Prospective Oromo Group Hopes To Spread Awareness

Grace Palmer, Opinions Editor

 A recent Southerner survey showed that a small, but significant, group of incoming freshmen speak Oromo, a language spoken mainly by an ethnic group in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia. Junior Umar Hassan is working with others to start up a student group similar to Umoja or Unidos centered around Oromo culture. “[We want to] revive our culture,” said Hassan, emphasising the importance of “knowing your identity.”

One problem that he pointed out was that Oromo and Somali students are often grouped together by other members of the community.

“I don’t want to be regarded as Somali when I’m not,” Hassan said. There seems to be a lack of awareness of Oromo culture in the school. He estimates that the number of Oromo students in the school has decreased, saying that there were about 200 Oromo students at South a few years ago, while only ten incoming freshmen this year say they speak Oromo.

Hassan outlined the path of Oromo people in the United States: they first came in the 1970’s, and the government began to send them to Minnesota in the 1990’s. More recently, many Oromo people have spread out into different neighborhoods of the Twin Cities and into the suburbs.

Along with South Students Hamdi Abdujalil, Abdi Wake, and Mubarak Hassan; Umar Hassan formed the activist group Oromo Young Generation. They have been involved in events at the University of Minnesota as part of the Books for Africa program, and an exhibit at the Traditions Institute. “[We’re] working on a citywide project now,” Hassan said. They are also working on organising a new exhibit for the Traditions Institute.

Overall, the group focuses on educational issues. Hassan says that they want to “help the community grow,” and have a particular focus on closing the achievement gap. “[Education] is the only way out,” he said. Oromo Young Generation wants to promote academic education for Oromo youth and also education about Oromo culture for others.

Hassan hopes to have a student group up and running soon, with the goal of being a resource and support system for Oromo students, while educating others about Oromo culture.