Monthly Archives: October 2017

Support a fair go for families like Dabessa’s

Image: Dabessa, Lelise, Jitu, and Bonsen (August 2013) Photo by Kevin


Support a fair go for families like Dabessa’s

In the last bulletin, we brought you the results of our latest poll, conducted in conjunction with Jesuit Social Services, which indicated that 75% of all Australians support the reunion of refugee families. Since then, we have been overwhelmed by your support, with so many of you signing the pledge for refugee family reunion.
Take Dabessa, for example, who fled his own country of Ethiopia after facing persecution as a member of the Oromo people. He and his children spent six agonising years waiting for his wife to be granted a visa to join them. Thousands of people in our own communities are affected by this issue.
Dabessa said of his experience:
Finally, my wife arrived in August 2013, six years after I had fled the country.  Seeing her again was one of the happiest days of my life.  For myself and our children, being separated from her for all of that time had been excruciating.  I am so happy now that our family can live together in safety and peace and really hope that the many other people separated from their families are allowed to reunite with their loved ones soon.”
Every year, we consult with hundreds of people affected by Australia’s refugee policy.  Year after year, they tell us that family separation causes unspeakable agony to themselves and those in their community. Help us remind the Australian Government that the electorate supports refugee family reunion by taking action below.
Read Dabessa’s story

Oromo Celebrates Thanksgiving in Victoria

(A4O, October 3, 2017)– Members of Oromo community have celebrated the Irreechaa festival colourfully on 1st October 2017 in Wilson Botanic Park, Berwick in Victoria, Australia.

The ceremony commences first by offering thanks and greeneries to Waaqa, followed by blessing all creatures of Waaqa to be at peace with each other.

As the festival headmaster Danye Defersha points the formal celebration of Irreecha starts with Abba Malka’s blessings. They bless the Oromo and the country as a whole for more health, wealth freedom and above all for peace, love, harmony and unity.

“We wish our holiday to bring prosperity and happiness for all of us,” Danye added.

According to the Abdeta Homa, chairperson of the committee, the festival was designed to give admiration and honour to Waaqa’s wisdom who gave them a perfect bliss of land with abundant natural resources.

“It also provides a better understanding of Oromo culture, history and humanity, to pave the way for promotion of the Oromo culture, history, lifestyle and practice,” Abdeta Homa added.

It’s a day all Oromians celebrate and cherish due to our ties to our root: Oromo Identity and country. It’s a time for reflection, celebration and a good connection with our best heritage.

“The beauty and joy of the Oromo people in full force for the Irreecha celebration in Narrm (Melbourne),” Soreti Kadir wrote on her Facebook. “Thankful that under the leadership of our people, the celebrations proceeded peacefully at Hora Arsadi in Bishoftu, Oromia, Ethiopia,” she added.

The ceremony honoured the Oromo elders’ blessings and wisdom, and eventually helped to preserve the heritage and strengthen the progress of humanity. It is also committed to the beginning a back to the root project for us as a society.

What is Irreecha Birraa?

The Celebration of Irreechaa Birra is held yearly both to thank Waaqaa for the blessings and mercies received throughout the rainy season and to welcome the new harvesting season.

It is a celebration that repeats once in a year-in birraa and involves special activities or amusements as it has a lot of importance in our lives. It symbolizes the arrival of spring and brighten season with their vibrant green and daisy flowers.

According to Getachew Chameda, Irreecha has been one of the major Oromo events that distinguishes, makes, and marks the identity of an Oromo personality as a member of the nation.

  • It is a social festival that praises Waaqa who helped them come together in peace and embrace the incoming bright-sunny season.
  • It is a social festival that sees off the out-going rainy season, wishing its recurrent appearance in peace, happiness, abundance, fertility, equality, fraternity and a hope for victory against all forms of evils.

At this point in time Irreecha is a transcultural subject for the Oromo people. The revival of Oromummaa spirit is grounded in it, the renaissance of Oromo self-consciousness is in the making through it.

Colours and Irreechaa

People of Oromo have a colourful culture and heritage. The participants donned colourful cultural attire in colours such as black, white, red, green and red. These colours are symbolic for the Oromos. White is a colour used to symbolise peace, said the organisers. “Oromos are peaceful people,” they added.

The Oromos present also danced and sang for the entire duration of the celebration. As is customary, they later shared food that some people had brought with them.

The Oromo Gadaa System has its own flag with three different colors. The colours are Black, Red and White. These all colours have their own representation in Oromo society.

Accordingly, the black colour represents future. In this stage, the part of human life is considered as unknown (black). The red shows those who are very active life in different institutions. It is the stage that used as a candle to light for the people.

Finally, the white represents those who have passed through active life in the society and illustrate of no more used as candle and sacrifice, and it is the age of retirement.

The event was held on one of the side banks of the Wilson Botanic Park’s lake consisting trees providing shade.

Intangible Heritages

Irreechaa is one of the intangible heritages of the Oromo people. The Irreechaa celebration is an exciting festival for anyone.

Moreover, it plays a crucial role in unifying the Oromo people. “The Oromos celebrate the Irreechaa irrespective of their religious backgrounds. Whether they are followers of Waaqeffannaa, Christian or Muslims, they participate in the same festival,” said one participant.

Nothing brings people together like Irreechaa festival does. It plays a pivotal role in nation-building; bringing people from every religious, economic and social background together.

“Oromo understands that human beings do not invent or create something unless it is required,” Facebook message.

Irreechaa is one of the Gadaa elements and should be treasured as part and parcel of the unsung democracy. Irreecha is a manifestation of an ancient African consciousness about the universe, back in millenniums.

However, there is no written history to explain when Irreechaa celebrations started.  But in ancient Cushitic domain, Irreechaa festival was celebrated mostly in religious and cultural context.

Oromos in Australia commemorate #Irreecha2016 with candlelight vigil

(Advocacy for Oromia, 2 October 2017) On the night of September 30, 2017, however, members of the Oromo community in the Greater Melbourne region gathered there for a different reason: for a solemn remembrance of the more than 600 fellow Oromo men and women, young and old, who lost their lives back home in Oromia during the Oromo Thanksgiving (Irreecha) celebration in the town of Bishoftu on October 2, 2016.

The celebration in Bishoftu attracts millions of Oromos and tourists to the epicenter of the holiday by the lakeside of Hora/Lake Arsadi.

On October 2, 2016, hundreds of the celebrants lost their lives as the Ethiopian Federal Government, which is dominated by Tigrean People’s Liberation Front, moved in to crash a peaceful protest through teargases and live ammunition inside the crowded civilian zone, thereby causing panic and stampedes – while some died in ditches around the lakeside, others were gunned down.

It was with this dark memory of October 2, 2016, that members of the Oromo community in Melbourne held the candlelight vigil at Federation Square on the evening of September 30, 2017; the event also included a commemorative message. Here are some pictures from the event.

Melbourne’s Federation Square in Australia has become synonymous among the Oromo in the Diaspora as the venue of the yearly celebration of Oromo culture and heritage during the region’s Summer season in December.

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