I see this renewed lashing out on self-respecting Oromos on the ground that they advocate the right to secession. Since the day Liban Waaqo made the statement regarding his Party'scommitment to secession, the alacrity of denunciation of Oromos for holding on to this alternative has reached a new high.
As usual, Liban Waaqo has become the metaphor of the Oromo "monster" one is entitled to hate with an unbridled passion. In him, some seem to have found an object against whom they can rejuvenate and project their oromophobia.
For all that we can criticize him for, I refuse to endorse so much hatred expressed just because he stated his (and his party 's) position. I also refuse to reduce his position and the sentiment it expresses into an individual position.
I believe there are millions of people who share his sentiment. Secession, or the broader right of self-determination, is the aspiration of millions of Oromos and of million others.
When such views are expressed, the proper thing to do is not denouncing the view and demonizing the one who expressed it. The right thing to do is to engage him properly and try to respond to such demands systematically and programmatically.
For this, one needs to debate the pros and cons of secession publicly with a view to swaying public opinion for or against it. One also needs to design the proper institutional and procedural framework within which the people can decide on the matter within an agreed time frame.
One needs to a create a free democratic ambience within which people can freely campaign to persuade people in favour of or against the motion. That's the responsible way of dealing with the question.
To denounce the idea and demonize the person only valorizes it further and embitters the one holding it.
If you think it is an unpopular opinion, it will die out in the court of public opinion, and there's no need to spend so much energy to kill it.
If it's a robust idea you want to discredit, then submit the idea to public interrogation and subsequent democratic decision.
If you want a more permanent union with secessionists, then go earn it. Work for it. Persuade the secessionists why the other option is a better deal for them.
If there are people who want to secede, and there are millions of them, you can't stop them by a smear campaign. You only harden them to do the very thing you hate the most. In fact, you create conditions necessary for realignment of other views with the views of people like Liban Waaqo.
So, if there are those of you who want to use Obbo Liban as a proxy for your general hatred of independent-minded Oromos, then you must be missing out on the best thing that has happened to Ethiopia. For his criticism is ultimately an act of loyalty. The more fervent it is, the more loyal.
You have to be grateful for Liban Waaqo and for the statement he honestly and fearlessly made in London.