Is Jawar a Political Commentator or Megalomaniac?

(Dachaassaa Hundaa)

[Previous parts: Jawar Mohammed: A Bull in a China Shop; Jawar’s views on Oromo Politics, Jawar Mohammed’s understanding of Ethiopian Muslims]

A political commentator/analyst or political affairs specialist is an expert in the political issues at hand. This expertise almost emanates from training in the discipline and from practical engagement in the political world. However, all students of political science or active or retired politicians cannot be considered as political analysts. In this regard, one thing about Jawar that is not controversial is the fact that he is a student of political science. Reading some of his commentaries and listening to his interviews, however, is a source of embarrassment for experts of the field. As it is examined in the previous pages, all of Jawar’s writings lack empirical mastery, methodological relevance and even most often conceptual clarity. His ignorance of the history of the Oromo in general and even the process of Islamic belief and practices among the Harerge and Arsi Oromo is outlandish. But the media hosts him for his political rhetoric and never question his analysis partly for the interviewers themselves lack the knowledge on Oromo politics or the Muslim issue in Ethiopia.

When one thinks of Jawar’s expertise, the very incident that could come to his/her mind is Jawar’s interview with Al Jazeera English at the immediate aftermath of the death of the former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.[1] Unlike the two insightful commentators, Jawar, having constructed the gloomy picture of the post Meles Ethiopia, he boldly said: “I expect an implosion of conflict, popular uprising and something that looks like the Syrian situation.” [2]

What kind of comparison was he doing? Comparative analysis does require a number of common variables. Like many other insane Diaspora opposition activists, he could wish for the Ethiopian peopleJawar Mohammed - Al Jazeera who live at home the misery of the Syrians. But, as a political commentator and Ethiopian Affairs specialist, once he compared Ethiopia with calamitous Syria, the burden of proof was entirely his. Yet, he failed to do so and history proved Jawar wrong. In comparative analysis, Jawar’s fault was repeated recently as he attempted to make comparison between the referendum conducted in UK(Scotland) and the possible case in other countries. Are UK and another country in the rest of the world comparable? Are Scotland and a regional state in other countries similar? Are unionists in UK and, in Ethiopia identical, for instance? What an assessment!

More than Jawar’s erroneous comments, his notorious statement on the meencaa solution for the paranoia of imagined religious domination in Harerge/Arsi led many commentators to suspect Jawar’s sanity. He said “in a place where I lived, out of the total population, 99% is Muslim, therefore, no one dares to challenge us, we will cut his throat with meencaa(machete)”[3] He usually boasted of joining Stanford and Colombia Universities. Jawar also lives in the modern country where its civilized society believes in dialogue and the dignity of human life. He benefited a lot from their educational and media system. Alas, he is obsessed still with meencaa! What kind of mentality difference can we point out between Jawar and Islamic Oromo Liberation Fronti(IOLF) soldiers? His speech indicate that he is longing for Islamic Oromiyaa and that Islamic state will be established and protected by act of terrorism. Otherwise how could he think of meencaa(machete)as a solution? Is Jawar really an educated person? Given the chance, wouldn’t he involve in murderous acts? In fact, Jawar could benefit from formal education in enhancing his skill and knowledge. But education can never give him conscience.

As discussed somewhere in this reflection, without questioning the colonial thesis of OLF, Jawar insisted that the Front is an outdated organization and the leadership is old fashioned. In his commentary, he noted “My generation must write its own destiny.  We can learn from our elders’ wisdom and experience, but this generation shall not be held hostage to the old days”.[4] He agitated young Oromo activists to accept his views and called upon them to join the struggle. Recently, in his “paper” on Oromo movement too, he recommended that there should be leadership replacement even by reminding his audience the similar case in the Ethiopian government. When his harsh criticism against the established Oromo political order coupled with his media mania, his ambition for power becomes as plain as a pikestaff. Obviously, when Jawar refers to ‘my generation’, he is referring to the Diaspora youth. According to him, the millions of Oromo young boys and girls at home are his weapons. He stated that today, Oromos are sending their kids to school in millions and are leaving none behind.[5] Therefore, he attempted repeatedly in social media, these innocent young boys and girls can be mobilized and sacrificed for his political agenda.

Lately, news from Oromo Media Network (OMN) further uncovers the true behavior of Jawar. The news informed us that Dr. Hamza Abdurezak, the president of the Board of OMN officially resigned over Jawar Mohammed’s unruly dictation that perpetuates organizational and structural failures.[6] Dr Solomon Bayana, another board member of OMN, has also resigned from his position due to Jawar’s misconduct. As Dr Hamza clearly stated in his interview with a television station, Jawar is literally a dictator and behaves in tyrannical way. According to Dr Hamza , he could not help but quitting his terms of office in the board when Jawar insulted him. “I will not lie to the Oromo people” said Dr Hamza when Jawar expected him to deceive his audience. Regrettably, in his paper on OLF failure, Jawar accused the Front of similar disingenuous act. What a paradox!

Without doubt, for his wicked political agenda, Jawar leaves no stone unturned. Further news from OMN indicates that Jawar, with no professional know-how in journalism, has fired some journalists from the station while the media’s financial backbone is the Oromo Diaspora. It is really a pity to witness that the Oromo Diaspora from all walks of life covers the costs of OMN and the juvenile Jawar abuses their inimitable sacrifices. The Jawar-Dr Hamza confrontation and other stories in OMN elucidate the fact that this ambitious fellow sees media as a tool to his end. In Oromo Diaspora politics, who would be young Machiavellian other than Jawar?

