Friday, August 2, 2013

OSA 2013 Annual Conference Program HowardUniversity Blackburn Digital Auditorium 2400 6th St. NW, Washington, DC20059

P.O Box 32391, Fridley, MN55432

 Examining Paths to Oromo Empowerment in the 21st Century

Keynote Speakers

Legendary Artist Kadir Said
Jiruu fi Jireenya Artistoota Oromoo Biyya Ambaa fi Qabsoo Bilisummaa Saba Oromoo 
Introducing Kadir Said
kedirseidArtist Kadir Said was born in Eastern Oromia, Gara Mulata district at a place called Watar. As a person who was grown in the rural Oromian region where the population practice their original culture, Kadir was raised singing and dancing Oromo traditional songs and dances of that area such as daddaaqsaa, uruursuu, dhiichisaa, hellemaa, faaruu loonii, darashii, mirrisa. At a young age he says he started with uruursuu, a song which is used to keep babies quiet when they are crying. Kadir says he was inspired by famous singers mainly Ali Birra and others such as Abdi Qophe, Abubakar Musa, Ali Shabbo, and Hessein Adam who at the time were singing from Harar radio station, the only radio station in Afan Oromo which operated for few years during the final years of Haile Sellassie. He started singing with modern musical instruments with Ali Shabbo.
In 1991 when the Derg regime was overthrown and a Transitional Government was formed in Ethiopia, Oromo nationalism which has been suppressed for over a century exploded like a volcano. Kadir joined the Caffee Gadaa band and started singing inspirational songs about Oromo nationalism and the struggle of the Oromo people for freedom and justice. After the then Transitional Government was aborted many Oromo nationals were branded as members or supporters of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), the major Oromo political force who signed the transitional charter. Tens of thousands of suspected OLF members or supporters were thrown into jail. Almost all Oromo singers were jailed, killed in cold blood, or forced into exile. Kadir’s fate was no different. He exiled to Djibouti and lived there under fear and horrific conditions. Unlike many Oromo singers who succeeded to exile to USA and other western countries, Kadir remained in Djibouti for two decades until he got the chance to come to USA at the beginning of this year, 2013.
Dr. Trevor Trueman, Director, Oromia Support Group Trampled Grass: The Human Price of 22 Years of Abuse
Introducing Dr. Trueman:
Dr. Trevor Trueman
Dr. Trevor Trueman
Dr. Trevor Trueman is an English medical doctor who started working among Oromo refugees in the Sudan in 1988/89. While providing medical services to thousands of Oromo refugees, Dr. Trueman trained a large number of primary health care workers who provided valuable service to other refugees. Dr. Trueman also provided health education for thousands of Oromo refugees.  In 1989 while returning from liberated areas of Western Wallaga to the Sudan, the car in which he was traveling hit a landmine planted by agents of Ethiopian military regime. Four of his Oromo friends were killed on the spot while Dr. Trueman was seriously wounded and hospitalized for months. However, amazingly, six months after he escaped miraculously from death, Dr. Trueman was back working among Oromo refugees in the Sudan. This demonstrates his devotion to the cause of the Oromo people and his firm commitment for helping Oromo refugees.
Realizing that human right violations continued under the Ethiopian regime installed in 1991, in Oromia and other parts of Ethiopia, Dr. Trueman established Oromia Support Group (OSG) in 1994.  Since then Dr. Trueman has extensively documented human rights violations in Oromia and throughout the country, a task that has not been performed by any other human rights organization as consistently and systematically as by OSG. Besides creating a wealth of data for violations in Ethiopia, Dr. Trueman has traveled to Djibouti, Somaliland, Kenya, South Africa, and Egypt documenting the pain and sufferings of Oromo refugees there.  Dr. Trevor Trueman is a true humanitarian, a wonderful human being, the best friend of the Oromo people and one of the most consistent voices for the otherwise voiceless peoples in Ethiopia.
Daily Schedule
 Day 1: Saturday, August 3, 2013 
TimeActivity/Theme of panelPresenters, Paper Titles
9:00 – 9:30 AMRegistration Local Organizing Committee
9:30 – 9:45 AMTraditional Oromo BlessingsOpening Remarks Oromo EldersMosisa Aga, OSA President
9:45 AM – 10:45 PM Keynote Address(Afan Oromo) Artist Kadir Said: Jiruu fi Jireenya Artistoota Oromoo Biyya Ambaa fi Qabsoo Bilisummaa Saba Oromoo
 10:45 AM– 12:15 PM Panel I.Revisiting and Retrieving Gadaa Civilization for Developing Oromummaa

Asafa Jalata (Chair): Gadaa as the Fountain of Oromummaa and the Theoretical Base of Oromo Liberation
  1. Harwood Schaffer: Indigenous Oromo Religious Values
  2. Daniel Ayana: Moisture as a Source of Life: Environment and Religion among Classical Oromo
  3. Mekuria Bulcha: The Irreecha Festival: From a Suppressed Tradition to a Vibrant Pan-Oromo Movement
  4. Lubee Birru: Duula Guutuu: 1522 – 1830
(Afan Oromo)
12:15 – 1:15 PM
1:15 – 1:30 PM
 Awards & Guddifachaa (Oromo Naturalization) Ceremony 
1:30 – 2:45 PM Panel II.Revisiting Key Epochs and Episodes in the Oromo National StruggleGuluma Gemeda (Chair)
  1. Zakia Posey: The Years Sky Opened up: A Look at the Legacy of the Watershed Era of Oromo Resistance from 1963-1973
