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Oromia: Irreechaa, a Festival That Promotes Unity and Peace, is undertaking in Bishoftu.

(30 September 2018) Irreechaa, one of the intangible heritages of the Oromo nation, is colorfully happening in the presence of a large gathering by Lake Hora-Arsedi in Bishoftu town right no.

On this day (normally falls at the end of September or beginning of October), many Oromos come to the river or the sea or the lake with an outlet that has since long been chosen to be the place for such thanksgiving celebration.

Irreechaa comes on the following of Meskel, which comes in tandem with New year. September proves a month where cultural and religious festivals are celebrated one after the other. Hence Irreechaa is one of the jewels in the crown of September.

In the traditional religion of the Oromos, the spirit is the power through which Waqaa (The Almighty God) governs all over the world. Thus, Oromos believe that every creation of Waqaa has its own spirit.

Twice a year

Traditionally, the Oromo practise Irreechaa ritual as a thanksgiving celebration twice a year,on autumn and spring, to praise God for peace, health, fertility and abundance giving regards to people, livestock, harvest and the entire Oromo land.

Irreecha is celebrated as a sign of reciprocating God in a form of providing praise for what they got in the past. It is also a forum of prayer for the future. In such rituals, the Oromo gather in places with symbolic meanings, such as hilltops, riversides and shades of big sacred trees. Irreechaa is celebrated on Sunday that comes following Maskal, the finding of the True Cross. Irreechaa is one of the intangible heritages of the Oromo people. It is an open air festival where millions gather to thank “Waaqa “or God.

Oromo National event

Irreecha is one of the most colourful and beautiful Oromo National Cultural event that has been celebrated throughout Oromia. At State level Irreechaa is celebrated in Bishoftu Town in Oromia at Lake Hora Arsedi.

It is important to note the Oromos celebrate the Irreecha irrespective of their religious backgrounds. Whether they are Waaqeffataa, Christians or Muslims they participate in the festival.
On the festival Community leaders and Aba Gada’s praise God for the blessed transition from the rainy season which is normally considered gloomy to the bright and colorful season autumn. The costumes the Oromos put on in different designs lend color to the vibe of the festival. This is one of the things that make the ceremony worth attending.

Most of all, they believe that this spirit (through which Waqaa is supposed to govern all over its creature) wallows over the sea and the great rivers of our world. And also, they do believe that the peak of the mountain is holly in nature, and that it serves as a host to the spirit of Waqaa.

Thus, the Oromos usually go to the river or to the mountain during the time of their worshiping rituals, or during Irreessaa celebration. The celebration is an indigenous Oromo knowledge which has been practiced for centuries now.

The winter, rainy season

The Oromo People consider the winter rainy season of June to September as the time of difficulty. The heavy rain brings with it lots of things like swelling rivers and floods that may drown people, cattle, crop, and flood homes. Also, family relationship will severe during winter rain as they can’t visit each other because of swelling rivers.

In addition, winter time could be a time of hunger for some because of the fact that previous harvest collected in January is running short and new harvest is not ripe yet. Because of this, some families may endure food shortages during the winter. In Birraa (Spring in Oromo land), this shortage ends as many food crops especially maize is ripe and families can eat their fill. Other crops like potato, barley, etc. will also be ripe in Birraa. Some disease types like malaria also break out during rainy winter time. Because of this, the Oromos see winter as a difficult season. It does not mean the Oromo People hate rain or winter season at all. Even when there is shortage of rain, they pray to Waaqa (God) for rain.

The Oromo People celebrate Irreecha not only to thank Waaqa (God) but also to welcome the new season of plentiful harvests after the dark and rainy winter season associated with nature and creature. On Irreecha festivals, friends, family, and relatives gather together and celebrate with joy and happiness. Irreecha festivals bring people closer to each other and make social bonds.

Moreover, the Oromo People celebrate this auspicious event to mark the end of rainy season, known as Ganna, was established by Oromo forefathers, in the time of Gadaa Melbaa in Mormor, Oromia. The auspicious day on which this last Mormor Day of Gadaa Melbaa – the Dark Time of starvation and hunger- was established on the Sunday of last week of September or the Sunday of the 1st week of October according to the Gadaa lunar calendar has been designated as National Thanksgiving Day by modern-day Oromo People.

In Waqeffannaa religion thanksgiving-Irreecha, the Qaalluus (spiritual leaders) and the Abbaa Malkaas (lineal chiefs of the areas) are at the top hierarchies. In the Qaallu religio-ethics, the Qaalluus give religious instructions and directives of the where-about and the time of the implementation of the rituals.

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Appeal Letter to the International Community

by Oromo Civic Organizations

(Advocacy for Oromia, March 05, 2018) We, members of the Oromo civic and professional organizations, write this urgent letter to appeal to international organizations and governments to save helpless, peaceful citizens trapped under a repressive regime in Ethiopia which has decided to rule through state terrorism.

The Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) led Ethiopian government, representing a minority ethnic group, which has ruled Ethiopia with an iron fist since the early 1990’s, has unleashed what can be described as state terrorism in the last few years on defenseless people for peacefully demanding their basic democratic rights. The most populous state in the country, Oromia, has particularly faced the brunt of the regime’s ire, as widely documented by reputable human rights and international media organizations. Thousands have been killed, and tens of thousands have been arrested, tortured, displaced and exiled. On October 2, 2016 alone, government security forces fired on millions of people who gathered for the annual Irreecha festival, near the city of Bishoftu, killing hundreds and maiming many more. Following this massacre, the government imposed a ten-month state of emergency, during which over 30,000 people were arrested and kept in concentration camps without a due process of law. In what is arguably the worst humanitarian disaster to have befallen the Oromo people yet, close to one million Oromo have been displaced from their home in the eastern and southeastern regions, because of TPLF’s vicious proxy war on the Oromo via the so-called Liyu-Police of the Somali region of Ethiopia. Most of the internally displaced are still living in temporary shelters, facing an uncertain outcome and a bleak future.

Faced with a growing dissent, the TPLF regime has re-imposed a state of emergency on February 16, 2018, curtailing fundamental human rights and giving its army a wide latitude to take extrajudicial actions with impunity. This new law is totally uncalled for, as the government is fully in control and has no justification to use an extraordinary measure to maintain peace and order. Many foreign governments and independent observers believe that declaring a state of emergency at this time is unnecessary and counter-productive. The United States Embassy in Ethiopia “strongly disagrees with Ethiopian government’s decision to impose a state of emergency that includes restrictions on fundamental rights such as assembly and expression.” Opposition political parties, civic and religious organizations have also condemned the declaration of the state of emergency. The decree does not even meet the conditions stipulated in TPLF’s own constitution which requires an extraordinary situation to declare a state of emergency. It is, therefore, illegal.
Yet even before the state of emergency was approved, the regime has intensified its implementation, severely restricting the freedom of movement and expression. On February 23, for example, government forces prevented leaders of the Oromo Federalists Congress (OFC), Dr. Merera Gudina and Bekele Gerba, from visiting their relatives and meeting supporters in Wallaga, western Oromia.
After their release from prison just last month, they were forced to stay in an open field, 20 miles away from the city of Nekemete, because federal forces, who have been harassing and terrorizing residents, blocked the road and ordered them to go back to Addis Ababa (Finfinnee) On February 26, soldiers fired live ammunition and killed one person, Abebe Makonnen, and wounded at least 19 people. Another person was killed and 5 others were wounded in the town of Ukkee, north of Nekemte, on February 27 and 28, 2018. Further west, in Dembi Dolo, government forces have prevented the distribution of leaflet for a religious gathering and killed one person and wounded several others. On February 27, the Command Post, a military unit set up to administer the state of emergency, and led by Siraj Fergessa, Defense Minister, authorized the federal defense forces to take any action against protesters.

The Command post’s directive gives an extraordinary power to the armed forces and allows them to unleash unmitigated violence against civilians. The state of emergency clearly violates the country’s constitution and other international human rights treaty obligations that Ethiopia has agreed to observe.
The behavior of the Ethiopian regime is outrageous on many levels. While Ethiopia hosts many international organizations including: the headquarters of the African Union (AU), the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), and numerous diplomatic missions; the EPRDF regime flagrantly violates
human rights with impunity. Helpless and defenseless people wonder who would come to their rescue when their government manipulates the laws and kills them, evicts them from their lands, and displaces them routinely.

The outrage of the people has been simmering for years and their patience has reached its limits. This volatile situation can get out of control at any moment. Unfortunately, if this happens, many more lives could be lost; property could be destroyed, the Horn of Africa region could face an imaginable displacements and mass migrations. In short, the consequences could be catastrophic not only for the Oromo and the peoples of Ethiopia, but also for the northeast African region and the global community.

Grieving of the losses we have suffered so far, due to the brutal acts of TPLF/EPRDF regime, and fearful of the looming human sufferings, we strongly appeal to the international community and organizations to act fast and save innocent lives, prevent violence and displacements. We particularly appeal to:

1. The United Nations, the African Union, the Arab League, and the European Union to stop the Ethiopian government from continuing very dangerous political path;

2. The United Nations Security Council to authorize the investigation of the violations of human rights and international human rights treaty obligations, the crimes committed by the Ethiopian regime;

3. The United Nations Human Rights Commission to investigate previous the human rights violations and other committed crimes under current state of emergency law in Ethiopia;

4. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) not to provide financial assistance to Ethiopia, except for humanitarian reasons, to force the government end its repressive behavior;

5. The governments of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Egypt, Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden, South Africa and other nations to put all necessary diplomatic pressure, and financial and trade restrictions to end the state of emergence, respect the rights of citizens and open the political space for democracy and freedom;

6. All peace-loving global communities to put necessary pressure on their respective governments to end assistance to the Ethiopian government and support the Oromo and other peoples in Ethiopia at this critical moment.

