Irreechaa: A Thanksgiving Day In Oromia, Cushitic Ethiopia and Africa
Irreechaa is celebrated annually worldwide in the months of September and October, and the largest Irreechaa celebration is in Bishoftuu, Oromia, at the Horaa Arsadii Sanctuary, where some three million pilgrims give thanks to Waqaa (God).
Still longing for the day, when the Oromo Christians, Muslims and Waaqeffataas will come out together during the Irreechaa in order to celebrate in mass our Rabbi/Waaqa, we should at the same time be able to commit ourselves to do His will in our Oromo way of private and public life. Irreechaa is not only celebrating the past good and only striving for the future good, but it is also the day of remembering our brothers and sisters, who had sacrificed their limbs and lives for our common Oromo cause of bilisummaa.
This includes the commemoration of the recently imprisoned Oromo nationalists, who are now suffering under the notorious torture in Ma’ikelawi prison, being accused as “terrorists,” just because of their attempt to promote and support the currently ongoing Qeerroo national Oromian movement for freedom & democracy. The following timely article is from a famous writer Fayyis Oromia.*
Thanksgiving Day is a holiday internationally celebrated primarily in the United States and Canada. Traditionally, it has been a time to give thanks to God, friends, and family. Thanksgiving Day in North America had originated from a mix of European and native traditions. Typically in Europe, festivals were held before and after the harvest cycles to give thanks for a good harvest, to rejoice together after much hard work with the rest of the community. At the time, native Americans had also celebrated the end of a harvest season. When Europeans first arrived America, they brought with them their own harvest festival traditions from Europe, celebrating their safe voyage, peace and good harvest. Thanksgiving Day, which is currently celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, has been an annual official tradition in the United States since 1863.
Interestingly, the people of Oromia in particular, the Cushitic people of Ethiopia and the whole black people of Africa in general, have
been celebrating this type of thanksgiving day, the Irreechaa, for more than 5000 years. It is from this ancient people that, firstly, the ancient Egyptians took the tradition, which was further overtaken by the Jews of Israel, then by the Arabs, and then followed by the traditional Europeans, and, finally, by the relatively new states of USA and Canada. It is just like the development of the monotheistic belief in Waaqa Tokkichaa (belief in one God), which had started in the Cushitic Ethiopia in particular, and in Africa in general, and then had spread first to the ancient Egypt, then to the ancient Israel, further to the Arab world, Europe and, finally, to North America.
The Oromo people, being the stem for the other Cushitic nations living in the north-eastern Africa, have kept and preserved this noble
tradition of thanksgiving in a form of Irreechaa celebration, whereas the other African nations seem to have forgotten and lost it. Now, it is the right time for these Cushitic Ethiopians and the other Africans to re-learn it from the Oromians, and to revive their lost cultural values. Even though most of them have already converted to Christianity and Islam, there is no much antagonizing issue (between these monotheistic religions), which can hinder the believers from celebrating Irreechaa together. The USA and Canada just Christianized the Irreechaa, and they do celebrate it as a Thanksgiving Day. There is no reason why the Christians and Muslims in the Cushitic Ethiopia and in the other African nations can not re-adopt this nice virtue from Oromia, and celebrate it together with the Oromo people.
When we look at the similarity between Christianity, Islam and Waaqeffannaa, it may surprise us that the Borantichaa (the first holy person according to the Waaqeffannaa faith) is the chosen holy man of God similar to Jesus of Christianity and Mohammad of Islam. These three holy personalities are the classical Qaalluu’s (individuals, who could communicate with Waaqa/Allah/God, and who could live optimally according to the will of this Supreme Being). This similarity is the reason for the fact that Irreechaa is the thanksgiving day for, not only the descendants of Borantichaa, but also the believers of Jesus and the followers of Mohammed.
Even the concept of ‘a chosen people of God’ is taken from the Cushites. The Holy Bible testifies this, in the speech of Jahwe to
Israelis: “are you not as dearly as Cush/Ethiopia to me?” The Qalluu are the chosen part of the Oromo people to have such a position in front of Waaqa, just like the Levites were the ritual leaders chosen by Jahwe. The meaning of the Cushitic word Kasa (Kaasaa) is ‘God’s People’ (Creator’s people). According to the ancient language of Cush, the word Ka = God (spiritual being, the creator), and the word Sa = People, thus the word Kasa = ‘God’s People.’ The two Agew Kings (Theodros and Yohannes) were named as Kasa just to designate themselves as the rulers of ‘God’s People.’ Similarly, the word Saba (Saabaa) is equivalent to the ‘created people’ for the Cushitic word Sa = people, and Ba = the created (physical being, the nature). Interestingly, the Afan Oromo equivalent words are: Ka = Uumaa, Ba = Uumama and Sa = Uummata. Accordingly, the Queen Saba wanted to call herself the ruler of the ‘created people’ whereas the two Agew Kings tried to call themselves as
the rulers of the ‘Creator’s people.’
