Where is Oromuma brotherhood? Why Gujii zone administration declared war on Borana community?
Borana and Gujii, the two closest Oromo communities well known to share numerous similarities, have coexisted without major conflict for centuries. However, recently this character has dispread and conflicts between the two communities have become a norm. While the driving force for these new phenomena is not clear, it seems to escalate the last twenty years. Particularly, the allocation of Liban wereda under Gujii zone has become a catalyst for the discontent in the region. Recently, the aggression initiated by Gujii militia against Borans inhabiting Liban wereda, particularly areas surrounding Negelle Borana town, has been deterred successfully. Previously Ardajila has consecutively reported about the change and reinstallation of Nagelle Boran town name. Thank you for your update. It is a public record that Gujii zone administration has been hostile against Borans inhabiting Liban warada. Particularly, they have been advocating for change of Nagelle Borana name by removing the word “Borana”. While the intension behind the hostile move by Gujii zonal administration and recently by their militia force is not clear, it is frustrating and hurting locals in the region, Boran, Guji and others impartially. Basically, Guji Zone administration obsession with this issue has slowed progress of the region dramatically. Above all the recent conflict indicates that the administration has given up all legal means and changing strategy towards use of force. Please, note that this comment is not analyzing a deed of Guji community, rather it analyze a deed of Guji Zone administration.
While Borana community has been experiencing unusual level of aggression from neighboring communities, within Ethiopia and Kenya, the hostility from Guji side came as surprise. It is well known that Borana community opted contesting against being governed by Gujii zone administration to avoid a conflict with their Oromo brothers and sisters. However, a replay from their administrators is totally opposite of their expectation. As soon as Liban worada brought under Gujii Zone, a call for excluding “Borana” from name of Nagelle Borana town was officially initiated. This call has been going on for years without any response from Borana community. This could be understood as naïve response but it was conscious and deliberate action to avoid such conflict like the one witnessed recently. Lately, the Guji zone administration effort to change the name of Nagelle Borana town intensified, resulting in action that led to whitening of Negelle Boran hospital name board. The move awakened Borans and forced them to regretfully revisit their decision, compromising for sake of peace and above all Oromtiti. Accordingly, Borans initiated appeal to involve a federal government and Oromiya regional administration in to the matter. The appeal got traction and it was decided the name Negelle Borana will remain on the deliberation made in March 2014. Sadly, few weeks after their legal defeat, the Guji Zonal administration took unforgettable action that will remain in the history of the nation, particularly the Boorana-Gujii region.
It is agonizing to witness such abuse of power by Guji Zone administration. While an attempt to change the name alone is a shock to many, particularly to Oromo community, waging a full scale war for such cause is heartbreaking. In the era when names that have been changed hundred years ago are contested and reversed back, the case of Nazret to Adama, Hagerehiwoot to Ambo, Debrezeit to Bushofto …, it is sad to witness such attempt being made by a member of Oromo community. Erasing the name of a particular Oromo group, in this case Borana, and trying to present them as a treat to Oromo society is unfair and wrong allegation. The saddest of all is that this backward view is shared by some educated individuals who are regarded as Oromo leaders. One of such individuals is Nageessa Oddo Dube, who has been repeatedly appeared on newly founded Oromo Media Network (OMN) as political analyst. Before commenting on his view, I would like you to read and make your own judgment. The following is a direct quote from his April 3 at 7:54am face book post, which has sparked several negative comments from Borana and Guji individuals impartially. I chose to comment on this writing not to give credit to Mr. Naageessa, but I am afraid this view could be shared by many other influential individuals from Gujii community. “Dhufuuni malaani dalatti” jedhe Boranii.