  2. Taye Nedhi: The Contrast between the DergVillagization & WoyaneLand Looting
  3. Dirribi Demisse: The History of Madda Walaabu and Macca Tuulama
  4. Kadiro Elemo: The Wallo Oromo under Tewodros and Yohannes
2:45 – 4:15  PM Panel III.Liberating Voices: Historical and Contemporary Forms of Women’s Empowerment
  1. Peri Klemm (Chair): Malicious Monarch or Our Mothers’ Muse?: The Myth of Mote Qorqee
  2. Leila Qashu: Singing Ateetee: Arsi Oromo Women’s Means of Upholding and Asserting their Rights
  3. Tsehai Wodajo: Passing the Torch: Cultural Ways of Knowing and Empowerment Practices of Oromo Women
  4. Kuwee Kumsa: Songs of Exile: Singing the Past into the Future
  5. Fatuma Guyo: Embodying the Oromo Past through Peacemaking and Buna Qalla RitualsHighlights from the Orma Women of Kenya
4:15 – 4:30 PM
 Coffee Break
 4:30 – 5:30 PM Panel IV.Title: US Foreign Policy in Ethiopia and its Repercussions for the OromoMohammed Hassen (Chair)
  1. 1.       Habtamu Dugo: U.S. Interventions and Conflict in Multinational Ethiopia
  2. Kadiro Elemo: U.S. Foreign Policy in Ethiopia from the Era of Emperors Lij Iyyasu to Haile Sellassie
  3. Bona L. Geshe: Silencing the Oromo under the guise of Countering Terrorism: Proclamation No. 652/2009 and HR
5:30 – 7:00 PM Panel V.The Oromo Experience of Violence Over Time – Yesterday & Today

 Bonnie Holcomb (Chair)
  1. Gemechu Megerssa: The Rule of Violence in Ethiopia
  2. Trevor Trueman: South Africa: Sanctuary at a Price
  3. Garoma Wakessa: Human Rights Violation against the Oromo Continues: Change without Improvement
  4. Hussein Ahmed, Fayera Nagara, Abebe Etana (Joint Presentation): Testimony from Torture Survivors
6:30 – 7:30 PM OSA Business meeting Registered and Voting OSA Members Attend

Day 2: Sunday, August 4, 2013

9:00 – 10:00 AM Business meeting Registered OSA Members are Invited to Attend
 10:00 – 11:00 AM Keynote Address(English Language) Trevor Trueman: Trampled Grass: The Human Price of 22 Years of Abuse
11:00 AM – 12:00 noon Panel VI.Oromummaa in Theory and Action, continued

 Asafa Jalata (Chair)
  1. Tesfa Guma: Oromo Introspection (Of Ilaalee Oromoo)
  2. Abera Tefera: Qooda oromummaan Qabsoo bilisummaa Oromoo keessatti qabu (The role of Oromummaa in advancing Oromo national liberation struggle)
  3. Ahmed Hussein: Tolerance as a Prerequisite for Oromummaa to Flourish
  4. Haile Hirpa: Compatibility of Oromtittii and Oromticha
12:00 – 1:00 PM

1:00 – 2:30 PM Panel VII.Land Grab in EthiopiaGobena Huluka (Chair)
  1. Obang Metho: Land Grab in Ethiopia: the case of Gambella
  2. Garoma Wakessa: Land Grab and Human Rights in Ethiopia
  3. Melkamu Jate, Habtamu Dugo, and  Joanne Eisen (Joint):  Countering Land-grabs by Establishing a Data Bank of Customary Land Ownership Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  4. Bichaka Fayissa: Diversification and Livelihood Sustainability in a Semi-arid Environment: Evidence from Borana
2:30 – 3:30 PM Panel VIII.Media, Film, and Education: a Transnational Approach to the Oromo Nationscape
  1. Steven Thomas (Chair): Transnational Education
  2. Dhaba Wayessa: Hollywood and Finfinnewood: International Partnerships for Building Skills in Media and Film
  3. Mohammed Ademo: Media Outreach and the State of Journalism among the Oromo
  4. Arijeta Lajka: The Aggressive Nature of the Media and Changing Perceptions on Oromia and Ethiopia
3:30 – 3:45 PM
 Coffee Break 
3:45 – 4:30 PM  
Panel IX.
Ethiopia’s Unhealthy Public Health Policy in Oromia
Mesfin Abdissa (Chair)
  1. Begna DugassaLooking back and Pressing forward: Learning from the History of Public Health in Oromia (1887-1907)
  2. Ibrahim Elemo: The Human Cost of Cholera Outbreaks in Ethiopia. Why Secrecy and Who is to Blame?
4:30 – 5:30 PM Panel X.Religion, Nationalism and the Oromo National Movement
  1. Gemetchu Megerssa (Chair): Waaqefanna: Following the Path of Waaqa
  2. Ezekiel Gebissa:  Protestantism and the Formation of Modern Oromo Nationalism; A Study of Agency and Transformation
  3. Jawar Mohammed: The Oromo National Movement and Religions: Interaction and Interdependence
5:30 – 7:00 PM OSA Business Meeting  Registered OSA Members Attend

List of Abstracts for 2013 Oromo Studies Association Conference

Title: Gadaa as the Fountain of Oromo Worldview and Oromummaa
Asafa Jalata, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology and Global and Africana Studies, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, USA
Abstract:  Every society has its unique organizing and ruling ideas that it uses as its lenses to look at and interpret the world to survive freely and advance its civilization or its ways of life without interruption. Before the Oromo were colonized and shifted from their worldviews, they had also their central organizing and ruling ideas that were embedded in gadaa civilization that organized and guided them as a society socially, culturally, religiously, politically, militarily, and economically. Without retrieving and developing the best elements of this civilization, the Oromo cannot developOromummaa fully as their organizing and central ideology to empower themselves as a nation in the twenty first century by recognizing and overcoming the devastating ideologies and behaviors of their oppressors that have confused and disempowered them by becoming part of their behaviors and actions.
