The Oromo (Oromo: Oromoo, "The Powerful"; Ge'ez: ኦሮሞ, ’Oromo) people are indigenous and one of the largest Cushitic-speaking ethnic group in Africa, occupying the Eastern and North Eastern Africa. Oromo as one of the Cushitic speakers have occupied parts of north-eastern and eastern Africa (Horn of Africa) for as long as recorded history.

Beautiful Oromo women celebrating celebrating their Ayyaanna Irreecha in Sheffield and Leeds City Regions, England. Source: gadaa.com

They are found in:
• Northern Ethiopia (southern Tigray Region)
• Kenya (mainly northern), even as far south as Lamu Island and
• Somalia
The Oromo people is the single largest national group in Ethiopia, accounting for about 35 million (40%) of 75 million population. Tilahun (1992), however, posits that "in Ethiopia, Oromo account for 50%-60% of the population of the Ethiopian Empire State (Tilahun, 1992). They are "a very ancient race, the indigenous stock, perhaps, on which most other peoples in this part of Eastern Africa (the Horn of Africa) had been grafted" (Bates, 1979). The Oromo people primarily reside over a vast region of Ethiopia predominately in Wallaggaa, Iluabbaabooraa, Jimmaa, Shewa, Arsii, Baalee, Harargee, Walloo, Boranaa, and Southwestern part of Gojjam .

         Oromo woman smiling,Harar area,Ethiopia. By Eric Lafforgue

The Oromo people are the majority, but in a minority like situation. Oromia region is the richest region in the Horn of Africa. Livestock products, coffee, oil seeds, spices, mineral resources and wild life are all diverse and abundant. Their political, economical, social and cultural life in the Ethiopian empire assert , discrimination and marginalisation due to colonization of their country, Oromia ,by the Abyssinians at the end of 19th century. Millions decimated in the war against colonization in between 1868-1900 through different means. Their egalitarian democratic institution of governance the Gada system; their cultural traditions and language were banned; their means of subsistence, land was confiscated and as a result forced to slavery and servitude.

                                    Oromo (Borana) man

The Oromo are also known by another name, Galla. The people neither call themselves or like to be called by this name. They always called themselves Oromoo or Oromoota (plural). It is not known for certain when the name Galla was given to them. It has been said that it was given to them by neighboring peoples, particularly Amhara, and various origins of the word have been suggested. Some say it originated from the Oromo word 'gaiaana' meaning river in Oromiffa. Others indicate that it came from an Arabic word 'qaala laa'. There are other similar suggestions as to the origin of the word. The Abyssinians attach a derogatory connotation to the Galla, namely 'pagan, savage, uncivilized, uncultured, enemy, slave or inherently inferior". The term seems to be aimed at generating an inferiority complex in the Oromo.

                                      Oromo woman on the road,Ethiopia. Eric Lafforgue
The Land
The country of the Oromo is called Biyya-Oromo (Oromo country) or Oromia (Oromiya). Oromia is a name given by the Oromo Liberation Front to Oromoland, now part of the Ethiopian Empire. Krapf (1860) proposed the term Ormania to designate the nationality or the country of the Oromo people. This, most probably, originated from his reference to the people as Orma or Oroma. Oromia was one of the free nations in the Horn of Africa until its colonization and occupation by Abyssinia at the end of the nineteenth century.

 It is approximately located between 2 degree and 12 degree N and between 34 degree and 44 degree E. It is bordered in the East by Somali and Afar lands and Djibouti, in the West by the Sudan, in the South by Somalia, Kenya and others and in the North by Amhara and Tigre land or Abyssinia proper. The land area is about 600 000 square kilometres. Out of the 50 or so African countries it is exceeded in size by only 17 countries. It is larger than France, and if Cuba, Bulgaria and Britain were put together, they would be approximately equal to Oromia in size.
Beautiful Oromo woman carrying load on her back

The physical geography of Oromia is quite varied. It varies from rugged mountain ranges in the centre and north to flat grassland in most of the lowlands of the west, east and south. Among the many mountain ranges are the Karra in Arsi (4340 m), Baatu in Baaie (4307 m), Enkelo in Arsi (4300 m), Mui'ataa in Hararge (3392m) and Baddaa Roggee in Shawa (3350 m).

    Hardworking Oromo woman carrying jars on her back, Tulugulu Village,Ethiopia. By Eric Lafforgue

Similarly, there are many rivers and lakes in Oromia. Many of the rivers flow westwards into either the Blue Nile or the White Nile, and others flow eastwards to Somalia and Afar land. Among the large rivers are the Abbaya (the Nile), Hawas (Awash), Gannaaiee, Waabee, Dhidheessa, Gibe and Baaroo.

For the peoples of Egypt, the Sudan and Somalia, life would be impossible without these rivers. They carry millions of tons of rich soil to Egypt, the Sudan and Somalia every year. Somalia depends heavily on the Gannaaiee (Juba) and Waabee (Shaballe) rivers which come from Oromia. In fact Oromia supplies almost 100 per cent of the fresh water for Somalia, Djibouti and Afars. At present the Ethiopian government depends heavily on Hawas (Awash) water as a source of electric power for its industries and irrigation water to grow sugar cane, cotton and fruits. The Wanji and Matahara sugar estates are good examples. There is a great potential in all these rivers for the production of electric power and for irrigation. Qoqaa, Fincha, Malkaa Waakkenne, Gibee Tiqqaa dams are examples of where hydro-electric power is already being produced or in the process of being harnessed.

                                                         Oromo village

Among the Oromo lakes are Abbaya, Hora, Bishofitu, Qoqaa, Langanno and Shaalaa. Many of these lakes possess a great variety of fish and birds on their islands and shores.

The climate is as varied as the physical geography, although close to the equator (to the north of it), because of the mountain ranges, high altitudes and vegetation, the climate is very mild and favourable for habitation. Snow can be found on the mountains such as Baatu and Karra. In the medium altitudes (1800-2500 m) the climate is very mild throughout the year and one of the best. Up to 80 per cent of the population lives at this altitude and agriculture flourishes.

                                      Oromo men on horseback

The low altitude areas (below 1500 m) in west, south and central part are relatively warm and humid with lush tropical vegetation, and although few live there permanently most graze their cattle and tend their beehives there. Although there is little agriculture at this altitude at present, it has great potential for the future. As the highland areas are already eroded and over populated, people are gradually moving to the lowlands. The low altitude areas in the east and south-east are mostly semi-arid and used by pastoralists seasonally.
Oromo  girl and her sister

The vegetation of Oromia ranges from savanna grassland and tropical forest to alpine vegetation on the mountaintops. The forests contain a variety of excellent and valuable timbers. Oromia is known for its unique native vegetation as well as for being, the centre of diversity for many different species. For instance, crops like coffee, anchote (root crop), okra, etc. are indigenous to this area.

The Oromo nation has a single common mother tongue and basic common culture. The Oromo language, afaan Oromoo or Oromiffa, belongs to the eastern Kushitic group of languages and is the most extensive of the forty or so Kushitic languages. The Oromo language is very closely related to Konso, with more than fifty percent of the words in common, closely related to Somali and distantly related to Afar and Saho.

                                      Oromo family

Oromiffa is considered one of the five most widely spoken languages from among the approximately 1000 languages of Africa, (Gragg, 1982). Taking into consideration the number of speakers and the geographic area it covers, Oromiffa, most probably rates second among the African indigenous languages. It is the third most widely spoken language in Africa, after Arabic and Hausa. It is the mother tongue of about 30 million Oromo people living in the Ethiopian Empire and neighbouring countries. Perhaps not less than two million non-Oromo speak Oromiffa as a second language.

                                                        Oromo people

In fact Oromiffa is a lingua franca in the whole of Ethiopian Empire except for the northern part. It is a language spoken in common by several members of many of the nationalities like Harari, Anuak, Barta, Sidama, Gurage, etc., who are neighbours to Oromo.

Before colonization, the Oromo people had their own social, political and legal system. Trade and various kinds of skills such as wood and metal works, weaving, pottery and tannery flourished. Pastoralism and agriculture were well developed. Oromo have an extraordinarily rich heritage of proverbs, stories, songs and riddles. They have very comprehensive plant and animal names. The various customs pertaining to marriage, paternity, dress, etc. have elaborate descriptions. All these activities and experiences have enriched Oromiffa.

Much has been written about Oromiffa by foreigners who visited or lived in Oromia, particularly European missionaries. Several works have been written in Oromiffa using Roman, Sabean and Arabic scripts. Printed material in Oromiffa include the Bible, religious and non-religious songs, dictionaries, short stories, proverbs, poems, school books, grammar, etc. The Bible itself was translated into Oromiffa in Sabean script about a century ago by an Oromo slave called Onesimos Nasib, alias Hiikaa, (Gustave, 1978).

Roman, Arabic and Sabean scripts are all foreign to Oromiffa. None of them fit well the peculiar features of the sounds (phonology), in Oromiffa. The main deficiency of the Arabic script is the problem of vowel differentiation. The Sabean script does not differentiate gemination of consonants and glottal stops. Moreover, it has seven vowels against ten for Oromiffa. Hence, the Roman script is relatively best suited for transcription of Ororniffa. An Italian scholar, Cerulli (1922), who attempted to write in Oromiffa using both Sabean and Roman, expressed the short comings of the Sabean script as follows: to express the sounds of Galla language with letters of the Ethiopic (Sabean) alphabet, which express very imperfectly even the sounds of the Ethiopian language, is very near impossible ... reading Galla language written in Ethiopic alphabet is very like deciphering a secret writing." As a result several Oromo political, cultural groups and linguists have strongly advocated the use of the Roman script with the necessary modifications. It has thus been adopted by the Oromo Liberation Front some years ago.

                                         Oromo people

A number of Oromo scholars in the past attempted to discover scripts suited for writing Oromiffa. The work of Sheikh Bakri Saphalo is one such attempt. His scripts were different in form but followed the symbol-sounds forming patterns of the Sabean system. Ever. though his scripts had serious shortcomings and could not be considered for writing Oromiffa now, it had gained popularity in some parts of eastern Oromia in the 1950s, before it was discovered by the colonial authorities and suppressed.

Oromiffa has been not only completely neglected but ruthlessly suppressed by the Ethiopian authorities. a determined effort for almost a century to destroy and replace it with the Amharic language has been mostly ineffectual. Thus, the Amharization and the destruction of the Oromo national identity has partially failed.

                                         Oromo people

 The land of Cush, Nubia or the ancient Ethiopia in middle and lower Nile is the home of the Cushitic speakers. It was most probably from there that they subsequently dispersed and became differentiated into separate linguistic and cultural groups. The various Cushitic nations inhabiting north-east and east Africa today are the result of this dispersion and differentiation.

                               Oromo people

 The Oromo form one of those groups which spread southwards and then east and west occupying large part of the Horn of Africa. Their physical features, culture, language and other evidences unequivocally point to the fact that they are indigenous to this part of Africa. Available information clearly indicates that the Oromo existed as a community of people for thousands of years in East Africa (Prouty at al, 1981). Bates (1979) contends, "The Gallas (Oromo) were a very ancient race, the indigenous stock, perhaps, on which most other peoples in this part of eastern Africa have been grafted".
1892 Wood Engraving Gall Girl Oromo Ethiopia

In spite of the fact that there are several indications and evidences that Oromo are indigenous to this part of Africa, Abyssinian rulers, court historians and monks contend that Oromo were new corners to the region and did not belong here. For instance the Abyssinian court historian, Alaqa Taye (1955), alleged that in the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries the Oromo migrated from Asia and Madagascar, entered Africa via Mombasa and spread north and eastwards.

               Oromo distance running championKenenisa Bekele.

Others have advocated that during the same period the Oromo crossed the Red Sea via Bab el Mandab and spread westwards. Abyssinian clergies even contended that Oromo emerged from water. On this issue, based on the points made in The Oromo's Voice Against Tyranny, Baxter (1985) remarked, ". . . the contention that the first Oromo had actually emerged from water and therefore, had not evolved to the same level of humanity as the Amhara (i.e. treating a myth of origin as a historical fact); or, more seriously, that Oromo were late corners to Ethiopia and hence, by implication, intruders and not so entitled to be there as the Amhara."

                                            Oromo people

The history of the arrival of the Oromo people in the sixteenth century in East Africa from outside is a fabrication and denial of historical facts. It is a myth created by Abyssinian court historians and monks, sustained by their European supporters and which the Ethiopian rulers used to lay claim on Oromo territory and justify their colonization of the Oromo people. Several authorities have indicated that the Oromo were in fact in the North-eastern part of the continent even before the arrival of the Habasha. According to Perham (1948): "the emigrant Semites landed in a continent of which the North-East appears to have been inhabited by the eastern groups of Hamites, often called Kushites, who also include the Gallas." Paulitschke (1889) indicated that Oromo were in East Africa during the Aksumite period. As recorded by Greenfield (1965), Oromo reject the view that they were late arrivals, ". . . old men amongst the Azebu and Rayya Galia dismiss talk of their being comparative newcomers. . . . . Their own (Abyssinians) oral history and legends attest to the fact that Oromo have been living in Rayya for a long time. Beke (cited by Pankurst, 1985-86) quoted the following Lasta legend: "Meniiek, the son of Solomon, . . . entered Abyssinia from the East, beyond the country of the Rayya or Azebo Gallas. There are also evidence (Greenfield et al, 1980) that at least by the ninth and tenth centuries that there were Oromo communities around Shawa and by about the fourteenth century settlements were reported around Lake Tana. The recent discovery, (Lynch and Robbins, 1978), in northern Kenya of the pillars that Oromo used in the invention of their calendar system, dated around 300 B.C., is another indication that Oromo have a long history of presence as a community of people, in this part of Africa.

                                        Oromo elders

The so called "Galla invasion of Ethiopia" is also a tale. It was first written around 1590 by a monk called Bahrey and henceforth European historians and others almost invariably accepted this story as a fact. From his writing, it is evident that he was biased against Oromo. The following quotation from Bahrey, (in Beckingham et al, 1954), vividly illustrates typical Abyssinian cultural, religious and racial biases against Oromo. He began his book "The History of the Galla": "I have begun to write the history of the Galla in order to make known the number of their tribes, their readiness to kill people, and the brutality of their manners. If anyone should say of my subject, 'Why has he written a history of a bad people, just as one would write a history of good people', I would answer by saying 'Search in the books, and you will find that the history of Mohamed and the Moslem kings has been written, and they are our enemies in religion".

                                Oromo people

In fact it appears that the main purpose of his writing was to encourage Abyssinians against Oromo. Bahrey, Atseme, Harris, Haberiand and others description of what they called the 'Galla invasion of Ethiopia' as an avalanche, a sudden overwhelming human wave which could be likened to a flood or swarms of migratory locust is unrealistic and difficult to imagine to say the least.
Bahrey, writing in 1593, credited the Oromo achievement to the existence of too many non-fighting classes in the ruling Ethiopian hierarchy, as opposed to the Oromos, whom he illustrated as having a homogeneous warrior class.

                                       Oromo Karrayyu man
He also affirmed their spread (as result of their inhospitable homeland) into northwestern areas such as:
• Arsi
• Shewa
• Welega
• Gojjam
• Hararghe
• Wollo

The Oromo's Voice Against Tyranny argued that: ". . . the so-called Galla invasion of the sixteenth century was neither an invasion nor a migration. It was rather a national movement of the Oromo people . . . with the specific goal of liberating themselves and their territories from colonial occupation. It was nothing more or less than a war of national liberation." In fact the last 2000 years were occupied with a gradual expansion of Abyssinians from north to south. This expansion had been checked throughout by Oromo. It was only with the arrival of Europeans and their firearms that Abyssinians succeeded in their southward expansion mainly in the middle of last century.
Powerful Oromo hero, Ras Oromo Gobana Dacche (Ge'ezራስ፡ ጎበና, 1821 - July, 1889) was an ethnic Oromo member of the Shewan aristocrats of central Ethiopia in the mid-19th century. He is known for coordinating his Shewa Oromo army with the central army ofMenelik II, who later became Ethiopian Emperor, to incorporate more lands into the Ethiopian Empire in the late 19th century

Abyssinian and European historians alleged that there was a sudden population explosion in the Oromo community in the sixteenth century that enabled it to invade Ethiopia. The claim lacks a scientific base. During that time no significant, if at all any, technological development such as discoveries or introductions of medicines, new and improved tools for food production, etc. took place in the Oromo community that could have been the cause for the sudden population explosion. The Oromo community had no advantages of these sort over neighboring communities.
Oromo track and field athlete Maryam Yusuf Jamal.

Different areas have been indicated as place where the Oromo developed or differentiated into its own unique community of people or ethnic group (Braukamper, 1980). According to some ethnologists and historians, the Oromo country of origin was the south-eastern part of Oromia, in the fertile valley of Madda Walaabu in the present Baale region. This conclusion was reached mainly on the basis of Oromo oral tradition. Based on scanty anthropological evidence, others have also pointed to the coastal area of the Horn of Africa, particularly the eastern part of the Somali peninsula, as the most probable place of Oromo origin. Bruce, an English traveller, indicated that Sennar in Sudan was the Oromo country of origin and that they expanded from there. It should be noted here that many European travellers have suggested the origin of peoples, including Oromo, to be where they met some for the first time, which in most cases happened to be peripheral areas.
Balcha Aba Nefso (Gurage and Oromo: ባልቻ ጻፎ; 1863 – 1936), also known by his title as Dejazmach Balcha, was an accomplished Ethiopian general, who served in both the First and Second Italo-Ethiopian Wars. 'Balcha' means 'taming, assimilating or making familiar with' in Afan Oromo.

During the era of Zemene Mesafint (which lasted until 1855), the Oromo dynasty of chiefs of Yejju were the most important uninterrupted line of warlords to dominate the figurehead emperors of Ethiopia.

They turn out to be sub-kings of Begemder, Regents of the empire, as well as imperial father-in-laws. Ras Ali I of Yejju attained this dominance in 1779, and it continued, although contested by other warlords, until the 1855 defeat of Ras Ali II of Yejju by the upstart Kassa Hailu (who became Emperor Tewodros II).
File:The National Archives UK - CO 1069-5-49.jpg
Photograph taken by 10th Field Company Royal Engineers during the Magdala Campaign of 1867-68. Queen of the "Gallas"and Son

Due to the powerlessness of the Emperor of Ethiopia during the Zemene Mesafint, the Yejju Oromo were successfully the rulers of Ethiopia. Other tribes and chiefs of the Oromo people were also famous, such as:

• Lady Menen of Wollo who became Empress in 1800s
• Ras Mohammad of Wollo who became Ras Mikael, later Negus of Siyon and father of Emperor Iyasu V
• Menen, of Ambassel, who became Empress Consort of Haile Selassie

In the first decades of the 19th century, three Oromo monarchies, Enarya, Goma and Guma, rose to prominence. In the general view of Oromo people's role in Ethiopia, Ras Gobana Dacche is a famous Oromo figure who led the development of modern Ethiopia and the political and miliatary incorporation of more territories into Ethiopian borders. Gobana under the authority of Menelik II incorporated several Oromo territories into a centralized Ethiopian state. Some contemporary ethno-nationalist Oromo political groups refer to Gobana in a negative light. Though, before military integration; present day Ethiopia, Eritrea, and parts of Somalia were previously and extensively linked commercially by local, long-distance and trans-frontier trade routes. These commercial routes connected Bonga, Jimma, Seqa, Assandabo, Gojjam, Begemder, Maramma, Massawa, Soddo, Shewa, Harar, Zeila and Berbera. Some Oromo writers believe that the Oromo Gobana Dacche and the Amhara Menelik II were the first two people in Ethiopia with the concept of national boundary that brought various different ethno-linguistic communities under a politically and militarily centralized rule.
Habte-Giyorgis Dinagde Botera later Fitawrari Habte-Giyorgis aka Abba Mela
Born: Dendi woreda, Shewa. He is paternally Oromo and maternally Gurage. read more about him here:ethiopianreview

"The two most important historical figures who signify the introduction of the concepts of national boundary and sovereignty in Ethiopia are Emperor Menelik II and Ras Gobana Dachi, who used guns manufactured in Europe to bring a large swath of Biyas (regions/nations) under a centralized rule."
Ethnically mixed Ethiopians with Oromo background made up a little percentage of Ethiopian generals and leaders. The Wollo Oromo (particularly the Raya Oromo and Yejju Oromo) were early Oromo holders of power among the increasingly mixed Ethiopian state. The later north-to-south movement of central power in Ethiopia led to Oromos in Shewa holding power in Ethiopia together with the Shewan Amhara.
Oromo ruler Iyasu V (Lij Iyasu), Emperor of Ethiopia from 1913–16.

"In terms of descent, the group that became politically dominant in Shewa – and Subsequently in Ethiopia – was a mixture of Amhara and Oromo; in terms of language, religion and cultural practices, it was Amhara."
Nonetheless, in many cases Oromo became part of the Ethiopian nobility without losing their identity. Both ethnically mixed Oromos and those with full Oromo descent held high leadership positions in Ethiopia. Notably Iyasu V was the designated but uncrowned Emperor of Ethiopia (1913–1916), while Haile Selassie I was the crowned and generally acknowledged Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974. Both these Ethiopian Emperors are ethnically mixed, with Oromo parents and lineages. Haile Selassie's mother was paternally of Oromo descent and maternally of Gurage heritage, while his father was paternally Oromo and maternally Amhara. He consequently would have been considered Oromo in a patrilineal society, and would have been viewed as Gurage in a matrilineal one. However, in the main, Haile Selassie was regarded as Amhara: his paternal grandmother's royal lineage, through which he was able to ascend to the Imperial throne.
Oromo ruler Iyasu V (Lij Iyasu), Emperor of Ethiopia from 1913–16.

By the 1880s, Sahle Selassie, king of Shewa (the later Emperor Menelik II) allied with Ras Gobena's Shewan Oromo militia to expand his kingdom to the South and East, expanding into areas that hadn't been held together since the invasion of Ahmed Gragn. Another famous leader of Ethiopia with Oromo descent was Ras Makonnen Woldemikael Gudessa, the governor of Harar who served as the top general in the First Italo–Ethiopian War, playing a key role at the Battle of Adwa. He is the father of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I.
Oromo man, Ras Makonnen Woldemikael Gudessa, the governor of Harar 

In 1973, Oromo discontent with their position led to the formation of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), which began political agitation in the Oromo areas. Also in 1973 there was a catastrophic famine in which over one quarter of a million people died from starvation before the government recognised the disaster and permitted relief measures. The majority who died were Oromos from Wollo, Afars and Tigrayans. There were strikes and demonstrations in Addis Ababa in 1974; and in February of that year, Haile Selassie’s government was replaced by the Derg, a military junta led by Mengistu Hailemariam; but the Council was still Amhara-dominated, with only 25 non-Amhara members out of 125. In 1975 the government declared all rural land State-owned, and announced the end of the tenancy system. However, much of the benefit of this reform was counteracted by compulsive collectivization, State farms and forced resettlement programmes.
Emperor  Haile Selassie I is Oromo on his paternal side

In December 2009, a 96-page report titled Human Rights in Ethiopia: Through the Eyes of the Oromo Diaspora, compiled by the Advocates for Human Rights, documented human rights violations against the Oromo in Ethiopia under three successive regimes: the Abyssinian Empire under Haile Selassie, the Marxist Derg and the current Ethiopian government of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), dominated by members of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and which was accused to have arrested approximately 20,000 suspected OLF members, to have driven most OLF leadership into exile, and to have effectively neutralized the OLF as a political force in Ethiopia.

