By EDITORIAL BOARD of OromoTV.com
First and foremost the editorial board of OromoTV.com would like to extend a warm and gracious thank you to all of our beloved visitors and others who have read and shared our first article highlighting the achievements of our sister Mergitu Argo. Thanks in part to recommendations from our visitors and others we have chosen our second sister to feature. Although, the choice was not easy thanks to the overwhelming number of recommendations from our site’s visitors and others we believe this individual is not only deserving of our praise, but she deserves recognition for all she has done to help her Oromo community in Minneapolis-Saint Paul, MN.
Without further delay we would like to extend our appreciation to the one and only Rammy Mohammed. Many outside the Minnesota community will wonder about who she is? But, Minnesotans, the Oromo residents of that state who have come to define the area as “Little Oromia” will undoubtedly have met Ms. Rammy Mohammed or have participated in one of many activities she has played significant role in putting together for the community. Ms. Mohammed has been an active member of the community for the past decade. Some may not realize the depth of her involvement in the community because she is often one of the few individuals who are seldom in the spotlight. Her shy nature may come as a surprise to those who may not know her well because after all, how can someone actively involved in community events be shy? Well, for those who know her best it is no surprise. Ms. Mohammed may be shy in large gatherings and therefore choose to be an active participant behind the scenes, but one thing she is definitely not shy about is her pride in being Oromo. When she speaks about Oromo cause her bright and contagious smile coupled with her audacious character brings out the best in all of us.
Born and raised in Finfine she moved to the United States in 1999 with her siblings during the recent wave of Oromo migration. Upon arriving in what would soon become Little Oromia, she began attending middle school. Like many immigrant kids she struggled to fit into the American community because of language and cultural differences. However, what she did not anticipate was her inability to fluently speak Afaan Oromo or English would somehow hinder her from being part of the circle of friends among the American and Oromo kids alike. In fact the Oromo kids her age practically rendered her unfit to join their circle of friends because of her lack of sufficient eloquence in Oromo language. Even as a young child she unabashedly claims “Oromummaa,” but did not speak the language well. This is often the plight of many Oromo’s born and raised in Finfine and the surrounding area. Due to intense pressure from the region to speak Amharic, often seen as a way to fit into the community as a child or to obtain work as an adult, they find themselves trapped in a system that wants to eradicate their identity. It is not Rammy’s fault for finding herself in this predicament. She just happened to be a product of an area that pressured its residents to often speak Amharic or even caused some to change their name in order to be accepted in the area. This continues to happen even in this day and age where many of our Oromo sisters and brothers find themselves trapped by a system designed to ensure society sees them as unfit, perhaps a psychological entrapment. This may seem foreign to residents from other parts of the country, but those who reside in and around Finfine are aware of the issue, but often feel trapped and unable to change the outcome. We suppose, if they maintain their Oromo names and language they would be marginalized by their Amhara friends, neighbors, teachers, and community leaders. If is not all, some of the children’s were born in that parts and other Amharanized cities of the country may possess some sort of immunity from the on slather images feeds every Oromo insecurity. Not only that they would likely be ridiculed and face onslaught of negative characteristics for being Oromo. Indeed a psychological entrapment. However, what makes Rammy unique is she did not abandon nor ever forget her “Oromummaa” in this immensely difficult circumstance. In fact, Rammy’s family structure from childhood onward has garnered and kept her tight to her Oromo community.
Therefore, when Rammy came to Minnesota and her classmates as well as fellow Oromo’s made fun of her lack of ability to fluently speak Afaan Oromo she was devastated. Her inability to speak was not the fault of her parents nor hers, but the result of the surrounding area where she was born. In many ways it can be equated to the United States. Children of Oromo decent born and raised in the United States often find themselves in a similar predicament like that of Rammy’s. Because of pressure from school, friends, neighbors, etc they often speak English as their native language with little to no knowledge of their mother tongue. What distinguishes Rammy from others is the fact she used the devastation she felt as a child to learn her mother tongue and reclaim her identity. She was torn to be shunned by her fellow Oromo students, but she did not retaliate against it. In fact she silently blamed herself and used it as a motivation to get involved in the community. She took what would be a mortifying encounter for many teens into a motivation to advance her mother tongue and be a voice for her community.
