Published yesterday at 06.22
Swedish Radio has, as one of the few media, met one of the main actors in the Ethiopian civil war – Oromo Liberation Army, OLA.
The OLA, together with Tigranian armed forces, will soon surround the capital Addis Ababa, which could lead to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed being forced out of power and the entire political landscape being redrawn.
Addis Ababa is increasingly isolated and Abiy Ahmed has now decided to head to the front line. OLA’s commander describes Abiy as a dying horse kicking for the last time.
We are a bit across the Kenyan border into southern Ethiopia. It is hot, dry and mountainous. In the background, a dromedary roars. Here I meet a force of young soldiers from the armed group Oromo Liberation Army, some years ago a relatively unknown guerrilla, now one of the main actors in the Ethiopian drama.
Maybe they are a hundred . Most were former university students, some from high school, who joined here to fight the federal government and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and for what they see as an oppression of Oromos, Ethiopia’s largest population. Sure, it’s a bit of a show here, far from the front line, but just a few weeks ago, most people here were involved in battles further north, here they now get a much-needed but short rest.
One of them is Galmo, 22 years old. She joined the armed struggle as a teenager.
- I’m not afraid of fighting, she explains. I’m determined to free the Oromo people, I’m not afraid.
- I fight against the oppression that Oromos lived under. That is what drives me, to live a free life where the rights of Oromos are taken advantage of.
The Oromo warriors show their strength with a march and a short maneuver through the bushes. They wear simple uniforms, wear their equipment in shawls around their upper bodies, and wear only sandals in the barren landscape. The weapons are automatic rifles and machine guns and not much more. Yet here, and thousands of others in the Oromo Liberation Army, the Federal Ethiopian Army has fallen to its knees.
They have now surrounded Addis Ababa from three directions, from the west, south and southeast. In the northeast, they are acting together with the Tigranian armed forces, which may soon cut off the capital from the strategic road leading to the port city of neighboring Djibouti.
Jaal Gammachii’s Aboye is the second highest commander of the Oromo Liberation Army. For 20 years he has been in the armed forces and now it may be nearing an end. He says that Addis Ababa or Finfinne as the city is called in Oromo, will fall soon.
“No matter how much the federal Ethiopian army tries to resist, we are constantly approaching the capital together with the Tigranian forces,” he says. The main challenges have been the difficulties for communication, because the murderous regime in Addis, as he puts it, does not want the abuses to be known in the outside world, they have shut down the internet and mobile network, despite that we are steadily moving forward, he says.
The Ethiopian government has been widely criticized for almost completely isolating the Tigray region, preventing emergency aid from entering and allowing looting and mass rape. Hundreds of thousands are threatened with starvation there now. But all parties to this conflict are accused of abusing the civilian population, both the Ethiopian army, Tigranian forces and the Oromo Liberation Army.
However, this is something that is rejected by all parties. It is clear, however, that hatred and violence have led some observers to believe that reconciliation is possible between the second largest group of Amharis on the one hand and Oromos and Tigers on the other. Former Peace Prize laureate and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has long been criticized for his harsh rhetoric, in which he specifically accused tigers of all guilt in the conflict.
Several of his posts on social media have therefore been removed because they were considered to drive ethnic hatred. As the one who can now try to get out of Addis Ababa, Abiy Ahmed decided to go to the front, which some see as a sign of desperation. So did the second-in-command of the Oromo Liberation Army.
- It’s like one last kick from a dying horse, says master Jaal Gammachii’s Aboye. This is a way for him to show courage in the end. Even if he were not killed on the battlefield, this is a way for him to show some form of pride before he is ousted from power, he says.
But if now the Tigranian forces and the Oromo Liberation Army take over Addis and get rid of Abiy Ahmed – what happens then?
- Our goal is to liberate the Oromo people. But when all this is over, it is up to Oromos to vote for themselves about how they want to see their future and what the relations with the other groups should look like. The Ethiopian government has not defended our rights, that is what has driven us to this armed struggle, he says. But this may be decided later.