According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Oromia Support Group (OSG) recorded 594 extra-judicial killings of Oromos by Ethiopian government security forces and 43 disappearances in custody between 2005 and August 2008.

There are several groups of people in East Africa very closely related to the Oromo. For instance, the Somalis are very similar in appearance and culture. The fact that the Somali and Oromo languages share between 30 percent and 40 percent of their vocabulary could be an indication that these two groups of people became differentiated very recently. Other Cushitic-speaking groups living in the same neighborhood who are closely related to the Oromo are Konso, Afar, Sidama, Kambata, Darassa, Agaw, Saho, Baja and other groups.

Oromo have several clans (gosa, qomoo). The Oromo are said to be of two major groups or moieties descended from the two 'houses' (wives) of the person Oromo represented by Borana and Barentu (Barenttuma). Borana was senior (angafa) and Barentu junior (qutisu). Such a dichotomy is quite common in Oromo society and serves some aspects of their political and social life.

                Oromo  man, Tilahun GessesseEthiopia's greatest singer of all time

 The descendants of Borana and Barentu form the major Oromo clans and sub-clans. They include Borana, Macha, Tuuiiama, Wallo, Garrii, Gurraa, Arsi, Karrayyu, ltu, Ala, Qaiioo, Anniyya, Tummugga or Marawa, Orma, Akkichuu, Liban, Jile, Gofa, Sidamo, Sooddo, Galaan, Gujii and many others. However, in reality there is extensive overlap in the area they occupy and their community groups. And since marriage among Oromo occurs only between different clans there was high degree of homogeneity.

The vegetation of Oromia ranges from savanna grassland and tropical forest to alpine vegetation on the mountaintops. The forests contain a variety of excellent and valuable timbers. Oromia is known for its unique native vegetation as well as for being, the center of diversity for many different species. For instance, crops like coffee, anchote (root crop), okra, etc. are indigenous to this area.

The Economy
Potentially, Oromia is one of the richest countries in Africa. Agriculture is the backbone of its economy. Still employing archaic methods, subsistence agriculture is the means of livelihood for more than 90 per cent of the population. There are a variety of farm animals and crop plants. Farm animals include cattle, sheep, goats, donkeys, mules, horses, camels and chicken. The Cushitic speaking communities of this region perhaps Nubians, are credited with the domestication of donkey and were the first to breed mules, (a result of a cross between a donkey and a mare). The Oromo are expert in animal husbandry through their long tradition as herdsmen. For some, cattle-rearing (pastoralism) is still the main occupation.

                                   Oromo Shepherds following a donkey

Because of Oromia's favorable climate and rich soil, many types of crops are cultivated and normally there is little need for irrigation. Normally one and sometimes two crops can be harvested annually from the same field. Among the major food crops are cereals (wheat, barley, tef, sorghum, corn, millet, etc.), fibre crops (cotton), root crops (potato, sweet potato, yam, inset, anchote, etc.), pulses (peas, beans, chick-peas, lentils, etc.), oil crops (nugi, flax, etc.), fruit trees (orange, mango, avocado, banana, lemon, pineapple, peach, etc.), spices (onion, garlic, coriander, ginger, etc. - coriander and ginger also grow wild) and a variety of vegetables like okra which is indigenous to Oromia.

                                       Salt collector with his donkey carrying salt

Many varieties of these important crops occur naturally in Oromia. These diverse crop plants are very valuable natural resources. Oromo farmers have contributed to world agriculture by cultivating and developing some of the world's crop plants and in this way have discovered new domesticated varieties. The main cash crops are coffee and chat (a stimulant shrub). Coffee, a major cash earner for many countries, has its origin in the forests of Oromia and neighboring areas. Specifically, Kafa and Limmu are considered centers of origin for coffee. It is from here that coffee spread to other parts of the globe. Coffee was one of the export items of the Gibe states. Wallagga and llubbabor regions of Oromia exported coffee to the Sudan through the inland port of Gambelia on the Baro river and border towns of Kurmuk, Gissan, etc. Hararge, because of its favorable location for communication with the outside markets through the Red Sea, has been producing one of the finest coffees for export. Coffee has remained the chief export item, representing more than 60 per cent of the foreign earnings of successive Ethiopian colonial regimes.

                                       Oromo woman holding coffee from Oromo Coffee Company

The country is also rich in wild animals and plants. Many different species are found in the waters and forests of Oromia: different kinds of fish, hippopotami, and crocodiles. Land animals include lion, leopard, rhinoceros, buffalo, giraffe, wild ass, zebra, columbus monkey and elephant. There are a number of wild animals that are found solely in Oromia, such as nyaaia, bush-buck (special type), fox (from Baale), etc.

Various types of birds, many of them unique, are found around lakes and elsewhere. These creatures are a source of attraction for tourists and natural scientists alike.

The forests of Oromia are a source of excellent timber. Although the major portion of the forests has been destroyed since its occupation, some still remain in the south and west. However, this is threatened by mismanagement, particularly through the fast the expanding state farms and resettlement programs. At the time of colonization a large part of Oromia was covered with forest. This has been reduced to the present 5-7 per cent. In addition to timber trees, medicinal plants and trees producing different kinds of gums, grow in abundance. Myrrh, frankincense and gum Arabic are gathered from the wild trees. Forests, besides being a source of timber, medicine and gum, are useful in the conservation of water and soil, and as shelter for wildlife. They also have an important aesthetic value.

Oromia has important mineral deposits. The gold mines at Adola and Laga Dambi in the Sidamo and around Nejjo, Asosa and Birbir river valley in Wallagga regions which were the major sources of revenue for Meniiek and Haile Selassie are being exploited using modern machinery. Other important minerals found in Oromia are platinum, sulphur, iron-ore, silver and salt.

                                     The Oromo of Harerghe.

As early as 1900 Meniiek granted concessions to a Swiss company to mine gold, silver and other minerals in Nejjo, Wallagga region. Later the Germans took over. English, Russian and Italian companies extracted gold and platinum at Yubdo and neighboring areas in the same region. After some 60 years, the Soviet Union is continuing this business today in the same areas. It is known that large deposits of natural gas and oil exist in Baafe and Hararge regions. The Ethiopian government announced as 1986 the discovery of a new deposit of natural gas in Baale.

                        Oromo horse men

The hundreds of hot springs scattered over Oromia are also of economic importance. Thousands of people, including foreigners, visit these springs for their medicinal and recreational value. They are a great potential source of thermal energy. Rivers, streams and springs are plentiful. The rivers have many fails that could be used to generate electric power with little effort. The extent of this electric power could easily satisfy the power needs of Oromia and several neighboring countries.

                            Oromo (Borana tribe) women
Oromo have a very rich culture, fostered by the size of the population and large land areas with diverse climatic conditions. One highly developed self-sufficient system which has influenced every aspect of Oromo life is the Gadaa system. It is a system that organizes the Oromo society into groups or sets (about 7-11 ) that assume different responsibilities in the society every eight years. It has guided the religious, social, political and economic life of Oromo for many years, and also their philosophy, art, history and method of time-keeping.

                                  Oromo (Karrayyu tribe) man,Ethiopia.

The activities and life of each and every member of the society are guided by Gadaa. It is the law of the society, a system by which Oromo administer, defend their territory and rights, maintain and guard their economy and through which all their aspirations are fulfilled.

The Gadaa system has served as the basis of democratic and egalitarian political system. Under it the power to administer the affairs of the nation and the power to make laws belong to the people. Every male member of the society who is of age and of Gadaa grade has full rights to elect and to be elected. All the people have the right to air their views in any public gathering without fear.

There follows a brief description of how the Gadaa system works: there are two well-defined ways of classifying male members of the society, that is the hiriyya (members of an age-set all born within the period of one Gadaa rule of eight years) and Gadaa grade. The Gadaa grades (stages of development through which a Gadaa class passes) differ in number (7-1 1) and name in different parts of Oromia although the functions are the same. The following are the Gadaa grades:-

1.Dabballee (0-8 years of age)
2.Folle or Gamme Titiqaa (8-16 years of age)
3.Qondaaia or Gamme Gurgudaa (1 6-24 years of age)
4.Kuusa (24-32 years of age)
5.Raaba Doorii (32-40 years of age)
6.Gadaa (40-48 years of age)
7.Yuba I (48-56 years of age)
8.Yuba II (56-64 years of age)
9.Yuba III (64-72 years of age)
10.Gadamojjii (72-80 years of age)
11.Jaarsa (80 and above years of age)

We will briefly describe the duties of a Gadaa class as it passes through the above grades.

Oromo Woman, Bati, Amhara Region, Ethiopia

The Dabballee are sons of the Gadaa class who are in power, the Luba. They are boys up to 8 years of age. Thus this is a stage of childhood. Upon reaching their eighth year, they enter the Folle grade. At this age they are allowed to go further away from their villages and to perform light work.
Beautiful Oromo women

At 16 years old, they enter the Qondaala. They may now go long distances to hunt and perform heavy work. Three years before the Qondaaia ends, those of the Gadaa class come together and nominate the future group leaders (hayyu council) who eventually will constitute its presidium and thereby the executive, judicial and ritual authorities. The final election is preceded by an often lengthy campaign of negotiations. After nomination, the candidates tour the region accompanied by their supporters to win the backing of the people before election, The individuals will be elected on the basis of wisdom, bravery, health and physical fitness.

                                   Oromo Guji boy

In the Kuusa grade, the previously elected leaders are formally installed in office, although they do not yet assume full authority except in their own group. This is one of the most important events in the life of the individual and the Gadaa system over all.

In the next grade, Raaba Doorii, members are allowed to marry. This and the Kuusa grade constitute a period of preparation for the assumption of full authority. At the end of this period the class members enter Luba or Gadaa, the most important class of the whole system, attain full status, and take up their position as the ruling Gadaa class. At this stage the system comes to a stop momentarily and all men move to the proceeding class vacating the last class which is the immediately occupied by a new class of youth who thus begin their ascent of the system's ladder.

     Oromo karrayyu warrior with Oromo flag at Gadaa ceremony

The former ruling class, the Luba, now becomes Yuba. The Yubas, after passing through three separate eight-year periods, are transferred to the Gadamojjii class. Then they enter the final grade called Jaarsa and retire completely.
Oromo Karrayyu men

As described briefly above, when the Oromo man passes from one stage to the next, his duties and way of life in society change. For instance, during the grades of Qondaala, Kuusa and Raaba Doorii, the individuals learn war tactics , Oromo history, politics, ritual, law and administration over a period of 24 years. When they enter the Gadaa class or Luba at the age of about 40 years, they have already acquired all the necessary knowledge to handle the responsibility of administering the country and the celebration of rituals. It ends with partial retirement of the whole, group of elders to an advisory and judiciary capacity.

The following are the Gadaa officials and their duties according to the Tuuilama Gadaa practice:

1. Abbaa Bokku - President
2. Abbaa Bokku - First Vice-President
3. Abbaa Bokku - Second Vice-President
4. Abbaa Chaffe - Chairman of the Assembly (Chaffe)
5. Abbaa Dubbi - Speaker who presents the decision of the presidium to the Assembly
6. Abbaa Seera - Memoriser of the laws and the results of the Assembly's deliberations.
7. Abbaa Alanga - Judge who executes the decision
8. Abbaa Duula - In charge of the army
9. Abbaa Sa'a - In charge of the economy
Oromo chief

Thus, the entire presidium consists of nine members, called "Saigan Yaa'ii Borana" (nine of the Borana assembly). The Abbaa Bokkus are the chief officials. (Bokku is a wooden or metal sceptre, a sign of authority kept by the Abbaa Bokku, the president). The Abbaa Bokkus have counsellors and assistants called Hayyus who are delegated from the lower assemblies.

       Oromo on the move

There are three level of assembly - intercian, clan and local chaffes, chaffe being the Oromo version of parliament. The chaffe assembly was held in the open air in a meadow under the odaa (sycamore) tree. The chaffe made and declared common laws and was source of the accumulated legal knowledge and customs. In the hierarchy of Gadaa chaffes, the assembly of the entire presidium of the ruling- Gadaa Class is the highest body whose decision is final. It, is the assembly at which'reipresentatives of the entire population come together, at predetermined times, to evaluate among other things, the work of those in power. If those in power have failed to accomplish what is expected of them the assembly has the power to replace them by another group elected from among the same Gadaa class or Luba. And this was one of the methods of checking and balancing political power in the Oromo society. The second highest Gadaa assembly is the clan chaffe. It is from these assemblies that special delegates to the higher assembly are elected. The lowest Gadaa chaffe is the local chaffe. This is made up of local members of the Luba from among whom representatives to clan chaffes are elected.

                                                                     Oromo people

The holders of these responsible posts can remain in office for eight years only, in normal times, and are then replaced by a new group of officers. The power is handed over at a special ceremony at a special place and time. The office-holders conduct government - political, economic, social, ritual and military - affairs of the entire nation for this period. During war time all capable men fight under the leadership of the group in office. During the eight year period the officials live together in a village (yaa'aa village) and when necessary travel together.

There are five Gadaas in a cycle of 40 years. If a man enters office (becomes Luba) now, his sons will become Luba 40 years from now. The five Gadaa (some times called Buttaa) in the cycle have names, which vary slightly from region to region. Among some Oromo communities the sets of five Gadaa names used by the sons are different from those of the fathers. Whereas among other communities the same set of Gadaa names are used for both fathers and sons. For instance the Gadaa practised in the Borana community uses the following different sets of names for the five Gadaa. (Could be likened to five parties who take power in turns).

                                                    Oromo man carrying spear
Fathers Sons

1. Birmajii Aldada
2. Melba Horota
3. Muudana Bifoole
4. Roobale Sabaqa
5. Duuioo Kiloolee

In this manner a given name repeats itself every 80 years. This is in fact the complete Gadaa cycle divided into two semi-cycles of 40 years each. The first 40 years is the Gadaa of the fathers and the second is the Gadaa of the sons.

Although it is not known with any degree of certainty where and when the Gadaa system started, it is known and documented that the Oromo have been practising it for well over 500 years. However, according to oral Oromo historians, the Gadaa system has been in practice for several centuries. "Their (Borana Oromo) noted historian, Arero Rammata, was able to recount, in 1969, an oral history covering four thousand years", (Prouty et al, 1981). Today Gadaa experts easily recall fifty-seven Abbaa Gadaas with important events. Of course, this highly sophisticated system cannot have appeared without having been based on something earlier. Therefore further study and analysis is required to know more about its origin and development.

Social scientists of diverse backgrounds at different times have studied the Gadaa system. Many of them have testified that it is uniquely democratic. Among those authorities, Plowden (1868), stated, "among republican systems, Gadaa is superior". Asmarom Legesse (1973) described the Gadaa system: "one of the most astonishing and instructive turns the evolution of human society has taken". Indeed it is one of the most fascinating sociopolitical structure of Africa that even influenced the lives of other peoples. Several neighbouring peoples have practised a sort of the Gadaa. Among these are Sidama, Walayita, Konso, Darasa, Nyika, Nabdi, Maasai, etc., (Beckingham et al, 1954).

Like living organism, cultures undergo evolution in order to adapt to changing conditions. The Gadaa system has thus been undergoing evolutionary changes since its inception so as to serve better a continually developing society. However, the fundamental that occurred in the Gadaa system, starting around the end of the eighteenth century, were brought about mainly by events set in motion from outside the Oromo society. Therefore it was not fully a normal or natural development.

In most communities suddenly and in a few cases gradually, the usefulness of the Gadaa system declined. Among the factors that had contributed to this decline were firstly, the protracted wars that preceded the onset of colonization. The end of the eighteenth century was marked by constant wars and skirmishes, particularly in the north and north-eastern Oromia against the encroachment of the Abyssinians. Because of the insecurity imposed by such wars coupled with the distances involved to go to the Gadaa ceremonies to change the leadership, the Abbaa Duuias (fathers of war) stayed on their post for much longer period than required by the Gadaa rules. This gave these war leaders a mandatory power, because they were forced or encouraged by the society and existing circumstances, such as the continuous wars, to hang on to power. This weakened one of the outstanding features of the Gadaa system, the built in checks and balances mechanism of political power. This in turn weakened the ideology by which the Oromo nation was successfully led for several centuries.

In addition to the protracted wars, the passing of major trade routes through the area and the subsequent expansion of trade gained the war leaders more wealth. Thus the wealth, fame and power they gradually gained enabled them to command a larger number of followers in the area they were defending. Thus they usurped the political power that belonged to the Gadaa officials and the people and finally some of them declared themselves "mootii" (kings).

The second important factor that contributed to this decline was the coming of new beliefs and religions. The politico-religious aggression that took place in the expansion of 1siam and Christianity have affected the culture of the Oromo people very much. The invasion of Oromo land by Muslims in the east and south and by Christians in the north have left their mark on the Oromo culture.

Thirdly, the changes in the mode of living of several Oromo communities was probably one of the important factors that led to the decline of Gadaa. As the Oromo society developed there was a gradual change in the social, economic and political life of the people. For instance, in many parts of Oromia a settled agrarian mode of life developed fast and the people practised both mixed agriculture - raised crops and animals - and nomadic pastoralism. The latter was the dominant mode of life before this time, although Oromo have practised cultivation for a long time and have made significant contribution to agriculture by domesticating plants and rearing rare varieties of crop plants. The introduction and expansion of trade had significant contribution also. These and other related factors led to the emergence of a new social system, which created a significant pressure on the Gadaa system and brought about a modification or change in the Gadaa practices.

                                 Oromo (Arsi tribe) people

Finally, the onset of colonization had tremendously reduced the political and usefulness of Gadaa system as the administrative affairs and management of the national economy were taken over by the colonisers except in remote regions. Atseme noted, "Menilek outlawed the major chaffe meetings in the Oromo areas he conquered". Bartels (1983) also noted, "Gadaa ... was gradually deprived by Amharas of most of its political and judicial powers and reduced to merely ritual institution". Even the social aspects, that is the ritual and ceremonial aspects, have not been left to the people. The observance of Gadaa ceremonies has been prohibited by proclamation.

The Oromo people also have a rich folklore, oral tradition, music and art. For example it is believed that the Oromo are responsible for the invention and use of phallic stones (Wainwright, 1949 and Greenfield, 1965). Decorations of stone bowls from Zimbabwe include pictures of cattle with long "lyre-shaped" horns such as raised by Oromo. According to these scholars, this and the phallic stones found in Zimbabwe are traced directly to Oromo and linked to their early settlements there and to the Zimbabwe civilization. Wainwright (1949) argued that these were founded by the Oromo. He wrote: "Waqlimi and his people came from Galia land and its neighbourhood, and were already installed in southern Rhodesia before A.D. 900". (Waqiimi is an Oromo name). This date coincides with the date of the erection of some of the famous buildings there which Wainwright says were built by "Galia". This appears to be part of the spread of Kushitic civilization.

Although much of this culture and these traditions have survived harsh suppression, much has been forgotten and lost, artifacts have been destroyed and Oromo are discouraged from developing their culture and art.

There are three main religions in Oromia: traditional Oromo religion, Islam and Christianity. Before the introduction of Christianity and Islam, the Oromo people practised their own religion. They believed in one Waaqayoo which approximates to the English word God. They never worshipped false gods or carved statues as substitutes. M. de Aimeida (1628-46) had the following to say: "the Gallas (Oromo) are neither Christians, moors nor heathens, for they have no idols to worship." The Oromo Waaqa is one and the same for all. He is the creator of everything, source of all life, omnipresent, infinite, incomprehensible, he can do and undo anything, he is pure, intolerant of injustice, crime, sin and all falsehood. Waaqayoo is often called Waaqa for short.

                                        Oromo woman, Ethiopia

There are many saint-like divinities called ayyaana, each seen as manifestation of the one Waaqa or of the same divine reality. An effective relationship is often maintained between ayyaana and Oromo by Qaaifu (male) and/or Qaafitti (female). A Qaaiiu is like a Bishop in the Christian world and an lmam in the Muslim world. He is a religious and ritual expert who has a special relationship with one of the ayyaana, which possesses him at regular intervals.

Although the office of Qaaiiu is hereditary, in principle it is open to anyone who can provide sufficient proof of the special direct personal contact with an ayyaaria. In the Oromo society a Qaaiiu is regarded as the most senior person in his lineage and clan and the most respected in the society. He is considered pure and clean. He must respect traditional taboos (safuu) and ritual observances in all situations and in all his dealings and must follow the truth and avoid sin.

The Qaaliu institution is one of the most important in the Oromo culture and society and is believed to have existed since mythical times. It is a very important preserver and protector of Oromo culture, more or less in the same way the Abyssinian Orthodox Church is the preserver of Abyssinian culture.

The Qaaiiu institution has political importance, even though the Qaaiiu himself does not possess political power as such and religion is distinctly separated from politics. The Qaailu village is the spiritual centre, where political debates are organized for the candidates for the Gadaa offices. Thus he plays both a spiritual and political role in the Gadaa system. For instance, during the fifth year of the Gadaa period, the Gadaa class in power honours the Qaaliu by taking gifts and making their pledges of reverence. This is the Muuda or annointment ceremony. As the head of the council of electors, the Qaaliu organizes and oversees the election of Gadaa leaders.

The Qaallu institution was once a repository of important ceremonial articles (collective symbols) in the Buttaa (Gadaa) ceremony, such as the bokku (sceptre), the national flag, etc. The national flag is made in the colours of the Qaallu turban (surri ruufa). The national flag had three colours - black at the top, red in the centre and white at the bottom. In the Gadaa, the three colours, black, red and white, represented those yet to enter active life, those in active life (Luba) and those who had passed through active live, respectively. The use of these symbols is prohibited by the colonial government.

The Oromo Qaallu must not be confused with the Amhara Qaailicha, who has a very different, much lower, social status. He is a vagabond who resorts to conjuring and black magic for his own benefit, (Knutsson, 1967). He is notorious for extracting remuneration by threats or other means. On the other hand, it is beneath the dignity of an Oromo Qaallu to ask his ritual clients for gifts or payment. The Abyssinian ruling class has confused the terms, thus disparaging the Qaallu socially and religiously by using the term depreciatingly.

The place of worship of Qaaliu ritual house is called the Galma. Each ayyaana has its own Galma and its own special ceremonies. The Galma is usually located on a hill top, hill side or in a grove of large trees. Many of these sites are now taken up by Abyssinian Orthodox Church buildings or Mosques. Places of worship also include under trees, beside large bodies of water, by the side of big mountains, hills, stones, etc. This has been misrepresented by outsiders claiming that the Oromo worship trees, rivers, etc.

The believers visit the Galma for worship once or twice a week, usually on Thursday and Saturday nights. At this time the followers dance, sing and beat drums to perform a ritual called dalaga in order to achieve a state of ecstasy, which often culminates in possession. It is at the height of this that the possessing ayyaana speaks through the Qaallu's mouth and can answer prayers and predict the future.

Religious Oromo often made Muuda-piigrimages to some of the great Qaaiius and religious centres such as Arsi's Abbaa Muuda (father of anointment). Among the Borana Oromo Muuda pilgrimages are still common. Muuda pilgrimage is very holy and the pilgrims walk to the place of Abbaa Muuda with a stick in one hand and carrying myrrh (qumbii). All Oromo through whose village the pilgrims pass are obliged to give them hospitality. As the Mecca pilgrims are called Haj among Muslims, these Muuda pilgrims are ca!ied Jiia.

