​BBC Afaan Oromo Program is now a reality!

Dr. Birhanemeskel Abebe Segni

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I am extremely happy to hear the decision by the BBC World Service to start BBC Afaan Oromo Radio Program. 

On behalf of the Afaan Oromo Global Coordinating Committee, I would like to extend our heartfelt “Thank you!” to the BBC Trust, BBC Executive Board, and the Director General of BBC, and the government of the United Kingdom for deciding to start BBC Afaan Oromo Radio Program. 

 In a country where over 40 million Afaan Oromo speaking Ethiopian population merely exist without a single independent media or newspaper due to the ongoing exclusion and marginalization of the Oromo people in Ethiopia, BBC’s decision to start BBC Afaan Oromo Radio Program is very historic and monumental. 

AGCC members and supporters want to affirm to the BBC Trust and BBC Executive Board that the Oromo people will work with the BBC for the success of BBC Afaan Oromo Program. 

Just for the record, here are some of the chronology of key facts of BBC Afaan Oromo Campaign: 

The Afaan Oromo Global Coordinating Committee (hereafter referred to as “AGCC”), an advocacy group established for the specific purpose of petitioning the BBC Trust, BBC Executive Board, and the Government of the United Kingdom to start BBC Afaan Oromo Radio program was founded in early September, 2015 after informal consultations that lasted a couple of months.

AGCC decided to launch a “Global Call upon the BBC to start Afaan Oromo Radio Program” on behalf of the Afaan Oromo speaking population in Ethiopia, numbering over 40 million, and the vast Oromo Diaspora dispersed though out the world.

Petition page was created on http://www.gopetition.com website. AGCC coordinated the signing of the petition by 37,635 petitioners between September 9, 2015 and November 1, 20015. 

 In addition to those who signed the petition, 46,686 people, who were unable to download the petition page due to poor internet connection in Ethiopia, also recommended this petition. 

Seventy two percent of the petitioners accessed the website and signed the petition from Ethiopia; while 12%, 6% and 3% accessed the petition page from North America, Europe and the Middle East respectively. (See the petition page at https://www.gopetition.com/petitions/bbc-consider-afan-oromo-for-new-broadcasts-to-ethiopiaeritrea-as-a-matter-of-priority.html ).  

Representatives of AGCC also gave interviews to various international and local media outlets such as Voice of America Afaan Oromo, Voice of America Amharic, SBS Radio Amharic, Oromia Media Network TV, Deutsche Welle Amharic, and other media outlets about the campaign. 

The AGCC also coordinated tweeter campaigns under the #BBCAfaanOromoo, which reached more than two million people worldwide.

AGCC submitted the petition to the BBC Trust, BBC Executive Board, BBC Director General, and other pertinent authorities on November 11, 2015. 

On November 12, 2015, BBC Trust acknowledged the acceptance of the AGCC Petition. 

On December 3, 2015, the Director of BBC World Service confirmed to the AGCC that based on the decision of the United Kingdom Government, BBC is working on program that will reach the largest segment of the Ethiopian population.  

On November 15, 2016, the Director General of BBC announced its decision to start broadcasting  in Afaan Oromo in one of BBC’s biggest expansion since the 1940s. The announcement also includes BBC’s plan to start broadcasting in 10 other languages including Amharic and Tigrigna. 

Members of the Afaan Oromo Global Coordinating Committee:

Birhanemeskel Abebe Segni

Girma Gutema

Geresu Tufa

Yaye Abebe 

Tsegaye Ararssa

Judge Ferehiwot Samuel 

 Nomolos Ungashe 

 Birhanu M Lenjiso 

 Anii Sifa Hamid

 Nagessa Oddo Dube

I left out the names of Ethiopia based AGCC members out of concern for their safety and personal security.  

Special thank you note:

All of my personal efforts and contributions so far to the causes of the Oromo people would not have been possible without the full support and strong backing of my wife  and the love of my life Hanna H. Assefa. Had it not been for her unreserved support and sacrifice, I would not have been able to put a lot of man-hour, emotional and financial resources in this emotionally tasking, morally compelling, and intellectually challenging struggle of the Oromo people.  I consider the BBC’s decision to start Afaan Oromo Radio program to inform, educate and entertain our people as one major reward for our labor of love for the Oromo people. Making Afaan Oromo Federal Working language in Ethiopia  is my next top priority.