Title: Singing Ateetee: Arsi Oromo women’s means of upholding and asserting their rights
Leila Qashu, PhD Candidate in Ethnomusicology, Memorial University of Newfoundland (Canada), Trudeau Foundation Doctoral Scholar
Abstract: In the constantly changing society of the Arsi Oromo, women have a spiritual and musical ritual, called ateetee, which they can use for several purposes, which include: childbirth, sickness, scarcity of rain, war, disputes and gender violence. Today there is no longer much use for the prayers for men who go to war, but many of the other ateetee prayers are used. In times of difficulty, or when women want to gather, they go near the river or under a specific tree to sing these prayers. At pilgrimages, such as Sof Umaar Guutuu in Nansaboo region (southwest of the Bale National Park), women sing ateetee to pray as part of their spiritual practice, and sometimes specifically for loved ones who are suffering. In the case of gender abuse, when a woman has been dishonoured by another person in any way (verbally, physically or other), she can gather with other women in front of the offender’s house to perform this song- and poetry-based ritualat the end of which the offender is expected to confess his/her guilt, offer a gift and ask for forgiveness.
Whether it is prayers for rain, a Gaada ceremony, or a women’s dispute resolution ceremony, women are the spiritual leaders that must initiate the ritual ceremonies through sung prayer. In this paper I will attempt to examine how Arsi women use narrative and the expressive oral arts and why they are so vital to the practice of the ritual and to their place in society. Through the ritual and the action of singing, Arsi women not only defend but assert their rights within their societies and further afield. In this talk, I will use examples of different types of ateetee ceremonies and the voices of the participants of these gatherings to explore the origins and the make-up of Arsi Oromo women’s spiritual rituals and how they are perceived within their societies.  I will specifically discuss ateeteeand the siinqee institution and how they are used as both a spiritual and societal power and to uphold women’s rights in their society.
Title: Passing the Torch: Cultural Ways of Knowing and Empowerment Practices of Oromo Women
Tsehai Wodajo, MSW, LGSW, Resources for the Enrichment of African Lives (REAL), Minneapolis, MN, USA
Abstract: In recent years, Oromo and non-Oromo researches have revealed the rich culture of the Oromo.  Due to the imposition of the dominant, ruling society, some Oromo were afraid to practice their culture, some quietly kept the Oromo way of life intact, others considered their culture and values as a backward, and still others took for granted that they knew their culture. I was one of those who took it for granted.  I assumed I knew my culture as I am fluent in Oromiffa and I worked as an Oromo radio journalist for eleven years during the military rule. It was after I came to the US as an adult that I became hungry for deeper knowledge about my culture especially the puzzling mistreatment of Oromo women. I become very interested to know if Oromo women had traditional cultural systems with which to deal with verbal and physical abuse.  I discovered that Oromo society did, indeed, create and practice a way of life that had checks and balances in place to promote dignity and self-worth of the women, particularly through the institution of siiqee or siinqee (Kumsa 1997).
In this paper, I stress the need to acknowledge and bring back these checks and balances in order to address the alarming disparities in education and the social and economic sector for women and to empower Oromo women in Ethiopia and beyond.  According to the World Health Organization studies, 71% of Ethiopian women surveyed reported that beating a wife is justified.  Studies like this and others on the battering or mistreatment of women support the long-held hurtful and misguided cultural attitudes that hinder progress and reveal the horrible conditions of some women.  Using the role of the nonprofit organization, REAL, this paper explores these attitudes and disparities in order to provide recommendations to once again empower Oromo women: to increase their status in their community as peace keepers, spiritual promoters and economic, political and social developers.
Title: Songs of Exile: Singing the Past into the Future
Kuwee Kumsa, Ph.D. Faculty of Social Work, Wilrid Laurier University, Canada
Abstract: In this paper I present Oromo women’s songs, focusing on the specific project I call Songs of Exile. I see the performance of these songs as practices of healing and empowerment. Songs of Exile is born from the confluence of two bodies of work. One is a study of the grassroots Oromo Diaspora women’s movement to reclaim their foremothers’ culture and spirituality. It is part of the larger grassroots Oromo movements of rebirth. The other is a community-based initiative to respond to Toronto’s youth violence and develop strategies of community healing. Both works show a profound suffering of communities uprooted from the richness of their ancestral heritage and flung far and wide into the re-colonizing globalized world. There is a desperate search for ancestral culture and spirituality paralleling the profound sense of loss Oromos experience. Reclaiming and connecting to their ancestral heritage is their way of soothing the pains of their current wounds and healing their communities from the historical trauma that befell their people. It is their way of constructing their own empowerment. Songs of Exile is born to reclaim the past and pass it on to the younger generation of Oromos. It is sung for youth so they can grab it, bend it and make it their own in their own unique ways for their own unique contexts.
Title: Malicious Monarch or Our Mothers’ Muse?: The Myth of Mote Qorqee
Peri M. Klemm, PhD, Associate Professor of Art History, California State University, Northridge, CA, USA.
