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Africa News: Ethiopia’s ethnic Oromos, tourists gather for Irreecha 2017 September 30, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Irreecha, Uncategorized.
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[Photos] Ethiopia's ethnic Oromos, tourists gather for Irreecha 2017

ETHIOPIA

The Irreecha festival is an annual thanksgiving festival by Ethiopia’s Oromo ethnic group. It takes place in the town of Bishoftu – located about 45km away from the capital Addis Ababa.

The 2016 edition was marred by deadly chaos after security operatives were said to have fired live bullets towards protesting participants. Millions of attendees are expected to gather on this occasion at Lake Arsede, Bishoftu (Debre Zeit), and surrounding areas.

Preparations are underway for the weeklong event which starts from October 1 and concludes on or around October 8, in the the Oromia region. We present pictures from preparations thanks to Ethiopian news portal, Addis Standard.

 Related Articles (Oromian Economist Sources):-

https://twitter.com/Abbaacabsa/status/914171824572915717

https://twitter.com/Abbaacabsa/status/914171824572915717

OPRIDE: Oromia gears up for Irreecha 2017: Reports, photos and analysis from Bishoftu

 

 

 

 

Pool Photo

The United States Embassy in Ethiopia has issued a security message for its citizens with respect to Sunday, October 1 Irreecha festival in the Oromia region.

The September 29, 2017 statement titled ‘Security Message for U.S. citizens: Security Awareness in Oromia Region,’ cited the deadly chaos of last year as a key reason for its latest alert.

Millions of people – ethnic Oromos from across the country, around the world and tourists – are expected in the town of Bishoftu – located about 45km from Addis Ababa for the annual thanksgiving ceremony.

The chaos of last year is a major concern for rights groups and political watchers in the region. The Oromo regional authorities a week ago announced that there will be no armed personnel deployed for this year’s session.

The U.S. has in recent past issued alerts for the Oromia region but more to do with supposed ethnic clashes between people in the region and the adjoining Somali region.

The full statement from the embassy read:

“The U.S. Embassy informs U.S. citizens that, beginning on October 1 and concluding on or around October 8, the Oromia region will celebrate its annual Irreecha. Millions of attendees are expected to gather on this occasion at Lake Arsede, Bishoftu (Debre Zeit), and surrounding areas.

“Noting that at last year’s Irreecha a tragic stampede resulted in numerous deaths, and given the ongoing potential for civil unrest, the Embassy advises U.S. citizens to postpone travel to Bishoftu (Debre Zeit) and its surrounding areas until after the celebration has concluded.

“Review your personal security plans, remain aware of your surroundings, including local events, and monitor local news stations for updates. Be vigilant and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security,” it concluded.


Ethiopians gather for festival marred by bloodshed

At least 50 Oromo people died last year at the Irreecha festival after police fired tear gas and started a stampede.

Demonstrators chant slogans while flashing the Oromo protest gesture during Irreecha in 2016 [Tiksa Negeri/Reuters]

A year ago, Firommisa Darasa barely made it out of Ethiopia‘s Irreecha festival alive, managing to escape from a deep ditch where dozens perished.

The tragedy happened after police fired tear gas at anti-government protesters, sparking a stampede.

Last year’s bloodshed at the annual religious festival held by Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo people, became a turning point in months of anti-government protests that prompted the government to declare a nationwide state of emergency.

While dissatisfaction with Ethiopia’s government still runs deep among the Oromo, last year’s protests have since died down.

Those planning to attend this year’s Irreecha festival say they are hoping for the best when Sunday’s gathering begins in the resort town of Bishoftu, southeast of the capital Addis Ababa.

“I feel fear inside but if I don’t come, the people around me won’t come. This is our ancestral celebration and we will have to keep it,” said one of the festival-goers, 28-year-old Firommisa,

At least 50 killed

The Oromo people began protesting in late 2015, angered by a government proposal to expand Addis Ababa that they feared would deprive them of land without proper compensation.

Those tensions exploded at last year’s Irreecha when activists took to the stage and began shouting anti-government slogans, prompting police to open fire with tear gas.

At least 50 people were killed in the ensuing stampede, according to government figures. Activists put the death toll much higher.

Changes have been made this year at the festival grounds adjacent to a lake in the town 60km southeast of the capital.

A new open-air amphitheatre has been built and cobblestones laid on the ground, while the ditch that claimed so many lives last year has been fenced off.

The presence of armed security forces was seen as exacerbating last year’s chaos, but the Oromia regional government said this year there would be no weapons.

“This year will be different because there will be no political involvement from the government and no security from them as well,” said attendee Dachassa Gosa, 22.

