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Welcome to Gada Online Summary of Oromo Peoples History  and Culture

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"It is not enough merely to call freedom, democracy and human rights. There has to be a united determination to preserve in the struggle and nothing is precious than freedom & independence."...Burma.

1:origin

 The oromo's are a cushitic-speaking people with physical characteristics varying from light skinned Hamitic to dark skinned Nilotic peoples who live in eastern Africa. The land of Cush,Nubia or parts of today's Ethiopia is the home of the cushites,Even if the Abyssinian colonizers denied the fact that oromo's are the native habitants of the horn region called oromia. Their physical features, culture, language and a number of evidences unquestionably point to the fact that the oromo's are indigenous to the horn of Africa.

 Many historians wrote about the origin of the oromos including the self centered Abyssinian history writers. According to the so called Abyssinian scholars like Abba Bahre the oromo's might not be where they are today. But few scholars like Bates(1979) comments,.."the oromo's were a very ancient race, the indigenous stock, perhaps on which most other peoples in the horn have been grafted." 

In the same manner p.t.w.Baxter contends "The cradle land of the oromo was in cool grasslands of southern Ethiopia where they lived as pastoral stockmen. In the early 19th century, triggered by demographic and ecological changes which we don't yet under-stand and possibly also by the introduction of saddled horse, there was a population upsurge and oromo spread rapidly. They took over most of the territory which they still farm & graze. They absorbed the peoples they overran, and drove out the garrisons and religious houses from those parts of the south of Ethiopia which the Amhara had colonized during the previous century(19th c). 

On the same subject among many oromo elites and nationalists  who are very concerned about reconstruction of oromo history and culture the now vice-president of AAU Dr.Gamachu Magarsa on the  his book when  comments about oromumma "....a long time ago before any creation came to existence ,waaqa wanted all that was contained in him self come in to being. Hence,waqaa created the body of water, knowing that water is the source of all life. He then called the water Hora Wolabu. Then divided the impregnated body of water into two parts: Bishaan Gubbaa-the water above and Bishaan Goodaa-the water below. He divided the waters of the above into three parts: water, sky and heavenly bodies. waqa then named these five acts of creation yaayaa shanaan,or the five fundaments. with these,waqa drew ground plan upon which the rest of the world would be built. These began with the birth of the sun and the moon.

 The first day began when the sun rose at dawn and ended when the sun set on the first day. This first day waaqa called Addula, "first sun". It take waaqa 27 days to complete his creation. These days occurred between the rising and setting of two new moons. Every tenth day, the creator rested, and so he took three days off. Then waaqa made humans and named him Horo(Horomo).

On horo's body waaqa placed five limbs ,a head, two arms, and legs. Each hand divided into five fingers and each foot divided into five toes.

On his face waaqa placed seven features. Horo thus reflected waaqa as period of creation, because he was made up of 27 different parts. on the body of the human being, three parts remain unaccounted, corresponding to the three days in which the creation of the world remained suspended.

Starting from this time on, the oromo people traced their origin from Horo,the founding father. The Fossil evidences discovered in oromiya(lucy,diknesh,chaltu over 3.5 million year old which was discovered in oromia in 1980'5 and the newly discovered EDALTU the oldest fossil ever discovered only about 200km from finfine are good emphasis to be added in my opinion) indicates the fact that humanity is originated in Eastern Africa(oromiya),thus,oromians beliefs are scientifically supported. The agricultural practice and their democratic law the GADA SYSTEM trace back almost two million years as well.

In oromo language, the name Horo comes from the verb HORU,meaning multiply and be fertile. The first letter "H" is not always pronounced, and so the name (H) oromo means the people who were descended from Horo.

Horo,the founding father, had two sons. His first born son was named BORANA; his younger son named BARENTU. In oromo language,word Horo designates the wall of the back bedroom of the tradition oromo house. The entrance of the house,from the inside looking outside traditionally faces the East. The rays of the rising sun pass through the eastern opening of the house to the room where the head of house hold sleeps. The word 'ANNA' means 'toward' or 'next to'. In oromo language, the last vowel is not always pronounced. The parts of the name 'BORANA' together mean "those who face east."

