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The Great Sacrifice By Borana In The Oromo Liberation Struggle

By Salad Malicha

The political emancipation of Oromo and the ignominious defeat of Tigray/TPLF(Tigray Patriotic Liberation Front) and their affiliates in Ethiopia is a culmination of many years struggle and sacrifice. Tens of thousands paid the ultimate sacrifice while many others were arrested, maimed or displaced throughout Oromia. All Oromo groups contributed to the triumph over Tigryean oppressors. In particular, the Boranas of Southern Ethiopia and Northern Kenya contributed significantly to this struggle. This post is a reflection on the contribution of Borana in the Oromo national liberation struggle and briefly provide inside story that has not been in public domain. This is for the benefit of all and sundry as history was rewritten.

The Tigrey regime sunset days was characterised by politically instigated ethnic clashes and massacre of Oromos in Nagelle, Udat, Borbor, Moyale, Bale, Hararge. Consequently, over one million Oromos, among them thousands of Boranas, were displaced. Loses from similar sporadic ethnic clashes where the Tigrey government openly took the side of our opponents cannot be quantified but our victory was always assured.

Oromo Diaspora Resistance

Lelisa Feyisa
Feyisa Lilesa made the biggest sacrifice by showing the sign of resistance on 21 August 2016 |Photo Courtesy

The Oromo Diasporas who fled repression internationalised the Oromo struggle through massive demonstrations in various countries. In particular, the Oromo Olympian Fayisa Lelissa became an international icon of Oromo liberation movement. Fayissa Lelissa is an unsung hero who catapulted the Oromo struggle to global arena with a simple symbolic sign of Oromo resistance as he approached the finishing line receiving double victory. The Oromo musicians kept the fire burning during the high and low moments of the struggle. Oromo professionals changed the toxic narrative of TPLF and provided guidance. Oromo religious leaders were steadfast in prayers. We cannot complete this diaspora paragraph without devoting a space to our brother Jawar Mohamed and Oromia Media Network who provided visibility and galvanised the struggle through strategic communication. We all need to emulate a virtue of sacrificing for the community without being motivated by selfish and highly personal political interests. Special gratitude goes the charismatic Lemma Megersa, president of Oromiya region who played key role in diplomacy by bringing together the Amharas and Oromos ethnic groups who suffered under despotic Tigrey rule. Thank you to all our heroes and heroines for the spirit of teamwork.

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High Status Value

The dramatic arrest of OLF (Oromo Liberation Front) Chairman Dawud Ibsa and proposal to repatriate him to Ethiopia was a serious challenge.  His subsequent release by Borana individuals of goodwill will forever be part of enduring legacy of the Oromo liberation. The release of Dawud Ibsa was secured at great risk to the Borana individuals involved given his tag of High Status Value (HSV).

The Boranas took a leap of faith and provided the much needed gravitas to the Oromo emancipation from yoke of tyranny and slavery. The stride taken by Borana registered indelible mark that will linger into eternity. Borana people, leadership, institutions and individuals of goodwill sacrificed with their blood, life, properties. The community was pressed between a rock and a hard place.

State Sponsored-Terrorism

The Boranas rejected TPLF adventurism in favour of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). Consequently for 27 years, Borana endured state-sponsored terrorism (recently admitted by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Ethiopian Parliament). What happened in Borana areas and beyond were monumental and have left a scar on all Borana leaders, individuals and the institutions. Everyone suffered especially our kiths and kins at the frontline both in Ethiopia and Moyale, Sololo, Waso, Marsabit and Isiolo belt. Thank you the great people of Sololo, Moyale, Saku, Waso, Southern Ethiopia and diaspora at large.


Consequently, the TPLF regime and their surrogates planned to disempower Borana in all dimensions including politics, economy, culture and security. The TPLF regime punished Borana by slicing their land especially the Wayama belt and grafted it to Region 5. It was a tactics of creating protracted and perpetual war in Southern Ethiopia. The loses cannot be quantified.

Oromo demonstration
Demonstrators chant slogans during the Irreecha festival in Bishoftu on 2 October. Later that day, Oromia police fired tear gas, triggering a stampede that left at least 55 people dead. Photograph: Tiksa Negeri/Reuters

The Borana took this great sacrifice out of their fervent desire to uphold and protect the overarching interests and heritage of the Oromo people.

Kenyan Borana Sacrifice

It is worth emphasising that Borana people, leadership and individuals of goodwill contributed greatly to the Oromo struggle. Those at the frontier acted in unison in supporting the struggle providing critical resources, advice and prayers. The late Hon. Mohamed Galgalo, received the initial pressure and put on the radar by the TPLF regime. When the struggle and its challenges gathered pace in post 1997, the late Hon. Abdi Tari Sasura and Hon. Dr. Guracha Galgalo strived to overcome the negative narratives perpetrated in the corridors of government offices questioning their loyalty and that of Borana as a whole. Many of our compatriots were intimidated through cheap lies and innuendos. Our leaders and masses remained steadfast, thereby enabling the victory we are celebrating today. Thanks to our resilient people.

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The Borana leaders, elders and individuals of goodwill provided open and public diplomacy for the Oromo national liberation struggle. An issue that has not been in public domain is the meeting between Gen. Mohamed Farah Aideed and Borana leadership organised by the late Advocate Hussein Sora and the great Waso leaders from Isiolo. Gen Aideed who was on an official visit met elders from Moyale, Sololo, Marsabit and Isiolo. It was a cordial meeting where elders requested Gen Aideed to support OLF. Gen Aideed and later Hussein Aideed established the rear bases for OLF in central and lower Shabelle in Somalia. These bases were the target of Ethiopian invasion in Somalia in December 2006.

President Moi’s Diplomatic Role

The goodwill of the late former Kenya’s President H.E Daniel Arap Moi is unforgettable. It was recently highlighted at a thanks giving session. President Moi took unprecedented steps to reshape the Oromo struggle (to be in public domain very soon). This was in spite of the diplomatic offensive by the TPLF regime to spoil the budding relations between Kenya and the Oromo people. In fact, the reigning Oromo leadership in Ethiopia and the OLF in particular should pay homage to President Moi to thank him for the crucial facilitation and moral support he provided.

The take home message is that the Boranas have been at the helm of Oromo national liberation struggle. The next step is now to join their compatriots to consolidate the struggle by seeking comprehensive redress to resolve the historical injustices manufactured by TPLF, especially the territorial disputes of Wayama belt that was sliced off from their land by the TPLF regime. This will resolve the perennial conflict in that zone and sustain peace building between Oromia and Region 5. The resolution of Borana grievances should be led and owned by a committee of Ethiopian Boranas with tacit support of Kenyan Boranas.

About Whispers from the North

Whispers from the North is an online platform that appreciates the ecological, cultural and socio-economic diversities of Northern Kenya. We also acknowledge that the lives of the communities of northern Kenya has been shaped by a number of intrinsic and extrinsic factors which have led to complex challenge that calls for a multifaceted approach.

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