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Onesimos Nasib’s pioneering contributions to Oromo writing

Published in 1995, Bulcha, Mekuria, Nordic Journal of African Studies - Archived on May 9th, 2015

Title: Onesimos Nasib’s pioneering contributions to Oromo writing
Author: Mekuria Bulcha (Uppsala University, Sweden)
Published: Nordic Journal of African Studies Vol. 4, No. 1, 1995, pp. 36-59
Language: English
Keywords: Onesimos Nasib, Afan Oromo

Abstract/Introduction:
Linguists tell us that the Oromo language also referred to as afaan Oromoo or Oromiffaa with its more than 20 million speakers is the second most widely spread indigenous language in Africa. More than two-thirds of the speakers of the Cushitic languages are Oromo or speak afaan Oromoo, which is also the third largest Afro-Asiatic language in the world (Gragg 1982). In spite of its importance as a vernacular widely spoken in the Horn of Africa afaan Oromoo lacks today a developed literature. Both the cultural history of the Oromo people and the language policy of the Ethiopian government were suggested to be responsible for this state of affairs.

In this paper I maintain that, although some basic literature existed in afaan Oromoo for the last 100 years, as the Oromo were colonized, they were (and still are) not given the chance to build on the literary foundations that were laid down during the last two decades of the 19th century.

To illustrate my argument, I describe Onesimos Nasib’s contribution to Oromo literature, and the efforts he made to spread literacy and modern education in Oromoland at the beginning of this century. I discuss also, albeit briefly, the reactions that the works of Onesimos aroused among the Abyssinian nobility and clergy and the resultant language policy that suppressed development of literacy in afaan Oromoo and the other Cushitic and Omotic languages. The approach in this paper is socio-historical as well as socio-linguistic.

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A critical review of the political and stereotypical portrayals of the Oromo in the Ethiopian historiography

Published in 2006, Hussein, Jeylan Wolyie, Nordic Journal of African Studies - Archived on March 13th, 2012

Title: A critical review of the political and stereotypical portrayals of the Oromo in the Ethiopian historiography
Author: Jeylan Wolyie Hussein (Haramaya University, Haramaya, Oromia)
Published: Nordic Journal of African Studies Vol. 15(3) 2006, pp. 256 – 276
Language: English
Keywords: Oromo, portrayals, Ethiopia, identity

Abstract:
This paper attempts to make a critical review of the political and stereotypical portrayals of the Oromo in the Ethiopian historiography. For the theoretical and analytical purposes, the paper draws on the Marxist theory of representation. The fact that there is no one particular, unified and uniform portrayal of the Oromo is as important politically as why a portrayal is required. Even the Oromo academics have differences in this respect. While the majority of them express their pain about Oromo great antiquity thrown in as red herrings, some consider this as simple exclusivism and discursive premordialism whose value is less important in contemporary socio-political context of nation building. The European writers are also equally divided among themselves in their narratives about the Oromo. Some point out the effects of the long years of Amhara tight grip on Oromo national identity, while others emphasize the political side of citizenship, applauding the 19th century conquest of the Oromo as a resolute political fulfillment and in doing so legitimizing the continual suppression of ethnic rights. A critical look at the literature also suggests that each writer’s or a group of writers’ personal and political attitudes towards Oromo history, nationalism and ethnicity, which in turn is the result of each individual writer’s subjective and ideological orientations within the wider historical and cultural context, affects the way they portray the Oromo. The paper shows the tensions of settling the Ethiopian historiography. It seems that the force of those who are condemning years of injustice are stronger than that of those who like to maintain the hegemonic relationships. My conclusion is that a better solution to the current ethnic problems of the Oromo of Ethiopia lies in breaking with explicit as well as implicit traditions of socio-political denigrations of the cultural and political identity of the conquered ethnic groups. This calls for the re examination of the traditional historiography of Ethiopia, which seals the history of the country as a completed project.

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