The people of Oromo

The largest ethic group in Ethiopia which constitutes of over one-third population of the country are Oromo people with an estimation of 25 million population located in southern Ethiopia, with some settling along the Tana River in Kenya; most of the central and western Ethiopian provinces, including the southern parts of the Amhara region; and, farther north, the Welo and Tigre regions near Eritrea with the pursue of pastoralism before the great migration, and that way of life still prevails for the great numbers of people in the southern provinces of 600 000 Sq Km which is about the total size of South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Tenessee, and Alabama, or about twice the size of Italy.

In the east and north, however, long mingling and intermarrying with the Sidamo and Amhara resulted in the adoption of sedentary agriculture with the production of wheat, Barley, Xaafi, and various agricultural products including Coffee that grows wild in some areas.

Despite the ancient existence of Oromo people, Abyssinian rulers, court historians and monks contend that Oromo are newcomers to the region and did not belong here. For instance, the Abyssinian court historian, Alaqa Taye (1955), alleged that in the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries the Oromo migrated from Asia and Madagascar, entered Africa via Mombasa and spread north and eastwards. Others have advocated that during the same period the Oromo crossed the Red Sea via Bab el Mandab and spread westwards. Abyssinian clergies even contended that Oromo emerged from the water. On this issue, based on the points made in The Oromo’s Voice Against Tyranny, Baxter (1985) remarked, “… the contention that the first Oromo had actually emerged from the water and therefore, had not evolved to the same level of humanity as the Amhara (i.e. treating a myth of origin as a historical fact); or, more seriously, that Oromo were latecomers to Ethiopia and hence, by implication, intruders and not so entitled to be there as the Amhara.”

The history of the arrival of the Oromo people in the sixteenth century in East Africa from outside is a fabrication and denial of historical facts. It is a myth created by Abyssinian court historians and monks, sustained by their European supporters and which the Ethiopian rulers used to lay claim on Oromo territory and justify their colonization of the Oromo people. Several authorities have indicated that the Oromo were in fact in the North-eastern part of the continent even before the arrival of the Habasha. According to Perham (1948): “the emigrant Semites landed in a continent of which the North-East appears to have been inhabited by the eastern groups of Hamites, often called Kushites, who also include the Gallas.” Paulitschke (1889) indicated that Oromo were in East Africa during the Aksumite period. As recorded by Greenfield (1965), Oromo reject the view that they were late arrivals, “… old men amongst the Azebu and Rayya Galla dismiss talk of their being comparative newcomers.”

According to some ethnologists and historians, the Oromo country of origin was the south-eastern part of Oromia, in the fertile valley of Madda Walaabu in the present Baale region. This conclusion was reached mainly based on Oromo oral tradition. Based on scanty anthropological evidence, others have also pointed to the coastal area of the Horn of Africa, particularly the eastern part of the Somali peninsula, as the most probable place of Oromo origin. Bruce, an English traveller, indicated that Sennar in Sudan was the Oromo country of origin and that they expanded from there. It should be noted here that many European travellers have suggested the origin of peoples, including Oromo, to be where they met some for the first time, which in most cases happened to be peripheral areas.

There are several groups of people in East Africa very closely related to the Oromo. For instance, the Somalis are very similar in appearance and culture. The fact that the Somali and Oromo languages share between 30 per cent and 40 per cent of their vocabulary could be an indication that these two groups of people became differentiated very recently. Other Cushitic-speaking groups living in the same neighbourhood that is closely related to the Oromo are Konso, Afar, Sidama, Kambata, Darassa, Agaw, Saho, Baja and other groups.

Away from a long history, you will want to know the Oromo people practices Islam and Christianity while others are of traditional religion, Ayana’s are the saint-like divinities. Many Oromos practise the traditional religion parallel with Islam or Christianity.

Talking about food, Buddena (Biddena) with Itto, Cumbboo, Kashii, Caccaabsaa, Marqaa, Mooqa, Bunaqalaa, Cuukkoo, Mullu or Shuumoo, Basso or Bacho are the special dishes of Oromo people.
Some of their natural resources are Gold, Platinum, Sulphur, Iron, Silver, etc.

It will want to interest you that, Marriage is with a non-relative. Relatives are those whose seven or fewer ancestors converge. For this reason, an Oromo typically can trace at least seven of her/his fore-fathers. Some can trace more than seventeen. The Oromos have developed their 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. Gadaa – Traditional, highly developed a democratic system based on age-group with a 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.

Here are some attractions for you, in case you want to visit Oromo people, 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. With a speciality in some sport like Wal’aanso (Wrestling), Gugsa (Horse riding), Utaalchoo (Jumping), Gombisa (aiming and throwing twigs at each other), and Soccer.

OLUWASEUN AFOLABI

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