"The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled."

The Hidden Cost of Being Occupied: The arrested development of Oromo language and Oromo educational inequity,

The Hidden Cost of Being Occupied: The arrested development of Oromo language and Oromo educational inequity,

To be a people without freedom has many disadvantages. Not least among these is denied opportunities. One need the opportunity to pursue one’s dream, find and cultivate one’s talents, engage and explore one’s creativity, all in all, invest one’s time and energy in productive tasks. When this happens, i.e. when opportunities are afforded, not only is the individual rewarded by recognition, earnings, fulfillment, and satisfying livelihood, but the society at large benefits from such positive gains. But, people who are denied these opportunities are forced to spend their times and energies on survival and resistance. While necessary, these are not very productive, and definitely do not propel the society forward. For example, I wish all our discussions, writings, etc. are history and science, nature and love, mystery and space, life and death, and so on. Instead, well, you fill in the blank.

There is a concern of real consequence right now regarding the use of Oromo language in Oromia schools. One such concern was poste on Facebook this morning to which I responded. A couple of people encouraged me to expound on my response and I am writing this piece to oblige.

It is asserted that Oromia students are at a disadvantage when it comes to taking the national exams because they spend most of their elementary and secondary years they learn in afaan Oromo and take the exams in English after exposure to English only for two years. In Amhara and Tigre areas the students have longer time of exposure to English. On the other hand, there those who feel that the Oromo language which had been denied its rightful position just gained got introduced and must have more time devoted to it. It is my feeling that both positions are right and that they must be supported. It is a false choice that we are presented with here.

The missionary, J. L. Krapf once thought the Oromo language would be the lingua franca of Africa. This was in the 1940’s.  Since then, we the Oromo people and our language have been under brutal attack and severe repression. It is a wonder that our language and culture survived. Therefore, when the opportunity arose (and it is not the generosity of the rulers that made it possible, but the long and arduous struggle of our people) it needed a jolt of energy and extended time to make u the lost time. Honestly speaking, I am impressed by the speed with which it regenerated and captured hearts and minds of our people. We have not caught up yet; we need to continue with the same pace. This is the problem of language development.

On the other hand, is an educational issue. In the field of education, we deal with many issues among which are curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment. The curriculum deals with what is to be learned, the subject matter. The subject matter must be accessible to the learner. That means the written, recorded, and artifacts must be available and understandable to the learner. Language should not be a barrier. Pedagogy deals with the method by which the learning material is presented. A good mixture of many different ways of delivery must be used, i. e. lecture, group work, laboratory, homework, etc. Pedagogy also includes a proper environment, free of fear or intimidation. The language of instruction is therefore, is very important. It must not be limited or limiting. Assessment, in education, comes in two forms. One is called formative assessment and its sole purpose to inform instruction. That means, the instructor may address the curriculum or his/her pedagogy if the students are failing. If a student fails, generally, the reason is that there is something wrong with the presentation, the subject matter, or the assessment. The other form of assessment is called summative. This is used as a mile post or a benchmark. It tells us where the learner is in his/her learning. This is the result that we see in a final exam or the national exam.

In the question at hand, we have to keep the two issues separate. The question of developing the Oromo language or a fair and equitable educational system is a false choice. And, I believe, if we were free, we won’t be faced with that question. The two are separate and they would have to be tackled as such.

The question of educating one’s child is not a matter left to the politician alone. Parents have a vested interest. Teachers have a vested interested. And the government, too has a vested interested. These interested must be debated openly. As an example, I will present a case that happened not too long ago in my school district, Minneapolis. The district was going through some changes, down sizing the central office. The curriculum committee of the Reading department hastily adapted a reading curriculum for the primary grades. During training, some teachers found out that the curriculum was filled with racial bias. When they brought that up with the people in charge, it was treated as something minor and dismissed. Then some parents and other teachers, including myself, got win of it. We protested. We spoke at the school board. We even shut down the School Board meeting. The school Board was forced to withdraw the contract and the racist curriculum was scrapped. Check this article for further details on this. http://inthesetimes.com/article/18611/minneapolis-parents-and-educators-claim-victory-expel-offensive-curriculum

When people are free, they know that they are not at the mercy of the bureaucrats. They hold the bureaucrats accountable. It is not that the people are always right, but they have that right to be wrong. It is their government. We have ways to go to get there. But we cannot sit and wait for someone else to get us there. We have to continue for what is right. Keep a critical eye on every situation.