Similarly,the name BARENTU is made up of two terms:'BARRII',mean 'sunrise', and'-AANTU' the feminine form of '-ANNA'. Together the two words signify 'those facing the west.'"  

To sum up, from these definition even if those self-centered Abyssinian scholars don't accept these truth,oromo elites and every body who is proud of being oromo & who understands the meaning of orommuma can give their feed back.

2: LANGUAGE

Afaan Oromo the lingua-franca of oromo people belongs to the Eastern Cushitic groups of languages. It is the mother tongue  of  over 30 million oromo people living in the Ethiopian empire and neighboring countries including Kenya,Djibouti,Tanzania,Uganda and other countries in eastern Africa. Not less than 8 million non-oromos also speak it as a second language. This makes Afaan oromo the third most widely spoken language in  Africa after Arabic and Hausa from among  approximately1000 languages Gragg,1982.

  In spite of the fact that Afaan oromo is a lingua-franca in the whole of  Ethiopia, it has been not only neglected but also ruthlessly suppressed by Abyssinian authorities for over a century. Amazingly, it survived a determined effort to destroy it by the combined effort of the dedicated oromo MARTYRS! 

Afan oromo was totally neglected from any form of medium of instruction by saying that Afan oromo 'birds language-Afaan sinbiraa' breaks Radios and TVs. In my opinion even if OLF is the one who brought it into action greater  thanks goes to our  oromo brothers and sisters  who lived that time and give their precious life to all oromo case and survival of Afaan oromo ;from among those dedicated brothers  Abba Gammachis(onesmosinasib), Sheik Bakir Saphalo and many others are those whose names must be listed on the first line of the history  book of  independent Gada republic of oromiya.

3: LAND

Originally ,Oromiya the land of oromo is located between 2-12 degree N and 34-44 degree E. It is bordered by Somalia in the SE,  Afar in the NE, Djibouti in the E, Sudan in the W, Kenya in the S , Amhara and Tigray (Abyssinia) in the north. Oromiya is home to many rivers and lakes famous for their scenic beauty besides being endowed with rich natural resources both renewable and non-renewable, healthy environment, and ecological set up in the past before being looted and destroyed by Abyssinian authorities. The forests of oromiya contain a variety of excellent and valuable timbers before being devastated  by colonizers of the empire. oromiya is known for its bio-diversity ,a number of indigenous species of birds, mammals and many precious wild animals.

For instance, crops like coffee, the largest cash crop for many countries through out the world is originated in oromiya prior to 1000 A.D, Anchote,aroot crop & favorite food of oromiya,oakra and other indigenous.

There are also hundreds of beautiful birds which are only found in oromiya , Red Fox on the island on the air ,tulu dimtu as called by BBC  reporter who once went there ,Gadamsa ,and many other species.

4: RELIGION

"There are many ways of thinking about God. Agnostics question the existence of God. Atheists deny the existence of God. Theists believe that a Supreme Being exists. Theology is the study of ideas about God. Experts in this study are called theologians. 

Many theologians have used rational arguments to defend the existence of God. Some have developed cosmological arguments, which state that a first cause must have begun the process of creation, a cause that must be God. Others have set forth teleological arguments based on belief in a grand design or purpose for the world that only a supreme God could have created. 

Some Christian theologians in the 1960's suggested that "God is dead." They argued that the traditional image of God as a father figure with supernatural powers does not reflect the modern world's scientific view of reality. Other theologians have kept the idea of God but used names that are not personalized or limited, such as "the unconditioned ultimate" and "the wholly other.""

Animism, pronounced AN uh mihz uhm, is a term for any religion in which souls of dead people or spirits of nature play an important role. In these religions, offerings and special festivals may be held to honor the souls of the dead. Followers of such religions also may worship spirits believed to exist in fields, hills, trees, water, and other parts of nature. In some religions, these souls or spirits may enter people's bodies to make known their own needs or wishes. This often happens, for example, in the religious practices of Southeast Asian folk traditions. 