WATCH: Ethiopia’s bereaved families seek justice (2:31)

Irreecha, or thanksgiving, is the most important annual festival of the Oromo people and it celebrates the end of the months-long rainy season and the upcoming harvest.

While traditionally a time to give thanks and pray for prosperity and abundance, it has increasingly been an opportunity for the Oromo to assert their identity and criticise government policies they say marginalise them.

Last year’s deaths re-ignited the protests across the Oromo region, but this time the targets were government and foreign-owned businesses, with several destroyed.

All told, the months of violence left more than 940 people dead, according to the government’s human rights commission, while arrests topped 22,000.

The bloodshed only ended with the declaration of a state of emergency, which was lifted in August.

However many Oromo say their grievances were not addressed and sporadic strikes and protests still occur.

READ MORE: 669 killed in Ethiopia violence since August

US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged the Ethiopian government to “act with restraint” this time around and to take measures to ensure there is no repeat of last year’s tragedy, while calling for a proper investigation into what happened.

“Certainly, if there were to be a return to what happened at least year’s Irreecha, you would expect that would lead to much wider unrest,” HRW researcher Felix Horne told AFP news agency.

Oftaha Oromoo travelled from a district hours away to join the celebration but expects a more subdued event this weekend.

“Personally I am still angry, but we have to be patient and celebrate,” he said. “This year, we want to remember the people who died.”

Source: AFP news agency

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Statement of International Oromo Lawyers Association In Commemoration Of Irreecha Massacre, 2nd October 2016. September 30, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist

remember-irreechamassacre

International Oromo Lawyers Association (IOLA)  logo

Statement of International Oromo Lawyers Association In Commemoration Of Irrecha Massacre.


It is one year ago that the world witnessed the naked brutality of the TPLF-led Ethiopian regime, when it carried out a large scale massacre against the Oromo people gathered at the annual thanks-giving festival – Ireecha, in Bishoftu, some 45 kilometers, south of the capital.

 

According to reliable information, close to 1000 civilians were killed as a result of combination of stampede and use of life bullets as well as blockade of paths by the security forces. By all accounts, and conclusions by human rights experts, the tragedy was a well-designed and pre-planned government action against the Oromo people, who were already engaged in a year-long peaceful demonstration in the entire Oromia State region, demanding respect for their fundamental human rights.

 

Today, a year later, the government did not carry an investigation nor hold any official accountable for the death of the thousand civilians which resulted from the use of disproportionate use of force. To the contrary, it arrested and detained thousands of Oromo civilians for alleged instigation of disturbances.

 

This year, the festival is going to take place at the usual place following established rituals.  What is now becoming everyone’s worry is that, participants of the festival may try to use the opportunity to express their dissatisfaction with the way the government addresses, or failed to address at all, their demand for respect for their fundamental rights, which may be used as a pretext by the security forces to react with a force which is disproportional to the demand and the civilian character of the demanding population.

 

That being the case, IOLA would like to join the international community in general and human rights institutes in particular in expressing its deepest concern regarding the possibility of unrest and subsequent harm to the civilian population during this year’s celebration of Ireecha.

 

It therefore demands that the government should:

  1. Take advance measures to put in place all what is needed for the citizens to peacefully celebrate Ireecha as per established ritual and without disturbances by the security forces;
  2. Ensure that security forces use proportionate force needed to maintain law and order;
  3. Take all the necessary security measures to ensure that the physical safety and security of civilians festival-goers is not compromised;
  4. Remind its security forces and give them clear guidance that Ethiopia is bound by the international Covenants and Conventions it had signed and that they should adhere and properly implement the United Nations Basic Principles on the use of Fire Arms.

 

International Oromo Lawyers Association.

OROMIA: IRREECHAA: THE CHERISHED OROMO HERITAGE AND ITS CHALLENGING TASK September 30, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Irreecha Birraa, Irreecha Oromo, Irreessa, Uncategorized.
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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist

Irreecha Oromo 2014 Hora Harsadii, Oromia

IRREECHAA: THE CHERISHED OROMO HERITAGE AND ITS CHALLENGING TASK

Getaachew Chemeda ( Member: Gadaa Meelbaa)