The Qaaiiu institution was weakened with the advent of colonialism to Oromia, which reduced contacts between various Oromo groups. The pilgrimage was prohibited. It became the policy to discourage and destroy Oromo cultural institutions and values. The Qaaiiu institution has suffered more during the last 14 years than it suffered during the previous 100 years. At this stage it faces complete eradication and Orthodox Church buildings are fast replacing Gaimas.
                                        Oromo women,Harar, Ethiopia
Just before the beginning of the harvest season every year, the Oromo have a prayer ceremony (thanksgiving festival) called irreessa. It once took place in river meadows where now the Abyssinian Orthodox Church takes its holy Tabot (tablets) for special yearly festivals, the 'timqat'. The lrreessa has become illegal and anybody who attempts to practise it is now likely to be imprisoned.

The Oromo believe that after death individuals exist in the form of a spirit called the 'ekeraa'. They do not believe in suffering after death as in Christianity and Islam. If one commits sin he/she is punished while still alive. The ekeraa is believed to stay near the place where the person once lived. One is obliged to pray to and to give offering by slaughtering an animal every so often to ones parents' ekeraa. The offerings take place near the family or clan cemetery, which is usually in a village.

Oromo people have been in constant contact with other religions like Islam and Christianity for almost the last 1000 years. For instance, the Islamic religion was reported to have been in eastern Shawa about 900 A.D. and Christianity even before that. However, in favour and defence of their own traditional religion, the Oromo have resisted these religions for quite a long time.

However, today the majority of the Oromo people are followers of Islam and Christianity, while the remaining few are still followers of the original Oromo religion. It is said that the Islamic religion spread in Oromia as a reaction to the Ethiopian colonization. The Oromo accepted Islam and non-Orthodox Christianity en-masse because they identified Abyssinian Orthodox Christianity with the oppressor and also to assert their identity visaa-vis Abyssinians. The Amhara spy monk, Atseme wrote: "The Galia became Muslim for his hatred of Amhara priests." Bereket (1980) also noted, "... Oromos in Arsi province accepted Islam in large number as a demonstration of anti-Amhara sentiment and a rejection of all values associated with imperial conquerors." A somewhat similar situation in the west was the acceptance of Islam by many Afro-Americans in 1950s and 1960s, as a reaction to the racial discrimination and oppression they faced from the white community and in search of an identity different from that of the oppressor group.

There are many Oromo who are followers of Islam or Christianity and yet still practise the original Oromo religion. Bartels (1983) expressed this reality as follows: 'Whether they (Oromo) became Christians or Muslims, the Oromo's traditional modes of experiencing the divine have continued almost unaffected, in spite of the fact that several rituals and social institutions in which it was expressed, have been very diminished or apparently submerged in new ritual cloaks." Many used to visit, until very recently, the Galma and pay due respect to their clan Qaaiiu. This is more true in regions where Abyssinian Orthodox Christianity prevails.

Oromo Calendar
Time is a very important concept in Gadaa and therefore in Oromo life. Gadaa itself can be narrowly defined as a given set of time (period) which groups of individuals perform specific duties in a society. Gadaa could also mean age. The lives of individuals, rituals, ceremonies, political and economic activities are scheduled rather precisely. For this purpose, the Oromo have a calendar. The calendar is also used for weather forecasting and divination purposes.
The Oromo calendar is based on astronomical observations of the moon in conjunction with seven or eight particular stars or star groups (Legesse, 1973 and Bassi, 1988) called Urji Dhaha (guiding stars). According to this calendar system, there are approximately 30 days in a month and 12 months in a year. The first day of a month is the day the new moon appears. A day (24 hours) starts and ends at sunrise.

In the Oromo calendar each day of the month and each month of the year has a name. Instead of the expected 29 or 30 names for days of a month, there are only 27 names. These 27 days of the month are permutated through the twelve months, in such a way that the beginning of each month moves forward by 2 or 3 days. The loss per month is then the difference between the 27-day month and the 30-day month, (Legesse, 1973). One interesting observation is that, as illustrated in the computing of time like in the Oromo calendar, Oromos visualization of events is cyclical just as many events in nature are cyclical.

Since each day (called ayyaana) of a month has a name, the Oromo traditionally had no use for names of the days of a week. Perhaps it is because of this that today in different parts of Oromia different names are in use for the days of a week.

Each of the 27 days (ayyaana) of the month have special meaning and connotation to the Oromo time-keeping experts, called ayyaantu. Ayyaantu can tell the day, the month, the year and the Gadaa period by keeping track of time astronomically. They are experts, in astronomy and supplement their memory of things by examining the relative position of eight stars or star groups, (Bassi, 1988) and the moon to determine the day (ayyaana) and the month. On the basis of astronomical observations, they make an adjustment in the day name every two or three months.

The pillars found a few years ago in north-western Kenya by Lynch and Robbins (1978) has been suggested to represent a site used to develop the Oromo calendar system. According to these researchers, it is the first archaeo-astronomical evidence in subSaharan Africa. Doyle (1986) has suggested 300 B.C. as the approximate date of its invention.

According to Asmarom Legesse (1973), "The Oromo calendar is a great and unique invention and has been recorded only in a very few cultures in history of mankind." The only other known cultures with this type of time-keeping are the Chinese, Mayans and Hindus. Legesse states that the Oromo are unusual in that they seem to be the only people with a reasonably accurate calendar which ignore the sun.

                                            Oromo kids Australia

The Oromos have a traditional marriage ceremony which descended from earlier times (antiquities). The great social significance is attached to the wedding ceremony. The wedding day is a very important day in the life of both the bride and the groom. It is important for the bride whose wedding celebrated once in her life. As for the man, he can celebrates his wedding if he marries a second or third wives either because of the death of his first wife or when ever he wants to have more than one wife.

However, even for the man, it is the first wedding ceremony which is more important than the second or the third one. These ceremonies do not take place equally in all forms of acquiring wife (marriage).The most typical is Naqataa (betrothal) form of marriage where the ceremony starts at the moment when marriage is first thought of and even continues after the marriage is concluded in such case as Ilillee, Mana Aseennaa, Minje Deebii and Torban Taa’umsa.
Bethortal is a form marriage mostly arranged by the parents of the bride and groom with a great deal of negotiation. Traditionally the groom's parents search for a bride for their son. Before they make any contact with the bride's parents, the groom's parents research back seven generations to make sure that the families are not related by blood. Once this has been done, the boy's parents hen make contact with the girl’s parents through a mediator. The mediator goes to the home of the girl’s parents and asks if their daughter will marry the son of the other parents. The girls's parents often impose conditions and the mediator will take the message to the boy's parents, then arrange a date for both parents to meet at a mutually convenient location. When the parents have reached an agreement, the man and woman get engaged (betrothed). The parents then set a wedding date and they meet all the wedding expenses.

                                     Oromo girl dancing

After the betrothal is conducted, both parents prepare food and drink for the wedding and invite guests. The families enjoy the wedding ceremonies of their children and say that yeroo cidha dhala keenyaa itti arginudha (it the time to seethe wedding of our children). Both families begin to make wedding feast including Farsoo1, Daadhii2, Araqee3 and food. These preparations begin a couple of weeks before the date of wedding. Fifteen or twenty days before marriage, the young girl friends of the bride-to-be are invited to come to her
house after dark to practice singing and dancing. This is called Jaala Bultii (Dancing and singing, which takes, place around the boy’s and girl’s house in the evening two or three weeks prior to the wedding and terminates on the wedding date.) The boys and girls of the community gather and sing by the house of the bride and the bridegroom. The singers on the side of the bridegroom praise him and his relatives while degrading the bride and her relatives by their songs. The same is true of the singers on the bride’s side.

One month before the wedding date, the groom requests his companion (hamaamota) and age mates (Hiriyya) to travel with him to take his bride. It is also his responsibility to choose the miinjee (miinjota, plural)-the best man. Usually these people come with mule. If most of the bride’s friends and best men come with their own mules it is assumed to be an indication of groom’s wealth. The father of the boy also tells one of his age-mates to go with his boy as waa’ela abbaa (father’s stand-in). A week before the wedding date the bride will start washing her clothes, arranging her hair and finish her unfinished works like traditional clothes and other household furniture. Her friends will not depart from her thereafter. Women in the neighborhoods of the bride would help the mother of the bride in grinding, roasting grains which are used for making food and local drinks. They also fetch water, collect firewood and carryout some other similar works. The men on their part help by fetching objects, which are necessary for the feast, by constructing temporary staying rooms called Daassii for the attendants of the feast and decorating the compound.

The bride and her friends often discuss about the departure which is inevitable. During this time they are sorrowful and often sing breath-taking melodies, the bride makes prose in poetical style and weep and her friends follow after her in singing the prose and weeping. In the early morning of the wedding date, the relatives of the bridegroom gather. After a while bride’s companions gather while girls near the house of the bridegroom sing and dance. After wards, companions will be provided with food and drinks. The bridegroom then will be dressed with the clothes especially prepared for that date and will be seated a midst of his relatives. The parents of the bridegroom, elders and relatives will bless the bridegroom. When the bridegroom leaves his houses with his companions, the girl will accompany him by beating drums, singing and resounding (Ilillee). If the bridegroom is from the wealthy family, bullets will be shot as a pride to the family.
The companions will proceed to the bride’s house singing songs. When they arrive at the house of the bride’s family, a certain procedure should meet. That is, the bride with her friend will come to the gate of the place reserved for the companions and beating drums. By doing this, she bars the bridegroom and the companions from entering the house of her family. Such activity is known as Balbal qaba. She will do this until she gets a certain sum of money from the bridegroom as an entrance fee.
Changing Oromia: Ex-Circumcisers Attend Public Wedding of uncircumcised women. WWW.MANABUNA

Sometimes the bridegroom tries to enter the house of the bride’s family without giving a certain sum of money to the bride. During this time, a dispute may arise between the bride and her age-mates on the one hand and the bridegroom and his companions on the other hand on whether or not the company of the bridegroom should be let enter the house of the girl’s family without paying some amount of money to the bride. Sometimes the disputes may lead to serious debate and even to exchange of blows. In such occurrences, some individuals from bride’s family try to cool the nuisance and make the girls leave the entrance. This is almost carried out by making the entrance fee negotiable by both sides.

That means these individuals advice the girl to reduce the sum and the company of the boys to pay a certain sum. After the sum fixed is paid the bridegroom and his companions will sit on the seat reserved for them in the temporary staying rooms (daassii). After they get in the dassii hosts from the bride’s family provide food, distributes waancaa (A vessel made of horn of animals which is used foe drinking purposes) or drinking glasses to them and fills it with good quality Farsoo. After the food is eaten, the groom puts gatii caabii (Caabii: earthen dish or plate used for dinning. Gatii caabii - money paid by the groom after the food is served. The girl’s mother takes this money and it is usually between twenty to thirty Ethiopian Birr.) The feast goes on in the form of eating and drinking.
Oromo woman,Ethiopia. Eric Lafforgue 

The companions together with girl’s parties sing and dance. Following this, the groom and bride receive blessing from the girl’s parents. In that blessing place the father and the mother of the bride as well as close relatives of her willassemble and the bride and the bridegroom will be seated side by side in front of the individuals who bless them. The mother of the bride will provide wancaafull of farsoo or milk. The bride and the groom will take hold of the glass by putting their hands together on the glass at the same time. While the bride and groom holding the glass together, the father and mother of the bride will bless them by saying walitti horaa bulaa, which means have children, wealth and all necessity of life and live together. Graan keessanii fi afaan keessan tokko haata’u, which means be one mind and heart. Then the bride and groom will take a sip of the drink of blessing. At this moment older men take out all items or materials made ready to be given as a gonfa (gifts) to count, tie and pack  them. These are prepared by the bride and her parents, and are also contributed  by near relatives and the bride’s age-mates. The gifts contributed by the invited people in the form of money or kinds are called gumaata.

After the competition of the blessing process, the elders from the bride’s side demand a miinjee (the first best man) to be named and becomes forward when the proxy for the groom’s father (dura adeemaa) calls his name. Then the best man is asked whether he has a sister or not and his willingness to be a brother of this girl (miinjee). If he names his sister, he will take an oath in her name to take care of the bride as his own sister. He receives an oath to counsel and protect her ways, to help her whenever she is in problem and asks him for help. The best man says, “If I fail to assist her, let my sister’s best man treat her like that”. In the case that the best man has no sister, he swears saying that the same kind of treatment should come to himself. After that the groom and his companion, through the elder representing them then, state now we ate and drunk and finished what is required of us. So, we appeal to your will to let us go because we on our part have guests at our home. The groom rises alone while the best  man helps the bride and leads her out. The bride walks with her best man under the newly bought umbrella and mounts her mule by the help of the best man.

                                Oromo wedding, Ethiopia

The companion take all the material given as dowry and mount their own mules. After this, the bridegroom and his company will leave for their home with his bride. On their way to bride’s house if they come across a river, the bride halts her mule because she wants the groom to promise her half claim over a cow.
The girl does not practice this whenever she comes across a river. Rather, this is done only in the cases of rivers which she might come across near his or her house. In the case of the second river when she practices the same act, she would be promised the second half of cow as the case may be.
Beautiful Oromo (Borana sub-tribe) girl.

 On arrival at the groom’s house, the groom’s sister and her friends singing to defame the bride. The companion present the gonfaa (gifts) and count it in frontof relatives and invited guests to show how much her parents are hard working.The groom’s sister blocks the entrance until he pays her some amount of money. The companion who takes the responsibility of the bride then pays some amount of money to the groom’s sisters who do not let the bride enter the house and if they got they leave the door.

The companion and other guests enjoy themselves with the feast till the morning while singing and dancing. That night the boy deflowers the girl. The best men and the groom’s mother go to the girl after she has been deflowered. The bride’s scarf is used to take the blood to proof her virginity. If no proof of virginity is found, the husband whips her with alanga (Whip made from hippopotamus), and sometimes sends her back to demand the return of marriage payment. But such practice is at less degree these days. If she is found virgin, the groom and the best men shoot of the gun to declare her purity and the groom’s mother and the best men take possession of the stained scarf and emerge triumphant to declare the virtue of the girl. The best men spend five days with the couples except for the day they return to her parents’ house for the misiraachoo ( Congratulating the girl’s family on the virginity of their daughter and their proper upbringing.) For these five days the bride remains in the small house behind a curtain with her best men, visited freely only by the groom and his mother throughout a five day isolation. During these five days the best men do not allow any one to visit the bride without offering some cents.

One day following the wedding day the best men and other friends congratulate the girl’s family on the virginity of their daughter and their proper upbringing. On the arrival the best men and his friends shoot off the gun and present the stained cloth to the individual family members by placing it on each of their caps while he sounds ilillee (An utterance of victory or joy.) The friend or relative is obliged to offer a gift for the privilege of viewing the bloodstained scarf. The scarf is not necessarily the one, which has a spot of a blood on it. Every individual is supposed to give more than two coins (0.20 Ethiopian cents). After spending
there enjoying the feasts and congratulators start for their house, directly to the house of the newly weds to stay there till fifth day.

On the fifth day, the bride introduces herself to the groom’s family and makes a formal entry into the big house of the groom’s parents. The entry is called mana aseeennaa. Before the girl leaves the little house, the couple and the miinjotaa feed from the marqaa (A bread made from grain flour, usually barley served with butter) and qorii (Barley roasted and serve with special butter) provided by the groom’s mother.
When she leaves her small hose the groom shaves her qarree, which is another sign of her new status, and she also shaves a small portion of her husband’s hair. Following this the couple enter the house of the parents followed by the miinjotaa and at the door her husband’s father promise her cows, and she reciprocates by providing the father with heavy bullukko (A large garment usually worn by men. It is local production made from cotton) and the mother with kutaa (A cotton cloth which is very long worn by the women from the top to the bottom. It is usually worn on the date of festivals) and wedding and sabbata ( It is a long step of cloth, which is worn by Oromos of Gidda area round their waist.)

The miinjee also brings many things for the ceremony such as qorii, food served with chicken dish, and pot full of farsoo. All the family with their relatives enjoy the feast prepared for the ceremony. From that day on wards the miinjotaa go their homes and the bride lives with her husband without feeling of loneliness.
After month or two the bride family invite the couple with miinjotaa to return home. This first homecoming is known as miinje deebii (returning of the best man). For that day the groom prepare a goat that will be killed at the house of the bride’s family. His mother prepares qorii, araqee and kukkutaa (A food soaked in a meat soup), which the bride takes with her when she goes for the miinjee deebii.

       Red wedding horseman,Gondar,Ethiopia

After getting prepared, the couple and the companion go with few friends on fixed date. At the house of the bride’s family, young girls gather and sing together. On the arrival they are given seats in the temporary staying rooms. The bride’s family provides them with food and drink. After eating and drinking, the bride stands up to exchange greetings with her family and relatives. Following this the best men dances at the middle of the girls dancing out side, declaring the virginity of the girl while the bride serving the food she has brought. People rarely sleep that night; usually stay all night eating, drinking and singing. Early in the morning, the groom brings into the front the goat he has brought and the first best man kills it.

From the killed goat, steer or ram what ever it may be, the right hind limb will not be consumed there but the newly weds take it to their home. And also the skin belongs to the best men. The couple, the best men and friends who accompanied the couple and relatives of the bride’s family eat meat from the goat prepared by the bride’s mother and women from the surrounding. After this, few friends who accompanied the couple return home while the couple and the best men stay for another one or two days. Before the couple return to their home, the family of the bride fix a date for their daughter to come back for yet another visit which is called toorban taa’umsa (a stay for a couple of weeks).
Oromo people of East Africa celebrate culture in Federation Square
An Oromo woman sings a traditional song while holding onto her baby.

On this fixed date the bride goes to her family accompanied by her husband who will turn home in the morning. She carries again flour and spiced butter to provide to her family. After her stay for a week with her parents the husband takes her home.
From this day on, the couple will have the opportunity to visit the bride’s parents when invited for annual festivals and other domestic celebrations. This invitation and frequent visit is not one sided but reciprocal.

                    Oromo woman performing traditional coffee ceremony. By Wellington City Libraries

Other types of marriage experienced among Gidda Oromos were: (1) Sabbat marii (2) Hawwii (3) Butii (4) Aseennaa and (5) Dhaala

Next to naqataa (Betrothal) type of marriage, sabbat marii is the second most frequently exercised type of marriage among this society. Indirectly it is a forceful marriage, which is practiced in a hurry. It is asking a girl for marriage which is done by breaching appointment arrangements or it is asking a girl for marriage without prior arrangement. Sabbat marii literally means rolling or folding a sabbataa and it connotes a state of fact where the specific time set for a matter is fold and the case is desired to get its conclusion right there. Its
conclusion takes one of the two forms, which are discussed subsequently.

One of the above two forms is that where a day is set for the betrothal by the families of the boy and the girl, the parents of the boy before the day set for the marriage will prepare a feast in secret by breaching the appointment. Then the boy will be made gather a company of men accompanying him in a secret and  prepare wedding day clothes for the girl he would like to marry. Elders and the company of men will be sent to the house of the girl’s family to request the conclusion of marriage before the date previously set for the marriage. These attendants when they approach the house of the girl’s family will send people from around the neighborhoods (of the girl’s family) to request the girl’s family permit the unconditional conclusion of marriage. The girl’s family will surely suffer from shocking and anger when they listen to such news. The people living in that community gather when they come to know that a son of so and so has come to beg a daughter of so and so in marriage through sabbat marii. Elder people in the vicinity then plead between the girl’s family and the boy together with his company arguing that once marriage is agreed up on, the girl’s family should receive and listen to the men falling at the door of the house of the bride’s family. At this stage, mostly the girl’s mother will create trouble.
beautiful Oromo girl

Sometimes the elders and the company will stay there during the day and even the night without loosing hope of getting the girl. During this time the neighbors will provide the elders and the company with food and drinks as much as they can furnish. The parents of the girl, even if they are griped strongly, will consent to the conclusion of marriage if the elders agree to each point in the former contract without any alterations or reservations. If there is no prior agreement on that point, the girl’s family will usually impose expensive terms of agreement on the boy. This is to avoid the conclusion of marriage in this way. The elders in this case accept any term of agreement proposed by the girl’s family and will request the substitution of less onerous terms for the most onerous ones.Hereafter, the contract of marriage will be concluded after the gradual
negotiation on the terms. Finally, the elders thank the girl’s family for agreeing with them and the girl be made get ready. According to the situations, food and drink will be prepared from the girl’s family and the neighbors. Then the boy will take the girl to his house.

The other form of sabbat marii type of marriage is where the family of the girl has no prior knowledge of the marriage intended by the boy’s family. The procedure followed in this from is in most cases differ to the above mentioned. In the olden days, the boy prepares different things when he is intending to go the house of the girl’s family. Such things are stone, dry things, invites all sorts of the hand-capped people (dead, beggars mostly who know to bless or dam people). In such cases the girl’s family does not refuse their daughter in
marriage to the boy propose. So, they give the girl than being blamed or damned. To lose the girl is preferred than violating traditional beliefs of the society. Nowadays, sabbat marii is going by having coqorsa (Running grass. It implies that the good wish for the couple to produce children), ulumaa’ii (A tree with a nice odor. This is a wish that the couples would have a nice odor between them after they got married) and alangaa (Whip. It implies a wish that the spouse live together with love as if they were coiled together like a whip).
In the middle of the night, the boy with two or three wise old men and a dozen of his friends silently approaches the house of the girl’s parents. On arrival they put ulumaa’ii and alanga on the gets of the girl’s family and sleep outside the surrounding hose until morning. Early in the morning, when the girl’s father or mother open the door of their house, one of the elders from the boy’s side call them and say that ilmi aagaa dhufeeraa intalli aagaa mana jirtii? which means “Here is the son of a good, is there the daughter of a good in the house”? After this, a few of them search elder people from the surrounding to help them plead their case. The girl and her mother are not allowed to go out of the house stepping on the alangaa and ulumaa’ii, which was put on the door until negotiation, begin. As in the case of the first form of sabbat marii type of marriage discussed above, here also the advocacies try to convince the girl’s parents so that they may accept the request. If agreement can be reached on theissues of marriage, the groom gives some amount of money to buy the girl clothes, shoes, umbrella and uwwisa for the parents.
Beautiful Oromo girl near the hot springs at the edge of lake Shalah.© Steven Goethals

Following this, girls gather and sing at the house of the girl’s family while the groom’s party eat food and drink araqee. Since the girl’s family did not expect the marriage of their daughter through sabbat marii type, which is concluded in a hurry, they do not provide the groom’s parties with farsoo rather they provide them with araqee, which is relatively easy to get it from their neighbor.

If it is decided that the marriage will be at some time in the future, both families prepare farsoo and araqee for the wedding. After the groom’s party feast what ever they have been provided with, the process of harkafuudha and the blessing ceremony takes place leading to the girl’s departure. The best men also takes an oath as in the case of naqata type of marriage. If agreement cannot be reached on the issue of marriage, search will be conducted to obtain another wife for the boy as a commonly held belief in theOromo society affirms that it is not good to the boy’s life to have no wife after he began seeking the same. Therefore, the search continues until one is obtained.

This mode is characterized by that when a boy remains qerroo (bachelor) for several reason either because he is not handsome or he is from a family of low social status, the way he gets married is advised by his parents. The boy has no consent of the family of the girl. Sometimes, the girl’s mother is involved in arranging marriage of her daughter through hawwii, but she keeps the secret in order not to make it known to her husband (the girl’s father). This type of marriage is common among poor people and because of this the best alternative is secret selection type of marriage. Then the boy tells his father to go on negotiating the marriage where by then the father or any representative, or even the boy him self starts finding a friend around her house. It is mostly the girl’s sayyuu (wife of the girl’s brother) that the boy approaches and whom he thinks
that she can keep secret and acts on a go-between.

