromo cust
oms. First, keep in mind
that norms associated with public discourse in the Gumis encourage all stakeholders
to set forth their arguments plainly and sincerely. Thus:


Dubbi qarumman dubbatani miti/ Warri qaro qarumman laf keyyaddha
.

That is not the place

for clever talk. Clever people should leave their
cleverness behind. (Legesse 2000: 213)

In addition
,
Gumi

norms encourage respect for diverse positions and discourage
egoistic, disputatious responses.
Gadaa

assemblies do not tolerate villifying speeches
and bellicose rhetoric; they expect participants to abstain from attacking opponents
to score points. In the memorable words of Rophii Kubii:
Dubbin ka gumii/ Murtiin ka
gumii
.

Freely translated, this means:
The
gumi

deliberation is not personal, but publ
ic.
The decisions made here are not partisan; they are made by and for the entire
assembly.

A third consideration is
to acknowledge

living

in a time of rapid change implies a
need to move beyond old thoughtways and
find

ways

to

make all three perspectives
relevant for today. And fourth,
we nust

recognize

that our global era entails expanded
forms of association. More and more spheres of life come under universalistic rather
than merely particularistic norms, and
all associataional forms feel
pressures to
b
e
ome increasingly inclusive.
What might we discover if we

apply these
considerations to each of the th
ree perpectives I have sketched?

Reconfiguring the Traditionalist Perspective

What would it mean to generalize the Oromo struggle for identity within the
T
raditonalist perspective? One way to do so would be
to
understand and celebrate the
gadaa

system as an exemplar of value for all Ethiopia and beyond. (As a corollary, this
could entail getting all Oromo to acklnowledging Borana as the ancestral matrix of a
ll
Oromo culture, of “the Gada system in its entirety and both the great moieties of the
Oromo” [Legesse 2000:171]).

Doing this would also reinforce a claim that recent scholars of sociocultural
evolution have been making: that cultures at all evolutiona
ry stages hold enduring
value and make distinctive contributions to complex societies which include
representations of diverse evolutionary grades (Levine 2012). Accordingly, this could
mean not just preserving the
gadaa

system for its own sake
,

but also s
tudying it to see
how some of its achievements in the practice of democratic governance could be
transferred to t
he Ethiopian nation as a whole

or at the very least serving as a world
cultural treasure if the kind of social

order that human societies coul
d

achieve before
the rise of chiefdoms and kingdoms. For this to happ
en, Boran an
d Guji Oromo must

8

make sacrifices to avoid the temptations associated with
the conveneinces of
modern
urban life.


Reconfiguring the Colonialist Perspective

What would it mean to
reconfigure the Oromo struggle for freedom and justice
as foregrounded in the Colonialist

perspective? For one thing,
it would mean viewing
the Oromo struggle as part of a larger struggle of all the peoples of Greater Ethiopia
for fr
eedom and justice. It would mean, for example, extending the sense of privation
and loss to all those

Afars and Aris, Gojjamis and Gondares, Gambellans and Gurages,
Tigrayans and Tsamakos, and so on

who have residual claims from prior losses
and/or suffer
new grievances under the current regime.

T
o make their claims credible and balanced in an era that is moving toward a
time of restorati
ve justice, it would also mean to
acknowledge actions against others
committed in its own “colonialist” past.
9

Oromo
s

who hold the
Colonialist perspective
might

reconsider the assumption
that the great expan
sion of the Oromo from the 16
th

century onward was
a peaceful movement of peoples, and that it

involved destructive
conquest of civilian populations; brutality agains
t those conquered; and a legacy of
enslavement that persists in some areas, such as Wollega, until
today.

Reconfiguring the Ethiopianist
Perspective

What would it mean to generalize the Oromo struggle for recognition within the
framework of
an

Ethiopianist

perspective? For one thing, it would involve paying
more attention to Oromo figures who have contributed signally to Ethiopia’s national
heritage, figures such as Emperor Iyoas; Ras Ali; Itege Taitu; Ras Gobena; Dejatch
Balcha; Abebe Bikila; Tadesse Liban
; and many others. It would emphasize ways in
which one can take pride in being Oromo and still champion the idea of Ityopiyawi
y
an
ethnicity, especially in view of the countless multiethnic marriages in which Oromo
Ethiopians have participated.


The Ethiop
ianist perspective, moreover, would move quickly to announce
that
meaningful justice for one

group must entail
justice for a
ll.

