Ethiopia to Accommodate Nations Concerned by Nile Dam; Egypt summons Ethiopian ambassador over Blue Nile move

Note: This tug of war is going on until Debretsion or his like is bribed by Egypt or some one is fulfilled with his/her hidden agenda.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam will be twice the size of Singapore
May 30, 2013 (Bloomberg) — Ethiopia’s government said it will try to accommodate nations concerned that their water supplies may be affected by the damming of the Blue Nile River, as Sudanese and Egyptian officials met to discuss the issue.

Ethiopia, source of one of the two tributaries of the Nile River, will start filling the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile at the “end of next year,” Deputy Prime Minister Debretsion Gebremichael said in an interview yesterday. The 80 billion-birr ($4.3 billion) hydropower project may begin generating of electricity next year and is set for completion in 2017, he said.

The schedule for filling the 74 billion cubic meter reservoir is expected to be a “major comsg4ncern” for the downstream nations of Egypt and Sudan, said Debretsion. Once completed, the power plant will be Africa’s largest with the capacity to generate 6,000 megawatts. Egypt, which relies on the Nile for almost all of its water, has historically opposed upstream projects on the world’s longest river.

“We are not selfish, we are not only looking at our national interest,” said Debretsion, who is also chairman of the state-owned Ethiopian Electric Power Corp. “This is an international river and we will try our best to accommodate their benefits and their interests.”

Seeking Assurance

Sudanese Water Resources and Electricity Minister Osama Abdalla Mohamed al-Hassan arrived in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, today to discuss the issue with Egyptian officials, the state-run Middle East News Agency reported.

Egypt’s government and public are concerned that the dam may decrease the flow of the Nile, Mohamed Edrees, Egypt’s ambassador to Ethiopia, said in a phone interview today from Addis Ababa.

“Our concern is for it not to affect our water security, to harm the water coming to Egypt,” he said. “How to do it effectively on the ground and how to implement it, this is something to be left to the technicians to discuss and agree on.”

The dam, which will be twice the size of Singapore, will be full in “five to six years,” Ethiopian Water and Energy Minister Alemayehu Tegenu said at a ceremony to celebrate the diversion of the river yesterday in Guba, 454 kilometers (282 kilometers) northwest of Addis Ababa. “We won’t fill the reservoir at one go,” he said.

‘Broad Understanding’

Sudan’s government has had consultations with Ethiopia and Egypt and there is a “broad understanding on the issue,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abu-Bakr al-Siddiq said in a phone interview today from Khartoum, the capital.

“We don’t have any problem with what the Ethiopians have done,” he said. Edrees said the diversion has no “direct implication” as it doesn’t alter the flow of the river.

A technical committee made up of neutral experts and four representatives each from Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt is expected to deliver a report on the project in a “few days,” Edrees said.

“Actual dam construction” can start after the diversion was carried out a “few days ago,” said Debretsion. The altering of the course was a milestone in the project as “we managed to direct Abay on our own side,” Alemayehu said, using the Amharic name for the Nile.

Members of the Ethiopian public have bought bonds worth more than 5 billion birr so far to pay for the dam, which will be financed from domestic sources only, Bereket Simon, who heads a fund-raising council for the project, said in an interview at the site yesterday.

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Egypt summons Ethiopian ambassador over Blue Nile move

Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Kamel Amr (Photo: Reuters)
May 30, 2013 (Ahram Online) — Foreign ministry summons Ethiopian ambassador to express Egypt’s displeasure with Addis Ababa’s recent move to divert course of Blue Nile within context of dam construction project.

Egypt’s foreign ministry on Wednesday summoned Ethiopian Ambassador Mahmoud Dardir to express its displeasure with Ethiopia’s construction of a major dam on the Blue Nile.

Head of the ministry’s African affairs committee, Ambassador Ali Hefny, along with other diplomats, met with Dardir Wednesday to convey Egypt’s unhappiness with the move.

