Making sense of athlete Kenenisa Bekele's Pro TPLF comments

By Girma Tessema Tola

Often times we (Oromo people ) tend to exert our energy and resources not on what unites us as a people but what divides us. Be it in politics, religion, socio-economic, and socio-cultural issues, we magnify our differences and forget our grand unifying common thread. Oromumma unites us and it's bigger than our differences and naturally should override our heterogeneous views on broader issues of the Oromo people.

Back to the main point. Most of us watched Kenensisa's interview in Berlin, Germany about his views on Feyisa Lelisa's protest gesture at the Rio Olympics against the Ethiopian government human rights violations against the Oromo people. We all hoped and expected that Kenensisa would support and possibly follow the suit of Feyisa Lelisa and other athletes.

But Kenensisa expressed his differing views and didn't fulfill our wishes and expectations. The majority of us on Social media were outraged, cursed, and stripped Oromumma from Kenensisa. That's wrong approach and I will explain why as follows.

First of all, we all should respect the athlete's view and political out look. He's entitled to his views no matter how much we disagree with him because he's one of us. He's an Oromo. He is a successful Oromo and that should make us proud of him. Remember Oromumma is bigger than us and our differences.

Secondly, we have no background info why Kenensisa didn't support the views of Feyisa Lelisa. We all should look beyond the interview clip and wonder if Kenensisa was coerced into speaking in favor of the Ethiopian government. It's very possible that the Ethiopian government threatened him with severe consequences, if the athlete wouldn't speak in favor of the Ethiopian government.

We have to understand that not every person wish to lead life in exile. Kenensisa simply didn't want to risk everything that he has in Ethiopia. We should respect his choices and recognize that struggle has many dimensions.

Thirdly, our disgust at the athlete's views makes us fall into the traps of the Ethiopian government's divide and rule strategy. When we engage in tearing one another down the TPLF rulers are at peace. They create division to weakn us. In this situation, they achieved two important things; Kenensisa spoke in their favor and they also divided us.

To expect that we all should have homogenous views on the Oromo people struggle is naive. That is not democracy; it's dictatorship. If we have that mentality, we are no different from the Ethiopian government rulers.

So long as our struggle is for democracy and the freedom of the Oromo people, we should lift our wrath from our Oromo athlete, Kenensisa. Remember Oromumma is a common unifying grand factor beyond anything else. Oromumma is bigger than us. Celebrate the the success of any Oromo individual no matter how much we disagree. Kenensisa, like many Oromo athletes is an Oromo icon and we all at one point in time cheered him through his many victories. Don't purge him from Oromo genealogy just because of 5 minutes interview. His success and contributions are far greater than his differing views. Don't fall into the traps of divide and rule strategy of the Ethiopian government.

I personally believe that, we the Oromo people being the majority in Ethiopia have miserably failed into the hands of the minority rulers because we failed into the traps of divide and rule strategy of successive Ethiopian rulers. Let's all look at the grandiose issues of Oromo people and not bicker on small issues that never tip the scale in favor of the Oromo people struggle.

Let's unite by embracing our differences and work for the betterment of our people in any way we can. The alternative will keep us in the hands of those we tirelessly work hard day and night to extend the brutal rules on the Oromo people. Forgive me for my lengthy and possibly wordy writing. It's intentional