Ultimately, the TPLF/EPRDF leaders and their partners will be fully, legally and historically, accountable for the criminal acts they are committing under the cover of the state of emergency.
Last but not least, if our urgent warnings are ignored and the ominous tragedies we fear take place, history will harshly judge the inaction of the international community, appropriately.

Sincerely,
Oromo Civic and Professional Organizations

• Global Gumii Oromia (GGO)
• Oromo Communities Association of North America (OCA-NA)
• Macha-Tulama Association (MTA)
• Oromo Studies Association (OSA)
• Oromia Support Group (OSG)
• International Oromo Lawyers Association (IOLA)
• International Oromo Women’s Organization (IOWO)
• International Qeerroo Support Group (IQSG)
• Human Rights League for the Horn Of Africa (HRLHA)
CC:
Organizations: UN, AU, EU, AL, WB, IMF
Governments: US, UK, Canada, Australia, China, Egypt, Germany, Norway, Italy, Russia, Sweden, South Africa, [Others]

CORA Announces the 2016 Irreechaa Holiday Schedule

The Committee for Oromummaa Renaissance and Advancement announces the tentative 2016 Global Irreechaa Birraa schedule for public awareness and festivities.

Irreechaa BannerAccording to this year study by CORA (the Committee for Oromummaa Renaissance and Advancement) based in Australia, the 2016 Oromian Irreechaa Festival is running  from September 04, 2016 through October 2, 2016.

This national festival is a spectacular show of Oromo cultural, historical and natural beautification in their full glory at the height of the season.

“It has spawned somewhat of a science of knowing just when the blooms will peak and decline, depending on the wind, rain, and sunshine they get,” CORA says.

Five Weeks of Festivities

The Oromo Irreechaa Holiday will offer five weeks of festivities for local and international participants alike. From opening week on Sunday, September 4, 2016 until the closing ceremonies on Sunday, October 2, 2016, weekend days will be filled with different shows and activities, including blessing ceremonies for offspring and girls, youth dances and music, media orientations, public awareness meetings, and Irreechaa celebrations.

Irreechaa 2IrreechaaOne of the highlights of the event is the Awareness Creation Meeting – from the beginning of September to the day of Irreechaa through various methods, such as meeting, singing, and firewood ceremony.

The day of the Irreechaa begins as the colorfully dressed attendees start to assemble holding Irreessaa (fresh, green grass) and Keelloo (daisy) blossom.

Once a sizable number of people are gathered at a common location, a cheerful group of young people take the lead by enthusiastically singing traditional songs and hymns in turns.

After a spectacular and heart-warming cultural display by the energetic youth, organizers announce that it is time to head to Malkaa (the ford) or Horaa (spring water), Tulluu (mountain), where the Irreechaa will be held.

Then, the elders and spiritual leaders take over to wrap up the sacred aspects ofIrreechaa celebration with praises, prayers, and blessings. Visitors enjoy walking together under a sycamore (Odaa) tree and pray for greater reconciliation, peace,finnaa (holistic development), and harmony.

Historical Evidences

Hora Lake of ( Bishftu) Deber'zeyet 1903

This historical Irreechaa celebration was captured 113 years ago- 1903 at Lake Hora, Bishoftu town. Irreechaa is one of the indigenous Oromo culture by which Oromos are getting together to thank their Creator called Waaqaa or God for the reason that He helped them to turn a year.

For a reason that God or Waaqaa transferred them from the rainy and difficult season to a shiny and enjoyable season Oromos are getting together and give their thanks for the Great Lord I .e. Waaqaa or God.

It was then banned and the banning era was ended with the fall down of Mengistu’s regime in 1991

The grandest ceremony is the holiday of the Irreechaa at Hora Harsadii, Bishooftuu, Oromia. This popular enlightening event has been honored extensively by different local and international media and summarized as the “Great Cultural, Historical and Natural Harmony Show to See Before You Die”, and recognized as “the Best Springtime Festival in Oromia.”

The Oromo lrreechaa holiday provides a multitude of amazing creations to explore, as talented artists create in their favorite medium – the cultural dress!

Don’t forget your camera to capture these unique and fantastic cultural celebration.

OROMO PROTESTS: DEFIANCE AMIDST PAIN AND SUFFERING

By Mahlet Fasil and Tsedale Lemma

Oromo-Protests-300x166It all began on No 12th in Ginchi, a small town some 80 Kms South West of the Capital Addis Abeba. It is a town of not more than 50, 000 inhabitants, “95% of whom are Oromos”, a nation whose ethnic makeup is known to represent more than 35% of Ethiopia’s 90 million plus diverse population.