Egyptian diplomats further criticised Ethiopia for going ahead with the project without taking into account the recommendations of a technical committee – tasked with studying the issue – consisting of ten specialists, including representatives of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia.

In a Tuesday interview with Ahram Online, Egyptian ambassador to Ethiopia Mohamed Idris stated that Egypt was pursuing a “win-win scenario in which the interests of both sides can be served and accommodated.”

Idris added: “We’re expecting Ethiopian officials to make good on their earlier promise to act in a way that would not harm Egyptian interests.”

A report on the possible impact of Ethiopia’s ‘Renaissance Dam’ is expected to be issued later this week by the committee of specialists.

Sources close to the committee say the report will include concerns over the potential impact of the dam on Egypt and Sudan.

It is also expected to refer to worries that cracks could develop in the dam within a few years, eventually leading to serious flooding.

Ethiopia on Tuesday began diverting the course of the Blue Nile, one of the Nile River’s two major tributaries, as part of its project to build a series of new dams for electricity production.

The move, called “historic” by Ethiopian government spokesperson Bereket Simon, has prompted criticism from downstream Egypt and Sudan, since the step could negatively affect both countries’ water quotas.

The Blue Nile provides Egypt with the lion’s share of its annual 55 billion cubic metres of river water.

According to the state-run National Planning Institute, Egypt will need an additional 21 billion cubic metres of water per year by 2050 – on top of its current quota of 55 billion metres – to meet the needs of a projected population of 150 million.

A Response to Dr. Fikre Tolossa (Tolassa) By Dr. Beyan H. Asoba | May 30, 2013

Xalayaa Dr. Asobaaf katabame

Dr. Fikre Tolossa- ‘Zebehere Ethiopia, Son of Ethiopia, King of Kings of Ethiopia, Son of Dashet, Prophet, Philosopher, King of Gojam’ etc…
Dear Dr. Fikre Tolossa/Tolassa,

I was travelling when the open letter you addressed to me appeared on a number of websites and was thus not in the position to respond sooner. In this response, I will address only those aspects of your open letter that personally concern me. The Oromo Democratic Front will have to respond on the general content of your writing.

Dear Dr. Fikre,

Let me start my comment by making a brief observation on how you spell your last name. I checked as many of your published works as possible and they are all signed by Fikre Tolossa. That is how your name appears on your University of Bremen dissertation of 1983 and numerous subsequent publications. And it is also how you spell your name on your Facebook. To my knowledge, it is only in the open letter addressed to me that you not only spelled your name as Fikre Tolassa but also added apparently your grandfather’s name, Jigsa.

Let us leave Jigsa alone and allow him to continue lurking in the shadows, where you usually place him, and focus on Tolossa/Tolassa that more commonly appears after your first name. Tolossa could ostensibly be construed as a derivative of the Amharic word “tolo.” And I know for sure that Tolassa is a derivative of the Oromo word “tola.” Consequently, by spelling your name in two different ways, you appear to evince two contrasting identities. If by doing so you wish to sit on the Amhara/Oromo identity fence, all I can say is “suit yourself!” I fully respect your right to call yourself whatever you want and to proclaim any identity you choose.

My question is: Why could you not accord me the same right? My name is not Bayyanaa Suba. I have never spelled my name in any other way than Beyan Asoba. I would not have recognized that this new name actually refers to me if it were not used in context of commenting on the Oromo Democratic Front, of which I am a member. Obviously, you took the liberty to attribute another name to me in order to serve your political objective.

Only creators have the right to name the object of their creation. For example, auto-makers give specific names to their various brands just as parents name their children. Unfortunately, for us, the sons and daughters of the Oromo nation, suffering the indignity of being re-named by Chauvinists has been a very common and bitter experience. Our very national name (Oromo) was erased from public records and replaced by another one along with a bundle of pejorative connotations associated with it. Even pupils used to be coerced by their teachers to dump the names originally given to them by their parents and to assume a new in order to start the process of qualifying as an Ethiopian.

