By Fayyis Oromia*
Merry Irreechaa! Waaqayyoo Help Us To Have The Oromo Life!
With this article, I want to say to my hitherto readers, including my criticizers, have a life of Ora-Oomo or a life of Or-omo i.e a life of Oromo aka a life of resurrection, which means a life of a NEW beginning and success in the rest of your life’s journey. To comprehend what I do mean by a life of Ora-Omo, enjoy my short essay here!
First let me try to elaborate what I mean by life of resurrection. This term is used by the three big religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam). But its origin seems to be from the earlier beliefs like Waaqeeffannaa as we will look at it below. Resurrection is nowadays used as a metaphor for the new beginning towards success, new start, new plan, new goal-setting, new life journey, after having experienced death (which is also the symbol for unsuccessful life and failure). Regarding Oromo people, resurrection may mean for us a new start and success after all the collective political failures we have had in our hitherto liberation journey. How do the faith system of Waaqeeffannaa look at the process of such resurrection?
To be successful in a struggle against our enemy, we, the Oromo people, need to empower our Oromo liberation block, that means we have to strive to give confidence and power to ourselves, so that the Oromo people can do themselves the job of liberation. As we are now approaching to celebrate Irreechaa (Irreessaa, Irreensa), we have to think at the two meanings of this word. Irreessaa can be defined as both thanksgiving and empowering. Let’s celebrate this year’s Irreechaa in both senses. Let’s give thanks to our Waaqa and as well as let’s empower our nation – Oromo. We can do the second one in two ways, by coming together before Waaqayyoo and commit ourselves to Tokkummaa for Bilisummaa and by avoiding all possible things which contribute to our division and to our weakening like the inner fighting we do have against each other. I hope Irreessaa of this year will be the time of empowering the Oromo nation for the new start and for doing efficient struggle to achieve our Kaayyoo. To comprehend the whole issue regarding the resurrection I am now talking about, which is the original concept of Waaqeeffannaa, which was then taken over by the three Abraham religions, enjoy the following!
The story of Irreechaa
The celebration of the first harvest of the Ethiopian Spring in September – is a story told by the late Poet Laureate Blatten Geta Tsegaye G/Medhin (an Oromo poet who wrote mainly in Amharinyaa). He narrates the story as follows.
“12,000 years ago, Asra, the God of sun and of sky, God of Cush Pharao, begotten Sete, the older son, Ora, the younger son and a daughter named as Asis (Atete or Adbar). The older Sete killed his younger brother Ora, and Asis (Atete or Adbar) planted a tree (Odaa) for the memorial of her deceased brother Ora at the bank of Nile in Egypt where the murder had taken place, and she requested her father, who was the God of Sun, to make peace among the families of Sete and Ora. Then rain has come and the tree (Odaa) got grown. It symbolized that the peace has taken place. Later, at the Stone Age, the tree that had been planted for the memorial of the killed, Ora, was substituted by statue of stone that was erected 8000 years ago.
The festival for the Ora statue has been celebrated in September of every year when Nile flows full in Nubia and in black Egypt. In Ethiopia, during the Axumite and pre-Axumite period, a great festival has been held around the statue that was planted by Asis (Atete or Adbar) for the memorial of Ora, the son of sun’s God, who had risen up from death (Ora Omo or Or-omo) for the purpose of celebrating the peace made between the two brothers. Then after the memorial was the great herald performed in thanking the God of sun and of sky with Chibo.
The Eyo KA Abebaye (the traditional and popular song performed at Demera events and new year in Ethiopia) has been started being performed since then. “KA” is the first name of God. The name of God that our Cush Fathers have inherited to us before the old period of Christianity and Islam is “KA”. Since then, therefore, especially the Oromo, Gurage and the Southern people of Ethiopia have been calling God as “Waka or Waaqa”. When we sing Eyoka or Eyoha in New Year, we do praise “KA”, the God.
“Gadaa” or “KA Aada” is the law or rule of God. “Gadaa” (KA Aada) is the festival by which the laws and orders of God are executed. Japan, China and India have now reached to their current civilization through making the basic traditions and cultures they received from their forefathers (Hindu, Shinto and Mahiberata) be kept, even at the time they were receiving Islam, Christianity, and other ideologies, especially, Democracy and other free believes. They are not here through undermining the culture and tradition of their forefathers.
Culture is the collection of many Chibos or Demeras. “Irreechaa” or “Irreessea”, one of the part and parcel of Gadaa (KA Aadaa) system, is the corner stone of and the turning point to the new year for which Asis (Atete or Adbar) has put up the dead body of her brother, Ora, who was killed by his older brother (like Abel of Bible) from the place where he died at the river bank of Nile and planted a statue.
The Oromo people of the beautiful Ethiopia believe in one God since time memorial. Their religion is called “Waaqeffannaa” which means believing in one God that is the creator of the whole universe. Irrecha means a celebration where people get together and perform their prayers and thanks giving to God.
Waaqeffannaa, the faith being in the Gadaa system, is a religious ceremony that is free from any thing. The fathers of Oromo religion and the people, keeping fresh grass and flowers, perform their prayers and thank their God going to mountains, to sea or to river bank.
They move to the top of mountains or bank of seas or rivers not to worship the mountains or rivers and seas. Rather to distract themselves from any noise and to worship their God (Waaqa) with concentration. And they go to sea and rivers because they believe that green is holy, water is life and the places are peaceful where the spirit of God is found.
In the Oromo culture, the rainy season is considered as the symbol of darkness. At the beginning of September, the darkness is gone, rivers run shallower and cleaner, and the mud is gone. As sunshine rules the land, the Oromo people of Ethiopia go out to celebrate this great natural cycle with the spirit of worshiping God (Waaqa)”.
It is interesting to see that the meaning of the word Oromo means Ora-Omo, the resurrected Ora, the resurrected human being, the person of the new beginning and success. Do we want to be Oromo in such sense? So when we now celebrate Irrechaa this year over all where Oromos are living, let’s consider to have the life of Oromo or the life of Ora-Omo, which is the life of resurrection, which, in general, means life of new starting and success after the hitherto unsuccessful or after the repeated failures we have had based on many factors which are in and out of our control! I hope we, the Oromo people, will commit ourselves to such a new beginning for the success in our future both in our collective national and individual personal life.
Merry Irreechaa to Oromo!
Waaqayyoo bless Oromia!
* Fayyis Oromia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.