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Meskel (Finding of the True Cross) 

Meskel is celebrated by dancing, feasting and lighting a massive bonfire known in Ethiopian tradition as "Damera". Meskel commemorates the finding of the True Cross in the fourth century when Empress Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, discovered the True Cross on which Christ was crucified. The feast is celebrated in Ethiopia on September 27 th , 6 months after the discovery of the True Cross. The celebration of Meskel signifies the presence of the True Cross at mountain of Gishen Mariam monastery and also symbolises the events carried out by Empress Helena. 

According to tradition, Empress Helena lit incense and prayed for assistance to guide her. The smoke drifted towards the direction of the buried cross. She dug and found three crosses; one of them was the True Cross used to crucify Jesus Christ. Empress Helena then gave a piece of the True Cross to all churches, including the Ethiopian Church. This piece was then brought to Ethiopia. According to the Ethiopian legend, when people get close to the piece of the True Cross it made them naked by its powerful light. Because of this, a decision was made to bury it at the mountain of Gishen Mariam monastery in Wollo region. The monastery of Gishen Mariam holds a volume of a book which records the story of the True Cross of Christ and how it was acquired. 

 

 

Fichee-Chambalaalla

It is a New Year festival celebrated among the Sidama people. According to the oral tradition, Fichee commemorates a Sidama woman who visited her parents and relatives once a year after her marriage, bringing ''buurisame'', a meal prepared from false banana, milk and butter, which was shared with neighbours. Fichee has since become a unifying symbol of the Sidama people. Each year, astrologers determine the correct date for the festival, which is then announced to the clans. Communal events take place throughout the festival, including traditional songs and dances. Every member participates irrespective of age, gender and social status. On the first day, children go from house to house to greet their neighbours, who serve them ''buurisame''. During the festival, clan leaders advise the Sidama people to work hard, respect and support the elders, and abstain from cutting down indigenous trees, begging, indolence, false testimony and theft. The festival therefore enhances equity, good governance, social cohesion, peaceful co-existence and integration among Sidama clans and the diverse ethnic groups in Ethiopia. Parents transmit the tradition to their children orally and through participation in events during the celebration. Women in particular, transfer knowledge and skills associated with hairdressing and preparation of ''buurisame'' to their daughters and other girls in their respective villages.

 

Gada system

The Oromo are known for their remarkable indigenous democratic socio-political system known as the Gada which they have kept working for the last five centuries. As a governance System, Gada guides the life course of individuals and regulates political, economic, social and religious activities of the community. It also serves as a mechanism of socialization, education, religious expression, peace maintenance and social cohesion and promotes the principles of equality and freedom.

Under the Gada System, Oromo society is organized into five Gada generation classes or sets which rotate every eight years to assume political, economic and ritual responsibilities. The recruitment to the membership of the five Gada classes is based not on age but rather on genealogical generation ‘descent’. The entire class progresses through eleven series grades. The system rotates every eight years to allow each class assume power in the middle of the life course (the sixth grade) called Gada (Luba).


The class in power is headed by a political leader known as Abba-Gada literally “father of the period”. The transition is marked by a formal power transfer ceremony. Gada is a complex system that incorporates pivotal institutions such as moggaasa (naturalization), guddifacha (adoption), araara (conflict resolution), gumaa (reparation), rakoo (marriage law) waaqeffannaa (Oromo religion) and Siinqee (institution to safeguard women right).

Within the System, there is a thanks-giving ceremony known as Irrecha nationally celebrated at Lake Arsadi. The Gada System has developed through the cumulative experiences gained from   practices and lessons of many generations of Oromo Nation.

 

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