University of Washington – Seattle
The night kicked off with a poem followed by a performance by West African dance group and Egyptian belly-dancers. A dance group form Zambia, the Caribbean and poems and fashion show took their turns before the Oromo dance group came to the stage. The event was quite sensational from the start to end, but wait, the end has some weird incidence to it. Besides our group, I personally enjoyed the Egyptian belly dancers show and the Caribbean dance group. The fashion show also gave the audience a glimpse of the variety of traditional costumes prevailing in Africa.
The schedule of events was arranged so that the Ethiopian group would perform at the end immediately following the Oromo group. In my opinion the organizers, dominantly Ethiopians, made such an arrangement so as to out do whatever the Oromo supporters have done during the Oromo students show. But that is such a low thinking on their behalf. Even this arrangement was a source of fun for some Oromos in the audience. I heard one guy jokingly saying, “We are on the top of Ethiopia”.
The time finally arrived and the Oromo performers came to stage to a raucous-applause from an appreciative audience, Oromos and others alike except you know whom. The group presented traditional dances from Wollo, Harar, Arsi/Bale, Jimma and Shoa. It was such a great show which the students who devoted their time despite the hectic nature of life at UW, deserve a lot of appreciation for. The Oromo residents of Seattle should also be commended for their support by coming to the event en masse. The Hall almost exploded following the appearance of the Oromo group on stage. It seems as if everybody in the audience is Oromo. It is an event, in addition to the entertainment part of it, which brought together Oromo of every religion, region or political outlook. We need such binding events to solidify our unity against the tyranny our people back home are facing day-in-day-out. Those not familiar with Oromos were particularly mesmerized by the young female performers swirling their heads during the Arsi/Bale dance. I am sure they were expecting the girls’ heads to roll off their shoulders any minute. It was such a unique style that even the Ethiopian dance group was repeating the same dance during their own Oromo dance event while the Oromo song they were playing was totally different. Without any exaggeration, the Oromo students' performance was the highlight of a very spectacular show.
Then comes the Ethiopians' turn. They presented their dances as every group only to spoil it at the end. The Ethiopian audiences were enraged not only by the Oromos but also by the Eritrean group. The Eritreans used the event very efficiently. They mixed every dance with the brief history about the people, their tradition, and percentage of the total population a given group constitute and so on. I heard one Ethiopian behind me saying why the Eritreans are being allowed to tell their history to the audience as if the event was a private property of Eritreans. I saw a lot of Ethiopians’ faces redden by the Eritreans' and Oromos' acts alike. But they have to learn to live with it for their own health. Well, coming back to the Ethiopians mess at the end of their show; the last music they brought on was music about the Ethiopian Millennium which wasn’t a problem by itself. The problem was to outdo the support the Oromo audience gave to the Oromo dance group, the Ethiopian audience run over to the stage to the extent that the event looked not an Afro-Caribbean Night held at the University of Washington rather a concert at some Ethiopian Restaurant.
It is common to witness an Ethiopian boasting about the uniqueness and originality of Ethiopian Calendar. First of all the Ethiopian calendar also known as the Julian Calendar was formulated by Julius Caesar in 46BC (Read here). Thus it isn't an invention by an Ethiopian expert. The funny thing about it is though; hearing Ethiopians boasting about a calendar invented by a person from a country considered an historical enemy of Ethiopia, Italy. This calendar was a remarkable formulation given the knowledge of the time, however, due to the problem it had in computation of days, a better and more up-to-date calendar called Gregorian was formulated and decreed by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom it was named, on 24 February 1582 (Read here). While both calendars are inventions by Europeans, particularly Italians, and there is nothing which relates them to Ethiopia, yet most Ethiopians delude themselves as if Julian calendar is of their ancestors' creation.
If one has to copy a technology from abroad why should he/she has to copy an older version? Ethiopians pride in the Julian calendar is like somebody being proud of buying a computer with 486 processor while the world is using Pentium IV. If fact is to be told, it is actually the Egyptians who didn't want to accept the Gregorian calendar and forced Ethiopian Orthodox church to continue using the old Julian calendar (Read here). It is known that the head priest (Pope) for Ethiopian Orthodox church was being appointed from Alexandria (Egypt) till as recent as the 1950s.
At the end though, it isn't really surprising for those of us who know the nature of Abyssinians. We know that they were deceiving us and themselves by portraying Ethiopia as a country of great civilization, great resources, proud people, and so on while the fact on the ground tells us otherwise. So, the fuss about unique Calendar and Millennium is just another empty bravado as usual.
Coming back to the main topic, ACN, the Ethiopians made a spectacle of themselves on the stage. The good thing though, it was the final show of the event and everybody else left the Hall as soon as the Ethiopian audience became a performer on stage. Thus, although the Oromo show was arranged before the Ethiopian one to try and outperform Oromos, it turned out to be advantageous for us. Had it been scheduled after the Ethiopian show, the Hall would have been empty due to the outrageous act of the Ethiopian audience.
In conclusion, it was a great night for Oromos and that is what we mainly care about. Oromo performers put on a spectacular show and the Oromo audience showed its admiration in a cultured way without offending others and tarnishing the image of the event.
Please visit Mana Bunaa for a great video of the Oromo show at UW.
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