Monthly Archives: April 2011

Mil’uu Xiinxala Kitaaba Aadaa Booranaa – A Dictionary of Borana Culture

 

Reviewed by Taammanaa Bitimaa*

ISBN 10: 9994400053
ISBN 13: 9789994400058
Publisher: Shama Books
Publication Date: 2006
Authors: Ton Leus with Cynthia Salvadori
Book Title: AADAA BOORANAA – A Dictionary of Borana Culture
Language: Oromo
Pages: 709

 

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Kitaabni kanaa olitti kaayame kun fuuleewwan 709 qaba. Fakkoolee (footota) kan waayee garagaraa agarsiisan danuu of-keessatti baaddhatee argama. Kitaabichi aadaa, seenaa, dinagdee fi Afaan Oromoo sirriitti kan muldhisu. Kitaabni kun duraan bara 1995 keessa “BORANA DICTIONARY” maqaa jedhamuun bayee ture. Ammoo, inni kun waan isa durii caala qaqqajeelee wanni daran hedduus itti- dabalamee bayeef, barroo (kitaaba) haaraa dha jechuutu dandayama. Mee waan hundaa dura waayee barreessicha beekamaa kanaa, waayee Ton Leus gabaabinaan haa ilaallu!

Ton Leus dhalootaan nama Biyya Hoolandaa yoo tahu, Oromiyaa teenya biyya ofii tan lammaffaa godhachuun waggaalee 27 keessa jiraate. Kan jiraates godina Booranaa yoo tahu, akkuma uummataatti jiraachuun kabaja, jaalalaa fi raajeffannoo uummata keenyaa nama dhuunfate ture. Inni karaa amantiitiin nama Kaatolikii yoo tahu, kan qeyee ofii taasifacuun bara dheeraa uummataaf tajaajila barbaachisu kennaa ture, ganda naannoo Yaaballootti argamu Dhaddiim keessa. Ton Leus waggaalee jedhaman kana keessa aadaa fi Afaan Oromoo qorachuu hojii isaa keessaa isa duraasaa waan godhateef, kunoo kitaaba hedduu tujuba-qabeessa akkanaa nuuf dhiisee dabruu dandaye. Ton Leus bara 2007 keessa du’ee kan awwaalames bakka Oromoonni dhibbi baay’een argamanitti, dachee Oromiyaa irratti, biyyee Oromiyaa keessatti, ganda Dhaddiim kan qeyee ofii taasifate san keessatti. Sanduuqa reeffaa keessa kaayamuun kitaaba isaa kana keessaa tokko, isa waliin awwaalame. Inni nu dhiisee dabrullee gumoon hojii isaa, kitaabni kun akka bakkalcha bariitti dhaloota Oromoo dhufuuf ifaa jiraata.

Mee amma gara handhuura barroo kanaatti ceenee, wanneen tokko tokko haa ilaallu! Yoo barreessichi kitaaba isaa kanaan galmee-jechootaa (“dictionary”) jedheenillee, inni galmee-jechootaa otoo hin taane, kubee (kuusaa-beekumsaa – “encyclopedia”) dha. Kubeedhuma keessayyuu kan hedduu tujuba-qabeessa tahe. Kitaabichi aadaa, afaani fi seenaa Oromoo, keessaumaa kan Oromoo Booranaa akka gaariitti kan ibsu. Waan hundumaa caala Afaan Oromoo afaan sooressa, baldhaa fi dilbaayaa tahuu isaa kan sirriitti muldhisu. Mee isa kana fakkeenyota muraasa wayii fudhanneetoo haa ilaallu!

Kitaabichi akka galmee-jechootaa kanneen biroo fakkeenyaaf aannan = “milk” jedheetoo kan bira dabru otoo hin taane, aadaa aannanii kan Oromoon qabuu fi gosa aannanii tokko tokkoon tarreessa. Jecha kophee = “general word for shoe” jedhamu jalatti, Oromoon Booranaa gosa kophee 11 qabaachuu isaa addeessa. Kunis: kophee gogaa, kophee hoddhaa, kophee salaalaa, kophee yabbuu, kophee imbiraa, kophee iskarbaa, kophee lailonii (naayilonii), kophee mukaa, kophee odaa, kophee yabbuu satawwaa, burkaanii. Jecha loon = “cattle, livestock, herd, herd of cattle” jedhamu jalatti immoo jechoota 20 ol tarreessa. Akkanuma jecha sirba = “song, singing, dance” jedhamu jalatti gosa sirbaa kan Oromoon Booranaa qabu 26 kenna. Kitaabni kun sonaan hedduu dilbaayaa waan taheef, akkanumatti jecha tokko fudhachuun isa jalatti jechoota baay’ee tarreessa. Dabaleesoo, aadaa fi seenaa jecha san wajjin walqabatanis tolchee ibsa. Afaan Oromoo hedduu sooressa, baldhaa fi miidhagaa tahuu isaa, kitaabni kun akka daawwitiitti nu fuuldura qabeetoo sirriitti nutti agarsiisa. Afaanuma Oromoo keessayyuu loqoddaan Booranaa akkaan sooressa tahuu isaa muldhisa. Loqoddaan Booranaa kan loqoddaalee Afaan Oromoo isaan biroo irra sooressaa fi badhaadhaa tahee argumas, waan Oromoon Booranaa sirna gadaa: isa sirna aamantii, sirna taliigaa, sirna dinagdee fi sirna gamtaa of-keessaa qabu saniin, hanga ammaattuu buluufi.

