By Fayyis Oromia*
Introduction – Why The Designation, Oromia or Cushland, Instead of Ethiopia?
The allergic rejection of the name Ethiopia by most of the Oromo nationalists and some others in the Empire is going on. I personally came to the conclusion that, even though political business is possible using this trademark, trying to sell it to the Oromo is almost the same to inflicting injury to the already existing wound. I have tried to show in my last articles why this name should be changed, if we opt to build certain democratic union of free nations in the future. That is why I suggested the name Great Oromia for such possible true multinational federation. But, it sounded in the ears of many as something unachievable, illusionary, untimely, without historical support, and detached from the existing reality on the ground. Just leaving other variables to side, let’s look at the following article for the sake of finding the historical and/or mythological ground to justify the designation as Great Oromia at best, as Cushland at least. Mind you, in every history, there is myth, and in every myth, there is history. I made certain minor modifications in the article to clarify and rectify very few contradictions observed, and I took out certain parts for the sake of brevity. I hope this will not be interpreted as plagiarism, but as representation of someone’s work: http://oromianeconomist.wordpress.com/2011/06/16/oromia-untwist-the-twisted-history/ . The article clearly shows that the whole nations and nationalities in the present geography of Ethiopia (the Cushites, the nilotic Cushites, the omotic Cushites and the Semitized Cushites) are descendants of the Oromo, which is considered as the proto-Cush. Read here the important parts of the article, with slight modification of the content and form.
Oromia: Untwist the Twisted History
The topic is about Oromia’s location in space, and allocation in humanity and society. It is concerned with Oromia’s physical position in terms of geography, and relational to issues of economic conditions, social justices, cultural values, political history and destiny. Civilisation, colonisation and underdevelopment are presented in historical and geo-political perspectives. They capture both the space and time perceptions. They are also representing the economic and social conditions and positions. The portrayal we procure the present of the Oromo nation, the core of the Cush (Cushite/Kemet)/Ham (Hamite), the children of Noah, in North & East Africa in past age from the phantom of the Solomonic dynasty, the history thought in Abyssinian high schools, their textbooks and elsewhere in the invaders’ literature, abusive literary and oral discourses is that they were savages and that, though Abyssinians and Europeans overrun their lands and have made mere subjects of them, they have been in a way, bestowing a great favour on them, since they have brought to them the benisons of Christian Enlightenment.
With objective analysis, however, this paper obliterates and unmakes that inaccurate illustration, wanton falsifications, immorality, intellectual swindle, sham, mischievous tales, the bent and the parable of human reductionism. Hence, it is the step to delineate an authentic portrait of a human heritage, which is infinitely rich, beautiful, colourful, and varied in the retrograde of orthodox misconceptions. The paper is not only a disinclination itself, but also a call for and a provocation of the new generation of historians to critically scrutinise and reinvestigate the orthodox approaches to the Oromo history, and then to expose a large number of abusive scholarship authorities on the Oromo and Cushitic studies, and it detects that they do not really know the intensity and profoundness of the history of these black African people and nations and the performance these Africans registered in the process of creating, making and shaping the prime civilisations of human societies. The study acknowledges and advances a strict contest to an orthodox scholarship’s rendition of Egypt as a white civilisation, which arose during the nineteenth century to fortify and intensify European imperialism and racism. Depending on massive evidences from concerned intellectual works from linguistic to archaeology, from history to philosophy, the study authenticates that Egypt was a Cushitic civilisation and that Cushite civilisation was the authentic offspring of the splendid Upper Nile/Oromian legacy. The Greek civilisation, which has been long unveiled as the birthplace of Western philosophy and thought, owes its roots to the Cushites thoughts and achievements. The original works of Asfaw Beyene (1992) and F. Demie (in Oromia Quarterly, 1998 & 2000) are giving motivations and also greatly acknowledged.
