Biftu Oromiya Band beat of harmony and unity


 If Ethiopian societies are like threads of a woven fabric, art is among and the strongest threads. Songs, legends, tale or other art forms plays an important role in reminding the past and guiding the future. This tradition sustains even in this times of modernity. Modern music or other art forms are mouths of people concern, joy and aspirations. Art is thus respected by Ethiopians for this role. In fact, there is a saying “A society that does not value the arts lacks identity.”

 Ethiopians aren’t just valuing art but they wanted it to develop and caught up with the time. They sought to use it to express their happiness, sorrow, excitement, gain, loss or victory in more powerful and meaningful way. For many years, the Oromo people have been using art in various ways to express their culture, identity, love, passion, struggle and victory. This was expressed in the community in individual and groups like forming bands.

 The Biftu Oromiya Band of Oromia has been promoting Oromo identity and culture not only in Oromia but also in Ethiopia for the past 30 years. The band was established in connection with the establishment of the Oromia Regional State and has contributed thousands of well- known artists to the country. Deputy Director of the Bureau of Culture and Tourism of Oromia Biranu Bute re­calls the establishment of Biftu Oromiya as it formed simultaneously with Oromia regional government. The band created a sense of togetherness among people and it was one of a soft power to conceive the regional government.

 According to him, the Biftu Oromia Band has done a great and tremendous job in promoting and preserving the culture, traditions and identity of the Oromo people. In the previous regime which was characterised by absence of cultural equality of the nation and nationalities of Ethiopia. During this time the band played significant role in promoting and preserving the oromo identities and major results were achieved. For example, the Oromia government has done a great job in ensuring the right to govern by its own language and being proud by its culture, traditions and morals, he said.

 He also said that the band has been fight­ing for the freedom of the Oromo people as a country and succeeded in the de­mands  of the Oromo people for their lan­guage, culture, traditions and history they raise the issue of reaching to the level of sovereignty. The role of the Biftu Oromia is paramount in this regard. The band is also providing free training to at least 300 young amateurs annually at the Oromo Cultural Center to develop their artistic skills and contribute to the country, he said. Not only coaching and prioviding skills, the center also provid­ed necessary facilities and platform they could exhibit their talents.The band has been reaching out to the community in other fields of arts such as song, dance, film, poetry and in other forms of art.

The band’s contribution to the government and the people of the region deserve recognition, he said. The band is celebrating its 30th anniversary with concerts of unity, love, friendship and brotherhood in Harari, Somali and Afar regions as well as in Dire Dawa city administration under the theme, “Art for unity among peoples’ The concert started in Jigjiga, Somalia and will be followed by Dire Dawa, Harari and Afar . The concert is not only an art ex­hibition but also plays an important role in strengthening love, unity and brotherhood of the nations.

 According to the Deputy Director, the regional  government is working to further strengthen the band and sustain its role to this generation too. This is an activity the centre wanted to accomplish in near future. Although the Biftu Band was established at the Oromia level, it has played a major role not only in promoting Oromo and Oromummaa but also in strengthening and consolidating Ethiopia’s identity. It is also planned to be an independent, professionally strengthened structure with modern equipment to meet the technological advances required by the times.

 The people should understand what they were on yesterday and where they are now and play their role in standing by and preserving the band which is the reflection of the Oromo people. He further said that the regional government decided to hold the concert with the intention of strengthening brotherly and ethnic unity. “The people of Ethiopia have one country together. Security must be ensured to support, build and move this country towards prosperity.

This is done by strengthening the culture and traditions of the people passed down from generation to generation. The country certainly needs unity right now.This is not by singing together but by strengthening our culture and traditions  through discussion. Everyone should fight against those who are trying to destroy the unity of the people. It is crucial to strengthen this sector as art plays a role in development, unity, nation building and everything else,” he said.

He said Biftu Oromia has started the struggle to maintain the unity of the country in the past 30 years. Therefore, when the band’s founding anniversary is celebrated, the people should respect their unity more than ever. With the rank of Vice President Social Cluster Coordinator, Mr. Abdulhakim Muluu, on his part, said that the Oromia Regional State is working to reveal the truth about the culture, history and identity of the Oromo people.

 Therefore, he says, a strong institute has been built at the level of the people and has yielded high results in less than two years. In this short period of time, it has conducted 62 researches on the history, culture and art of the people  The work done by the Biftu Band is mentioned as an example in making the culture and history of the people come out, he said. The Band has played consequential role in promoting the culture, traditions, identity and history of the Oromo people through its arts over the past thirteen years.


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