It is this practice of demanding that individuals need to first die as Oromos, Sidamas, Walayitas, Kambatas, Hadiyas, etc. in order to be reborn as Ethiopians that sits at the heart of the political contestation in that country. And so long as being an Oromo and an Ethiopian are made incompatible, we have no choice but to either reject your Itophiyawinnet or suffer the imposed self-abnegation.

I want to make one thing perfectly clear to you and your likes. The days when Oromos had to endure self-abnegation are over and shall never return. We have rejected the Itophiyawinnet that is the antithesis of being an Oromo and shall continue to do so as long as this antithetical relationship is maintained. The choice is yours and your likes’. You either accept us with our identity and other rights fully respected or you kiss goodbye to your much vaunted Itophiyawinnet and Ethiopian unity. Can you not see that there is something immoral in trying to build Ethiopian unity on graves of Oromos, Sidamas, Walayitas, Kambatas, Hadiyas, etc .? Why do you refuse to recognize that this aspiration is ultimately counterproductive? I only hope that this irrational, immoral and ultimately destructive aspiration would give way to a more sober and fair articulation of an Ethiopian identity that is as an amalgam of the identities of the various nations inhabiting its territorial space.

Finally, I would like you to know that this is the last time I will comment on this very painful issue.

Beyan H. Asoba

5/29/13

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Other responses to Xalayaa Dr. Asobaaf katabame

Another Response to Dr. Fikre Tolesa in Amharica

On Dr. Fikre’s Open Letter to Dr. Beyan Asoba

The 50th shame years of Africa Union celebration in Ireland

Oromo Community Ireland | May 29, 2013

This week African Union (AU) celebrated its Golden Jubilee of what it calls the 50th years of achievement celebration under the headline of strengthening Pan-Africanism and African renaissance. But for the Oromo community in Ireland the story was different. On the day of the African Day Celebration the Oromo’s stall tells a different story, a story that questions the very importance of the existence of the AU; the story that tells the inability of the AU to deal with the issues of its people; the story of Oromo’s years to years true life, the story of slavery in the country the AU celebrate what it says the past good days.

We were opposing the existence of AU, though we know that many intellectuals, analysts and media outlets question the need for AU’s existence itself. We hope AU, one day may become a better organization that stands for African people. But so far AU has failed do any meaningful thing for Africans. To raise just some of them, first what did AU do about the question of Oromo for self determination, what did it say the killing, disappearances and torture of Oromo students, intellectuals, farmers and businessmen? What did AU with decades’ long conflict in Darfur? Why it can not solve it. What did AU say about the mass killing in Kenya? Did it say anything the conflict in Congo? What did the AU say about the human rights crisis in Zimbabwe? Most the pressing African problems were dealt with by AU but by the governments and communities outside Africa whether there is a calculated benefit or not, the problems of Libya, the genocide of Rwanda, the crisis in Somalia, are only few where AU show little or no role to sole African problems.

AU even seems do not care about the people when they sit in the AU meeting with those notorious dictators such as the late Meles, Bashir of Sudan, Mugabe of Zimbabwe, etc. These people are isolated from international community, and some of them are indicted by international criminal court because of the multiple genocide the have committed to their people. That may be the reason why many people say AU is a bunch of corrupt leaders who try to defend each other against mass movement and public upraising. We Oromos still do not give up on AU. We believe AU can do better to solve the problems of Oromo and other peace loving African people. That is why we were telling them that we are still in colony by the time AU celebrates its Golden jubilee. The shame is that AU had to know and oppose to the colonizers. AU may have done well when choosing Finfinne (Addis Ababa) as its centre because Finfinne is the centre of the country of Oromo people who used the Gadaa system for generations. Gadaa system can be said the first democratic public institution used by us until we fall under colony. But, AU did not know, or fail to acknowledge that it has been holding meeting in the empire that is anti peace, anti freedom and anti human rights. AU must have known that Ethiopia is a prison of human race, a prison of freedom, a prison of democracy. This has a devastative effect on the image of AU and needs to be considered.

