The Search for Oromo Leadership

Dr. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis

I went very attentively through Mr. Abdulkadir Gumi´s article ´Oromos: unblessed with leaders´ and I do find it as an excellent opportunity to exchange with my friend some ideas and approaches in public.

 I know Mr. Abdulkadir Gumi personally, and I have come to appreciate (and benefit from) his strong Oromo culture, his political resoluteness, and his commitment to the Oromo Cause. Abdulkadir is a young Borana Oromo political activist, who deserves great respect for the help he has offered to many Oromo refugees, penniless refugees, and undeservedly imprisoned asylum seekers.

In an opinion editorial published yesterday in many websites, Mr. Abdulkadir Gumi asserted that the Oromo Nation has currently no great caliber political leaders able to “rise above their village, clans, interest”. Little matters whether I agree with the statement or not. Abdulkadir may be right in his comparisons with examples of African leaders, but I would like to pinpoint some yet unnoticed truths. At the end of this article, I republish Mr. Abdulkadir Gumi´s editorial which was the occasion for me to put together the following points.

Point 1 – Worldwide lack of political (and not only) leadership

Searching worldwide, one can hardly find political leaders worthy of their titles. One can go through numerous editorials, analyses and even books about the subject. The issue is not quite new, but I would add that it gets continually deteriorated year after year, decade after decade. I came to first notice it in the 80s, when political commentators in Europe explained that the then generation of statesmen and politicians (Helmut Kohl, Hans Dietrich Genscher, Giulio Andreotti, Margaret Thatcher, James Callaghan, Francois Mitterrand, Jacques Chirac, Jimmy Carter, etc.) were of smaller caliber and poorer performance than the previous generation of European and American statesmen who reshaped Europe and America in the aftermath of WW II (Konrad Adenauer, Alcide De Gasperi, Winston Churchill, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, Charles de Gaulle, etc.).

I would add that ever since the same motif has been repeatedly employed within more specific contexts, academic, artistic, philosophical, spiritual, etc. Viewed as such, it is omnipresent in almost every era and every period of human civilization; only in few periods of zenith it is momentarily forgotten. This is the so-called ´concept of decadence´, according to which the past is always greater, higher, nobler, and consequently, more classic. People have always been familiarized with the concept that in the past ancestors were heroic, epic, and grandiose.

In fact, average people and political leaders change very little and their caliber is generally the same; what changes and in the process confuses our understanding is the era in which we live. Our acts and our thoughts, our quests and our hopes create instantly different contexts within which everything is viewed differently. Sometimes, this is also true, another context is truly a lower context, and then it would be impossible to expect greater thinkers, leaders, intellectuals and visionaries. The context is always reflected in the people who compose it, because they first express in it their deep thoughts, worries and perceptions.

Placing the subject within the context of our times, we can only agree with the approach; our era of conventionalism, materialism, relativism, conformism and subjectivism helps proliferate corrupt statesmen, crestfallen leaders, and conventional thinkers who are held captive of fallacies and forgeries that appear to them as awfully great and therefore impossible to challenge. These are the myths of our times that we avoid to demolish because this would deprive us of the hierarchical approval of our lethargic society where the manipulation is omnipresent and the fraud remains omnipotent.

Befallen societies – real, decomposed social corpses cannot by definition bring forth great leaders; when an overwhelming pan-sexism is matched with cynical individualism, which is measured in millions of dollars and reconfirmed by social bubbles, the so-called leaders and intellectuals are devoid of originality, in-depth knowledge, and humane understanding, let alone wisdom and erudition. Social solidarity takes then the form of soiree de gala whereby caviar and champagne do not allow the attendants to focus on the dramas of billions of impoverished and starving masses.

In the societies of End, there will be no leader; not because there are not or there cannot be. But because by accepting to lead the present elites, they would defame to very concept of leadership – which they are certainly not ready to consent with. In fact, the situation observed by Mr. Abdulkadir Gumi among the Oromo society hinges on global developments of the last 50 years.

Point 2 – Political leadership and realistic solutions

Political leadership does not necessarily mean great personality, but effective delivery of realistic political solutions. This is a point of clash within some Oromo leaders; I believe some of them are truly great people who have been exposed to extreme experience opportunities and formed very strong personalities. The same concerns Oromo theoreticians, academics and intellectuals.

One must have a perspicacious sight in this regard; what is a value for these Oromo leaders and intellectuals is not necessarily a value for our present collapsed world. Delivery of realistic solutions by a political leader and statesman is conditioned by adequate acceptance of the values of the present world. Yet, one can be a great person and fail to deliver a realistic political solution; the measures of this world are such that impose debasement and ignominy as key to success.

People who insist on preserving their integrity have definitely poor chances to successfully deliver.

Point 3 – Political action results from correct plan and timing

Epicenter of efficient political leadership is the well-timed and correctly planned political action. This is not an easy task for leaders of organizations, fronts and movements that struggle for the national liberation of oppressed peoples. Most of them have grown in clandestine conditions without attendng a school of political science, thought and action.

