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
Keywords: Waaqaa, Odaa, Gadaa, Caffee, Qaalluu, Galma
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.