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History of Oromo Social Organization: Gadaa Grades Based Roles and Responsibilities

Published in 2012, Dehu, Dereje Hinew, Science, Technology & Arts Research (STAR) Journal - Archived on January 14th, 2014

Title: History of Oromo Social Organization: Gadaa Grades Based Roles and Responsibilities
Author: Dereje Hinew Dehu
Published: Science, Technology & Arts Research (STAR) Journal Volume 1, Issue 3, 2012, pp. 97-105
Language: English
Keywords: Oromo, Social organization, Gadaa, Luba, Gogeessa

Abstract:
The major purpose of this manuscript is to depict how membership to gadaa grades determined the social-political and economic roles and responsibilities of individuals in the Oromo society, and show the viability of values of Gadaa in democratic culture. The Gadaa system is a special socio-political organization of the Oromo people that has its origin in the age-system of the Horn of Africa. In the system, male individuals were grouped into grades known as gadaa. As an age-based social organization, the Gadaa system provided the mechanism to motivate and organize members of the society into social structure. Various socio-political rights and responsibilities are associated with each group. Accordingly, the system provided a socio-political framework that institutionalized stratified relationship between seniors and juniors and egalitarian relations among members of the grade. Initiation into and promotion from one gadaa grade to the next were conducted every eight years. The fundamental quality of the Gadaa system is that it has segmentation and specified social functions for its members that helped the members to develop a consistent and stable sense of self and others.

Gadaa system is one of the main themes studied by scholars of different disciplines. Scholars that studied Gadaa system at large gave attention to the nature of the institution, the socio-cultural performance in Gadaa system, calendar, and the political aspect of the Gadaa system. Asmarom produced the most comprehensive ethnographic study on the indigenous Oromo socio-political organization based on the people’s oral historic records (Asmarom, 1973). However, none of the scholars studied the age-grade privileges and responsibilities of individual members and clearly depicted the training, knowledge acquired and the rights and duties attributed to the members.

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Historical Significance of Odaa with Special Reference to Walaabuu

Published in 2012, Dehu, Dereje Hinew, Science, Technology & Arts Research (STAR) Journal - Archived on February 28th, 2013

Title: Historical Significance of Odaa with Special Reference to Walaabuu
Author: Dereje Hinew Dehu
Published: Science, Technology & Arts Research (STAR) Journal Volume 1, Issue 2, 2012, pp. 81-90
Language: English
Keywords: Waaqaa, Odaa, Gadaa, Caffee, Qaalluu, Galma

Abstract:
The aim of this paper is primarily to investigate the significance of Odaa (the holy sycamore tree) in the Gadaa System and to underscore the significance of Madda Walaabuu in the socio-political and religious life of the Oromo. In the history of the Oromo people, the general assemblies for socio-political and religious purposes are held at the Caffee under the shade of the Odaa tree. The whole set of Gadaa political activities, including Gadaa rituals, initiation, the handover of power ceremony, revising and enacting customary laws and judiciary practices, are held under the shade of the Odaa tree. As a result of its significance, the Odaa tree is honored, as symbolically, the most important of all trees. The close examination of people’s oral tradition and the use of available written materials help us to reconstruct the history of such a theme. Written sources related to the theme were gathered and about fifteen elders of different regions in Oromia were interviewed to recollect reliable traditions related to the topic. The sources recorded were analyzed based on the historical research. The minor finding reveals that there is a deep-rooted and wider range of socio-cultural and historical interpretation to Odaa (the sycamore tree). Odaa is customarily believed to be the most respected and the most sacred tree, the shade of which was believed as the source of tranquility. Shade of the Odaa was both the central office of Gadaa government where the Gadaa assembly met, and was a sacred place for ritual practices.

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