But as far as the story of township significance (for Ethiopia) goes by, Ginichi is the last town anyone could think of. It’s a sleepy town; but it’s surrounded by serine farmlands and a breathtaking forest reserve in and around the small hills on the outskirts of the town. Most of its communities are farmers with some small time traders who run the center of the town.

That status, however, may have changed on a sunny Sunday of Nov. 12th when a group of young (and some old) residents of the town confronted a government inspecting team of not more than “half a dozen,” according to a young grocery owner in the area. Residents suspect the officials were there to push though deals to transfer a nearby field used by local youngsters as Sunday football pitch and clear a forest reserve for an upcoming investment project. Officials from the Oromiya regional state, to which Ginchi belongs to, and the central government deny any of this happening. But it was too late to stop scenes of extraordinary defiance and students-led protest that started from Ginchi and spread throughout the country for the last four weeks.

Reason?

It was no longer the football pitch and the forest residents of Ginchi say they would protect at any cost; it was the Addis Abeba city hall’s ambitious (if ill-fated) plan – ‘Addis Abeba and the Surrounding Oromia Special Zone Integrated Development Plan’. Known in short the “Addis Abeba Master Plan”, federal authorities say it is merely aimed at creating an economically integrated Addis Abeba with six of its surrounding localities currently under the special administration of the Oromiya regional state.

The four weeks that since ensued have seen protests (most of them led by elementary and high school students, but also joined by University students in cities where university campuses are available) spread like bushfire. Geographically, all protests are happening throughout the Oromiya regional state, the largest of the nine states that makeup Ethiopia. Commenting on the domino effect of the small protest in Ginchi, the young grocery owner said: “never in my lifetime could I imagine this.”

It’s a statement many could agree with, but not the protestors.

Ambo was next
A university city just over 30 km before Ginchi, and 120 kms west of Addis Abeba, Ambo, a three hrs drive from Addis Abeba, is the bedrock of Oromo opposition politicians such as the renowned Prof. Merera Gudina and their constituency. Going by a recent past, similar Oromo students’ protests in April and May 2014 saw the highest death toll per city and a fierce crackdown by government security personnel that also saw the arrest of several protesting university students. Oromo activists say more than 60 protestors were gunned down during the two month 2014 protest; the government’s own account put the death toll at just 11.

The current protest at Ambo University began barely a week after the small protests in Ginchi that went largely peaceful. Students at the university were having their dinner at the compass’s cafeteria when power went off – not an unusual incident. But the week was preceded by news from Ginchi and several indications that the federal government, which temporarily put off the implementation of the Addis Abeba Master Plan in the aftermath of the April 2014 protest (and said it was doing so to ensure greater public participation), was bent on proceeding with the implementation.

Once darkness fell, students began throwing their cutlery and started chanting “Say No to the Master Plan”, a slogan recently adopted by social media activists. A few minutes later, the cafeteria was surrounded by campus police who agreed with the students that they can have their grievances peacefully staged the next morning, according to Workinesh Hinsarmu, who works at the university. But that ‘hold it until morning’ promise was not to come; the next morning the compound was heavily surrounded by not only the regional police but also the federal police forces.

“On a Monday morning at 8:30 we moved out from our dormitories to start our peaceful demonstration but about five federal police officers approached us and told us to stop. We continued shouting our slogans. By this time other group of the federal police came and took three of our friends and started kicking them violently,” remembers Gudeta, a third year student who only wanted to be mentioned by his given name. The situation escalated when hundreds of students ran to their dormitories and (“mostly federal”) police pursued after them. “They went from dormitories to dormitories and captured many of us – even those who didn’t participate in the rally.” Gudeta recounted of the violent physical assault by the police including “an order for us to stare at the blazing sun for nearly 40 minutes.”

Gudeta says many elementary and high schools in the city were already closed by the time the university students tried their chance to protest against the so called Master Plan. The university administration put up an emergency notice calling for the resumption of class as of the next morning. But the students demanded the withdrawal of the police and federal security personnel from campus. A senior administrative official told us “the police were here to stay for six months, or even a year and half if necessary,” Gudeta said.

Caught in the crossfire is Abel Tamrat, a 2nd year student who wasn’t planning to participate in the protest rally but was taken from his dorm during police’s search for those who ran away from the aborted rally. “All I wanted was to sleep in my bed, but they broke into our dorm and took me and started beating me. I tried to tell them I wasn’t a part of the protest rally, but no one was listening. Instead one of them started beating me on my face with his gun’s butt. Next thing I know I am at a hospital missing four of my front teeth.” Abel tells of a disturbing scene at the hospital, where the doctors and nurses were soaked in tears and despair to attend their patients. “We were many.”

oromo students fresh protest

The iconic photo that became the face of the ongoing Oromo protests (Photo: Social media)

The whereabouts of several other university students is not known. Both Abel and Gudata told Addis Standard (often looking at their shoulders and still scared) that they are frantically trying to locate their missing friends.

