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.
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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: