The darkest periods for Borana
The leadership of “Abara Ayele’ and the consequent demise of good governance in Borana zone
In 21st century, the era of so-called nascent “democracy & democratic leadership”, good governance is central to the political administration. As such, at the place and situation where this could be realistically exercised, it is time to move from dark to light. The good governance heavily depends on the whole processes of administration, socio-economic developments, political situation, and so on. Therefore, for a government, the situation of its governance to be identified as ‘good/democratic’ or ‘bad/undemocratic’ is contingent on the level that it practically exercises the principles of good governance/democracy. This mean, it is dependent on the acts of fairness, equity, impartiality, diversity, transparency, self-governance, accountability, responsibility… that the government owes its citizens and people in the distributions of leadership roles, socio-economic developments, political conditions and etc.
It is from these grounds that we are trying to reveal the realities of how the Borana land and people have been treated by its current administration. Hence, we focus on Abarra Ayele’s leadership across time by critically discussing his performance in executing the aforementioned principles of good governance as clearly proclaimed by the Ethiopian government. Thus, we believe that this will be a sort of “fact finding” about the years aged darkened and foreshadowed life of the Borana people. We also hope that this would give a sense of direction for the higher level government structure and all concerned bodies to look into the things and find the ways for reconsidering the issue of good governance in Borana land and other areas with the same problems, above all for its reputation.
History of Abarra Ayele in the administration of Borana zone: The dark periods
It is known that Abarra was born and brought up in Borana land, at the Miyo district. His family is one of the people who are benefiting from and living on the fertile land of Miyo since their history in the area. Thus, the mother land expects the vision of development from its children, like Abarra, who have got better opportunities to realize such an expectations. However, the situation with Abarra is different and opposite. He had been worked at the prominent positions in the government politics since the beginning of Derg regime to the present just in Borana land. Throughout these all periods, his vision and actions towards this land have been only evil thinking and deeds. Therefore, the major concerns here are ‘what did the Borana land do to this gentle guy? How does a human being think and commit the unethical acts of sin and tyranny to the land on which he was born and grown up? How does a healthy person sell and rent the land on which his children and grand children are to be blossomed? If perhaps we human may forget, the history would not forget such a dead legacy of Abarra. The following is the descriptions of his deeds while serving on three prominent positions in the administration of the zone within this regime.
1. Abarra as government security in Borana zone: His notion as being ‘Jesus’ (Abarran Yessoo)
Most of the evil deeds of the Abarra within just this regime are unforgettable. Above all, the period during which he was working as the government security in this zone (Borana) was dreadfully tough time for Borana. The history recorded that many people including Borana and others were arrested, beaten, kicked and robbed by Abarra without any justifiable reasons. Even if the reasons might have been existed; a democratic law does not allow his robbing and kicking human being to the death. Worst of all, many were killed, yet unforgotten, by the order of Abarra. He managed to have done these all inhuman actions to the innocent people attributing to the false premises related to the Oromo Libration Front (OLF). During this time, the most critical contribution he made to the zone was putting the black curtail between the government and the Borana community by falsely ascertaining that all the Boranas were OLF supporters, which was the arranged fault against the Borana. However, the hidden fact is that it was confirmed that he had a very strong relation with OLF as much as he had with his government party; a relation that exists even today, but yet remained uncovered. Above all, Abarra was famous for his nature and acts of cruelty and corruption while sinfully exploiting the property of the communities. Because of such feudal orientations, he used to be called literally “Abarraan yeessoo”, meaning “Abarra is Jesus”. This showed that he acted in a ways and determined himself as a human superior to others and God of people by using and abusing the power vested in him by the government. Anyhow, in spite of his scared deeds against humanity, he was promoted to the higher position, zonal peace and administration office head in this very zone (Borana). This allowed him to continue the same unjust deeds but with higher extent and more power.