Students from other cities in the country are the hardest hit. Sheltered at an Orthodox Church, around 50 students who were even scared of showing their faces told Addis Standard’s reporter Mahlet Fasil that they can’t leave the town for lack of money and police’s control in the city exists. Upon checks on busses leaving town anyone with a student ID is haunted and returned back to the city. All of them say they couldn’t withdraw the money their parents have sent them from different banks operating in the city. Berka Gudata, a bank employee, confirmed their story. “We have no network in the bank. They ask as to help them, but there is nothing we can do.”

In the last three weeks Ambo and its surrounding turned itself into a hot spot of protest when residents from several villages surrounding the city joined students to express their anger both at the violent way the security personnel dealt with the protestors and the fundamental question – the Master Plan. In follow up calls (when available) with eye witnesses in the city, people tell of the death of protesters at the hands of the police (no accurate figures are available); and last Saturday a grenade exploded near Abebech Hotel in the center of the town. No causality was reported. Security officers patrolling the town are extremely vigilant; they routinely stop individuals on the street (as was the case with our reporter Mahlet Fasil, who was stopped from taking pictures and was told by a plain clothed security officer that she looked “a stranger and should go back to where you came from as soon as possible.”)

The southern part of Ambo, off the rough road leading to Wonchi Creator Lake and further south to Woliso town (administratively known as South-west Shewa zones) in local areas such as Ameya and Geldu news that both regional and federal police have lost control of the villages is rife. Lemma Gaddisa, an eye witness describes “carnage, looting and vandalism committed both by security officers and people who are total strangers to the area.” “The people in the area have destroyed roads leading to villages to prevent security officers entering the villages,” Lemma said on the phone.

Further afield to the north of Ambo in an area called Ginde Beret, another eye witness who is sheltering at relatives in Ambo town and says he is wanted by the police for helping print banners told Addis Standard he has seen a fierce battle between residents and the police. “I saw many people shot and lying on the road.” He also talked of “ransacked government offices, cadres badly beaten and cars and tyres burned on the street.”

Woliso
Accessible both from Ambo and the capital Addis Abeba, Woliso is located some 200 kms west of Addis Abeba. Previously unknown as a city of protest, Woliso serves as the center of trade between Addis Abeba and Jimma, another major town in the Oromiya regional state some 360kms west of Addis Abeba. But on Wednesday Nov. 25th Woliso witnessed what some of its residents said was an “unprecedented standoff between residents and the regional and federal police” when security agents started to randomly detain students and young people on the streets. The town’s people then got news from Ambo and its surrounding and connected the dots on why their children were being preemptively picked up by security forces. Hundreds of students have gathered and started shouting “stop killing our brothers,” said Dirbe Arega, a long time resident of the town and a mother of five. “Soon the shooting began. I ran to the middle of it because two of my five children aged 13 and 15 were on their way from school.” Dirbe said already in mid-morning after she saw an unusual deployment of security forces she went to the school and took three of her younger children from an elementary school not far from her house. “I have lived in this town for nearly 30 years but I have never seen anything like this.”

Four nearly four days between Nov. 25th – 30th Woliso was isolated (for a better part of the days) from both roads leading to Jimma and Addis Abeba. The extraordinary scenes of defiance started unfolding when protestors returned to the streets on Friday Dec. 11th. “This time, protestors came with piles of tyres to keep the police away and set them on fire,” a young student attending training as tailor for school leaving girls told Addis Standard. She is attending the training at a project financially supported by a government micro financing scheme, but she got the chance only after she was registered as a member of the ruling party. “Many young people went to the micro finance office and have tried to set it on fire. They are angry because not everyone is lucky enough to receive support.” She says as the week went by the question of the Oromo students protesting was no longer the Addis Abeba Master Plan, but “a better opportunity for all of them.”

Pictures allegedly sent by the protestors and were posted by activities on social media show two dead young men lying on the street. After the Friday’s shooting the biggest hospital in the town, St. Luck Catholic Hospital, was overstretched “beyond its capacity,” a worried nurse told Addis Standard on the phone. The road to the hospital was blocked by security officers who were busy preventing relatives from coming into hospitals. With news of road blockades on the road to Addis Abeba, virtually every business closed and a scene of utter chaos on the streets, Woliso, a town of lodges and several hotels known for many tourists, felt no more safe. Follow up phone calls confirm the town as slowly returning to normal, but a it remains tense and apprehensive.

Adama

A bustling city 100 km south of Addis Abeba, Adama is the second most important administrative city next to Addis Abeba. It was once made to become the capital of the Oromiya regional state, a politically toxic decision that cost the lives of unaccounted numbers of Oromo university students in the hands of security forces during a protest in 2001 against the decision. Since then, Adama is “under the vigilant supervision of the federal government,” says a professor at the Adama Science and Technology University, the largest of its kind.