We Oromos in Ireland spoke very clearly and loudly while celebrating the African Day in Dublin. Whatever achievement AU celebrates, we Oromos are African who are still in slavery. We told this to the African and international community implicitly that AU fall short of its responsibility of standing for its people. We told to the media to the big and to the small, to the young and to the adult, to the friends and to the enemies that we are still fighting slavery, injustice and state of colonization. We will continue doing same until we get free. On the day we created a scene that posse and a point that people discuss. Everyone came to the celebration understood that our question is beyond political question. We are asking for our freedom, our dignity and the right to our own country and resources. We have the right to be free, the right to our own resources, and the right to nature given human rights. AU and the international community have the obligation, under the international law and under their own stands, to support Oromos, the fight against the colony. Whether AU comes to its mind or not, we will continue our journey to freedom. We will fight ‘terror with terror’, as someone said, until we set ourselves free.

Oromia Shall Be Free!

Oromo Community Ireland

http://www.oromocommunityireland.com

oromocommunityireland@yahoo.ie

UK foreign aid, the final insult: Ethiopian sues Britain after claiming our £1.3billion programme supports ‘Stalinist’ regime that sent him to world’s biggest refugee camp Daily Mail | May 26, 2023

Ethiopian police brutality
Four million people forced off their land by security forces while their homes and farms are sold to foreign investors

‘Mr O’ said by suing British Department for International Development he fights on behalf of Ethiopian people who are being relocated
Questions raised about British role in atrocities as annual payouts continue
When he refused to leave his land, he was taken to military barricks and tortured
Refugee camp over Kenyan border overflowing with Ethiopians is now largest in the world
It is hard to think of many more blessed spots on Earth than the Gambella region of Ethiopia, with its fertile soil, lush vegetation and flowing rivers – so different to the usual famine-struck images of barren terrain and starving infants we see from that country.

There are even rich seams of gold running under the verdant fields of fruit and vegetables, panned for centuries by the tribes that lived in the area.

As my bearded companion describes his homeland to me in his deep voice, he whips out his mobile phone to show me pictures that remind me of the more bucolic parts of Britain.

Dadaab refugee camp: Hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled over the Kenyan border for sanctuary. Mr O went to the camp, which is the world’s largest, after he was relocated to an army camp and beaten.
‘We lived in a village alongside the river where you could grow anything – maize, sorghum, lemon, bananas, oranges, pineapple. We were so happy growing up there and living there in our village.’

Mr O: The identity of the man who is suing DFID cannot be revealed because of safety reasons
‘I wish I could take you to see my home,’ he adds. ‘It is so beautiful.’ Instead, this man is stuck in the living hell of the world’s largest refugee camp, forced to abandon his family when he fled in fear over the border to Kenya after vicious beatings and torture.

Security forces: Ethiopian police and arms have been moving hundreds of thousands of people from their homesteads. The land is then sold off to foreign investors or wealthy Ethiopians
Yet he was lucky to escape with his life. Friends and relatives from his village of Pinykew and others nearby have been butchered, the women subjected to mass rape by gun-toting soldiers and gangs armed with machetes.

Displaced: Mr O describes how many people did not survive the relocations. Friends from his beautiful village Pinykew in Gambella (pictured) have been butchered and women subjected to mass rape by armed soldiers

Displaced: Mr O describes how many people did not survive the relocations. Friends from his beautiful village Pinykew in Gambella (pictured) have been butchered and women subjected to mass rape by armed soldiers
Now he is fighting back on behalf of his Anuak people, instructing lawyers to confront the paymasters of the repressive regime that ripped apart his life. Those paymasters are the British Government.

In a landmark case, he aims to issue proceedings against the Department for International Development (DFID), arguing its money supports a Stalin-style programme of brutal forced relocations driving large numbers of families from their traditional lands.

