Africans and African Music in the Twin Cities
Rehoboth Oromo Choir?
Tanzanian Lutheran Choir?
East Congalese musician Siama Matuzungidi
According to data from the 2000 census,* African immigrants had settled in various communities throughout Minnesota since 1990, but most made the Twin Cities area their home. John Borden of the International Institute of Minnesota said family ties, good jobs, educational opportunities and a strong social-service network that resettles a high number of refugees combined to attract more Africans to Minnesota. East Africans, including Somalis, make up the largest number of Africans in Minnesota. Africans comprise thirteen percent of Minnesotan immigrants, as compared with the two largest immigrant groups, Asian-born immigrants at forty percent, and Latin-born immigrants at twenty-four percent.
| Meskel celebration of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, 2001 |
In 1990, Minneapolis had an African-born population of 1,700, and in 2000, that number had grown to 12,770. St. Paul in 1990 had an African-born population of 820, which had grown by the year 2000 to 4,700 people. While Minnesota is the state with the tenth-largest African-born population in the country, (34,500 in 2000) the growth in its African-born population since 1990, at six hundred nineteen percent, is the largest in the U.S.
*Lourdes Medrano Leslie, "Immigration: Africans find they 'have everything here'; Minnesota has become a migratory hub for some groups, figures show, including college-educated professionals and African immigrants," The Star Tribune
, June 4, 2002, p.1B.
Oromos in Minneapolis**
The Twin Cities area, primarily the Phillips and Cedar-Riverside neighborhoods of south Minneapolis, is thought to have the largest Oromo settlement in the United States. On the map, Oromia is the largest regional state in Ethiopia and comprises about half of the country. The Ethiopian embassy in Washington, D.C., estimates that about 12,000 Oromo people live in Minnesota. Many Oromos say they fled Ethiopia because of political and ethnic persecution by the government. The Oromo people consider their state within the bounds of Ethiopia an independent country.
| Oromo community dance in Cedar-Riverside |
Because about 44 percent of Oromos are Muslim and wear traditional clothing and scarves, they are often mistaken for Somalis. 41.3 percent of Oromos are Orthodox Christian, 8.6 percent are Protestant, and 4.2 percent followers of traditional religions. The remaining 1.6 percent constitute other religious groups.
**Kimberly Hayes Taylor, A celebration after struggle; Many of Ethiopia's Oromo people are gathered in the Twin Cities for fun and to discuss the events that many say forced them to flee Africa," The Star Tribune
, August 2, 2001, p. 1B.
-- Main.chri2397 - 23 Jul 2009