This book is an outcome of a collective labour for which I am indebted to so many. I am indebted to all those who became part of this journey for they have in one way or another shaped the route my project took till its finalisation. Everything I came to learn and understand about Irreecha and also the fact that it became my entry point to interrogate political processes in contemporary Ethiopia is a result of the support and encouragement I received from various people. I am grateful to those who shared from their rich knowledge, experience, archival materials and to those who, after sharing their own, introduced me to other resourceful people. This book is possible owing to the generous time these people made for discussions, debates, conversations and the reading and other resources they recommended. I am hugely grateful to everyone who welcomed me at the weekly coffee sessions at Hora Arsadi. I was made part of the family that the lakeside produced who endorsed me with immense love and kindness. It was not just a learning processes, or as conventionally called participant observation, it was also a space of consolation and it became so because of the heartwarming receptions by the women who gathered for their weekly thanksgiving and prayer rituals. There, I have learnt not only from discussions but from the activities that took place, the group interactions, the ritual performances, songs, dances and the manner in which coffee ceremonies were held. These lakeside sessions became a site where my assumptions and thoughts about politics, rituals, religion, ethnicity, human agency and subjectivities were at times challenged and at other times reinforced. I am full of gratitude for this opportunity and I duly acknowledge those whose names I cannot list down here.
I owe Asebe Regassa Debelo for having insisted so that I take a closer and more serious examination of the ritual’s political purchase for the government as well as other contending groups. I am grateful for your provocation which in a way laid the foundation of this work. I recognise the support and follow up from my PhD supervisor Ulrich Berner, my mentor Asonzeh Ukah and professors who in one way or another helped me make sense of and articulate my arguments at the inception of my project. I thank Magnus Echtler, Franz Kogelmann, Eva Spies, Afe Adogame and all BIGSAS fellow PhD students who read the draft at different stages. Special thanks particularly go to Tamer, Azza, Kupa, Johanna, Jimam, Justice, Leo, Uchenna, Lohna and Rose despite the fact that there were other colleagues and friends whose compelling interventions forced a rethinking of some of my arguments. Turning my dissertation into a book has had its own hurdles and I am grateful to those who became part of this arduous process. I duly recognise the indispensability of the help and support I received from friends and colleagues. Semeneh Ayalew and Netsanet Gebremichael I am greatly indebted to you beyond words. Both of you were an active part of making this book a possibility. In times I had personal challenges, both of you have been a huge source of comfort and inspiration for which I cannot thank you enough. In addition to the stimulating discussions, conversations and debates, I have always turned to you when I had doubts and your reassuring presence has been a source of validation. I am indebted to the fact that you call me out when I am messing with the literature and theories that I have not quite grasped. Seme, you have been keenly following the book’s metamorphosis and read the draft closely. I am appreciative of that. Netsu, beyond the friendship and sisterhood we nurtured over the years, I admire your invaluable engagement either through reading my chapters or for being there every time I had frustrations for which I needed someone to co-reflect with. I am also thankful to you Surafel Wondmu for your wit, eloquence and alerting me not to take anything for granted. I am particularly grateful for your incisive reading and critical interventions when we workshopped my draft at Elsi’s home. Thank you Robel Temesgen for a series of conversations and debates we had about Irreecha and the invaluable perspectives you introduced to my work. I am indebted to your generosity in making time to visit Hora Arsadi with me, for reading and commenting on some of my chapters. Gezahegn Gutema thank you for your kindness not only in spellchecking but also at times challenging some of my Oromiffa translations.
Qelemua Mekonnen, Helina Seyoum, Lulayn Awgichew, Banchiliyew Getahun, Diana Kisakye, Eden Mekonnen, Catherine Biira, Kebe Seyoum and Mike Hulme thank you so very much for your constancy in my life and for being there during my ups and downs, thank you for all the love, companionship, care and attention. My Göttingen blessings Saba and Miloš, the two people to whom I always turned when I was anxious about my writing, I have a huge admiration for your intellectual acuity from which I benefited tremendously. Both of you always encouraged me with your reassuring words and I am very thankful for that and many more. Saba your critical readings, comments and insights on parts of the draft have been of great value and thank you very much for that. Chapter 4 and 5 would not have been what they have become if it were not for the intensive discussions and debates with you Miloš and I am grateful for that. Recognition is due also to Elleni Centime Zeleke for critically engaging the first chapter when it was in its very formative stage. The feedbacks I received from you have helped sharpen my arguments. Elizabeth Giorgis and Christine Scherer, words awkwardly fail me to say how much I value your support and anchorage. Both of you looked out for me even when I was not as responsive as I should be. I humbly acknowledge your place in both my personal and intellectual development. I am extremely grateful to Andreas Eshete for welcoming me at your home, for curiously and genuinely engaging me, for taking me seriously in a world where young female intellectuals are almost deliberately invisiblised. I also thank you for reading part of my draft. But above all, I cannot thank you enough for the one question you asked me about Irreecha. That question has literally transformed the book in a way I could have never imagined.
I would like to thank all the librarians at the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, Ethiopian National Archives and Library Agency, University of Bayreuth, Oromia Regional State Culture and Tourism Bureau, Bishoftu municipality as well as Bishoftu Culture and Tourism Bureau, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity for their continued support at different stages of writing this book. I acknowledge the contribution of the anonymous reviewers. I am thankful for their critical engagement, comments and suggestions. Thank you Tessa Schild, Religious Studies editor at Brill, the editorial board and the series editors for your professionalism in the entire process. I appreciate your patience and diligence until the final stage of publishing the work.
My mother Fantaye W/Michael Beza the shock and pain are as fresh as they were when you passed on in October 2014. I would have loved to have you around for you to see this project to come to fruition. But I hope you are proud that I have done something, that your struggles to make it possible for me are not in vain. Just as much as your untimely departure is a site of my everlasting pain, you and the life you lived have been and will continue to be the source of my inspiration. Only you knew how to rise above challenges, only you knew how to teach that to a daughter. I learnt from you that womanhood is a perpetual struggle, there is never an easy way out but also that one must not simply give up. I dedicate this book with love to you, your beloved brother Amde and all the victims of the atrocious incident at Hora Arsadi in October 2016.