The London law firm he has instructed to look at launching the case, Leigh Day, says the aid breaches the department’s own human rights policies. In effect, the case challenges the way Britain hands aid to some of the world’s most despotic regimes.

In response, the Government must spend taxpayers’ money defending itself from charges it is destroying the lives of some of the world’s poorest people, rather than helping them.

If it loses, it might have to abandon key aid projects and pay compensation to thousands of exiled Ethiopians. This could cost millions of pounds.

The test case marks the culmination of long-held concerns over Ethiopia. It has become the biggest recipient of British aid, despite being an autocratic one-party state, run in similar style to the old Soviet Bloc countries.

Britain is giving £1.3 billion to Ethiopia over the course of the Coalition, the annual handouts rising by nearly two-thirds between 2010 and 2015 as the DFID struggles to find places to spend its soaring, ring-fenced budget.

Yet this is a regime that shoots street protesters, locks up dissidents and jails more journalists than almost any other country in the world.

The ruling party uses foreign handouts to strengthen its tyrannical grip, giving food and vital farming aid only to supporters, even in regions suffering hardship and hunger.

This is why the friendly man I met insists on only being known as Mr O; he is terrified taking this case could lead to fatal reprisals against his family. ‘I am very angry about this aid,’ he said. ‘Why is the West, especially the UK, giving so much money to the Ethiopian government when it is committing atrocities on my people?

‘The donations have not gone on development but on supporting the government and the army. We would be happy if it really went on development; instead, the very opposite has happened with your money.’

At the centre of the case is Ethiopia’s ‘villagisation’ of four million people in the west and south of the country, areas that have opposed a government dominated by northern Tigrayans. Among them are 225,000 Gambellans, Protestants living in a former British enclave the size of Belgium.

They are being forced from their farms and homes into new villages, just as Stalin did with such disastrous consequences in the Ukraine.

The lucrative land they lived on for generations is being sold off to foreign investors or given to well- connected Ethiopians.

Mr O learned of these plans at the end of 2011 when officials from the ruling party turned up one day in his village and ordered them to move.

‘The government was pretending it was about development, but people refused straight away,’ said Mr O. ‘They just want to push the indigenous people off so they can take our land and the gold.

‘At the meeting I said this could not be allowed to happen. We were under a big mango tree and I said we’d been living under this tree all our lives, working the fields and living along the rivers. Our parents and grandparents were buried nearby.’

The response was instant: he was arrested, taken to a military barracks and tortured for several hours at a time over the next three days.

‘It got to the point where I could not feel the pain, since I had been beaten so much. I thought I would die – indeed, I thought it would be better to die than to suffer like this,’ he said.

Finally he cracked and agreed to move. Only then was he given food and water. After three more days in a police station, he was sent to a new village, which did not have water, food or productive fields, and ordered to build a house.

When work went too slowly for the liking of local militia, he was taken to another army camp and beaten; afterwards, he fled over the border for sanctuary.

There he joined the hundreds of thousands of refugees – mainly Somalians but now joined by several thousand Gambellans and other Ethiopians – at the vast Dadaab refugee camp, the world’s largest.

His wife and young children remain. ‘I miss my family so much,’ he said. ‘And I don’t want to be relying on handouts in a refugee camp – I want to be productive.’

I heard similar stories from other Gambellans. One blind man said he was beaten in the face after resisting relocation; his sister was raped by soldiers and now has HIV.

A 39-year-old mother told me she and her husband were taking a sick child to hospital when armed soldiers and highlanders from the north confronted them. Her husband was shot dead and she was beaten in the face; the scars were clearly visible.

Officials then told villagers to move. ‘Our first question was about the water but they said move first, then we will supply water pipes. But we had all these rivers in our home village and their new village was six hours’ walk away from water.

‘So we put conditions on the move, saying we would go if you put water pumps in, schools and a health clinic. But the government, despite saying it was all about development, refused the deal.’