This sort of devotion Rammy displays as an adult comes as no surprise to many of her friends and colleagues alike. On a recent conversation with Dula Hassan, the young and dynamic President of Oromo Sports Federation in North America (OSFNA), he stated, “she is willing to go above and beyond to advocate for her community.” So we kindly asked Mr. Hassan to elaborate on that comment and he gave us an example of a recent encounter they had. He explained on a recent skiing trip a Caucasian woman was curious about their identity and asked where they were from. Without hesitation Rammy managed to not only teach the women about her identity, but she went above and beyond to explain to the woman as much as possible. She told the woman she is from Oromia a country located in East Africa and who’s people are marginalized from their homeland, as a result a small portion of them live in Minnesota, but many more reside as refugees throughout the world. She also proudly told her about the language and other pertinent information in regards to our culture and identity.
Now pause for a second and imagine the awareness we can raise among our friends, neighbors, and colleagues if all Oromo’s in the Diaspora can take the initiative to explain where they are from, their rich culture, identity, and the suffering of their people instead of simply saying, “I’m Ethiopian.” Perhaps, if all of us can bring out the Rammy in us we can quickly raise awareness throughout the world and accelerate change for our brothers and sisters in our homeland of Oromia. Furthermore, Mr. Hassan, said this is not Rammy’s first nor last time engaging in such conversations with complete strangers. She regularly stops to explain her culture, religion, and identity to strangers who are curious enough to ask questions. With a chuckle he said, “She is willing to teach anyone who will listen about the Oromo cause.” It is this sort of devotion that makes Rammy, the young and upbeat member of the community an exemplary leader.
Rammy and others like her will undoubtedly be the future leaders of the Oromo community. While many will be perplexed by how she manages to be so involved in the community at such a young age, it comes as no surprise to those who have come to know and admire her. Ms. Mohammed’s ability to navigate multiple positions and devote passionately to Oromo cause is indeed motivation for future generations. Since 2004 she has been involved in the Oromo Sports Federation in North America (OSFNA) in various ways. Whether she is selling tickets at the gate, participating in fashion or Oromo cultural dance activity, helping plan and execute OSFNA sponsored parties, or simply ensuring all participants have the necessary Identification to enter and exit the tournament, Rammy has played significant roles. For example, at the last OSFNA tournament the organizers had issues with one of the equipments that were suppose to print identification for the players. Rammy witnessed the organizers frantic search for solution and without hesitation she sprung into action to solve the issue. After four days of hard work without any compensation she managed to ensure all the players were issued proper ID’s to participate in the tournament. This sort of community service is what makes her admirable. Rammy is what many communities would love to have as their own. She is young, smart, steady, and excited to help and eager to learn with untapped talent, indeed a rare attribute.
She is currently on the board of a variety of organizations. Her role as a devout OSFNA supporter and active participant since 2004 has led her to gain the respect of her peers. In 2013 she was charged with helping organize Ali Birra’s 50th Anniversary Celebration, a ceremony for one of Oromia’s prominent hero’s. As many attendees of the event will testify she did not disappoint. In fact thanks in part to these sorts of active involvements in the community she was recently tapped by the current President of OSFNA, a young leader himself to join the organization as a board member. She is currently the Event Coordinator and the first woman to serve OSFNA in an official capacity. As an ardent member of the staff she helped design the current logo and continues to help the organization grow. When asked why he chose her, Mr. Hassan said, “Rammy is someone who can contribute to the organization, someone willing to help, and one who is willing to go above and beyond for the greater good of the Oromo community.” Indeed with her continuous display of devotion to the community Rammy is well on her way to becoming a future leader of the community.