Karaa seenaas yoo fudhanne, keessumaa waayee sirna gadaa fi amantii Oromoo, Waaqeffannaa akka gaariitti ibsa. Gadaa Oromoo Booranaa bara 1467 irraa kaasuun hanga bara 2008-2016-tti abbootii gadaa 70 tarreessuun gosa fi maqaa gadaa isaanii wajjin kenna. Kunis abbaa gadaa Oromoo Booranaa isa jalqabaa: Gadayyoo Galgaloo Yaayyaa (1467 – 1475) irraa hamma abbaa gadaa isa bara 2008 filameetti, jechuun Guyyoo Gobbaa Bulee-tti (2008 – 2016) tarreessa. Kan biraa dhiifnee yoo bara jedhame kana (1467) akka jalqaba gadaa Oromootti fudhannellee, kun karaa sirna dimokiraasii kan addunyaa keessatti raajeffatamu. Otoo warri Oroppaa bara 1492 irraa kaasanii Kolumbus faa ardii Atilaantika gamaatti erganii, “Ameerikaa arganne” jechuun hin odeeffatinii fi hin ololeeffatin dura, Oromoon sirna qaroominaa kan tahe, sirna gadaa isa dimokiraasii irratti bu’ureeffameen bulaayyu jechaa dha.

Mee ergan kitaaba kana raajeffannoo cimaa taheen isiniif dhiyeessee booda, waan tokko kan dogoggora tahen tuqee dabra. “Kan hin dogoggorre Waaqa qofa” jedha, mammaaksi Oromoo tokko. Kunis akka maxxansa kitaaba kanaa isa lammaffaa irratti qajeelfamuufi malee, akka aadaa Oromoottillee nama boqote qeeqachuun hin malu.

Kitaabni kun jechoota Oromoon afaanota biroo irraa ergifachuun qaama jechoota ofii taasifate garii kenneeti jira. Kunis waan dansaa tahe. Ammoo, karaa kanaan daddhabbiiwwan tokko tokko muldhatanii argamu. Qorannoon madda-jechootaa (“etymology”) badhee (“field”) mataa ofii dandaye qaba. Kunis kan yeroo dheeraa fi qarannoo cimaa barbaachisu taha. Kitaabni kun jechoota Afaan Oromoo keessumaa kan loqoddaan Booranaa afaanota: Arabaa, Iswaahilii, Somaalee, Amaaraa, Ingilizii, Faransaa fi Xaaliyaanii irraa ergifate ni agarsiisa. Kan afaanota Ingilizii, Faransaa fi keessumaa Xaaliyaanii irraa afaan keenya ergifate dogoggora malee, akka gaariitti muldhisa. Garuu, kan Afaan Arabaa irraa ergifataman garii isaanii akka waan Afaan Amaaraa irraa ergifatamaniitti dhiyeessa. Dhugaa dha; isaan kana keessaa kan Afaan Oromoo karaa Afaan Amaaratiin ergifates ni jiru. Haatahu malee, kan inni kallachumatti Afaan Arabaa irraa ergifates Afaan Amaaraa irraayyi ergifate jechuun dogoggora taha. Akkanuma kan Afaan Oromoo Afaan Arabaa irraa kalachumaan ergifates akka waan Afaan Iswaahilii irraa ergifateetti dhiyeeffamee jira. Fakkeenyaaf jechoonni: kitaaba, kibriita/ kibritii, saabunaa/ saamunaa, sanduuqa, shaa’ii/ shaayii, si’aasaa/ siyaasaa, sigaaraa/ sijaaraa, sukkaara/ shukkaara, maqasii, Kamisa jedhaman faa Oromiyaa guutuu fi dabres Biyya Oromoo hundumattuu ni beekamu. Isaan akkanaa kana Afaan Oromoo kallachumatti Afaan Arabaa irraayyi ergifate malee, akka kitaabicha keessatti jedhame kan Afaan Iswaahilii irraa ergifatee miti. Kun barroo raajeffatamaa keenyaa, kan Ton Leus keessatti callaa otoo hin taane, kan namoota alagaa isaan galmee-jechoota Afaan Oromoo dhiyeessan danuu keessattis kan muldhatu. Kunillee dogoggora yartuu wayii ti. Dogoggorrin ani amma kanaa gaditti dhiyeessu isa jechoota handhuuraa Afaan Oromoo tahan, akka waan Afaan Amaaraa irraa ergifatamaniitti kennamanii kan ilaalu. Isa kana bakka lamattan qoodee ibsuuf yaala.

a) Jechoota Afaan Amaaraa Afaan Oromoo irraa ergifate akka waan Afaan Oromoo Afaan Amaaraa irraa ergifateetti dhiyeessuu; fakkeenyota : cuubee, (“a large knife”), callee (“small colourful beads”), caakkaa (“dense forest”), bordee (“beer brewed from maize or other grains”) , goojjoo/ godoo (“shack”), daboo (“helping one another in agricultural work”), qabattoo (“strap, belt”), qaboo (“calling a few people together for work”), qoroo (“Borana agents appointed by the representative of the government”) faa. Mirkana; isaan kana keessaa garii Oromoon Booranaa karaa warra Amaaraa dursee dhagayuun ni mala. Ammoo, kun amala warra galmee-jechoota Oromoo barreessanii jechuun warra biyyoota alaa taheetu, isaan akkanaa kana akka waan jechoota Afaan Amaaraa tahanitti dhiyeeffama. Mee amma dubbii waan kana sirriitti nu hubachiisu tokkon, gabaabsee dhiyeessuu fedha.