The word animism came into use chiefly as the result of a theory about the origins of religion. This theory, suggested by the British anthropologist Sir Edward Burnett Tylor, was published in 1871. Tylor believed all religion had developed from early people's first ideas of souls in human beings and of spirits in parts of nature. Tylor used the term animae for these souls and spirits, and his beliefs became known as the theory of animism. 

Scholars no longer accept Tylor's theory as an explanation of the origin of the world's religions. However, the worship of spirits or souls is still frequently called animism."

IS OROMO RELIGION PART OF ANIMISM FROM THE ABOVE DEFINITION FROM WORLD BOOK?

Having read through few peoples ideas about God from World Book 1999 and to answer the question above lets go on to read through Oromo ideas about God. From my own experience I had acquired from my own friends in united states I am very concerned about oromo religion and I at least want every oromo person to know what oromo religion is rather than hating it from away. so I would like to quote on oromo religion deeply from different sources I had collected so far  and I would like to ask you to go through every detail and explore what oromo religion is.   

Before their adoption to Christianity at the turn of 19thc and Islam the oromo people practiced their own religion.  They believed  in the supreme being called  WAAQA ,WAQAAYO or WAAQ ,which approximates the English word God. The manifestation of the power of Waaqa through Ayaana is told to the people through Qallu's (men) or Qalliti's (women). The known Qallu in the ancient time was Abba Mudaa who most probably lived  between Bale and Ganele river valleys specifically in Fugug according to Asemarom Lagesse,oromo democracy. 

To trace some evidences on this text M.De Almeida (1628-46) had said; "the oromo's are neither Christians, moors nor heathens, for they have no idols to worship" even if he misinterpreted oromo religion. But for the oromo's waaqa is the creator of every thing, source of all life omni present ,infinite ,he can do and undo every thing ,he is pure ,intolerant of injustice ,crime ,sin and all false hood.

From:hhtp://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Fields/2379/oreligion.html one can get  more information about oromo religion, on this paper for your information  in case you can't access the suggested web site I want to rewrite the original text as follows. 

"In pre-colonial oromo society ,the core of oromo social economic ,political philosophical and spiritual life was a holistic institution known Gadaa. Under gadaa ,oromos believed in waaqa (god. waaq is one of the supreme being, but many as ayaana. Ayyaana exist in every body and every thing in the universe. In oromo society waaq creates and regulates the existence of all animate and inanimate ,material and non material nature and places them in a well-balanced cosmic order.

As an extension of his phenomenon ,oromos believe that the society collapses unless a balance is stuck between male and female ,young and old, spiritual and physical power in the cosmic order of waaqa's wisdom. The interdependence of the dominant and the laminas is considered as a precondition for peace and prosperity in both meta physical and practical sense.

Oromos refer to this concept of peace and order of waaqa as Safuu. Safuu is extremely  important in oromo religious and political thought. If the balance is disturbed ,it is said that safuu is lost, safuu cabse ykn dabse  jedhama (mine). The loss of safuu is the loss of seera waaq (waaq's law and order). The loss of safuu signals the reign of chaos and disaster.

Thus ,waaq is the source and the course of every thing simultaneously.  Waaq is the beginning and end ,one and many ,infinite and infinitesimal all at the same time. Waaq exists in every thing and every thing exists in it. Waaq is the fabric that weaves the past, the present and the future. This philosophical ,political and religious thought of the oromo is embodied in their  emblem the Faajjii Walaabuu. Faajjii walaabuu is a tricolor emblem with white ,red, and white hues.

The white is the past, the ancestors, the bones, the ashes. white is the past ,the bones remain behind when life flickers out. white is the ashes that remain when the fire is out. White is the ancestors

The red is the present, the living, the  here and the now. Red is the flesh. Red is the blood that rushes through our veins. Red is the living fire. Red is the present. 

The black is the future. Black is the unknown and the unknowable. Black is the spirit, the soul. Black is Waaq (God). Black is holy and sacred. Thus ,in the three colors of Faajjii Walaabuu ,waaq weaves together  the past, the present and the future ;the bones, the flesh and the soul.