14440855_1012083622242098_3525717134028063329_nSince time immemorial Oromo men, women, youths, and elders have been rallying together to express thanks and happiness to their Waaqa, who according to the Oromo concept of colour is symbolised by the colour gurraacha, meaning black. By its very original concept the colour gurraacha (black) did not stand for mourning, grief or for the expression of sorrow. It was used to symbolise the invisible supreme power that can do and undo anything anywhere in the universe. Having this narrative tradition in mind, the Oromos have been getting together around rivers or lakes to thank their Waaqa Gurraacha at the end of the rainy season. They strongly believe that, it was Waaqa who delivered them from the restraining rainy season and brought them to the cherished flowery season. This great event, called Irreecha in Afaan Oromoo, is celebrated every year at the end of September or in the first week of October. https://youtu.be/Pk3W49aKXDY

Irreecha holds an important social event in Oromo people’s aspiration for peace, prosperity, abundance, fertility, and a hope for the renewal of a new social life. Like ancient Egyptians who used to celebrate the yearly inundation of the River Nile as a symbol of life giving, Oromos have been celebrating their new year on the side of river banks or lakes which, according to Oromo mythology, is the source of all life. Some of the hymens ancient Egyptians sang while praising the Nile were:

Oh Nile! You rise out of the earth and come to nourish Egypt! You quench the thirsty desert! You bring forth the barley! You create the wheat! You fill the granaries and the storehouses, not forgetting the poor. For You we pluck our harps, for You we sing! [1]                        

                                     Creation Narrative Stories

It was not only the ancient Egyptians or the Oromos who had creation stories in relation to water. In the Japanese telling stories, we find water holding the core of the dawn of creation. First, there was an ocean, out of which the many Japanese Islands were believed to have been created. There was a god known as Izanagi and a goddess Izanami. The gods, as a couple, had three children, of whom the grandson of the Sun Goddess had become the first Emperor of Japan, Nippon, as known to the native population.[2]

The gods used a long spear and stirred up mud at the bottom of the ocean.  It was out of the stirred up mud those more than 6000 Japanese islands were believed to have been created. On the eastern side, out of the glittering Pacific Ocean, the sun rose every morning. It was the cherished sun’s rays which had a big role in illumining, nourishing, and bringing up the Japanese archipelagos to life. This is the Japanese thought of their land, Mount Fuji being the most beautiful and sacred one.[3]

For the Japanese, Japan has not only been their country.  Japan has been their world and their religion. The creation story the people share in common and the passionate love they have for their country has continued to make up the coherent faith of their oneness. And, out of the cherished mythology, they have undoubtedly benefited enormous groundwork principles for their social and technological advancement we are witnessing today.

When we come to the antique Scandinavians of northern Europe, we find similar watery creation stories. In the beginning there was an abyss filled with water. The water froze; and lastly melted down. Out of the melted water, a giant being of human form called Ymir emerged. Thereafter, a man and woman were created out of Ymir’s armpits. In short, this was the beginning of ancient Scandinavian telling stories about the myth of human creation.[4]

The Oromo myth of creation holds the view that water being the source of androgynous being. According to Oromo narration story, by the unfathomable wisdom of Waaqa Gurraacha, the androgyny was divided in to two parts and became male and female. After the division, the two opposite sexes began to live separately on the either side of the river. Though they were able to see each other across the river, they were hampered from joining each other by the overflow of the river.  When the river subsided and sank down into its course, during the flowering season, they were able to cross the river and embraced each other.[5] Here was the point, during the flowering season, according to Oromo belief, when the first gaa’ila  (engagement for marriage) started to blossom.

Many of us may remember when newly married Oromo couples were coming to Irreecha at Hora Harsadii, enforced by nobody but only inspired by the tradition to get the blessings of the hayyuus and Abbaa Gadaas. But that was not performed on October 2, 2016 because of the heinous massacre carried out by the incumbent Ethiopian regime that disrupted the whole process of the ceremony.

Having this entire narrative story in mind, defending and combatting all challenging obstacles and heinous crimes imposed on them, the Oromos have continued to celebrate their yearly thanksgiving Irreecha festival, dressing beautiful national costumes suited for the occasion.

Norms of Irreecha Celebration

Today, at national level, millions of Oromos are celebrating Irreecha Birraa, on the side of Hora Harsadii in Bishooftuu town. At national or local levels, there are traditionally agreed upon norms that govern the whole process of the ceremony from the beginning to the end, which is deeply rooted in the strongly and humanely established Oromo views for peace, love, prosperity, and human dignity. Based on Oromo clans’ successive generation by birth, there are individuals who offer blessings first, second, and so on. This is dually (angafaa fi qixisuu) restructured in Oromo kinship organisations whose function of check and balance has become basic foundation for the indigenous Gadaa  Oromo Democracy to flourish.

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. They also give admiration and honour to Waaqa’s wisdom who gave them a perfect bliss of land with abundant natural resources. This is one of the inherent reasons why the Oromos are cherishing their ancestral homeland, Oromiyaa (Biyya Oromoo) as part of their natural right, be it in peace or war times.