Oromo protests at the university began the last week of November. It started with the students demanding the University for the withdrawal of the increasing numbers of federal and regional police forces from the compound. According to a civilian security of the campus gate, who wishes to remain anonymous, the police became suspicious about the demands and started checking the students thoroughly upon leaving and coming in to the compass. That set off the protest.

But instead of the usual confrontation between unarmed students and police officers armed to the teeth, the students did an unexpected display of solidarity with Oromo student protestors, by now happening in more than 50 cities, according to campaigners and activists. More than 600 students at the Adama Science and Technology University gathered at the canteen for lunch and received their lunches but left every single plate of it untouched.

Peacefull protests

The ongoing Oromo protests have not all been voilence. Symbolic peaceful protestes like shown here have spread widely (Photo: Social media) 

It became an act of solidarity widely repeated around several university campuses including here at the Addis Abeba University main campus.

But that peaceful display of solidarity didn’t spare the students from gun shots. Hana who works in the administrative department of the campus and wanted to be called by her given name only, told Addis Standard that she heard “guns being fired at around freshmen dormitories.” For the next three days, the campus was a scene of despair and chaos, but also persistent protest. Although the protests didn’t spread to the town, many students were “wounded by bullets”, according to Nahom Endale, a 3rd year marketing student; many have also left the campus; it is unclear who will show up and who will not when this is over.

Molla Yerga, a father from Gondar who came to pick his son spoke with Addis Standard with utter sense of despair: “I couldn’t find my son. When he called me to tell me there was a problem at the campus, I warned him to stay in his dorm but he is not there. All his friends told me they haven’t seen him.” Molla said his son’s cell phone is also switched off. “I trusted the safety of my son to the government when he came to study at the campus, now my son is missing. It is a shame.”

On Dec. 5th evening the federal anti-terrorism task force issued an alarming statement labeling persistent protests as attempts of terrorism and indicating that the task force will do everything necessary to bring law and order in some areas. In other words, there is “more death to come,” said Gonfa Abera, a student at Ambo University but who is staying here in Addis.

The protests have spread to more than 80 cities and the opposition, Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), says more than 50 protestors have so far been gunned down by the police and more than 500 arrested. The government puts the number of death at just five and maintains the protests are happening in “few areas by a few individuals.”

But as of the publishing of this news, information coming from social media activists (supported by still pictures, videos and audios) show defiant protests happening in cities in Oromiya regional state from east to west, south to south east of the country.

Source: http://addisstandard.com/oromo-protests-defiance-amidst-pain-and-suffering/

Welcome to Oromo St in Minisota, USA

(Advocacy4Oromia, 11 September 2015) Minnesota Oromos get their very own street under their community’s name-Oromo Street, today, 11 of September 2015.

Oromo St 2

According to our information, the Little Oromia’s ‘Oromo Street’ will be officially inaugurated on September 12, 2015.

Minnesota of United States of America is widely known as “Little Oromia” among Oromos with an estimated 40,000 Oromos who flee from their homeland,Oromia, East Africa, due to political persecution.

The Oromo are the single largest ethnic group in Ethiopia, constituting nearly half of the country’s 94 million population.

Oromo St

Public Reaction and ‪#‎OromoStreet‬ 

“To the Oromo who has for so long remained invisible in its adopted home after home, a well-deserved recognition, and a breath of warm air in the thick of Minnesota’s bitter winter,” said Hassan Hussein, the executive director of the Oromo Community of Minnesota. (http://www.opride.com/oromsis/news/3784-minneapolis-may-soon-get-a-commemorative-oromo-street)

“Picture of the Day: Little Oromia (Minneapolis) Now Has ‘Oromo Street,’” http://gadaa.net/FinfinneTribune/2015/09/picture-of-the-day-little-oromia-minneapolis-now-has-oromo-street-via-hegeree-media/

“Minnesota Oromos get their very own street under their community’s name today! How Awesome!,” said Demitu Argo on her Facebook timeline.

“It is official that the most anticipated commemoration of ‪#‎Oromo‬ and ‪#‎Somali‬ street is happening this coming Saturday. Cheers to all my East African immigrants! In celebration, the WestBank communities are hosting 1st Annual Block party. Here is the program breakdowns on Saturday 12, 2015. Can’t wait to park on Oromo street!,” said Edao Dawano on his Facebook timeline.

“Oromo Street is in effect in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Can’t wait to visit. Thank you America for recognizing the people you saved for the brutal Ethiopian government,” said Birhanie Beka Geleto on her Facebook with a feeling hopeful, from Washington, DC, United States ·

“Minneapolis to officially designate Oromo street in a ceremony on Saturday,” said OPride.com on its Facebook.