The study also expresses that radical thinkers and multi-genius African historians, such as Diop (1991), have not given due attention to the epic centre of Cushitic civilisation, Oromia, the land after and Eastern and South Eastern to Nubia, pre-Aksum central Cush, Aksumite Cush and Cushites civilisation southern to Aksum, etc. The method of enquiry is qualitative and the eclectics of formal and the informal sources, rigorous, casual and careful scholarship argument. Oral history and written documents on history, economy, sociology, archaeology, geography, cosmology and anthropology are based on as references. The paper studies the Oromo history and civilisation in horizontal approach, and challenges the reductionist and Ethiopianist (colonialist, racist) vertical approach (topsy-turvy, cookkoo). It goes beyond the Oromo Oral sources (burqaa mit-katabbii), Africanist recorded studies and western civilisational studies. The approach is to magnify, illuminate and clarify the originality of humanity and civilisation to this magnificent Cushitic (African) beauty.
The Origin of Humanity
When and where did human life first surface on our cosmos? Who contrived the original and prime human culture and civilisation? Ancient Egyptians contended that it was in their homeland, the oldest in the world, the God modeled the first of all human beings out of a handful of ooze soddened by the vivacity of the life giving sanctified and blessed water, the Nile (see, Jackson, 1995). One of the oldest Cushites histories to account for the origin and early development of man, and his culture survives in a Greek version of the thesis advanced by the ancient Cushites, Oromians and the rest. This marvellous people paraded in golden times in the region called Kush (Punt) in the Hebrew Scriptures and stamped on the present-day upper Nile Oromia (see, Jackson, 1995). Diodorus Siculus wrote that the Cushites were of the opinion that their country was not only the birthplace of human race and the cradle land of the world’s earliest civilisation, but, indeed, the primal Eden, where living things first appeared on Earth, as reported by the Scriptures. Thus, Diodorus was the first European to focus attention on the Cushites asseveration that Upper Nile (Oromia) is the cradle land of world’s earliest civilisation, the original Eden of the human race. Whether by almighty (God) or nature/evolution (Darwin’s natural selection and survival of the fittest), Oromia was not only the birth place of Man himself (e.g., Lucy), but also for many hundred years thereafter is in the vanguard of all world progress (see Diop, 1991 in his African Civilisation; Martin Bernal, 1987). These are also authenticated by the present archaeological inferences in Oromo tropical fields and rivers valleys.
The original natives of Egypt, both in old and in the latter ages of development, were Cushite, and there is every raison d’être for the discourse that the earliest settlers came from upper Nile Oromia. The original homeland of the Oromians and other Cushites, including Chadic, Berber, Egyptian, Beja, Central Cushitic, East Cushitic, South Cushitic, Omotic and Nilotic, was the present day upper Nile Oromia. It was from the original Oromo (Madda Walaabu) that the rest of humanity descended diffused to other parts of the world. This can be understood in the analogue of the diffusion of two Oromo families (Borana and Barentuma). While those who expanded to other regions latter taken new family names like Macha, Tulama, Karayyu, etc. and those who stayed in original place kept the original name, such as Borana. In terms of linguistic, like most scholars, we believe that it is impossible to judge between the theories of monogenesis and polygenesis for human, though the inclination is towards the former. On the other hand, recent work by a small, but increasing, number of scholars has convinced us that there is a genetic relationship among European, Asian, and African and Cushite languages. A language family originates from a single dialect, proto Cushitic/Oromo. From such language and culture that must have broken up into Africa, Asiatic, and European and within them a very long time a go. Professor Bernal (1987, in Black Athena, p. 11) confirmed that the unchallenged originality of Oromians and other Cushites nativity to the region, and put forward that the latest possibility for initial language break up would be the Mousterian period, 50-30,000 years Before the Present (BP), however, it may well have much earlier. He further observed that the expansion and proliferation of Cushitic and other Afroasiatic as the promulgation of a culture long pioneered in the East African Rift valley (South Eastern Oromian) at the end of the last Ice Age in the 10th and 9th millennia BC.
