May 31, 2012

Oromo: Heritage Demonstration in Ireland

The Oromo community provided information on the historical background of their ethnic group, explaining the oppression they suffer in Oromia, and how they hope to win support from other communities, nationals and diplomats for the Oromo cause. 

Below is an article published by Gadaa:

The Africa Day was celebrated colourfully on 26 and 27 of May 2012 in Dublin, Ireland. Many African embassies and communities across the country came together in open space to show their culture, identity and the best of their communities, their countries and their continent at large. The Association of Oromo Community in Ireland was, not only one of these communities on the event, but also the shining star of Africa and its people. Starting from the first day of the event, the community’s members and leaders were there at the event and were very busy explaining, demonstrating the Oromo heritage, as well as participating in different competitions at the event.

The Oromo community’s pavilion was just beside that of the Ethiopian Embassy. The Oromo community displayed beautiful Oromo artifacts, including cultural costumes. Most of the Oromo gents and ladies, including leaders, were in their attractive costumes. The visitors had to wait in turns to see our artifacts, to try them and to take pictures wearing the Oromo customs, jewellery, and ornaments. The Oromo community’s pavilion was full of Oromo culture. We had a live Oromo coffee ceremony during the event, where many enjoyed the fresh aroma and taste of Oromo coffee. We had the pictorial display of the world famous runners from Oromia, such as Abebe Bikila (Ababa Biqilaa), Derartu Tullu (Daraartuu Tulluu) and Kenenisa Bekele (Qananiisaa Baqqalaa), whom many recognized, but did not know that they are children of the Oromo nation.

The members of the Oromo community used this big opportunity to inform every visitor that the Oromo people had been subjugated people under the tyranny of successive Abyssinian regimes for more than a century. Since most of them, even our African brothers and sisters do not know that we, Oromos, have been under colonial rule, we explained that why Ethiopia is said to be a country that has never been colonised. We used the analogy of why Britain has never been colonised because it had been a coloniser. By doing this, we, the Community members, sent many to read more about the Oromo. Many visitors promised to continue to be the friends of the Oromo and left their contacts to be in touch with our community.

Our community and our people became the focus of discussions even after our beautifully dressed lady Aaddee Ayyaantuu Bantii won the award of “The Best Dressed Woman” competition on Africa Day 2012. To everyone’s surprise, Aaddee Ayyaantuu, Aaddee Seenaa and Aaddee Makkiyaa – all three from the Oromo community – were the top three “Best Dressed” ladies. All of them were in our well-decorated and beautiful Oromo dresses. Then came questions – like who are Oromos? Where are they from, etc?

We, the Oromo community members, used the opportunity to inform Kenyan, Sudanese, Ugandan, Somali, South African, etc. communities, nationals and diplomats to support and understand Oromo refugees in their countries. We explained that Oromos left, and will leave their country, to run away from colonial persecutions, and they never migrate for economic reasons as Oromia is naturally a rich country.

While this trend continued into the second day of the event – keeping the Oromo members overwhelming busy, no one had visited the pavilion of Wayane, which was just metres away from Oromo’s pavilion. To our surprise, their pavilion was mostly without supervision, and only occasionally, an Irish lady came into and went out of it, no other members of the Wayane Embassy in Ireland came except at the beginning and end of the show.

The first day we observed that there was one Oromo item in their show, but the next day there was no items that showed Oromo in there exhibition. We exhibited that we are not Ethiopian, and the Ethiopian Embassy exhibited that Oromo is not Ethiopia, too. Actually, their pavilion had nothing to do with other peoples in Ethiopia at all. There were some pictures from the northern part of the empire, and a picture of the Ethiopian Airlines. The Irish, who occasionally went in and out of the pavilion, was in Tigrean costume. We informed the Irish lady, who claimed that she was the former Irish Ambassador to Ethiopia, that Oromo is a great nation suffering by the oppression of the Ethiopian government and the Irish government has been deaf-ear to their cause for many years. She sympathized with us saying that, if real democracy exists in Ethiopia, things would have been better. The lady informed us though that the Ethiopian Embassy was busy in politics of Somalia – where she said “the Ethiopian diplomats are in meeting with Somali community.”

The Africa Day was a great success for the Oromo Community in Ireland, where the Community clearly and precisely provided information for many African and European nationals and diplomats that Oromo is a great peace-loving nation, which is denied of freedom of any sort and being subject to incessant oppression.

The Oromo awareness has just started two weeks before the Africa Day by running Oromo cultural exhibition in Fingal County Council public library in Blanchardstown, Dublin 15. The exhibition continues until 15 June 2012 in Dublin City Council public library in the ILAC Shopping Centre, which will start on Friday 1st of June 2012. The exhibition so far attracted a large number of visitors.