2. Abarra as Borana Zone Peace and Administration Office Head (Itti gaafatamaa Wajjira Bulchiinsa fi Nageenyaa): His notion as “Habalakki”
Although he changed the position, Abarra did not change his in-born behavior of corruption, and nepotism and, hence continued to reflect it in several ways. Though his assigned duties were keeping the already fragile peace and ensuring the peaceful co-existence among the ethnic groups, he kept on igniting the fire among them and thus worsening the situation. He worked not only on aggravating the instability by colliding ethnic groups (like Borana, Gabra, Guji…), but also on favoritism for one group at the expense of collecting the benefits. He was always stood on the side and made the decisions in favor of a group that managed/afford to provide him better amount of money, regardless of the investigation based actions.
However, this was difficult condition for both giver of the money because it harmed them financially, and the other party too because they lost their dignity and disfavored for not have given the money to Abarra. Here, some of the robbery actions he had done on the communities during the conflicts are still in the fresh memory of the people. Whenever the conflicts have risen between two of the tribes, he used to collect back the livestock looted from one of the tribes by the other and sell for himself. However, he had never given back the looted livestock to the looser tribe. Among other, this can be exemplified by the recorded case that he collected from the looters and sold about 18 camels of Gabra’s taken by Guji, and 12 cattle of Guji’s taken by Borana counterparts during their respective conflicts.
His corrupted actions and decisions by then had annoyed all the people dwelling in the zone, not only the Borana. Thus, this was a period when Abarra was nicknamed “Habalakki”, after his act of rent seeking (money collection). Having done these, he left the damaging legacies to the people. This pushed the communities to have taken the combined effort and appealed to the concerned government bodies at all zonal, regional and federal levels. The community’s appeal, at the last, reached the highest level whereby the community representatives from all Gabra, Borana and etc, brought their complaint against his injustice and corruption to the office of Late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. As a matter of fact, the measure was taken against him whereby he was removed from the position of zonal peace and administration office head. He was later transferred to West Arsi zone, Shashamene, by demotion at the communication office. Similarly, we had the true information that, there too, he continued repeating his rent seeking conducts. However, there he couldn’t succeed where he finally scored “C” mark in the performance evaluation.
On the other hand, during stay at West Arsi Zone (right from his demotion from Borana zone), he kept on working on the politics of the Borana zone. in a hidden way towards destructing the unity among the people and perishing performance of the zonal leaders came after him. He did this by putting legs on and collaborating with some rent seekers with whom he had common objectives of corruptions at both zonal and Oromia level government officials. It was the output of such organized efforts that in turn have resulted in the serious conflicts and clan-based divisions among the Borana people themselves. As Abarra is already one of the legitimate and key individuals belonged to “Karrayyu” clan of the Borana, he was one of the founders and the front-runners of the group struggling against the leading one at the time. This finally ended-up with the removal of Boru Godana and almost all of his cabinets from the zonal administration and the then appointment of Kanu Jillo and his selected cabinets. Beyond that, Abarra’s invisible, yet divisive hand and struggle for power was not absent from the factors contributed to the arrest and the then resignation of Kanu Jilo (zonal administrator) and his (Abarra) appointment as the Borana zone administrator, the evil return.
3. Abarra as Borana Zone Administrator (Bulchaa Godinaa): The current notion of Oppression
First and above all, appointment of Abarra as the administrator of Borana zone, while there were many capable elites of Borana, is the clear denial of the right to self-governance. This act, however, is completely the violation of the democratic right owed by the country’s constitution. In so far, it was the hope of the community that if one administrator is removed due to inability or whatever conditions, then government would have appointed a better-off and visionary leader. Instead, it became unpromising that Abarra, the already known hyena, was brought to the zone. Though, for him, it was like providing hyena with a meat; it was however heart breaking news for the communities who was expecting someone better, particularly the Borana people who thought to have the right to self-governance. Above all, given the fact that the government’s ears and eyes are much wider, deeper and sensitive than ours, the question as to how it failed to understand the situation and repeated the same mistake remained intact yet.