Many in the Oromo community are well aware of the upcoming launch of Oromia Media Network (OMN), the first of its kind: an independent, nonpartisan, and nonprofit news enterprise. However, what many may not be aware of is Rammy’s involvement in this new progressive news enterprise. She is currently one of a handful of members selected to the coveted position of Executive Council. She is currently the Treasurer for Oromia Media Network. As we all look forward to the launch of this new network, we can be assured with the involvement of passionate individuals like Rammy it will undoubtedly have positive impact in the Oromo community and beyond.
In addition to her countless involvements in the community, Rammy manages to run her own business while attending school full time. In partnership with her sister and friend she started Kena Events. A business focused on helping individuals, couples, groups, and businesses ease the task of event planning. Kena Events can handle anything from custom invitation cards to hiring of wedding professionals and wedding planning. Ms. Mohammed has managed to turn her passion for design and decoration into a successful business. It seems that whatever Rammy gets involved in turns into a success, perhaps this is due to her devotion and intricate involvement in all things Oromo.
As we conclude our interview with individuals that have come to admire Rammy’s talent, selfless devotion, and desire to bring change to the Oromo community we would like to remind everyone this is only the beginning. She is young, energetic, progressive, and will undoubtedly be a powerful force for the Oromo community in Little Oromia and beyond. She has shown us at such a young age she can be a beacon of hope and leadership for all trial and tribulation as an Oromo daughter in this probable cause for freedom which we all endeavor to achieve ourselves and help steer future generations in that path. Although, she is young, her immense talent will undoubtedly propel her to a bright future, one that will continue to bring the Oromo cause to the forefront of the ongoing conversation.
*We would like to leave our readers by reminding them to stay tuned for future articles that will highlight the achievements of our brilliant sisters and brothers and we hope this selfless leader has touched your heart and given you reason to participate in Oromo cause here in the Diaspora and in Oromia.
PHONE INTERVIEW AS WELL AS WRITTEN CONTENT
CONTRIBUTED BY: OROMOTV.COM’S EDITORIAL BOARD.
By EDITORIAL BOARD of OromoTV.com
We often feel the need to use words like hero along with other powerful words to describe deserving people with the courage and audacity to pursue their life-long dream and bring change to their community. But often times we tend to overuse such terms of endearment or reserve it exclusively for heroic acts of bravery. However, some people are beyond deserving of being called heroes. They embody the spirit and the courage as well as hard work and dedication it requires to be called a hero. This individual may not be the athlete who won accolades or the soldier who saved his comrade from enemy fire. Nonetheless she is someone who works day in and day out to fulfill the needs of her community. Therefore, the administrators of OromoTV.com would like to shine light on everyday heroes like Mergitu Argo. We are both honored and humbled to meet an amazing individual who works for the greater good of the Oromo people both in her immediate community and beyond. As we extend our gratitude and appreciation to Mergitu Argo for all that she does for the Oromo people of Seattle, Washington as well as the greater North America we would like to showcase her deep involvement in her community. Although, we may be familiar with the likes of the recent phenom, Toltu Tufa we rarely get the opportunity to meet incredible women who work hard to improve the lives of Oromo’s. Through, informative articles based on recommendations we receive from our visitors we will continue to shine positive light on incredible women like Margitu Argo.
