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Oromia the home of Gadaa System

Ambassador Suleyman Daddafoo: Bara 1992 akkaataa EPRDF ABO dhiibee biyya baase. የቡዳ መድኃኒት በጀርመን ፍራንክፈርት:: OMN: Gaafii fi deebii Obbo Galaasaa Dilboo HD-ABO VOA: Hidhaa fi Dararaa waggaa kudhiif maatii irrra ga'e.

How determined diaspora fought for democratic space in Ethiopia

Posted 5/11/2019

By Sinke Wesho

Siinqee WeeshooSiinqee WeeshooThe thought of this particular article, it's execution and where the setting would be  jogged my memory beyond the last four years. As I ran the events through my head, names came out flying from the back of my mind to the fore. Every event had someone attached to it. I almost mentioned names and watched them be heroes of events but this changed as the list of names populated my grey matter. I named, remembered, spelled and wrote their correct initials in my head continuously. I then decided.... If I could get away with it, as I can, I shall not mention  names. Thus, I will not go back on my words and my decision and instead,  do the spill on what the diaspora contribution has been on the transition that is making Ethiopia an example in shaking off dictatorship in a more democratic manner than ever before.

When I say diaspora, I mean Oromo diaspora. Of course, I selfishly say that with immense pride. Many on different fronts died for these changes to come by but I will feed the human part of myself and be biased for the sake of truth.

It's May 2019 and we have recently celebrated the one year reform that swept Ethiopia by surprise. A year and a month plus ago, Abiy Ahmed become the first Oromo to identify himself as a member of the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia ascend to pm role amidst the chaos that gripped the country for years. The oppression has been there for us, now counting 150+ years. In the last 150+ years it's only now that Ethiopia got the chance a to write its story differently. The journey has not been easy but the outcome is still an enigma to most, novel and probably noble too.
One that will be spoken about by generations to come.

So, how did we contribute? If you are reading this, make sure to remember what you did at the mention of Ethiopia five or four years ago and add a line to my thoughts. There!........... Done. Thanks. You see what I mean. If you want to add further, place the phone on your lap, sit back, lean back on that chair raise your chin, subsequently your head and look into to distance. Yep. Now it's coming, add the lines.

 If you are like me in bed, dissecting the two noises in my bed, my breathing and that of my little beautiful ever inquisitive niece by my side, put the phone down and look up into the ceiling with your hands clasped together on below your chest. See how many points you can come up with? lots. Don't go off the topic, come back as we have got to finish this up. Geh weiter!

As it is broad I am going to do this, divide this into few parts as we all contributed as parts and built a body; democratization of Ethiopia and beyond. In retrospect, I feel like at some point we were all nutcases. We were all noise makers, behaving like dogs on a rabies-infestation spree. Thinking back I feel like insanity began to be part of our life such that sleep deprivation became a routine, a habit. I can promise you we all lost our sleeping pattern five years ago and all became  Facebook heroes and heroines despite the fluctuating  stats in the likes and dislikes. The clout fed the struggle. Some of us made it worth, some of us made it work. For some it was a field to choose to play in, whilst for others it became a  place to have to be in, we all became social activists. Did it work? Damn yes! Even Abiy's office uses Facebook and Twitter to communicate with the world.
Ergo, social media activism became a thing, and that's how pretty much dictatorship in Ethiopia landed on it's rotten ass.

Undoubtedly, not everyone was keen on sharing posts, links or those gruesome pictures on Facebook or twitter.  Some have been there themselves and seeing the images were strewn around on public media for the world to see was like 're-living' decades in the Ethiopian gulags. It was too painful but they knew the truth more than us. These are generations before me. If Ethiopia meant home, they wouldn't be here. So they tuned into OMN and sometimes absent-mindedly scrolled through the Facebook pages of the prominent individuals, secretly wishing that nobody knew the humiliation they went through for being who they were, a particular ethnic group.

But they didn't wallow as most would. Instead,  they did something,  and formed the backbone of this change when it came to raising funds and channelling the money to different emergency needs. They held those placards and posters and went out protesting come rain come sunshine. They were relentless and enduring.  They put a strain on their family times and finances and made Oromia a priority. Relationships were put on the line. Look back and remember how your wives felt when you attended those endless meetings or fundraisers. They were testing times as one had to handle the kids and the other had to handle the country. You were both in it.  Was it worth it? Yes, thumbs up to yourself because you have saved a generation from dying at least for thirteen months now.

Then came the organisers. These are the informal call centres. They mostly were on committees and made the arduous calls to set up agendas, book meeting venues, send reminders and collect money. They "nagged" everyone but they made a huge difference. These  were the sales force. These are the self made marketing managers and what makes me sad is that no modern corporate world will make use of them. These innate skills that they honed during at times like this will remain not utilised by global institution like the financials, media houses, government bodies and real estates. Such a shame!
These groups churned both money and ideas out of the society and helped Ethiopia become what it is today.

Then came the door knockers with extreme confidence. These are the ones that claimed to be Oromo in every space they stepped in. They wore Oromo and spoke so loud of Oromumma in every other language than Afaan Oromo. They breathed and danced these Oromo whatever. They are mostly the younger ones who were mostly born in diaspora or left home young. They too carried responsibility about this in the name of standing for equality and gradually gained the legitimacy they lacked earlier on. These ones wrote endless letters and latest  briefs, contacted politicians in their area, talked to special interest bodies and human rights groups in their vicinity and abroad. They were often detached from their parents or the Oromia their parents talked of but they identified so much with the "QEERROO" that they knew little of back home. These ones at times didn't even know how to sound the letters of their birthplace or the villages their parents hailed from. But tell you what, the passion and pride of who they were as Oromo overflew the cup always. It was bouncing off and it was infectious. They fought hard using all their connections and knowledge to highlight the factors that led them to be called "diaspora". They shook tables and made their voices, heard, loudly, and clearly.

Then came those ones. The ones that you always expected. You were mad to not expect them and sick to see them, the minute they strode through that door. They came in all shapes and sizes and ages too. They looked strange and out of place but obsessively possessed the spaces, announcing their presence. Their "arrogance" and in your face aura excerbates  you, they stride into your space and at times slide into your personal messaging world and push you off the rails. They are highly opinionated, will raise their hands promising to say so little but in true African fashion, say so much. When they notice your patience has ran out they will conclude  their point with a colloquial expression that paralayzes your Afaan Oromo and makes you run for your plan A,B,C and often D. They were 'harsh' in their judgements.  They were the time wasters, turning up late or too early, with something to say always and often , often it was too hyperbolic, not so  true to you or most often just to oppose you. The usual critics. We all dreaded them! You closed your eyes for a minute when you sighted them. Aaah! Those ones! Yes those people that you were at loggerheads with or those ones that argued with everyone including themselves are the ones that shaped us so well. They wailed from within and the pain was too real for them, it didn't look like that to us all then, but you might now want to think otherwise . Because guess what? They are the reason why you are good at what you do today. The all time critics. They are the best and they sharpened us, motivated us so indirectly, giving us thicker skins as a result. Ask yourself how you would be if you didn't have someone to tell how "wrong" you were the first time. Those ones are vital, as they contributed in the most invisible ways.

You know what's hilarious? The elders and  religious leaders. They had a way of bringing us all together. Somehow that blessing at the genesis of  and at the end of those meetings made us stick together. They normalised everything at the end of it all. The noises, the wrong words, slips of tongues and all offensive attacks kind of got washed out after it all.
And dear reader/s that's how we changed Ethiopia from a prison to a country in the making.