According to Bernal (1987, p.11), the polar ice caps caged the water within itself, which was during the Ice ages, thus water was significantly less than it is nowadays. He reports that the Sahara and Arabian deserts were even bigger and more inhospitable then than they are presently. In the centuries that ensued, with the rise of heat and increase in the rainfall, greatly the regions became savannah, into which adjoining peoples voyaged. The most successful of these were, the speakers of Proto-Afroasiatic from upper Nile Oromia. Bernal further confirmed that these people not only possessed flourishing and effective skills and techniques of hippopotamus hunting with harpoons, but also had domesticated cattle and food crops. The following is quoted from Black Athena: ‘Going through the savannah, the Chadic speakers renched lake Chad, the Berbers, the Maghreb, and the Proto-Egyptians, upper Egypt. With long-term desiccation of the Sahara during the 7th and 6th millennia BC, there were movements into the Egyptian Nile Valley from the west and east as well as from the Sudan. A similar migration took place from the Arabian savannah into lower Mesopotamia’ (Bernal, pp.11-12).
The Origin of Civilisation
There are many things in the manners and customs and religions of the historic Egyptians that suggest that the original home of their human ancestors was in the Upper Nile region and the biblical land of Punt/Kush (Cush) or Oromia, which include the present day of Cushitic North and East of Africa. Hence, historical records showed that the antiquity of upper Nile Cushitic Oromian civilisation had a direct link with the civilisation of ancient Egypt, Babylonian and Greece. Hence, the Egyptian and Babylonian civilisations are part and parcel of the entire Cushite civilisation. As it is described above, there is wide understanding that Cushites = Egyptians + Babylon + Oromo + Agau + Somalis + Afars + Sidama + Neolithic Cush + other Cush. There is also an understanding that all the Cushites are branched out (descended) from their original father Oromo which can be described as Oromo/Cush = Egyptian + Bablyon + Agau + Somali + Afar + Sidama + Neolithic Cush + other Cush. Boran and Barentuma, the two senior children and brothers were not the only children of the Oromo. Sidama, Somali, Agau, Afar and the others were children of the big family. Wolayita and the Nilotics were among the extended family and generations of the Cushite. As a hydro-tower of Africa, the present Oromia is naturally gifted and the source of Great African rivers, and hosts the bank and valleys of the greatest and oldest civilisations, such as Nile (Abbaya), Baro (Sobat), Gibe, Wabe, Dhidhesa, Ganale, Wabi-shebele, Omo, and Awash among others. Oromian tropical land, equatorial forest and Savannah have been the most hospitable ecology on the earth and conducive environment to life and all forms of human economic and social practices.
According to Clarke (1995), many of the leading antiquarians of the time, based largely on the strength of what the classical authors, particularly Diodorus Siculus and Stephanus of Nabatea (Byzantium after Roman colonisation and Christianisation), had to say on the matter, were exponents of the vista that the Cushite, the ancient race in Africa, the Near East and the Middle East, or at any rate, the black people of remote antiquity were the earliest of all civilised peoples, and that the first civilised inhabitants of ancient Egypt were members of what is referred to as the black, Cushite race who had entered the land as they expanded in their geographical space from the their birthplace in upper Nile Oromia, the surrounding Cushite river valleys and tropical fields. It was among these ancient people of Africa and Asia that classical technology advanced, old world science and cosmology originated, international trade and commerce was first developed, which was the by-product of international contacts, exchange of ideas and cultural practices that laid the foundations of the prime civilisations of the ancient world. Cushite Africa and also of the Middle East and West Asia was the key and most responsible to ancient civilisations and African history. It must also be known that there were no such geographical names, demarcations and continental classification at that time. As a whole, Cushite occupied this region; there was the kernel and the centre of the globe, the planet earth, and the universe. African history is out of stratum until ancient Cushites looked up on as a distinct African/ Asian nations. The Nile river and its tributes, Awash, Baro and Shebele or Juba, etc., played a major role in the relationship of Cushite to the nations in North, South and East Africa. The outer land Savannah, Nile, other Oromian rivers with it Adenian ecology were great cultural highways on which elements of civilisation came into and out of inner North East Africa. After expansions, there was also an offshoot, a graft, differentiation, branching out, internal separation, semi-independence and again interactions, interdependence and co-existence of the common folks. Cushites from the original home made their relationships with the people of their descendants in the South, the North, East and the West, which was as both good, and bad, depending on the period and the regime in power they formed and put in place in the autonomous regions.
