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Date: November 9, 2005

Dear family members, comrades, compatriots and friends of Obboo Sisai Ibssa:

The sudden death of Obbo Sisai Ibssa has overwhelmed all of us with grief. The grief is unparalleled that it has touched not only those of us who know him in person but also others across the world who have known his lifetime dedication to the liberation cause of his nation and generally to the freedom and liberty of mankind.

Sisai had interfaced with all of us here at one point or another during his lifetime. But we all knew him so much mainly within the segment of his life that he had interacted with us. Within his relative circles, he was known as the most caring, loving, and supportive one. Friends who knew him in social settings adored him so much because of his overly gregarious, radiant, and warm nature. In his political life, he had earned a wide array of reputations. Some loathed him others loved him because of his political belief and devotion to the cause that consumed a good part of his lifetime. Yet, even those who abhorred his political view grudgingly admired his determination and perseverance of fighting for the cause that he stood.

Members of the Oromo Liberation Council see the political life of Obbo Sisai in different light; and we would like to share that with you. However, what we are about to share you is by all measure an abridged and incomplete version of the lifetime achievement of Sisai Ibssa as a public figure. We are certain that historians would pick on the detail account of his accomplishments and write the great service he rendered to his people.

Sisai Ibssa was a revolutionary giant who devoted most of his life to the cause of the Oromo people for freedom and justice. He started his political life in late 1960s when he joined what was then popularly known as the Ethiopian Student Movement in Europe and North America. Until early 1970s, he played a pivotal role in demystifying the mythical Ethiopian political system and painting its realistic picture for the world to witness. He challenged his peers within the movement to expose the decadent Ethiopian political order that shackled the political, economic, and social development of the Oromo and other oppressed southern nations in the Ethiopian empire. He was among the few who genuinely ventured to address issues that remained taboo in the Ethiopian political circles. The core issue that was close to his heart that he passionately and persistently dealt with at the time was one that pertained to the right of self-determination for the disenfranchised nations in the empire. For the student body that came from different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds this was the most contentious issue of the time. He vigorously and relentlessly argued for the emancipation of the Oromo and other oppressed nations trapped within the empire. However, elements within the student movement who realized the far-reaching implication of his argument lined in opposition and hardly offered anything by way of a solution to redress the historical political injustices of the Ethiopian state but just prescribed what amounts to keeping the status quo. This situation had created a major political fault in the student movement. At the end, the rift escalated to a degree that forced Sisai Ibssa to seek other venues to continue struggling for the cause of the Oromo nation.

Devoted as he was for the cause of his people, Sisai joined the camp of the Oromo national liberation movement that was at the insipient stage in the early 1970s. Since then he had contributed immeasurably towards the advancement of the Oromo Liberation struggle.

Until his death, through out the period that spanned over 30 years, Sisai had committed his full heart and mind, his time, and his resources to advance the cause of the Oromo national struggle. He had campaigned extensively in exposing the nature of the Ethiopian state and in publicizing the predicament of the Oromo nation.

In order to launch an organized campaign against the Ethiopian political establishment, Sisai Ibssa had spearheaded the formation of various vehicles that suit the success of the campaign. One of such vehicles that he aspired to create was an independent Oromo organization in North America. Convinced in having such an organization, he embarked on searching and wining the heart and mind of Oromo nationals across North America so that they would buy into his ideal. He successfully rallied Oromo nationalists around his ideal and formed the Union of Oromos in North America (UONA).

As a founding member of UONA and an active leader in this organization, his contribution was magnificent. He effectively used the organization to enlighten the international community, particularly the North American community, about the Oromo nation. He was instrumental in leading his fellow members of the organization in the campaign of exposing the Ethiopian empire state as colonial state that abused the inalienable basic rights of the Oromo as individuals and as a nation. As a prolific writer, through the organ of the organization, he made every effort in portraying how the Oromo nation languishes under the most archaic colonial state that is hardly known to the world. His extensive writing on the beauty of the Oromo cultural heritage and the democratic system of government, Gada, has augmented the existing wealth of knowledge on the Oromo culture and socio-political system. His work in UONA, apart from retracting the Oromo identity and culture from obscurity, had raised the political consciousness of our fellow Oromos and engaged them to actively participate in the national struggle for liberation.