The boy’s father can go investigation of her parents to which she belongs. If the criteria of marriage discussed in chapter two is not fulfilled, the boy’s father refuses the idea proposed by his son and the matter ceases. On the other hand, if the criteria is fulfilled the father stimulates the process and gives the money to
his son to buy clothes, shoes and umbrella for the girl. After she has been convinced by the go between, the date of marriage is fixed. As in the case of formal type of marriage (naqataa) the boy does not go to the house of the girl’s family to take the girl on the fixed date of marriage. But there are places where the boy and girl with their company can mostly wait each other. Such places are either in the bush or by a river. She signs an agreement saying that she was not taken against her will and she will be taken to one of the boy’s relatives until his parents prepare feast for marriage. In the next day early in the morning elders are sent from the boy’s family to the girl’s family to make the reconciliation.
Oromo people

The girl’s family easily convinced by the elders and they accept the union and receive a sizeable sum of money. Because the girl’s family know that there is no force application involved in marriage of their daughter and there is no hope that they can get their daughter back, they usually soften to accept the union. The
payment in this type of marriage is usually between 50 and 100 Ethiopian Birr, which is much less that other types of marriage except aseennaa. After the boy’s family prepares the feast, the wedding ceremony takes place a week after thefirst date. The parents of the girl’s also invite the couple, which is equal to miinjee deebii. Misiraachoo is also completed on the date of miinjee deebii.
Oromo girls

The Oromo of this area call butii the type of marriage, which is accomplished by force. This mode of acquiring wife in the Gidda Oromo has its reason of taking place especially on the part of the man, when the boy is refused by girl’s parents, by the girl herself, if he is asked too much money as a bride wealth and
different kind of gifts which he cannot afford. This type of marriage takes of the following two forms. The first is when the girl has consented she is induced to be abducted. The second is form is accomplished by compulsion without any prior knowledge of the abduction (unlike the first from) on the part of the girl.

The first form of butii type of marriage conducted where the girl’s family suffers from economical problems. In this case, almost every body dares not to ask the girl of this family for marriage. Here, as years roll the girl’s age will go over the above age customarily required for marriage. Consequently, the society develops a negative attitude towards the girl and stigmatizes the girl as haftuu, which means remaining unmarried. Thus, the girls at this stage desires to escape the curse of her family for marrying without their permission, by arranging for her subsequent abduction by the boy whom she is in love with. She does this without the knowledge of her family. She usually specifies the way of abduction, which the boy should take into action. Such ways are when she collects firewood, fetching drinking water and other similar situations. The boy
is often informed of one of the above satiations and abducts the girl accordingly.

The second form of butii is that where the boy with his friends abducts the girl from where he hides himself. The boy, however, waits for the girl in this hiding until she comes to his share. In this situation, if it happens that the girl is not alone, a combat is almost always likely to occur between the boy’s friends on the one hand and the women or men with the girl on the other. In this combat the boy is likely to succeed in the fighting as he often goes out prepared for abduction. Thereafter, the boy takes the girl with him and then places her in a
certain house of his relatives or bush so that no one from the girl’s family might discover her whereabouts. The same night, where the abduction carried out, the boy deflowers the girl for a girl who has lost her virginity will not go back to her family.
Oromo women

On the tomorrow of the day of abduction, the boy’s family sends elders to the girl’s family to settle the matter. Settlement is usually difficult. Nevertheless, once the virginity of the girl is consummated, the girl’s family never ever wants to retake their daughter and so that they can agree to the matter. This being so, the family of the girl usually ask high compensation sums for the moral and physical damage sustained by them as a result of the abduction. However, elders mediate between the two families to fix a reasonable sum agreeable by both sides. Then, the sum fixed by elders will be paid and the dispute will consequently come to an end. After-wards, agreement and peace begin to reign and the marriage for which the boy has carried out the abduction will be conducted.
Oromo people

For a woman to remain unmarried into her twenties is incomprehensible, though, she must go beyond her self, called aseennaa, literally means “entry”. Nowadays, the people who practice aseennaa are insignificant in number. When a girl is left unmarried or when her father wants to give her to some one whom she does not like, she chooses unmarried young man and then runs a way to his house without the knowledge of the man mostly in the evening.

On the arrival she enters into the main room of the house (diinqa), scatters iddii (solanaceous fruit) and holding qadabukoo (big dough container gourd). The scattered iddii implies that she wishes more wealth to the family she has joined while that of qadabukoo is an expression of her status as the housewife in that family. She does this mostly when the boy’s mother and some members of household are not at home. The young man whom the girl wanted to get married cannot reject the marriage whether he likes it or not. The rejection of this type of marriage results in ostracism by the society. The next day the parents of the girl are informed that the girl has come to the house of somebody.
Oromo man and woman in traditional dress

Dhaala literally means “inheritance”. It is a type of marriage between a woman and the brother of a deceased husband or levirate. The reason behind this is to preserve the children of the deceased man within the family and save them frommistreatment by the stepfather to whom the widow may marry. According to the
traditional practices of the Oromo society, the woman is obliged to stay idly thinking of her husband’s death for a period of at least one year.

 After her stay for one or two years without husband she is given the deceased husband’s brother, classificatory or full brother. The deceased man’s brother refuse to marry the widow thinking that as if she is his own blood relative. But he accepts when he is told to do so either by his family or elders in the community. This type of marriage depends on the number of children born to the couple and on how well the widow is liked by the parents of the deceased man. If the man has married his own wife before this arrangement, he turn to work in the fields between the two households, but if he is a bachelor (qeerroo), he will latter marry a girl because it is culturally credible and socially valued to marry a
young girl and shave the qarree.

On the other hand, if there were no children born to the deceased man and the widow, she will return to her parents and gets married there unless she is beyond her child bearing age. Levirate union will also not be arranged for older widow, but her adult son’s will support her.
Beautiful Oromo girl

2.l The Oromo Concept of "Waaqa" and Human Destiny 
There are three religions in Oromiya: traditional religion, Islam and Christianity. Many Oromo practice traditional religion parallel with Islam or Christianity. Oromo religious, belief is based on the view that there is only one Waaqa (God). The Arabic word Rabbi is also used by the Muslim Oromo and others to refer to their supreme being. According to the Oromo traditional religion, Waaqa has multiple attributes. Waaqa is He Who is before everything else. Waaqa is Uumaa (a creator of everything in the world). Waaqa is
Hunda beekaa (omniscient). Waaqa is hundaa tolaa (omni benevolent). Waaqa is hunda danda'aa (omnipotent). Waaqa is the source and lover of dhugaa (truth). Waaqa is Qulqulluu (pure). Waaqa is intolerant of injustice, crime, sin and all falsehood. The Oromo never worshiped carved statues, trees, rivers, mountains' or animals as substitutes.
But who is the creator of Waaqa? All of my informants agree that Waaqa is not a created being. Waaqa does not have an elder. There is nothing that has power over Waaqa. For the Oromo Waaqa is eternal and the final cause of all things. The Oromo thus had the concept of the monotheistic supreme God from time immemorial although the Oroma 'conception of God is quite distinct from the Western one. The Oromo
conception of Waaqa illustrates that Momoh's generalization is unfounded. "There is extremely generated on account of oUr colonia{ expOsure" (Momoh 1996,62). Momoh contends that Africans have gods. He identified three gods, such as the ancestors and founders of the clan, the god of the water, mountain, forest or desert and the god of the staple crop or animal. He adds, "there are gods of the elements -wars, trade, hunting, moral gods -vengeance, protection; destiny gods-luck, blessing, misfortune and fate" (Momoh 1996, 63). Momoh further argues that "[t]here are no known Afri.can people who have one word for God. What we have are attributes, expressions and 'litanies describing and designating God. This, in line with what we have been arguing, is absolute proof that the notion of God in Africa is a result of Christian a.nd Islamic
Influences" (Momoh 1996, 64). The absence of proverbs, said Momoh, is a clear indication of the absence of the concept of God in traditional Africa (Momoh 1996, 67). .

However, as has been stated earlier, the Oromo have one word for the supreme beingWaaqa. There are various Oromo proverbs6 which praise Waaqa. Examples include:
• Waaqa malee, gaariin hin jiru (BABO 1998, 624) (There is no one who is
kind except Waaqa /God).
• Waan Waaqni fide lafti ba'aa hin dadhabu (BABO 1998, 122) (Whatever
Waaqa brings the Earth does not fail to carry it).
• Namni yaa Waaqijedhe Waaqarraa hindhabu (BABO 1998,481) (One who
worships God will get everything).

Some writers reported that the Oromo also talked about Waaqa diimaa (the red Waaqa). Bartels writes, "for the sake of completeness ... people sometimes also speak of 'Waqa dema' - the light-colored Waaqa (or 'the red Waaqa') in contrast to 'Waqa gurraacha' - the dark-colored Waaqa' (Bartels 1983,107). Daniel also reported that through his interviews he has found out that there are three meanings of Waaqa. The concept of Waaqa could be used to refer to the expanse of the sky as seen from the Earth, a supreme being, and also could be understood to mean the heaven, as the abode of the Supreme Being (Daniel 1984, 105). Daniel states that "[t]he 'black' aspect of Waaqa is usually regarded as the guardian and protector; whereas -- the "red" one is considered to be the aspect of Waaqa which is there to punish men in case of wrongdoing" (Daniel 1984, 106). Tippet on the other hand said the following:
"[iJn some places [Waaqa] is conceptualized as two gods, resident in the sky ... one black and one
red ... either the red god being provoked to anger manifests this in displays of lightning which the
black god muffles and turns to thunder, or the two gods manifest themselves in cloudy and sunny
days. For some informants these are manifestations of the one god, for others they are two gods.
Where they are regarded as two gods the black one is the more friendly to man ... and spoken of as
creator and father (Tippet 1970, 153)."

The concept of "the red Waaqa" is non-existent in their belief. The Ambo Oromo identified Waaqa as gurraacha (the black Waaqa). They believe that Waaqa is above the sky, the cloud. In fact, they mentioned that biduu (the rainbow) has three colors one of which is red. Biduu is believed to be the belt of Waaqa.
Some Western and Ethiopian writers defined Waaqa`s sk.y=God. Accordingto Bartels (1983), the word Waaqa has a double meaning: sky, i.e., the vault of the sky as we see it and God. Tilahun in his Dromo English Dictionary defined Waaqa as God and sky (1989, 586). Mudee (1995, 330) defines Waaqa as the creator of human beings. Ludolphus (1982) reported that Waaqa for the Oromo means "the Heaven" which
governs the world. Ceruli (1922) viewed Waaqa both as heaven and as God.
The definition of Waaqa as a sky God does not seem to be plausible. The phrase "sky God" does not represent the early Oromo concept of Waaqa. The Oromo have a common myth that in olden days Waaqa was visible and living on the Earth. He used to speak with the people and solve their problems. According to the tradition, one day a goat stepped on Waaqa when He was sitting on the ground wearing a cotton  blanket. It was after Waaqa cursed a goat that its tail was lifted up. A mule is also said to have kicked Waaqa and became sterile because of misbehavior. Besides, other people committed sin and annoyed Waaqa. Waaqa then left the Earth in anger and became invisible. Following this, the Oromo say the black Waaqa is living above the blue sky.
Oromo Guji girl

Thus Waaqa is not the visible blue sky (Informants (hereafter: inf(s): Emanssa; Fufa; Merga Jara). Some informants indicate that Waaqa is always with us although we;don't see Him (Infs: Duresso; Merga Jara; Nagara Fite). Likewise, the Akans of Ghan'a. say that "if you wish to say something to God, tell it to the wind" (Abraham 1995,52) for God-is with the people. It seems to me that the definition of Waaqa as a sky God is a recent phenomenon and has become popular through European writers. The Europeans and the Hebrews advanced the notion of a heavenly or celestial God, located at a certain distance in the sky. God has been called the heavenly God, the celestial God, or the God of heaven (Danquah 1995, 101). In most cases European writers tend to use their own concepts in their anthropological study of African people.

The important question to the Oromo is : how did the idea occur to Waaqa to create human beings and the world in which we live? The Oromo believe that above all things Waaqa stretched out the Earth, and created all other things. Waaqa created the first human being from the soil by breathing at it. After the appearance of the first human being, the Earth cried and asked Waaqa the reason why He took its meat and bone to create a human being. Waaqa replied that like the cry of the Earth human beings will cry and return to the Earth when they die, whereas, His breath will go to Him. Unlike some ethnic groups in Africa, the Oromo do not believe that the soul of departed ancestors retakes bodily form in new babies in their families and clans. Instead, they believe that at the moment of death the soul will be separated from the body and goes to Waaqa. In fact, the Oromo prayed to the spirit of the dead.

They prepare a thick local bread, cheese with melted butter, local beer, and honey and celebrate the Ekeraa ritual in December every year. Waaqa also created devils, vultures, dogs, wild animals and so on. One may wonder why Waaqa created good and bad things. According to the informants, illness and misfortune in general is often considered a punishment from Waaqa for sins a person has committed. It is because of the errors of human beings that Waaqa allowed evil things to exist in the world. Otherwise- Waaqa is all-good. If Waaqa had not tolerated both good and evil things, he would have been ungrateful; His omnipotence and omniscience would not have been known. The Oromo believe that the coexistence of good and bad, beauty and ugly is necessary. In the absence of wise men, the unwise cannot improve their knowledge Emanssa; Erko; Fufa; Gamachu; Nagara Fite; Nagassa).

The Oromo believe that humans can influence Waaqa's actions. Individuals who live and act in accordance with Waaqa's order will be happy, and be respected members of their society. On the contrary, when a person fails to act in accordance with Waaqa's order, Waaqa will punish himlher. Waaqa can make him/her blind, and can cut hislher hands (Infs: Merga Jara; Ragassa). These supernatural sanctions can result in various types of misfortunes ranging from illness, mishaps, and bad luck for the guilty person and his/her relatives.
As has been stated earlier, the Oromo do not have a dualistic conception of reality. They believe that Waaqa and La/a (Earth) are inseparable. They cofl"1)ider the Earth as their mother. They underscore that they suck the breast of the Earth as the baby sucks,its mother's breast. All things originate from the Earth and depend on the resources of the Earth for their survival. The Earth is the source of nourishment, survival and life (Infs:
Fufa; Gamtessa).

Nothing can be outside the Earth. The following proverb illustrates this:
" Allaattiin hanga /eete barartullee duuti isii lafuma (The birds that flew in the air
come and die upon the Earth) (BABO 1996, 325). This shows that the Earth is the final
abiding place of all things that lived and grew. For the Oromo, Waaqa is like a father.
He gives them rain and helps the Earth grow different plants. In fact, the Oromo do not
say that the Earth is Waaqa's wife. What is clear is that Waaqa is.considered as a male
whereas the Earth is considered as a female. I have a serious doubt concerning
Haberland's assertion that the Eastern Arsi Oromo believe that "Iafti niitii Waaqaati"--
"the Earth is Waaqa's wife" ( Haberland 1963,607). Bartels (1983, 108) also said that
the Western Matcha Oromo do not consider the Earth as Waaqa's wife. As I have argued_
elsewhere (1997a), the link between Waaqa and the Earth has been expressed in certain
myths of Oromo origin, people's blessings, oaths, curses, rituals, proverbs and so forth.
As Knutsson noted, "the earth itself is superhuman in character, although it is not
equivalent to the heaven. To give weight to the truth of what one says or to a request-for
something, evidence is presented or a question posed 'in the name of Waka and La/a"
(Knutsson 1967, 56)."

My informants disagree whether the land belongs to all, the living the dead and the unborn included. Most of them agree that before the conquest of the Oromo by the Abyssinians in the 19th century, the land was free, and no body owned it. Land couldn't be bought or sold. People had use-rights over the land resource, which belongs to Waaqa. The land did not have a boundary in the strict sense of the term. But Emperor Menelik and his followers proclaimed that the land belongs to the government. He apportioned the Oromo land and gave it to his soldiers, relatives and churches. Some informants argue that the land belongs to the living, for they use the resources of the land for survival. They maintain that the dead have already left -the land and
couldn't claim it. The living will hand it over to the next generation (lnfs: Fufa; Gonfa-; Galata). Others contend that the land is the private property of the dead;, they were buried in the land! and no body can force them to leave the land or to change their place.

Human beings originated from the land and returned to it (Infs: Oagaga Kana'a; Gamtessa). The third group believes that the land belongs' to all, living, dead and unborn included. The living get the necessities of life from the land. The dead were buried in the land. The unborn'will be born on the land (Infs: Daksissa; Nagara Fite). The third group the view held by many Africans. "For Africans land belongs to all, living and dead. We will live in this land where our for parents lived and where our greatgreat-grand children will live. To make sure that all benefit from this wealth, we have to take care of it properly now. This value system cuts across all ethnic groups in Africa" (Omari 1990, 174). Generally, the Oromo people believe that the present generation is under moral obligation to preserve the land and hand it over to the future generation.

                       Oromo woman
2.2 The Concept of "Ayyaana"
Oromo traditional religion teaches that there are many saint-like divinities called Ayyaana, each seen as a manifestation of the one Waaqa. Ayyaana is believed to be the angel of Waaqa. It is the intermediary between human beings and Waaqa. Ayyaana is created by Waaqa and cannot create anything. Ayyaana can only communicate the problems of humans to Waaqa. During possession the Ayyaana speaks in the mouth of the Ayyaantuu (Qaalluu) with the people. When individuals ask Ayyaana for help, the latter will say s(he) will ask and beg Waaqa for himlher. Ayyaana acts according to the will of Waaqa. Ayyaana alone cannot hurt or kill individuals. But with the help of Waaqa Ayyaana can be invoked to bring misfortune upon ' the person unwilling to comply with the traditions of the society (Infs: Emanssa; Fufa). Thus, Ambo Oromo
attitude towards the Ayyaana (spirit) is at variance with Lewis' view. Lewis reports that the Ayyaana(spirits) "can directly affect all aspects of life. They can kill a man or cure him; slay his ox' or increase his herd; make him mad or destroy his enemy. They can be vengeful toward the impious or benevolent to the faithful" (Lewis 1970, 174).
Unlike Waaqa the color of Ayyaana is unknown. It should be reiterated that Waaqa could only create or destroy human beings and other things (lnfs: Emanssa; Fufa; Nagara Fite). The view of my-informants is at variance with the idea that "one's ayyaana determines one's destiny, since it is assumed that when some one is born, th\!' person is born into an ayyaana that determines his or her future" (Daniel 1984, 107). As I will show later, the Oromo believed that Waaqa with their respective Ayyaana created the days in each
month. But for the Ambo Oromo, it is not the Ayyaana that determines one's destiny but Waaqa. According to Oromo traditional religion, all created things in the universe have their own Ayyaana. Thus there are numerous Ayyaanas. For instance, hunters are expected to sacrifice animals for the wild animals they killed during hunting. Otherwise the guardian spirit of the concerned wild animal will attack the hunter.
The Ayyaana is attached to individual Qaalluu and speaks through his mouth during possession. Both are inseparable. The 'Qaalluu serves as an intermediary between human and the Ayyaana (spirit). The role of a Qaalluu is similar to the role of a Bishop in the Christian world and of Imam in the Muslim world. He or she is expected to respect traditional taboos (Safuu) and ritual observances and follow the truth and avoid sin. The Ambo Oromo identifies several Ayyaanas. Each lineage (balbala) has its own Ayyaana, and each clan (lammii) has its own Ayyaana. The former may be called Ayyaana xinnaa (small Ayyaana) whereas the latter can be called Ayyaana Guddaa (big Ayyaana). The qaalluu is the leader of religious rituals. The Qaalluu is also known as the Ayyaantu for s(he) has the Ayyaana of his lineage or clan.

The Ayyaana Abbaa ( Ayyaana of one's father) is invoked for help in order to fulfill one's duties, to be successful, and to avoid evil acts, for it is believed to be more powerful than one's own Ayyaana. Likewise, the Ayyaana of the clan is more powerful than a father's Ayyaana (Infs: Fufa; Nagara Fite).
The Dromo also use "Ayyaana" to refer to a holiday. The days on which the Oromo perform traditional ceremonies are called Ayyaana. Some days have been assigned to some of the spirits and conceived as Ayyaana. Also the concept of Ayyaana can be used to refer to a person's fate ( Bartels 1983; Daniel 1984). That someone is Ayyaantuu may mean she is lucky. • Nabi is believed to be the ancient Ayyaana of the Dromo (lnf: Emanssa). To give birth to a child, the spirit called Araashittii should possess pregnant woman. Booranticha is a male spirit, and is believed to be the protector of ox and calf. It is also known as the spirit of the river. An individual is required to prepare traditional beer, Niger seed, flour of roasted barley with butter, salt, pancake-like bread, sauce of lentils, nine buddena (large local bread cooked only on one side) and celebrate the Booranticha ritual at the river-bed so as to appease the spirit of the river (Inf: Kumalcha).
What is interesting is that the Qaalluu institution has had a positive impact on the environment. The Dromo build Galma (traditional Oromo ritual hall/Church) at a special place. The qaalluu lives and worships in this place. Although the Oromo can build Galma on a hill, they generally believe that a slope or a hill is not a favorable place, for it exposes the Galma to different dangers. For this matter, they build a Galma under a
hill, by the side of hideout, or by the side of isolated places (Infs: Emanssa, Merga Jara).

          Oromo Karrayyu man with hhis traditional Ganfura hairstyle

These places should be free from yell. Women who have menstruation are forbidden to enter the Galma. Such women are considered impure. The believers visit the Galma and dance, sing and beat drums to perform a ritual called dalaga in order to achieve a state of ecstasy, which often culminates in possession. It is at the height of this that the possessing Ayyaana speaks through the Qaalluu's mouth and answer prayers and predict the future. It should be noted that the Oromo perform prayer ceremonies besides permanently flowing rivers, by the side of big mountains, hills, stones and trees. The land around the Galma and the natural resources on this land are viewed as sacred and are well protected.

In Dromo traditional culture, some individuals claim to know the mystery of human nature and predict the future. These individuals are known as Xibaartuu Or Warra Waa beeku (those who know something) or Warra siinii ilaalu (those who look at the lees of a cup of coffee and predict the future). They also claim to know the message of the smoke of incense. When people get sick and face life crisis, they visit these yam
spinners. The Qaalluu leaders also advise individuals to visit them and understand what to do in order to avoid their problems. It should benoted that Xibaartuu has a lower social status than the Qaalluu leaders. Some informants believe that Xibaartuu is knowledgeable and can help the people (Infs: Duresso; Emanssa). The majority of my informants, however, said that the Xibaartuu is a deceiver, and does not know anything.
The yarn spinners exploit the people by fabricating false stories. Some even say · that they are the instruments of the Qoolluu leaders. They advise people to offer money, animals and other gifts to the Qoolluu so that the Ayyoonti will solve their problem. But the advice of xiboortuu is groundless (Infs: Eticha, Gamtessa; Merga Jara; Ragassa).
Beautiful Oromo people

On the other hand, the Oromo believe that there are hidden Seexanas (devils) which are the enemies of the people and Waaqa. Wooqa "has become the enemy of devils whom he can effect at any time" (Bartels 1983, 121). In fact, Waaqa creates the devils. Like human beings they are mortal. But they can be the cause of conflict between human beings, and they can bring harm to individuals and disturb their health. Devils are
invisible, destructive and the sources of evil things, misfortunes, and all kinds of human sufferings. When people suspect that a devil brought harm to their child, they will take the latter to Ayyoona Guddaa (Big Ayyoona). The Qoolluu can force the devil to release the child. The Qoolluu can make the devil swear not to disturb the child in the future (Infs: Gutema Mitafa; Nagassa). Rivers, ash, mountains, various trees, and the place hit by lightening, and draft is believed to be the abode of devils. The Oromo are used to appease devils by providing various offerings.

