Category Archives: Oromia

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.

OLF – The indivisible and the only OLF has reached a political milestone.

By Raggasaa Oljirra

The once banned, deemed terrorist and persecuted OLF for the last 28 years has emerged victorious when the National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) certified it as a legal National Party in Ethiopia today. It is historic in a way because the Ethiopian political landscape that has incessantly been portraying the Oromo People’s struggle spearheaded by the OLF as a monster finally succumbed to the Country’s realty for the first time in its history. This is the right way forward: Any smear campaign, defamation, acts of marginalization/exclusion and hate propaganda against anyone did not work, never works and is not going to work.

What works best in the interest of the country and its people is reckoning with the realty and searching for a common ground. OLF is not a monster, nor it had been anything of the image its enemies had been characterizing it since its inception.

OLF was born out of the Ethiopian reality, a popular force that has clearly identified its just cause that no one was able to deny and bent on a goal that no one was able to argue against. All futile attempts to annihilate it for the last 45 years were in vain, as any similar attempt in the future is going to be as futile as the past ones. OLF is an Oromo political spirit that needs to be reckoned with. The unprecedented persistence and resilience of the man at the helm of the organization deserves a monumental recognition of the highest order, not only in the Oromo society but also in the Country’s history.

There were major organizations that were contemporaries of the OLF with even stronger and aggressive stature at the time. The EPRP, MEISON, and even the DERG that managed to be the only totalitarian ruling party for 17 years and that once presided over a mighty army by African standard, all vanished into the dust bins of history. DERG’s successor, the EPRDF is also almost dead after 28 years of a bumpy course full of treachery.

What kept OLF alive for the last 45 or so years is its just cause and the persistence of its leaders coupled with the unwavering popular support from the Oromo people at large. Compatriots who paid the ultimate price deserve the utmost respect. I feel sorry for those who abandoned the organization, declared it dead and lured the gullible into submission. They have to absorb today’s humiliating defeat once and for all as they have no time nor the moral value to remedy their dirty deeds. Certification is a mile stone indicative of a brighter future.

We will have more celebratory moments when OLF undoubtedly becomes a ruling party in Oromia and a partner in whatever national Coalition government Ethiopia is going to assemble together. I have to congratulate NEBE for signs of a new beginning in Ethiopia, i.e, signs of integrity free of political influence that had hitherto been the norm in the country.

Again, congratulations to all those who feel stake holders in this matter!!

Oromia’s spring festival in capital after 150 years

Ethiopia‘s Oromo community is celebrating its annual spring season festival of Irreecha.

But for the first time in 150 years, the celebration is being held in the capital, a city many Oromo leaders argue is part of their territory.

The move has raised concerns of reigniting ethnic tensions.

Al Jazeera’s Robyn Kriel reports from Addis Ababa.

The last few years of Irreecha celebrations, held outside Addis Ababa, have been marred by protests following a stampede at the festival in 2016 where the government says 50 people were killed.