An Earnest Call to Oromo Artists: Help Raayyaa Oromo Music Revive and Survive
It is a fact on the ground that Raayyaa Oromo are the inhabitants of the presently distant north tip of Oromia. We can leave the history of those who are further north to Raayyaa to the interested historians to study and help us know, whether they are really non-Oromo. But we are sure that the Raayyaa and the Azebuu are part and parcel of the Oromo nation, even though they seem to have lost their language, Afaan Oromo, and adopted Tigrinya or Amharinya. Their history is well recorded, at least since the late nineteenth century, at which time they were for the first time compelled by the Abyssinian war-lord, Yohannes-IV, to leave their own and learn alien culture and language.
The Raayyaa Oromo with the Yejju Oromo are the northern most groups of the Oromo people and they are part of the Wollo Oromo clan. Despite their historic resistance against the dominance, as we can read in any literature on Ethiopian history, in which the Raayyaa Oromo revolt is mentioned as the first revolt against the rulers of the Ethiopian empire as early as the late 1920’s and as the predecessor of the Bale Oromo revolt, Raayyaa Oromo’s ties with the rest of the Oromo have weakened due to years of wars in that part of the region.
To my understanding of the history of that region, the pre-Axumite inhabitants of the area were Kushites; even people around Axum were Waaqeffataa; and today we do see certain elements of these ancient traditions in the culture and music of the Abyssinians. Just as an example, the rhythm of the Tigrinya drum beat is from the rhythm of the Dibbee Qaalluu, which is still used in some Galma of Waaqeffannaa in some parts of Oromia. This same drum beat is a little bit modified and further used in the Orthodox church, the Christian denomination, which is full of many elements from the Qaalluu institution. There are many other things which do show that Raayyaa and Azebuu people were also part and parcel of the Oromo resistance against domination. We can read a summary of the resistance or that of the revolt excercised by these people in short as chronologically reported here: http://gadaa.com/oduu/2644/2010/02/28/documentary-on-the-raya-azebo-oromo-of-oromias-northernmost-territory/
I decided to write this short opinion, not to elaborate the history of Raayyaa people, but to encourage our artists to revive the music of this Oromo clan, which needs our attention at this particular moment. We have heard other parts of Wallo Afaan Oromo music with the “Amharinya rhythm”; we also heard few Afaan Oromo music with the “Soddoo Gurage rhythm, Somali rhythm, Afar rhythm, Harari rhythm, Sidama rhythm and even with Sudan rhythm”. Why not yet Afaan Oromo music with “Tigirnya rhythm”? As I said, some of us used to hear such a music of this rhythm with “Tigrinya drum beat” in some Galma of Waaqefannna in Oromia.
I would like to encourage our artisits to concentrate on Raayyaa Oromo music, in order to help this Oromo clan culturally survive. As already mentioned above, we know the Raayyaa and the Azebuu people are simply the Tigrinya-speaking clan/gosa from Wallo Oromo, who need our support to re-learn their language of origin (Afaan Oromo). So, I ask our Oromo artists to accept my call and start to develop and sing Raayyaa music with the “Tigrinya rhythm including their way of dance”. I know that the present crime done by the Weyane fascists to the Oromo and the current dominance of the Tigrean elites over the Oromo people is a very strong inhibition for we may associate the “Tigrinya rhythm” with the Tigrean colonizers. But I am almost sure that the music’s beat, melody and rhythm is not from Tigrean origin, but from Oromo’s root, from the Galma Waaqefanna in Oromia, which our forefathers used to enjoy for thousands of years and which the Axumites just could keep for themselves.
So, I want to motivate our artists to break the taboo, just as Obbo Dawite Mekonnen recently did by breaking the taboo of our Sabboontota (patriotic) Oromo artists, as he sang in Amharainya. The main thing is the message of the song to hit its purpose, not only the package (only the type of dance or only the language) used to convey the message. The same is true for the step to be taken in starting to sing Afaan Oromo lyric in Raayyaa rhythm, which we until now left for Tigreans, as if it belongs to only them. Just as the Soddoo Oromo lyric was ours and now became an additional blessing to the Oromo nation, so do the Raayyaa Oromo music belongs to us. I hope Obbo Dawite will break again the taboo, or someone else from our artists will take over this duty. Come on friends, if singing in Afaan Oromo with North America’s rap rhythm is not a cultural hinderance, how can singing with North Oromia’s drum beat be a taboo? Just imagine how more an enrichment it would have been for the Oromo people, if the following music was in Afaan Oromo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4kPH_F9K04&feature=player_embedded May Rabbi/Waaqa help our artists to take this initative and help the Raayyaa Oromo lyric/music revive and survive!
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