Category Archives: Information

5 Fascinating Facts About The Oromo Language and Culture

By Maia Nikitina

Oromo, also known as Afaan Oromoo, and Oromiffa, is a language from the Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family, and the third most widely spoken language in Africa, after Arabic and Hausa. The Oromo people are the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia. They are an indigenous African people who have maintained their cultural identity and language despite the Oromo language being forbidden for much of the 20th century. Most Oromos live in the Horn of Africa (Ethiopia and Somalia), Kenia, Eritrea, and Djibouti, as well as in the Oromo Diaspora abroad.

  1. The Oromo Written Language Is One Of The Youngest In The World

The Oromo language was banned in Ethiopia for many years, forbidden from being used in schools and in the public sphere. In 1991, the language was allowed again. In the early 1970s, the Oromo Liberation Front decided on the Latin alphabet as the official script for the Oromo language. It is also sometimes written with the Arabic script, as well as the Ge’ez script and the Shaykh Bakri Sapalo orthography. The Oromo writing system based on the Roman alphabet is called Qubee. Due to the political situation that affected the Oromo language for a long time, it is one of the youngest languages in the world to become a written language.

Speakers of all variations of Oromo can easily understand each other, although the relatively late development of the writing system means that there are some differences in written dialects as the writing system is not fully standardised across all of the Oromo language.

  1. Oromian Literature Was Mostly Oral Until 1970s

The Oromos have a rich oral literary tradition which is expressed through various songs for all life eventualities, as well as poems, proverbs, and storytelling.

Since being allowed again, the language has experienced a literary revival, with popular plays, novels, and short stories published in the Oromo language. Dhaabaa Wayyessaa’s play Dukanaan Duuba (Beyond the Darkness), propelled the playwright and novelist to national fame in the early 1990’s. Another good example of Oromo’s development as a literary language is Gaaddisaa Birru’s novel Kuusaa Gaddoo.

  1. The Oromo People Created One Of The Earliest Democracies

The traditional Oromo society is structured according to the Gadaa system, also spelled as Gada. The system is considered to be one of the earliest democratic societies in the world and is based on an 8-yearly election of all political, military, economic, religious, and social administration.

The society has five classes with one fulfilling the function of the ruling class; this changes every 8 years. Each class progresses through a number of grades before it can participate in authority.

A Gadaa election is preceded by a campaign. One of the basic rules of the Gadaa is that a father and his son are always exactly five grades apart, which is always forty years. This means that the Gadaa class incorporates people of various ages.

  1. Most Oromos Live In Rural Areas

Around 90 percent of Oromia’s population are employed in agriculture, producing coffee, pulses, oil, and animal products such as hides and skins.

  1. The Irreechaa Ceremony Is Oromo Thanksgiving

Each September, millions of the Oromo people gather on the shores of Hora Harsade (Lake Harsadi or Arsadi) for the Irreechea Ceremony. The meaning of the ceremony is to give thanks and to pray to Waaqa (God).

Many Oromo people practise monotheism, and the Irreechaa ritual ceremony is believed to be one of the oldest forms of monotheism in Africa.

There are two types of the Irreechaa ceremonies: Irreechaa Tulluu (Irreecha on a mountain) and Irreechaa Malkaa (Irreechaa on a river). Irreechaa Tulluu is practised on top of mountains and hills during dry season. It is usually performed in March. Irreechaa Malkaa is celebrated either near a local body of water or at Lake Arsadi in Bishoftu which is located about 45 km from the capital of Oromia, Finfinnee.

“What did OLF do in the past several decades?”


By Giftii Wako 

The question that is becoming popular these days. For some it is pure ignorance and for others it is a way of discrediting the accomplishments thus far. I felt it was necessary to reflect, assess, and share.

You know how modest some of us are in terms of explaining our professional/personal achievements and take them for granted? The same goes with OLF! Let’s not be modest with this one! Time to reflect and celebrate the successes including the major milestones of this great organization that most of us proudly associate ourselves with and is a symbol of our eenyummaa!

The information below was gathered though an informal chat and text exchanges with a few individuals.

