Boundary Making Alone Cannot Resolve the Underlying Segregation and Socio-Political and Economic Injustices
OLF statement on the recent demarcation of boundaries between “Finfinnee Administration” and Oromiyaa. Finfinnee,August 19,2022
Recently, the ruling Prosperity Party leaders from both the Addis Ababa City Administration and Oromiyaa Regional State and Oromiyaa Special Zone Surrounding Finfinnee have claimed that they resolved the boundary dispute between the two entities. It was, in fact, a ridiculous scene as it trivialized the issue to make it only a media show-up imbued with flattery cadre blabs.
The OLF strongly censures such contempt of the rights, scratching of the wounds and the sheer downplay of the agonizing memory of the Oromo people and the indigenous communities that have lived in this area for millennia.
The founding of Addis Ababa, a name given to a military post that had overtaken the indigenous name Finfinnee, was part of the agonizing conquest and the southward expansion of the Abyssinian imperial realm. Before settling down in the current palaces, Abyssinian Kings and Rases wiped out the indigenous Oromo community from this area. Oromo Gada and clan leaders were hanged and humiliated, while several community groups were forced to leave the area. Oromo historiography has sufficiently documented the forceful and brutal actions taken against the rightful citizens throughout the ages. Cultural centers, sacred places, and Oromo indigenous political and administrative hubs were replaced by a new set of oppressive institutions and by forceful eviction and dehumanization. Once the brutalizing system entrenched itself, the Oromo were systematically alienated, and they became newcomers to their own fatherland. Their ways of life became repugnant to the new political, social and economic order of operation. Finfinnee (Addis Ababa) thrived on the blood and tears of the Oromo people.
The city’s subsequent expansion, from the late nineteenth century to the present, has considered its environs ‘no man’s land’. Since 1991, despite the acclaimed institutionalization of federalism, as the result of the 1994 Constitution, farmers were evicted without or with meaningless compensation. Proud land owners turned to landless squatters, laborers, guards, and street dwellers. Thousands of families dispersed. To make matters worse, those who somehow survived the eviction were denied fundamental rights such as education, health facilities, and other infrastructure. Currently, the literacy level around Finfinnee is the worst in the country.
The EPRDF regime, in 2014, without out making any remedies to those injuries, introduced a so-called Addis Ababa Integrated Master Plan. It was, in fact, new wine in an old bottle. It envisaged expanding Addis Ababa as far as 100 km from the center to evict the remaining Oromo farmers further. That instigated a new wave of Oromo resistance led by Oromo Youth for Liberation and Democracy (Qeerroo Bilisummaa Oromo), joined by other activists as the course intensified. The fierce peaceful struggle engulfed the whole Oromiyaa from every direction and later expanded to other regions. More than 6000 lives were lost during the protest. The resistance led to the reshuffle in the EPRDF rank and file, which led the TPLF to relinquish its clout. The new powerholders vowed to respond positively to the Oromo quest in general and the Finfinnee issue. The current boundary demarcation has come about after four years of administration after the TPLF.
With this background, the current boundary demarcation, according to OLF, is far from doing justice to the age-old wrongs mentioned above. First, the issue of Finfinnee, from the Oromo perspective, cannot be addressed by detaching it from the broader Oromo quest for freedom and equality. Finfinnee is categorically part of Oromiyaa. Trying to evade this fact may only delay a popular action but cannot resolve the fundamental issue. Second, a mere boundary demarcation, glosses over restorative and remedial measures. It perpetuates rights abuses and ignores the need to address the violation of rights perpetrated against the indigenous people for the last two hundred years. Third, the current so-called boundary demarcation has violated the existing constitution as it endorsed the city’s expansion, which took place without the official consent of the Oromo people and the Oromiyaa Regional State. Fourth, the demarcation process was non-participatory and exclusionary. It has excluded the broad masses of the Oromo people, Oromo political voices, and other stakeholders.
In a nutshell, the OLF understands that the so-called boundary delimitation does not recognize the full rights of the victim and age-old marginalization and does not do good for the city’s future development. The OLF thus works towards ensuring the justified recognition of the rights of the victimized people and reversal of the injustices, the unfettered historical and cultural centrality of Finfinnee within the Oromiyaa administrative and legal boundaries. The OLF believes that the Finfinnee problem could only be resolved when the larger Oromo national freedom and equality are ensured. The OLF thus calls up on all Oromo political organizations, activists, and the larger Oromo people to stand by this cause.
Victory to the Masses
Oromo Liberation Front
Finfinnee, August 19, 2022