Oromoonni Booranaa akka qoosaattis tahu Oromoota Shawaa fi Wallaggaa kan ittiin waaman dubbii tokko qabu. Kunis: “warra yaa gooftaa-koo jedhu”, isa jedhamu. Oromoonni Booranaa akkuma Oromoota Tuulamaa fi Maccaa isaan durii-durii ilmoo namaatiin “gooftaa” hin jedhani. Isaaniif “gooftaan” Waaqa duwwaa dha. Aadaa Oromoo keessa ilmoo namaatiin “yaa gooftaa-koo” jedhaniitoo gadi-jechuunis hin turre. Amantii Oromoo, Waaqeffannaa keessattis “gooftaan” Waaqa tokkicha qofa waan taheef, fudhatama hin qabu. Oromoonni Biyya Habashaa waliin daangaa qaban kan akka: Raayyaa, Walloo, Tuulamaa fi Maccaa faa booda keessa akkuma warra Amaaraa namanis “gooftaa” jechuu eegalani. Kun kan nutti muldhisu Oromoon Booranaa jecha kana dursee kan dhagaye Oromootuma irraayyi jechaa dha. Kanaafuu, jechoota Afaan Oromoo kan naannolee biroo irraa Oromoon Booranaa dhagayee ergifate, akka jechoota Amaaraatti kennuun sirrii hin tahu. Wanni kun warra gara fuulduraatti galmee-jechootaa kan Afaan Oromoo nuuf dhiyeessaniin qulqullaayee lafa kaayamuun, dirqama saayinsiin afaanii hordofu taha.

b) Jechoota Oromoo kan gonkumaa Afaan Amaaraa keessatti hin argamne, akka waan Oromoon Booranaa Afaan Amaaraa irraa ergifateetti dhiyeessuu; fakkeenyota: batatee/ babattee (“in a plow, the pair of triangular pieces of wood that support the metal blade”), dafi (“quickly, in hurry”), fida (“to bring”), furaa/ furtuu (“key”), jirbii (“cotton”), qaanessa (“to disgrace, embarrass”), qamadii (“wheat”), qanani’a (“to have a good life”), qophaa’a (“to be ready”), qullubbii (” garlic”), shaanaa (“cabbage”), shawwee (“fresh maize”), shila’a (“to pass through, go through”), shufuroo (“a careless person, one who is antidy”), talallaa (“vaccination”), tiiqii/ xiiqii (“revenge”), ukkuma (“to order forcefully, coerce with force”), gooftaa (“master, lord”), boggee (“pants, shorts”), bonkisa (“to thresh grain”), daanoo/ daana’oo/ daanawoo (“weevil”), kokii (“cup”) faa. Egaa, jechoonni kun akkuman kanaa olitti tuqe matumaa kan Afaan Amaaraa keessa hin jirre waan tahaniif, loqoddaan Booranaa loqoddaalee Oromoo warra biroo irraayyi ergifate jechaa dha. Namni waan ofii hin qabne, waan ofii hin beekne namaaf liqeessu yookaan ergisu hin jiru!

Dogoggorrin kanaa olitti ibsuuf yaale, dogoggora namni waa hojjatu gochuu dandayu waan taheef, maalaleffannoo kitaaba kanaa kan gadi-xiqqeessuu miti! Kitaabni Ton Leus kun kan akkanatti sooromee, badhaadhee, miidhagees nuuf dhiyeete, waan barreessichi aadaa fi Afaan Oromoo uummata keessa jiraachuun bara dheeraa gadi-fageenyaan qorateefi. Dabaleesoo, waan inni Oromoota hedduu deeggartoota ofii godhachuun keessatti hirmachiiseefi. Malli inni itti-dhimma baye kun, gara fuulduras warra aadaa fi Afaan Oromoo qorachuu fedhaniif fakkeenya qajeelaa fi sirrii kan tahu. Oromoonni waa dubbisuu dandayan cufti kitaaba guddichaa fi tuujaba-qabeessa kana, akka mana ofii keessaa hin dhabnen cimsee dhaamsa kiyya dabarsa!

* Taammanaa Bitimaa: Gurree@web.de

Barliin, Jarmanii

20. 04. 11

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The Oromian Taste

The Oromian National Food-Dhangaa

The main foods of Oromos are animal products including foon (meat), aannan (milk), baaduu (cheese), dhadhaa (butter), and cereals that are eaten as marqaa (porridge) and bideena (bread). Oromos drink coffee, daadhii (honey wine), and faarsoo (beer). Some Oromos chew chat (a stimulant leaf).

The special dish of Oromos is ittoo (made with meat or chicken, spices, hot pepper, and other ingredients) and bideena bread (made from xaafii or millet). Sometimes marqaa or qincee (made from barley) is eaten for breakfast. Ancootee (a food made from the roots of certain plants) is a special food in some parts of western Oromia.

