Dr. Artist Ali Birra’s Golden Jubilee at Ramada Hotel in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Following official declaration of Oromo Week from June 29- July 6 in Minnesota, Little Oromia, by the Mayors of Minneapolis and Saint Paul cities, the amount of Oromo activities here are so many that one would spread thin trying to catch just a glimpse of each. Oromo Soccer tournaments, Fourth of July community picnic and a series of concerts and entertainment activities have been going on. From these community events catering to over 35,000 residents of the Twin Cities as well as to visors from overseas and other states, the celebration of Dr Artist Ali Birra’s Golden Jubilee stood tall and visible on the night of July 4, America’s Independence Day.
The Oromo nation, friends, fans and some curious people from many places, far and near, gathered in Ramada Plaza Hotel in Minneapolis to feel and be part of the historic event of Ali Mohammed Birra’s long career—to be exact 50 years of epic contribution to Oromo music, arts, Oromummaa, Oromo identity, in the toughest of circumstances in the east African country that has a long history of persecuting Oromo artists who express the feelings of their society.
The biggest story is not really the futile circumstances that tried to hold back Dr. Artist Ali Birra’s free will to sing or entertain, but his extraordinary achievement that has made him one of the rare contemporary national or even African music icons, at least among the Oromo people.
I looked around the ballroom: it is very rare to see so many exiled Oromo people be this happy. Many were sitting before the music started. Throngs were standing near the entrance and in all the corners of the ballroom, of course, after a little bit of driving around the hotel to find one lucky parking spot. Inside, some tinkered with their smarts phones and cameras, taking pictures and tweeting away whatever they perceived was going on. Some looked in the direction of the activities and speeches on the stage by scholars on Birra such as Dr. Gamachu Magarsa visiting from homeland Oromia, and Dr. Mohammed Hassen from the United States. Others who were at the far end of the room from the main stage stared happily at the live big screen as Ali’s Golden Jubilee unraveled into the colorful night. Everyone seemed united and the reason was Dr. Ali Birra. He was Oromummaa.