As the fact goes, the current phase of Abarra’s administration has been remarkably the darkest period where the life of the Borana community turned to a black-hard situation. The Abarra’s leadership has shown unfinishable series of undemocratic acts that completely dehumanize the communities of the Borana zone, though dependent on the ability and willingness of each community to fulfill his perennial pecuniary. Alarmingly, the current plans and strategies of Abarra differ from the historical one. The things now went beyond mere collection of money and consequent bias of all kinds of decision-making along the line of his benefits. The present actions against Borana tribe have been proved to be terribly horrible and the consequences would also not be less than well-organized ethnic cleansing, unless preservation measures are taken immediately. Anyhow, unable to tolerate anymore, we are obliged to outcry some of the critical points of concern that have continued burning our inside and remained perpetual fear to our survival. These are the organized movements and coalition from multi-direction that have been launched against the Borana by Abarra and his intimate collaborators.
Ukur Yattani has been interested in searching legitimate land on which he planned to merge and settle both Ethiopian and Kenyan Gabras by removing the Borana from its land using the joint effort of “REGABU” (stand for Rendila, Gabra and Burji) that he established during Kenyan public election of 2013. On the other hand, Abarra has been interested in expanding the “REGABU” outfit into Ethiopia, Borana zone, sharing the experience of Ukura and organizing the Gabra and Burji against Borana. They set some common objectives out of these interests;
1) Cutting the interaction and inter-assistance between the Ethiopian and Kenyan Boranas during the arranged conflict
2) expanding REGABU to Ethiopia, Borana zone and fostering the interaction and assistance between the Gabra and Burji of both Ethiopia and Kenya
3) Using their army forces of both sides against the Borana during the conflict between Borana and GABU (Gabra and Burji) in the name of attack against OLF. This was what exactly happened in Kenya few months ago that joint militia of Burji and Gabra attacked the Borana.
Surprisingly, there was clear information that Abarra and Ukur were met in Moyale Koket Hotel during that conflict where Abarra was given big amount of money (about 1 million birr). The gift for him was due to his performance against Borana for preventing Ethiopian Borana to cross the boarder and provide support, while GABU’s were allowed to cross and support their Kenyan group on one hand, and his attempt, but failed, work of sending Ethiopian military force in to Kenya to attack Borana by false justification as against OLF. In Borana zone, currently, the expansion of REGABU from Kenya has now proven its existence in the way that Burji and Gabra have created strong union. Here, their movement led by the ethnic traders such as Shilte Adola, Gobe Kato, Tele and etc. However, it is amazing that Shilte, who is now leading the anti-Borana movement was once condemned his being Burji and assimilated by the Borana “Hawatu” tribe where he lived long participating in the entire life situations of the Borana including “Buusaa-Gonofaa.
Anyhow, since the beginning of the movement, Burji engaged in several irrefutable actions to show disagreements with us, that were however never experienced before. These include, for example, unacceptable claim for land for more than 70 peoples at one place in Yaballo town that they are planning to bring people from “Gara burji and settle on. They also engaged in killing Borana men in hide (for example at Mega), punishing their people who support and respect the Borana and its culture, and etc, among others. They recently,Burji, shared the agricultural land at the locality called “Sagan” located between Borana zone and Burji land of SNNPR (Southern Nation and Nationality people’s Region), among themselves and reserved some for Gabra to settle with their camels, but excluded the Borana. While sharing the land, they took over also some part of the Borana land which would intensify the conflict between the two communities. Here, they are collaborating with self-distracting greedy man of Borana, Kiyo Boru (the now administrator of Taltalle Woreda), who has been selling the land of Borana. Fantastic enough, it seems that our Burji comrades have forgotten the long aged benefits they had been driving from Borana land, whose results nowadays had made many of them to have proud and claimed to be richer than the fellow Borana.