2.3 The Concept of "Maaram"
Mooram is believed to be the divinity of women. Mooram was created by Waaqa and addressed· as haadha boor (the mother of ocean). I think this is to indicate that Mooram came to the Oromo from outside. The Oromo believe that Mooram is the mother of a child. The Oromo women perform traditional ceremonies in respect of Mooram. It is believed that Mooram will help barren women to beget a child, and help pregnant
women to give birth to a child. When a woman gives birth to a child Oromo women will gather and ululate (say ilili ilili). They also prepare porridge, and splash butter. It is normal for the Oromo to sacrifice an animal during this ceremony. Moreover, Mooram is worshipped for the health of the environment, animals, human beings and crops. The Oromo Qoolluu leaders pray to Mooram every two weeks for the continuation of
offspring of humans. Mooram has her own ritual house. Ritual goods include 100100 (earthen caldron), and Qoloo (traditional shirt). It has also madabii (raised platform of Earth). The dancing ceremony is performed on Tuesdays, Thursdays,. and Saturdays (Iofs: Duresso; Emanssa; Fufa).

2.4 The Concept of "Ateetee"
Some writers have explained the nature e.of Ateetee and Mooram. Knutsson states that the names Ateetee and Mooram are used interchangeably for the same kind of being (Kmitsson 1967,55). Daniel states t/1at the various songs of Ateetee imply that "[a]teete is a ceremony prepared for Ayyolee, Mooram and Waaqa as thanksgiving by those who have children and a lamentation by the barren women" (Daniel 1984, 111). Bartels, however, questioned this assertion. To the Oromo of Western Matcha, Ateetee is the name of the ritual in which Mooram is invoked (Bartels 1983). Baxter (1979) had similar observation concerning the belief of the Arsi Oromo. For Cerulli, Ateetee is conceived as the goddess of fecundity (Cerulli 1922,127; Harris 1968,50).

The view of the Ambo Oromo is at variance with Knutsson' s argument. According to the Ambo Oromo, Ateetee and Maaram are different and have different functions in. Oromo religion. The materials used during' ceremonies are different. But both Ateetee and Maaram are believed to be females. ' For the Ambo Oromo, Ateetee is the mother of cattle and the spirit of baksaa (melted or processed butter). The Oromo also identified Ateetee as Aayyoo Baar (the Mother of Ocean) and as Hadha Dambal (the mother of overflow, full). The purpose 'of the Ateetee ritual is to help cattle breed well, and to help oxen plough well. There are Ateetee cattle in Oromo culture. When a heifer drops a calf, her butter will be stored and used during the Ateetee ceremony. Yogurt is also required to be kept for two weeks before the Ateetee ritual. The Ateetee ritual can be performed in June and January or in any other month. Most of the time, the Ateetee ritual is performed on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (Inf: Gutama Mitafa; Urgessa Gutama). The women can begin to celebrate the Ateetee ritual on Friday, and splash butter on Saturday. Or they can begin on
Wednesday, Thursday and splash butter on Thursday and Friday, respectively. Traditionally, it is believed that Monday is the day of the ghost. Wednesday is believed to harden its heart towards the people. But the proper date for Ateetee ritual is determined by time reckoning experts. The Ambo Oromo perform Ateetee ceremonies every two years (Infs: Duresso; Lami; Merga Jara).

Five or more women are required to participate in Ateetee rituals. The wife of Guu,laa (an individual who have gone through all the rituals of the Gadaa and who has his-ruling period behind him)--Kalaalee will be elected and spill the melted butter over the women who perform Ateetee ceremony. When the son of Kalaalee has gone through all the rituals of the Gadaa, the Kalaalee would be called Cifiree (Inf: Lemo). The women should not perform Ateetee ritual with plaited hair. Their hair should' be daabee (it should flow down the neck, the front and 'the sides). She should curf her hair with leaves of Qobboo (Ricinus communis). Her husband is expected to carry Caaccuu (necklace of beads). On the third day the five women perform fertility ritual by splashing their chest, and neck with warm butter. Women are expected to eat porridge. Porridge will be served with laaloo (tray made of straw). On the fifth day, the husband will take his cattle to the place where the cattle will drink horra (mineral water). On mid-day, the husband will return cattle to his premises. When the cattle return home, the will milk cows and pour the milk on the back of cows. This is believed to help cows breed well.
Oromo woman neck wearing beads

During Ateetee ritual, an old healthy cow should be sacrificed for the cattle to breed well, for a bull to serve a cow, for a to be successful and for a land to be leveled. It is a taboo to a cow with broken horns, blind eye, wrong tail and other defects. If a person does not have a cow, he can slaughter coffee (coffee fruits
stewed in butter) (Inf: Fufa). The slaughtering of coffee may have been symbolic. "The cherry-like coffee fruits are bitten open and stewed in melted butter. The butter enters the fruits and reaches the beans inside. These beans which, because of their shape, account for the coffee fruits 'use as a symbol of the woman: their shape is reminder of the female organ much as cowry-shells are" (Bartels 1983, 287). When the husband
sacrifices a cow, the Ateetee spirit will possess his spouse. The people anoint stick with butter and prop it against their body. The husband will make libations by curdled milk. He is also expected to set up two green poles in front of the house. The people eat meat, drink yogurt, unfermented ale, and traditional beer. The milk will be served with Guchuma !large gourd). The people then praise the cattle in their song. The women
dance during the night (Infs: Emanssa; Lemo).

It is believed that if a person fails to perform Ateetee cattle cannot breed well, the calf cannot grow, the teat of animals will be closed, and a person can be visually, impaired and crippled. The Oromo say "Ateetee ijaaf ijoof gabbaru" (Ateete ritual is. performed for the sake of the eyes and destiny). In general, the Ateetee ritual has symbolic meanings. The anointment of sticks with butter, the planting of green poles, the shedding of old cows blood, the splashing of the chest and the neck with butter are the symbols of fertility, procreation, and continuation' of life on Earth. They symbolize that the survival of most Oromos depend on the survival and rebirth of herds.

2.5 Ute Mowata Tradition
Ethiopian and non-Ethiopian anthropologists who have studied the nature of Waaqa'i Maaram, Ateetee and Ayyaana have been silent about the nature of the Mowata culture among the Ambo Oromo. In what follows, I will present a preliminary observation about how Mowata has been practiced by the Ambo Oromo. My analysis relies exclusively on oral information both from the study sites and outside. Those .who have been practicing the Mowata cult and other peasants were interviewed. The readers are advised to consider each position and form their own position.

My informants agree that Mowata came to Ambo from Soddo via Waliss although they could not identify the exact date of the appearance of Mowata in Ambo. It is believed that originally Damaamitii (the deity of Mowata) came down to the Earth from the sky; it is an invention of Waaqa and it cannot be inherited through blood ties. I think that the Mowata tradition has religious and social dimensions. The Mowata ritual is largely associated with women, although men mostly Fugaa (woodworkers who are socially despised) and hermaphrodites participate in Mowata spirit possession. The Mowata society has its own leader who is called Habaqii. In most cases, a Fugaa is the leader of the Mowata society. There is the saying that "Dubartiin qeetti dhirsaan nakkarte ala baateet jaarsi fugaa dha doobbiif goraan reeba':, (A woman who challenges her husband in his premises will be beaten by a Fugaa elder outdoors with nettle and raspberry plant" (Inf: Ragassa). Each locality has its own Habaqii and those who reside· in the area participate in Mowata spirit possession through the guidance of their Habaqii. The Habaq;; is required to be given a whip made from the skin of a hippopotamus by the Ayyaana. For instance, Obboo Kumalcha, the Habaqii
around the city of Ambo, reported that the spirit called Danfaa of the Qaalluu leader Obboo Fayissa Inika gave him a whip. When the Habaqii ties the whip in a firm knot, the members of the Mowata society will be possessed by the spirit and gather around the Habaqii's premises. By tying the whip, the Habaqii can make them unconscious, and may force them to stimulate crying at a funeral, to fetch water, to eat food, and to
perform any other duties. In particular, when the Qaalluu of Danfaa and Maaram (well-known spirits in Ambo) and one of the members of the Mowata society dies, the members of the Mowata society will induce crying at the funeral.

To do this the Habaqii should be informed about the death of the concerned individual. When the Habaqii thinks that they have performed their duties, slhe will dispossess the members of the Mowata society of the spirit by untying the whip. The Habaqii can pacify a person who is possessed by the spirit and unconsciously tries to attack other people by using fire, thorny bushes and the like. The Habaqii employs various phrases to lead the spirit possession. These phrases are considered the language of Mowata. For instance:
• Ashimmoo damaamitii (Be possessed by the spirit)
• Sebir (Leave him or her)
• Tadumdumii (Be silent)
• Tonyii (Sit down) (Infs: Kurnalchaa; Lemmo).

Individuals who participate in the Mowata spirit possession cut the leaves of various trees, whereas, those who do not properly celebrate the Mowata ritual cut the thorns of different trees and take part in a funeral.
The Mowata tradition .is much more complicated than what has been stated. According to informants, the Mowata spirit can possess a person in two different ways. A Qeerransa (leopard) can, on the one hand, kidnap a person. Initially, a person will be afflicted bodily or mentally (Infs: Duresso; Kurnalcha; Lemo). Obboo Kurnalcha's personal story illustrates this.

"I was ill for about fourteen months. I suffered from diarrhea and vomiting. I was not able to eat well.
I only drank coffee and water. Sometimes I ate roasted grains. After the first four months, a red snake
with long hair came to my bed. My parents looked after me during my illness for I was not married. My parents didndt understand the cause of my illness and why the snake came to my place. They suspected
that the snake is a symbol of Ayyaana. They had to put butter on my head several times a day. The snake was licking butter. If the snake had not found butter, it could have pierced my head and thereby killed me.
After fourteen months a leopard took me. In the meantime, the members of Mowata society began to
look for me. The leopard fed me rootworm, beetle and other insects, and protected me from other wild animals. Two or three leopards did this. When the first one collected worms and insects, the other one stayed with the patient. These leopards were special and different from other leopards. Personally, I did
not see any of them for I was unconscious at that time.
Finally, the Mowata expedition saw me after aweek. At that time I was with a leopard.
 All persons who were possessed by the spirit knelt down in
front of the leopard to influence it. Then a leopard was given a goat and left me. The fact
of the matter is that a leopard ~id not eat goat given to it. It hit it and thereby killed it.
Some times a leopard might refuse to leave the patient alone. When this occurs, Fugaa
will catch it and throw it away and ask the relatives of the patient whether the latter
belongs to them by pacifying the Mowata members for they may attack the former. Later.
the Fugaa will clean the patient and ask the members of the Mowata to bring the patient
to his premise on a stretcher. In my case, after going home, I drank warm water to clean
my stomach from worms and insects. Later on I was given a whip made from the skin of
a hippopotamuswith eight bells by Danfaa (the spirit) of Obboo Fayissa Inika so as to
save pregnant women from hurting themselves during spirit possession. Consequently I
became a Habaqii and prepared a Mowata ceremony in respect of the whip. The whip
has its own ceremony.
After one year, a leopard came to my place in May for the second time. Firstly it made
my mother unconscious by tying its tail. My mother was a member of the Mowata
society. Hereafter, a leopard took me out of the house by lifting up the door. It then
returned to my parent's house and released my mother from the spirit by untying its tail.
But nobody saw it when it did all this. The members of the Mowata saw me after five
days. After performing all the necessary conditions, they returned me to my place. Since
then I have been the Habaqii of the Mowata. I have personally observed the leopard
during our search for a patient (lnf: Kumalcha). "

It is also believed that a leopard can take a woman if she leaves her house during the night. The leopard-may kill a patient if it is not given a goat on time. Some time ago, the members of Mowata failed to see a certain Merge, a young girl, for six weeks. Eventually they realized that this girl was killed by a leopard and eaten by a wild animal. They only found her plaited hair, neck and leg at Fincha valleyl in Wollega. A patient
taken by a leopard can only be seen by the Mowata members for the spirit helps them to do so. Unlike other Ayyaana the Mowata spirit does not require a special gift of a bull to be sacrificed (Inf: Kumalcha).
There is also a second way by which a person can be possessed by the Mowata spirit. From the outset, a person will suffer from diarrhea, vomiting and other diseases. Following this, two snakes will come to his or her place--one lying at the head of the bed and the other lying at the lower end of the bed. The patient will be unconscious for about one week or two. When the patient seems to stop breathing, his parents will shroud him or her and begin to cry, which in tum will lead to the gathering of the Mowata members.

Meanwhile, the spirit can possess women if a snake coils itself. Consequently, these women will attack those who are not the followers of Mowata spirit and force them to leave the house. The members of the Mowata cult will then leave a patient with an old and respected woman and go out for labsii (announcement). They will inform other followers of the Mowata spirit about the patient and come back to the patient's place.
The Habaqii will then free the women from the spirit and give them boiled grain. The next morning the Habaqii will give the patient a stick. A stick will stay on the lap of the patient for seven days. The Habaqii will give the patient food. Finally, the Habaqii will free the patient from the spirit. The patient will then be healthy.
A person can also ask the followers of Mowata to induce crying during his or her funeral by preparing a big feast. The person is·not required to be possessed by the Mowata spirit. The person is expected to prepare traditional Oromo beer, food, bread, a sacrificial cow, and inform the Habaqii to arrange the Mowata ritual. Two Guulaas and the followers of the Mowata spirit are required to take part in this special ritual. The two
Guulaas are expected to lead the ritual by beating the law for the funeral purpose.


                 Systematic repression and rampant human rights
                abuses against the Oromo People in Ethiopia
                                 Tarekegn Chimdi 
                           Monash University, Clayton, 3800, Victoria 

From the time of colonization of Oromia at the end of 19th century, the Oromo people were faced with discrimination and marginalisation. Their egalitarian democratic institution of governance the Gada system; their cultural traditions and language were banned; their meansof subsistence, land was confiscated and as a result forced to slavery and servitude. The policy of successive regimes in Ethiopia including the current regime has been implementing similar tactics of furthering their subjugation and repression be it under the guise of democracy or socialism.

 The current TPLF/ PRDF dominated regime is a political, economic and social powerhouse   for nearly past two decades after ousting the Amhara hegemony in 1991. In contrast to the Tigrayans which constitute about 5% of the total population, the Oromo people encounter rampant human rights abuses, absurd relocation and eviction from their lands, experimented with unplanned resettlement schemes in hostile environments, face abysmal poverty and contamination of epidemic diseases.
Since this regime came to power in 1991, serious systematic repression and pervasive human rights abuses against the Oromo people has been reported by international human rights organisations. So far, these abuses have been largely ignored by the international community, probably far from the eyes and ears of the international observers in Finfinne (Addis Ababa).

Residents of the Oromia are particularly vulnerable to targeted atrocities due to their remote geography, lack of quick transport and communication infrastructure for rapid exchange of information, absence of human rights monitoring groups and lack of independent media coverage. Knowing this, EPRDF is acting with impunity. The government routinely subjects its critics to harassment, extrajudicial killings, imprisonment and torture. Police and military officials often imprison such people on charges of involvement with "anti-peace" or even "anti-people" groups, but convictions and even trials are rare.
In general, people are being terrorized by federal police working-hand-in glove with local officials and militias. Such crackdown on citizens from all walks of life is a day to day activity in Oromia, including children as young as 1110. According to a renowned international human and peoples rights organisation, gfbV “If intellectuals, students, teachers, journalists, aid agency workers, artists, human rights activists and peasant farmers are subjected to human rights abuses solely on the basis of their origin, then Gesellschaft für
bedrohte Völker believes that the Ethiopian authorities are guilty of racism”.

                            Oromo people,Woliso market,Ethiopia

I. Introduction
Numerically, the Oromo people is the single largest national group in Ethiopia, accounting for about 35 million (40%) of 75 million population. The Oromo people are one of the indigenous peoples inhabiting the Horn of Africa since time immemorial, belong to the Cushitic origin. The Oromo people are the majority, but in a minority like situation. Their political, economical social and cultural life in the Ethiopian empire assert , discrimination and marginalisation due to colonization of their country, Oromia ,by the Abyssinians at the
end of 19th century. Millions decimated in the war against colonization in between 1868-1900 through different means. Their egalitarian democratic institution of governance the Gada system; their cultural traditions and language were banned; their means of subsistence,land was confiscated and as a result forced to slavery and servitude.
Oromo Karrayyu man holding a knife (gile)

From that time then, successive regimes in Ethiopia including the current regime has been implementing similar tactics of furthering their subjugation and repression be it under the guise of democracy or socialism. The current TPLF /EPRDF dominated regime is a political, economic and social powerhouse for nearly past two decades after ousting the Amhara hegemony in 1991. In contrast to the Tigrayans which constitute about 5% of the total population, the Oromo people encounter rampant human rights abuses, absurd relocation and eviction from their lands, experimented with unplanned resettlement schemes in hostile environments, face abysmal poverty and contamination of epidemic diseases.

II. Rampant Human Rights Abuses
Since this regime came to power in 1991, serious systematic repression and pervasive human rights abuses against the Oromo people has been reported by international human rights organisations. So far, these abuses have been largely ignored by the international community, probably far from the eyes and ears of the international observers in Finfinne (Addis Ababa). Residents of the Oromia are particularly vulnerable to targeted atrocities due to their remote geography, lack of quick transport and communication infrastructure for rapid exchange of information, absence of human rights monitoring groups and lack of independent media coverage. Knowing this, EPRDF is acting with impunity. The government routinely subjects its critics to harassment, extrajudicial killings, imprisonment and torture20. Police and military officials often imprison such people on charges of involvement with "anti-peace" or even "anti-people" groups, but convictions and even trials are rare.
In general, people are being terrorized by federal police working-hand-in glove with local officials and militias. Such crackdown on citizens from all walks of life is a day to day activity in Oromia, including children as young as 1123 . According to a renowned international human and peoples rights organisation, gfbV “If intellectuals, students, teachers, journalists, aid agency workers, artists, human rights activists and peasant farmers are subjected to human rights abuses solely on the basis of their origin, then Gesellschaft für
bedrohte Völker believes that the Ethiopian authorities are guilty of racism”. Similarly the human rights report 200825 discusses the unabated human rights abuses as follows.
“ In Oromia, Ethiopia’s most populous state, government authorities have used the
fact of a long-standing insurgency by the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) to imprison,
harass, and physically abuse critics, including school children. Victims are informally
accused of supporting the OLF... , but supporters of the Oromo National Congress
(ONC) and the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM), registered
opposition political parties, suffer similar treatment.“
In May 2008, the Ethiopian government trained and fully armed Gumuz militia had massacred Oromo civilians killing mothers, burning children alive in locked houses, amputating those they catch alive and destroyed properties, in several districts of Eastern part of Wollega, Western Oromia. While the Oromos were not allowed to bear arms and those who possessed firearms in the past were forced to disarm prior to the staged incident. In over two weeks of attack against the civilians after May 17, 2008 more than 400 people were killed, thousands of houses burnt down, hundreds of elders, children and women were
amputated and over 20,000 forced to flee their homes.
In another incident on February 5, 2008, in the Puntland’s Bosasso city of Somalia , over 65 Oromo refugees were bombed to death and over 100 wounded from two explosions on two restaurants frequented by Oromo refugees. Local residents accuse that it was sponsored by no one other than Ethiopian government.

II. b. Arrests and detentions, banning civic associations and students
The Macca Tulama self-help Association (MTA) board members, teachers & students, journalists, businessmen, farmers, members of the Oromo opposition parties Oromo National Congress (ONC), Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement were highly targeted for arrests and detentions in the recent years on baseless allegations of involvement with the OLF. As an active part of the Oromo society, the Oromo students were protesting against the Ethiopian government policies such as deforestation, levied taxes and rise in the price of fertilizers, educational policies, change of the capital city of Oromia from Finfinne to Adama etc. starting from 2000. In January 2004, the MTA leaders called protest against the move the
capital city of Oromia from Finfinne to Adama. The Oromo journalists who reported the reality of the protests were implicated and labelled. Finally, those peaceful protests targeted with killings, injuries with live bullets, torture, imprisonment, expulsion from schools and flee
the country.

Several hundreds of Oromo students and teachers from different parts of Oromia and Finfinne (Addis Ababa) were arrested, severely beaten and tortured after January 4, 2004 peaceful demonstration called by the Mecha Tulema association (MTA) against the move the capital city of Oromia from Finfinne to Adama. On the same day, hundreds of Oromos severely beaten and taken to custody. This act of the Ethiopian government is against the UDHR Articles 9 and convention against torture.
 On January 21,2004, 350 Addis Ababa University Oromo students were rounded up from the front of the President’s office while requesting the release of their eight colleagues arrested on 18 January 2004 accused of damaging the university property30. The students were ill-treated and forced to walk on the gravel for long hours without food at Kolfe police training and later released on January 24,200. The ID cards of the students were registered and ordered not to go to the university. On their release, the police authorities could not produce any criminal charge against them. Their suspension was announced on the government mass media the next day. Such act diametrically opposes the UDHR Article 26(1) and shows the Ethiopian
government discriminatory policies against the Oromo people. They have nowhere to go, had no subsistence and accommodation as most of them are from the rural areas and far from family. They were unable to go to their family as they were hunted and arrested by the local authorities at their birth place. The Oromo elders requested the university president and the prime minister to readmit the students. They did not get response to this date to peacefully end this crisis. The Macha Tulema association later appealed to the citizens and co-ordinated financial support to earn minimal living for suspended students, for which the government
accused and arrested its leadership.

The Ethiopian government arrested the leaders of indigenous MTA association, banned and confiscated the properties of the association contravening the UDHR Articles 20(1) and 17(1,2). On July 2,2004, it issued the letter with reference number 11/7469/07-04 from the registration office of associations for the closure and confiscation of MTA’s property quoting the peaceful demonstration staged on 4 January 2004 was illegal. The leaders of MTA Dirribi Demissie ( President), Gemechu Feyera, Sintayehu Workneh and Ayelu Ittisa and more than a dozen of Oromo university students and journalists Shiferaw Insarmu and Dhabasa Wakjira were in custody until early 2007 even though different benches of court ordered their release
on several occasions. Amnesty International and other human rights organisations consider them as prisoners of conscience and appealed for their release since 2004. Still some of the association leaders are languishing in prison.
Again starting from November 9, 2005 , the Oromo students from all over Oromia and different higher educational institutions launched a protest call with popular demands. Some of the demands of the students are an immediate stop to the killing of Oromo students, respect and implementation for the right to self-determination of the Oromo people, release of members and leadership of the Macca Tulama Self-help Association, the unconditional reopening of the Macca Tulama Association office, unconditional release of thousands of Oromo political prisoners- students, journalists, civic organisation leaders etc, selfadministration of Oromia by the Oromos, restoration of all Oromian cities to their proper names and the administrations of Finfinne and Dirre Dhawa to be under the jurisdiction of Oromia state.

