Information is slowly trickling out of the much hyped about Atlanta Leadership Convention, despite organizers’ plea not to record video and audio and the tight security to enforce the rule. We anticipate that they will release some kind of a resolution declaring the convention was very successful and that it laid a foundation for the formation of an Oromo Freedom Charter. We wanted to reflect upon pieces of information that we gathered thus far about the convention and present our own prediction of the next phase of the Oromo struggle.
Our struggle for freedom failed to succeed for over a century not because of the strength of our external enemies but the damage caused by our internal enemies. What made the current phase of Oromo revolution unique is the fact that it was able to break the myth that Oromo cannot be united and to mobilize our people from all corners of Oromia. True there were still traitors who spied for the enemy camp and resulted in deaths of precious Oromo sons and daughters but they were defeated and their spy rings were destroyed. Despite such glorious achievement of unifying our people in Oromia, divisions and bickering remained among the diaspora. Some attribute the lack of unity among Oromo diaspora to regional and religious differences. We strongly disagree. All of us in diaspora understand that we were all Oromo and descended from the same root before we settled in different regions and before we adopted different religions. We also understand that we were subjected to the same atrocities irrespective of our region and religion. In our opinion, the division among the diaspora is the result of self-righteousness among the elites and egocentric drive to put themselves in leadership positions by some individuals. We declared the Atlanta Leadership Convention as a blessing in disguise in the title of this document because it exposed the kind of people that we believe created the division for their personal gains.
Early last week, we posted a cautionary note about the planned Atlanta Leadership Convention and disclosed what our investigation revealed regarding the motives of the organizers. We concluded at that time that the convention is being organized by groups who wanted to hijack the raging Oromo revolution in Oromia and change its course. We believe we were vindicated because information reaching us from Atlanta shows that the document that was prepared by an individual and presented for discussion received a pushback from the participants because it does not address the needs of the Oromo people. In fact, the document was written to appease the Ethiopianist camps by declaring that we will form a democratic system that will benefit everyone. Rumor has it that it was tabled for further discussion with in Oromo communities and religious organizations and civic associations. We believe this is good because a charter about the future of the Oromo nation should have been written by the Oromo people to begin with, not by an individual or groups of individuals with personal agenda.
Although the original document about the convention stated the objective of the meeting was to create unity among the Oromo people, a video that leaked out of the conference hall indicates that the participants were literally insulting Oromo groups that were not participating in the convention. The attack dog who was picked for this task was groomed by none other than the OMN and, like many of the organizers of the convention, has ties to the OPDO first and KWO currently. He surely received the loudest cheers and laughs from the audience showing that most of the attendees were handpicked to rubberstamp the document as that of the TPLF’s parliamentarians. It was also easy to discern from the reaction of some of the innocent participants that such attacks were unexpected. Equally laughable, however, is the fact that the leaders, after clapping loudly for the poem, took the stage to appeal to the participants that attacks against other Oromo groups need to stop. It appears the leader forgot that it was already announced on stage that the poem has been heard somewhere else before and producers knew its content beforehand. So, how is it the Atlanta Convention is going to create unity among Oromo groups while insulting groups that were not present at the convention?
Another interesting observation was the format of the conference itself. Participants were placed in different discussion groups and trusted leaders were assigned to each group to lead the discussion in the direction the organizers wanted. Basically, the format was meant only to discuss the contents of the document and make minor edits. Participants did not get a chance to ask why the document was needed and who wrote the document, among other things. It does appear that the leaders have learned a thing or two from the TPLF about manipulating audiences to get the outcome that they wanted.
In the name of mobilizing resources for the struggle, they also discussed how to coordinate the effort in the diaspora. On the surface, this appears to be a noble idea. The fact of the matter, however, is that the group who wants to put itself in charge of this activity has no clue as to who is leading the struggle on the ground. They might assume that receiving notices from the “Qeerroo” on social media entitles them to lead the revolution but they are dead wrong. Their greed and inflated ego has been noted by “Qeerroo” and the only group they can fool now is the few uninformed and hateful individuals in diaspora.
When we thought we have seen and heard all the political maneuvering and behind the screen manipulations, a document that was being distributed outside the meeting hall made its way to social media. We also heard that the leaders, using their usual childish tactics, asked the audience not to distribute any document outside or inside. This tactic is similar to the use of the attack dog and then denouncing his actions so that they appear true leaders and unifiers before the audience. We truly hope that the leaders were truthful in their denouncement of distributing documents and the document that we read on social media was not prepared and secretly distributed by them because it is the most divisive document that any Oromo group ever published, not to mention its lack of substance. If it is determined that the leaders of the Atlanta Convention drafted and distributed this document, however, it proves without the shadow of doubt that they are interested in power grabbing so that they can change the course of Oromo revolution as leaders. What is more interesting is the fact that they place Bekele Gerba, a person who is in TPLF prison, as the leader of what they call Oromo Council. This is just an attempt by the group to use the good name of true Oromo revolutionary for their sinister motive of taking over the Oromo struggle. This may also prove true the rumor that was going around about the alleged letter from Bekele Gerba, while he was in Kilinto prison, was in fact not written by him. Of course, only Bekele Gerba and his comrades can verify if this is indeed the case.
Finally, we would like to make it clear that we do not, for a moment, believe that every Oromo person who attended the Atlanta conference was there to hijack the Oromo revolution. The fact that the audience pushed back on the so called Oromo Freedom Charter indicates that most of the attendees were there to find a true solution to the quagmire that we are in here in diaspora. We are convinced, however, that most of the organizers of this convention were motivated by personal and selfish interests. We believe this is a big lesson for true Oromo nationalists and a blessing in disguise because we now know what we did not clearly know before. What remains now is to tighten our belts and focus on fighting the enemy by supporting our gallant people in whichever way we can. Lastly, are we coming to an era where we condemn the group that actually working on the ground but praise the group that has been killing Oromo’s for the last 25 years?