October 04, 2007


Finfinne, Oromia

The Oromo, the largest population in Ethiopia with about 40 million populations have their own distinct cultural ceremony. Irrecha is one such ceremony which takes place every year, after the big rain in the month of September just before the beginning of the harvest season. It is a combination of New Year and thanks giving festival
The Oromo people from the time of immemorial had recognized Waaqa as the only supreme reality, the creator of everything. They could be one among the earliest peoples of the world to develop the doctrine of monotheism. Waaqeffannaa is Oromo traditional religion and manifested by Oromummaa as part of the cultural domain of the Gadaa Oromo Society. Since the emergence of Waaqeffannaa as public religious affairs, the Oromos have been organizing the Irreecha ceremony near a body of water (lake, spring or stream) every year.
The Irrecha ceremony is conducted by offering thanks and greeneries to Waaqa Who helped them pass through the 'dark' rainy winter season to the bright sunny season which begins to shine in the month of Birraa(September), the time crops and plants are furnishing colorful flowers.
Although most Oromo’s celebrate Irrecha in their localities, the main event takes place in Bishoftu, Oromia. Like always, the 2007 Irreecha ceremony was colorfully celebrated near Har-Arsadii Lake of Bishoftu on September 30. In spite of the problems confronting them in the Ethiopian empire, Oromo’s from far and near poured into the area like abundant rain.
The Irreecha festival remains the only occasion that bring all Oromo’s together as the TPLF has banned Oromo’s from meeting and discussing their affairs. Ever since the Matcha-Tulama association was banned, the intolerable TPLF regime tried in vain to take over the Irrecha festival and make it an OPDO event instead of Oromo national holiday.
Days before the Irrecha celebration, hundreds of TPLF armed forces were deployed to Bishoftu town to deter Oromo’s from attending. On the actual day of the Irrecha ceremony, these armed forces were searching each and every car and individuals entering Bishoftu town. They were confiscating OLF flag, other cultural artifacts and also were detaining some Oromo pilgrims. These malicious behaviors of TPLF towards the Oromo people created a great deal of havoc.
Although thousands of people arrived late, they have made it and showed nothing could stop them from celebrating their national holiday. The number of people who attended the ceremony is estimated to at least two million! It was a day of joyous celebration and a day of pride. The shores of the Har-Arsadii Lake were covered with green grasses and spring flowers with their sweet smell. The traditional costumes from different parts of Oromia, made it more attractive and ceremonial reflecting the beauty and richness of Oromo culture. Traditional Irreecha songs were sung and the elders blessed every one from young to old all day according to Oromo festive custom. They celebrated and gave thanks to Waaqa who created them as peace-loving people of Africa .
Moreover, the Oromo’s expressed their hunger for true freedom via any means they could. Most of the songs were about liberation of Oromia and many youngsters proudly waived Oromo Liberation Front flag, girls decorated their clothes and cultural ornaments with OLF flag. They demonstrated to the world the continuity of their stiff resistance to
repressive TPLF regime and promised they will not turn back until Oromia is free and Nagaa Oromo is fully restored.
As I was preparing this report, I heard a report on VOA Afaan Oromo that Diaspora Oromo’s also colorfully celebrated Irrecha in major US cities and Europe . Alerted by VOA report, I tuned to my friends abroad for feedback. Although I believe my list might not be a complete, I learned from my friend’s response that the famous Irracha was colorfully celebrated in Bergen Norway , Seattle Washington , Minneapolis Minnesota , Pickering Ontario , Atlanta Georgia , Düsseldorf Germany and Washington , DC . I also learned that Oromoo’s around the glob who could not join in flesh and blood joined in spirit to celebrate Irrecha. Amen!
Out of all the diaspora reports I received the only disheartening response I got was from Washington , DC and I am tempted to share with my readers in an attempt to create an opportunity to fix it for the common good. Blow, please read the response I got.