                 Oromo Borana girl
These peaceful demands of students continued in the high schools and universities across Oromia and most of the schools left closed after protests were turned violent by the involvement of the government security forces. As a result, dozens of students were killed and wounded from live bullet from security forces, several thousands of Oromo nationals were detained in different prisons in Oromia state and Finfinne (Addis Ababa) since November 2005. Most of the detainees were under torture and severe beatings, held incommunicado and were not brought to court. Credible reports indicate three detained students Alemayehu Gerba, Morkata Iddosa and Gaddissa Hirphasa were killed from torture and injuries from live bullet while held imprisoned. Those reportedly alleged for torture were not brought to court. In the recent years seven Oromo detainees had been tortured to death and others had died after being shot or being denied medical care in Maikalawi and Kalitti prisons alone. Even though few of the MTA leaders and students were released on bail in the early months of 2007, there are tens of thousands still languish in jail including the MTA board members
Mengistu Desta, (MTA General Secretary), Tsegaye W/Yohannes, Kumsa Gire (both aged over 80), Solomon Bekele, Taddesse Dagafa, Dechasa Benti, Legesse W/Selassie and others.
Most of them were detained without charges for over eight years. After these years, some of the detainees were sentenced to death, life imprisonment. Only few got a sentence term of 10 years from the partisan and unqualified judges affiliated with or members of the ruling party TPLF/EPRDF.
In all these years since this regime came to power, in different parts of Oromia, the unparalleled huge force from the government were mobilised to quell peaceful dissent and protests. They are terrorizing the local population and affecting peaceful life of the residents and students; kill, torture and rape citizens. Prisons are full of the Oromos from all walks of life. Mr. Siye Abraha who had been the minister of defense under the same regime and had once been very brutal against the Oromo people described the constituency of the Oromo in the prison cells as “the prison speaks Afan Oromo”. He had been imprisoned for 6 years of after he led the dissident faction in the TPLF. The paramilitary and the security forces are terrorizing the local population and affecting peaceful life of the residents and students; kill, torture and rape citizens. Sound learning teaching processes were obstructed by the provocations of these forces. Contamination of epidemic diseases like HIV/AIDS is also feared from huge presence of mobilized federal forces and militias.

III. Evictions and relocations
Government actions may have led to forced displacement of thousands of people during 2005 and prior. Report confirm that the EPRDF government has unleashed on the people its special troops, supported by its paramilitary forces and armed local government officials. In what increasingly bears genocidal characteristics, numerous ordinary people are being indiscriminately killed and wounded. Many are being tortured and intimidated. According to the same report, repression includes the burning of houses and property, and the confiscation of land and farm animals.

The Ethiopian government is evicting Oromo farmers in the name of investment at a very unprecedented rate and hundreds of thousands of farmers around the cities in Oromia were turned destitute as a result. So far according to government sources, between May 1992 and March 2005, over 900 agricultural projects were handed 149,126.1hectraes of land in the form of lease from 10 to 99 years with no or lowest compensation ( a maximum of ETB 20,000 equivalent to USD 2000) to the indigenous land owners36. Though further research is needed, this figure had been quadrupled in the last three years with dire consequences on the ground to the farmers. In these years, the Ethiopian government had been working hard for its geopolitical leverage by providing agricultural lands to the countries like Saudi Arabia , Djibouti and more countries are still under negotiation. In his interview with Arab news, Meles Zenawi, the prime minister of Ethiopia, said recently its government was “very eager” to provide hundreds of thousands of hectares of agricultural land for investment.
According to recent reports of UN specialized agencies , Middle Eastern and North African countries, which import most of their food, are leading the race to invest overseas in countries like Ethiopia. Jacques Diouf, director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warned the race by food-importing countries to secure farmland overseas to improve their food security risks creating a “neo-colonial” system. In addition the same paper noted concern over the land rights and the question of how much food would be left for the host country. At this stage there are about 6.4 million people are starving in Ethiopia. The greenest
and surplus food producing areas of Oromia and Southern States are the ones highly vulnerable.
Uncompensated evictions of Oromo farmers from around the cities in Oromia especially Finfinne (Addis Ababa) in the name of investment is at worrying level for the reason families do not have any means of subsistence other than their ancestral plots of land. In the name of investment today Oromo farmers from the vicinity of Finfinne (Addis Ababa) and other major cities and towns were turned to be landless and forced to be victims of ecological degradation and hazardous health problems. Cut flower and the bio-fuel production are also the top ranking investments of massive land holding to affect the life of millions of farmers and their
dependents in the years to come.
Until the middle of 2006, out of 65 cut flower plantations operating in Ethiopia, 63 of them are found in Oromia, specifically in the radius of 13-50km at the outskirts of Finfinne, on a total of 2400 ha of land. About 20,000 labourers (90% women) are working on these farms with a daily income of an average of 0.5 USD compared to 1USD in Kenya and 2 USD in Colombia. They are underpaid and their working conditions is comparable to slavery; and unable to organise their union to bargain collectively. Even though the government propagate it benefits rural women in terms employment, un-repairable damages to their health and environmental problems associated with them outweighs. Rather, the Ethiopian government has given due attention to the flower industry because of growing revenue it collects from export taxes to finance its expanding military expenditure. Currently, Ethiopia exports more than 80 million stems a month to 40 countries ($166 million of revenue) at the expense of evicted and vulnerable Oromian farmers disposed their lands. Seventy percent go to the Netherlands, from where they are sent around the world. It also exports to Germany, Britain, Russia and, in smaller amounts, to the United States and the Middle East. Tamiru L. Obole of Jimma Times summarized that the industry has brought with it much controversy: allegations of environmental mismanagement, labour abuse and unfair land holding.
According to sources close to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Ethiopia there are around 120 chemicals and pesticides41 enter into the country for the use in floriculture industry are registered to the World Health Organizations’ negative pesticide list for their carcinogenic potential. These highly hazardous chemicals include Flucythrinate, Chlorothalonil, Cyproconazone, FOLPET and MANCOZEB including 15 other chemicals are used in the flower farming sector in Ethiopia.
If precautions are not taken, pesticides and sprays for handling of flowers, disposal of waste water, low temperatures for preservation in cold rooms, muscular-skeletal disorders due to poorly designed work stations, long - standing hours cause such disorders or diseases as congenital defect legs and hands, cerebral palsy, brain cancer, toxic dermatitis, hydrocephalous, lymph tumour. They are carcinogens, endocrine disruptors and cholinesterase inhibitors. Pregnant or breast – feeding women into contact with pesticides
may have high chance of their off-spring or children encounter one of the above mentioned disorders. Pollution and depletion of water resources due to intensive use of water and air pollution due to spray drifts, burning of plastics roofing materials or containers are also major concerns for the communities living in the vicinity of these farms. Chemists further explain the long term effect of these chemicals could cause miscarriages, low immunity and even deteriorate brain cells over time with symptoms of fainting spells, nausea or extreme vomiting.

 According to local sources every pregnant woman involved in the production encountered the death of their offspring in the first few days of birth.  Biofuel the other source of concern for amassing millions of hectares of land is underway in Oromia. According to reliable sources, about 24 millions of hectares in Ethiopia have been identified as suitable for biofuel production, and many foreign companies have already been allocated land from farmland, forests and wilderness areas. Even protected areas are not safe from the spread of biofuels. For example, German company Flora Eco Power for the last few years had been investing 671 million birr (€57/US$77 million) for biofuel production on 13,000 hectares (enough land to cover over 16,000 soccer fields) of land in Oromia state; 87% of which is the Babile Elephant Sanctuary, a home to rare and endangered elephants.
The move for the production of biofuels- “green gold rush” with appropriation large mass of land was protested from different angles: from NGOs, churches, scientists to the UN specialized agencies for driving the rural communities into destitution and starvation44 from more food insecurity and rocketing food prices. 30 African NGOs petitioned against the production of Biofuels in Africa as follows.
 "It is geared to replace millions of hectares of local agricultural systems, and the
 rural communities working in them, with large plantations. It is oriented to substitute
biodiversity-based indigenous cropping, grazing and pasture farming systems by
monocultures and genetically engineered agrofuel crops." In agreement with several
 new scientific analyses, they hold that "the current push for agrofuels exacerbate,
rather than solve, the problem of climate change."

The Gallagher report: biofuels are driving people into hunger of 08 July 200845 published by ActionAid says that while most types of biofuels will not help to reduce climate change, they will make life harder for millions of poor people around the world. Adding to that Dr Claire Melamed, ActionAid head of policy said: “Grain and vegetable oil are being diverted to biofuels, leading to scarcity and rocketing food prices. In the developing world, land on which farmers and pastoralists depend is being converted into biofuel monocultures”. The same concern was also echoed by the main UN agencies involved in agriculture and food aid, WFP and FAO, also warn that the increased acreage used for biofuels is already contributing to
higher food prices and may lead to more hunger in the world .
As evidences suggest, from point of view the mentality of the current regime in Ethiopia, the industry would have moved to the highlands of Tigray had there have been no adverse effects to the environment and health. Independent investigations on the effect of these farms on the indigenous population need to be carried out by concerned international organisations.

IV. Government Borne Conflicts and Internally Displaced Persons
The Ethiopian government had been calling for referendum over the Oromo localities in the regions of Borana, Bale, East and west Hararge of Oromia at the end of 2004. The results of referendum on these areas were culminated in favour of Oromia. However, the government instigated conflicts after the decisions were made. Deliberate incitement of conflicts among the Oromo clans – Borena, Gabra and Guji- and national groups neighbouring Oromia ( between Karrayyu Oromo and Afar, Somali and Ittu Oromo) by the government officials and security forces are the major cause of internal displacement for over 170,000 people in Borena, West Hararge, Bale zones of Oromia over the last three years. According to reliable local sources, government forces are either arm/ disarm one of the rival clan against the other or side on the battleground with one of them. For example, in the case of karrayyu and Afar the government armed the later against the former and appeared as a mediators of peacemaking. The local Somali (region 5) government militia sided against the Oromo civilians Cheraro Doba district in Hararge zone of Oromia.
Several thousands of Somali returnees and settlers were issued with the ID cards to make them eligible for voting and also provided with armaments in those areas of Oromia from the government. In several places the referendum favoured the rule under Oromia. These armed Somali militias supported by Ethiopian security forces started attacking civilians in the respective villages. In 2005, Over 100 civilians killed, hundreds of houses burnt, up to over 100,000 people internally displaced without support in Cheraro Doba, Miesso and other districts of West Hararge region. On January 19,2005, these militias engulfed the villages in the Cheraro Doba district in western Harerge. They opened fire killing 11 Oromo civilians, wounding 18 others and some 12,000 displaced and over 500 houses were burnt, crop-fields and depots of the residents of thirty farmers associations were put under fire. Similarly, in August 2004, 73 people were killed and more than 85,000 flee their homes from villages in Miesso.

According to reports by humanitarian organisations, conflict between the Gabra and the Guji, and between the Gabra and the Borena displaced over 40,000 people in 2005. Many remain displaced, and local authorities do not consider them eligible for emergency food distribution and other basic services and protection. This makes their situation very precarious, particularly in the context of the current drought. In the middle of 2006, more than 100 people died and 90,000 displaced in fierce clashes between the Borena and the Guji Oromo clans . Most of these IDPs are living in deplorable conditions with no food, water and shelter and receiving very limited assistance. In the recent years, the conflicts were exacerbated by the government forces to include more clans or nation groups like Gedeo, Burji, Guji, Amaro and Sidama, Gumuz and Afar one against the other to elongate their stay in power.
Such calculated instigation of violence among the neighbouring communities by the Ethiopian government should be condemned, the perpetuators of such crimes should be brought into justice and vulnerable displaced peoples need to get enough attention from the humanitarian organisations. In these conflicts the government agents are the both players and the referees. For the peacemaking and management of their affairs, these groups need their conflict resolution mechanisms traditions that existed for centuries be harnessed without the intervention of the government.

V. Agricultural input for political gain
Surprisingly, the basic agricultural commodities for the farmers in Oromia is allocated based on the affiliation to the ruling party in power. Farmers and low-income town residents in Oromia who fail to support the governing political party are denied fertilizer, other agricultural aids and food items provided to the affiliates at subsidized prices. The others are fired from their work for not sympathizing with the EPRDF ruling party. In the rural areas of Oromia where about 87% live on agriculture, local and regional officials generally have great power and influence over the population and over the distribution of goods and services.
Good relations with the local officials are crucial for obtaining land, farming aid, access to health care and education, and identity cards. In the meantime, control over some agricultural input goes far beyond their authority. Control over fertilizer and agricultural inputs in general have given Meles’s government a remarkably effective tool for quashing dissent in rural parts of Oromia. A TPLF owned company in charge of importing fertilizers often regulates on the price.  In case, fertilizer price is so expensive that farmers often find it difficult to repay their debts, local officials routinely throw them into prison for days or weeks at a time if they fail.
According to Human Rights Watch farmers were forced to auction off livestock or household goods to get out of prison. Farmers who openly criticize the government or its policies often find themselves denounced in public meetings as “troublemakers,” “anti-development” saboteurs or even as members of dangerous “anti-people” organizations.

VI. Conclusions
The paper tried to shed light on the systematic repression and worst human rights records of the Ethiopian government in its heavy-handed policy against the Oromo people. Criticisms and reports from international human rights organisations were also sited. Despite all the crime it commits against humanity, this government is the largest beneficiary of US military and development aid and one of the top recipients of European aid in the sub-Saharan Africa.
These major powers along with China and Russia have increased their trade partnership in such it further give economic boost to the regime so as to further suppress the subjugated peoples in Ethiopia.
It is high time that the governments of the US and EU countries press the Ethiopian government for its worst records of human rights record and account for the suffering of millions of Oromo and other peoples from eviction, internal displacement and hunger that partly resulted from its policy.

                        WHAT IS NEXT FOR THE OROMO PEOPLE
                                    Asafa Jalata, PhD,
Professors of Sociology and Global Studies, and Interim Chair of the Africana Studies Program
at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville

The Past and Current Status of the Oromo People
The Ethiopian colonial terrorism and genocide that started during the last decades of the 19th century still continue in the 21st century. Ethiopia, former Abyssinia, terrorized and committed  genocide on the Oromo people during the Scramble for Africa with the help of European  imperial powers and the modern weapons they received from them. During Ethiopian colonial expansion, Oromia, “the charming Oromo land, [would] be ploughed by the iron and the fire; flooded with blood and the orgy of pillage.” Calling this event as “the theatre of a great  massacre,” Martial De Salviac states,
"The conduct of Abyssinian armies invading a land is simply barbaric. They contrive a sudden irruption,
more often at night. At daybreak, the fire begins; surprised men in the huts or in the fields are three quarter
massacred and horribly mutilated; the women and the children and many men are reduced to captivity; the
soldiers lead the frightened herds toward the camp, take away the grain and the flour which they load on
the shoulders of their prisoners spurred on by blows of the whip, destroy the harvest, then, glutted with
booty and intoxicated with blood, go to walk a bit further from the devastation. That is what they call
‘civilizing a land."

                                       Oromo Barentu people

The Oromo oral story also testifies that Ethiopians/Abyssinians destroyed and looted the  resources of Oromia, and committed genocide on the Oromo people through massacre, slavery,  depopulation, cutting hands, famine, and diseases during and after the colonization of Oromia.  Recognizing this tragedy, “the Oromo said: ‘It is Waaqa [God] … who has subjected us to the  Amhara.’” According to Martial De Salviac, “With equal arms, the Abyssinia [would] never  [conquer] an inch of land. With the power of firearms imported from Europe, Menelik  [Abyssinian warlord] began a murderous revenge.”
The colonization of Oromia involved human  tragedy and destruction: “The Abyssinian, in bloody raids, operated by surprise, mowed down without pity, in the country of the Oromo population, a mournful harvest of slaves for which the Muslims were thirsty and whom they bought at very high price. An Oromo child [boy] would cost up to 800 francs in Cairo; an Oromo girl would well be worth two thousand francs in
Constantinople”. The Ethiopian government massacred half of the Oromo population (five million out of  ten million) and their leadership during its colonial expansion.
 According to Alexander  Bulatovich (2000: 68-69), “The dreadful annihilation of more than half of the population during the conquest took away from the Gallas [Oromos] all possibilities of thinking about any sort of uprising. . . . Without a doubt, the Galla, with their least five million population, occupying the best land, all speaking one language, could represent a tremendous force if united.” The destruction of Oromo lives, institutions, and Oromian natural beauty were aspects of Ethiopian colonial terrorism. The surviving Oromos who used to enjoy an egalitarian democracy known as the gada system were forced to face state terrorism, political repression, and an impoverished  life. Bulatovich explains about the gada administration and notes that “the peaceful free way of  life, which could have become the ideal for philosophers and writers of the eighteenth century, if they had known it, was completely changed. Their peaceful way of life is broken; freedom is lost; and the independent, freedom loving Gallas find themselves under the severe authority of
the Abyssinian conquerors.”
Ethiopian colonialists also destroyed Oromo natural resources and the beauty of Oromia. Oromia was “an oasis luxuriant with large trees” and known for its “opulent and dark greenery used to shoot up from the soil.” De Salviac also notes that “the greenery and the shade delight the eyes all over and give the landscape richness and a variety which make it like a garden without boundary. Healthful climate, uniform and temperate, fertility of the soil, beauty of the inhabitants, the security in which their houses seem to be situated, makes one dream of  remaining in such a beautiful country.” The Abyssinian colonialists devastated “the forests by pulling from it the laths for their houses and [made] campfires or firewood for their dwellings. . .
. [They were] the great destructors of trees, others [accused] them of exercising their barbarity against the forests for the sole pleasure of ravaging.”13 Bulatovich applied to Oromia the phrase “flowing in milk and honey” to indicate its abundant wealth in cattle and honey.
The Ethiopian colonial state gradually established settler colonialism in Oromia and developed five major types of colonial institutions, namely, slavery, the colonial landholding system, the nafxanya-gabbar system (semi-slavery), the Oromo collaborative class, and garrison and non-garrison cities. It introduced the process of forced recruitment of labor via slavery and the nafxanya-gabbar (semi-slavery) system. (The Ethiopian settlers continued to depopulate Oromia through slave trade until the 1930s when the Italian fascists abolished slavery to recruit adequate labor for their agricultural plantations in the Horn of Africa. The nafxanya-gabbar system was also abolished during this time through the same process.) The colonial state expropriated almost all Oromo lands and divided up the Oromo among colonial officials and soldiers and their collaborators to force them to produce agricultural commodities and food for local consumption and an
international market. The Oromo farmers were reduced to serfs or slaves or semi-slaves and coerced to work without remuneration for the settlers, intermediaries, and the colonial state for certain days every week. Whenever they failed to provide free labor or pay taxes or tributes, the settlers enslaved their children or wives.
The colonial terrorism that started during the reign of Menelik has continued under successive Ethiopian governments. The Haile Selassie government continued the policies of Menelik until it was overthrown by the popular revolt of 1974. The Selassie government terrorized the Oromo of Raya-Azabo, Wallo, Hararghe, Bale and other regions because of their political and cultural resistance to the Amhara-Tigray domination. It also imprisoned, tortured or hanged prominent Oromo leaders, such as Mamo Mazamir and Haile Mariam Gamada who organized and led the Macca-Tuulama Self-Help Association in the early 1960s. The military
regime that emerged in 1974 under the leadership Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam continued state terrorism, dictatorship, and Ethiopian colonial policies. Currently, the Meles regime is continuing similar colonial policies and practices in Oromia and other places.
When Oromo activists and the people started to resist the military regime, it intensified its state terrorism. The Military regime (derg) and its supporters committed massive human rights violations in the name of the so-called Revolution. According to Norman J. Singer,
"Those killed in the first three months of the campaign of the ‘Red Revolutionary Terror' . . . numbered
around 4000-5000 [in Finfinnee (Addis Ababa) alone], the killings continued in March 1978, spreading to
the rest of the country . . . Those detained for political instruction numbered from 30,000 upwards . . .
Torture methods emphasized in the Red Terror . . . included severe beating on the head, soles of the feet . .
and shoulders, with the victim hung by the wrists or suspended by wrists and feet from a horizontal bar . . .
; sexual torture of boys and girls, including pushing bottles or red-hot iron bars into girls' vaginas; and other
cruel methods."
The derg continued its mass imprisonments and killings. In 1980, one Oromo source mentioned that "the Oromo constitutes the majority of the more than two million prisoners that glut Ethiopia's jails today". In the 1980s, thousands of Oromo nationalists were murdered or imprisoned; the regime also terrorized other elements of Oromo society. According to Gunnar Hasselblatt, the:military government"

"repeatedly held mass shooting among the Oromo population, hoping to break the free, independent Oromo
spirit. Sometimes a hundred, sometimes two hundred men were shot on this raised dry field . . . and were
buried with bulldozers. Over years this procedure was repeated several times. When the method did not
work and the Oromo population could not be forced into submission, other methods were used. The victims
were made to lie down with their heads on stone, and their skulls were smashed with another stone. The . . .
government . . . tried everything to consolidate its reign of terror and exploitation of Oromia . . . . When the
Oromo movement could not be quenched by shooting or by the smashing of skulls, [the government] came
up with a new idea. Men’s testicles were smashed between a hammer and an anvil. Three men tortured and
maimed in this way are still living."

Ethiopia has maintained its oppressive and repressive structures on the Oromo by the assistance of successive global powers, namely, Great Britain, the United States, former Soviet Union, and China. As the former USSR supported the Mengistu regime, the US, powerful European countries and China are supporting the Tigrayan-led Ethiopian government.Since 1992, the Tigrayan authoritarian-terrorist regime has controlled the Oromo and denied them the freedom of expression, association, organization, the media, and all forms of communication and information networks. This government has been focusing on brutally
attacking the Oromo national movement led by the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and on robbing the economic resources of Oromia in order to enrich the Tigrayan elites and their collaborators and to specifically develop the Tigrayan region. To achieve its political and economic objectives, the regime primarily uses its puppet organization known as the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) which was created and is today controlled by the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF); the OPDO is led by Tigrayan cadres, elements of Oromo speaking colonial settlers, and opportunistic Oromos who would do anything in exchange for luxurious lifestyles.

The minority Tigrayan-led Ethiopian government is attempting to give a final solution for a large political problem that has existed for several centuries—the relationship between the Oromos and their Amhara-Tigrayan colonizers. As we know from history, the policy of targeting and exterminating indigenous peoples exists in different parts of the world, and it has been an integral practice of the racialized capitalist world system since the 16th century. While claiming to promote Christian civilization, modernity, and commerce, European colonialists exterminated indigenous peoples in the Americas, Australia, Asia, and Africa over a period of several centuries in order to transfer their resources to European colonial settlers and their descendants. Specifically, the plans and actions that King Leopold of Belgium had for the Congo or Andrew
Jackson of the United States for the Cherokees or colonial Germany for the Herero and Nama peoples in South West Africa (Nambia) are very similar to the grand plan and action the Meles government has for the Oromo nation.

Read further here:http://www.gadaa.com/JalataWhatsNextForOromo.pdf

Gadaa as the Totality of the Oromo Civilization 
                                               Asafa Jalata, PhD,
Professors of Sociology and Global Studies, and Interim Chair of the Africana Studies Program
at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville

The critical and comprehensive understanding of the classical Oromo civilization requires studying the historical, cultural, political, philosophical, religious, linguistic, and geographical foundations of Oromo society. This is a monumental task that cannot be adequately achieved at this historical moment. Currently our knowledge of the social and cultural history of Oromia (the Oromo nation) is very limited and fragmented. For generations, the Oromo have mainly transmitted their history and culture through oral discourse.

 Since Oromo scholars and others have been discouraged or prohibited by the Ethiopian colonial state from documenting Oromo oral traditions, adequate information is lacking. Due to the dominant role of oral history, Oromo historiography requires a thorough and critical study of oral traditions. For the Oromo, as for
many African societies, the observation applies that “each time an old man [or a woman] dies a library is lost.” The Ethiopian colonial state has suppressed the production, reproduction, and dissemination of the intellectual knowledge of the people by destroying and/or suppressing Oromo institutions, culture, and history.