Gabra and Burji have now one slogan in common which shows their union against Borana; it says “Burjii warra gaaraa, Gabra warra gaalaa, nu ilmaan garaa haadhaa waliin Boorana haana”. As the fact goes, they are arming themselves towards this end. Finally, they collected the contribution of money from every individual and wherever they are in the world, of which large proportion is given to Abarra and other critical peoples. Beyond that, they passed their institutional decision to their entire community to buy the weapons ranging from pistol to sophisticated machine guns for the sake of movement against the Borana. In fact, nothing of these ongoing miracles is hidden from the zonal government, yet no attention is given to it at all.
Moreover, in so far, there has long been quest from Wata (now, Wayu Oromo) group to get rid of the name “wata” and related unethical views and exclusions, but not claim for independent ethnicity. Thus, the quest has finally got the answer whereby the Borana people also agreed at General Assembly and stopped all the things, despite the fact that the name is scar. However, the current wave of movement is associated with the appointment of “Abarra” that prepared the ground for the interest group, like Elias, who is leading the movement at broader scale. He intensified the campaign collaborating with Abarra & Wakayo in Borana zone and Gada Robe in Guji zone. In fact, although the previous quest was the question of right and dignity, the current re-appropriation into ethnicity claim is a systematically organized politics to disunite and divide the Borana community. In Borana zone, the Wayu movement has been headed by Wako Godana, self-exposed ethnic broker, for pocket filling. Hence, the involvement of Abarra in Wayu movement can be justified by the fact that he provided Wako Godana with a pistol as witnessed by many people. Beyond this, the receiver of a pistol used to show-off and terrify the Borana counterparts with the illegally owned pistol.
It is irrefutably true that there are similar classes of this kind (Wata) in every community across the world, including other Ethiopian nations, not only Borana. Thus, if for instance, all of such classes/groups will have such claims, then we can imagine of how many ethnic groups are to be emerged in Ethiopia. Wako has now co-opted himself and the movement into the already well-organized Gabra-Burji movement. Moreover, nowadays, the representatives of the movements convened and merged themselves and took up the name “WAGABU”, which stands for Wayu, Gabra and Burji. Then after, they have regular meeting that discuss on the mission and action of the movements against the Borana. Above all, they showed disagreement with the pan-Borana decisions of drug-idiosyncrasy, the ban of alcohol and chat consumption, with the aim of defaming the decisions, which was however appreciated by all the positive thinkers.
In Guji zone, Gada Robe, the zonal administrator, has long been working evil deeds against the Borana community living in the zone. Some of his plans are, to take over the Borana land by removing the Borana through the united force of other ethnic groups who are in need of land; to annihilate the name “Nageelle Borana” out of the zone and disapprove its uses in any aspects and businesses; and to ensure his hegemonic rule of superiority over the Borana living in the zone. To these end, he has been organizing several ethnic groups of region five (Somali region) such as Garri, Mariana, Dogodi, Wayu, and etc against Borana in collaboration with Wakayo Halake and knowledge of Abarra. The evidence spoke that it was several time that he called-up and held meeting with these groups, except Borana and Arsi people under the zone.
Nevertheless, we didn’t have thought that Gada, our Oromo brother, chooses to organize people of other region and launch war on us. Above all, the current version of Wayu’s claim was thought to have initiated and continuously backed-up by certain crucial individuals from our Guji brothers. Some of these individuals, for example, have made a speech during the Wayu’s conference at Nagelle Borana and expressed their happiness to have seen the fruit of their work. This is, in fact, like a ‘dream that turned into nightmare’ that the brothers we think would help us in such aspects have turned side to us. Yet, I wonder whether the Wata class of the Guji has got such independent identity from Guji, before our Guji comrades ventured into liberating Wata class of Borana.
The final step of Gada was the immoral action that his struggle has done away with the clearing/removal of every piece of writing with the name “Nagelle Borana” from entire signboards and visibilities in the town. His biased view towards Nagelle Borana town is not only this, but sinful performance of de-growing the Nagelle Borana town while exclusively developing their districts is also another concern. On the other hand, Guji comrades divert the development projects and institutions (example-University) promised for Borana zone to their woreda towns by purchasing by the cash in hidden way. There is hitherto ongoing rumor that the construction of ‘dry-port’ proposed at Yaballo, zonal capital, is also under systematic processes of shifting towards Bule-Hora town. We heard from the government that there is no such plan. However, if in case it will found true, would be a death-knell for us and might have a damaging impact on the future prospects of the relationship between the government and all inhabitants of the Borana zone. By this is not to mean that Guji should not develop their land or not because we are jealousy about Guji’s development, but we mean that it should not be at the expense of taking the advantage (opportunity) of others (Borana). We all need to understand that everyone equally desire and deserve change and development as human.
