rastas need to know the truth of the oromo people and oromia. Locale of the 3.5 million year old Lucy, or Chaltu in Oromo, Croatia of the Upper Nile known and recorded in history by such names as Punt, Cush, and Ethiopia, has hosted numerous pioneering human achievements including the development of the earliest pebble tools (circa 70,000 BC), the domestication of animals (circa 5000 BC), and regional trade in antiquity in gold, ivory, myrrh and frankincense with Pharoahnic Egypt, Greece, Rome and Persia. Early in history, the Oromo developed an indigenous democratic system similar to the Grecian Polls called Gada in which elected officials including the Abba Gada(President), the Abba Dula (Commander of the Army), the Abba Hori (Chief of the Treasury), and nine Hayyuus (Judges) assumed public office for non-renewable 8 year terms. With universal male training in warfare including equestrian skills, archery and the martial arts, the Oromo remained independent until the last decade of the 19th century, when Abyssinians from the North aided by modern European arms, managed to conquer them. Since then, successions of autocrats from Menelik to Mengistu have systematically suppressed Oromo culture, looted Oromo resources, divided the people by region and religion in the idiom of Ethiopian unity, thusly fostering instability, war and famine.
The Oromo make up a significant portion of the population occupying the Horn of Africa. In the Ethiopian Empire alone, Oromo constitute about 30 million of the 55 million inhabitants of the Ethiopian Empire. In fact, Oromo is one of the most numerous nations in Africa which enjoys a homogeneous culture and shares a common language, history and descent and once shared common political, religious and legal institutions. During their long history, the Oromo developed their own cultural, social and political system known as the Gadaa system. It is a uniquely democratic political and social institution that governed the life of every individual in the society from birth to death.
Ecologically and agriculturally Oromia (Oromo country) is the richest region in the Horn of Africa. Livestock products, coffee, oil seeds, spices, mineral resources and wild life are all diverse and abundant. In spite of all these advantages, a century of colonisation by Abyssinia (Ethiopia), a backward nation itself, has meant that the Oromo people have endured a stagnant existence where ignorance and famine have been coupled with ruthless oppression, subjugation, exploitation and above all, extermination. Thus for the last one hundred years under the Ethiopian rule, the Oromo have gained very little, if anything, in the way of political, social and economic progress.
The Oromo were colonised during the last quarter of the nineteenth century by a black African nation - Abyssinia - with the help of the European colonial powers of the day. During the same period, of course, the Somalis, Kenyans, Sudanese and others were colonised by European powers. The fact that the Oromo were colonised by black African nation makes their case quite special.
During the process of colonisation, between 1870 and 1900, the Oromo population was reduced from ten to five millions. This period coincides with the occupation of Oromo land by the Abyssinian emperors Yohannes and Menilek. After colonisation, these emperors and their successors continued to treat Oromo with utmost cruelty. Many were killed by the colonial army and settlers, others died of famine and epidemics of various diseases or were sold off as slaves. Those who remained on the land were reduced to the status of gabbar (a peasant from whom labour and produce is exacted and is a crude form of serfdom).
Haile Selassie consolidated Yohannes and Meniiek's gains and with the use of violence, obstructed the process of natural and historical development of the Oromo society - political, economic and social. In all spheres of life, discrimination, subjugation, repression and exploitation of all forms were applied. Everything possible was done to destroy Oromo identity - culture, language, custom, tradition, name and origin. In short Haile Selassie maintained the general policy of genocide against the Oromo.
The 1974 revolution was brought about by the relentless struggle over several years by, among others, the Oromo peasants. The military junta, headed by Mengistu Haile-Mariam, usurped power and took over the revolution. This regime has continued on the path of emperors Yohannes, Menilek and Haile Selassie in the oppression, subjugation and exploitation of Oromo, the settlement of Abyssinians on Oromo land and the policy of genocide.
Today when nearly all of the African peoples have won independence, the Oromo continue to suffer under the most backward and savage Ethiopian settler colonialism. All genuinely democratic and progressive individuals and groups, including members of the oppressor nation, Amhara, who believe in peace, human dignity and liberty should support the Oromo struggle for liberation.