All members of the family eat together. Members of the family sit on stools, eat off wooden platters or dishes, use wooden spoons for liquids, and use washed hands to pick up solid foods. The majority of Oromos eat twice a day, in the morning and at night. Muslim Oromos do not eat pork for religious reasons.
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Oromo and Oromia

PRONUNCIATION: AWR-uh-moz

LOCATION: Ethiopia; Kenya; Somalia

POPULATION: 28 million

LANGUAGE: Afaan Oromoo

RELIGION: Original Oromo religion (Waaqa); Islam; Christianity

1 • INTRODUCTION

Although Oromos have their own unique culture, history, language, and civilization, they are culturally related to Afars, Somalis, Sidamas, Agaws, Bilens, Bejas, Kunamas, and other groups. In the past, Oromos had an egalitarian social system known as gada. Their military organization made them one of the strongest ethnic groups in the Horn of Africa between the twelfth and nineteenth centuries. Gada was a form of constitutional government and also a social system. Political leaders were elected by the men of the community every eight years. Corrupt or dictatorial leaders would be removed from power through buqisu (recall) before the official end of their term. Oromo women had a parallel institution known as siqqee. This institution promoted gender equality in Oromo society.

Gada closely connected the social and political structures. Male Oromos were organized according to age and generation for both social and political activities. The gada government was based on democratic principles. The abba boku was an elected "chairman" who presided over the chaffee (assembly) and proclaimed the laws. The abba dula (defense minister) was a government leader who directed the army. A council known as shanee or salgee and retired gada officials also helped the abba boku to run the government.

All gada officials were elected for eight years. The main qualifications for election included bravery, knowledge, honesty, demonstrated ability, and courage. The gada government worked on local, regional, and central levels. The political philosophy of the gada system was embodied in three main principles: terms of eight years, balanced opposition between parties, and power sharing between higher and lower levels. These checks and balances were created to prevent misuse of power. The goverment’s independent executive, legislative, and judicial branches also were a way of balancing power. Some elements of gada are still practiced in southern Oromia.

The gada system was the basis of Oromo culture and civilization. It helped Oromos maintain democratic political, economic, social, and religious institutions for many centuries. The gada political system and military organization enabled Oromos defend themselves against enemies who were competing with them for land, water, and power. Today, Oromos are engaged in a national liberation movement. Under the leadership of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) they work to achieve self-determination. Most Oromos support this liberation organization and its army, the Oromo Liberation Army. There are many Oromo organizations in North America, Europe, and Africa that support the Oromo national movement. Oromos are struggling for the opportunity to rule themselves and reinvent an Oromian state that will reflect the gada system.

2 • LOCATION

Oromos call their nation and country Oromia. They have been living in the Horn of Africa for all of their known history. They are one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa, with a population estimated at 28 million people in the mid-1990s. Oromia is located mainly within Ethiopia and covers an area of about 232,000 square miles (600,000 square kilometers). The 3.5 million-year-old fossilized human skeleton known as "Lucy" (or "Chaltu" in Oromo) was found by archaeologists in Oromia. Present-day Oromos also live in Kenya and Somalia. In the late nineteenth century, Oromos were colonized and mainly joined with- Ethiopia. They lost their independent institutional and cultural development. Great Britain, France, and Italy supported the Ethiopian colonization of Oromos.

Oromia is considered the richest region of the Horn of Africa because of its agricultural and natural resources. It is considered by many to be the "breadbasket" of the Horn. Farm products, including barley, wheat, sorghum, xafi (a grain), maize, coffee, oil seeds, chat (a stimulant leaf), oranges, and cattle are raised in abundance in Oromia. Oromia is also rich in gold, silver, platinum, marble, uranium, nickel, natural gas, and other mineral resources. It has several large and small rivers used for agriculture and for producing hydroelectric power.

3 • LANGUAGE

The Oromo language is called Afaan Oromoo. Afaan Oromoo has more than thirty million speakers. Ethnic groups such as the Sidama, Berta, Adare, Annuak, Koma, Kulo, Kaficho, and Guraghe speak the Oromo language in addition to their own languages. Afaan Oromoo is the third most widely spoken language in Africa, after Arabic and Hausa. It is the second most widely spoken indigenous language in Africa south of the Sahara.

In spite of attempts by Ethiopian regimes to destroy the Afaan Oromoo language, it has continued to exist and flourish in rural areas. Until recently, Oromos were denied the right to develop their language, literature, and alphabet. For almost a century, it was a crime to write in this language. With the rise of the Oromo national movement, Oromo scholars adopted Latin script (the alphabet used for English and most other European languages) in the early 1970s. The OLF adopted this alphabet and began to teach reading and writing in Afaan Oromoo.

4 • FOLKLORE

Oromos believe that Waaqa Tokkicha (the one God) created the world, including them. They call this supreme being Waaqa Guuracha (the Black God). Most Oromos still believe that it was this God who created heaven and earth and other living and non-living things. Waaqa also created ayaana (spiritual connection), through which he connects himself to his creatures. The Oromo story of creation starts with the element of water, since it was the only element that existed before other elements.

Oromos believed that Waaqa created the sky and earth from water. He also created dry land out of water, and bakkalcha (a star) to provide light. With the rise of bakkalcha, ayaana (spiritual connection) emerged. With this star, sunlight also appeared. The movement of this sunlight created day and night. Using the light of bakkalcha, Waaqa created all other stars, animals, plants, and other creatures that live on the land, in air, and in water. When an Oromo dies, he or she will become spirit.