Many Oromo leaders of liberation fronts and organizations, before taking a vital decision, ignore the real dimensions of the issue concerned, and are not able to correctly evaluate whether their impending action´s timing is good or not. This can be remedied through collective forms of leadership and through further involvement of the Oromo academics in the various liberation fronts, organizations and associations.


There is a great number of Oromo academics and intellectuals, who except from serving as the oppressed nation´s scholarly assets, could definitely help Oromo political leaders renowned for their strong clandestine experience but also for their political unawareness. For the years ahead, it will be decisive to offer these Oromo academics and intellectuals key positions of councilors and advisors and let them define many non political and political aspects of the Oromo National Struggle for Independence.

In fact, all the Oromos must understand that the real fight starts now! It would therefore be wise to view the ´Oromia Tomorrow´ project from scratch and holistically. There is always time for a comprehensive plan, target prioritization, adversary targets´ analysis, and internationalization of the Oromo struggle for National Independence – which must make the headlines and the breaking news allover the world.

Point 4 – Oromo Voluntarism

At this moment, I will refer to an excellent sample of American voluntarism that is very closely affiliated with Oromo social stance; it is the classic quote from President John Kennedy´s inaugural address (20 January 1960):

“And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country”.

This consists in the best answer to Mr. Abdulkadir Gumi´s call for great and honest Oromo leaders to appear. The best Oromo leaders are indeed the unknown Oromos, all those who spent time in jail, have been persecuted throughout Abyssinia, were mistreated by the Abyssinian agents of secret services abroad, and without losing their faith in the ultimate liberation and the rehabilitation of the Oromo Nation, they are ready to do all it takes to get it done.

This is not a figure of speech; it is literarily meant.

The aforementioned quote of the assassinated American President was said for citizens of an established country; for the homeless Oromos, the quote could be paraphrased into the following:

“And so, my fellow Oromos, ask not who will be your leader in the struggle for Independence; ask yourselves how you will be the leader in the struggle for Independence”.

Instead of waiting known and unknown persons to perform and lead the Oromo Nation to Independence, the Oromo youth must truly understand that their contribution to the long desired objective of National Independence is as important as that of any leader.

Through political activism in a great number of fields, pioneering initiatives and proper political monitoring and analysis, young Oormos, acting within small nuclei and impenetrable groups, can exercise a great impact on all the liberation movements, fronts or organizations, and on their leaders. In a forthcoming article, we will examine this issue in detail.

Oromos: unblessed with leaders

By Abdulkadir Gumi


Oromo Leaders should learn from African freedom fighters like John Garang, Mandela and Churchill defended freedom and liberty in their countries that is to show solidarity with the common man. They did it with courage and determination. But before concluding this, it is right to mention the importance of Dr. Garang’s military successes in his homeland of Southern Sudan. Over the course of his military career, John Garang has made some important decisions which helped him win battles in the war of liberation as well as Civil War in Southern Sudan. His success is credited to his best military training he received from Fort Benning, Georgia. Fort Benning is a leading camp for training infantry and commanders. It is appropriate to conclude that freedom is the most precious gift he sacrificed his life for. Sadly, he did not live long enough to enjoy the fruits of freedom and liberty he championed in Sudan. Dr. Garang will be remembered in history as freedom fighter, liberator, diplomat and an iconic figure and an architect of CPA. “Well, if crime fighters fight crime and fire fighters fight fire, what do freedom fighters fight? They never mention that part to us, do they?”

My appeal here is to the leaders of all organizations and Associations in and outside Oromia that what had happened in our country and our organizations, ourselves must blamed for the neglect our people faced. World leaders ignored this expensive region because of poor and inept leaders we elected every time in forest and unknown. Unlike the other people of the world, Oromos, we do not have patriotic leaders who rise above their village, clans, interest to put a claim at the national and international level on behalf of his long suffered people. None of the past and present leaders from this area have articulated regional issues in any meaningful way. The tragedy is that we re-elect incompetent leaders for clan reasons even when we know he has failed us for the last many years. Rather than stake competition for national or international cake, we focus on petty sub-clan superiority and spend every year complaining that we have been marginalized yet we did it to ourselves.

My advice to people from this region is to change their attitude towards the kind of leaders they choose. Let all members and supporters of Oromo political parties be invited to vote for electing leaders who will sacrifice for our people like John Garang and Nelson Mandela. Elderly people can be consulted but the elites should clearly take the mantle to determine potential quality leaders. We should not elect back those who failed us in the past. The region cannot afford to elect semi-educated leaders to an increasingly more professional Diplomat who can fill the name of Oromo Leader of this reign. We must not elect a leader without degree who can sacrifice for his people politically. Let us establish issue based accountability forum of mixed groups to vet and monitor the elected leaders.

Let us elect leaders who can go beyond their clans and hold all Oromos together. We need leaders who go beyond Eritrea and unite its people. This way we shall create a voice to claim our share of the national cake. Positions for such leaders have remained vacant for too long. Let´s aim at filling this gap in this crucial moment. I am sure we shall be free if actually there is people or leaders who sacrifice for the sake of our people “Freedom is for honest people. No man who is not himself honest can be free – he is his own trap.”


Picture: Oromo women can contribute greatly to the struggle for national independence.

Source: American Chronicle



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