While the commander expresses himself a little cautiously, there is no doubt in the case of the young guerrilla warrior Galmo.
- Our long struggle is soon over, she says. I see a bright future for our people.
Richard Myrenberg, Ethiopia
By Prof. Mohamed Hasasan*
To cite this article: Mohammed Hassen (2021): Genocidal Conquest, Plunder of Resources
and Dehumanization of the Oromo in Ethiopia, Journal of Genocide Research, DOI:
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/14623528.2021.1992925
Ernest Gellner aptly described Ethiopia as “a prison-house of nations if ever there was one.”75 In that prison-house of nations the Oromo language was banned from being used for radio broadcasting and publishing up to 1974. Up to 1991, it was neither permissible to teach nor to produce literature in the Oromo language, and nor was it possible to use it in legal forums. “In court or before an official an Oromo had to speak Amharic or use an interpreter. Even a case between two Oromos, before an Oromo-speaking magistrate, had to be heard in Amharic.”76 Even today, Oromo Orthodox Church clergy are not permitted to preach in their language. Oromo Orthodox Christians are denied the right for learning and understanding their religion in their language.
From the time of its creation during the 1880s and 1890s and up to 1991, the Ethiopian state never recognized the identities, languages, and cultures of most of its peoples, including the Oromo. The identity of the Amhara national group, their language,
culture, religion and way of life were projected as pan-Ethiopian identity. It was only after the establishment of federal system in Ethiopia in 1992, that the Oromo were able to administer themselves in Oromia, and for the first time to write and develop literature in their own language.
At stake in the current genocidal war in Tigray, Oromia and other parts of Ethiopia is the existence of the federal system, and the threat that the Oromo will lose their democratic rights if it is dismantled. The Oromo fear that their language will be banned from being used for teaching, governmental services, and publishing in their country.
The history of the Oromo reveals the meaning of Ethiopian imperial-nationalism and warns against its revival: “It remains the belief of the Amhara elites that to be an Ethiopian one has to cease to be an Oromo. The two things were/are seen as incompatible.”77
A must read article just published:
74 Bulcha, “The Making of the Oromo Diaspora,” 192.
75 Ernest Gellner, Nations and Nationalism (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991), 85.
76 Paul Baxter, “Ethiopia’s Unacknowledged Problem: The Oromo,” African Affairs 77 (1978): 288.
77 Mekuria Bulcha, “The Language Policies of Ethiopian Regimes and the History of Written Afaan Oromo: 1844–1994,”
Journal of Oromo Studies 2, nos. 1–2 (1994): 101.
*Mohammed Hassen joined Department of History at Georgia State University in January 1992 and
retired in 2017. His research interest is in Ethiopian history, with special focus on Oromo history, the
area in which he has published extensively.
(Melbourne, Irreechaa, September 30, 2021)-The Oromia Irreechaa Organising Committee in Victoria is preparing to celebrate Irreecha Birraa in Melbourne on 3rd October.
Irreechaa is the annual Oromo people Thanksgiving Day that is celebrated every year in Birraa near the river bank or water and tree.
Head of the Committee, Ob Abdeta Homa, said the celebration marks the end of the rainy season (June to September and the beginning of the spring season for planting (September to June).
Irreechaa is celebrated every year in the end of September or beginning of October in various part of the globe where the Oromo community resides.
The organisers states that this year celebration in Melbourne will be held in the context of the country at family level due to COVID-19 lockdown while cultural values of the Irreechaa celebration are maintained. The celebration still helps to strengthen and promote the Oromo tradition of respect for nature and gratefulness for life in Melbourne.
Head of Cultural Education Committee, Danye Dafarsha, also said the Irreecha festivity celebrated in Birraa (in September and October) is the cultural expression of thankfulness to Waaqaa for providing life necessities to human beings and other living things.
