Tibebu Demeke from Hof, Germany
In the eyes of any country in the world, Ethiopia looks and is considered as one unit, but for almost one and half century it has never integrated all of its regions, nations and nationalities into one political community with equality and justice. North Ethiopia or traditionally called the Abyssinia has for long till now controlled the socio-political & economic power in the North as well as in the South which consists of regions conquered by the rulers of the North in the late 19th century. Since the South was a conquered and subjugated region, its land was divided among the heads of state and superiority of the North and owned by them until the late 1970′s till 1974 Revolution made land property of the state. As the system before the Revolution was feudalism, farmers in the South owned neither the farmlands nor the products of the farmlands; called the Gebbar (Serfdom) System. The landlords owned the outputs of farmers as well as the farmlands. And no such land system existed in the North, where farmers owned their farmlands and their products as well.
Although from 1974 till 1991( during the military junta) a uniform land system was put in place across all regions in Ethiopia and the regime successfully abolished colonial land tenures of Abyssinian monarchic regime through the socialist revolution of Ethiopia , the regime became the absolute owner of the land and was not ready to respond for the political quest of self-determination rights of colonized peoples of Oromia, Eretria, and other Southern Ethiopia positively, rather continued dictating the colonial empire of socialist Abyssinia for 17 years through civil wars. And now almost from 1991 on during the TPLF regime we notice the reemergence of the North-South divide about land ownership & management system just like the one which existed in the year 1889 – 1974 /during the Imperial regime /. Instead of having a uniform land ownership and management system, the current regime which hails from the North has launched a Green Revolution in the North where land is owned and managed by the farmers themselves while vast hectares of prime farmlands are being sold to foreign governments and international companies in the South. This practice is commonly known as’’ land grabbing’’. (The Evil Strategies of Land Grabbing in the Southern Part of Ethiopia, By Assefa Getachew E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Land grabbing is defined as the snatching of land by a nation, state, or organization, especially illegally or unfairly (Dictionary.com), this definition mainly reflects land use policies of direct colonization of a nation or a country by cover of civilization; however the following definition is a reflection of indirect colonization through politics of global economy. The most common definition of global land grabbing refers to large scale land acquisition be it purchase or lease for agricultural production by foreign investors (Daniel and Mittal, 2009). It is a new form of agricultural neo-colonialism. The term land grabbing is therefore to depict on one hand, the colonial character of land acquisition by foreigners and on the other hand the illegitimacy and illegality of the practice. By forcing and evicting the Oromo farmers, huge plots of land was already sold to foreign investors and Ethiopian highlanders having close connection to the ruling political party. But the fact is that Land in Oromia belongs to the Oromo people and it is only the Oromo people that should make the decision rather than someone from far away as Tigray to give away the Oromo lands.
The current regime has sold out several million hectares of fertile land to the foreigner investors after forcedly displacing Oromo farmers from their ancestral land. This grabbing of land ended the indigenous people without shelter and foods. The government is saying that the land given to investors is bare or grazing land but here I am personally a witness for this and other related issues, I am an agronomist, Horticulture department who had been working as a supervisor in one of those rose production farms, other than that I had a lot of agronomist friends working on the same sector in different parts of Oromia and had a good access of getting information about the ongoing issues all over the Oromia region. I made a close contact with different Guards of different farms especially where I have been working, and they used to tell me the whole details of their ancestral lands which they were producing huge amount of Teff, wheat, barley and other related crops but now they are ended without land and they are merely guards paid from 35-45 dollars a month which cannot feed their children, fail even to full fill the necessary teaching materials of their elementary class students. This displacement of the Oromo people accompanied by limitless human right violations set the Oromo to be the vast number of immigrants in the horn of Africa too. http://farmlandgrab.org/cat/show/116
Those who protest are being targeted for arrest, torture and finally exposed for the extra –judicial killings. Journalists and human rights advocating in Ethiopia who speak out against these abuses are silenced or exiled. Giving such large plots of land to private investors exposes the Oromo people to aggravated poverty, expands serious food insecurity, restricts their free movement with large cattle as they used to do in the past, intensifies conflict, degrades ecosystem and advances violation of human rights. The evicted Oromo farmers will later be going to the towns and start begging for the survival, or be employed as cheap guards and day-laborers to work day and night on their own lands without owning the outputs, similar to the feudal system of the Ethiopia before 1974. On top of that, the environment in the South will degrade as heavy usages of agricultural additives spill into ground waters, and that has a big risk for the cattle’s and people in general, it is a very serious issue now a days, as an example in central Oromia thousands of people and their livestock died due to the industrial pollution directly released to rivers and lakes http://oromialandinfo.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/.
Unlike the Green Revolution in Tigray, the goal of the Land Grabbing generally in South and particularly in Oromia is not to avoid famine, but to export all of the grains out of the food-strapped Ethiopia so that the rulers can get foreign currency in return – similar to other export cash crops, such as coffee, chat and others. Thus Successive Ethiopian regimes coming out of Abyssinia and controlling the whole political and socio-economic power developed arrogant discriminations that mainly targeted the Oromo people. This trend apparently observed among, both the past and current, Ethiopian regimes and partners. Since the current regime is reassuring the subjugation, disregarding and repression policy of the old regime. And the TPLF regime strategically manipulates insecurity and instability to achieve the hidden objective of damaging the livelihood assets of the Oromo peoples. Therefore land grabbing by TPLF regime for global investors is nothing to do with improvement of subsistence livelihoods of rural communities of the Oromo people rather it is Ethiopia’s deliberate policies of forced relocation, discrimination, repression, and as it is explained environmental devastated are enabled, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11991926 .
Generally it needs our all group and individual involvement in the Oromo national struggle, if we do that, without any doubt we will liberate and save our land!!
Freedom to the oppressed Oromo nation!!
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