Quote “….In Washington , DC Guba/Irrecha is confined to the backyard of narrow minded and divisive individual. You probably know him, he now goes by the name Lube Birru (I don’t know his formal name, he was Ethiopian Ambassador to Gahanna during the transitional government).This person condemns Islam, Christianity and just about anybody who is not born in his locality. He is self appointed Waqefata leader around here. He is out of touch and knows nothing about the present reality of Oromia. As you and I know, both Christianity and Islam plays a very important role in the lives of our people today. 96% of the Oromo’s are followers of these two religions. And one needs to
seriously take into account the positive roles these religions has been playing in protecting Oromuummaa before jumping to any form of hasty generalizations. Like I told you before, this individual lives in the world of dream. He is not a member of Oromo community and continues to nurture social conflicts, instead of social harmonies among the Oromo’s. He is recognized by making anti-Oromo community remarks and is best known by his divisive and conflict-ridden writings. Having said this much about this anti-Oromo unity guy, I will come back to the actual Irrecha ceremony around here. To start with a positive piece of info, Yes! Irrecha was celebrated in DC, but only with Lube and company! It was celebrated only with Lube’s inner circle. 99% of the Oromo’s did not attend the ceremony. Which is not surprising taking into account the nature of this individual who monopolize the event. Who in his/her right mind would follow this person? Most Oromo’s choose to stay home while some resorted to celebrating Irrecha in Oromo Church . While some think its one step forward for the Oromo church to celebrate Irrecha as a national holiday, one should not forget the negative consequences too. The whole thing made me depressed! Remember we all could have celebrated our national holiday Irrecha had it not been hijacked by Lube and company!” Unquote
Okay! I would like to make couple of points before I wind up my report.
First of all, Waaqeffannaa advocates honesty, truth, purity, humanity and peace as the inherent identities of the Gadaa Oromo Society. It gives remarkable contributions in conflict resolutions, in making peace and maintaining social harmony. Above all Oromo’s today need social harmony not division. We need Gadaa based moral qualities instilled in every Oromo, not just talking the talk but actually walking the walk! It’s high time that Oromo’s start practicing what they preach.
Anti Oromo unity person disrupts nagaa Oromo and violates Seera Waaq and Safuu Oromoo. A person who violets sera Waaq can not be a leader of Waqeffata and can not certainly lead the Irrecha ceremony. My God! This is the holiest and sacred ceremony and cannot be mudded by weak, failed and delinquent individuals. A person who interrupts Nagaa Oromo should be condemned by all means!
No localist with divisive mindset can represent the Oromo’s or their religion Waqefanna in any form or shape no matter how nationalist they seem. Anybody who is not for Oromo-unity should go via the back door!
It is clear that the leaders of Oromo Community in Washington DC need to step up and do something about this. This is our national holyday and should not be monopolized by anyone or group. And my message to these leaders is to please tell Lube and company to cherish and appreciate our diversity, join the crowd and be useful, see the glass half full instead of halfempty!

All Oromo’s regardless of his/her religious background should be able to cherish our life long cultural heritage. Irrecha is our identity and a national holiday.
Waaq Oromoo abbaa malkaa, abbaa biyyaa nu haa taasisu!
Kan-Barnaa - Kan Bara-Hegere!

The writer can be reached at dilbii@yahoo.com


Anonymous said...

It is nice report but I have aproblem with your latter part of the report.
Irreechaa is not a muslim or Christian ceremony but the Waaqafetaa ceremony and to assume that all Oromo chtistian and Oromo muslim support this is rediculous and being unrealistic.
Some fundamentalist Oromo christian condemn this belief system of the Oromo Gada and Irreecha as pagan and they detest it and not only that if they sing or dance to an oromo music , they feel they have committed a sin. So please leave alone mr. Lube Birru to be his own man and let him keep alive the Ormomo Waaqafeta belief system.
Also the some fundamentalists in Muslim community feel getting dressed in traditional oromo outfit is contrary to their belief and you see here the two major religions, that is islam and christianity , have seriously undermined and damaged the good oromo culture and belief system.
Oromos need to re-evaluate their core belief system with that of the Oroiginal Oromo belief system.

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