 For most Ethiopian and Ethiopianist scholars, Oromo history began in the 16th century when the Oromo were actively recapturing their territories and rolling back the Christian and Muslim empires (Jalata, 2005). The Oromo had at that time a form of constitutional government known as gadaa (Luling, 1965; Baissa, 2004: 101). Although we have limited knowledge of Oromo history before the 16th century, it is reasonable to think that this people did not invent the gadaa system just at the moment they were consolidating themselves through defensive and offensive wars and thereby entering "recorded history." Between the 16th and 19th, when various peoples were fighting over economic resources in the Horn of Africa, the Oromo were effectively organized under the gadaa institution for both offensive and defensive wars.
As Virginia Luling (1965: 191) mentions, "from the mid-sixteenth to the mid-nineteenth century the [Oromo] were dominant on their own territories; no people of other cultures were in a position to exercise compulsion over them." There are adequate evidences that indicate the Oromo people dominated the areas from Abyssinia, the Amhara-Tigray homeland, to Mombasa and from Somalia to the Sudan (albeit there were no well demarcated boundaries) before they were partitioned and colonized during the Scramble for Africa (Hambly, 1930: 176). To increase our understanding of the classical Oromo civilization, it is necessary to demonstrate the connections among Oromo peoplehood, culture, worldview, philosophy, religion, and politics. Let us start our analysis of the Oromo classical civilization with indigenous Oromo democracy as
the central foundation of social and political institutions.
Oromo woman selling an art, Selale,Ethiopia: Joakim Larsen

Oromo Democracy and its Major Principles
The indigenous gadaa system organized and ordered society around political, economic, social, cultural, and religious institutions (Baissa, 1971, 1993; Legesse, 1973). We do not know when and how this system emerged. However, we know that it existed as a full-fledged system at the beginning of the sixteenth century. During this century, the Oromo were under one gadaa administration (Baissa, 1993). According to Lemmu Baissa (2004: 101), Gadaa government comprised a hierarchy of triple levels of government: the national, the regional and the local. At the pan-Oromo level, the national government was led by an elected luba council [leaders] formed from representatives of the major Oromo moieties, clan families and clans, under the presidency of the abbaa gadaa and his two deputies . . . The national leadership was responsible for such important matters as legislation and enforcement of general laws, handling issues of war and peace and coordinating the nation’s defense, management of intra-Oromo clan conflicts and dealing with non-Oromo people.

Oromo karrayyu warrior at Gadaa ceremony

 Gadaa has three interrelated meanings: it is the grade during which a class of people assumes politico-ritual leadership, a period of eight years during which elected officials take power from the previous ones, and the institution of Oromo society (Legesse, 1973; 2006). Discussing the philosophy of Oromo democracy, Asmarom Legesse (1973: 2) notes, "What is astonishing about this cultural tradition is how far Oromo have gone to ensure that power does not fall in the hand of war chiefs and despots. They achieve this goal by creating a system of checks and balances that is at least as complex as the systems we find in Western democracies."  Bonnie Holcomb (1991: 4) asserts that the gadaa system “organized the Oromo people in an all-encompassing democratic republic even before the few European pilgrims arrived from England on the shores of North America and only later built a democracy.”

The gadaa system has the principles of checks and balances (through periodic succession of every eight years), and division of power (among executive, legislative, and judicial branches), balanced opposition (among five parties), and power sharing between higher and lower administrative organs to prevent power from falling into the hands of despots. Other principles of the system have included balanced representation of all clans, lineages, regions and confederacies, accountability of leaders, the settlement of disputes through reconciliation, and the respect for basic rights and liberties (Baissa, 1971, 1993). There have been five miseensas (parties) in gadaa; these parties have different names in different parts of Oromia as the result of
Oromo expansion and the establishment of different autonomous administrative systems (Lepisa, 1975; Ibssa 1992).
 All gadaa officials were elected for eight years by universal adult male suffrage. The system organized male Oromos according to age-sets (hirya) based on chronological age, and according to generation-sets (luba) based on genealogical generation, for social, political and economic purposes. These two concepts – gadaa-sets (age-sets) and gadaa-grades (generationsets) – are important to a clear understanding of gadaa. All newly born males would enter a gadaa-set at birth, which they would belong to along with other boys of the same age, and for the next forty years they would go through five eight-year initiation periods; the gadaa-grade would be entered on the basis of generation, and boys would enter their luba forty years after their
fathers (Legesse, 1973: 81). In incorporating the age-classification system, gadaa is similar to age-sets practiced by the Masai, Kikuyu and the Nuer. However, its use of genealogical generations as its organizing elements makes it different and unique.

 In 1522, the Oromo had already begun to participate in the extensive and intensive struggle in the Horn of Africa. This was before the Muslims seriously confronted Christian Abyssinia in 1527. In the first half of the 16th century, after two centuries of domination, the Muslims destroyed Christian rule and established their own under the leadership of one Ahmed Gragn for more than a decade.
 The Oromo were caught in the wars of the Christian and Muslim empire-builders, and according to Darrel Bates (1979: 7), "The [Oromo] . . . of the southern and western highlands had suffered in their time from both parties, and were waiting in the wings for opportunities . . . to recover lands which had been taken from them." Internally, an increase in both population and cattle had exhausted the scarce resources; externally, the wars with both the Christians and the Muslims endangered the Oromo's survival as people.

                                     Oromo salt collector in in Crater lake

 Butta wars occurred every eight years by the Oromo, when power transferred from one gadaa grade to the next, and were organized for revenge, or for defensive and offensive purposes. In the beginning of the 16th century, when they began to intensify their territorial recovery and expansion through the butta wars, all Oromo were under one gadaa government.
This factor, according to Asmarom Legesse (1973: 8, 10, 74), and the ability of the gadaa system to consolidate the people both militarily and organizationally enabled them to expand or recover their territories and accommodate their increased population and stock. Their recovery and expansion signaled their survivability (Ta’a, 1986: 17). The Oromo fought twelve butta wars between 1522 and 1618, recovering, expanding, and establishing Oromia (the Oromo country) to its present boundaries (Ta’a, 1986: 21-28). In the course of their continued expansion into various regions, different groups established autonomous gadaa governments. Various Oromo groups kept their relations through the office of Abbaa Muuda (the father of anointment) (Ta’a,1986:10) and formed alliances or confederations during times of difficulty. The gadaa system has a very logical structure, but because of the interlinking of the two concepts of belonging and
responsibility that are at its core, it is not easily accessible at first glance. Several descriptions are offered here. John Hinnant (1978: 213-214) says:
"[Gadaa] divides the stages of life, from childhood to old age, into a series of formal steps,
each marked by a transition ceremony defined in terms of both what is permitted and what
is forbidden. The aspect of gadaa, which throws the concept of age grading into confusion
is that of recruitment. A strict age-grade system assumes that an individual’s social passage
through life is in tune with his biological development. An individual enters the system at a
specific age and passes through transition rites at intervals appropriate to the passage from
childhood through full adulthood to senility. However, recruitment into the gadaa system is
not based upon biological age, but upon the recruitment that an individual remain exactly
five stages below his father’s level. Recruitment is thus based on the maintenance of one
socially defined generation between father and son.
Oromo woman returning from market,Ethiopia

 Describing how gadaa currently works in the Borana region of Oromia, Asmarom Legesse (1973: 8) asserts that “[Gadaa] is a system of classes (luba) that succeed each other every eight years in assuming military, economic, political, and ritual responsibilities. Each gadaa class remains in power during a specific term (gadaa), which begins and ends with a formal transfer ceremony.” And “[society is organized] into two distinct but cross-cutting systems of peer group structures. One is a system in which the members of each class are recruited strictly on the basis of chronological age. The other is a system in which the members are recruited equally strictly on the basis genealogical generations. The first has nothing to do with genealogical ties. The second has little to do. Both types of social groups are formed every eight years. Both sets of
groups pass from one stage of development to the next every eight years” (Legesse, 1973: 50- 51).
Despite the emergence of various autonomous gadaa administrations after the mid-17th
century, the central principles of the system remained intact. While establishing these
autonomous local governments, the Oromo formed alliances, federations, and confederations to
maintain their cultural and political solidarity and defend their security and interest from their
common enemies (Bulcha, 1996: 50; Etefa, 2008). The possession of institution of qaallu (the
spiritual leader) and the common gadaa government seems to have been what Mohamed Hassen
(1990: 9) terms “‘the special mark’ of the Oromo nation.” We have seen that Oromo males are
involuntarily recruited to both age-sets and generation-sets. Male children join age-sets as newly
born infants. Males born in the same eight-year period belong to an age-set. But they enter into
the system of gadaa grades forty years after their fathers, and since one grade is eight years,
fathers and sons are five grades apart. Male children can join advanced grades at birth, and may
join men or old men who are considered to be members of their genealogical generations. Older
men mentor young males in teaching rules and rituals, but the former treat the later as equals
since there is no status difference between the two groups in a gadaa class. Members of a gadaa
class share the same status and roles and perform their rights of passage from one grade to
another collectively.
Although some Oromo accepted Islam by force or as resistance to Ethiopian colonial
domination, and others were forced to accept Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity or willingly
accepted other forms of Christianity, their worldviews “are still hidden under the surface”
(Lambert, 1990: 42). Oromo prayers, blessings, and greetings manifest the Oromo worldview.
“The words of prayers, blessings and greetings continuously create and recreate connections
between the organizational and the cosmological structures,” P. T. W. Baxter (1990: 247) writes,
“such as the moieties and gaada.” Discussing the original system of Oromo thought and
worldview, Lambert Bartels asserts (1990: 15) that “whether they became Christians or Muslims,
the Oromo’s traditional modes of experiencing the divine have continued almost unaffected, in
spite of the fact that several rituals and social institutions in which it was expressed have been
very diminished or apparently submerged in new ritual cloaks.”
 In Oromo society, knowledge and information have been mainly transmitted from
generation to generation through the institutions of family, religion, and gadaa. Young Oromo
are expected to learn important things that are necessary for social integration and community
development. They learn appropriate social behavior by joining age-sets and generation-sets.
From their families, communities and experts, they learn stories, folk tales, riddles, and other
mental games that help acquiring the knowledge of society. As age-mates, they share many
things because of their ages; members of generation-sets also share many duties and roles
because of their membership in grades or classes.
At the stage of grade four “the gadaa classes and the age set come into being as a formal
corporate group: Leaders are elected for both groups. The name of the most senior man in each
group becomes the name of the group as a whole. The two groups then become cross-linked,
cross-cutting, structural units that operate as complementary institutions so long as they are
both represented by living members “ (Legessee, 1973: 58) [author’s emphasis]. Between the
third and fourth gadaa grades, boys become adolescent and initiated into taking serious social
responsibilities. The ruling group has responsibility to assign senior leaders and experts to
instruct and council these young men in the importance of leadership, organization, and warfare.
They also learn songs, parables, proverbs, cultural and historical maps, and other social skills
that they can use in public speech to praise the living and dead heroes or to criticize and ridicule
cowardice and traitors. Oratory, the art of public speaking, is highly valued in Oromo society;
“the forms of delivery, the wit of the speaker, his tone of voice, his posture, eye contact and
ability to command the attention of the audience” are skills to be honed and admired (Megersa,
1993: 36).
 Young men are also trained to become junior warriors by taking part in war campaigns and
hunting large animals; they learn the practical skills of warfare, military organization, and
fighting so that they can engage in battle to defend their country and economic resources (Baxter,
1979: 69-95). P. T. W. Baxter (1979: 177) argues that the Oromo have used age-sets because
generation-sets “cannot be an efficient means to mobilise troops, and a quite distinct organisation
based on closeness of age . . . exists for that purpose.” In the Borana community, where many
elements of the gadaa system still exist, the assembly known as Gumi Gayyo (the assembly of
multitudes) brings together every type of important living leaders, such as living– Abba Gaddas,
the qaallus, age-set councilors, clan leaders and gadaa councilors, and other concerned
individuals – to make or amend or change laws and rules every eight years (Huqqaa, 1998). The
Gumi Gayyo assembly has the highest degree of authority than the gadaa and other assemblies,
and other assemblies cannot reverse its decisions (Legessee, 1973: 93).
 The Abbaa Boku (the father of scepter) was a ‘chairman’ who presided over the assembly.
According to G. W. B. Huntingford (1955: 54): “The Abbaa Boku and his two colleagues are
chosen from the oldest or most distinguished families, which are known as `families of Hayu.'
The principal function of the Abbaa Boku is to preside over the parliament . . . to proclaim the
laws, and to act when necessary as ritual expert in the gadaa-ceremonies.” Abbaa Gadaa is
another name for Abbaa Boku.
 The Abbaa Duula (the defense minister) was also one of the leading figures in the gadaa
government. He was the leader of qondala (army) and was elected by the people. His main
responsibility included assisting the Abbaa Boku, especially during the time of war. The Abbaa
Boku was also supported by a council, known as shanee or salgee, and retired gadaa officials.
Gadaa laws were passed by the caafee (assembly) and implemented by officials. There was no
taxation under this system except that gadaa leaders and their families were provided with
necessary materials, such as food.
Despite kinship relationships are being such an important factors in Oromo society, those
who are elected to office are expected to serve without regard to kinship ties. Nobody is above
the rule of law in Oromo democracy. Lemmu Baissa (1993: 11) expresses the view that the
gadaa system “as a whole “provided . . . the machinery for democratic rule and enjoyment of
maximum liberty for the people.” Despite the gadaa system being an egalitarian social system,
women were excluded from passing through age-sets and generation-sets. Gadaa effectively
enforced a gender-based division of labor in Oromo society, although it allowed two equally
important separate and interdependent economic domains.
 Explaining how the gadaa system brought these two domains together by establishing
mechanisms of balancing, regulating, and safeguarding these domains, Qabbannee Waqayyo
(1991: 8) argues that “men have controlled the mobile resources -- those that required going out
from the homestead – herding, defense of livestock and land, tilling new fields, plowing, etc.
Women have controlled the stationary resources – the house, the grain and other products of the
fields once they are brought into gotara for storage, etc. Even the cattle around the house are
under their control; women milk them, decide how much milk goes to the calves, how much to
the people in the household for drinking, how much for butter or cheese to eat or sell, how much
to guests who bring valuable information, become friends in time of need.”
 The balancing of the domains of women and men and maintaining their interdependence
have been preconditions for keeping peace between the sexes and for promoting safu (moral and
ethical order) in society (Kelly, 1992). “By exercising a real day-to-day control over the
disposition of the resources at every point of the decision-making process in ways that are
protected by the value system of society,” Waqayyo (1991: 9) writes, “the woman wields
determinative influence in the society as a whole.” The gadaa system and the siiqqee institution
had influenced the value system of Oromo society. In pre-colonial Oromo society, women had
the siiqqee institution, a parallel institution to the gadaa system that “functioned hand in hand
with Gadaa [sic] system as one of its built-in mechanisms of checks and balances” (Kumsa,
1997: 119). These two institutions helped maintain safu in Oromo society by enabling Oromo
women to have control over resources and private spaces, social status and respect, and
sisterhood and solidarity by deterring men from infringing upon their individual and collective
rights (Kumsa, 1997: 115-145). If the balance between men and women was broken, a siqqee
rebellion was initiated to restore the law of God and the moral and ethical order of society.
 When there were violations of their rights, women left their homes, children, and resources
and traveled to a place where there was a big tree called qilxxu and assembled there until the
problems were solved through negotiation by elders of men and women (Kumsa, 1997: 129-
130). According to Kuwee Kumsa (1997: 126), “Married women have the right to organize and
form the siiqqee sisterhood and solidarity. Because women as a group are considered halaga
[non-relative] and excluded from the Gadaa grades, they stick together and count on one another
through siiqqee which they all have in common . . . in the strange gosa [lineage] where women
live as strangers, siiqqee represents the mother and they even address each other as `daughters of
a mother.’
They get together regularly for prayers as well as for other important individual and community
matters. If men try to stop women from attending these walargee (meetings), it is considered
against safu.”
 Oromo women used different siiqqee mechanisms to maintain their rights; such
mechanisms included the law of muuka laaftu (soften wood), the abarsa (curse), iyya siiqqee
(scream), and godaana siiqqee (trek). As Kumsa comments, “because of their liminality, women
wield a special religious power where they draw an enormous moral and ritual authority. Men,
therefore, try to avoid their curse and seek their blessings . . . `Women in general are
symbolically and politically liminal and correspondingly enjoy special sacred power as a class.’ .
. . people respect and revere a woman because Waaq made her to be respected and revered . . . .
Interference with a woman’s sacred authority is regarded as violating seera Waaq and safu”
(Kumsa, 1997: 127).
 A man who violated women’s individual and collective rights could be corrected through
reconciliation and pledging not to repeat the mistakes or through women’s reprisal ritual: A
group of women “ambush the offender in the bush or on the road, bind him, insult him verbally
using obscene language that they would not normally utter in the direct presence of an adult male
. . . pinch him, and whip him with leafy branches or knotted strips of cloth. In extreme cases,
they may force him to crawl over thorny or rocky ground while they whip him . . . They demand
livestock sacrifice as the price to cease their attack. If he refuses, they may tie him to a tree in the
bush and seize one of his animals themselves. Other men rarely intervene ” (Kelly, 1992: 187).
With the colonization of the Oromo people and the destruction of gadaa and siiqqee institutions
Oromo women have been subjected to three levels of oppression: racial/ethno-national, class,
and gender oppression. How did the social structures of the Oromo society work before

                       The Origin and Branches of the Oromo
Between the 12th and 13th centuries, the Oromo were already organized into two confederations or moieties known as Barentu and Borana (Hassen, 1990: 4-6). All Oromo subgroups can and do trace their genealogies to these confederations. Practically, however, it is not possible “to trace in detail the manner in which further division and the formation of” these moieties, sub-moieties, clans, and lineages did occur (Haberland, 1963: 775). According to the Oromo oral tradition, these Borana and Barentu moieties descended from the same family stock called Oromo (Baxter 1983: 129-149).

 Despite the fact that the Oromo claim that they descended from the same family stock,
Oromo, they do not limit their kinships to biological ancestry. The Oromo kinship system has
been based on a biological and social descent. The Oromo recognize social ancestry and avoid
the distinction between the biological and social descent since they know that the formation of
Oromo peoplehood was based on the biological and social kinship.

The Oromo have had a long history of cultural contacts with non-Oromo through war, marriage, economic relationship, and group adoption (Baxter, 1994: 174; Braukamper, 1989: 428). However, when there were wars and conflicts between the Oromo and their neighbors on economic and cultural resources, such as land, water, territory, trade route, and religious and political issues, the former imposed specific cultural policies to structurally and culturally change the conquered people in order to Oromoize them and consolidate Oromo society. Oromo laws strictly forbade the distinction between the social and biological descents (Megerssa, 1993: 27). P. T. W. Baxter (1994: 174) explains that “the adoption of adults, and often all their dependents
used to be a common practice, which thereby incorporated them and their descendants into the family, and hence into the lineage, clan . . . These practices, though almost certainly widespread and frequent, took place despite the firm ideological contention that descent and inheritance were both rigidly patrilineal. Oromo social theory, like most others, was often very flexible in practice.”
Oromo people of East Africa celebrate culture in Federation Square
Oromo people

 Through the process of group or individual adoption known as moggaasa or guudifacha, non-Oromo were adopted to Oromo gossa (confederation of clans), and were structurally and culturally Oromoized; these assimilated Oromo trace their descent to Oromo moieties and to the original Oromo (Braukamper, 1980: 25). Non-Oromo neighbors who were defeated in war or who wanted to share resources with Oromo groups would be adopted to the Oromo gossa: “The adopted groups now become collectively the `sons’ of gossa . . . this arrangement was inspired by political, military and economic considerations, though clearly it is couched in the symbolism of kinship and affiliation” (Blackhurst, 1978: 243). The original two moieties, Borana and Barentu, had one overarching political structure called the gadaa system that helped fashion.
Oromo relations within themselves and with outsiders, but evolved the mechanisms for incorporating new members. According to Hector Blackhurst (1978: 243-244), “Oromo political structure as it existed before [the sixteenth century] expansion began was flexibly centralized, in that major office holders were located at fixed points but power was sufficiently diffused throughout the system to enable local-level decision making to continue without constant reference back to the center. However, the whole system was renewed spiritually and structurally by the meetings at the caafee where legal matters were discussed and the law laid down or reiterated.”

        Oromo Karrayu woman,Ethiopia

 Although the Oromo had a biologically- and socially-constructed complex kinship system, as we will see below, the formation and expression of Oromo peoplehood are mainly culturally shaped (Baxter 1994: 248). A better understanding of Oromo people-hood and cultural identity requires the identification and exploration of the main characteristics and essence of Oromo social organizations and politico-religious institutions. Let us have some understanding of the Oromo kinship system on macro and micro-levels since it has been the basic social structure for defining common interests in resource management and utilization and in the process of establishing political and religious leadership and in forming leagues or confederations among Oromo society.

These leagues or confederations were based on a complex kinship system. The Oromo call the largest kinship system gossa, which is subdivided into moiety, sub-moiety and qomo (clan). These subdivisions have lower-order branches of kinship known as mana (lineage), balbala (minor lineages), and warra (minimal lineage or extended family) (Legesse, 1973: 37-42; Knutsson, 1967; Kelly, 1992: 40-63).

 Wherever the Oromo were divided into sub-moieties and clans, there is “clear distinction between clans and lineages. The clan (qomo) is first of all a social group, consisting of several descent groups who need not all be Oromo. The heart of every clan is compounded of a cluster of lineages tracing their descent to the ancestor who gave his name to the clan” (Bartels, 1990: 205). There were five sets of sub-moieties that extended from the Borana and Barentu moieties: the Sabbo and the Gona, the Macha and Tulama, and the Raya and Assabo, the Siko and the Mando, and the Itu and Humbana (Megerssa, 1993: 24-37). The first three sets belong to Borana, and the second two sets are branches of Barentu. The descendants of these moieties occupy specific areas in Oromia today: The Raya and Assabo branches occupy northern Oromia (i.e., include some part of Tigray, the whole of Wallo and some part of northern Shawa). The regions of Macha and Tulama include most of the present regions of Shawa, Wallaga, Ilubabor, and the Gibe region.
The branches of Sabbo and Gona occupy some part of the present Sidamo, part of Gammu-Gofa, and Borana, Gabra, and Guji lands, and some part of Kenya. The descendants of Siko and Mando occupy the Arssi and Bale lands, and some part of the Rift Valley. Finally, the branches of Itu and Humbana live in most of Haraghe and some part of Wallo in the north. Nevertheless, there have not been demarcated boundaries among these parts of Oromia.

 Whenever members of these moieties are asked to identify their descents, they always provide the name of their moieties, rather than their lineages. The complexity of the Oromo kinship system is demonstrated by the existence of similarly named putative descent groups on the macro and micro kinship levels across the whole spectrum of Oromo society (Baxter, 1994: 177). Because of these complexities and the paucity of data, it is impossible at this time to fully reconstruct the Oromo kinship system. Linguistic, anthropological and historical data have linked the Oromo to the so-called eastern Cushitic-speaking peoples who have been in the Horn of Africa as far as their history is known (Lewis, 1966). These so-called eastern Cushitic speakers were historically, geographically, culturally and linguistically connected peoples. The Oromo have lived for their known history in the Horn of Africa as these related peoples (Greenfield and Hassen, 1980: 3).

 Before the Arab elements immigrated to the Horn of Africa and mixed with some indigenous African peoples and developed into the Abyssinians or Habashas, the Horn of Africa was the home of the so-called Cushitic and other peoples. The Cushitic-speaking peoples settled on the central “Abyssinia/Ethiopian” Plateau, and were differentiated into subgroups. The Oromo were one of these groups that moved southward (Melbaa 1980: 5; Ehret, 1976). The Oromo have complex worldview, philosophy, and religion, as we shall see below.