Although the Oromo nation is one of the largest in Africa, it is forgotten by or still unknown to the majority of the world today. Unfortunately even the name Oromo is unknown to many, and this should not be allowed to continue.
The Oromo are one of the Cushitic speaking groups of people with variations in colour and physical characteristics ranging from Hamitic to Nilotic. A brief look at the early history of some of the peoples who have occupied north-eastern Africa sheds some light on the ethnic origin of Oromo. The Cushitic speakers have inhabited north-eastern and eastern Africa for as long as recorded history. The land of Cush, Nubia or the ancient Ethiopia in middle and lower Nile is the home of the Cushitic speakers. It was most probably from there that they subsequently dispersed and became differentiated into separate linguistic and cultural groups. The various Cushitic nations inhabiting north-east and east Africa today are the result of this dispersion and differentiation. The Oromo form one of those groups which spread southwards and then east and west occupying large part of the Horn of Africa. Their physical features, culture, language and other evidences unequivocally point to the fact that they are indigenous to this part of Africa. Available information clearly indicates that the Oromo existed as a community of people for thousands of years in East Africa (Prouty at al, 1981). Bates (1979) contends, "The Gallas (Oromo) were a very ancient race, the indigenous stock, perhaps, on which most other peoples in this part of eastern Africa have been grafted".
In spite of the fact that there are several indications and evidences that Oromo are indigenous to this part of Africa, Abyssinian rulers, court historians and monks contend that Oromo were new corners 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 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 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 late corners 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 Galia dismiss talk of their being comparative newcomers....... Their own (Abyssinians) oral history and legends attest to the fact that Oromo have been living in Rayya for a long time. Beke (cited by Pankurst, 1985-86) quoted the following Lasta legend: "Meniiek, the son of Solomon, ... entered Abyssinia from the East, beyond the country of the Rayya or Azebo Gallas There are also evidence (Greenfield et al, 1980) that at least by the ninth and tenth centuries that there were Oromo communities around Shawa and by about the fourteenth century settlements were reported around Lake Tana. The recent discovery, (Lynch and Robbins, 1978), in northern Kenya of the pillars that Oromo used in the invention of their calendar system, dated around 300 B.C., is another indication that Oromo have a long history of presence as a community of people, in this part of Africa.
The so called "Galla invasion of Ethiopia" is also a tale. It was first written around 1590 by a monk called Bahrey and henceforth European historians and others almost invariably accepted this story as a fact. From his writing, it is evident that he was biased against Oromo. The following quotation from Bahrey, (in Beckingham et al, 1954), vividly illustrates typical Abyssinian cultural, religious and racial biases against Oromo. He began his book "The History of the Galla": "I have begun to write the history of the Galla in order to make known the number of their tribes, their readiness to kill people, and the brutality of their manners. If anyone should say of my subject, 'Why has he written a history of a bad people, just as one would write a history of good people', I would answer by saying 'Search in the books, and you will find that the history of Mohamed and the Moslem kings has been written, and they are our enemies in religion In fact it appears that the main purpose of his writing was to encourage Abyssinians against Oromo. Bahrey, Atseme, Harris, Haberiand and others description of what they called the 'Galla invasion of Ethiopia' as an avalanche, a sudden overwhelming human wave which could be likened to a flood or swarms of migratory locust is unrealistic and difficult to imagine to say the least.
The Oromo's Voice Against Tyranny argued that: "... the so-called Galla invasion of the sixteenth century was neither an invasion nor a migration. It was rather a national movement of the Oromo people ... with the specific goal of liberating themselves and their territories from colonial occupation. It was nothing more or less than a war of national liberation." In fact the last 2000 years were occupied with a gradual expansion of Abyssinians from north to south. This expansion had been checked throughout by Oromo. It was only with the arrival of Europeans and their firearms that Abyssinians succeeded in their southward expansion mainly in the middle of last century.