With the growing participation of Oromos both in the Diaspora and at home in the liberation movement, the political dynamics began picking up substantially. However, with this dynamic came diverse views and political persuasions on the course the liberation struggle should assume. As a result, Oromo political organizations proliferated for one reason or another and began working on their respective line of convictions. For Sisai Ibssa, this political development within our society became an issue of serious concern. To reverse this trend, the trend of Oromo organizations claiming to stand for one cause but working in secluded corners and lacking coordinated efforts, he advocated for the unity of purpose. His incessant effort in this front brought some political forces together in the late 1990s. As a result, this initial phase of his unification crusade brought about the formation of the Oromiyaa Liberation Council (OLC).

Within the OLC also Sisai played a critical role. He provided seasoned leadership. He set out the vision of the organization and the role it should play within the camp of the Oromo national liberation struggle. He prescribed that the OLC must have an ideological clarity for the struggle and be a voice of unity of liberation forces. Sisai devoted his remaining political life working on what he proposed that the organization carry out. As a visionary leader, at a time when there is a sense of uncertainty on the path our liberation struggle should take, he had articulated the Oromo national question and laid down the ideological foundation on which the Oromo liberation struggle should be anchored. Sisai shared his conviction on the sole ideological line that sets the Oromo nation free from the Ethiopian colonial bondage.

He passionately and convincingly argued at every opportune moment that bilisummaa could be within reach only when all political forces struggling for the cause of our people are united in purpose. Not only making a case for this issue, he had invested a tremendous effort for the realization of the unity. To the delight and much to the credit of Sisai, all forces came together and formed the United Oromo Liberation Forces (ULFO) in the year 2000. Such a grandiose contribution to this noble cause of liberation and his subsequent role as the spokesperson of ULFO has earned him a great respect and admiration from our compatriots.

Outside the duties of his organization, Sisai actively participated in promoting civic organizations, Oromo communities, and academic associations. He was one of the prominent founding members of the Oromo Studies Association (OSA). The creation and development of an Oromo Centre for Information and Scholarship was one of his last projects. He had started it but unfortunately time was against him and so he never got a chance to get it finished.

We, the OLC in particular and the Oromo struggle at large, lost this superb political leader and high achiever. We lost Sisai but his extraordinary legacy would remain with us and with generations to come.

He left us:

the legacy of upholding unwavering principle

the legacy of scarification for a cause. He devoted every thing and any thing he has to the cause of his nation. Time, energy, resource. Sisai never dreamed and worked for personal enrichment or material gain.

the legacy of courage, determination, and hard work for success.

the legacy of maintaining our national unity and furthering the unity of Oromo political forces.

the legacy of love, respect for and trust in the Youth.

the legacy of respecting fundamental human rights and inalienable rights of all nations.

The legacy of adoring, cultivating and nurturing Oromo National Heritage.

The OLC commitment:

We in the OLC promise that we will nurture all your legacies.

We will rededicate our efforts and promote your legacies.

We will rally the young and the bright multitude of Oromians to get inspired with your legacies, emulate you, and assume leadership role in our struggle.

We will make sure death won't silence your people's voice and that it will keep echoing in the mountains and valleys of Oromiya

We promise to carry on your banner and mission: the liberation of the Oromo people and the establishment of a democratic Oromiyaa based on Gada

We, the OLC, commit ourselves to materialise Your Project of establishing an Oromo Centre for Information and Scholarship with all Oromos and your friends.

Jaallee Sisai, we looked up to you as a charismatic, visionary, and great leader, a father of our unity and a mentor. You are our hero who struggled for the cause of our people tirelessly until your last breathe. You are our intellectual giant. You are our wise man with full of wisdom that we always ran to for consultation and advise. You are magnanimous in the true sense of the word and you helped everyone who sought your assistance. You are truly our role model: one with versatile talents. While we grieve your death, we also celebrate your lifetime achievement.

Sisai, may your soul rest in peace.

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