Abstract: Among the Afran Qallo Oromo, the myth of Mote Qorqee, queen of the antelopes, offers a counter narrative to the ideals of proper female behavior.  The stories of Mote Qorqee, queen of the hartebeest, describe a shrewd, selfish leader.   She met an early death when she was eventually tricked with riddles and torn to pieces on the back of an antelope. Mote Qorqee serves as a regional archetype that relates to male attitudes toward controlling aggressive women.  This story parallels other tales found throughout Africa that illustrate how women, who once commanded power, lost their traditional political authority to men (Bamberger 1992).  When asked to interpret the antics of Mote Qorqee in the story, Oromo men undoubtedly say that it illustrates that women are not well suited for positions of political power and it reinforces Islamic principles that state that only men should hold public office.  Yet it is also perceived by men and women as an inherently Oromo tale that suggests the life and values of a previous time.  During that time, roughly translated as the era before the deep penetration of Islam, women could govern, women could oversee the distribution of meat, women’s actions were remembered in place names and sacrifices, and women were empowered.  Through these stories, sung and told by women today during wadaaja prayer ceremonies, this paper investigates how Afran Qallo women ritually renegotiate the ways in which power dynamics are played out in everyday circumstances and exercise a voice that is often publically silent.
Title:  Embodying the Oromo Past through Peacemaking and Buna Qalla Rituals: Highlights from the Orma Women of Kenya
Fatuma B. Guyo, Ph.D. Student at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL, USA
Abstract: Oromo people have migrated and spread widely since the 16th century. The dispersion of the Borana and the Orma Oromo groups took them to their present settlement in Northern Kenya. The Orma Oromo migrated even further south into more competitive environment shared also by Bantu farmers. Despite wider dispersion and British colonization in the 1890s, studies have shown that Orma history depicts continuities and changes (Kuwee Kumsa, 1996, Jean Ensiminger, 1987). This study contributes to these works. Through the emphasis on peacemaking roles and buna qalla rituals, the paper explores indispensable roles of the Orma women as agents in the preservation of the Oromo cultural traditions. The argument made is that through peacemaking and buna qalla rituals, the Orma women have created a traditional space in which they constructed their autonomy, identity, and empowerment challenging the common assumptions on their position in their society. Furthermore, the continuity of Orma women’s cultural practices negates the implied total break in cultural identity as a result of colonization and its artificial divide that separated the Kenyan Oromo from their brethren in Oromia. The paper concludes with some ideas for future research.
Title: Counter Revolutionary Democracy
Fayera Nagara, Washington, DC, USA
All peoples of the world see the United States as a champion of human rights and a beacon of democracy. It is only in the United States where a son of an African immigrant runs for and wins the most revered office in the world – the White House. We found a great deal of strength in his experiences and accomplishments. There are many great women and men in the United States who have spoken out and written about their own experiences and struggles to make the world a better place. We have tried to educate ourselves by reading their books, learning about their lives and their experiences that became our sources of inspiration.
As President Clinton put it, “People all over the world are impressed not by America’s power but by the power of our ideas.” We never doubt both because these powerful ideas have made the United States the most powerful country in the world.
A Nobel peace prizewinner and former President of the United States, Jimmy Carter, has written a very good book, Our Endangered Values, America’s moral crisis. This book highlighted the rise of religious fundamentalism in the West, the Middle East and Asia. By integrating faith and reason, President Carter has given a detailed account of religious fundamentalism in Our Endangered Values. Some of these right-wing Christian fundamentalists have become advisors to a former guerrilla fighter and leader of the Marxist-Leninist League of Tigray (MLLT), Meles Zenawi, that later transformed itself into the Tigrean Peoples’ Liberation Front (TPLF) after the collapse of Communism. According to the Ethiopian Review September 1996 edition, Samuel P. Huntington was one of these right-wing political advisors to Meles Zenawi. He was an advocate of “One-Dominant Party System” – Revolutionary Democracy. He advised Zenawi to make Revolutionary Democracy a peasant centered political party by alienating and isolating the educated elite. It is the moral equivalent of a communist ideology – “proletarian dictatorship” but controlled and manipulated from Washington.
Both proletarian dictatorship and peasant dictatorship advocate for one dominant party system so that they manipulate and control the uneducated segment of the society. The author, Faisal Roble, wrote on Ethiopian Review that Tekola Hagos, who defected from the TPLF, calls Huntington a racist. Both ideologies are totalitarian and highly repressive. Linda Gustitus, President of National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT), once said, “Both the United States and the Horn of Africa has become a victim of small thinking”. She asked us to stand up and we did. The majority of torture survivors on that hall were from Ethiopia. About 50% of torture survivors that came to the Washington Metropolitan area are from Ethiopia.
The TPLF was given de-facto recognition to commit crimes against humanity with impunity. Even though ethnic Tigreans account for only 6% of the Ethiopian population, it is widely publicized that they have unfair representation, 93.4%, in the Ethiopian Army leadership. They have controlled all state instruments – the executive, the judiciary, the law enforcement, the security, the military, the election board, the economy and the media. They also controlled all aspects of civil society institutions. The Oromos who account for about 40% of the Ethiopian population have no representation in the leadership of the military. They have been marginalized, became powerless and they are the prime targets of persecution by this minority regime. By controlling the economy, they have become the major investors and land grabbers. To seek partnership, they have invited investors from China, India, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to secure long-term domination.
As per the data we obtained from the Oromo National Academy (ONA), the United States is the major donor to this minority-dominated regime. We believe that this is not good for long-term U.S. African relations. We hope that the United States will be in the right side of history by changing its past flawed foreign policy of supporting dictators because it is destabilizing the Horn of Africa.