In the case of Irreecha Birraa, it is the Abbaa Malkaa who ‘opens the door’ of the malkaa (river) by charmingly welcoming those who arrived at the site in peace.[6] Those distinguished hayyuus from senior and junior clans (mana angafaa fi qixisuu) and the Abbaa Gadaa from the incumbent Gadaa party are traditionally honoured to take leading positions in giving thanks and blessings to all. Even the Ayyaantu-Qaalluus, who are believed to be the guardians of the laws of Waaqa and the  custodians of Oromo traditional religion, have no seniority right  to claim either to take the leading position or to give blessings first. They have their own defined time and place to do so. Failure to honestly follow those agreed upon traditional charter, could lead to chaos and eventually to the disintegration of the society. Nevertheless, despite so many apartheid walls erected among Oromo regions by builders of the imperial palace of political Ethiopia (in contradiction to historical Ethiopia), the Oromos are not able to be divided by the walls. They are chiselling down the walls and are patiently moving forward in unison.

         Is Irreecha a Religion?

As common to any Oromo meetings or conferences, thanking Waaqa and blessing each other precede the opening of the agenda of the meetings. There is no exception for the thanksgiving Oromo new year celebration, Irreecha. Since the Oromo name of Waaqa is the centre of Oromo Natural Religion, the solemn invocation of Waaqa at Irreecha or elsewhere cannot be avoided. This is the core issue, the authenticity of Oromo natural religion and Oromo morality that seem to have scared general managers of ‘Revelation Industries’ and their sponsors in Oromia. They are prompted to develop phobic images against essential Oromo values: vilifying, desecrating, defaming, and bedevilling Oromo material and spiritual assets as a whole. Why? The answer is so unilineal, not parallel.

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.  

But, as has obviously been duplicated by foreign media outlets, particularly after the Irreecha massacre of October 2, 2016, there is a clear tendency to look on Irreecha as a ‘religious festival’. It is quite villainous and sinisterial to depict the general Oromo sense of Oromo-self only from a single perspective. Is Habasha’s Inkutatash not Qiddus Yohannes’ religious celebration or is it a new year festival?  Is Tigrian’s Ashanda the worshipping of Churches of Saints or season greetings? Is European Christmas the celebration of Christ’s birth day, or is it the continuation of pre-Christianity European culture of winter solstice celebration?

When it comes to Irreecha Oromo, it is propagated as heathenish or animist religion that makes a tree or a river the centre of worship. This can simply be attested from the recently publicised sub-human propaganda by a self-declared “Prophet” named Suraphael Demise https://youtu.be/u2hrjMaSeqM

We do not understand whether such inconsiderate propaganda is really a reflection from a fully-developed human brain or is it a proxy psychological war sponsored by the monstrous Satan.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           If one wants to talk or know about Oromo religion, it is called Waaqeffanna, not Irreecha. Where is the self-organised Waaqeffannaa religion right now? One may ask the Tigrian Ethiopian regime, sitting in Minilk’s imperial palace; muddling the peoples of that empire,  sponsoring divisive and xenophobic people like Suraphel  Demise.

Waaqeffannaa by its natural origin, contrary to revelationists’ assertions who claimed to have seen visions and heard voices, is neither a claimed vision nor claimed heard voices. Had it been a claimed vision or claimed voices, it could have been dwelling on narrating about a place of everlasting torture or about a place of eternal delight in the afterlife. In the narrative story telling of Waaqeffannaa there were no individuals who did claim any visions or heard voices for its establishment as a religious institution. It emerged naturally out of the organised Oromo people’s activities in the remote antiquity. Henceforth, Waaqeffannaa, as a natural religion, has become the common vision of Oromo people’s common mind. It is free from claiming any received information of the afterlife, be it from the chamber of the sinners or from the chamber of the pious. However, Waaqeffannaa may wonder or speculate what could be happening beyond the veil of a man’s soul (lubbuu) after his dead body was ceremonially buried. Revealed religions claimed and are still claiming that they had unveiled the veil, saw the souls, and heard their voices from chambers of the ‘hell and heaven’.

In its strictest sense, Irreecha is not a religious institution. It is a ritualised social event; certainly, adorned and accompanied by Oromo Natural Religion known as Waaqeffannaa. Waaqeffannaa and Irreecha have been with the Oromos, by the Oromos, and for the Oromos since the dawn of creation long before the conception of revealed religions.