Some Oromos still believe in the existence of ancestors’ spirits. They attempt to contact them through ceremonies. These ancestral spirits appear to relatives in the form of flying animals.

Original Oromo religion does not believe in hell and heaven. If a person commits a sin by disturbing the balance of nature or mis-treating others, the society imposes punishment while the person is alive.

Oromo heroes and heroines are the people who have done something important for the community. Thinkers who invented the gada system, raagas (prophets), and military leaders, for example, are considered heroes and heroines. Today, those who have contributed to the Oromo national movement are considered heroes and heroines.

5 • RELIGION

Oromos recognize the existence of a supreme being or Creator that they call Waaqa. They have three major religions: original Oromo religion (Waaqa), Islam, and Christianity.

The original religion sees the human, spiritual, and physical worlds as interconnected, with their existence and functions ruled by Waaqa. Through each person’s ayaana (spiritual connection), Waaqa acts in the person’s life. Three Oromo concepts explain the organization and connection of human, spiritual, and physical worlds: ayaana, uuma (nature), and saffu (the ethical and moral code).

Uuma includes everything created by Waaqa, including ayaana. Saffu is a moral and ethical code that Oromos use to tell bad from good and wrong from right. The Oromo religious institution, or qallu , is the center of the Oromo religion. Qallu leaders traditionally played important religious roles in Oromo society. The Ethiopian colonizers tried to ban the Oromo system of thought by eliminating Oromo cultural experts such as the raagas (Oromo prophets), the ayaantus (time reckoners), and oral historians.

Today, Islam and Christianity are the major religions in Oromo society. In some Oromo regions, Eastern Orthodox Christianity was introduced by the Ethiopian colonizers. In other areas, Oromos accepted Protestant Christianity in order to resist Orthodox Christianity. Some Oromos accepted Islam in order to resist Ethiopian control and Orthodox Christianity. Islam was imposed on other Oromos by Turkish and Egyptian colonizers. However, some Oromos have continued to practice their original religion. Both Christianity and Islam in Ethiopia have been greatly influenced by Oromo religion.

6 • MAJOR HOLIDAYS

The Oromo celebrate ceremonial rites of passage known as ireecha or buuta , as well as Islamic and Christian holidays. The Oromos have also begun celebrating an Oromo national day to remember their heroines and heroes who have sacrificed their lives trying to free their people from Ethiopian rule.

7 • RITES OF PASSAGE

Since children are seen as having great value, most Oromo families are large. The birth of a child is celebrated because each newborn child will some day become a worker. Marriage is celebrated since it is the time when boys and girls enter adulthood. Death is marked as an important event; it brings members of the community together to say goodbye.

Traditionally Oromos had five gada (grades) or parties. The names of these grades varied from place to place. In one area, these grades were dabalee (ages one to eight), rogge (ages eight to sixteen), follee (ages sixteen to twenty-four), qondaala (ages twenty-four to thirty-two), and dorri (ages thirty-two to forty). There were rites of passages when males passed from one gada to another. These rites of passages were called ireecha or buuta.

Between the ages of one and eight, Oromo male children did not participate in politics and had little responsibility. When they were between eight and sixteen years old, they were not yet allowed to take full responsibility and marry. Between ages sixteen and twenty-four, they took on the responsibilities of hard work. They learned about war tactics, politics, law and management, culture and history, and hunting big animals. When young men were between twenty-four and thirty-two years of age, they served as soldiers and prepared to take over the responsibilities of leadership, in peace and war. Men thirty-two to forty years old had important roles. They shared their knowledge with the qondaala group and carried out their leadership responsibilities.

Nowadays, those who can afford it send their children to school. These children complete their teenage years in school. Children and teenagers participate in agriculture and other activities needed for survival. Between the ages of sixteen and twenty-four, young Oromos marry and start the lifecycle of adulthood.

8 • RELATIONSHIPS

Oromos are friendly people, and they express their feelings openly. Oromos greet one another by shaking hands; they talk to one another warmly. Asahama? (How are you?) , Fayaadha? (Are you healthy?), and Matinkee atam? (Is your family well?) are common greeting phrases or questions. The other person answers, Ani fayaadha (I am fine), Matinkos nagadha (My family is o.k.), and Ati fayaadha? (What about you, are you fine?).

When Oromos visit other families, they are provided with something to drink or eat. It is expected that visitors will eat or drink what is offered. People can drop by and visit friends or relatives without letting them know ahead of time.

Dating is an important step for a boy and a girl. Usually a young boy begins by expressing his love for a girl whom he wants to date. When a girl agrees that she loves him, too, they start dating. Premarital sex is not accepted, but kissing and dancing are acceptable. Parents are not usually told about a dating relationship. Dating may or may not lead to marriage. Having girlfriends and boyfriends gains young people social status and respect from others.

9 • LIVING CONDITIONS

Since Oromos are colonial subjects, their natural resources are extracted mainly by wealthy and powerful Ethiopians and their supporters. Most Oromos are rural people who lack basic services such as electricity, clean water, adequate housing, reliable transportation, clinics, and hospitals. Electricity that is produced by Oromian rivers is used mainly by Amhara and Tigrayans.