Here is a firsthand story written by an American aid worker, Michael Maren, in his book – the Road to Hell. “Michael Maren has spent most of the last twenty years in Africa, first as an aid worker, later as a journalist. He witnessed at close range a harrowing series of wars, famines, and natural disasters. InThe Road to Hell, he tells how CARE unwittingly assisted a Somali dictator in building a political and economic powerbase. How he UN, Save the Children, and many other nongovernmental organizations provided raw materials for ethnic factions who subsequently threatened genocidal massacres in Rwanda and Burundi. He brings firsthand reports of African farmers, Western aid workers, and corrupt politicians from many countries, joined together in a vicious circle of self- interest. Above all, he heralds an important truth: humanitarian intervention and foreign aid activity is necessarily political. It gets hijacked by powerful charities and agricultural interests. It is cynically manipulated by local strongmen to control rebellious populations.”
The Huntington legacy of making citizens powerless over their government was well articulated by Faisal Roble. He wrote,”In such societies where citizens are powerless over their governments, therefore, corruption, coercion and clientelism remain the main political culture.” This is what African Scholars like Professor George Ayite call the “leaking bowl” and what Michael Maren has put on record on the Road to Hell. 
We strongly believe that Africa will develop only when its people create a government that is accountable to the middle class and educated elites not by puppet governments that serve as satellite polity. Therefore, taxpayers’ money should not be given to army generals of a minority regime who hijack aid money to enrich themselves, their family members and their ethnic group only. Instead, aid money has to be given to the people to develop strong civil-society institutions. Africa needs to develop independent media to educate the people about human rights, environmental protections, health and nutrition. Sustainable development will come only when human rights are respected and the middle class and the educated elites freely participate in the governance of their own country. To the contrary, according to an advocacy group based in London, Oromia Support Group, the TPLF has openly declared to eradicate and wipe out Oromo intellectuals. We fled our country because of such persecution by this minority regime.
We have a plan to develop our capacities and we believe that the Oromo people will have a significant impact in developing the Horn of Africa and bringing a lasting peace and stability to the region. Therefore, we kindly ask aid organizations to revisit their past practices and focus on the long-term interest of both peoples of the United States and Africa. We have built a very strong partnership with various academic, human rights, media, community, and religious organizations in the Diaspora. We have also built a network of highly effective Oromo community organizations all over the world. The Ethiopian government uses Chinese technologies to block websites, TV and radio stations broadcasting from these community organizations. They have also restricted local independent newspapers, books, journals and magazines that are critique to the government. We need your support to reverse these undemocratic and repressive practices to reach out and educate our people. We also want to support you to minimize China’s growing influence in Africa.
We have shared values with the United States that has a rich democratic heritage than a totalitarian communist regime of China. The Oromo people have a very good culture of democratic governance – the Gada System that is similar to Jeffersonian democracy. That is why we also say Oromo values are in danger in Ethiopia. We are also aware of the smear campaigns, the scare tactics and political maneuvering in the United States but the Ethiopian experience is in its worst form. In addition to lies, deceptions, corruption and torture, there are killings and extra-judicial executions by the death squads of this regime. We are also very much worried about the severe moral crisis in our region. Our culture of tolerance and moral values are in danger and we are struggling to preserve them for our children too.
Therefore, Meles Zenawi’s supporters were trying to impose 16th century ideas on the Oromo people. They have been using the divide and rule tactics developed by the slave owner, William Lynch since they came to power in 1991.They were imposing a highly autocratic Abyssinian culture on us. Zenawi’s supporters cannot understand the Gada System without making adequate research on it. We have Oromo and non-Oromo scholars who have already studied it. We have capable scholars, community organizers, and professionals in all fields to promote good governance, to protect the environment, to defend human rights for the Oromo people, the minorities in Oromia and other marginalized peoples of the region.
Title: The Years Sky Opened up: A look at the Legacy of the Watershed Era of Oromo Resistance from 1963-1973
Zakia Posey, PhD Candidate, Michigan State University, MI, USA
Abstract: Prior to the attempted coup of 1960, dissent in Ethiopia was sporadic and rarely sustained.  Though the 1960 coup did not lead to regime change, it was unique because its malcontents were concerned more with reform rather than simply the capture of state power.  This event cracked the veneer of legitimacy and invincibility that had previously shrouded Haile Selassie leading to a crisis that would, within a few years, expose the regime to repeated appeals for change.  One major voice rallying for change and improved conditions in Ethiopia, starting in the 1960s, was that of the Oromo.  The establishment of the Macha Tulema Association (MTA) in 1963 marked the first time in modern Ethiopian history that the Oromo developed a national organization that sought to empower, culturally uplift, and economically develop Oromo communities.  The MTA was followed by the protracted rebellion in Bale. Oromos also played a role in the Ethiopian Student Movement (ESM) as activists and they were at the center of the debates on the national question and issues of land reform.  However, by the late 1960s and early 1970s the Oromo activism had reached a ceiling in part because the MTA had been banned, the Bale rebellion forcefully quelled, and the ESM’s solution to the national question would not adequately solve Oromo exploitation and inequality.  By 1973, a group of underground Oromo activists sought to establish an ethnic-specific solution to their problems outside of the structures of resistance that had been heretofore attempted in Ethiopia.  The years between 1963 and 1973 represent a watershed within the history of Oromo resistance to inequality and discrimination within Ethiopia. It was during this period that Oromo dissent and calls for reform were intensified. This period marked the dawn of an explicit and public form of Oromo protest discourse that sought to challenge the ways in which Ethiopia had integrated conquered groups like the Oromo.  In this paper, I seek to highlight the major Oromo organizations, rebellions, and discourses that emerged during this period and to discuss their significance fifty years later.
Title: Diversification and Livelihood Sustainability in a Semi-arid Environment: Evidence from Borana (Joint Paper)
Bichaka Fayissa, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Economics and Finance, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN, U. S.A.