Oromia shall be free!

I welcome comments,

Teferi Fufa, July 31, 2018

 

 

 

I have known for a long time that it is unwise to have a television set in your bedroom. One would think that as a person who does not watch much TV, never subscribed to cable, and has no favorite TV show or personality, it would be easy for me to keep a television set out of my bedroom. But I have developed this bad habit of catching the 10 pm news along with the forecast right before I went to sleep.

It was a little too early for new when I went to bed the other night and I still wanted to stay up for it. So I switched to channel 2, Public Television, keep me occupied. It kept me occupied long past the news time. An African American lady was speaking, I do not remember her name, nor am I sure I had heard of her before. She was reading a poem and talking about her poem. The peace she was reading was about love. While I was engrossed in her style and presentation, the substance of her poem left me examining my own self. I do not remember a particular verse or even line, but I remember hearing about never saying anything negative about another person. “Love is the remedy to our ills.”  This is my own phrase, but clearly the message I was getting.

This brought me to think about all the FaceBook postings I had been reading and responding to lately. My postings had been both positive and negative depending on what I was responding to. My sense of right and wrong, my sense of justice and fairness, and the degree to which what was said or done agreed or disagreed with my own sensibilities determined whether my response would be. Thinking about this and the message of love, clean, pure and unselfish, I received from the lady on the program made me feel uncomfortable. I was not always positive. Maybe that is why I am being too sensitive. Maybe that is why I am not as happy as I should be. Maybe I should try to be more positive. I began to think about how I would respond positively to some of the postings I would normally give a negative response.

I was so busy thinking about how I could be more positive and loving that I do not remember how the program ended. I shut the TV off and tried to go to sleep. Soon I was to learn why I should not have a television set in my bedroom. The debate in my head continued long into the night. Am I misunderstanding this lady? Could I love always, everything, everybody and be real and honest? If I love peace, does that not mean I hate violence? What positive response can I give in the face violence? What is there to love about oppressive and exploitative systems that subject millions to destitution only to let a few amass outrageously large amount of wealth? Can I love mass murderers or say something positive about environments that breed them? Needless to say, my night was sleepless.

The next time I turned my Television set on in my bedroom it was still tuned to the same channel. This time Kevin Kling and his colleague were being interviewed. Again I came to the program midway and was not sure what went on before. They were talking about story-telling and sharing their techniques. They emphasized the importance of telling your story, the importance of listening, and the importance the interaction between the storyteller and the listener in making the story more complete. Kevin added two elements of story-telling that he thought are important. One is humor, “If it cracks me up I would tell it to my close friends, it cracks them up I would tell it to other people, and if it cracks them up I would take it to the larger audience.” He said. The next element is a paradox. If you are talking about something, do not forget to talk about its opposite. And that brought the two Television programs together for me. You are the story-teller. You talk about your thing. You talk about its opposite as well, still concentrating on your story – love. And you can be positive about that always.

Teferi Fufa

 

6/24/ 15

Bulguu Qolee Lamaa

Bulguu qolee lamaa, tokko gaarii tokko hamaa

Asi jedha achi jedha, mormma aqaaqama

Gara deemu hinbeeku, asi gora achi gora

Orma dogoggorsiisee ofi is dogoggora

Takkiin qolee buusee madaqo fakkaata

Takkas nama nyaachuuf assi if achi kata

Bulgguun bulgguu dhuma hin dhiisu amala isa

Kan nama nyaatee bare namaa wajjin hin nyaatu

Bulguun bulgguu dhuma maaliif taana raatuu?

Irreedhan nu seenee irreedhan ha baasnu

Sodaa bineensa irra akka bilisoomnu.

On the Murder of Filando Castile

I was not going to comment on the murder of Filando Castile anymore. But I could not help but think of being in that jury room and seeing the evidence that was there. I have been in that jury room. I know the burden it puts on you to seek out the depth of your conscience. There are instructions that you get. But you are not a nonentity. You have a sense of right and wrong. That sense guides you. You do not need to be an expert in anything. You just need to be a human being charged with making a judgement as to whether something is right or wrong in your human eyes, free of biases, legal or otherwise.