Instead, the army and gangs went on the rampage, burning homes and killing people. Three soldiers grabbed her and raped her; one teenage son was abused with an electric prod then taken off to prison. ‘Thankfully he managed to escape,’ she said. ‘After that, we knew the next step was to kill him, so we had to leave quickly.’

Like others I met, her life has been devastated. She is exiled in a camp where the majority of refugees are Somalis and the Islamist terror group al-Shabaab operates, so must wear long clothes and cover her head.

She blames British aid policies for inflaming her misery. ‘If your country wants to help development, stop co-operating with the government that is throwing us off our land.’

Army-led atrocities in the region date back at least a decade, when 400 people were slaughtered in one town and hundreds of homes destroyed.

One village leader was in tears as she told me of seeing her husband shot dead, then being raped by six soldiers and stabbed in the belly with a bayonet. Again, she had scars to verify her story.

Yet Britain gave aid direct to the Ethiopian government until 2005. DFID only stopped after an outcry when nearly 200 people objecting to rigged elections were mown down in Addis Ababa and thousands of opposition activists were jailed.

This happened as former prime minister Meles Zenawi was being entertained by Tony Blair at the GB Gleneagles summit and hailed as an example of good governance.

A few months later, DFID backed a new scheme given the Orwellian title of Protecting Basic Services (PBS), which shifted donations from central government to projects run by regional and local officials.

But this is such a rigid one-party state that in local elections last month the ruling party won all but five of the 3,504,195 seats up for grabs.

Sense of community: Whole villages have been torn apart in recent months. Mr O’s case is being considered by a London law firm, which says the aid breaches the department’s own human rights policies.
The state keeps a firm grip at every level; even foreign diplomats are monitored tightly.

DFID documents reveal that, despite denials of funding forced relocations, British cash pays salaries of officials implementing the programme and for infrastructure in new villages.

As a Christian nation at the heart of the volatile horn of Africa and bordering two unstable Islamic states, Ethiopia is a key Western ally in the war on terror.

It has exploited this to pass anti-terrorism laws that enable it to crush dissent, jail journalists and eliminate free expression through compliant courts – what one exiled dissident described to me as ‘systemic repression by stealth’.

The State Department in Washington is scathing about human rights abuses in Ethiopia. Although the US is a major donor to the country that has become Africa’s biggest aid recipient, it does not give to PBS.

Documents released by WikiLeaks showed its diplomats in Addis Ababa believe direct support is the most vulnerable to ‘politicisation; they also discussed ‘the manipulation of humanitarian assistance for political benefit.’

Zerihun Tesfaye, a leading Ethiopian journalist who fled four years ago after threats forced the closure of his paper, said British-backed projects to aid agriculture were routinely manipulated, with access to seeds and fertiliser used to control villages and crush dissent.

‘The Ethiopian government knows the West, especially Britain, is ready to assist its repression,’ he said.

‘And they play the anti-terror card to get all the money. Sadly, people in the West give money because they have heard these famine stories since their childhood. But the money is not going to the poor – it is going to support a government making things worse in many areas, not better.’

Human Rights Watch issued a series of damning reports highlighting these issues based on scores of detailed interviews, which led the World Bank – another major donor – to launch a formal investigation into its support for PBS.
‘British aid is having an enormous, negative side effect – and that is the forcible ending of these indigenous people’s way of life,’ said Ben Rawlence, Human Rights Watch’s former team leader in the horn of Africa.

‘Yes, the money is going to schools and hospitals – but in places the people do not want to live and in a manner they did not want. Our aid is underwriting repression.’

Despite this growing body of evidence, DFID pledged another £480 million last year to PBS. Just as in Rwanda, it seems so dazzled by rapid economic growth and the desire to find an aid success story that Ministers ignore grotesque human rights abuses.

It made cursory investigations but claims it has been unable to substantiate complaints – although it was told of rapes, beatings, forced evictions and manipulation of aid by nomads forced into new villages.

