By Rundassa Asheetee Hundee
Many people wonder why the Oromians fail to accomplish what the Tigreans have accomplished. The answer of this question, many said, are tribalism, localism, lack of education and religious divisions. Nevertheless, I believe that the actual reason for our failure is the Individual Ambition trap in which many diaspora Oromians find themselves.
When Individual Ambition overshadows collaborative effort, it becomes very difficult to promote Collective Ambition. This happens because Individuals who dream to climb the top social ladder do not care why the Organization they joined is created, what it is hoping to accomplish, how they would collaborate with others and achieve the set goal, and how their personal interest aligns with the core values of the organization they belong to. Men with such an attitude undermine Collective Ambition because all they want is to satisfy their personal Ambition.
Although these kind of men talk a lot about the purpose and the mission of the Organization they belong to, the real dream behind their talk is to achieve certain personal benefit. When this happens, the organization that was formed with vision and purpose loses direction and it’s leaders get divided.
For example, the OLF had a targeted goal and the objective it aspired to achieve within a reasonable time frame. For that very reason, it had strategic and operational priorities and even took the necessary action against the Darg military. When the Darg government collapsed in 1991 and it became apparent that sharing power with the Tigre tribal leaders is the possibility, some OLF leaders joined the TPLF to satisfy their immediate economic needs under the name “ Selaamawii ONEG.”
The rest remained loyal to the organization original objective until they too gradually fell apart. One group claimed that it wanted to change how the OLF did it’s business and got a new title “ jijirama” and others became Qaama Ce’emsaa. Very interesting was that even the Jijirama, a group that promised to bring change to the OLF split again into several segments with no targeted mission or commitment to the original OLF objective. What made the entire Jijirama episode weird was that the Jijirama that was led by Gen. Galchuu joined the Habasha group and claimed to democratize Ethiopia. During that time, men like Bayaan Asooba criticized the general Galchuu Jijirama team saying that joining the Habasha team was a mistake.
As time went by and situations no longer benefited Dr. Bayaan Asoba, he left the OLF, also known as Shanee Gumii, and joined the other half Jijirama team to which the Lencoos, Hasan Husein and others belonged and led a small group known as “Marii Biyya” or something to that effect. Now months past and the ODF came into existence with an agenda to promote general Galchu’s original idea of joining the Habasha group. By then, general Galchu dropped the idea of promoting the democratization of Ethiopia and formed KWO.
But why did Dr. Bayan Asoba joined the OLF when he was a young man, and then surrendered to the Derg government, became party secretary of Ethiopia’s communist party, then went to eastern Europe on scholarship, rejoined the OLF again, left the OLF now, re joined Ethiopia for another round exactly when the TPLF government is decaying from within.
What one can observe from this constant shift individuals such as Dr. Bayaan, Diimaa and the like are making is that what matters to them is not what they have promised the Oromo people but satisfying their personal ambition. Here, what remains confusing is that these individuals still talk about the Oromo liberation. They talk to their communities, individuals, religious groups, tribes especially when they are rejected by the organization they belonged to. Be they are the Ethiopianists or those who surrendered to the TPLF, they all say that they are committed to the Oromo Liberation cause even when they joined the enemy and let the TPLF kill thousands of OLF soldiers. So, when we look at these situations, we learn how men jump here and there to satisfy their Individual Ambition. Lichoo Bukuraa and Kumsa for example talked on the Tigre Television about localism and old the thinking that weakened the OLF and yet they were who destroyed the OLF from within. There are similar groups who talk the same way from within the Oromo community and religious establishments. Having studied these types of men, the only way it is possible to draw a line between men with Individual Ambition and those who can work for collective goal is by checking wether or not one would compromise on the Core Values of liberating the Oromo nation from the Habasha colonial yoke. Basically, those who can compromise on the core value never had a guiding principles that dictate what they can or can’t do.
For decades, the OLF had tried to engage individual Oromians in the liberation struggle so that they can be stakeholders in the liberation movement and tackle the political challenges of the Oromo people. Nevertheless, some of the individuals who joined failed because they brought their Individual Ambition ahead of Collective Ambition.
