The Controversy Surrounding Shimelis Abdisa Speech

By Staff Reporter

Shimelis-Abdisa-speechOctober 9, 2019 ( -- The Oromo people practiced Irrecha ritual as a thanksgiving celebration twice a year (in autumn and spring) to praise Waaqa (God) for peace, health, fertility and abundance, in general to bless their people, livestock, harvest and the entire Oromo land.

In Oromia, the core center of Irrecha celebration has been around Hora Arsadi in Bishoftu town, some 25kms to the south of Addis Ababa, the capital city.

Annually, particularly during the Irrecha birraa (the Autumn Irrecha) in September or October, the Oromo from different parts of the country come together and celebrate the ritual.

And this year Irrecha has been colorfully and peacefully celebrated both in the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, and Bishoftu.

In welcoming the new season of plentiful harvest, millions of the people joined the Hora Irrecha celebrations held in Addis Ababa from all corners of Ethiopia as the year’s first Irrecha celebration followed by commemoration in Bishoftu.

Thousands of Oromo people exhibited enlightening dances as they entered Addis Ababa.

The celebration in Addis Ababa was colorful in spite of the controversies surrounding the speech made by the President of Oromia Regional state during the eve of the festival.

In his remark, the President of the Oromia regional government, Shimelis Abdisa, recalled about years of oppression and injustice, and basically declared victory for the Oromo people against what he termed 'the Neftegna.' The statement did not go well with many Ethiopian who said this is contrary to the stride the country is making towards unity.

Many people in social media and commentators in various forums criticized the Oromia president for the remarks. The controversial statements have incited anger and ratcheted suspicions to new heights among many Ethiopians.

Ethiopian citizens for social justice party has said the Oromo Democratic Party has intentionally changed the spirit of the festival into political-motivated agenda.

Denouncing the act as shameful, the Ethiopian Citizens for social Justice Party has expressed its concern over the impact of such statements may have on the ongoing reforms driven by the current administration.

Obang Metho, one of opposition politicians, said the statement made by Shimelis Abdissa is a mistake and intentional that raises serious questions that require explanations.

‘I thought we were done with the abusive languages of division and dehumanization. So, when I heard him speak to thousands of Ireecha celebrants at Meskel Square in the center of Addis Ababa, I was greatly disturbed to hear him talk about defeating,’ said Mr. Obang. ‘His labeling did not make the break from our flawed past but seemed to repeat some aspects of it once again. It was not something we would have expected from the president of the largest and most populous regions of the country and the party that is in charge of leading Ethiopia.’ ‘Mr. Shimelis’s speech is not only opposite to the Medemer philosophy, but it erased the Medemer Philosophy that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his Oromo Democratic Party (ODP) uses as a fundamental concept to rally and unify the people of Ethiopia,’ Mr. Obang Added.

Addis Ababa city council has also registered their displeasure through call for demonstration in the capital Addis Ababa in the coming weekend. Members of the city council has said Ireecha celebration could have been used as an umbrella to bring everyone together for peace. However, higher regional officials are sowing suspicion and division among the people.

Notwithstanding the controversy, many people appreciated Addis Ababa city residents for the hospitality they showed to the millions of guests that came from all over the country to celebrate the festival in unity and solidarity.

Despite the speech given by the regional President, the Oromo Democratic Party also later said the country’s previous despots do not represent members of their group but their own interests.

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