Oromo Worldview, Philosophy, and Religion
Oromo society like any society has been conscious of its cultural identity, its relation to nature,
and the existence of a powerful force that regulates the connection between nature and society.
The Oromo knowledge of society and the world can be classified into two: a) cultural and
customary knowledge known as beekumsa aadaa, and b) knowledge of laws known as beekumsa
seera. The knowledge of laws is further subdivided into seera Waaqa (the laws of God), and
seera nama (the laws of human beings). The laws of God are immutable, and the laws of human
beings can be changed thorough consensus and democratic means. Oromo customary knowledge
is a public and common knowledge that guides and regulates the activities of members of
society; some elements of this customary knowledge can develop into rules or laws depending on
the interest of society (Megerssa, 1993: 20-23).

 Every person is expected to learn and recognize seera Waaqa and seera aadaa; however,
should someone does not know the laws of society or the laws of God, there are Oromo experts
who can be referred to. These experts study and know the organizing principles of the Oromo
worldview that reflect Oromo cultural memory and identity both temporally and religiously
(Megerssa, 1993: 20-23). Oromo institutions can be better understood by studying the Oromo
concept of social development (finna). As in any society, social changes occur in Oromo society
by combining the cumulative historical experiences with the contemporary condition. Hence
finna “represents the legacy of the past which each generation inherits from its forefathers [and
foremothers] and which it transforms; it is the fertile patrimony held in trust by the present
generation which it will enrich and bequeath to future generations . . . [it describes] a developing
of the inner potential of society based on the cultural roots it has already laid down” (Kassam,

 The Oromo concept of social development is constructed in seven interconnected phases: Gudina, gabbina, ballina, badhaadha, hoormata, dagaaga, and dagaa-hoora. When gudina indicates an improvement in cultural life due to the introduction of new experiences to Oromo society, gabbina involves the process of integrating cumulative cultural experiences with contemporary social conditions through broadening and deepening the system of knowledge and worldview. According to Aneesa Kassam (2007) “This can only be achieved through the full knowledge, consent and active participation of all members of the community. This implies the existence of a political organization, the forum for debate and the democratic means of reaching a consensus on all decisions affecting the common good. This should be obtained without force or coercion, without excluding the interests of any group, within the Oromo society and outside it, in the broader context of the national or international arena. To this end, the Oromo evolved a political process of power sharing reputed for its highly egalitarian nature: Gadaa.”

                                    Oromo Karrayyu people at Gadaa ceremony

Without gadaa or Oromo democracy there cannot be finna (development), peace, social justice, kao (freedom, peace, prosperity, success, and happiness), and safu. Gabbina emerges through democracy, peace, cooperation and consensus of all members of Oromo society of different levels to improve economic, cultural, and political conditions. Next to gabbina, there is a ballina phase. Ballina involves the expansion of enriched cultural and political experiences from Oromo society to another society through reciprocity of cultural borrowing and resources sharing and interdependence, based on the principles of democracy. This is the phase that focuses on foreign relations. It allows Oromo society to involve in cultural exchange and
cooperation with neighboring peoples. The cumulative experiences of gudina, gabbina, and ballina lead to the phase of badhaadha (richness). Theoretically badhaadha is a phase at which the Oromo and their neighbors who accept their philosophy of social development obtain peace, prosperity, and wholeness since there are no incidences of conflict, poverty, disease, and natural calamities.

 The badhaadha phase of development can only be achieved when there is peace between Waaqa (God), uuma (nature), and society. According to Baxter (1990: 238), human beings “must keep right with each other in order to keep right with God, and they must keep right with God to keep right with each other. Good social relationships and proper ritual relationships are reflexes of each other. Violence between men is both a cause and effect of God’s displeasure.” The development of this stage facilitates the emergence of the hoormaata phase. During this phase, animals and people reproduce and multiply because of availability of abundant resources and peace. Following this phase there is a development phase known as dagaaga; this is the stage at which development cycles are assessed and integrated to maintain even and sustainable
development. At the final stage of development called daga-hoora, Oromo society expands its cumulative cultural experiences of development to neighboring peoples through different mechanisms depending on a given condition. Sometimes, at this stage the Oromo had conflict with their neighbors because of the competition over resources, such as land and water.

 Until the last decades of the nineteenth century, when European imperialist intervention changed the balance of power in favor of the Abyssinians, the Oromo easily defeated their competitors due to their gadaa organizational capacity and military capability. The Oromo religion called Waaqeefana, worldview, philosophy, and politics have been interconnected and influenced one another. Oromo religious and philosophical worldview considers the organization of spiritual, physical and human worlds as interconnected phenomena, and Waaqa, the creator, regulates their existence and functions in balanced ways. Explaining how Oromos believe that Waaqa directs the world from above and controls everything from within, Kassam (2007) expounds that the “image of creation has important consequences for the Oromo vision of the
universe as a whole. It has influenced among other aspects of its traditional culture, its political and economic thought, and determined its traditional system of government and modes of production.”

The Oromo use three concepts to explain the organization and interconnection of human, spiritual and physical worlds. These three concepts are ayaana (spirit), uuma (nature), and safu (moral and ethical order). The Oromo believe that through ayaana, Waaqa (God) creates and regulates human and physical worlds in balanced ways. This ayaana also maintains the connection between the creator and the created. Oromo society has organizing principles for its known and unknown universe like any society; and ayaana is a major organizing principle of Oromo cosmology through which the concepts of time and creation are ordered (Kassam, 2007).

                                       Oromo woman with her child on her back

Ayaana as a system of classification and an organizing principle of Oromo cosmology establishes the connection between Waaqa (the Creator/God) and the created (nature and society) by differentiating and at the same time uniting the created things and the Creator (Kassam, 2007). The Oromo believe that Waaqa, the Supreme Being, created ayaana and uses it to organize scattered things into order. As Gemetchu Megerssa (1993: 95) explains, “ayaana is the mechanism by which the creator propels itself into becoming its own opposite, and dwells in that which it creates. This is then transposed to explain the basic principles that embed themselves in the diverse Oromo institutions, since there is no distinction between the laws of thought, the laws of nature, history and society.” The concept uuma includes everything created by Waaqa including ayaana. Safu is an ethical and moral “code that Oromos use to differentiate bad from good and wrong from right . . . [S]afu `constitutes the ethical basis upon which all human action should be founded; it is that which directs one on the right path; it shows the way in which life can be best lived’” (Megerssa, 1993: 255).
Oromo woman

 The Oromo claim that the understanding of laws of Waaqa, nature, and society both morally and ethically and living accordingly is necessary. They believe in God’s law and the law of society that they establish through the gadaa system of democracy to maintain nagaa (peace) and safu among Waaqa, society, and nature to achieve their full human destiny known as kao or kayyo (Hinnant, 1978: 210). Respect for the laws of Waaqa and gadaa have been essential to maintain nagaa Oromo (Oromo peace) and safu (moral balance) in society (Hinnant, 1978: 207- 243: Knutsson, 1967; de Loo, 1991).

 Most Oromos believe that they had full kao before their colonization since they had freedom to develop their independent political, economic, cultural and religious institutions. Original Oromo religious leaders, qaallus, have had a moral authority and social obligation to oppose tyrants and support popular Oromo democracy and gadaa leaders, and to encourage harmonious and democratic relations based on the principles of safu, kao, Waaqa, and uuma. The qaallu “is thought to possess sacred characteristics that enable him to act as intermediary between the people and . . . [God],” and “he had no administrative power, but could bless or withhold blessings from gadaa leadership, and had an extraordinary power to curse anyone who threatened the wellbeing of the entire community by deviating from . . . [God’s] order” (Kelly,
1992: 166)

The qaallu institution has been committed to social justice, the laws of God, and the rule of law, and fair deliberation; the qaallu “residence was considered politically neutral ground, suitable for debating controversial issues and for adjudicating highly charged disputes, although he himself might not take a prominent role in proceedings” (Kelly, 1992: 166). The qaallu institution has played an important role in protecting original Oromo culture, religion, worldview, and identity. When those Oromos who were influenced by this institution kept their Oromo names, most Oromos who were converted to Islam or Christianity willingly or by force abandoned their Oromo names and adopted Muslim or Christian names depending on their borrowed religion. The qaallu can be credited with having played an indirect role in the
preservation of the Oromo identity and the Oromo political system. The criteria to be a qallu included seniority in lineages, respectability in the community, expertise in ritual practices, moral qualification, respect for cultural taboos, sound social status, and other leadership qualities (Knutsson, 1967: 66-67). The leader of all qallus was known as Abbaa Muuda (father of the anointment) who was considered to be the prophet and spiritual leader of Oromo society. Oromo pilgrims traveled to the residence of Abbaa Muuda to receive his blessing and anointment to be ritual experts in their respective regions (Knutsson, 1967: 148).

 Abbaa Muuda served as the spiritual center and symbol of Oromo unity and assisted all Oromo branches to keep in touch with one another for several centuries; “as the Jews believe in Moses and the Muslims in Muhammad, the Oromo believe in their Abbaa Muuda [sic]” (Hassen, 1991: 79). Abbaa Muuda like other qaallu leaders encouraged harmonious and democratic relations in Oromo society. According to the qaallu mythology, Abbaa Muuda, the original Oromo religious leader was descended from heaven (Knutsson, 1967; Gololcha, 1988).
Oromo representatives traveled to the highlands of the mid-south Oromia to honor Abbaa Muuda and to receive his blessing and anointment that qualified them as pilgrims known as jilas to be ritual experts in their respective areas (Knutsson, 1967: 148). When Oromo representatives went to him from far and near places to receive his blessings, Abbaa Muuda commanded them “not to cut their hair and to be righteous, not to recognize any leader who tries to get absolute power,and not to fight among themselves” (knutsson, 1967: 148).

 In its modified form, the qaallu institution exists in some parts of Oromia, such as in the Guji and Borana areas; it still protects an Oromo way of life, such as dispensing of local justice based on Oromo customs and providing solutions to problems created by a changing social condition (Knutsson, 1967: 133-135). The qallus of Guji and Borana are ritual leaders, advisors, and ritual experts in the gadaa system. The qallus “possess the exclusive prerogative of legitimizing the different gadaa officials, when a new gadaa group is initiated into the politically active class” (Knutsson, 1967: 142). The Oromo still practice some elements of Oromo democratic values in the areas where the gadaa system was suppressed a century ago. The gadaa
system is still practiced in the Borana and Guji regions under the control of the Ethiopian colonial system in its modified form; it helps maintain peace, exchange knowledge and practice rituals among some clans and regional groups (de Loo, 1991: 25).

                               Oromo Guji boy

The current gadaa of Borana and Guji cannot fully reflect its original political culture under Ethiopian colonialism. Theoretically, most Oromos including those intermediaries who are collaborating with the enemies of the Oromo recognize the importance of gadaa, and some Oromo nationalists struggle to restore genuine Oromo democracy.

Efforts for Reviving and Revitalizing Oromo Democracy
Some core Oromo nationalist scholars advocate that without refining and restoring elements of the original Oromo political culture of gadaa, the Oromo society cannot fully develop Oromummaa, which is absolutely necessary to achieve national self-determination, statehood, and democratic governance. Recognizing that Oromo identity and peoplehood are an expression of Oromo culture, some Oromo nationalist scholars have started to study the cultural foundations of Oromo society to understand the whole essence of this society. Such scholars believe that studying, understanding, and restoring the original Oromo political institutions by refining and adapting them to contemporary conditions are practical steps towards unifying and consolidating
the Oromo national movement.

                               Oromo dance

 Some Oromo nationalists have already started to develop Oromummaa ideals based on original Oromo cultural foundations. The Oromo national struggle has initiated the Oromo cultural movement based on the following Oromo concepts: Oromummaa, gootummaa (bravery and patriotism), walabummaa (sovereignty), bilisummaa (liberation), gadaa (popular Oromo democracy), nagaa (peace), and kao or kayyo (prosperity and peace) (Jalata, 2007). Furthermore, core Oromo nationalist leaders assert today that all concerned Oromos should participate in revitalizing the Oromo national movement by applying some elements of gadaa, aiming at establishing a future Oromia state, sharing sovereignty with others, implementing internal peace
within the Oromo society, and promoting peace with Oromia’s neighbors. They also note that the Oromo national struggle has now reached at a level where it requires mass mobilization and participation in order to succeed. In this mobilization, they recommend the movement to use the ideology and principles of gadaa democracy enshrined in Oromummaa to mobilize the entire nation spiritually, financially, militarily, and organizationally to take coordinated political and military actions.

Gadaa, as an emblem of an Oromo cultural totality with its democratic traditions, has also become an ideological expression of the Oromo national movement. Holcomb (1993: 4) notes, “Gadaa represented an ideological basis for the expression of Oromo nationalism. This expression empowered the Oromo to resist oppression, become self-conscious as a nation in the twentieth century in the face of intense subjugation . . . Gadaa represents a repository, a storehouse of concepts, values, beliefs and practices that are accessible to all Oromo. The challenge the Oromo face now is the serious of fashioning elements of the heritage into an
ideology, which empowers the nation to achieve the self-determination that the people aspire to.”

Also, a few Oromo scholars suggest that Oromo political organizations need to use the Oromo political wisdoms and experiences in order to reach the national organizational capacity and to throw off the chains of Ethiopian colonialism. They also recommend that after bringing together gadaa experts and Oromo intellectuals who are familiar with the Oromo democratic traditions, the Oromo national movement should start to formulate procedures, strategies, and tactics for building a national assembly with supreme authority called Gumii Oromia. At this national Gumii, they suggest representatives of all Oromo sectors, all serious and independent Oromo liberation fronts and organizations should carry out their national obligations. This
national Gumii must be modeled after the Gumii Gayyo:

In Oromo democratic traditions, the highest authority does not reside in the great lawmakers who are celebrated by the people, nor the rulers who are elected to govern for eight years, nor hereditary rights, nor the age-sets and age-regiments who furnish the military force, nor the abbaa duula who lead their people in battle. It resides, instead, in the open national assembly, at which all gadaa councils and assemblies . . . active and retired are represented, and warra Qaallu, the electors, participate as observers. The meetings that take place every eight years review the conduct of the ruling gadaa council, punish any violators of law, and remove any or all of them from office, should that become necessary. In such sessions, a retired abbaa gadaa
presides. The primary purpose of the meetings of the national assembly, however, it to reexamine the laws of the land, to reiterate them in public, to make new laws if necessary, and to settle disputes that were not resolved by lower levels in their judicial organization (Legesse 2006, 211).
Beautiful Oromo woman

 The Gumii Gayyo is an expression of the exemplar model of the unwritten Oromo constitution. Reframing and transforming the unwritten Oromo constitution into a new written national constitution based on Oromo democratic principles require absolute commitment from Oromo nationalists and their organizations. As Asmarom Legesse (2006: 255) puts, “Oromo democracy is not perfect: if it were, it would not be democratic. Like all democratic institutions, it is the product of changing human thought that must always be re-examined in relation to changing historic circumstances.” The underlying assumption is that by establishing the National Assembly of Gumii Oromia, Oromo nationalists and organizations of the Oromo national
movement aim to frame a written Oromo constitution by adapting older Oromo political traditions to new circumstances while also learning from other democratic practices. Those who promote the idea of building Gumii Oromia recommend that the Oromo national movement needs to address three major issues. The first issue is to further develop Oromummaa to its fullest capacity by overcoming its unevenness and deficiencies. This will strengthen the Oromo national organizational capacity.

Between the times when the Oromo were colonized and until Oromo nationalism emerged, Oromoness primarily existed on personal and the interpersonal levels since the Oromo were denied opportunities to form national institutions. Expressed Oromoness was targeted for destruction; colonial administrative regions established to suppress the Oromo people and exploit their resources. As a result, Oromo relational identities have been localized and not strongly connected to a collective Oromo national identity. The Oromo were forcibly separated from one another and prevented from exchanging goods and information with one another for more than a century. They were exposed to different cultures (i.e., languages, customs, values, etc.) and religions and borrowed an array of them. Consequently, today there are Oromos who have
internalized these externally imposed regional or religious identities because of their low level of political consciousness or because of their political opportunism. The Oromo people who did not develop national political consciousness still confuse clan, regional or religious politics with Oromo national politics.

                                           Oromo woman

 Overcoming these political weaknesses by building Oromo national organizational capacity is only possible when Oromummaa as a national vision is accepted, energizes and unites the entire Oromo nation. As an element of culture, nationalism, and vision, national Oromummaa has the power to serve as a manifestation of the collective identity of the Oromo national movement. The basis of national Oromummaa must be built on overarching principles that are embedded within Oromo traditions and culture and, at the same time, have universal relevance for all oppressed peoples. The main foundations of national Oromummaa are rooted in the rights of individual and collective freedom, justice, popular democracy, and human liberation, which are built on the concept of safu (Oromo moral and ethical order) and are enshrined in gadaa principles. As the ideology of the Oromo national movement, national Oromummaa enables the Oromo to retrieve their cultural memories, assess the consequences of Ethiopian colonialism, and give voice to their collective grievances. National Oromummaa enables the Oromo people to form alliances with all political forces and social movements that accept the principles of national self-determination and multinational democracy in promotion of a global community that will be free from all forms of oppression and exploitation. Therefore, Oromummaa is seen as a complex and dynamic national and global project.

                                     Oromo (Borana tribe) woman

 As a national project and the central ideology of the Oromo national movement, Oromummaa enables the Oromo to mobilize diverse cultural resources, interlink Oromo personal, interpersonal and collective (national) relationships, and assists in the development of Oromo-centric political strategies and tactics that can mobilize the nation for collective action empowering the people for liberation. As a global project, Oromummaa requires that the Oromo national movement be inclusive of all persons operating in a democratic fashion. This global Oromummaa enables the Oromo people to form alliances with all political forces and social movements that accept the principles of national self-determination and multinational democracy in promotion of a regional and global humanity that will be free of all forms oppression and
exploitation. In other words, global Oromummaa is based on the principles of mutual solidarity, social justice, and popular democracy.

The foundation of Oromummaa must be built on overarching principles that are embedded within the Oromo democratic tradition and culture and, at the same time, have universal relevance for all oppressed peoples. Although, in recent years, many Oromos have become adherents of Christianity and Islam, the concept of Waaqa (God) lies at the heart of Oromo traditions and culture. In Oromo traditions, Waaqa is the creator of the universe and the source of all life. The universe created by Waaaq contains within itself a sense of order and balance that is to be made manifest in human society. Although Oromummaa emerges from Oromo cultural and historical foundations, it goes beyond culture and history in providing a liberative narrative for the future of the Oromo nation as well as the future of other oppressed peoples, particularly those who suffer under the Ethiopian Empire. Those Oromos who endorse and glorify Ethiopianism and clan/regional politics are undermining Oromummaa in order to enjoy power and material benefits at the cost of the Oromo nation and other peoples.

 Without recognizing the centrality of Oromummaa for the national struggle, the Oromo cannot develop a victorious consciousness that equips them with the knowledge of liberation. Oromummaa as an intellectual and ideological vision places the Oromo man and woman at the center of analysis and at the same time goes beyond Oromo society and aspires to develop global Oromummaa. Oromummaa challenges the idea of glorifying African monarchies, chiefs, or warlords that have collaborated with European slavers, colonizers and neo-colonialists and destroyed Africa by participating in the slave trade and the projects of colonialism, neocolonialism, and global imperialism.
Oromo (Karrayyu) woman

 Those Africanist scholars who degrade African democratic traditions just as their Euro-American counterparts devalue the Oromo democratic system and consider indigenous Africans such as the Oromo primitive and “stateless.” Challenging the view of Euro-American racist and “modernist” scholars, Asmarom Legesse (2000: 30) asserts that “since monarchy was in decline in most Europe, and the transition to democracy became the epitome of Europe’s highest political aspirations, admitting that some varieties of democracy were firmly planted in Africa in the 16th century when in fact they were not fully established in Britain, the United States and France until the 17th or 18th century would have made the ideological premise of the ‘civilizing mission’ somewhat implausible. The idea . . . that African democracies may have some
constitutional features, which are more advanced than their European counterpart was and still is considered quite heretical.”

                                Oromo women

 Although the priority of the Oromo national movement is to liberate Oromia and its people, the movement has moral and political obligations to promote social justice and democracy for other peoples who have suffered under the successive authoritarian-terrorist governments of the Ethiopian Empire.
Therefore, the Oromo movement needs to build a political alliance with national groups that endorse the principles of national self- determination and multinational democracy. A democratic Oromia should play a central role in a federated multinational democratic state because of its democratic tradition, the size of its population, geopolitics, and abundant economic resources. The Oromo national movement should demonstrate to Oromo society and their neighbors that the Oromo nation is serious about statehood, shared sovereignty, and egalitarian multinational democracy.
Oromo woman

 Oromummaa, as oppressed nationalism and a critical aspect of Afrocentric worldview, builds on the best elements of Oromo culture and traditions and endorses an indigenous Oromo democracy. As an aspect of Afrocentric worldview (Asante, 1990) that sees an African culture as the center of African life and the African Diaspora, Oromummaa bases its vision on Oromo popular democracy. The aspiration to restore this form of popular democracy is similar to the idea of developing Afrocentric awareness in the African and African diaspora communities. According to Molefi Kete Asante (1988: 49), a critical Afrocentric awareness develops “when the person becomes totally changed to a conscious level of involvement in the struggle for his or her own mind liberation. Only when this happens can we say that the person is aware of the collective consciousness will. An imperative of will, powerful, incessant, alive, and vital, moves to eradicate every trace of powerlessness.”

 Those who endorse and glorify Ethiopianism are undermining this Afrocentric awareness in order to enjoy power and material benefits at the cost of various African population groups. Hence progressive Habashas, ordinary Amharas and Tigrayans, other Africans, and the African Diaspora must recognize the negative consequences of Ethiopianism and support the struggle for self-determination, multinational democracy, and development in Oromia, Ethiopia, and beyond. Without recognizing the centrality of Africa for humanity in general and the significance of indigenous African cultures in particular, we cannot develop “a victorious consciousness” (Asante, 1988) that equips us with the knowledge of liberation. This knowledge of liberation
must be a critical Afrocentric one that “places the African person at the center of analysis” by making “the African person subject, and not object, of study” (Asante, 1990). Similarly, Oromummaa places the Oromo man and woman at the center of analysis and at the same time goes beyond Oromo society and aspires to develop global Oromummaa by contributing to the solidarity of all oppressed peoples and promoting the struggle for self-determination and multinational democracy.

 Recognizing the existence of various forms of indigenous African democracy before Africa was partitioned and colonized and challenging Euro-American-centric scholarship and Ethiopian studies that rationalize and justify racial/ethno-national inequality can help in developing a human-centric and original scholarship. Learning about Oromo society—with its complex democratic laws, an elaborate legislative tradition, and well-developed methods of dispute settlement—and the Oromo national struggle can present a new perspective for Africana studies and politics.

Africans and the African Diaspora and other oppressed peoples can ally with one another on global level by exchanging political and cultural experiences and re-creating the ideology of panAfricanism from “below” and by building global mutual solidarity based on the principles of popular democracy and egalitarian world order. As globalization and transnational capitalism intensify its barbarism and terrorism through looting and destroying indigenous population groups, such as the Oromo, and others, the choice of establishing regional and global mutual solidarity of the oppressed and exploited human groups on the principles of popular democracy and egalitarian world order will become absolutely necessary. The Oromo classical civilization
can immensely contribute to such alternative liberation projects.


  1. The Oromo world from A 2 Z , So important and interesting ! Very awesome and almost professional work!


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