Lolli Booranaa fi Gujii jiddutti deensifamaa ture dhaabatuun waan hamus nama godhaa ti. Duraan dursee maatii namoota lola kana keessa woreegamaniif gadda guddaa natta dhage’ame ibsuu barbaada. Irraa hafaa, ka jirutti hafaa. Gama biraatiin ammo namooti waan an kanaan dura katabe irrattu hundooftanii na qeeqxan wanni an jedhuu fedhe WORAANNI/LOLLI haa dhaabbatuu dura waan jedhu. Eennu aka qara duule, balleessaan ta eennuu akka teete armaan duuba qoranna. Wonni takkaan dhugaa. Namni duulli itti baye dhumatuu hin jennu, ifirraa qolachuun mirga uumamaa ti. Hedduun keessan “Booranatti duulee Gujii a’e; kaabinee fi barattooti Booranaa barnootaa fi hujii dhiisanii uumnata duulchisuuf torbaan lamaa ol baadiyatti galanii turanfi kkf akkasuma jeequmsa barattooti Booranaa woggaa hedduuf ijoollee Gujii irratti raawwataa baate” kaastanii na falmitanii jirtan. Barattooti woggaa woggaadhaan cuuphee/ tooridaa qabatanii High school Nageellee keessatti magaalli nageellee ka Boiranaa ti Gujiin as keessa maaf barata jechuudhaan barattoota Gujii wowworaanaa fi daddachaa turuun dhuguma. Obboleessa kiyya ka Gammachuu jedhamu yeroo lama daddaffameera. Magaala keessa deemanii mana Gujii cufa barbaadanii cacaccabsaa turuun isaaniille haqa. Gujiin kanarraa kan ka’e morka qabatee maqaan magaalaa kanaa seenaarratti Nageelle malee Boirana ka jedhu kana bara dargii keessa Godaanaa Tunii fi Jaatanii Alii fa itti dabalan kanaafuu jechi Boorana jedhu biraa baduu qaba” jedhee ka’e. Wonni feete yo dhuftelle haga fedhan yo wol dhaban, dhiiga eol buusuun dogoghira guddaa. Nu nyaapha keenba kaanuu yoom aane? Ha baddu wonni hantuun. Woldhaba kanaaf furmaata waaraa kan te’u aanaalee Gujii 5 ka Godina Booranaa jala jiranu gara Godina Gujii deebisuu yokaan ammoo aanalee 4 Gujiirraa itti deebisanii Godina Gujii Lixaa ijaaruu. Inni kun tarkaaffii bareeda. Gama biraatiin gandoota Boiranaa 6 kan Gidina Gujii jala jiranu gara Godina Booranaa deebisuu. Gama biraatiin namoonni olola akko gosti lamaan wolitta hin fayyine godhu afuufanu gocha akkasiirraa osoo of qusatanii gaarii dha. Keessattuu obboleeyyan teenna ta Oromoo caasaa gosaa fi gosittii kibba Oromiyaa keessa jiru waan hin hubanneef rakkoon nnaannoo sanii hin galuuf. Dubbi osoo hin hubatin wanti isaan godhanu tokkummaa Oromoo hedduu miidha. Kibba Oromiyaa keessa gosoonni Gujii, Booranaa fi Gabra, Garrii jedhaman ni jiru. Isaan kun arfanuu afaan Oromoo dubbatu. Akka laakkofsa uummataa kan bara 2007 ibsutti Baayyinnaan Gujiin Miliyoona 2; Booranni 500,000 (half million) fi Garriin 200,000 fi Gabri 50,000 dha. Garriin afaan Oromoo dubbatti amantiin Islaama. Bara mootummaa ce’umsaa isiilleen Oromoo turte. Ijoolleen Garrii hedduun dabballee ABO turan. Bakka bu’aa magaalaa Mooyyalee Garrii ture.Booranni ammoo Garriin akkamitti bakka nu buuti jedhee waan falmeef bakja bu’ummaan gara Booranaatti jirjiiramnaan Garriin nu SOMAALEE dha jettee naannoo5tti galte. Garriin afaan Somaalee hin beektu; afaan Oromoo dubbatti. Iteetuu malee daafee Oromoon Booranaa goltuuf; Booranaa fi Garriin hangaa ol waan woljibbaniif erga Booranni angafa Oromoo ta’e nu Booranaa moti jechu’un Oromoo keessaa baate. Boru Gabrilleen ba’uu dandeetti. Dubbiin tunille akka lama wanti sunille hanga ta’e haa jiraattuu male sababoita biraa heddutti jira.
While Mr. Nageessaa Oddo started by appealing for ceasefire between the two communities, the body of his writing suggests the opposite. Basically his writing is a complete justification of the Gujii aggression against Borana. I found it troubling to realize that Mr. Nagessa Oddo could generate such backward and divisive thoughts in public. While he has full right to possess any personal view, he should select his words carefully before making them public. Above all, he and the likes of him, who are based in western world that are not directly affected by such conflicts, should consider the fate of others. Whether it is Guji or Boran community, those affected are our brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, uncles and aunts and so on who are currently residing in the region. Thus, it is wise to think twice, or more if possible, before giving a comment on such sensitive issues.
First of all, it is unethical to cover-up a fact just because one has a means to do so. Anyone who has full information of the recent conflict between Boorana and Gujii knows who and how the conflict initiated. It is not fair to deny ownership of a battle after losing. Guji Zone administration initiated a battle to change the name of Nagelle Borana and lost. After losing a battle through legal means, they mobilized thousands of their militiamen to show their might. To their dismay, they failed in both fronts. Now with assistance from the so called Oromo political analyst, Mr Nageessa Oddoo, they are trying to open another battle front, distorting the fact using an access he has on OMN. I hope Oromo intellectuals are wise enough to avoid entertaining such divisive view in their circle.
While the first part of the writing aim to show a root cause of the recent conflict as a simple harassment of Gujii students and workers by Borana community, locals testify the opposite. The matter of the fact is that anyone lived in the region could testify the true character of Borana community, whether they could commit such atrocity against any one inhabiting their region. Borana community has hosted several communities from different ethnic group throughout their territory and there has been no such incident reported. However, it is a fact that whenever their generosity is misunderstood for weakness and other communities target their interest, Borans do everything possible to repeal it. This has happened several times before, with such incidents exceeding a normal level in the past decade, particularly the last few years.