To me the jurors in the Filando Castile case were no less murderers than that killer cop. The judge, issuing misguiding instruction he/she might have given to the gullible jurors, and the defense lawyer, by disregarding human life in favor of winning a case are as guilty as the killer cop as well. No amount of listening sessions, no revision of conceal-and-carry laws, no tweaking of instructions on what to say or not say to the police about one’s possession of a permit to carry, will correct or erase this wrong. When a killer determines to kill his victims no matter who else gets hurt along the way, and the system lets the killer walk free, something is wrong.

 

I do not think it is only up to the Black community to fix this. There are no disposable human beings. We must think differently about how we value human lives, not as black lives and white lives, but as human lives.

Itti fufa

An Oromo As the Prime Minister of Ethiopia? To What Effect?

Speculations and predictions abound about the fate of Ethiopia in light of the currently looming crisis. Who is leading Ethiopia right now since the prime minister has resigned? Who will be the next prime minister? Will the next prime minister be able to quell the uprising? All these questions are addressed by the speculations and predictions. Undoubtedly, both hope and despair are expressed. Three interest groups have three different views of acceptable scenarios.

The first group and perhaps the one that is the most influential in determining who the prime minister will be is the leadership of the TPLF. The TPLF would like a prime minister who would appear to be independent, has appeal and acceptance of the public and is fully submissive to the leadership of the TPLF. Such a prime minister, they hope, will be able to sell the old policy under a new slogan and quell the uprising.

To do this, the Prime Minister will have to be from either Amhara or Oromo region (regions that are in rebellion currently). Though an outspoken critic of the current excesses, this individual needs to be a true ally of the TPLF.

The solution that both desired and acceptable to the TPLF is, thus, one that leaves the system as they are and trades window-dressing for the demanded change.

The second group is the Ethiopia-at-any-cost group. These, by and large, are those who bemoan the ethnic designations of regional divisions. They try to blame the current unrest on ethnic hostilities, (As if denying of their identities diminish their opposition to their marginalization?). To this group, the acceptable prime minister, listens to and pays lip service to the demands of the people, downplays the importance of ethnic federalism, and promotes one Ethiopia.

The ultimate solution, for this group, is Ethiopia of one language, one culture, and one history. Unfortunately, this group cannot determine who the prime minister will be.

The third group is one that truly wants the freedom of the people, the people who have hitherto been essentially colonized. These groups would like the federal system to work according to its constitution and would like it to improve to be more fair and equitable. For this group, an acceptable prime minister is one is independent, a federalist, and responsive to the demands of the people. This group also would have to hope for such a person for they have no influence on the making and unmaking of the prime minister.

For any of these options to materialize, the new prime minister must be demonstrably different from the previous one. He has to have real power. All indications are that the TPLF cannot afford to give power to anyone the public accepts and trusts, unless he can it feels that the new prime minister can, somehow, manage to repair the damaged reputation of the ruling party and enable it to continue ruling.

What about the OPDO? Is Lema for real?

For a quarter of a century, the OPDO has faithfully served the TPLF. It has observed the expropriation of Oromo properties in the name development. It has watched silently as thousands of Oromos are hauled to jail. It has remained mute as hundreds of Oromos, young and old, are murdered.

So, it is refreshing to see the OPDO show some sign of life and start talking about the rights of the Oromo people. It is refreshing as well to see it claim that Qeerroo is not the enemy.

On the other hand, there are many things that continue to happen that the OPDO is either powerless to prevent or is unwilling to. Children are still being killed. People are still being arrested. Innocent people are still languishing in jails. Why isn’t the new OPDO saying something? Is it because the OPDO is given only so much freedom for the purpose of appeasing the rebelling public, essentially, still a tool of the ruling party? Or is it because the OPDO is moving strategically, making inroads while avoiding disabling reaction?

The most important question, for the Oromo, is “Can Oromia region be an equal partner in the federation r become truly free to determine its own fate without power? Bot those who yearn for the birth of an Independent Republic of Oromia and those who are overcome by their addiction to Ethiopia and still want Oromia respected as an equal partner need to pay attention to this question.

 

Teferi Fufa, 2018

 

 

 

 

Ammas ittuma fufa..