Hunger is a problem among the Oromo and many attribute it to exploitation by the Ethiopian government. Since Oromos have been denied education by a successive series of Ethiopian regimes, the Oromo middle class is very small. The living conditions of this class, however, are better than those of most Oromos. Members of this class mainly live in cities and towns.

Because of the military conflict between the Oromo Liberation Front army and the Ethiopian government army, Oromo peasants are constantly threatened, murdered, or imprisoned by the government. The Ethiopian government takes their property, claiming that the Oromo are hiding guerrilla fighters. Because of poverty, war, lack of modern farming methods, lack of education, and exploitation, the living standard of the Oromo people is very low. They live in overcrowded dwellings, which often house large extended families.

Oromos use human labor and animals such as donkeys and horses for transportation in rural areas. They use cars, wagons, buses, and trucks for transportation in cities and towns.

10 • FAMILY LIFE

The basic unit of a household is the patrilineal (male-headed) extended family. Neighborhoods and communities are important social networks connected to the extended family. A man, as head of the family, has authority over his wife (or wives) and unmarried sons and daughters. The typical Oromo man has one wife. But because of religious conversion to Islam and other cultural influences, some Oromo men marry more than one wife (a practice known as polygyny). Divorce is discouraged in Oromo society. Oromo women have begun to resist polygyny.

Because of patriarchy and sexism, Oromo women are treated as inferior to men and have little power. Oromo women live under triple oppression: class, gender, and ethnic/racial oppression. Before colonization, Oromo women had an institution known as siqqee to help them oppose male domination and oppression. Although there are Oromo women fighters and military leaders in the liberation struggle, the status of Oromo women has not changed.

11 • CLOTHING

Some Oromo men wear woya (toga-like robes), and some women wear wandabiti (skirts). Others wear leather garments or animal skin robes, and some women wear qollo and sadetta (women’s cloth made of cotton).

Modern garments from around the world are also worn. In cash-producing areas and cities, Oromos wear modern Western-style clothes. Oromos have clothes designated for special days. They call the clothes that they wear on holidays or other important days kitii and the clothes that they wear on working days lago.

12 • FOOD

The main foods of Oromos are animal products including foon (meat), anan (milk), badu (cheese), dhadha (butter), and cereals that are eaten as marqa (porridge) and bideena (bread). Oromos drink coffee, dhadhi (honey wine), and faarso (beer). Some Oromos chew chat (a stimulant leaf).

The special dish of Oromos is itoo (made with meat or chicken, spices, hot pepper, and other ingredients) and bideena bread (made from xafi or millet). Sometimes mariqa or qincee (made from barley) is eaten for breakfast. Ancootee (a food made from the roots of certain plants) is a special food in some parts of western Oromia.

All members of the family eat together. Members of the family sit on stools, eat off wooden platters or dishes, use wooden spoons for liquids, and use washed hands to pick up solid foods. The majority of Oromos eat twice a day, in the morning and at night. Muslim Oromos do not eat pork for religious reasons.

13 • EDUCATION

Literacy (the ability to read and write) is very low among Oromos, probably less than 5 percent of the group. Oromos depend mainly on family and community education to transmit knowledge to the younger generation. Older family and community members have a responsibility to teach children about Oromo culture, history, tradition, and values. When children go to colonial schools, the Oromo oral historians and cultural experts make sure that these children also learn about Oromo society.

Although their numbers are very limited, there are three kinds of schools in Oromia: missionary, madarasa (Islamic), and government schools. Islamic schools teach classes through the sixth grade, and the other schools go through grade twelve. Oromos do not have control over these schools. Oromo culture and values are constantly attacked in them. Despite all these problems, Oromo parents have very high expectations for education. If they can afford it, they do not hesitate to send their children to school.

14 • CULTURAL HERITAGE

Oromos respect their elders and value social responsibility, helping others, bravery, and hard work. Knowledge of history and culture is admired. Oromos can count their family trees through ten generations or more. These values are expressed in geerarsa or mirisa (singing), storytelling, poems, and proverbs. Geerarsa is used to praise good behavior and discourage inappropriate behavior.

Oromo cultural heritage is expressed through mirisa, weedu, and different cultural activities. There are different kinds of weedu, such as weedu fuudha (a marriage song), weedu lola (a war song), and weedu hoji (a work song). Oromo women have their own song, called helee, that they use to express their love for their country, children, and husbands. Young boys invite girls to marriage ceremonies by singing hurmiso. Men do dhichisa (a dance to celebrate the marriage ceremony) and women do shagayoo (singing and dancing) during marriage ceremonies. There are prayer songs called shubisu and deedisu.

15 • EMPLOYMENT

Oromos are mainly farmers and pastoralists (herders). Young educated Oromos move to cities to look for jobs. There are also a small number of merchants in Oromo society, as well as weavers, goldsmiths, potters, and woodworkers.

16 • SPORTS

Hunting and practicing military skills were important sports in Oromia before it was colonized. Oromo men used to hunt large animals as a test of manhood. They used hides, ivory, and horns in their arts and crafts. Hunting was seen as training for warfare for young Oromos. It helped them learn how to handle their weapons and prepare themselves for difficult conditions.