Contemporary oromo society, however, is a multi-faith society.  Although there is little doubt that oromos have pursued many paths into the spiritual world, the three major religious thoughts claiming  the  vast majority of oromos are Islam, Christianity, and oromo religion. Quite often religion has been a highly sensitive and divisive issue in our communities. We need a positive space where we do not fight over ideas but share them respectfully."

The same article is briefly written the paper contributed by one of the members of ONA  under the title THE CULTURAL BASES OF OROMO PEOPLE HOOD AND NATIONALISM  in the year  2003 fully supported by evidences from different books written by different authors over centuries. To help the audiences understand better the concept of oromo religion and to let oromo youngsters know what their ancestors used to believe I wrote the original text as follows...

" Page 6 of the attached document contends ..Oromo religious and philosophical world views consider 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 oromo believe that waaqa directs the world from above and controls every thing from with in ,Annesa Kassam on his book , The Oromo Theory of social  Development  between the state and civil society in Africa   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. Oromos use three concepts to explain the organization and interconnection of human, spiritual and physical worlds. These three concepts are Ayaana (spirit) , Uuma (nature), and Safuu (moral and ethical order). Oromos believe that through Ayaana Waaqa created 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; Ayaana is a major organizing principle of oromo cosmology through which the concepts of time and creation are ordered.

Ayaana as a system of classification and an organizing principle of oromo cosmology  establishes the connection between waaqa and nature & society by differentiating and at the same time uniting the created things and the creator. Magarsaa further argues that "Ayaana is a religious and philosophical construct which represents the principles of temporality and spirituality ...(It) also serves as an operating device according to which the entire universe is organized and classified."

Oromos believe in Waaqa,a monotheistic God, that created the world through its  Ayaana. They believe that this Supreme being created Ayaana and uses to  organize scattered things into order.  Magarsa explains that "Ayaana is the mechanism by which the creator propels it self 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."  As a religious and philosophical construct ,Ayaana provides meanings of the complex universe: "Faced with the concrete reality of existence  and the contradictions, oromo seem to have been compelled to look for creator, who not  only creates but also holds the opposing forces in balance, and represents permanence behind the flux of existence. In the oromo view all things  that are created were made possible through Ayaana.  Ayaana is the organizing principle ,that . . .  gives the form to anything and every thing." The concept known as Uuma includes every thing created by Waaqa including Ayaana.

The third concept Saffu as explained by one of oromo elites Asafa Jalata on his book Oromo nationalism and the Ethiopian Discourse: the search for freedom and Democracy, the cultural roots of oromo nationalism(1998), "is an ethical and moral code that the oromos use to differentiate bad from good and wrong from right...[s]affu 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." Oromos claim that the understanding of laws of Waaqa,nature and society both morally and ethically and living accordingly is necessary. Oromos believe in God's law and the law of society that they establish through the Gada System of democracy to maintain Nagaa(peace) and Saffu among Waaqa ,Society ,and nature to achieve their full human destiny known as KAO or KAYYO.

Lambert Bartels, Oromo Religion: Myths and Rites of western oromo of Ethiopia and Hillarie Ann Kelly ,From Gada to Islam: The Moral Authority of Gender Relations Among the Pastoral Orma of Kenya, had marked the following . . ." oromos believe that Waaqa (supreme being) created human, spiritual and physical worlds, and he regulates the balance among them from above and from within. Kassam argues that this religious philosophy 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. There are three oromo concepts to explain the interconnection and organization of human, spiritual and physical worlds: Ayaana (spirit),Uuma (nature) , Saffu (moral and ethical codes). Oromos believe that there are spiritual forces between Waaqa and themselves and within them that connect them to their creator. These spiritual forces are called ayaanas or ayaantus;  through these spiritual forces, Waaqa created human  and physical worlds. Through each person's Ayaana ,waaqa or waaqayoo acts in the person's life. Uuma  includes everything created by waaqayoo ,including ayaanas. Saffu is a moral and ethical  code that oromos must observe to differentiate right from wrong, bad from good ,and sin from virtue. The principles of saffu are needed to understand morally and ethically the laws of nature  and society and to live accordingly.  Magarsa asserts that Saffu  " constitutes the ethical basis upon which all human action should be founded ; it shows that which directs one on the right path; it shows the way in which life can be best lived." 

