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Jaal Lalisee Roobaa- is an artist & veteran freedom fighter who served the Oromo Liberation Front for many years.

Will declaring independence really cause insurmountable problems?

Editor’s note: This article is a response given by Tsegaye Ararasa to recent speeches by Jawar Mohammed and Lencho Letta. 

The argument that Oromia “lacks a strong economy,” “will face security problems,” and “will be attacked by various regions surrounding it (especially by the Somali and peoples of the South),” if it is to become an independent country is unacceptable.

 Why?  

First off, security issues are less likely to arise once we defeat our enemies by force, build our own defense force, seize control of our territory and gain the respect of our neighbors. Security concerns should scare us only when we are as powerless and subjugated as we are right now.

Secondly, our neighboring regions attacked us not when we were independent, but when we were in captivity and lack a strong defense force. After we defeat the PP army and our people are in a position to determine their own destiny, our neighbors will respect us; they will not wage wars against us. Which neighboring region attacked Tigray after it fended off PP, Eritrean and Amhara forces?

When the Oromo boldly declares its independence, it will be respected, feared, and will give hope to neighboring nations such as the Somali and the Southern Nations. The Oromo can even be a staunch ally to them. Therefore, Oromos should prepare themselves to build an arrangement like the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). An independent Oromia will have more friends than enemies that attack it. 

 “We lack a strong economy”

It is not correct to say that the Oromo does not have a strong economy. At the very least, it is a nation that is the largest in Ethiopia, both in terms of population and land area. This can be capitalized and easily converted into an economy. But how can Oromia, which sustains Ethiopia (through agriculture, mining, tourism, etc.) fail to be sufficient for itself? Is Oromia poorer than Eritrea, Tigray, or other African countries? It is absurd.
Map of Oromia
Even if we were destitute, do we choose oppression for fear of a poor economy?? Is the price to pay for the economy our freedom and independence? This is morally wrong. 

“We won’t have a seaport” 

In discussions regarding an independent Oromia, it’s common to hear some people say, “We won’t have a seaport because we are landlocked”.

Countries such as Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, and many others do not have seaports. However, that did not stop them from declaring their independence. When Tigray holds a referendum and becomes independent, it will be another landlocked country. But the fear of lack of a seaport will not deter them from seeking independence. Oromia’s case is no different.

For a country with the largest population and land in the horn of Africa like Oromia, countries who rent or sell seaports will come looking for us— for their own gain. A lack of seaports won’t be an issue. There are many competitors who will rent their seaports to us.  Djibouti, Barbara, and Zeila (Somaliland), Kismayo (Jubaland), Mogadishu (Somalia), Mombasa (Kenya)— if all these countries will not rent their ports to us, what will they do with them? Therefore, issues related to security, economy, and seaports, are not problems that prevent us from freedom. Leaders who list these as problems and look for excuses are only trying to intimidate the public out of their own fears.

What is the problem? 

The Oromo people are not scared of independence. It is Oromo leaders who lack a vision for independence or can’t imagine a nation built beyond Ethiopia, who try to list these “issues” that aren’t real obstacles and tell us why we can’t build an independent nation. They do not hesitate to fight to restore Ethiopia. They have a hard time imagining an independent Oromia!