Mr. Nagessa oddoo has squeezed several thoughts he has about Boorana community within his short writing. He used some of his writing to compare and contrast Boorana and Gujii community. While I am not sure of his intention, it seems Mr. Nageessaa is not comfortable with Gujii’s position as compared to Borana in several aspects. Thus he is trying to show to anyone who believes him that Gujii community is stronger than Borana. Since we are brothers and sisters, Boran’s have never pay attention to such comparison.
The most puzzling part of his writing is a claim that the name Nagelle Borana was assigned to the town by Governors Godana Tuni and Jatani Ali (Biyyeeni Sabladhinaafi (BS)). It is interesting that an individual holding a law degree would make such ignorant account of a well known fact. The name Nagelle Borana has been there prior to time of Emperor Hilesilase’s rule, long before the two leaders were born. On different post Mr Nageessa indicated that the recent conflict is an explosion of a time bomb planted by the Abyssinians. This is a bit confusing and made me question whether he regards Govs. Godana Tuni and Jatani Ali part of Abyssinia. Anyhow, contrary to what he wrote, the three major Oromo communities in the region (Borana, Gujii and Arsii) could testify the opposite. The truth is that the two Governors are a major reason why the three communities coexisted without major conflict, during their era. If Govs. Godana and Jatani intended to promote conflict between Borana and Guji communities, they could have advocated for return of Borana lands occupied by Guji. Although Boran community ignored them, it is fact that Guji Community occupies Boran land such as Bitaata, Hara qallo, Kukku (Buelle Horaa) and others. Particularly, Mr. Nageessa and his colleagues have to give a credit for Govs. Godana and Jatani Ali instead of accusing them for cheap deeds like changing a name of a town. Although it could have been forgotten by some, our Gujii brothers and sisters affected could remember the atrocity committed against the Gijii community by Shaleqa Taakelle. Again it is a public record that Gov. Jatani Ali stood for Guji Community and helped bring Shalaqa Taakelle to justice, to be punished for his evil deed. These and several other unmentioned facts clearly show that Govs. Godana Tuni and Jatani Ali used their power to bring the neighboring Oromo communities together. However, weak leader like Gadaa Robe took advantage of his power and used it to promote divisive agenda. Thus, since anyone from Ethiopia, particularly Boorana-Gujii region, knows the truth, the only thing Mr. Nageessa proved through this comment is his ignorance. Actually, after reading his short writing, I am worried for a society that will be led by such individual. Whether it is Gujii or entire Oromo community.
The writing also addresses a political aspect in the region with regards to Oromo struggle. I am amazed on how much of political analysis Mr. Naageessa could make, leave alone for entire Oromo struggle, but just for Boorana-Gujii region. To suggest that an entire Garrii community has abandoned Oromo/OLF due to Borana involvement is a cheap talk. Since Mr. Naageessa do not represent or even possibly know a view of Garrii community, I would not take this as big deal. However, having such a figure as a political analyst for Oromo community is a disgrace. While the entire Oromo society has tied together with common interest, it does not mean all members agree on everything. If any member of Oromo could abandon the entire society due to disagreement with fellow Oromo, then that particular community may not have a faith in the society. While Mr. Nageessaa and those who share his view have such a strong negative feeling for Borana community, they did not abandon Oromo? Why is that? I believe to be born within Oromo is not a choice but identifying oneself as Oromo is a choice. Thus, our Garri brothers and sisters have a right to join any political party and society they feel will protect their interest. In this regard, it is a public record Garri community chose to align with Somali for one reason or another. However, their decision should not be blamed on any other community. Everyone should be responsible of his/her action. If any community regrets its previous decision and considers changing their view, no manipulation of fact is required. Just change sides and join a group or political party of interest period.
On the other hand Mr. Nageessaa’s fear for Gabras to leave Oromo/OLF is beyond puzzling. Actually, it is laughable, since they have never joined. It is great to express his fear. However, as an emerging Oromo figure, I wait to hear what he will advice Oromo society to avert this looming disaster; Gabra community abandoning Oromo/OLF because of Borana community. If his fear is real, the only solution will be expelling Borana community form Oromo to gain Gabra and Garri communities. After all Oromititi is not a gift that one could give to other.
Finally, we are in the 21st century and it is not easy to manipulate a fact. Even if one controls a particular medium, there are thousands of other means to counteract any effort to distort the truth. To this end, it is wise to think several times before putting any idea on mass media, for it may hunt you forever. Moreover, when dealing with sensitive issues that will affect thousands of lives on the ground, it is important to take a great care from spilling ones thought unfiltered. On the other hand it is not possible to have it both ways. If one likes to be an Oromo leader, he/she must promote the interest of entire society not a particular group. Please note gaining access to publicity and delivering the expectation is totally different entity.
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” – Abraham Lincoln