Popular sports among children and young adults in Oromo society include gugssa (horseback riding), qillee (field hockey), darboo (throwing spears), waldhaansso (wrestling), utaalu (jumping), and swimming. Oromo society has produced athletes who have competed and won in international sports events. In 1956, Wami Biratu, an Oromo soldier serving in the Ethiopian colonial army, was the first Oromo athlete to participate in the Olympic Games. He became a source of inspiration for other Oromo athletes. Ababa Biqila, another Oromo soldier, won the 1960 Rome Olympic Marathon and set a new world record, running barefoot. Another Oromo soldier, Mamo Wolde, became the 1968 Olympic Marathon champion. Other Oromo soldiers have succeeded in international competitions as well.

In 1988, Ababa Makonnen (Ababa Biqila’s nephew) won the Tokyo Marathon, and Wadajo Bulti and Kabada Balcha came in second and third. Daraje Nadhi and Kalacha Mataferia won first and second place, respectively, in the World Cup marathon in 1989. In 1992, Daraartu Tullu (1969–), an Oromo woman, won the gold medal for her victory in the 10,000-meter race in the Barcelona Olympic Games. In 1996, another Oromo woman, Fatuma Roba, became a women’s marathon gold medalist. She was the first from Africa to win this kind of race, and she was the fastest marathon runner in the world. The successes of these Oromo athletes demonstrate the rich cultural heritage of athletic ability in Oromo society. The victories of these athletes went to Ethiopia.

17 • RECREATION

Oromos gather and enjoy themselves during ceremonies such as weddings, holidays, and harvest festivals. At these events they eat, drink, sing, dance, and talk together. Jumping, running, swimming, wrestling, and other sports activities are recreation for boys and young adults. Oromo adults like to sit and chat during weekends, after work, and on holidays.

18 • CRAFTS AND HOBBIES

There are Oromos who specialize in making musical instruments such as the kirar (five-stringed bowl-lyre), masanqo (one-stringed fiddle), and drums. Iron tools such as swords, spears, hoes, axes, and knives have been important for farming, fighting, and hunting. There is a long tradition of woodworking in this society. Carpenters make such objects as platters, stools, spades, tables, plows, bows and arrows, wooden forks, and honey barrels.

Goldwork has been practiced in some parts of Oromia. Goldsmiths specialize in making earrings, necklaces, and other gold objects. There are Oromos who specialize in making other utensils from horn, pottery, and leather. Mugs, spoons, and containers for honey wine are made from horn. Basins, dishes, water jars, and vessels are made from pottery. Various kinds of bags to hold milk are made from leather.

19 • SOCIAL PROBLEMS

Oromo’s human rights and civil rights have been violated by one Ethiopian government after another. Oromos do not have control over their lives, lands, other properties, or country. They do not have a voice in the government, and they are not allowed to support independent Oromo political organizations. Oromos have been threatened, murdered, or imprisoned for sympathizing with the Oromo national movement, especially the OLF (Oromo Liberation Front). Oromos are not treated according to the rule of law.

Today thousands of Oromos are kept in secret concentration camps and jails just for being Oromo. Some Oromo activists or suspected activists are killed by Ethiopian soldiers. Their bodies are thrown into the streets to terrorize the Oromo people and to prevent them from supporting the Oromo national movement. Human rights organizations such as Africa Watch, the Oromia Support Group, and Amnesty International have witnessed many contracts aimed at reducing human rights abuses.

20 • BIBLIOGRAPHY

Abebe, Daniel. Ethiopia in Pictures. Minneapoli, Minn.s: Lerner Publications Co., 1988.

Fradin, D. Ethiopia. Chicago: Children’s Press, 1988.

Gerster, Georg. Churches in Stone: Early Christian Art in Ethiopia. New York: Phaidon, 1970.

WEBSITES

Internet Africa Ltd. Ethiopia. [Online] Available http://www.africanet.com/africanet/country/ethiopia/ , 1998.

World Travel Guide, Ethiopia. [Online] Available http://www.wtgonline.com/country/et/gen.html , 1998.

What is the Gada system?

What is the Gada system? Was it a system used through out Oromia or was it prevalent in one region of Oromia only? and the follow up question is politically speaking, was there an Oromia nation before Menelik?


The original homeland of the Oromo people is East Africa,Oromia. However, this original land of Oromo people was  deliberately slanted to the present region of Bali and Borena. Particularly, Guji and northern Borena land areas seemed to be recognized as the cradle land of Oromo culture. Further more, it was said from these areas that the Oromos  moved into the eastern, western, and central highlands of Ethiopia and intermingled with the people inhabiting over these areas starting from the second quarter of the sixteenth century. However, the Oromo were and are pastorals and semi agriculturalist, and their social organization was based on an egalitarian socio-political and cultural institution called Gadaa system.

The Gadaa system was a system of an age-grade classes (luba) that succeed each other every eight years in assuming military, economy, political and ritual responsibilities. Each Gada class remained in power during a specific term (Gada) which began and ended with a formal power transfer ceremony. Before assuming a position of leadership, the Gada class is required to wage war against a community that none of their ancestors had raided. This particular war is known as Butta and is waged on schedule every eight years. (See, Asmarom Legesse (1973), Gada: Three Approaches to the Study of African Societies. London, p.8; Mohammed Hassen (1990), The Oromo of Ethiopia: A History 1570-1860). Cambridge, pp. 9-17). The Gada system spread with the migration and intermingle of the Oromo ethnic group and following their permanent settlement the system began to shade its traditional egalitarian socio-political character. (Refer our earlier discussion on the Zemene Mesafint in Southern Ethiopia).

