About Oromo

Oromia Facts

THE PEOPLE

Oromos belong to the Kushitic language-speaking family of peoples who are known to have inhabited the North-Eastern and Eastern Africa region since the time immemorial. The land of Kush or Nubia is said to be the home of the Kushitic peoples. Therefore, the Oromos are the original inhabitants and one of the indigenous peoples of this region. The Oromos remained independent until they were brutally colonized by the Abyssinian (Ethiopian) government during the last decade of the 19th century.

POPULATION

Estimated to be 50 million; the third largest nationality in Africa.

LANGUAGE

The Oromo language, Afaan Oromoo, belongs to the eastern Kushitic group of languages. Afaan Oromoo uses Latin scripts. It is the third most widely spoken language in Africa, after Arabic and Hausa. Despite the ruthless suppression of the development of Afaan Oromoo by the successive Ethiopian governments, the Oromo culture and language survived and thrived.

CULTURE

Oromos have a very rich culture, which is influenced by Islam, Christianity, Waaqa, diverse climatic conditions and socio-economic activities.

The jewel of Oromos shared tradition is the Gadaa system. Gadaa lies at the heart of the Oromo culture. It embodied a conceptual scheme, which has been passed down through many generations by various means – through songs, poems, stories, lullabies, and Afaan Oromoo itself, which is a powerful preserver and transmitter of values and world view.

Gadaa organized the Oromo society into age groups to carry out different responsibilities. For many centuries, the system has guided the religious, social, political, economic, military and judicial life of the Oromos.

The encroachment of Christianity and Islam as well as the brutal colonization by the Abyssinian (Ethiopian) forces led to the decline of Gadaa system.

CALENDAR

The Oromo calendar is based on astronomical observations of the moon in conjunction with seven to eight stars known as Urjii Dha=a (guiding stars). There are approximately 30 days in a month and 12 months in a year. The first day of the month is the day the new moon appears. A day has 24 hours and starts and ends at sunrise. Each day of the month and each month of the year has a name. Instead of 30 names there are only 27 names for the days of the month. Each month moves forward by 2 or 3 days based on the relative position of the guiding stars and the moon.

RELIGION

  • Christianity (Orthodox and also Protestant);
  • Islam (Sunni Islam); and
  • Waaqeffannaa (traditional Oromo religion).

THE LAND

Oromia is located in the Horn of Africa between latitude 2 to 12 degrees North and longitude 34 to 44 degrees East. It covers approximately 600,000 square kilometres. The large percentage of the total area is classified as arable land, which is suitable for farming throughout the year.

Climate:
Mild and warm in central and northern Region, warm and wet to the west and south west, warm and dry to the east.

Major Cities:
Finfinnee, Adaamaa, Dasee, Dirre Dhawaa, Jimma …

Mountains:
Karra in Arsi (4340m), Baatu in Baale (4307m), Enkelo in Arsi (4300m), Mul’ataa in Hararge (3392m), Baddaa Roggee in Shawa (3350m)

Rivers:
Abbayaa (the Nile), Hawaas, Gannaalee, Waabee, Dhidheessa, Gibee, Baaroo

Lakes:
Abbayaa, Hora, Bishooftuu, Qogaa, Langanno, Shaalaa

ECONOMY

Oromia is predominantly an agricultural ountry with the large majority of its population engaged in subsistence farming, livestock production and rural informal activities.

The most important cash crop is coffee. Other cash crops include oil seeds, cotton, tobacco and caat (jimaa). Food crops include barley, maize, peas, chick peas, sorghum, taafii, wheat, lentils, oil seeds and root crops. Fruits include orange, mango, avocado, banana, lemon, pineapple and peach. Oromiyaa has the largest number of livestock in Africa. Farm animals include cattle, sheep, goats, donkeys, mules, horses and camels. Mineral deposits include gold, platinum, sulphur, iron, silver and natural gas.

COLONIAL ERA (1870 to present)

The 19th century is characterized by the European scramble for Africa. In the Horn of Africa, Britain, France and Italy were competing for colonies when Menlik II of Abyssinia appeared on the scene. He skilfully manipulated the three powers’ interest in his favour and colonized, with the aid of European arms, the Oromo and other nations. The conquest was brutal and those who put up resistance were reduced to slavery. Ever since, Oromos have been culturally subjugated, economically exploited and politically oppressed by the successive Abyssinian governments.

Prior to the colonization, the land tenure system in Oromia was based on communal ownership. Oromos lost title to their land as the land was distributed among the invading colonial army, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, northern settlers (nafxaagna), the ruling oligarchy and the state. Oromos were reduced to the status of serfs and slaves. Today, the situation is not much different from the early days of colonization.

POLITICAL ASPIRATION

The aspiration of Oromos is to exercise their inherent right for self-determination in order to liberate and establish an independent Oromia.