Dr.Yonas Biru

In the US, if a women’s naked dead body is found riddled with excessive bullet wounds or knife stabs, the first line of suspicion is cast on her husband, boyfriend, or a close friend.

The mechanics of her killing and the way her dead body is dishonored suggest her killer tapped into rage driven by deep-rooted hate, anger, and desire for revenge. Understanding this dynamic helps us to understand the animal-like cruelty that manifested itself in Bate Urgessa’s murder.

Bate Urgessa was a very soft-spoken member of the high echelon of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) leadership architecture. The OLF and its independently run military wing, the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), are the two most prominent opponents of the Oromo Prosperity Party (Oromo-PP).

Bate Urgessa was taken out of his hotel room in the wee hours of the night by government security officers. His hands were tied tight behind his back and shot dead. His body was found face down on a heap of trash with his head riddled with six bullets fired from a close range. One bullet was enough to kill him. The second one can be seen as an assurance policy. What justifies the third? The fourth? The fifth? The Sixth? What necessitated throwing his body on a heap of trash? The aim was not to hide it. It was to dishonor it.

The cruel murder and the dishonoring of his body impose hard questions. Political assassinations are commonly committed with one or two bullets to the head. What drove Oromo-PP’s overkill? Where did the rage, hate and anger that epitomized and oxygenated the evilness in his murder came from?

The answers are in plain sight. The same forces that feed the evil spirits when Oromo-PP and OLA forces murder innocent Amhara are feeding the Oromo-on-Oromo violence.

Tribalism is like Ebola. It kills its currier. As a matter of politics, tribalism is organically primitive and intrinsically degenerative. As a matter of social psychology, it is innately savage. The rage, hate, and anger that nurtured and trained the human mind to sustain an Oromo tribal mindset is coming home to roost.

The Fight is Between “True Oromos” and “Menilik’s Oromos”

Since its inception some 50 years ago, the OLF has been led primary by people from Wellega. Wellega Oromos consider Oromos from Shewa, Arsi, Bale, Jima, etc. as Menilik’s Oromos who were assimilated into the Abyssinian political mindset.

Professor Asafa Jalata calls them “assimilated former Oromos, [who] like their Habasha masters have been the defenders of the Habasha culture, religion, and the Amharic language and haters of the Oromo history, culture, institutions.”

The good professor argues the first critical step to create a free Oromia is “emancipating Oromo individuals and groups from inferiority complex.” According to him, this requires unifying the Oromo culture and purifying the social psychology of the Oromo by creating a high-level “Oromo consciousness.”

In contrast, the so-called Menelik’s Oromos who are currently in power are mostly products of inter-tribal marriages and they are married outside of their tribe. This is the case with the two most powerful Oromo-PP politicians – Abiy Ahmed and Shimeles Abdissa and many of their cohorts. Their blood ties with other cultures (most particularly with the Amhara) is seen as a source of the assimilation and dilution of the Oromo culture with Menelikian spirit.

Though Oromo-PP constitutes some Oromo officials from Wellega, the large majority of leaders of the Oromo-PP are regarded as Menelik’s Oromos. In the minds of Wellega Oromos, Menelik is ruling the Oromo tribal land from his grave through his Oromo proxies.

Some in the OLF and OLA camp often say: “The Prime Minister hates us more than he hates Amharas” and “there are more Amharas from Gonder in his administration than from Wellega. I am not sure about that. But one thing I know for sure is that there is an unhealthy dose of hate and anger that they dispense toward each other.

Bate Urgessa’s murder can be seen as a battle bell that has been rung to announce a civil war between “True Oromos” and “Menilik’s Oromos.” It cannot be un-rung. Only a high-octant idiot will think the Aba-Gadaa institution can reconcile the two. That requires reconciling Menelik’s spirit with modern-day Wellega politics. Good luck.

The question that begs for answer is: Are the people of Oromo, intellectuals and laymen alike going to remain silent as they have done when Amharas were the target or will they rise up and say tribalism is primitive, degenerative and savage and demand urgent change?.

By Yonas Biru, PhD

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