September 11, 2001 was a new years day in Ethiopia. I was in Addis Ababa, the capital, anxiously waiting to start college when a rare opportunity to attend a live concert presented itself. The Gadaa Band had a concert at Hawi hotel on Bishoftu Road.
I was excited for two reasons;
1) This was the first time ever I attended a live concert in Afan Oromo, my mother tongue;
2) Although located at the heart of Oromia region, it is rare to find Oromo speakers in the city, let alone a live concert. This was to be the first time ever I saw so many Oromos in one place in Addis Ababa. Oromo people constitute the single largest ethnic group in Ethiopia.
Minneapolis, MN - Unnerved by the gushing winds of change in North Africa and throughout the Middle East, the Ethiopian regime is frantically and desperately attempting to divert the people’s attention. At home front, a recent wave of imprisonment and an all out intimidation campaign is in full effect, especially in the Oromia region.
Ethiopia’s ruling party, headed by former Marxist guerilla leader, Meles Zenawi has been in power since 1991. To preemptively avert the now eminent Ethiopia’s Jasmine revolution, the regime is once again touting the possibility of water war with Egypt. To divert a public opinion from pressing domestic issues such as massive youth unemployment and inflation, Meles’ regime has also been floating a possibility of war with Eritrea.
The Oromia Youth Association (OYA) in Minnesota has recently elected a new president. Despite the growing number of Oromo youth and young adults in Little Oromia, in recent years, OYA had struggled to rally the youth behind its beautifully stated objectives. Marred by low membership and lack of enthusiasm, for the last three consecutive years, a formal election did not take place. Instead, at the absence of contending candidates, power has simply defaulted from one president to the next without casting votes.
I talked exclusively with the current OYA president about her goals, this year's OYA activities, recruitment strategies, OYA elections and the youth led movements that are transforming North Africa and the Middle East.
Oromsis: Congratulations on being President, briefly introduce yourself to our readers.
Legendary Oromo Artist, Dawite Mekonnen, has unveiled his much anticipated single Amharic song - Oromiawinate. According to sources familiar with the making of the video, his new single record "Oromiawinate/Oromummaa" - my Oromoness, is inspired by an exchange the singer had with local community newspaper Ze Habesha.
Ze Habesha is a legally registered newspaper serving the Ethiopian community in the state of Minnesota. It is to be remembered that an interview Dawite gave to the newspaper editor last year had sparked an uproar of sort among non-Oromo Ethiopians. The single release, I love my Oromoness, is allegedly Dawite's lyrical response to the feud.
“Where there is a will, there is a way” goes an oft-repeated axiom. California is located more than 8900 miles away from Najo in western Oromia, Ethiopia. A native of Najo, one nurse form the Golden State is going the extra-mile to help a hospital in her childhood town.
The Unites States is one of the few industrialized countries that do not provide a universal healthcare to its citizens. A healthcare reform, enacted in the summer of 2010 and hailed as President Obama’s landmark legislative achievement, was recently repealed in the republican-controlled congress. Even with more than 50 million Americans lacking health insurance, it is a far cry from the situation in Ethiopia.