This is because the Oromo believe Waaqaa is the sole creator of everything and source of all life. It is also regarded as pure, omnipresent, infinite, incomprehensible and intolerant to injustice, crime, sin and all falsehood. It can do and undo anything.
On this day, family come to gather at their best place (near the river bank or water) depending on their states lockdown restrictions, to give thanks to the almighty Waaqaa(God) for all the blessings throughout the past dry season and ask for Araaraa (Reconciliation), Nagaa (Peace), Walooma (Harmony) and Finnaa (Holistic Development) for the present and the future.
Australian Oromo formally celebrated this Irreecha every year in Birraa near the river bank or water and tree.
According to the Irreechaa Organising Committee, all Oromos in Victoria are expected to take part in the celebration at the family level.
“What a wonderful time we had on a cooler than typical spring day in 2021 enjoying all that the Irreechaa Festival presented,” Ob Abdeta Homa added.
Accordning to Ob Oluma Qubee, the Oromo elder who has been involved in nurturing Oromo culture for many years, Irreechaa is the celebration of peace, unity and cooperation where the celebrants carrying bunch of straw and daisies in their hands praising, blessing and praying Waaqa in their songs.
“The Oromo people celebrate Irreechaa not only to thank Waaqaa (God) but also to welcome the new season of plentiful harvests after the dark and rainy winter season associated with nature and creature,” Ob Oluma added.
In the traditional religion of the Oromos, the spirit is the power through which Waaqaa (The Almighty God) governs all over the world. Thus, Oromos believe that every creation of Waaqaa has its own spirit.
The ceremony honors elders’ blessings and wisdom, preserves the heritage and assesses the progress of humanity.
“Here in Australia, Melbourne, we continue this fabulous event every year for since 2007.
“The celebrations are unique in that the Melbourne celebration has come again and that contributes to the development of Oromummaa in the Diaspora,” Ob Abdeta said.
There is also a ceremony of thanking all forebears for their endurance and determination to survive their culture and history – paving the way for further social victory.
In the Oromo tradition river banks, the tops of mountains, the hills and other elevated grounds are respected landscapes because they believe that these landscapes represent the value of life and nature.
It is a unique Oromo cultural, historical and natural beautification in their full glory at the height of the season.
The auspicious day on which this last Mormor Day of Gadaa Belbaa-the Dark Time of starvation and hunger- was established on the 1st Sunday of last week of September or the 1stSunday of the 1st week of October according to the Gadaa lunar calendar ‐‐ has been designated as our National Thanksgiving Day by modern‐day Oromo people. Oromo communities both at home and abroad celebrate this National Thanksgiving Day every year.
Irreechaa as a medium for bringing all Oromias together
The Oromian Irreechaa Festival will not only serve as a medium for bringing all Oromias together, from all its diasporas, as one voice, but will also focus on promoting and enhancing Oromummaa in freedom struggle, tourism, arts and crafts, business, restaurants and hospitality, and entertainment.
Moreover as a moving and flourishing heritage, Irreechaa also connects our Oromo identity with the global civilization in which the industrial and manufacturing sectors of heavy and light machinery of natural resources and raw materials.
During the event, we will be serving with Oromo foods and featuring with traditional dances by Oromo children, youth and dance troupes. Irreechaa is about a lot more than just putting on shows, it encourages engagement and participation from everyone in the greater community across our great city, country and the globe.
On Irreechaa festivals, friends, family, and relatives gather together and celebrate with joy and happiness. Irreechaa festivals bring people closer to each other and make social bonds.
Irreecha is one of the previous Cushitic religious traditions of praying to God (Waaqa). It has been observed by the Oromo people for more than 6400 years.
 Rainy season symbolized as a dark, disunity and challenging time in Oromia.
 Gadaa Melbaa was established before 6400 years ago at Odaa Mormor, North-west Oromia.
 Mormor in Oromo means division, disunity, chaos.
 Gadaa Belbaa is the end time of starvation.