And one DFID report showed officials were told people did not want to move and admitted promises had not been kept, with poor health provision, inadequate land and ‘limited livelihood options’.

Rosa Curling, the Leigh Day lawyer leading the case, said they were seeking a court declaration DFID was acting unlawfully under its own guidance and policies on human rights.

‘The villagisation programme is not only harmful but it negates exactly what DFID is aiming to do – to encourage the respect of individual human rights and assist good governance,’ she said.

But DFID denies British money is used to force people from their homes and argues its assistance has helped millions in Ethiopia.

‘We condemn all human rights abuses and, where we have evidence, we raise our concerns at the very highest level,’ said a DFID spokesman.

‘To suggest that agencies like DFID should never work on the ground with people whose governments have been accused of human rights abuses would be to deal those people a double blow.’

–Daily Mail

No Man is an Island” in Oromia

   “No Man is an Island” in Oromia

Dhabesa Wakjira
© Marion Cabanes – 04/04/2013
May 22, 2013 (Far From Africa) — “No man is an island” is what I associate with Oromo culture. Oromo?! From where?! Oromia! Where?! It’s when I met Dhabesa, a journalist, from Oromia who is now living in Melbourne that I got to understand more about a not-so known country. Dhabesa and the Oromo community which he works with have the great ambition create the internationally recognized state of Oromia. According to Dhabesa, Oromia is a country located on the current Ethiopian territory but in search of government.

Now, why does Oromo culture make me think of this quote from a British metaphysical poet? When Dhabesa confides in me, he shares amazing principles of his culture that are far from the preconceived African-backward ideas and close to our new Western aspirations for a more harmonious world. In their religion “waaqeffannaa”, Oromo people live in harmony with nature. At a child’s birth, a seed is planted in the ground, at death, a tree is put in earth. Any living beings are respected and balance between human beings and nature is fundamental. In Waaqeffannaa there is only one god “Waaqaa” and other creatures including human beings who are connected to their mighty god through spiritual powers. As a young European woman I got particularly interested by the Oromo “Siinque”, a women’s organisation excluding men which has both religious and political functions. Their customary right allows them to carry out legal actions against perpetrators of women’s rights.

As surprising as it can be, Oromo and American people celebrate Thanksgiving. Now I imagine you raising eyebrows… Really?! How possible?! Unlike the Americans “Irreechaa” (Thanksgiving) is a non-religious celebration to promote a sense of belonging and cultural identity. Most of the Oromo festivals revolve around the survival of their identity despite the oppressive Ethiopian government. Oromo people represent about 40% of the Ethiopian population but for years they have been governed by a sheer minority (3%). In other words, a majority became a minority.

What is it like to fight for your ideas? In 2004 Dhabesa was at that time studying a Bachelor in Foreign Languages and Literature when he was arrested in his graduation year. He was sentenced to three years in prison and at his liberation, the recurring threats of reincarceration persisted. Persecuted, he fled to a Kenyan refugee camp and waited for a safer place. Luckily, the UNHCR sent him and his young children to Australia in 2009 as he recalls the exact arrival date. Today, not only is he dedicated to build a strong and united Oromo community in Australia but he also fights for his wife to join the rest of the family here.

He is still part of the world of journalism by contributing to the news on the radio and by compulsively reading them. But today he also aims to finish his studies in social services to eventually get a PhD in Social Science. “To work with the community, I want to empower myself and invest in knowledge”he asserts. Community development is at Dhabesa’s heart but he also shares his concerns to see members of the Oromo community being psychologically and emotionally weakened by the difference of environment. Back at home, “you are a majority and we are culturally and linguistically connected to each other. It’s easier to find support”. Understanding the difficulty in transiting from one habitat to another, Dhabesa puts his energy to orientating Oromo families and filling out the emotional gap. “Link up with your nearest community or anybody to get the chance to ask what to do to move forward. Don’t focus on one option and always look at all the possible options” he advised.