Cushite Egypt first became an organised autonomous nation in about 6000 B.C. In the Third Dynasty (5345-5307 B.C.) when Egypt had an earnest pharaoh named Zoser and Zoser, in turn, had for his chief counsellor and minister, an effulgent grand named Imhotep (whose name means ‘he who cometh in peace”). Imhotep constructed the famous step pyramid of Sakkarah near Memphis. The building techniques used in the facilitation of this pyramid revolutionised the architecture of the ancient world (Clarke, 1995). Of course, independent Egypt was not the original home of these ancient technology. However, it was an extension, expansion, advancement and the technological cycle of the Upper Nile Oromia, Nubia, Beja, Agau and other Cushites. Ideas, systems, technologies and products were invented, tested and proved in upper Nile then expanded and adopted elsewhere in the entire Cush regions and beyond. Bernal (1987, pp. 14-15) has identified strict cultural and linguistic similarities among all the people around the Mediterranean. He further attests that it was south of the Mediterranean and west to the Red Sea’s classical civilisation that give way to the respective north and east. Cushite African agriculture of the upper Nile expanded in the 9th and 8th century millennia BC and pioneering the 8th and 7th of the Indo-Hittite. Egyptian civilisation is Cushite and is clearly based on the rich pre-dynastic cultures of Upper Egypt, Nubia and upper Nile, whose Cushite African and Oromian origin is uncontested and obvious.
… It should be understood that, while the achievements of Cushite Egypt were one of the best, these are not the only achievements that Cushite Africans can claim. The Nubians, upper Nile, central and eastern Cushites (the Oromo, Agau, Somalia, Afar, etc) were continue to develop many aspects of civilisation independent of Cushite Egyptian interactions. These nations and states gave as much to Egypt as Egypt give to them in terms of trade, ideas and technology as well. There was also a considerable Cushite dominion on what later became Europe in the period preceding Christian era. Cushites played a major role in formative development of both Christianity and Islam. Both the Holly Bible and the Holly Quran moral texts are originated from the Oromo and other Cushite oral and moral principles, beliefs, creeds and teachings. There is a common believe and understanding that Abraham, a seminal prophet, believer and recipient of a single and eternal God was from Central Cush of present Upper Nile Oromia. The Oromos believed in a single and eternal God, Black God (Waaqa Guri’acha) also Blue God according to some scholars who translated the oral history – Waaqa also Ka. While the Oromian faith, social structure and policies were the prime and the origins of all, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam were all the derivatives and originated from the Black God. Waaqa in Oromo is the original, the single, the omnipotent, the prime and the greatest of all the great religions. All aspects of the present day Christian churches were developed in Cushites. One of the more notable of Cushite contributions to the early church was monasticism. Monasticism, in essence, is organised life in common, especially for religious purposes. The home of a monastic society is called a monastery or a convent. Christian monasticism probably began with the hermits of Cushite Egypt and Palestine about the time when Christianity was established as a licit religion (Clarke, 1995). Oral tradition and Arabian records confirm that Bilal, a tall, gaunt, black, bushy-haired, Oromo, was the first High Priest and treasurer of the Mohammedan empire. After Mohamet himself, the great religion, which today numbers upwards of half a billion souls, may be said to have began with Bilal. He was honoured to be the Prophet’s first neophyte. Bilal was one of the many Cushites who concurred in the founding of Islam and later made proud names for themselves in the Islamic nations and expansions.
… Unlike the western Sudan and in Egypt, the people and nations of upper Nile had lost written records of their ancient times and medieval history. These were destroyed and burned during war of conquests. The early travellers to these areas are also mostly not yet known. Notable kingdoms, republics and states did rise in this part of Africa and did achieve a high degree of civilisation of their time. Scholarly undertakings show that Cushite Africans such as Oromos were the first in human history to invent and implement democratic institutions (e.g. Gada system or Gadaa system), democratic forms of government, elections and unwritten constitution. Democracy was first invented in upper Nile Oromia then to Athens, Greek and to the rest. It was not the other way round. Gada, an accomplishment of Oromian social genius in socio-political organisation is one of the most complex, the world wonder and by far superior to so far other humanity’s social and political imagination and civilisation. Gada in its vector of values constitutes, political institution, the power structure, governing constitution, the ideology, the religion, the moral authority, the economic and the whole way of life of the public, the collective, the social and the private individual. Gada is the social civilization of the Oromo in the Nile civilization. Gada is an atonishing and complex social evolution in human social transformation and an Oromo social perfection. In old Egyptian (Cushite, oromo) dialect it means Ka Adaa. Ka means God. Adaa (law). It means the law of God, the law of waaqa (God). It also symbolizes the dawn of not only civilization but also human freedom as civilazation.