Abyssinian and European historians alleged that there was a sudden population explosion in the Oromo community in the sixteenth century that enabled it to invade Ethiopia. The claim lacks a scientific base. During that time no significant, if at all any, technological development such as discoveries or introductions of medicines, new and improved tools for food production, etc. took place in the Oromo community that could have been the cause for the sudden population explosion. The Oromo community had no advantages of these sort over neighbouring communities.
The Oromo are also known by another name, Galla. The people neither call themselves or like to be called by this name. They always called themselves Oromoo or Oromoota (plural). It is not known for certain when the name Galla was given to them. It has been said that it was given to them by neighbouring peoples, particularly Amhara, and various origins of the word have been suggested. Some say it originated from the Oromo word 'gaiaana' meaning river in Oromiffa. Others indicate that it came from an Arabic word 'qaala laa'. There are other similar suggestions as to the origin of the word. The Abyssinians attach a derogatory connotation to the Galla, namely 'pagan, savage, uncivilized, uncultured, enemy, slave or inherently inferior". The term seems to be aimed at generating an inferiority complex in the Oromo.
The Oromo make up over 30 million out of the present 55 million population of the Ethiopian Empire. They are found in all the regions of the Ethiopian Empire except for Gondar. They make up a large proportion of the population of llubbabor, Arsi, Baale, Shawa, Hararge, Wallo, Wallagga, Sidamo and Kafa. They are also found in neighbouring countries such as Kenya and Somalia. Out of the 50 nations of Africa only four have larger population than Oromia.
The Oromo nation has a single common mother tongue and basic common culture. The Oromo language, afaan Oromoo or Oromiffa, belongs to the eastern Kushitic group of languages and is the most extensive of the forty or so Kushitic languages. The Oromo language is very closely related to Konso, with more than fifty percent of the words in common, closely related to Somali and distantly related to Afar and Saho.
Oromiffa is considered one of the five most widely spoken languages from among the approximately 1000 languages of Africa, (Gragg, 1982). Taking into consideration the number of speakers and the geographic area it covers, Oromiffa, most probably rates second among the African indigenous languages. It is the third most widely spoken language in Africa, after Arabic and Hausa. It is the mother tongue of about 30 million Oromo people living in the Ethiopian Empire and neighbouring countries. Perhaps not less than two million non-Oromo speak Oromiffa as a secondianguage.
In fact Oromiffa is a lingua franca in the whole of Ethiopian Empire except for the northern part. It is a language spoken in common by several members of many of the nationalities like Harari, Anuak, Barta, Sidama, Gurage, etc., who are neighbours to Oromo.
Before colonization, the Oromo people had their own social, political and legal system. Trade and various kinds of skills such as wood and metal works, weaving, pottery and tannery flourished. Pastoralism and agriculture were well developed. Oromo have an extraordinarily rich heritage of proverbs, stories, songs and riddles. They have very comprehensive plant and animal names. The various customs pertaining to marriage, paternity, dress, etc. have elaborate descriptions. All these activities and experiences have enriched Oromiffa.
Oromiffa has been not only completely neglected but ruthlessly suppressed by the Ethiopian authorities. a determined effort for almost a century to destroy and replace it with the Amharic language has been mostly ineffectual. Thus, the Amharization and the destruction of the Oromo national identity has partially failed.
There are three main religions in Oromia: traditional Oromo religion, Islam and Christianity. Before the introduction of Christianity and Islam, the Oromo people practised their own religion. They believed in one Waaqayoo which approximates to the English word God. They never worshipped false gods or carved statues as substitutes. M. de Aimeida (1628-46) had the following to say: "the Gallas (Oromo) are neither Christians, moors nor heathens, for they have no idols to worship." The Oromo Waaqa is one and the same for all. He is the creator of everything, source of all life, omnipresent, infinite, incomprehensible, he can do and undo anything, he is pure, intolerant of injustice, crime, sin and all falsehood. Waaqayoo is often called Waaqa for short.
we do not wish to fight rastas only to enlighten ones about the truth of the oromo people and ethiopia's oppression of them.seen.
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