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Celebrating Oromo women through art and culture

siiqqee insititution
Written by Mohammed A

Equipped with knowledge of the Oromo cultural tradition, Tsehai Wodajo wants to bring back checks and balances at home for the women in her community.

Wodajo is publicly sharing her own experience with domestic abuse to educate and empower girls and women to “say no to violence” and rally them to support one another. She is relying on years of personal growth training through a landmark education project– and traditional practices of Siiqqee that once gave Oromo women a power to say no in unison.

” I was empowered after I learned my own cultural background on how women used to have their own institution called Siiqqee,” said Wodajo.

The Siiqqee institution akin to sisterhood and solidarity group gave Oromo women status and respect within the society – allowing them to stand together, among other things, against male domination. That’s what Wodajo wants to bring back.

A senior social worker at Hennepin County, Wodajo is organizing a photography exhibit and cultural presentation at Augsburg College around the theme of resilience and beauty of Oromo women in Ethiopia.

Martha Kuwee Kumsa, Ph.D, a notable expert on Oromo culture, especially the Siiqqee institution, will keynote the Augsburg event covering the historical role of Oromo women in their community.

Wodajo, a member of Minnesota’s Oromo community and a former radio journalist, moved to the United States about 20 years ago.

The photos in the exhibit were taken by Peri Klemm, an associate professor of art history at California State University, Northridge, who documented the lives of Oromo women in Ethiopia.

Admission to the event is free but organizers encourage donations to help develop a documentary about Oromo women’s resilience. The exhibit will be held Feb. 25-26 at Augsburg College’s Foss Atrium, 625 22nd Av. S. in Minneapolis. Exhibit hours are from 1 to 4 p.m.

A cultural presentation will also take place from 2 to 3 p.m. on Feb. 25-26 at Sateren Auditorium. For more information, call 612-670-3709 or go to www.real-africa.org

Detailed event information, including links to the speaker’s bios, can also be found here : http://bit.ly/y4asXk

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