… Sewell (1942) said that the science, which we see at the dawn of recorded history, was not science at its dawn, but represents the remnants of the science of some great and as yet untraced civilisation. Where, however, is the seat of that civilisation to be located?” A number of scholars, both ancient and modern, have come to the conclusion that the world’s first civilisation was created by the people known as Cushite (Oromian) and also known by Greeks as Punt (Burnt Faces). The Greeks argued that these people developed their dark colouration since they were adjacent to the sun than were the fairer natives of Europe. In terms of the sources of well-informed modern authority, Herodotus describes the Cushites as in Lugard (1964) as: “the tallest, most beautiful and long-lived of the human races,’ and before Herodotus, Homer, in even more flattering language, described them as ‘the most just of men; the favourites of gods.’ The annals of all the great early nations of Asia Minor are full of them. The Mosaic records allude to them frequently; but while they are described as the most powerful, the most just, and the most beautiful of the human race, they are constantly spoken of as black, and there seems to be no other conclusion to be drawn, than that remote period of history the leading race of the western world was the black race.”
Alexander Bulatovich (2000, p.53) of Russia in his 1896-1898 travels in Oromia described the Oromo, which is akin to Herodotus’s description as fallows: “The [Oromo] physical type is very beautiful. The men are very tall, with statuesque, lean, with oblong face and a somewhat flattened skull. The features of the face are regular and beautiful. The mouth is moderate. The lips are not thick. They have excellent even teeth; large and in some cases oblong eyes and curly hair. Their arm bones are of moderate length, shorter than the bones of Europeans, but longer than among the Amhara tribes. The feet are moderate and not turned in. The women are shorter than the men and very beautifully built. In general, they are stouter than the men, and not as lean as they. Among them one sometimes encounters very beautiful women. And their beauty does not fade as among the Abyssinians. The skin color of both men and women ranges from dark to light brown. I did not see any completely black [Oromo].” According to Homer and Herodotus, the Cushites were inhabited in the Sudan, Egypt, Arabia, Palestine, present Ethiopia, Western Asia and India.
… The identification of the Cushite Oromian civilisation with the present Abyssinia Amhara-Tigre under the name of Ethiopia made by the post civilisation Abyssinian priests translators of the Abyssinian version of the Bible in the 5th and 6th century or some other time, has been a cheating and misrepresentation of true human history. Those Abyssinians who were stealing the history were relatively recent migrant (conquerors) of the region. They occupied the present day Northern Ethiopia (central Cushitic of Agau and Oromo) long after the first human civilisation already originated and advanced in the area and spread to the rest of the world including to Arabia and Mediterranean Europe. The native residents of the region are the Cushite African people (Oromo, Agau, Somali, Sidama, Afar, Beja, Saho, etc). Ethiopian Jews (Falashas) are also Cushite Oromo and Agau who accepted Jews religion. Abyssinian tribes have fabricated their own myth and false history to claim legitimacy to the region and then established a regime truth through continuos fable story, phantom, indoctrination and falsification of the real Cushite history. Semitic immigrants did not found Aksum but the Abyssinians resettled among the Cushites cities and commercial centres in which Aksum was one and latter dominated the ruling power in this very centre of the civilisation of the central Cush. Ge’ez was invented as a language of the centre and latter used as the official language of the church and the colonising Abyssinian ruling class. Ge’ez was initially developed from the mixture of Cushitic and Greek elements that was facilitated by the Cushite trade links to the Greek world.