Wassie Berhanu, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Abstract: This paper examines the recently growing adoption of non-pastoral livelihood strategies among the Borana pastoralists in southern Ethiopia. A large portion of the current non-pastoral participation is in petty and natural resource-based activities. Pastoral and crop production functions are estimated using the Cobb-Douglas model to analyze the economic rationale behind the growing pastoralist shift to cultivation and other non-pastoral activities. The low marginal return to labor in traditional pastoralism suggests the existence of surplus labor that can gainfully be transferred to non-pastoral activities. An examination of the pastoralist activity choices reveals that the younger households with education and more exposure to the exchange system display a more diversified income portfolio preference. The findings underscore the importance of human capital investment and related support services for improving the pastoralist capacity to manage risk through welfare-enhancing diversified income portfolio adoption.
Title: Indigenous Oromo Religious Values
Harwood Schaffer, Ph.D., Research Assistant ProfessorDepartment of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, Knoxville, TN, USA
Abstract: The values of Oromo indigenous religion known as Waaqqeefata are identified and explained in relation to democratic governance, socio-economic development, and Oromo worldview and philosophy. Then three major questions are answered: (1) How do Oromos manifest these values directly or indirectly? (2) Are these values important in developing Oromummaa? (2) Why do the enemies of the Oromo people and major religions attempt destroy the values of indigenous Oromo religion?
Title: Moisture as a Source of Life: Environment and Religion among Classical Oromo
Daniel Ayana, Ph.D., Professor of History, Youngstown State University, Youngstown, OH, USA
Abstract: This presentation attempts to illustrate that as the center-piece of their religion the classical Oromo believed that moisture is the source of life for humans, plants, and animals. Just as moisture is the foundation of life, humans, plants and animals also contribute to maintaining moisture for nature to continue its regular course. Plants and animals were also considered essential for human existence. Their lives exist in an intertwined order with seemingly separate classification. This presentation divides human religions into religions of being and religions of becoming, andWaaqefanna, the classical Oromo religion belonged to the former category. With moisture as a starting point of life, classical Oromo religion essentially corresponded to modern environmentalism that is based on technical scientific knowledge. The practical knowledge of the classical Oromo about the source of life must have enabled them to survive the dramatic and sometimes cataclysmic environmental disasters that visited Northeast Africa for millennia. Through this prism one can trace the existence of the Oromo or their ancestors, the Cushitic group, into the pre-historic times in Northeast Africa. Whereas belief in moisture as the source of life and the practice thereby helped the Oromo survive natural disasters for millennia, the revival and maintenance of these ancient understanding is essential for the Oromo to survive in that region.
Title: The Contrast between the Derg Villagization & Woyane Land Looting
Taye Nadhi, Independent Researcher, Northern Virginia, USA
Abstract:  This paper compares the impact of villagization or the forced resettlement and land grab schemes in Oromia carried out by the Derg and by the Woyanne regimes.
The Ethiopian revolution of 1974 brought radical changes to the feudal land tenure system that had prevailed. Under the Derg regime, millions of rural Oromo inhabitants were evicted by force from their ancestral lands. People demolished their houses, barns, etc and moved into new designated areas. According to the government, the program was to accelerate the socio-economic development of the rural people. In reality, villagization brought massive destruction of homes and other tangible property along with gross mistreatment, hardship, and suffering to the people affected by it. Farmers and shepherds had to travel several miles daily to plough their land and find grazing plots for their cattle which led to chronic loss of agricultural production, overall livelihood and recurring famine.
Although villagization was designed for the whole country, it was most thoroughly and fully implemented in Oromia and only a few other ethnic regions. The Derg regime had several unstated goals in planning and executing its plans. It was designed to punish those who opposed the Land Proclamation Act. It also enabled the government to deny local support for armed rebellious groups and effectively control the scattered rural population. The ruling class also wanted to change the demographic composition of Oromia and undermine Oromo nationalism.
The current land-grabbing scheme of the Woyanne is also pursued under the guise of development and commercialization of arable land. The corrupt ruling class, together with their associated business oligarchs, forcibly and illegally remove farmers using armed security forces in order to lease or sell the land to foreign investors while pocketing millions of dollars. For example, Oromia districts around Sheger (Addis Ababa) such as Sululta, Holeta, Bishoftu, Aleltu and many more were annexed into Sheger from Oromia as they are industrialized and are undergoing major economic development. There have been rapid demographic changes in those regions as the land is slated to be given to new settlers relocating from outside of Oromia.
The Oromo people today are facing the brunt of exploitation and unimaginable misery from tyrannical rule. Past and present autocratic regimes use villagization, resettlement, land lease as tools to impoverish Oromos leading to loss of economic and social consequences in their identity, culture, and language for years to come. Land is not only an economic asset but an essential element in preserving the soul and spirit of Oromia.
Title: Silencing the Oromo under the guise of Countering Terrorism: Proclamation No. 652/2009 and Human Rights
Bona L. Geshe, MA, Ph.D. Student of Comparative Constitutional Law (LLM) at the Central European University, Budapest, Hungary
Abstract:  The September 11 terrorist attack perpetrated by Al-Qaeda on United States could be regarded as a turning point in the so called ‘war on terror’ both at the international and national levels. In compliance with a series of UN Security Council Resolutions there was an apparent unity of States to prevent, punish and combat ‘terrorism’ although there is still no consensus on its definition or binding comprehensive international instrument. This international move to combat terrorism had also triggered the adoption of the Anti-terrorism proclamation No. 652/2009 in Ethiopia although it was rather used to advance the incumbent government’s goals of cracking dissent.
