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Urban Centers in Oromia: Consequences of Spatial Concentration of Power in Multinational Ethiopia

Published in 2010, Jalata, Asafa, Journal of Oromo Studies - Archived on April 1st, 2014

Title: Urban Centers in Oromia: Consequences of Spatial Concentration of Power in Multinational Ethiopia
Author: Asafa Jalata (University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA)
Published: Journal of Oromo Studies, Vol. 17, No. 2 (2010), pp. 39-74.
Language: English
Keywords: Oromo, Oromia, indigenous people, centralization and spatial concentration, formation of garrison towns

This paper examines the essence and characteristics of cities and urban centers in Oromia and the major consequences of the centralization and spatial concentration of Habasha (Amhara-Tigray) political power in a multinational Ethiopia. It specifically demonstrates how the integration of indigenous Oromo towns into the Ethiopian colonial structure and the formation of garrison and non-garrison cities and towns in Oromia consolidated Habasha political domination over the Oromo people. Ethiopian colonial structure limited the access of Oromo urban residents, who are a minority in their own cities and towns, to institutions and opportunities, such as employment, education, health, mass media and other public services. In addition to exclusion, the Oromos have been prevented from developing autonomous institutions, organizations, culture, and language, and have been subordinated to the institutions and organizations of the Habasha colonial settlers in their own cities, towns, and homeland.

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A History of Oromo Cultural Troupes (1962-1991)

Published in 2013, Bessa, Tesfaye Tolessa, Science, Technology & Arts Research (STAR) Journal - Archived on February 22nd, 2014

Title: A History of Oromo Cultural Troupes (1962-1991)
Author: Tesfaye Tolessa Bessa
Published: Science, Technology & Arts Research (STAR) Journal Volume 2, Issue 1, 2013, pp. 86-94
Language: English
Keywords: Culture, Music, Oromo Struggle, Oromo Cultural Resistance

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the struggle of Oromo cultural troupes in creating consciousness among the Oromo to reconsider their lost rights. The study draws up on primary and secondary sources, which had been collected in the summer of 2008. Primary sources are securitized from archives and interviews. Informants were selected only on the basis that they had been direct participants of the events. Printed material, as both primary and secondary sources, are utilized with critical scrutiny. Many of these sources are indicators of the situation the Oromo had been forced to bear in those days. From the analysis of these sources, the paper is able to reveal how the Oromo troupes brought hidden grievance of the Oromo to the light under unbearable situations. It also shows how these troupes brought unstructured way of cultural resistance and rural social banditries into the modern form of organized struggle by attracting many minds of bureaucrats, military officers, students, professional groups and the business classes.

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The following audio is from the era on which the author of the research paper writes.

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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

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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Genocidal Violence in the Making of Nation and State in Ethiopia

Published in 2005, African Sociological Review, Bulcha, Mekuria - Archived on December 13th, 2013

Title: Genocidal Violence in the Making of Nation and State in Ethiopia
Author: Mekuria Bulcha (Mälardalen University and Uppsala University, Sweden)
Published: African Sociological Review Vol. 9, No. 2, 2005, pp. 1-54
Language: English
Keywords: Oromo, Oromia, Abyssinian homogeneity, Menelik II, creation of the Ethiopian empire state, nationalism of the dominant ethnic group, authoritarian rule, genocide in Ethiopia

Based on a qualitative historical-sociological investigation of the incidents of mass-killings that have been registered during the last one hundred and fifty years, this study concludes that both the unification of the Abyssinian state between 1850s and 1870s, and the creation of the Ethiopian empire state during last quarter of the nineteenth century were accomplished through wars that were clearly genocidal. Though their aims were building a state, there were differences between the types of state and nation envisaged by the two ‘categories’ of rulers. The attempts of the nineteenth century rulers were to purge the Abyssinian state of non-Abyssinian religious and ethnic communities they perceived as ‘alien’ in order to build an exclusive Abyssinian state and a homogeneous Abyssinian nation. The nationalism of late nineteenth century rulers, as represented by its architect Menelik II, was expansionist. Abandoning the idea of Abyssinian homogeneity, they opted for hegemony over other peoples they had conquered in the heyday of the European Scramble for Africa. The result was a multinational empire state. This study shows that policies used to build and maintain the empire state were implemented using methods that were ethnically oppressive, immensely exploitative, and genocidal. This had triggered ethnic nationalism that has been at logger-heads with the ‘official’ nationalism of the dominant ethnic group. Moreover, the conflict between the two brands of nationalism had increased in tandem with rising ethnic consciousness and intensified since the mid 1970s as a consequence of the policies of the Dergue. In order to legitimize the state, control dissent, and stay in power, the ruling elites built a huge military apparatus and used retributive genocidal killings. The study confirms that there is clear nexus between authoritarian rule, man-made famines, and genocide in Ethiopia. It suggests that there are several warning signs showing that genocide is in the making today. Taking the international context into account, the study indicates that the role of some Western states has been abetting rather than deterring genocide in Ethiopia.

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The Oromo, Gadaa/Siqqee Democracy and the Liberation of Ethiopian Colonial Subjects

Title: The Oromo, Gadaa/Siqqee Democracy and the Liberation of Ethiopian Colonial Subjects
Authors: Asafa Jalata (Department of Sociology, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee) and Harwood Schaffer (Agricultural Policy Analysis Center, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee)
Published: AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples Vol. 9, Issue 4 (2013): 277-295.
Language: English
Keywords: Gadaa (indigenous democracy), Oromia, Oromo/Oromummaa, Ethiopian colonial subjects/nations, national self-determination, Ethiopian colonialism

This paper explores the potential role of the Gadaa/Siqqee system of Oromo democracy in the development of a democratic multinational liberation movement of the colonized nations within the Ethiopian Empire in order to dismantle the Tigrayan- led Ethiopian terrorist government and replace it with a sovereign multinational democratic state in the Horn of Africa based on the principles of indigenous democracy. After a brief introduction, this study describes the presence of a democratic, Siqqee/Gadaa administration among the Oromo in the Horn of Africa in the 16th and 17th centuries and the subsequent changes that made them vulnerable to colonization. It further examines the essence and main characteristics of Gadaa/Siqqee, showing that it provides
a contrasting political philosophy to the authoritarian rule of the Ethiopian Empire. The study shows that in the face of oppression and exploitation the Oromo people have struggled to preserve and redevelop their indigenous democracy, written records of which go back to the 16th century, long before European nations embraced the principles of democratic governance. It also explains how it can be adapted to the current condition of the colonized nations within the Ethiopian Empire in order to revitalize the quest for national self- determination and democracy and to build a sovereign democratic state in a multinational context. Furthermore, the piece asserts that this struggle is truly a difficult one in the 21st century as the process of globalization is intensified and regional and local cultures are being suppressed under the pressure of dominating cultures.

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