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Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group Oromo, celebrates annual festival for the first time in 150 years [Photos]

October 08, 2019 at 06:00 pm | Culture

Nii Ntreh

Nii Ntreh | Staff Writer

October 08, 2019 at 06:00 pm | Culture

Participants at the Ireecha celebration of the Oromo people in Ethiopia. Photo Credit: AdvocacyForOromia.org

Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, has for the first time in 150 years, held a thanksgiving service for their annual traditional festival in the capital Addis Ababa.

The historic celebration, Ireecha, is on the traditional calendar, an official marking of the end of the rainy season and the beginning of harvest. The Oromo are originally an agrarian people.

The Oromo people are one in every three of the about 100 million Ethiopians. But recent political history has pointed to tensions in which the Oromo feel underrepresented.

In October of 2016, 52 Oromo people were killed in a cultural celebration that turned into a stampede.

The violence was spurred by the celebrants being fired upon with rubber bullets and tear gas by police. The crowd had used the occasion to chant against the then ruling Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

The Oromo have for decades demanded land reforms and an end to human rights abuses.

But this year’s celebration spoke of a different story. Hundreds of thousands gathered amidst vibrant colours and joyful sounds around Meskel Square.

Part of the success for this year’s celebration may be attributed to prime minister Abiy Ahmed, an Oromo.

The prime minister has presided over reforms that have seen the increased roles for women in politics, ended political exiles for dissidents and invited private investment in the economy.

Here are some lovely pictures from the festival:

An Ethiopian man from the Alaba region dances during the Irreecha celebration, the Oromo People thanksgiving ceremony in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. October 5, 2019.REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri – RC1BE6EF22B0
A man waves an Oromo flag as people from community of Oromo from different parts of Ethiopia gather at Meskel square in Addis Ababa, on October 5, 2019 on the eve of Irreecha, their thanksgiving festival that they will celebrate for the first time in the capital. – The Oromo People celebrate Irreecha to thank Waaqa (God) for the blessings and mercies they have received throughout the previous year. The thanksgiving is celebrated at the sacred grounds of Hora Harsadi (Lake Harsadi), Bishoftu, Oromia. (Photo by YONAS TADESSE / AFP)
People from the community of Oromo from different parts of Ethiopia gather at Meskel square in Addis Ababa, on October 5, 2019 on the eve of Irreecha, their thanksgiving festival that they will celebrate for the first time in the capital. – The Oromo People celebrate Irreecha to thank Waaqa (God) for the blessings and mercies they have received throughout the previous year. The thanksgiving is celebrated at the sacred grounds of Hora Harsadi (Lake Harsadi), Bishoftu, Oromia. (Photo by YONAS TADESSE / AFP)
People sprinkle water on their body as they take part in the Irreecha celebration, the Oromo People thanksgiving ceremony in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. October 5, 2019.REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri – RC1243A3B140
Ethiopian men take part in the Irreecha celebration, the Oromo People thanksgiving ceremony in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. October 5, 2019.REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri – RC146FFB6280
Ethiopian men dressed in traditional costumes take part in the Irreecha celebration, the Oromo People thanksgiving ceremony in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. October 5, 2019.REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri – RC17E5BEA100
An Ethiopian police officer stands guard as men dressed in traditional costumes arrive to take part in the Irreecha celebration, the Oromo People thanksgiving ceremony in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. October 5, 2019.REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri – RC197975B150

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