Every time they had disagreements, they authored compelling stories and told it to their kinship groups and tried to build a narrowly defined task. In such situation, the process of integration collapsed and localism flourished. Although central in many Oromo organizational disputes are the Ambition that individuals have for power, and the attempt others make to build Collective Ambition, there is an underlining problem that no one had ever talked about.
When an individual denies any wrong doings or deem what others say to be irrelevant, and when his friends and family members accept this view, they all deny the existence of moral absolutes. In the process, they maintain that right and wrong are relative concepts, and morality is merely a matter of personal choice or expediency.
The dilemma here is that we as Oromians say that we have great moral value which we obtained from our SAFUU norms stipulated in Waaqeffannaa religion. We even say that we are principled people because of the tradition of the Gadaa system. Nonetheless, we don’t realize the negative impact that modern education system, the expansion of urban living, the influence of western media and the confusion that communist system had upon our attitudes toward morality. What we think of ourselves, how we relate to what others think of us, and the value of what we accomplish is judged by western countries cultural standards not by our own traditional norms. The consequences of falling in love with this new self measurement has pulled us away from our true senses.
As a result, most of us think that common sense is a knowledge so we make decisions based on such understanding. When we do, we confuse between right or wrong, good or bad. In that view, even the most fundamental moral questions loses ground and every assertion of right or wrong gets confused. As such, we measure our self-esteem by the political power, the economic and social status we have and our personal growth and accomplishments are viewed through this microscope. The degrees, the certificates and the religious titles we obtained after completing the training we are given by clever global institutions are considered as the bases of our self-reliance, our self-approval or disapproval, and kept all our self-defense mechanisms secure. But at the end, these things built the excessive self-deception, self-distrust, self-reproach, and plain old-fashion selfishness we are suffering from today.
The tragedy that followed this process prevented us from acting collectively and implement the vision that our liberation organizations have written back in the days. In fact, we rather focused on minor issues that the TPLF intelligence network carefully plants for us and fight instead of developing our own strategic priorities and strive to fulfill our obligations as citizens of Oromia. This happens not because the goal, the mission and the vision of our organizations wasn’t clearly defined, but Personal Ambition produced so many misalignments and the widening disconnect inspired fake division.
But is it possible to produce collective ambition?
PURPOSE is the center of all the efforts we make when our behavior is the outermost ring that enables progress. That means, vision, goal, promise, strategic and operational priorities, and values lie in between every effort we make, along with the targets and milestones that will measure our progress.
In the Ethiopianists FUZZY- VISON case, the targets of achieving oromians first-choice lacks sustainable value, hence it has no ability to produce collective ambition. Yes, such group may argue that they are trying to shape collective ambition among the groups with dissimilar interest but the opportunity they may grab from such alliance will hurt the Oromo people. It is true that it might give the Ethiopianists a chance to launch wide range initiatives against the main enemy, the TPLF, but such wide range project requires even more disciplined execution of Collective Ambition processes in parallel. It is exactly why it is impossible for the ODF to keep the promise it made to the Amharic speaking people because the two nations do not have Collective Ambition.
One may say that this is a cynicism that accompanies my effort to unglue the pro Ethiopian unity groups but I would argue that because the disconnect that exists between the Oromo and the Amharic speaking people was largely there from the beginning, it is impossible to create common ambition between them. After all, the Oromo people know very well that in Ethiopia’s political world, promise is nothing but a mere word.
To the contrary, it is possible to generate Collective Ambition between those who have similar intentions, purposes and vision than between those with dissimilar core values. Although it is difficult to separate sub culture from localism, religious culture from tribalism, Individual ambition may aid Collective Ambition in case of the Oromo nationalism, especially if shared sense of purpose is used as organizational glue. Hence, finding a more tangible framework, consistent with the purpose and the value for which the Oromo Organizations are fighting is very important. For that reason, the Oromo Liberation Organizations leaders need to get up every morning thinking about how to lure one more Oromo back to his Oromo value with purpose at the heart.