5: CULTURE

By nature all peoples of the world has language, history, culture and many other unique identifications which distinguishes one  ethnic society from the other. The oromo population was relatively highly trained in traditional skills. Until their conquest by

The egalitarian Gada system  which is characterized by advocating the belief that all people should have equal political, social and economic rights has influenced every aspect of oromo life.

Oromo nationalism and the Ethiopian discourse by Asefa Jalata states that "oromoness manifests itself in oromo cultural practices. The oromo cultural movement attempts  to restore all positive symbols ,values ,rituals  and democratic principles so that oromo leaders ,fighters ,activists avoid innuendoes, gossip and rumors that undermine oromoness and the unity of oromo. oromos expect their political ,cultural ,intellectual and military leaders to be examples and models ,hence these leaders need to re assess their cultural values and discard those values that are against oromoness and the oromo unity." 

Besides these; the marriage custom ,oromo religion and ceremonial songs had a great value in the society.

Of the cultural practices in oromo society "Eebba oromoo" is one of the most distinguishable quotes I want to put it here.

        "Hayyee,Hayyee! Hayyee, Hayyee!

         Waaqa Uumaa Waaqa Uumamaa

         Waaqa Burqaa Haroo Wolaabuu,

         Waaqa Sagaltama garbaa,

         Waaqa Salgan Booranaa,

         Waaqa Torban Baarentummaa,

         Waaqa Bokkuu Gurraachaa,

         Waaqa Ciicoo Gurraattii,

           Waaqa Caffee Tumaa,

           Waaqa shanan Gadaa oromoo,

           Nagayaan nu olchitee nagayaan nu bulchii,

            Nagayaan nu bulchite nagayaan nu olchii,

            Kaa fantii lafaan lolte 

            kaa sammuun waqaan lolte, nuraa qabi,

             Irraa-gora nu olchii,

             Dogoggora nu olchi,

             Hamaa nura qabi

             Tolaa nuti qabi,

             Xiqqaa nu Guddisi 

             Gudda nu Muldhisii

             Waan Qabnuun nu Bulchi

             Rooba nagayaa Roobi

             Baraa nagayaan nu basii

             Gadaan roobaa nagayaa

             Barri quufaa gabbina." jedhetuu oromoon waaqa kadhataa.

 

 

additional notes coming soon......

 

6: HISTORY

Before I start writing about oromo history , as an introduction and as I am not a history writer I want to say a little about my stand point. Many Abyssinian court historians and monks  , oromo historians as well as world historians who were interested in oromo case wrote a lot about  oromo peoples at different times.  Almost all Abyssinians who wrote  about oromo history are the so called self centered extremist Ethiopianists  who have never ever  understood what a history is and who's main objective is to advance the Abyssinian hegemony in the empire. Well as they are against oromo true identity and they are part of  the colonizers who buried our identity for over a century & proud of their  3000 years history that is all what is expected from them.

When we come to some western historians but not all who wrote about oromo

The concept of writing oromo history by oromo intellectuals and elites is the new phenomenon emerged particularly before two or may be  three   decades. Even if is a recent development which is not deep rooted their is a lot of hope in the future and their is a lot accomplished and a lot  to be done.

When I came to the concept  ... since their origin as we saw above in the article one the oromos led an independent existence as masters of their own destiny and makers of their own history for greater part of their pre-colonization era.  During their long history ,the oromo developed their own religious ,cultural, social and  political system known as Gadaa system, a uniquely democratic political and social institution that governed the life of every oromo individual in the society from birth to death.

 

 

additional material  coming soon....

 

Mana

Mada-qomo

Tesumaa Lafaa

Lugaa

Dhugefana

Addaa

Arga-Dhagetti

Aseena

 Yaadni keessaan hamilee koo jajjabesaa kanaafu asi jalatti naa   erga.