The Way forward and the call for attention
According to the Ethiopian constitution, each community has the right to self-governance. Had it been decided on our choice, we wouldn’t have suffered such frustrating problems from Abarra’s oppression resulting from the denial of this right. Anyway, we urgently call the concerned government body to reconsider this right and answer our question to govern ourselves. The government representative, the tyrant Abarra and his collaborators are cruelly working towards ending our existence. This, we think, is not the mission of the government but against the political trajectory of the government while damaging its reputation and legacy. Thus, we (the Borana) shall in no way accept and tolerate to continue with Abarra and his cabinets who participated in the actions. Thus, we call the government and any concerned bodies to take action and reach us as soon as possible. Otherwise, we would take our own actions to the best of our efforts.
We did nothing to any of the communities (ethnic groups) who are moving against us and arming themselves to launch the war against us. We would call them to stop their mission and movements. Otherwise, we are ready to take any possible actions to defend ourselves and save our lives. We Borana have never lived on and taken the land of other bordering ethnic groups, nor do we have a dream to take any. Reversely, we have already lost many of our favorable and fertile lands and wells (Tullas) therein (with cultural values) that, today, are owned by neighboring tribes (for example Garri). Yet, many of our lands (both rural and town) are under forceful claim by the currently striking ethnic groups and in the process of being sold to them by the biased administrators, while we were looking for peace and love. However, we still need peaceful coexistence, but enough with letting our land to be sold to and taken by anyone, because land would be the parts of legacies that we would pass on to next generations.
Anti-Borana Missions: Common but differentiated action plans for mutual benefit
In fact, the people engaged in anti-Borana mission (Abarra and his collaborators) have common but differentiated action plans of their own centered on special interests. It is common action because it collaborative way of suppressing the Borana to reach the point of no return, which otherwise would hardly be possible to achieve by the divided efforts. It is differentiated action because every individual on behalf of their respective ethnic have their own self-interests to gain which might be different from those of others. Furthermore, Abarra calculated that the collective actions and strategies by each ethnic group to gain their respective interests under his support as the best opportunity, would highly contribute to the success of his project and the then achievement of his objectives.
Abarra’s objectives, strategies and collaborating members (rent seekers and ethnic traders) Abarra has set out four major objectives of his own to fulfill his self-interest hidden behind the veil of the government duties assigned to him. These include;
- To revenge for previous complaints and struggle against his injustice and his consequent demotion (conspiracy)
- To sustain himself (stay longer) with the administration
- To create the safe and smooth way for corruption (illegal money collection)
- To defame the recent unity and Pan-Borana decisions on peace building and drugs (chat and alcohol) control
Moreover, to achieve his unacceptable self-centered objectives, he applied some sort of rudimentary strategies and actions of denigrating this innocent community, the Borana. These strategic actions, among others, are: collaborating with critical group of interest and rent seekers; dividing the Borana themselves and weakening its power; excluding the Borana from the entire governance and decision making roles; organizing other ethnic groups against the Borana by fulfilling their interests. The following are the details of each strategic action they took against us.