                 The Irreecha Massacre and the “Tasa” Monument

 An attempt to ban the Irreecha festival started the time when Oromos lost their sovereign rights to Abyssinian firearms under the supreme commandship of King Minilk of Shewa. After the Tigrian-led Ethiopian regime took the imperial palace by force in 1991, the orchestration to ban the Irreecha ceremony was concluded. This time, the regime took the first apartheid action by banning the revived Matcha-Tulama Self-Help Association and the freely organised Waaqeffaanaa religious association. Instead of directly banning Irreecha, however, like Matcha-Tulama and Waaqeffanaa, the regime renewed the old Nugus-Orthodox tactics of hijacking anything good of the Oromos and good for the Oromos.

A delegate led by Abba Duulaa Gammadaa, the then president of ‘Oromia Regional State’ was despatched to Hora Harsadii to hijack Irreecha. The delegate failed to accomplish the mission it intended to seal and returned to the palace in dismay. Here was planted the seed of the evil action that took thousands of innocent lives on October 2, 2016 at Hora Harsadii, Bishooftuu.

Ahead of the massacre, the regime meticulously orchestrated provocative tactics that could incite the people against itself. It imposed rules that are too antagonistic to the established Irreecha tradition. When the people reacted to the evil provocation, its ill-behaved security forces started firing life bullets from the ground and from armoured vehicles against millions of celebrants. Military helicopter flew over them spraying teargas on them. On this day, that barbaric action changed the happy Oromo Irreecha event to a bloody grief.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_3miIwY4mQ&t=33s

The regime and its killing forces rejoiced the success of their fascistic actions on human carnages. The regime’s trumpet Prime Minister, Haile Mariam Desalegn, was so quick to deny the massacre and said, “No single bullet was heard; but because of stampede about 52 people were killed.” Finally, like Muktar Kadir who thanked the Agazi killing forces, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister thanked the regime’s mercilessly firing forces  https://youtu.be/Q6cSzgiZdc8

To remember the success of their evil plan, the Tigrian-Ethiopian regime erected a very offensive stone they call “Memorial Monument”. A deaf monument, that speaks of nothing about the root cause of the massacre. Sadly, what is inscribed on the monument seems to be articulated in the way it could depict the lost human lives as unworthy ones. It reads in Afaan Oromoo “Tasa Lubbuun Isaanii dabreef, for suddenly passed away lives”

This “Tasa Monument” was erected in a faraway place where the actual massacre did not take place

 Conclusion

The Oromos have tried to do everything positive for Ethiopia. But why are they being reciprocated with negativity for their positive generosity? When the Oromos are coming out for peace, those who are making huge business in the name of “Ethiopia” are incessantly confronting them with vibrant forms of violence, persecution and marginalisation.

 In former days, before Oromo country and their central holy site, Walaabu, had fallen to naftenya’s bayonet, Oromo generations in every Oromo clan were making pilgrimage to Walaabu. The purpose of the journey was more of religious, that they sought the anointment and blessings of Abbaa Muudaa, who was believed  to be the eldest son of Oromo [Orma], the Spiritual Father of the nation holding the centre of Oromo Natural Religion, the belief in Waaqa Tokkicha.[7]

The pilgrims, who were scattered in north-east Africa, representing their clans, used to travel a long journey and arrived at the Muuda site. On their return to their clans, they came back with qumbii (myrrh), which the Abbaa Muuda distributed to them as a symbol of his fatherly holy blessings. This had been considered as dangerous and anti-peace to Abyssinian crosses and crowns. Subsequently, with the invention and consolidation of the ‘New Ethiopia’, qinyi gizaat, (the Amharic version for colonial empire) by King Minilik of Shewa, Oromo’s journey to the Muuda holy site was prohibited. It was finally banned at the beginning of the twentieth century. Huntingford who collected good information from various sources wrote:

”—after the Abyssinian conquest of [Oromia], however, the pilgrimage was forbidden owing to its political and nationalistic influence.—as opportunities for stirring up Oromo patriotism and forming plans of rebellion for men of all the  Oromo tribes met at Walaabu.”[8]

This inhumane and erratic ideology will get nowhere. It is now far from halting down Oromo people’s aspiration for regaining their lost freedom. We, including those in ati-Oromo camps, are daily watching and witnessing the reality on the ground.  The more direct wars and propaganda campaigns are pouring on the Oromos, the more their heroisms are reinvigorated. Irreecha will continue to march forward with its noble objectives of thanksgiving social festivities: vitalising, remaking, and remarking Oromummaa (Oromo-ness).


Related:-

IRREECHA – THE COLORS, THE IDENTITY AND THE PRIDE OF OROMO NATION