Oromia

The people call themselves Oromo, and prefer to be called so. The Oromo nation has a long, rich and fascinating history-history of greatness, independent existence, stable democratic political culture based on the rule of law and democratic governance.  The Oromo have also history of conquest, occupation, subjugation, political domination, economic exploitation and cultural dehumanization.

The Oromo, who constitute more than forty percent of the population of Ethiopia, belong to the Cushitic language-speaking family of peoples who are known to have lived in the Ethiopian region for thousands of years.  Historical evidence and linguistic data establishes beyond an iota of doubt that the Oromo are one of the indigenous peoples of Ethiopia, original inhabitants of that country.  For centuries the Oromo lived as a free, powerful independent nation in the Hon of Africa.

Up to the seventeenth century, all Oromo lived under the Gada System.  Even after the seventeenth century, most Oromo continued to live under the republican form of Gada government, in which leaders were elected every eight years.  However, during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the Oromo who lived in the regions of Wallo, Wallaga and the Gibe region slowly abandoned the republican form of government and adopted a monarchic institution. This was brought about by complex developments which cannot be discussed in this brief answer. Here let it suffice to say that there were six small Muslim Oromo states in Wallo alone, ruled by their own kings and queens.  Of all the Oromo states in Wallo, Warra Himano was the strongest and it lasted the longest.

In the Gibe Region, there were five Oromo states, two of which Limmu Ennarya and Jimma Abba Jifar, were the richest kingdoms in the Ethiopian region. There were also two Oromo states in Wallaga and two others in the process of formation there.  These Oromo states were engaged in a continuous struggle with each other for the formation of a single Oromo state.  Interestingly this development coincided with the struggle among the Amhara-Tigray princes for the unification of historical Abyssinia, the land of Amhara-Tigray people.  Before the conquest of the Oromo in the 1880s, Abyssinia produced nothing which the Oromo of the Gibe Region were not already producing or capable of producing more than Abyssinia itself. These two developments indicate that on the eve of the conquest and colonization of Oromia:  “ . . . the Abyssinian and Oromo societies were roughly at similar stages of development, one society more advanced in some areas, but less so in others” ( Hassen 1990, p. 92).

Up to the last quarter of the nineteenth century, whether they lived under the republican form of government or monarchy, all Oromo led an independent life, as masters of their destiny and makers of their own history. They had their own political and religious institutions, which flowered in patterns of their own making and nourished their spiritual and material well being. The independent existence of the Oromo was brought to an end rapidly by the creation of the modern Ethiopian empire in the 1880s and after.  It was Menilek, the Amhara King of Shawa (1865-1889) and the Emperor of Ethiopia (1889-1913) who created the Modern Ethiopian Empire.  It was Emperor Menilek who conquered and colonized Oromia.  With that the Oromo nation lost its sovereignty, freedom and independence, the ability to make history and to control their resources.

The Oromo also lost something very crucial: they lost their leadership.  Consequently, from the 1880s to the early 1960s, the Oromo suffered a great deal from lack of central leadership: A leadership vacuum was created and maintained in order to divide and weaken Oromo unity.  Deprived of leadership and prevented from leading a free social existence, the Oromo were subjected to long oppression which assumed a multi-dimensional thrust attacking simultaneously Oromo national identity, cultural heritage, religious and political institutions   ( Hassen 1990, p. 10) .

LANGUAGE:

Oromiffa (Afaan Oromo)

RELIGION:

Waaqeffannaa (Traditional religion), Islam, and Christian. Waaqaa, the Creator, is God of the traditional religion. Ayanas are the saint like divinities. Many Oromos practice the traditional religion parallel with Islam or Christianity.

MAIN DISHES:

Buddena (Biddena) with Itto, Cumbboo, Kashii, Caccaabsaa, Marqaa, Mooqa, Bunaqalaa, Cuukkoo, Mullu or Shuumoo, Basso or Bacho.

AGRICULTURE:

Wheat, Barley, Xaafi, and various agricultural products including Coffee that grows wild in some areas.

NATURAL RESOURCES:

Gold, Platinum, Sulphur, Iron, Silver, etc.

MAJOR CITIES:

Finfinne (Addis Ababa), Dirre Dhawa, Adaama (Nazreth), Jimma, Dassie, etc.

AREA:

600 000 Sq Km, about the total size of South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Tenessee, and Alabama, or about twice the size of Italy.

CLIMATE:

Mild on higher altitudes, warm and wet to the west, warm and dry to the east.

POPULATION:

About 45 million

ORIGIN:

The Oromo are Cushitic (Kushitic) people who live in the east African region known as the horn of Africa since ancient times.

ATTRACTIONS:

Sodere near Adama (Nazreth), and Sof-Omar in Ballie (about ten miles long natural tunnel) are special attractions. Exotic birds of the rift valley, hot springs, ancient places like Harlaa near Dire Dhawa are also some of the points of interest. Oromia offers splendid climate and diversified landscape.

GEOGRAPHICAL LANDMARKS:

Oromia is located in the horn of Africa, Ethiopia, between about 2O and 12O N, 34O and 44O E. The landscape varies from rugged mountain ranges in the center and the north, to flat grassland to the south east.

CUSTOMS, FOLKLORE, HEROES

MAJOR SPORTS:

Wal’aanso (Wrestling), Gugsa (Horse riding), Utaalchoo (Jumping), Gombisa (aiming and throwing twigs at each other), and Soccer.

HEROES:

Wadaay Hubataa, Buubaa Bal’aa, Caammaa Nuur, Elemo Qilxu, Taddasa Birru, Faxansaa Iluu, Daannoo Beeraa, and Abebe Bikila (athlet), Baaroo Tumsaa, Laggasaa Wagii, Abdiisaa Agaa, Hayilamaariyaam Gammadaa, Nadhii Gammadaa, Nagaasaa Kumsaa, Alamuu Qixxeessaa, Baqqalaa Nadhii, Gaaddisaa Hirphasaa, Dirribee Jifaar, Jaarraa Abbaa Gadaa, etc.

UNIQUE FACTS:

SOCIO-POLITICAL SYSTEM:

Gadaa – Traditional, highly developed democratic system based on age-group with defined role. It is similar to the Grecian Polis. Elected officials assume public office for non-renewable 8 year terms. Similar civilizations have been recorded in China, Maya, and Hindu.

CALENDAR:

The Oromos have developed their own unique calendar based on lunar and solar cycles. Day time begins and ends with the rise and setting of the sun. Days of the month are given names.

MARRIAGE:

Marriage is with a non-relative. Relatives are those whose seven or less ancestors converge. For this reason an Oromo typically can trace at least seven of her/his for-fathers. Some can trace more than seventeen.

HISTORICAL FACTS AND EVENTS (dates are approximate):

Home of most of the oldest fossils: Homo Sapiens from Arba, Omo, and Bodo; Homo erectus from Malka Kunture; Homo habilis from Awash, and the oldest (austalopithecus afarensis) fossils from middle Awash. Host of pioneering human achievements such as the earliest pebble tools (circa 70,000 B.C.), domestication of animals (circa 5000 B.C.). Regional trades in antiquity in gold, ivory, myrrh, etc. with Pharaonic Egypt, Greece, Rome and Persia. Oromia of the upper Nile was at times referred to as Punt, Cush (Kush), or Ethiopia. With universal male training in warfare, the Oromo remained independent until the last decade of the 19th century.

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