If Oromo nationals from the three religious groups had to celebrate Irreechaa together, then they have to appreciate this common base and common cultural heritage as well as they have to be able to decide for common place of celebration in the future. As far as I am concerned, for Finfinne is the political center and the traditional core of Oromia/Cushitic Ethiopia/Africa, I would like to suggest that we do celebrate Irreechaa in the future, not only in Horaa Arsadii, but mainly/nationally at the Lake Gafarsaa of Finfinne. This must be the major site of Irreechaa celebration, being accompanied by the celebration in Bishoftuu and the festivities at other localities. Making Finfinne the core of this thanksgiving day will certainly help all other localities be supplied by more ‘river of eebba/river of blessing’ from the center of Oromia.
We need to keep Irreechaa as a very good tradition of Oromia, which is one of the very attractive traditions in this land of eebbaa/blessing and land of Irreechaa/thanksgiving. It is a common daily experience in Oromia to observe elders blessing others routinely and to see people practicing Irreechaa at different occasions on small scales and at lower levels, including their morning and evening prayers, which is mostly considered as thanksgiving, where the Oromo people do say ritually: galata kee ya Waaq! It is based on this observation that certain European scholars and writers described Oromia as a ‘land filled with the rivers of blessing.’ I hope that, not only Oromia, but also the Cushitic Ethiopia and the whole Africa will be filled with such ‘rivers of ebbaa and Irreechaa‘ in the future, especially if we decide to harmoniously celebrate Irreechaa as our common thanksgiving day together.
Irreechaa, as Oromia’s/Cushitic Ethiopia’s/Africa’s thanksgiving day, is a symbol for a day of a public freedom from the oppressive regimes like the brutal Abyssinian elites with colonialist mentality. On this day, the celebrating Oromo people do feel free, at least on this single day out of a year-round oppression, even though the security machine of the colonizers continue harassing this freedom-loving and pro-democracy nation. Irreechaa also signifies the victory of the Oromo liberation struggle – the reason why Oromo nationals say: Irreechi irree keenya!
Not only the Oromo nationals, but surprisingly the ordinary Abyssinized people also do celebrate these values of the Gadaa Oromia in their own style/version, like the celebration during Ximqat (equivalent to Irreechaa at the lakeside or riverside), Masqal/Demeraa (equivalent to Gubaa), Buhee (equivalent to Taaboree), Ashanda of Tigrai (equivalent to Ingicaa) etc. Despite these good elements taken from the Cushitic cultural values, Abyssinianism is an anti-thesis of Oromummaa, and a diametrically opposite position to that of the Cushitic
Ethiopianity. Abyssinianism is a symbol for a false self-identity, and it is an example for the ‘victim victimizing another victim.’ Abyssinian
elites are like the torture victims, who are usually trained to be notorious and brutal torture perpetrators themselves. Classical examples
are the Woyane elites, who have been brutally victimized by the Derg, and now, they themselves, have become the worst tormentors of the Oromo people and that of the other oppressed nations.
When we do celebrate Irreechaa in this year, we have to commit ourselves also to transform Finfinne from being the center of these tormentors with false identity into the capital of the future Gadaa Oromia/Cushitic Ethiopia/federal Africa. That means Finfinne needs to be changed from the hitherto center of Abyssinianism, the symbol for oppression, tyranny, authoritarianism, torture, misery, hunger and agony
into the core of Oromummaa characterized by Gadaa/democracy, bilisummaa/freedom, prosperity, harmony, peace, equality and social egalitarianism. Irreechaa is the day of celebrating this Oromummaa on the grave of the obsolete Abyssinianism.