Ms. Argo moved to the United States early 1990’s and immediately felt the need to get involved in her community in Seattle, Washington. She witnessed the growing distance between immigrant parents brought up in East Africa and their children born in the United States. She searched for ways to bridge this gap and ultimately joined a program she felt can solve this growing divide. She joined Refugee Women’s Alliance in late 1990’s, a program which teaches English as a Second Language (ESL), conducts regular parent education workshops, as well as classroom interpreting. In her capacity as case manager she was a fierce advocate for East African’s. She regularly meets with community members and city and state officials to further improve parent child relations as well as help refugees adjust to life in the United States. As many immigrants can attest the transition to the United States where language and cultural barriers are an everyday issue, many in the Seattle area are grateful to have such a dedicated and committed advocate. Furthermore, she felt the need to help fellow Oromo immigrants find employment. Almost a decade ago she joined Neighborhood House as an employment specialist. She was charged with playing a pivotal role in helping immigrants find meaningful employment. As an employment specialist she helps employees and employers find meaningful solutions to issues that arise as a result of language and cultural barriers. She also coaches both parties to nurture mutual understanding of these barriers. And, as a job coach with Rainer Vista, home to 59 different languages and Seattle’s well known diverse public housing community she is the go to person for opening doors and finding meaningful employment for her fellow Seattleite immigrants. Many Seattleites appreciate her hands on approach to helping them solve many of their communities concerns. And, many more describe her as the Mayor of Seattle for the immigrant community where she works tirelessly to improve the livelihood of an otherwise disfranchised and underserved community. Perhaps they call her the Mayor of Seattle because in November 2013 she had Mayor McGinn of Seattle wear the traditional Oromo clothing and introduce himself in Afaan Oromo to the cheering applause of Seattle’s Oromo community. We prefer to call her the Queen of Seattle. However, what many may not recognize is that she works in different capacities to be the voice of Oromo people of Seattle.
Ms. Argo is simply AMAZING! In addition to the aforementioned positions she holds, of which we have only managed to scratch the surface. Ms. Argo serves on the African Community Network board in Washington. Another coveted position that allows her to be an advocate for Oromo immigrants as well as others. She is also a member of the East African Police Advisory Council, where she plays a pivotal role ensuring the immigrant community is well understood by the local police force. As a respected member of the Council she gives both the Oromo community as well as other immigrants an avenue by which they can share their concern and build a lasting mutual relation with local law enforcement agencies. What’s more she is one of select individuals who hold’s position in Seattle Women’s Commission. This position is not only given to select individuals, it is virtually one of the toughest positions to attain. With Ms. Argo’s charismatic character and her dedication to help fellow Oromo’s and other immigrants, we believe she not only deserves this position, she embodies the characteristics of a hero. Indeed Ms. Argo has the rare talent of putting the people she advocates for at ease. After all many Seattleites will be the first to admit her immense talent and ability to navigate the often exhausting political arena while staying true to her beliefs and future visions of the Oromo community which is not only a rare talent, but one that is welcomed and one that makes her community immensely proud of her contributions.
We have all become accustomed to the popular term “busy” as many immigrants and non-immigrants alike use the term righteously or not. Often times without second thought most of us tend to say I cannot take part in this or that because “I’m busy.” It appears that Ms. Argo despises that term because she somehow finds time to take part in countless positions to further help her Oromo community. As a member of the East African Youth Advocacy Group she ensures the future generation of Oromo’s and other immigrants are given the opportunity to maximize their potential. Whether it is advocating for the youth to have a place to do their homework or giving them a meaningful opportunity to engage in productive discourse, Ms. Argo appears to never be busy to get involved in her community. In fact after having spent hours with her to learn as much as possible about her, we can effectively conclude her passion extends beyond her immediate community of Seattle, Washington.
In her soft voice and bright smile she beams as she talks about her passion. When we thought Ms. Argo cannot possibly have any more time to take part in other activities, she once again left us mesmerized. In between her many duties in the Seattle, Washington area, she founded Bareeduu Oromo (Miss Oromo Pagent) in 2003. Herself a graduate of Barbizon School of Modeling and Acting, Bareeduu Oromo is the first of its kind for Oromo people in the Diaspora and it was a success from the start. In partnership with the well known singer Saliha Sami, Ms. Argo has managed to successfully run Bareeduu Oromo for over a decade at Oromo Soccer Federation of North America’s annual soccer tournament which takes place throughout the United States and Canada. With participants from all over the United States, Miss Oromo is a success and continues to grow. Again, Saliha and Margitu teamed up to create Bareeda Oromo (Mr. Oromo) for interested male participants who want to take part in the competition. The male portion of the competition will debut this year as the first of its kind anywhere in the world. Not only did she contribute Mr. and Miss Oromo to the Diaspora community she also organized the first ever female soccer competition at the annual OSFNA tournament. When she is not organizing Mr. and Miss Oromo or taking part in her many roles in Seattle, Washington, Ms. Argo is often busy perfecting her acting career. She has been featured in “Darara Maati” and a few other short films. In spite of her busy and sometimes demanding schedule she also manages to have time to stay in touch with many of her friends. Recently, while conducting a phone interview with her we could not help but notice the countless times she had to excuse herself to answer the phone. From singers and entertainers both back in Oromia to those in the Diaspora, she seems to know and keeps in touch with many celebrities and influential people like Toltu Tufa and others.
