Ethiopian ‘Thanksgiving’ Returns As A Joyous Affair

For the first time in 150 years, Ethiopia’s Oromo people celebrated “Thanksgiving” in “Finfinee” – also known as Addis Ababa.

The country’s largest ethnic group turned up in the hundreds of thousands to mark “Ireecha” – a public outdoors event. People gathered around water bodies, holding tufts of grass to thank Waqqaa (God) and ask for Nagaa (Peace), Finnaa (the development of mind and body), Walooma (togetherness or harmony), and Araaraa (Reconciliation). They also paid respect to the previous generations of Oromos who endured the odds and helped sustain this colorful celebration from generation to generation.

Ireecha usually happens in late September – a time when the main rainy season ends and fields are filled with crops and flowers.

The fete is considered the most important cultural event in the Oromo calendar, who make up over 34% of Ethiopia’s 100-million population. Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is from Oromia and has overseen some radical reforms since coming to power last year.

Before April 2018, the Oromo people, along with the Amhara felt short-changed by the government — a feeling that snowballed only to erupt in non-stop anti-government demonstrations over three years that helped usher in an era of reform. There are thought to be at least 40 million Oromos in Ethiopia..

Colorful beadwork, known as chelie, worn on women’s foreheads, are a common sight amongst all Oromos.

In an interview in the Addis Standard, anthropologist Alemayehu Diro gave this background:

“For over a century, the Oromo were denied the rights and opportunities to be part and parcel of mainstream socio-cultural and political economy of Ethiopia… They were even denied the right to be called Oromo and were given a derogatory name (Galla).”

“At present, at least in theory, the Oromo have repossessed their land and natural resources. Irreecha is just one of the major cultural rituals the Oromo were able to preserve. It constitutes one of the vivid cultural renaissances the Oromo have been experiencing over the last few years.”

SOURCE: Global Information Network

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