The Irreecha thanksgiving festival is an annual celebration by Ethiopia’s Oromo people, the largest ethnic group in the country.
The celebration included a concert which took place this past Friday at the Meskel Square and was followed by a ceremony of blessings on Saturday, the BBC reports. The festival has traditionally been held in Bishoftu which is just outside of the capital city. However, after the festival was held in Addis Ababa this year for the first time in 100 years, many have seen this as a recognition of Oromo culture by the country’s authorities.
Ethiopia has been battling inter-ethnic violence for years, long before the recent prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, took up office. In December of last year, as many as 2.9 million Ethiopians had been displaced as a result of deadly clashes between the country’s different ethnic groups. Finding a resolution a resolution for the conflict has become Ahmed’s biggest task in his role as prime minister.
Thousands of Oromo people took to the streets in colorful traditional attire, waving the Ethiopian flag and chanting as they marked the end of the rainy season and the beginning of the harvest season. Although it was feared that the weekend thanksgiving celebrations might exacerbate ethnic tensions in the capital especially, News24 reports that they took place without incident.
Back in 2016, several people who were protesting the government were killed in a stampede after the police attempted to disperse them.