Regarding the second part of the question, "was there an Oromia nation before Menelik", I could not find literature specifically addressing this point. During my stay at the 12th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies, I asked this same question to one scholar who is an Oromo by ethnic. He said "you have the Oromigna language that has different dialects; you have a Gada system which gives sense to an Oromo living in Welega and Hara". I then asked him bluntly if he meant by that an Oromia nation and he said yes. Accordingly, he has considered two or three factors to define a nation: common language, culture, and I suspect he had also in mind defined geography. Others may have different definition, but what is the point to try discuss and write on "Oromia nation", for that mater on any "non-dominant" ethnic group. What is the purpose behind the "scholarly" interest to construct the historical past of an ethnic group and attempts to mythology. And how are we able to analyse and understand the various activities by national(ist) movements of a "non- dominant" ethnic groups?

I would like to take this opportunity to raise some issues and methods which I believe may help us to understand nation and national(ist) movements by "non-dominant" ethnic groups. Looking back to the history of Europe, and going through the bulk of literature on nations and nationalism, one has the impression that "nation" is a product of long and complicated process of historical development. To all intents and purposes, "nation" is defined as "a large social group integrated not by one but by a combination of several kinds of objective relationships (economic, political, linguistic, cultural, religious, geographical, historical), and their subjective reflection in collective consciousness". Many of these ties could be mutually substitutable, but, among them, three stands out as irreplaceable:

i) a memory of some common past, treated as destiny of the group,

ii) a density of linguistic or cultural ties enabling a higher degree of social communication within the group than beyond it,

iii) a conception of the equality of all members of the group organized as a civil society.

If we follow this definition, then there was no "Oromia nation" in the past. There were Oromo people, their history and socio-political organization, but we do not find the ties in a "collective consciousness". That is why today we find activists both inside and outside the government demanding national self determination, and the discussion around "Oromia nation", as part of an effort to create "memory of some common past". Ethnic national movement starts the moment when selected groups within the non-dominant ethnic community begin to discuss their own ethnicity and to conceive of it as a potential nation-to-be. The demand for national self determination could mean autonomy or statehood, and it all depends on the political development. The growth from cultural national movement to a political one (to a state nationhood) has at least three stages:

Phase One: the "patriotic stage", at this stage the energy of the activists is devoted to scholarly enquiry into and dissemination of an awareness of the linguistic, cultural, social and sometime historical attributes of the non-dominant ethnic group. At this stage the activists may not press specifically national demands. Their intellectual activity may not be called an organized social or political movement. Some members of their group may not even believe that their ethnic could develop into a nation. At this stage the activists mainly collect information about the history, language and custom of their ethnic group. They try to "discover" the ethnic group and lay a base for the subsequent formation of a "national identity".

Phase Two: is the stage of "national agitation", a new range of activists emerge seeking to win over as many of their ethnic group as possible to the project of creating a future nation, by agitation to awaken national consciousness among them.

Phase Three: the stage of "mass movement", in which the major part of the ethnic population store their special national identity. This stage heralds the birth of the nation state.

The question is now does an ethnic movement which passed the first two phases reach into the critical phase three? In other words what are the objective circumstances which ultimately lead successfully in passing over into a mass movement of phase three and attaining the imagined nation. There are three factors:

i) the degree of success in creating and agitating the "memory of former independence or statehood situated far in the past". This could stimulate not only historical consciousness and ethnic solidarity, but the continuity of past history and "violation of a historical right". In Ethiopia, we have seen cases argued based on theory of colonialism and colonial history.

ii) the degree of social mobility and communication: if more members and activists from the ethnic group attain higher vertical social mobility, "national agitation", (phase two), has more appealing. In other words increase in the number of educated elite from the non-dominant ethnic group. In addition, the rate of literacy among the peasant population (literary tradition of the ethnic group) facilitates social communication as the transmission of information. (Activists of the Oromo national(ist) movement have introduced Latin alphabet in the Oromo language, have they considered this alphabet as an asset?)

iii) besides the above two circumstances, a weighing factor is the degree of crisis and conflict of interests: absolute repression lives no room for a developed form of political discourse or argument. In this kind of system it is easy to articulate social contradictions or hostilities in national language–as danger to a particular language or ethnic group. In societies where you have a high level of political culture and experience, conflicts of interests are often articulated in political terms not in national terms. Issues of human and civil right are, therefor, important for national integration.

To conclude, theoretically speaking, the basic precondition of all national(ist) movements of ethnic group is a deep crisis of the order, with the breakdown of its legitimacy, and of the values and sentiments that sustained it. This crisis is combined with economic depression and wide spread poverty, social decline, generating increasing popular distress. A third crucial element of the situation is the prevalence of low level of political culture and experience particularly among the elite. The coincidence of these three conditions unleash ethnic movements and once they acquire a mass character, they can not be stopped by use of force. The remedy against this danger is prevalence of unconditional democracy and economic prosperity.

Further Readings:

Hroch, Miroslav (1985), Social Preconditions of National Revival in Europe,London.

Hobsbawn, E.J. (1990), Nations and Nationalism Since 1780. Programme, Myth and Reality. Cambridge.