L
iberating all the Oromo
prisoners is not enough; to be true to Oromo traditions entails liberating ALL political
prisoners. And once that more inclusive step is taken, it can lead to a determination to
band together with
all

Ethiopians to

address the
rash

of crit
ical issues
that face the
entire nation: chronic food insecurity;
malnutrition;
epidemics, not least

HIV/AIDS
;
a

massively deficient educational system; continuing abuse of the rights of women;
the



9

In saying this I realize that I may be saying certain things that some will find disturbing. But
my job as a scholar is to report and anlyze the facts as I kno
w them. As the Oromo proverb
says,
Dhugaan fuula hamtu
; “truth is ugly.” It is hard for all of us to face up to uncomfortable
truths. The great sociologist Max Weber used to say: the task of the teacher is to confront his
listeners with uncomfortable
truths.


9

plight of orphans and underground children in the c
ities;
the despoliation of Ethiopia’s
beautiful lakes; the destruction of her forests; the dependence on toxic forms of
energy use; the lack of a decent nationwide rural road network; the blindness to forms
of Green Technology that could revolutionize Ethi
opia’s standard of living; and the
promise of enabling all of Ethiopia’s citizens to live free of the terror imposed both by
Government agents and by the fear of all against all.

DEBATE ABOUT THE THREE PERSPECTIVES

It is easy to imagine a heated debate amo
ng Oromo holding these different
perspectives. The Traditionalist could say to the others: “You are traitors to the heart
of Oromo identity. You have abandoned the principles and pr
a
ctices of
gadaa
.” The
Colonialist could say: “Both of you are shutting
your eyes to reality. You are denying
the ter
rible wrongs done to Oromo peop
le.” And the E
thiopianist could say: “You are
both
self
-
centered, narrow, and ignorant. This is a time for bold action on behalf of the
larger nation which protests and nourishes u
s.” The debate may get so heated that
each side will want to
tell the other to shut up.

But wait.
Would

that not contradict a widely held Oromo saying


Dubbi baha
hin dhowwan”

(Never close the door on ideas)? Even though you may believe totally in
your own

point of view, do you not owe your brothers and sisters some respect for
what they understand to be true?
Oromo elders say, “
Garaa balladhaa


“Have a big
belly”. Have the guts to listen to something you personally disagree with or dislike.
Even when you don’t like
their

opinion
s

give
others a chance

to air
them.


In broader perspectiv
e,
the three Narratives and their implications for the future
can be seen as
divergent

but not inherently
incompatible
. They
can be seen to
represent, rather, complementary ideas
all relevant
for the reconstruction of Oromo
destiny. Does this
not
make sense t
o you?
Yoo akkana murree, nagaa malee maal
qabna
?

(Would there be anything but peace if we can come

to such and such a
resolution?
)


W
hat stands in the way of moving in such a direction
? I think it is fear,
the fear
that handicaps so much of Ethiopia’s progress. I think here of what a respected analyst
wrote recently about the situation in Egypt:
"The Arab awakenings happened because
the Arab peoples stopped fearing their leaders

but they stalled because the
Arab
peoples have not stopped fearing each other."

The type of infatuation with ethnic self
-
determination launched by the EPRDF regime has serious costs as well as benefits.
The costs include an inward turning in which Ethiopians who could be living
harmo
niously as brothers and sisters come increasingly to turn against one another,
accentuating the atmosphere of suspicion and fear that permeates Ethiopian society
as a whole.

How can

Oromo traditions of courage can hel
p surmount that culture of fear?

Like
m
ost other Ethiopians,
Oromo have vibrant traditions of
marial

courage. Oromo

10

celebrate such virtues in the stirring war chants known as
gerars
a,
quite

parallel to
what in Amharic are called
zeraf
.
It was this courage in battle tha
t enabled troops from
all
regio
ns to join forces in the historic attack on the Italians at Adwa, and to maintain
resistance throughout the period of Fascist Occupation in the 1930s. Remember, for
example, how Dejach Balcha rose up out of retirement and aroused thousands of
fighters

to attach the Italian forces as they were on the verge of capturing Addis
Ababa.


That said,
let me point out that the entire world exists today at a time when
physical courage
on the warpath
is less relevant than something that may be much
more difficult
: moral courage.

As the Dalai Lama suggests
: “
The 20th century was a
century of bloodshed and all of us have the responsibility to make the 21st century a
century of dialogue and co
-
operation.”

The preoccupation with ethnic identity
throughout Ethiopia sin
ce the late 1960s may be seen to promote fear and inhibit
dialogue among Ethiopian groups. So where can Ethiopians turn?

In a

tradition of how to engage respectfully and harmoniously in public
discourse in the Gumi, Oromo
s

offer good lessons in the way of
dialogue

and mutual
respect
.
They strive to live up to the ideal:
hamaa nama nu olchini

“M
ake us not to
hurt others.


