Oromos hold convention to discuss Ethiopian situation

Liz Kohman

The Oromos, an African refugee group, are holding a convention at the University this week to discuss the political, social and economic status of the people in their homeland.

Ethopia colonized the Oromos more than 100 years ago and the group has since struggled for freedom, said Oromo event planners. Many Oromos have left Africa fearing harassment and persecution.

Minnesota has become home to more than 12,000 of these refugees.

“Oromos consider the Twin Cities their second homeland,” said Nuro Dedefo, president of the Oromo Community of Minnesota.

The weeklong convention offers Oromos from around the world a time to socialize, make connections and discuss the current political status of Oromos in Ethiopia.

About 7 million Ethiopians rule 30 million Oromos, said Dedefo, who wants to mobilize international organizations to intervene. Oromos are the largest group in Ethiopia. Their goal is self-determination, he said.

This week’s meetings included discussions concerning spirituality, support of Oromos still in Africa and the creation of a federation of Oromo groups.

Oromos created the federation to help Oromo immigrants and organize support efforts for their people in Africa.

Arfasse Gemeda, a junior majoring in global studies and an Oromo, said the conference allows the group to share experiences.

Gemeda said she has seen an increase in the number of Oromo students at the University and would like to start a student association to support new students.

She said the convention gives Oromos a chance to share information and work to meet similar goals.

Besides providing education on political issues, the convention also allows time for social interaction. After the days’ meetings, Oromos from around the globe participate in a week-long soccer tournament.

On Friday, the convention will end with a celebration in Willey Hall of Oromo culture, music and art.

The conferences are held annually in different locations. Minneapolis hasn’t hosted one since 1997.

 

Liz Kohman welcomes comments at [email protected] or (612)627-4070 x3238.