Petition Background (Preamble):
The Oromo language is an Afroasiatic language. It is the most widely spoken tongue in the family's Cushitic branch. This language is spoken as a first language by more than 30 million Oromo and neighboring peoples in Ethiopia and parts of northern Kenya. About 95 percent of Oromo speakers live in Ethiopia, mainly in Oromia Region.
In Somalia, there are also some significant number of speakers of the language. In Kenya, the Ethnologue lists 322,000 speakers of Oromo-primarily Borana and Orma, two dialects of the Oromo language spoken by Ethiopian Oromo. Within Ethiopia, Oromo is the language with the largest number of native speakers. Within Africa, Oromo is the language with the fourth most speakers, after Arabic, Swahili, and Hausa.
Three languages (Amharic, Tigrigna and Afan Oromo) are most likely to be considered by the BBC governing Board and the UK government officials for the new broadcasts to Ethiopia and Eritrea that have recently been announced to begin. It is an ideal and sound decision if the BBC decides to start broadcasting to Ethiopia and Eritrea in all the three languages following the model of the VOA.
However, if language preference and priority setting becomes an issue, we hereby request the BBC that it considers Afan Oromo. Unfortunately, Afan Oromo do not have a favorable predisposition and institutional support in Ethiopia or elsewhere. Although, numerically speaking, Afan Oromo speakers are LARGER THAN Tigrigna and Amharic speakers COMBINED; the language remains the most disfavored language since the Oromo people still remain the most disenfranchised and least organized society in Ethiopia.
The situation of the Oromo people is akin to the situation of the People’s Republic of China after World War-II. A country of over a billion people was left out in the cold since it lacked both strong national institutions and strong global friends that promotes its interests. As a result, Taiwan was designated to represent the whole of China in the United Nations including the Security Council up until 1971. But the mainland China worked, and worked hard until it earned the respect it deserves. The Oromo people and the Oromo youth have no other options except to work, and work hard until we get what we deserve. Organizing the Oromo people economically, educationally, culturally, politically, and in all areas of knowledge production and dissemination including the media should remain top priority. Part of this effort should be to get spot in global media outlets like BBC to broadcast in Afan Oromo.
It is important to note that we are not petitioning, in any way, for the BBC not to start program(s) in Amharic or Tigrigna. In fact, we advocate and support the BBC if it starts programs in these two languages too. What we are asking is for the BBC not to leave out Afan Oromo as it starts broadcasting to Ethiopia where the majority of the people are Afan Oromo speakers. In this regard, we also call upon our Amharic and Tigrigna speaking brethren to support and push for BBC Afan Oromo program.Petition:
Hence we, the undersigned, request the BBC to consider Afan Oromo (the Oromo language) as one of its broadcasting languages that it’s going to start with radio-broadcasts to the said countries in the horn of Africa.
We hereby show our solidarity and sign this petition to make Afan Oromo, the fourth widely spoken language in Africa, the broadcasting language of the BBC to reach out to more than 30 million people in the horn of Africa through their mother tongue.
We also kindly encourage others to sign this petition!