That is why we do call upon all the pro-freedom Cushitic Ethiopians, democratic Africans and humanisitic others to join this celebration of Irreechaa in Finfinne of Oromia, the political center of Africa. Irreechaa can be used as the symbol of freedom movement for all Africans, whose monotheistic system of faith in Waaqa Tokkicha (in one God) used to be denigrated by the Arab invaders, who promoted Islam at the cost of African traditional religions like Waaqeffannaa.This original African religion had also been attacked by the European colonizers, who cursed the belief system as something “paganism or satanism.” In this sense, Irreechaa celebration is one of the victories we have already got, not only over the alien forces from far away, but also over the neighboring oppressive Abyssinian elites. For instance, the brutal fascist and racist Woyane had tried to suppress this victory, but had failed miserably.
Here, we need to try to differentiate the innocent ordinary people of Abyssinia from their ruling criminal elites. To the surprise of my readers, I personally saw the celebration of Borantichaa in my life for the first time, not in Oromia proper, but in the heart of Abyssinia – in Gondar. Then, can anyone try to convince me that Gondar is not part of Oromia? Can anybody tell me that Quwaaraa of the Emperor Theodros, which has been ruled by an Oromo called Aluulaa, was not part and parcel of Oromia? That is why my Oromia is necessarily limited neither to the OPDO map nor to the OLF map, rather it extends to the bigger, inclusive and greater map, which includes all the Oromo people of the region.
So, let the Ethiopia of Laureate Tsegaye Gebre Medhin Qawweessaa (http://gadaa.com/oduu/10224/2011/07/26/ethiopia-their-ethiopia/) be celebrated in a sense of promoting freedom and democracy, i.e. in a sense of Irreechaa – and let not the Ethiopia of the colonizers be adored; Ethiopiais the name given to us by the Greeks and the name, behind which, Abyssinian elites like to hide. The Oromo people do give glory to Waaqa for all what we have achieved, such as the partial bilisummaa/freedom, scare nagaa/peace and limited badhaadhummaa/prosperity, and then we commit ourselves (demand more effort from ourselves) to achieve what we yet need. That means we give galata/glory for what we have achieved, and at the same time, we forward our gaaffii/demand committing ourselves to do our best in order to achieve the rest of our vision.
In this regard, there is nothing what Waaqa alone does for us when we are passive. Waaqa is helpful only through our activities and efforts. Only when we are active and creative, then Waaqa also does his plan for us, in us, through us. We should not mislead ourselves and “beg” Waaqa to do our bidding. We rather have to commit ourselves to do Waaqa’s good plans for our lives. Not only HE, even the human helpers, do help us only when we try to help ourselves. That is why we need to celebrate Irreechaa in this sense of being very pro-active to achieve the rest part of our bilisummaa/freedom and our Gadaa/democracy. We ought to celebrate the half-full glass of the past and should commit ourselves to fill the half-empty part of the qabsoo bilisummaa Oromoo (Oromo liberation struggle) in the future.
Still longing for the day, when the Oromo Christians, Muslims and Waaqeffataas will come out together during the Irreechaa in order to celebrate in mass our Rabbi/Waaqa, we should at the same time be able to commit ourselves to do His will in our Oromo way of private and public life. Irreechaa is not only celebrating the past good and only striving for the future good, but it is also the day of remembering our brothers and sisters, who had sacrificed their limbs and lives for our common Oromo cause of bilisummaa. This includes the commemoration of the recently imprisoned Oromo nationalists, who are now suffering under the notorious torture in Ma’ikelawi prison, being accused as “terrorists” just because of their attempt to promote and support the currently ongoing Qeerroo national Oromian movement for freedom and democracy.
In spite of this Woyane’s brutality, we do hope that the day will come, when we, all Oromians/Cushitic Ethiopians/Africans, will celebrate Irreechaa on the grave of the presently tormenting Woyane tyranny. Adoring Waaqa is the same as celebrating the best version of our own personal and collective identity. That is why it is usually said by Oromo nationalists: ‘being Waaqeffata is the same as being one’s own
true-self.’ Thus, I encourage those with false-identity to come back to their true Cushitic self and to celebrate with us the holy Irreechaa, which is originally from Oromia/Cushitic Ethiopia, and now even practiced by the citizens of USA and Canada. Happy Irreechaa to all , who do like to celebrate this noble national holiday with us! May Rabbi/Waaqa bless us! May He bless Oromia, which is the land of eebba /blessing and the land of Irreechaa/thanksgiving, as the political center and traditional core of our continent Africa.
* Fayyis Oromia can be reached at email@example.com.