We were fortunate to have met Ms. Argo. As we continued to be fascinated by her ambitious drive to help Oromo people from all over the United States, we wondered where she gets her drive from. Luckily we did not have to look far. Both of her parents are funny, charismatic, driven, and very passionate about Oromia and the Oromo cause. In fact she proudly speaks at length on how they have never missed the opportunity to attend Oromo Soccer Federation of North America’s (OSFNA) annual soccer tournament from its inception. She also credits her late uncle, Sanya Argo as well as her parents Mr. and Mrs. Argo for instilling in her a deep rooted pride in being Oromo. She recalls how her uncle would call back home when she was younger and if she answered in any other language besides Oromo he would shame her and tell her Oromo stories and so forth to instill Oromo pride in her. In fact in some ways she resembles her uncle who founded the first Oromo Community of Washington DC. He was a prominent member of the Oromo community and likewise she too wants to inspire younger Oromo’s. When she reflects about the past and her uncle’s role in shaping who she has become she states her uncle would say, “Ilmaan Oromo hundinuu ilmaan kiya” or “All Oromo kids are my kids,” a simple yet powerful statement that her uncle periodically shared with everyone.
As our time with Ms. Argo comes to a close we want to extend our deepest gratitude to her and the folks in Seattle, Washington. It is not often we get the opportunity to meet individuals like Ms. Argo. She is the epitome of what hard work, dedication, and passion to help others coupled with a tenacious drive to improve the lives of fellow Oromo immigrants can achieve. Many Seattleites describe her as the Oromo Mayor of Seattle. And, after having heard so much about her we cannot help, but agree! And, we at OromoTV.com would like to end this incredible opportunity we were given to meet an all around wonderful individual by saying she is truly a hero in every sense of the word. When we asked her for a single sentence that best describes her she gave us this simple yet eloquent response, “I am an advocate and an activist for voiceless Oromo’s.” We think she is more than that; she is humble, compassionate, and eager to help her fellow Oromo people. So we want to say THANK YOU MERGITU ARGO and keep up the fabulous work.
*We would like to remind our beloved visitors of this site and others who enjoyed this article; there are countless Oromo women throughout our community who play significant roles. Whether they are passionate activists like Ms. Argo or driven to bring children’s books written in Oromo to children all over the world like Toltu Tufa. These women are our sisters, aunts, and mothers and they are not only deserving of our gratitude, but deserve recognition for their hard work.
**Stay tuned for a detailed and informative article on Margitu Argo and Saliha Sami’s Bareeduu and Bareda Oromo.
PHONE INTERVIEW AS WELL AS WRITTEN CONTENT CONTRIBUTED BY: OROMOTV.COM’S EDITORIAL BOARD.
THE BEGINNING OF NEW DAY AT HAND!
The administrators of OromoTV.com are proud to announce the recent launch of Oromia Media Network. As staunch believers of free, fair, and independent media we not only encourage greater availability of media sources in the form of internet, radio, and TV, we believe Oromo people as well as anyone looking to consume informative information can only benefit from a variety of options available. As a result we look forward to the launch of this new site and certainly look forward to collaborating with the administrators of this new site for the benefit of all Oromo’s. We want to send our well wishes to our wonderful brothers and sisters in charge of this new site and encourage our beloved visitors to seek out informative information from a variety of sources including Oromia Media Network