i) Collaborating with critical group of interest and rent seekers
Towards achieving his objectives, he collaborated with strategic politicians, with whom he had mutual benefits, from selected ethnic groups at different levels and directions. These include Ukur Yatani (Gabra) from neighboring Kenya; Elias Guyo (Wata) from Addis Ababa; Wakayo Halake (Guji) from Borana zone and Gada Robe (Guji) from Guji zone, at the higher level. Connected to these critical anti-Borana collaborators, there is extended chain of people through which the works would be done on the ground by applying their strategies to the Borana at the best. They include, ethnic traders and rent seekers such as Shilte Adola, Gobe Kato and Telle from Burji comrade; Wako Godana from Wata (now Wayu); Addisu Tariku (Abarra’s security and strategic cash collector). Shamefully, collaborated to anti-Borana coalition, Borana individuals whom I would like to call “Lisosome”, the self-destroying guys such as Jarso Golo, Tuke Liban, Kiyo Boru, Abdsalam Wario, Halake Wako and others who hide themselves at the back are directly or indirectly participating in the dehumanizing missions against us at the expense of filling their voracious stomach, not beyond however.
ii) Excluding the Borana people from the governance and decision making roles completely
Putting their legs at Abarra and tying their hands to one another, Wakayo Halake (Borana zone) and Gada Robe (Guji zone), have been working hand in hand to exclude the educated people of Borana out of the administration role, especially at the critical management positions. Doing this, they play the game of building their community (Guji) and destroying the Borana in the two zones. Thus, they have been at best in excluding the Borana intellectuals and professionals completely out of the game (administration) in their respective zones in the same vein as they both read one another’s mind. In Borana zone, Wakayo is the head of the zonal OPDO office (Dura bu’aa wajjira dhaabaa) with full mandate of appointing and removing the employee (workers) including cabinets at the zonal, district and town levels. Using his power, he has been displacing all the Borana people from all the key positions and replacing by the Guji colleagues without any condition, but just ethnic bias. On the other hand, rather than giving better positions to the Boranas, he appoints people from other ethnic groups regardless of assessing comparative potentials of the incumbents. Cognizant enough about these ongoing discriminations, Abarra has never paid attention to this and any other serious problems, because he has already signed an agreement (with Wakayo and Abdusalam Wario) on the issue of excluding the Borana out of any kind of decision making. Thus, significant amount of money equivalent to the weight of the position is collected from every appointee and given to him through his legitimate collector of illegal cash, Addisu Tariku, the satisfied pig. He then zips his mouth to keep his corruptions not to be mentioned forever. Leaving no one behind, they have now reached the highest point of their goal that now today almost none of the Borana people are found at key positions and hence we have no role in any decision making of the zone and almost all the woredas of the zone. This can be justified by the fact that there is only one Borana person in the central committee of the zone with five members. In Guji zone, too, Gada Robe the zonal administrator, has long been done all the things beyond it happened in Borana zone with regards to the appointment of the cabinet and even ordinary employees. Thus, we (the Borana) are out of the decision making at all and hence other decide for us on our issues whatever harmful decision it would be to us. This help them create the way that enable them ‘killing and hiding the body’ where nobody else would hear and see forever, till the truth reveal itself. We remained just the living dead. Nevertheless, it is better to actually die to the grave than living under such humiliating condition. It, however, is best to try something out before dying for nothing.
iii) Organizing multi-direction ethnic movements against the Borana as the claims for land, identity… and beyond
Being on the top, Abarra is the father of ethnic groups (except Borana), founder of their movement and leader of the movement team. For one thing, he clearly knows that he could not be able to live long on the position with his bad reputation and corrupted behavior. Therefore, not to be rushed out of the administration of the zone by his evil deed and aiming at sustaining himself, he must divide and rule the communities along the line of their interests either at the individual or ethnic levels while treating them differently in invisible hands in such a way that arise conflicts among the communities. To this end, he used the systematic way of organizing other ethnic groups (Gabra, Burji, Guji, and the recently emerged so-called Wayu, originally Wata) against Borana community, as a basic tool of suppression. Coordinated by Abarra and Wakayo being at the center and collaborative commitment of the engines, Gada Robe, Elias Guyo and Ukur Yatani, the ethnic movement was organized at multi-direction. Each of the individuals, as shown by the following diagram, has their own interests/objectives that are congruent with those of Abarra’s. It is these interests that bind them together to move collectively towards fulfilling their respective objectives.