#‎OromoStreet‬ was erected in Minneapolis Minnesota today. A real symbol of passionate advocacy & a telling sign of the undeniable audacious heart & spirit of its people (Photo Credit: @edawano),” said Urgé Dinegde in Minneapolis, Minnesota on her Facebook.

“”Fact is the so called “Ethiopia state” is a state of myth without the historical socioeconomic contribution of the great Oromo nation. Renaming street is one step towards the greatness of the Oromo nation. For the question, where he got that from, long live the Oromo nationalist that lived and paid the ultimate price so that our name Oromo shall shine,” said Abdi Fite in January 13 on his Facebook.

An interesting comment also come from Abdii Gemechu  in a very proactive way. He hopes to hear the following voice on GPS in Minneapolis, “In One Thousand Feet, Turn Right on ‘Oromo St’ and your destination is on the Right!”

Background

This street name was proposed by Abdi Warsame who was born in Somalia and grew up in the United Kingdom of Great Britain where he studied and obtained a B.Sc. in Business and a Masters Degree in International Business.

Following that proposal, the Minneapolis City Planning Commission held a public hearing on Jan. 12 to decide on Council Member Abdi Warsame’s application for commemorative street names along the city’s Cedar riverside area.

Warsame’s proposal called for 4th Street South between Cedar Avenue and 15th Avenue South to be named “Oromo Street,” and for the stretch between 6th Street and Cedar Avenue to 15th avenue South to be called “Somali Street.”

Additional background information can be get from http://www.opride.com/oromsis/news/3784-minneapolis-may-soon-get-a-commemorative-oromo-street.

Gadaa System: an Indigenous Democratic Socio-political System of Oromo People

The Oromo Nation is the community concerned with the nominated element. The Gadaa System has been practiced for centuries and remains functional into the present among all of the major Oromo clans such as Borana, Guji, Gabra, Karrayu, Arsi, Afran Qallo, Ituu, Humbana, Tulama and Macha clans in Oromia, East Africa.

http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/index.php?pg=00774&include=slideshow.inc.php&id=01164&width=620&call=slideshow&mode=scroll

 

 

Moving Forward: Sacrificing Time for Oromo Identity

(A4O, 20 September 2014) Irreechaa is a national Thanksgiving Day celebration that repeats once or twice in a year and involves special activities or amusements.

For Oromo, Irreechaa is a good way to pass on cultural knowledge and it helps to build pride in young people and helps them to have confidence when talking with others about their culture and identity. Hence, celebrating Irreechaa means having the confidence that comes from knowing the Oromos have something unique and vital values in their long journey.

The 2014 Irreechaa Birraa festival is one of the main celebration in every year at the beginning of Birraa (the sunny new season after the dark, rainy winter season) throughout Oromia and around the world where Diaspora Oromos live on the theme of “Moving Forward: Sacrificing Time for Oromo Identity”.

The Oromo celebrates Irreechaa to thank Waaqaa for the blessings and mercies they have received throughout the past year at the sacred grounds of Hora Harsadi (Lake Harsadi), Bishoftu, Oromia. They celebrate Irreechaa not only to thank Waaqaa (God) also to welcome the new season of plentiful harvests after the dark and rainy winter season associated with nature and creature.

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 by following their tradition and religion. For almost 6400 years, Oromo families have gathered to take part in the largest Thanks-giving ceremony of the ‘Gadaa’ calendar. Friends, old and new, parents and children join together in a celebration on the goal of ‘Walooma Uumaa-Uumamaa’ (Creator-creatures Harmony).

 

“Oromia!” and “Release Oromo Students Now!”

Yesterday we came home from the #OromoProtests rally with two flags.  I couldn’t wait to give one of them to Jonas.  Sure enough, his eyes lit up when I showed it to him.  After agreeing to stand still for a few pictures (including some silly ones), he started marching around chanting “Oromia!” and “Release Oromo Students Now!”

OromiaWhenever he has something really special, he brings it to school to show his teacher, Gwen.  The flag promptly went in his backpack for the next day.  He got on the school bus with the flag pole sticking way out of his backpack over one shoulder.

All day I wondered what he would say to his teacher about the rally.  He knows a few of the facts of mass arrests, beatings and killings and he saw some graphic pictures.  Would he be able to get his teacher’s attention and find the words to sum up what is going on in Ethiopia and what he participated in at the state capitol?

When he got off the bus, the flag was not in his backpack.  It was in his hand and he waved it as he crossed the street in front of the bus to meet me.  Curious, but knowing I had to wait for the stories to bubble out on their own, I casually asked how his day was and if he showed Gwen the flag. “Mmmhmm. AND I showed all the students too,” he said.

Later while he was eating his snack he thought to mention that he and his only Oromo classmate, a girl, talked about the flag.

“She told me her dad and her cousin had to go.”

“Had to go where?”

“Go away… (pausing to think) yeah, they had to run away so the Ethiopian government couldn’t get them.  She knows all about what’s going on in Oromia.”