The House of Peoples Representative (HPR), which is almost solely controlled by one political party the Ethiopian People’s Democratic Front (EPRDF), have adopted various ‘unconstitutional’ legislations to advance the party’s policies contrary to the country’s international human rights obligations and constitutionally guaranteed liberties. One of these legislations is the Anti-terrorism proclamation which incorporates various vague and broad provisions making it easier for the government to limit,inter alia, freedom of assembly, association, speech and self-determination of the Oromo. By exercising the power entrusted on it by Article 25 of the proclamation the HPR have proscribed the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) as a ‘terrorist organization’. This proscription endangered not only the right of the Oromo to fight for their self-determination but also to peacefully take part in the public life of the Country by organizing themselves under political parties of their choice within the ambit of the 1995 Federal Constitution. Recent trends of increasing political repression which mainly targeted Oromo based lawful political Parties confirms the fact that counter terrorism in Ethiopia is just another systematic measure of continuing marginalization of the Oromo.
In this paper the author addresses the justifications to counter ‘terrorism’ as well as the challenges of counter terrorism measures on human rights taking the situation of the Oromo in Ethiopia. The saying that ‘one person’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter’ could best be illustrated with regard to the Oromo struggle for self-determination and Ethiopia’s response to it. This paper also incidentally addresses challenges of one party control of the parliament on the role of the later to carry out its function of overseeing human rights.
Title: Looking back and pressing forward: Learning from the History of Public Health in Oromia (1887-1907)
Begna Dugassa, Ph.D., Toronto Public Health, Toronto, ON, Canada
Abstract:  The impulse to care and the willingness to hurt are dependent on the real/assumed biological, social and cultural distances between groups of people. The harms that colonizers perpetuate reflect those distances. Colonizers tend to harm more severely people whom they see as being beyond their scope of care: “the enemy” and “the inferior”. For centuries, the Oromo and Abyssinian people lived in adjacent territories. Although the two groups fiercely competed on resources and ideologies, no one had established the upper hand over the other. Driven by racist epistemology, in the 1880s the European empire builders provided military hardware to Abyssinia to conquer Oromia, an event that led to the formation of the present state of Ethiopia. In the process of colonization and consolidation of power, half to two-thirds of the Oromo people died. What were the causes of this tragedy?
Critical analyses of the history of colonial public health suggests that as the indigenous people lost their sovereignty, the imperial social policy contributed by compromising their safety and security and leading to mass death and several indigenous peoples were exterminated. The major contributing factors to the extermination of several indigenous people are: a) deliberate introduction of infectious diseases; b) cross border military and settlers’ movement and the spread of known/unknown infectious diseases; c) turning unfortunate tragedy i.e. infectious diseases into opportunity and using it as a biological weapon, d) neglecting diseases and famines, e) disrupting the social conditions of the colonized peoples and f) denying the people their developing leadership and preventing them from solving their problems.
The primary objective of this paper is to examine the social-biological conditions that have caused the deaths of half to two-thirds of the Oromo people. The secondary objective is to examine the behaviors of Abyssinian leaders and their public health policies in Oromia. I argue that to prevent future tragedies and promote health the Oromos need to critically examine the past and the contemporary Ethiopian public health policies in Oromia. This study will serve as a social laboratory, and will help us to understand the past and provide vital tool to prevent such a tragedy. This informs policy makers the need to consult history and learn from the wrongs of the past and pave a direction toward a better future.
I take a close look at the ways the Italian/Abyssinia colonial forces introduced Rinderpest virus that led to the loss of 90-95% of cattle and caused famine. The Rinderpest virus or cattle plague emerged before/during the colonization and pacification of Oromia (1887-1907). In this paper I explore the way the virus came to sub-Saharan Africa, the roles of Italian and Abyssinian colonial policies and its social, political, economic, cultural and ecological impacts.  Finally, I suggest what the Oromo people need to learn from this tragic event.
Title: Human Rights Violation against the Oromo Continues: Change without Improvement
Garoma Wakessa, Director of Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa, Toronto, ON, Canada
Abstract:  Following the death of Mr. Zenawi, Ethiopians and their friends, expected some kinds of changes (improvements) in human rights situations which was continued for the past twenty two years in the country. Many human rights organizations promptly came up with their statements in which they urged the successor of Meles Zenawi to work for a change towards improving  the bad human rights records of the late Prime Minister for the last 22 years.
Sadly enough, the change didn’t come and 22 years of  Zenawi’s government policy which was characterized by persistent repression of fundamental and basic human rights egregiously continued under the slogan “ Zenawi’s Vision & Promise”.
This paper will examine the continuation of government terror after the death PM Meles Zenawi under the slogan“ Zenawi’s Vision & Promise”  to which Oromo nationalists and supporters of independent organizations have been subjected by the terrorist EPRDF regime. Since 1991 soldiers and secret agents of the regime have been massacring thousands of innocent Oromo nationals while tens of thousands have been detained for years at concentration camps and numerous prisons all over Oromia and other areas of Ethiopia. In the past few years the    regime has evicted by force thousands of Oromos without consent and compensation from their ancestral lands. This paper will attempt to show the Ethiopian Government’s accountability for the atrocity it had committed/committing against Oromos and other Nations and Nationalities in the past 22 years s under the basic principle of “state responsibility” under international customary law and international treaty it has signed and ratified that any state who violates its international obligations must be held accountable for its acts.
Title: The Human Cost of Cholera Outbreak in Ethiopia: Why the Secrecy and who is to blame?
