Ethiopia: Oromo journalist, Lalise Wodajo, reunited with family after 8 years
(OPride) – Jiitu Wakjira was only five years old when Ethiopian security forces took away her father, Dhabasa Wakjira, from their home in April 2004. Jiitu understood very little at the time, but remembers missing her father, whom she visited at Ethiopia’s notorious Kaliti prison every weekend – for nearly three years.
On Saturday Aug. 10 2013, Jiitu, 14, described her family’s ordeals, in a heartfelt speech that read much like a movie script, before a captive Oromo and Australian audience. Exposed to politics, suppression, oppression and loss at a young age, Jiitu’s is a story of love, perseverance, resilience, and courage.
“This is my way of taking everyone here back to when everything started,” Jiitu told her audience as she began speaking. “Every adult in my family has had a rough patch with the Ethiopian government. I didn’t understand what was happening when the police came to take my dad…I can’t explain how I felt. I guess I was scared. I mean, who wouldn’t be?”
The event was organized by members of the Australian Oromo Community Association in Victoria to celebrate a reunion of a family torn apart by years of injustice. Lalise Wadajo, Jiitu’s mother and former journalist with the state-run Ethiopian Television, was arrested on October 30, 2008 and later sentenced to 10 years without parole for alleged associations with the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). Lalise arrived in Australia early this month after serving nearly three years in prison.
At Waltz Matilda hotel in Springvale ballroom, where the event was held, a family photo of the Wakjira’s beamed from two screens. The iconic photo shows Dhabasa and his children hugging Lalise as if to never let go off her again.
The story of the Wakjira’s resonates with many in the Oromo diaspora – separation from loved ones, despair and triumph of longing to see each other again. Tables were filled with Oromo traditional food, decorated with an Oromo flag and Oromo attires greeted entrants from all directions. Read More