“What else did you talk about?”

“About how mean the Ethiopian government is.”

abo12These two kids are in kindergarten.  Jonas seems like class clown material sometimes, still too early to say.  He sure loves to try to make people laugh.

Yet that same silly boy took an Oromo flag to school, talked to his teacher and class about it and made a connection with a classmate who might otherwise not have had a chance to share that bit of her family’s story in school until some future grade.

I hesitate to tell the story because maybe it seems like I think what Jonas did was heroic or outstanding.  I don’t.  I think it’s just profoundly human.

The Oromo year is twelve lunar synodic months of 354 days

(A4O, 10 February 2014) The original Oromo calendar is a lunar-stellar calendrical system, relying on astronomical observations of the moon in conjunction with seven particular stars (or star groups).

According to the researchers at no time (except indirectly by way of lunar phase) does it rely upon solar observations.

The Borana year is twelve lunar synodic months (each 29.5 days long), 354 days.

While it will not correspond to the seasons, this may not be of primary importance for people this close to the equator.

There are twenty-seven day names (no weeks), and since each month is either 29 or 30 days long, the first two (or three) day names are used twice in the same month starts on a new day name.

Many argue that it is not the pride of Oromo people, but  the heritage of the whole humanity if properly recognized.

According to Nure Adem it is the symbol of Oromo civilization. “The great Oromo is pride of all Africans and one of the indicators of Oromo Wisdom in Black Civilization!”

The original Oromo months (Stars/Lunar Phases) are Bittottessa (iangulum), Camsa (Pleiades), Bufa (Aldebarran), Waxabajjii (Belletrix), Obora Gudda (Central Orion-Saiph), Obora Dikka (Sirius), Birra (full moon), Cikawa (gibbous moon), Sadasaa (quarter moon), Abrasa (large crescent), Ammaji (medium crescent), and Gurrandala (small crescent).

 The concept of Oromo Calendar

Time is a very important concept in Gadaa and therefore in Oromo life.

Gadaa itself can be narrowly defined as a given set of time (period) which groups of individuals perform specific duties in a society.

Gadaa could also mean age.

The lives of individuals, rituals, ceremonies, political and economic activities are scheduled rather precisely. For this purpose, the Oromo have a calendar. The calendar is also used for weather forecasting and divination purposes.

The Oromo calendar is based on astronomical observations of the moon in conjunction with seven or eight particular stars or star groups (Legesse, 1973 and Bassi, 1988) called Urji Dhaha (guiding stars).

According to this calendar system, there are approximately 30 days in a month and 12 months in a year. The first day of a month is the day the new moon appears. A day (24 hours) starts and ends at sunrise.

In the Oromo calendar each day of the month and each month of the year has a name. Instead of the expected 29 or 30 names for days of a month, there are only 27 names. These 27 days of the month are permutated through the twelve months, in such a way that the beginning of each month moves forward by 2 or 3 days. The loss per month is then the difference between the 27-day month and the 30-day month, (Legesse, 1973).

One interesting observation is that, as illustrated in the computing of time like in the Oromo calendar, Oromos visualization of events is cyclical just as many events in nature are cyclical.

Since each day (called ayyaana) of a month has a name, the Oromo traditionally had no use for names of the days of a week.

Perhaps it is because of this that today in different parts of Oromia different names are in use for the days of a week. Each of the 27 days (ayyaana) of the month have special meaning and connotation to the Oromo time-keeping experts, called Ayyaantu.

Ayyaantu can tell the day, the month, the year and the Gadaa period by keeping track of time astronomically. They are experts, in astronomy and supplement their memory of things by examining the relative position of eight stars or star groups, (Bassi, 1988) and the moon to determine the day (ayyaana) and the month.

On the basis of astronomical observations, they make an adjustment in the day name every two or three months. The pillars found a few years ago in north-western Kenya by Lynch and Robbins (1978) has been suggested to represent a site used to develop the Oromo calendar system.

According to these researchers, it is the first archaeo-astronomical evidence in subSaharan Africa. Doyle (1986) has suggested 300 B.C. as the approximate date of its invention.

According to Asmarom Legesse (1973), “The Oromo calendar is a great and unique invention and has been recorded only in a very few cultures in history of mankind.” The only other known cultures with this type of time-keeping are the Chinese, Mayans and Hindus. Legesse states that the Oromo are unusual in that they seem to be the only people.

It is believed that the Oromo developed their own calendar around 300 BC.

https://advocacy4oromia.org/oromian-issues/current-anthropology/
http://web.archive.org/web/20081029073246/http://www.tusker.com/Archaeo/art.currentanthro.htm

Irreechaa – Oromo Thanksgiving Celebration

The Oromo nation is one of the indigenous peoples of East Africa. Throughout long history it has developed its own culture, identity, religious cult and ritual performances. Irrecha means literally worshiping and praying to the Waaqa (Creator).

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