Ethiopia’s Oromo people celebrate once-banned festival (AFP)
DEBRE ZEIT BISHOFTU, Ethiopia — Cheered by the throng, Oromo dignitaries in traditional headdresses, lion skins and brightly-coloured velvet made their way to the edge of Lake Hora for an annual thanksgiving.
This was the yearly Irrecha festival when Ethiopia’s biggest ethnic group, the Oromo people, celebrate the bond between man and nature.
“Irrecha is the culture of the Oromo people. Long before the Christians or the Muslims, the Oromo had their own practices and religion,” explained Nourie Ula, a young Oromo attending the celebration earlier this month some 50 kilometres (30 miles) south of the capital Addis Ababa.
The chiefs dip their horsehair fly swatters into the murky water and splash the crowd thronged on the bank, aiming in particular for small children, before circling round an ancient fig tree a group of women have covered in butter.
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