Oct 05, 2010

Oromo: Irreechaa Celebrations Overshadowed by Political Desecration

The Oromo’s traditional Thanksgiving celebration in Bishoftu has been overshadowed by the event’s attempted politisation through the national ruling party TPLF. Desecrating speeches compromised the festival’s religious spirit and cultural meaning and demonstrated the continuous discrimination against the Oromo people.

Below is an article published by Gadaa.com:

Becoming the largest religious and cultural festival in the Horn of Africa, the major annual Irreechaa (Thanksgiving) holiday of the Oromo people was celebrated at Hora Harsadi in Bishoftu, Oromia, on October 3, 2010.

Adorned with the national tri-colors of Oromia, black – red – white, artfully integrated into their traditional outfits, scarfs and hats, more than 2 million pilgrims and festival partakers congregated at the sacred grounds of Hora Harsadi (Lake Harsadi) to thank Waqaa (God) and to welcome the new season of plentiful harvests after the dark and rainy winter season.

The Irreechaa festival is celebrated every year at the beginning of Birra (the sunny new season after the dark, rainy winter season) throughout Oromia and around the world where Diaspora Oromos live. Out of these celebrations, the one held in Bishoftu, Oromia, by Hora Harsadi is the major and the most widely known.

Banned for decades from being celebrated by the previous regimes of the Ethiopian colonialists, the Irreechaa festival was reinstated in 1992, when the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) joined the Transitional Government of Ethiopia (TGE) after ousting the Derg military junta. However, after the OLF was forced out of the TGE by TPLF [Tigray People’s Liberation Front], the Irreechaa festival once again experienced a ban only to be reinstated a few years ago through the relentless struggle of the Oromo people and Oromo grassroots organizations, such as the Mecha and Tulama Self-Help Association.

Even though Irreechaa is largely a religious event, TPLF has turned the sacred festival of Irreechaa into a political rally where its […] politics are propagated like the Meskerem Hulet (2nd) political rally of Mengistu Hailemariam. Watching the live coverage of the Irreechaa festival in Bishoftu on October 3, 2010 on the national television station of Oromia, TV Oromiyaa, it is greatly disturbing to witness the desecration of Irreechaa through arranged and official political speeches by puppets of TPLF and Meles Zenawi.

This is not the first year that TPLF has used its puppets to desecrate Irreechaa through arranged and official political speeches that have no place in religious events. The act of imposing politics onto religion, especially when the people engaged in the religious festival have already rejected the colonial politics of TPLF, is dangerous and must be stopped.