  • The people who created OLF were the ones who led the movement that toppled Haile Selassie (1974). These same people drafted the historical land reform declaration that gave the land back to Oromo farmers.
  • Before OLF was created, Oromo people were referred to as Gallas. It was through undying devotion and the sacrifice OLF paid that our people proudly started calling themselves Oromo or Oromoota (plural). It took years to educate them self-determination and convince Oromos to call themselves Oromo rather than Galla, an abusive slur used mostly by Amharas. Galla was a derogatory term used to refer to pagan, savage, uncivilized, uncultured, enemy, slave or inherently inferior (Melbaa,1999).
  • OLF created the current federal system and the constitution that gave the Oromiyaa statehood that we are all proud of today. The map of Oromiyaa that we see today was possible through this constitution.
  • OLF enabled the Oromo language to become one of the widely spoken languages in the horn of Africa.
  • Qubee became an Oromo alphabet and is widely and effectively used today. The new generation can speak in Afaan Oromoo in Oromiyaa regions and can read and write in Qubee.
  • Our flag, the symbol of our identity and the emblem of our struggle, became extremely popular and the people proudly associate themselves to it. OLF played a significant role in making this happen regardless of all the resistance from every corner in the country.
  • It is by the sacrifice of our OLF heroes and heroines that the name Oromo became known on the world stage.
  • OLF played pivotal role in reviving Oromo culture/heritage including Oromo music and art.
  • OLF made Oromos to be known to the rest of the world via Oromo study journals and OSA, “The Oromo Studies Association is a non-profit, multi-disciplinary organization established to promote and foster scholarly studies in all fields pertaining to the Oromo people.” (OSA, 2019)
  • OLF challenged fake Ethiopiawinet narratives which were built for decades.
  • OLF drafted education curriculum in Afaan Oromoo in Oromiyaa region.
  • Oromiyaa National Anthem was created by OLF.

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress”



Why the recognition of the OLF by Ethiopia’s election board matters?

The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) issued a certificate of registration for Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). Under normal circumstances, getting the certificate of registration to participate in an election should not be a big deal. However, the case of the OLF is different.

Why the recognition of the OLF by Ethiopia’s election board matters?

By Bedassa Tadesse

Under normal circumstances, getting the certificate of registration to participate in an election should not be a big deal. It doesn’t require jubilant celebrations. It would have come and gone, with little or no fanfare.

However, the case of the OLF is different. For many reasons. Here are some big ones.

First, it is the OLF. The onlybparty that has been, by many people, declared dead, buried, disintegrated, decayed, debilitated, ebbed, and every word you can think of in negative terms. Well, the certificate simply proves that the party, contrary to everything that is said about it, is well and alive.

Seond, the OLF represents the Oromos and Oromia, the ethnic group that has the largest population in Ethiopia; the region that makes Ethiopia, Ethiopia. Well, when an election board recognizes a party of such significance, it is a huge deal for we are effectively talking about the spinal cord if the subject is human anatomy.

Third, the fact that the OLF is recognized by Ethiopia’s election board paves the way for the party to participate in the upcoming elections. Regardless of how the party will perform in the election, this decision alone is likely to send many many people in Ethiopia to sleepless nights and headaches. That is a big deal for it has health implications.

Fourth, the decision speaks volumes about one man, Dawud Ibsa- the charismatic and incessant leader of the organization; the man that many, ( e.g., Leenco Lata, Dima Nago, Galaassa Dilbo) had ganged upon and tried their best to push him aside. It is, if not humiliating, an embarrassment for them.

Fifth, just by issuing this certificate, the board has established its own integrity and ushered a new era in Ethiopia.

Finally, the decision awkwardly proves that the actions of OPDOs, even when they do what they ought to do backfires on them. Just imagine, if they had issued this certificate as quickly as possible and with no suspense as they did for other political organizations, no one would have cared. By holding onto issuing the certificate for so long, they elevated the organization they hate to see on a mountain top. I call it a self inflicted wound by a PM who wants to act like a king. Hence, why it is a big deal.

Well, using a mathematical presentation, I can say that it is a big deal because, we just proved the following maths, if you know it.