The predicament that is besieging Finfinnee (Addis Ababa) today has a historical root directly linked to the empire-building project of Minilik. Without studious understanding of the genesis of this root, it will be a futile exercise to attempt to address the current fiasco surrounding the so-called ‘Addis Ababa Master Plan.’ The debacle of Finfinnee is intertwined with that of Oromiya. It is a subset of the multifaceted problems that Oromiya faces today. Therefore, it should be fitting to acknowledge that it is the undoing of the colonial project entrenched on Oromiya that can once for all do away with the recurrent onslaughts that Finfinnee sustains under the Abyssinian colonial order of various strands.
Under Minilik, the architect of the Ethiopian empire, Finfinnee and its indigenous Oromo residents, particularly Gullallee, Eekkaa, and Galaan kinfolks, sustained what amounts to near annihilation from the wave of unrelenting campaigns geared to making room for the political seat of his newly emerging empire. Finfinnee witnessed environmental degradation of an unprecedented proportion with the slush and burn policy of Minilik and actions of his invading army that cleared its virgin forest and lush vegetation in order to set a permanent footprint – a home for Abyssinian settler colonialism. The natives of Finfinnee – who survived the extermination mission of Minilik – were displaced and headed south and settled with their fellow Oromos. As a result, the once thriving host ofCaffee Tuulamaa – known for its altruistic democratic discourse that served as the prime spring of the rules of law that respected the balance of nature and the rights of its citizens – was replaced with forces of Minilik and members of his oligarchy and court establishments – the source of draconian rules of alien settlers.
Praising Minilik as their trailblazer, the descending Abyssinian rulers to this date followed his suit in shaping the fate of Finfinnee. Haile-Silassie, in his zest for ‘modernizing Ethiopia,’ had embarked on expanding Finfinnee to make it an international city at the expense of Oromos residing on the fringe of the ‘core city of Addis Ababa’ – one that Minilik established for his warlords and their accompanying setters. This expansion further uprooted the Oromo people from the surrounding areas.
Similarly, Mengistu left his own marks on Finfinnee. His land proclamation that confiscated land from feudal lords sent shock waves that forced Abyssinian settlers to flock to ‘Addis Ababa’ from across the empire. This exodus had in turn brought about incessant displacement of Oromo families from the vicinity of Finfinnee.
With the advent of the TPLF brand of Abyssinian rule, Finfinnee has been put on a unique trajectory never envisaged over 130 years of its history. As soon as it came to power, the TPLF, with a proclamation, gave Finfinnee a chartered city status. While this proclamation on paper grants defined and unique rights to the Oromo people, in practice, TPLF has been working on the remaking of Finfinnee; that is, on progressively diminishing the identity of Finfinnee as an Oromo city. Not only Finfinnee, as known under the so-called ‘Charter,’ but also the surrounding suburban towns are being slated for de-Oromonization. This TPLF political project that appears engulfing Finfinnee like a tumor is fast-spreading to the rest of Oromiya.
Unlike its predecessors, the TPLF has grand and subtle social engineering plans to alter the demographic and ethnonational make-up of Finfinnee. The ‘Addis Ababa Master Plan’ is a litmus test. If the Oromo eviction test on the Finfinnee experimental plot fully succeeds, the TPLF will not take much time to implement similar plans throughout Oromiya. In fact, it has already embarked on evicting Oromos and massively resettling its own people in Finfinnee and other urban centres in Oromiya. The scramble for Finfinnee has long started under the guise of development. Elevating the scope of the scramble for Finfinnee beyond its ‘domestic partners’ to the international level, it is relentlessly working to displace the Oromo people from Finfinne and the surrounding towns. In effect, it has put Finfinnee up for ‘sale’ to the best bidders in both domestic and international markets.
The crime that the TPLF has so far committed on the Oromo people is colossal. It has uprooted over 150,000 thriving farming families from Finfinnee and its surrounding towns and reduced them to live in beggary. It has displaced millions Oromos in various parts of Oromiya and exposed them to abject poverty. According to its ‘Master Plan of Addis Ababa,’ it is gearing up to evict over two million more Oromos residing within the geographic area of its plan. In every measure, this act of TPLF clearly attests its genocidal agenda against the Oromo people.
As the ethnic cleansing policy of the TPLF got more glaring, the resistance of the Oromo people has significantly escalated. In an effort of quashing any resistance, the TPLF has been mercilessly murdering and incarcerating Oromos en mass. It is fresh in our memory that it went on killing rampage over a year ago and massacred over a hundred students who peacefully demonstrated against its hidden agenda of the ‘Addis Ababa Master Plan.’
The United Liberation Forces of Oromiya (ULFO) condemns in the clearest term possible the barbaric actions that the TPLF took against the Oromo people in Finfinnee and Oromiya at large. It opposes vehemently the so-called ‘Addis Ababa Master Plan’ and warns that the TPLF stop its implementation.
ULFO praises and supports the Oromo people who with unflinching determination stand against the ‘Addis Ababa Master Plan.’ Understanding the dire situation of Oromos in and around Finfinnee, ULFO calls upon the people of Oromiya to counter what is dubbed as the ‘Master Killer Plan’ of the TPLF with a coherent national liberation plan. This extraordinary situation calls for extraordinary measure. We call on the Oromo nation to rise up in unison and combat the TPLF genocidal campaign aimed at the people of Oromiya. We warn the failure to do so will number the days of our existence as a nation. Against the ‘Addis Ababa Master Plan and generally against the immediate threat to the survival of our nation, ULFO proposes the following action plans:
1. Short-term plan
1.1. Establish a National Task Force for Finfinnee (NTFF) whose specific focus and work is on stopping the implementation of the ‘Addis Ababa Master Plan;’
1.2. Draw members of the NTFF from the cross-section of the Oromo communities across the globe and from liberation forces of Oromiya;
1.3. Develop a clear mandate for NTFF and get it to immediately embark on the campaign;
1.4. Devise financial, material, and human resources mobilization plan for the campaign;
1.5. Establish working groups which can advise on the campaign.
2. Long-term plan
2.1. Understanding the gravity of the Oromo situation under TPLF fascistic rule, all liberation forces of Oromiya must come together unconditionally, iron out their differences, and form one united liberation force that can rally the entire nation behind it and stop the unbridled aggression of the TPLF;
2.2. A united Oromo liberation force must inter into discussion and negotiation with Oromo organizations of different ideological leanings to form an alliance and work on common national agenda;
2.3. Seek and form a mutually agreed upon political union/alliance with oppressed nations and nationalities that equally feel the brunt of the TPLF rule and embark on ending its rule.
At this critical juncture of our history, let’s all rise up as a nation and act. Time is of the essence. Today our issue of concern is the ‘Addis Ababa Master Plan.’ If this plan is left unchallenged, tomorrow many others are likely to follow. Let us all act before it is too late to avert the looming danger facing the Oromo nation. It is only as a united people with a coherent national plan that we can combat the TPLF aggression.
Unity is strength!
Oromiya shall be free!
The United Liberation Forces of Oromiya (ULFO)