From all his activities and aspirations, there is no question that Jawar is ambitious to be a leader of the new Oromo political movement. He says “My generation must write its own destiny.” Jawar tells us that the previous generation is aging fast and their organization has also become old. Here, it seems that the biological senility and the organizational decay encouraged Jawar to engage in politics with the new old voice. But Jawar, as a proponent of the machete (meencaa) solution in Muslim inhabited Oromiyaa, cannot propose an all-inclusive (Pan-Oromo) political program. It is really sarcastic that the very person who criticized OLF leadership for regionalism himself has widened the age-long rift among Oromo Diaspora activists from Arsi, Wallaga and other provinces of Oromiyaa. It is needles to remind Jawar that all Oromo are not the followers of Islam. As he made clear in his pieces of writing, however, in order to address the Muslim question in Oromiyaa/Ethiopia, he is for the idea of a sort of political Islam. This was, without doubt, a political program of Islamic Oromiyaa Liberation Front (IOLF). Given the overall context in Oromiyaa, the rest of Ethiopia, an international arena, considering theocracy as a political solution for the question of the Muslim community is far from reality. It is also a matter of time that the old guards of IOLF and OLF themselves will confess how they designed the unrealistic and unattainable program carelessly and tantalized their followers. In Greek mythology, as Tantalus was punished by the gods for his misdeeds by the downfall of his kingdom and eternal hunger and thirst, no one but OLF which is responsible for propagating a program beyond its supporters’ reach.

In this regard, hammering the suppression of the Oromo people by others and by its own rulers is one thing, proposing independent Oromiya within the complex geopolitical circumstances of Ethiopia and the horn of Africa is another thing. Longing for the just cause of the Oromo is one thing, disseminating racist and hatred propaganda against others based on language and religious difference is another. Imagining the state of Oromiya is one thing, imagining historical and innate linguistic enemy is another thing. It is important to accentuate here that in the last 40 years, without forgetting the human and material lose of the Oromo people because of instabilities, the hatred-oriented political rhetoric of OLF has created a psycho-social community, whose mentality is fixated inadvertently at rumor and “Abyssinian”and “Semitic”conspiracy. The propaganda seems to be successful in creating the victim mentality among few educated Oromo who have always had a chip on their shoulder about others. Consequently, their impending professional merit is transformed psychologically to the skillfulness of gossip and backbiting. Though unconsciously, Jawar badly needs to nourish the mentality of this psycho-social community among some Oromo.

It is really absurd that the very political activist who has the audacity to speak out in public that OLF and its leadership are too inefficient and too old to achieve its goal did not accept the fact that the OLF program is imprudent. However, since the challenge he posed against OLF is generational, not ideological, he could attract some young Oromo activists. In fact, Jawar did not break new ground in Oromo opposition politics. What is novel in his advent is that he broke successfully the silence among the Diaspora on the very hopeless status of OLF.


Finally, two important things need to be underlined about issues addressed in this piece of writing. The first is that when a certain circle of opposition political community is in a state of confusion and frustration some pseudo-politicians (like Jawar) emerge suddenly posing either a generational or strategic challenge to the political status quo. As a result, new hope seems to grow up among that depressed community momentarily and the community received them with open arms. The initial reception is determined more by the degree of the melancholic mood of the community than critical consideration. When the true trait of the pseudo-politician becomes clear, the community begins an open conversation within and asks itself how the self-claimed ‘deliverer of a people’ is much more part of the predicament than the way out. This again in turn led the disheartened circle of the opposition political community to another chapter of dissatisfaction, then, over and over again. But, this has to stop somewhere.

One possible approach to address this problem is examining oneself critically. As the famous Greek philosopher Socrates stated ‘unexamined life is not worth living’. Externalizing the sources of the failures, as it has been done so far deliberately, is fruitless. Few have what it takes. They stated in public that OLF political program(colonial thesis), not organization or leadership, has a serious problem and should be modified. Because of many factor, it is apparent that OLF program is proven wrong. Otherwise, the performance of the Regional State of Oromiya will continue to put the bewildered Diaspora opposition to shame. Addressing the overall questions of the Oromo at home is a big challenge, but it is OPDO/EPRDF, not the Diaspora activists, that rose to the occasion. Here, one might narrate the major failure stories in addressing the Oromo questions at home. But, who would tackle even those problems, when, where and how?

Two, occasional protests and riots are always short-lived in their impact and legacy. Some commentators mistook these with the protracted and revolutionary like social movements. However, these protests usually create conducive political environment for other extraneous agenda. Almost all ambitious political activists, such as Jawar, always try to exploit these kinds of riots. What these sorts of people want is nothing but attention and an opportune moment. In the last few years, for example, Jawar has involved in Oromo politics, in “Ethiopian Unity” politics and in Muslim politics. But as we have examined in the previous pages, Jawar is reductionist, pseudo-commentator and, worst of all, megalomaniac. In all his involvements, like a bull in a China shop where delicate plates and ceramic artifacts are displayed carefully, he has created messes both in the media and in the political area. No one knows what Jawar will do tomorrow. I, rather, expect him apologize the Oromo and the rest of Ethiopian people for what he did misguidedly.
[1] Aljazeera Inside Story – Ambassador David Shinn, Jawar Mohammed, and Farah Abdulsamed on post Meles Ethiopia | August 22, 2012
[2] Ibid.
[3] Jawar Mohammed’s Speech on August 7, 2013.
[4] Jawar Mohammed, “Failure to Deliver: The Journey of the Oromo Liberation Front in the Last Two Decades”, On July 27, 2009,p.11.
[5] Ibid.
[6] OMN news November 24, 2014.

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