Ibrahim Elemo, M.D., MPH, Vanguard Weiss Memorial HospitalChicago, IL, USA
Abstract:  Background Information: The World health Organization (WHO) reported in 2009 that the African continent accounts for 98.2% of the total global burden of Acute Watery Diarrhea (AWD) cases reported worldwide. More than 30 African countries reported a total of 217, 333 cases of AWD, including 4, 883 deaths with CFR of 2.25%. The index case of AWD was reported in Ethiopia from Gambella region on 15th of April 2006 and continued for over four years before the country developed a comprehensive framework, Prevention and Control Guidelines of AWD in 2011; without ever acknowledging the existence of Cholera outbreak.
Methods and Materials:
Review of secondary data from WHO and other International health authorities, published articles from studies conducted in Ethiopia, and news reports from international medias was done. I also employed key informant interviews of Health professionals involved in the campaign to contain the outbreaks and my own personal observations when the outbreak started in Oromiya in 2006.
In 2006, a total of 51, 201 cases of cholera and 558 deaths with overall Case Fatality Rate of 1.1% were reported from 146 districts in 8 regions. According to the “Weekly Epidemiological Record” outbreak news report, on 28 September 2006, MOH in Ethiopia reported a total of 22, 101 cases of AWD, with 219 deaths. Seventy Nine percent (79%) of the cases occurred in Oromiya region’s 19 zones with 56 districts reporting outbreak of AWD syndromes.   In 2007, the outbreak spread to other regions and districts in the country with 317 districts reporting cases of AWD. There were 49, 511 cases and 775 deaths from the persistent outbreaks of Cholera with even a higher overall CFR of 1.3%.  In 2006 and 2007 there were more than 110,000 cases of Cholera with 1200 preventable deaths due to lack of timely treatment of cases, and provision of the necessary and right antibiotics at all levels, ill-informed policies of the regime.
In 2009 31, 509 cases of AWD and 434 deaths were reported from 130 districts with a CFR of 1.38%. A Study conducted by Abera B, et al from Bahir Dar University in August 2006 –September 2008 confirmed that the outbreaks were in fact caused by Vibrio Cholera serotype 01. Another epidemiological study conducted in Oromiya by a researcher from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA, reported outbreak of cholera affecting 3 zones of Oromiya where the overall CFR was 1.11% (range 0%- 6.4%) and the attack rate was 0.5%. Later, the outbreaks, were confirmed as caused by Cholera.
Ethiopia is signatory to the WHO international health regulations and is obliged to report outbreaks of non-endemic diseases and diseases with international health significance. However, the regime in Ethiopia never confirmed the presence of Cholera epidemic in the country; although hundreds of people had been affected and thousands of lives lost. It is reasoned out that the regime chose to hide the outbreaks as being caused by Cholera out of the concern that such disclosures affect export of agricultural products and tourism. I will discuss the nature of cholera outbreaks in Oromiya /Ethiopia, the roles of other stakeholders; and if human rights of Oromos and other human subjects have been violated and if criminal prosecution of regimes officials is possible under international laws in the future.
Title: Compatibility of Oromtittii and Oromtichaa
Haile Hirpa, Ph.D., Assistant District Director – OFCCP, United States Department of Labor, Philadelphia District Office, PA, USA
Abstract:  The Oromo nation has developed a unique culture and a way of life under the umbrella of the “Gada Democracy”. Today, majority of the Oromo people live in East Africa. Due to the 21st century globalization and the mobility of people in the entire world, the Oromo people are now scattered all over the wold.Oromo intellectuals can be found in all corners of the world. These movements have advantages and disadvantages.
This article is trying to address one of the major challenges of Oromo intellectuals in diaspora are facing and the future trends. Most of the Oromo male intellectual in diaspora are married to Oromo women. However, most young Oromo men and young women born in the western world are not showing the greatest enthusiasm to get married to each other. Both Oromo young man and Oromo young women have started question why they should be united in marriage. There are several compelling reasons why an Oromo man should get married to an Oromo women and vise versa.
Oromo women are one of the most beautiful human beings. They are also family loving, trustworthy, smart, heroine, athletic, and very sexy. At the same time, Oromo men are elegant, family loving, trustworthy, smart, hero, athletic and very sexy. These are documented in the history of the Oromo people. Therefore, the Oromo youth should be educated on the above wonderful characteristics and be encouraged to look for each other. Oromo community organizations, cultural entities, religious organizations and educational forums should promote the Oromo marriage.
Title: U.S. Foreign Policy in Ethiopia from the Era of Emperors Lij Iyyasu to Haile Sellasie
Kadiro Elemo, MA, Chicago, IL, USA
Abstract:  My presentation deals with the United States foreign policy towards Ethiopia from the era of Lij Iyyasu to the fall of the era of Emperor Hayla Sillase.  
The United States, the greatest democracy on earth, is founded upon a constitution and the Bill of Rights. The U.S. alliance with Ethiopia, however, entertains irony of the U.S. flamboyant rhetoric to stand for the cause of human rights around the world on one hand, and its silence to the atrocities committed by the Ethiopian government, on the other hand. The policy is driven by national security  and self-interest, in which case the human rights causes are forsaken and offered as the sacrificial lamb. Because of this, the U.S. refused to support Lij Iyyasu when he tried to reform the Abyssinian oppressive and exploitative system. It carelessly supported the regime of Hayla Sillase as an ally to contain the spread of communism. The U.S. helped him to defeat insurgence in Ogaden, Bale, Eritrea, and Silent when a Macha-Tulama Self-help Association was abolished. The U.S. policy back-lashed and Ethiopia became a communist hot cake. The students the U.S. immersed in anti-communism curricula chose Marxism as an alternative ideology to the sham of liberal America that under-gird and underpinned the totalitarian rule.

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