At times, pursuit of this ideal may lead to the personal sacrifice; we think
today of Bekele Girba and Olbana Lelisa. At times it may lead to the ultimate sacrifice:
I think of Abuna Petros, who inspired a dispirited nation by defying the Italian
Fascists;

or of Rev. Gudina Tumsa, who defied the Derg and left a legacy of inspiring
spiritual messages.
More often, it involves persons speaking out honestly and
constructively even though they fear what others will say
.
10

Whatever the form of the
larger struggles

take,
I hope the nurturance of
this
dialogical
view of
th
e Oromo W
ay
will become an increasingly prominent part of the Oromo struggle

for the O
romo
people among themselves, and with their brothers and sisters through
o
ut Ethiopia

at
home and in the Diaspor
a
.

Let me conclude with two
evocative sayings. One is from the great 13
th
-
century
poet known as Rumi, who wrote: “A man crawls for years on his stomach with his
eyes closed. Then one moment he opens his eyes, and he’s in a garden. It’s Spring.”
The other is of course the

Oromo invocation of blessings:
Ebbis
. E
bbis
.






10

So many times Ethiopians have said to me, “I agree with what you are saying, but I do not
dare to say so out loud!”


11

Refe
rences


Abir
, Mordecai.

1968
.
Ethiopia: The Era of the Princes
. New York: Praeger.

Bassi
, Marco.
2005.
Decisions in the shade:
political and juridical processes among the
Oromo
-
Borana
.
Red Sea Press.

Elemo
, Ibrahim Amae.

2005.

The Roles of Traditional I
nstitutions among the Borana
Or
omo, Southern Ethiopia.

Finfinn
e (Addis Ababa
).


Fayissa,
Bichaka. 2012. “Borana Pastoralism: Analysis of the Household Economy and
Expenditure Patterns of a Tradtional Pastorilst Societty.” Paper presented at the
Annual Conf
erence of the Oromo Studies Association. Minneapolis, MN: July 14
-
5.

Harris
,
W.
Cornwallis.

1844.


The Highlands of Aethiopia
, 3 vols. London: Longman,
Brown Green and Longmans.

Kassa, G
eremew Nigatu. 2012. “
Gad
a

theory and practices. Paper presented at the
Annual Conference of the Oromo Studies Association. Minneapolis, MN: July 14
-
5.

Legesse
, Asmarom.

2000.
Oromo Democracy
. Red Sea Press.

Levine
, Donald N.
(1974) 2000.
Greater Ethiopia: The Evolution fo a Multi
ethnic Society
.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

______________.
2007.

“Oromo Narratives.”
Journal of Oromo Studies

14, No. 2. July.

______________.
2012.

A Revised Analytical Approach to the Evolution of Ethiopian
Civilization.”
International Journ
al of Ethiopian Studies
.

Lewis
, Herbert.

1993
.


Ethnicity in Ethiopia: The View from Below (and from the
South, East, and West)
.” In
The Rising Tide of Cultural Pluralism: The Nation
-
State
at Bay?

Madison: University of Wisconsin.

Weldemariam, A. F.
2010.
Legal Pluralism in Contemporary Ethiopia.
Lambert Academic
Publishing, Germany





12

THREE FACES OF THE
OROMO STRUGGLE


Donald N. Levine

University of Chicago



ABSTRACT


Assuming those who assemble to consider the “Oromo Struggle” theme own divergent
views of that struggle, I seek here to facilitate dialogue by delineating ideal types of
such views, in term
s proposed in my “Oromo Narratives” at the 2006 OSA meetings.
These comments focus on how those narratives generate ways of viewing struggles
oriented to the future.

What I called the Traditionalist narrative stresses the preservation of a distinctive
leg
acy of
hallowed

values. This perspective call
s

for efforts to publicize traditional
Oromo achievements and to energize the transmission of related beliefs and values to
succeeding generations. The second view, which I called the Colonialist Narrative,
reco
unts the experience of Oromos as victims of a century
-
and
-
a
-
half of unrelieved
subjugation. This produces a view of the Oromo Struggle as including a political effort
to ensure adequate representation in the Ethiopian Government, an economic
struggle to re
cover ownership of land, and a cultural struggle to promote literacy and
publications in Afan Oromo. The third view, the Ethiopianist Narrative, sees Oromo as
participants in a five
-
century process in which diverse peoples interacted to form a
multiethnic
national society. In this view, the Oromo Struggle includ
es efforts to
change Oromo

self
-
understanding, from that of second
-
class citizens to that of players
historically essential to Ethiopia’s survival as an independent nation
, and to move
to
ward

lend
ing

the resources of Oromo’s democratic culture to strengthening the
institutions of a democratic society in modernizing Ethiopia.

The questions of how these divergent faces of the Oromo Struggle can be reconfigured
in a more universalist direction and
be
rel
ated to one another form the subject of a
concluding discussion.