Pending Demarcation of the Somalo-Oromo Boundaries
The ruling party in Oromia region, Oromo Peoples Democratic Organization (OPDO), is a member of the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and a close partner of the Tigrian Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF). The question is whether Somalis are in any position to stop the expansion of Oromia territory at the expanse of Somali inhabited districts.
When History is a Witness
According to Fatuh-Al- Habasha, the Conquest of Abyssinia, a traveler’s account of the struggle between Somalis and Christian Abyssinias in the distant past, Sihab ad-Din Ahmad bin Abd al-Qadir bin Salem binUtman gives us a clear account of where Somalis lived in the 16th Century. In reading this book, one gets a clear account that Somalis occupied the land stretching between the Makhir coast to the east and the Axmar mountains to the west , as far west as Ankobara in the Awash valley, and between the scourged rocky deserts of Djibouti to the north and the Shebelle valleys south of the Jarar river. What is remarkable about the Somali settlements in this region is that today’s Somali clans (the Geri, Absame, Bartire, Issaq, Harti of Miad, Issa, Marehaan, Gurgure, Samaroon and other) occupy and reside in the same geographic areas today as they did during Ahmed Al-khzali’s confrontation (Ahmed Guray) with the kings of Abyssinia in the 16th Century.
Multiple invasions by Abyssians as well as draconian measures by successive feudal regimes in Ethiopia did not successfully remove Somalis from their natural ecology. Perhaps that is why the Somali saying: “dhulku waa ma guuraan ” or “ecological belongingness is a permanent phenomenon,” is one of the most endearing Somali concepts.
In an epic expedition stretching from Zaylac to Harar, Sir Richard Burton of England also gives us a perceptive observation of the same Somali ecology almost four Centuries later after the accounts by Sihab ad-Din Ahmad bin Abd al-Qadir bin Salem binUtman. In 1885, Sir Burton, who intimated himself with Somali Garads and Chiefs in this area encountered some Oromos who were indentured servants for (not a community of scale).
A significant trace of Oromos in the Somali inhabited areas (between Shinilee and Zaylac and between Zaylac and Harar) were first seen in the 1930s, only after Haile Selassie was crowned as the viceroy of Ethiopia. In addition, local oral history has it that Garad Ali Garad Koshin (great grandson of Garad Adan who hosted Richard Burton in 1885) brought some Oromos into Jigjga zone as indentured laborers in the late 1930s and 1940s. Today, the powerful Oromia region, under the protection of the ruling EPRDF, is using the children of those indentured laborers as a conduit to expand its territory into traditionally Somali regions as part of its grandiose quest to get access to the warm waters of Somaliland.
Federalism or Fleecing Somali Districts
In 1991, when the victorious TPLF, under the leadership of Mr. Meles Zenawi defeated the fascist regime of Mengistu Haile Marian, a new map depicting Ethiopian ethnic groups was drafted as part of the implementation of the new charter for the country. The new map, intended to be the basis for federalism among multi ethnic groups, divided the country into several ethnic-based states. Among the major nationalities depicted in the map were Somalis, Afars, Oromos, Amharas, Tigres, Sidamas, and a host of other smaller groups. Continued