By Mekuria Bulcha (Ph.D.)* | September 2015
Oromia’s Irreecha Festival – A Revival of an Ancient African Culture
An Attempt to Understand and Explain
Irreecha (also spelled Irreessa), the Oromo equivalent of Thanksgiving, was traditionally celebrated bi-annually in different parts of the Oromo country. The Irreecha Birra festival is celebrated in the month of September and Irreecha Arfaasaa in the month of April. Although it was a non-political festival, the irreecha was suppressed by Ethiopian regimes. Brought back to life by a struggle for cultural revival which the Oromo have waged during the last fifty, the festival is now playing a significant role in the manifestation and preservation of Oromo national identity. The festival in its traditional form is celebrated in different localities across Oromia. At the national level, it is an event that brings millions of Oromos from all over the Oromo country and non-Oromo visitors from other parts of the world to the shores of Hora (Lake) Arsadi in the city of Bishoftu in central Oromia. As such, it has no parallel in Africa. The festival is celebrated not only in Oromia, but has become an event which is observed transnationally by tens of thousands of Oromos settled in many countries around the world.
* Mekuria Bulcha, PhD and Professor of Sociology, is an author of widely read books and articles. His most recent book, Contours of the Emergent and Ancient Oromo Nation, was published by CASAS (Centre for Advanced Studies of African Society), Cape Town, South Africa, in 2011. He was also the founder and publisher of The Oromo Commentary (1990-1999). He is an active member of the OLF and has served in the different branches of the national movement since the 1970s.