Sidama Liberation Front
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SNLF's Solidarity Speech on OLF Congress of August 2017

Mr Chairman Distinguished guests and Ladies and Gentlemen

I am Honoured and privileged to speak to this OLF Congress of August 2017

Mr Chairman,

Thank you very much for giving me this opportunity to speak on behalf of our organization SNLF's solidarity to OLF. Truly speaking the Sidama and Oromo relationship is not recent development. In fact it is deep rooted centuries old. And its close contact is historical, cultural, traditional, economical, social and geopolitical.

Most Sidama people believe or claim that their genesis or origin is intertwined with Oromo people and land. From time of immemorial my people claim that they spoke Oromo language instead of Sidama language. They claim that they adapted the Sidama language after they came to their present place. They say that they learned it from Hoffa which is a small clan in the Sidama.

On cultural aspect both Sidama and Oromo have similar institutions. The Oromo Gada system is exactly the same as the Sidama Luwaa system. For example Sidama Luwaa system and Oromo Gada system follows similar pattern,every eight years. The Sidamas choose Gadanna 'a new leader' who will over take all the events and activities for that reign. And it is the same in the Oromo Gada system. Intermarriage is very frequent between the two nations. This fact is specially very common between Arris and Guji Oromos with Sidama. Economically both nations are interdependent each other. The Sidamas supplying crops are mostly enset products and coffee, while the other side provides honey, cattle and other dairy products in the market. These are also very important commodities in the Ethiopian markets

We share about seventy percent (70%) our border with Oromo nation, these facts show that how the nations lived in peace and tranquillity for many centuries. On the other hand both nations are equally oppressed, exploited and subjugated by consecutive rulers of Ethiopia for over a century. In order to remove these heavy burden from the shoulder of our peace loving nations we have to stand together and struggle together in unison. We have to pay any price to free our nations from the shackle of the inhuman TPLF regime.

However, our nations indeed had shown these in past for many times. For instance, when Menilk established a Gabar system in southern Ethiopia after the conquest, many Sidamas who left their homes and other properties behind, but taking cattle with them, took refuge in Oromia. The areas they moved into are inaccessible to the invaders. Some of the refuges returned home after a long period of time, but some others became natural habitants in Oromia. On the same manner many Oromos live in Sidama.

The momentum and hugely appreciated appearance of Mecha and Tullama Development Association had brought unprecedented awareness in the Ethiopia's political system, and crated unexpected cooperation among the oppressed people. It sparked first light in political consciousness in our people that brought about varying thoughts among the people. The most enlightened people from the mass started to organize in hope to bring forward the much awaited change in the country. It was during this historic time that Sidamas also joined the Association soon after its formation. The Sidama had played an important role recruiting and organizing members for the Association in southern Ethiopia.

On the other hand the ruling class realized that a new phenomenon being ignited on all corners of the country, then the state trembled with fear of mass insurrection. Unfortunately, it took a very drastic action, and as a result many leaders and members of the association were detained, and many police and army officers mostly generals mainly the Oromo natives were dispersed all over the country. But all these brutality did not stop the under going movement.

When ECHAT established as a political organization, the Sidama and Oromo relationship has developed higher level than it was before. As its name implies ECHAT is the oppressed peoples political organization, which formed to conduct a co-operative approach for the country's over a century old political problem. Most of the founding members and leaders of this organization were the Oromo intellectualise, but there were also other groups including the Sidamas. Thus these shows that Sidama has worked with Oromo on many different occasions.

The Oromo's vanguard organization OLF and the Sidama's vanguard SLM were created about the same time to struggle against the notorious Derg regime. At their early stage when they were in the eastern part of the country, they worked in close contact and consultation with each other. But incidently OLF moved its operational base to the west while SLM remained in the east. Then opened its office in Mogadishu which abled it to communicate with out side world through Somalia. Though, frequency of meetings reduced because the geographical distances of headquarters, they still worked in one spirit. Both fought a serious guerrilla war and had contributed a huge to the 1991 downfall of the Derg regime.

Immediately after the collapse of the Derg regime, both OLF and SLM participated in the Ethiopia's interim arrangement. As expected they voted in one voice throughout their stay in the house of representatives. They were two organizations but with one voice which is indivisible in principle. However, cognizant of the antidemocratic and destructive action of TPLF, they were unfortunately forced to leave the transitional government of Ethiopia in 1992. After being pushed out from the transitional government of Ethiopia they initiated to organize a fresh deal. The OLF and SLM together had played a constructive role coordinating the 1993 Paris conference that would involve other opposition groups who were working against the TPLF regime. When six (6) different opposition organizations met in Paris to discuss the Ethiopia's urgent political problem, which (conference) also produced The Paris declaration, OLF and SLM coordinated the conference, and they were praised by the other groups for the timely and decisive out come.

In 1994 OLF and SLM met in London where they signed a bilateral agreement that would able them to work together in all fields in the interest of their nations. The agreement is renewed in Asmara in 2006 by SLF.

At our meeting in Utrecht (Holland) in 2006 both organizations OLF and SLF had identical stand for the formation ADF, which did not last too long because of its ideological differences. We were not surprised this misshape because we knew that its foundation was shaky. On the other hand we have grown large with the formation of PADF.

In many occasions OLF had trained and is still training our personnels, I would offer a huge gratitude to OLF for this on behalf of SNLF and on behalf of the Sidama people at large. However, this is a concrete evidence that OLF and SNLF work in very close relationship.

Finally, all the above chronological detailed instance shows that how strong our relationship is. Therefore there is no question about our solidarity, but the only question is how we will proceed from here on, in order to remove the inhuman malicious TPLF brute from the shoulder of our nations.

Betana Hoxesso