Jawar Mohammed triggers another rift

By T Gadissa

The launching ceremony of the Oromia Media Network (OMN) in Minnesota was muted as some of the key players and their supporters in the ranks of Oromo activists boycotted the event. Swirling allegations of Jawar’s dictatorial tendencies, shady financial issues and building personality cult reportedly blunted the hype.

jawar-2Mohammed Ademo, who was one of the key architects of the project and publisher of Opride.com, broke his silence and publicly distanced himself from Jawar and OMN just hours before the launching ceremony last Saturday. As efforts to heal the deep resentment and bitter infighting failed, Mohammed posted a note on Facebook raising concerns on “feasibility, sustainability, professionalism, strategy, and accountability.” According to Ademo, the concerns raised failed to be addressed.

“Over the last few weeks, many of you have emailed, messaged and called me inquiring if I am still part of the Oromia Media Network (OMN). The short answer is no. From the beginning, I have been concerned about issues of feasibility, sustainability, professionalism, strategy, and accountability. That concern has not changed,” Mohammed said. His concerns proved correct at it merged that the launch was held in a haphazard fashion without creating the capacity to produce enough content for broadcast.

It was reported earlier that Jawar sidelined key activists including Ademo, who raised issues of accountability, misuse of funding and his dictatorial tactics to Oromo First and the ONM project. “Jawar proved to be a selfish Machiavellian character who seems to be obsessed with his self-interests more than the interests and unity of Oromos. I still support OMN,  but I also have grave concerns on its leadership. I was hoping that he was going to be a different breed but it turns out that Jawar is dictatorial, divisive and devious,” an insider said.

“Preaching equality and justice is one thing and practicing what you preach is another. I no longer support him because his movement proved to be Me First, a kind of self-aggrandizement. To me, he is a hybrid between Mengistu and Meles,” the insider said.

Mohammed called on others to direct queries regarding OMN to the “appropriate party.” Unlike Jawar, Mohammed, Ademo, who graduated from Columbia Journalism School, is a more moderate and sober voice.  “As my former colleagues gear up for tomorrow’s much anticipated launch, it is my hope that they will hold steadfast commitment to the vision and principles I laid out under their “About OMN” page and the journalistic edifices I wrote in their editorial guidelines,” he said in his message to supporters.

In contrast, Jawar, who was once considered a credible activist and “analyst” among Ethiopians quickly descended into a fanatic with his divisive, incendiary, venomous and inflammatory comments. It is to be recalled that Jawar’s reference to using machetes to slash the necks of non-Muslims and campaigning against Teddy Afro only because of a publishing error that Enku Magazine has owned and acknowledged.

Other activists who are said to have run away from Jawar like Ayyaantuu Tibeessoo and Tigist Geme expressed their support for Ademo using the like button. Ademo’s position attracted hundreds of comments on Facebook. Reactions to the news of his departure before take-off have been mixed.

One frustrated commenter, Heran Gadissa Tollaa said:   “How do you guys embarrass us in front of the whole public? Shame on you…In the first place you have no vision, it is just a childish work. Mal abaashi!” While other commenters supported Mohammed, many expressed their anger, disappointment and sadness over the squabbles.

Responding to the comments, Mohammed wrote: “I simply can’t keep up with all these messages. I am bewildered beyond belief as to what caused all this uproar…”

“ I believe we all have work to do. This project must not be based on personalities. My departure should not have caused all this buzz. Let us focus, stay positive and carry on,” he said.

Meanwhile, the launching ceremony of OMN was attended by hundreds of people at the University of Minnesota, and was broadcast live on YouTube. With yet another saber-rattling speech, Jawar huffed and puffed in an effort to boost what Ayyaantuu Tibeessoo once called his “personality cult”, which is at the center of the latest infighting and rift among Oromo activists. Jawar’s extremist and divisive saber-rattling has caused concern among moderate Oromos who feel uncomfortable with his polarizing rhetoric.


The writer can be reached at tgaddisa@gmail.com

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