There was also Greek resettlement in Aksum and the surrounding central Cush commercial towns with primary contacts with endogenous Cushite. The earlier rulers of Aksum and Christian converts including Ezana were Cushites. Though Ezana was the first convert from the above (the ruling class) to Christianity, he did not give up his belief in one God (Waqa) (Cushite/ black God). He was also not the first Cushite to be a Christian. In their linkages with a wider world, it is also highly likely and very logical and possible that there were Christians among the civilian Cushite trading communities who had already disseminated their new faith, as so many Oromo merchants were to do latter in the expansion of Islam. The splendid Stella, towers of solid masonry, with non-functional doors and windows at Aksum was not the earliest materialisation but it was the continuity in the manifestation of major indigenous Cushite tradition of monumental architecture in stone, which also later found expression in the rock-hewn churches of the Cushite Agau kings (see also Isichei, 1997 for some of the opinions). Abyssinians were the rulers. They were not the engineers and the builders of the stone monuments. It was the original product and brainchild of Cushite technologist. Of course, their advancement was thwarted with the unfortunate coming of the Abyssinians.
Almost all of the original studies of the origin of Cushite civilisation could not penetrate far deep into regions south east to Nubia (Mereo) and could not dig out the other side of the twin, the close link and vast primary sources in present day Oromia. Though the British Museum has collected vast sources on Nubian, it has not kept on or linked any to the sister and more or less identical to the civilisation of the Oromo. For me, as native Oromo with knowledge of oral history and culture, as I observed the Nubian collection in British Museum, what they say Nubian collection is almost identical to Oromia, but in a less variety and quantity. I can say that Nubian and other Cushite civilisations were extensions (grafts) of the vast products of Oromo. I may also be enthused to the inference that the people whose manners and customs have been so thoroughly capitulated by Herodotus, Diodorus, Strabo Pliny and other were not Abyssinians and other Black people at all, but the natives of Upper Nile, Oromos, Agau, Somalis, Afar and the rest of Cushitic people of the present Horn of Africa. Sir Henry Rawlinson in his essay on the early History of Babylonian describes Oromos as the purest modern specimens of the Kushite. Thus, Oromo is Kush and Kush is Oromo.
… The system of writing, which they brought up with them, has the closest semblance with that of Egypt; in many cases in deed the two alphabets are absolutely identical. In the Biblical genealogies, while Kush and Mizrain (Egypt) are brothers, from Kush Nimrod (Babylonian) sprang. With respect to the language of ancient Babylonians, the vocabulary is absolutely Kushite, belonging to that stock of tongues, which in postscript were everywhere more or less, mixed up with Semitic languages, but of which we have with doubtless the purest existing specimens in the Mahra of Southern Arabia and the Oromo. The Greek alphabet, the script of English today, is based on the Kemetic alphabet of Ancient Egypt/Kemet and the Upper Nile Valley of Ancient Africa. Ancient Egyptians called their words MDW NTR, or ‘Metu Neter,” which means divine speech. The Greeks called it, ‘hieroglyphics”- a Greek word. The etymology of hieroglyphics is sacred (hieros) carvings (glyph). The Oromos (the Kemet of modern age) called it Qubee.
I just re-presented this article to show how interrelated are the nations and nationalities in the present Ethiopian empire and what sort of the leading position the Oromo (Proto-Cush) had in the past and can have in the future. Unfortunately, I had to take out certain part of the article; those readers who are interested in the whole article and the references given there can read the original from the link I already gave at the beginning. Those Oromo nationalists, who are the believers in and fighters for “only an independent Golden Oromia,” should not misunderstand my intention here. I have never been against this noble goal, but I always try to show that also the alternative (an integrative Great Oromia) is not wrong idea, which we should not have to discard as “a plot of the collaborators, defeatists, revisionists … etc”. Both groups of the Oromo nationalists (the independencists/Golden Oromianists and the unionists/Great Oromiainists) can struggle together for the common good/ground, i.e for bilisummaa/freedom; and then leave the decision on the two options, regarding the type of sovereignty we want to have, for the Oromo public verdict per referendum. Self-determination on its own future destiny is a God-given and Man-made right of every nation, whatever its past history might be. Yet the unionists can trade with the name “New Ethiopia”, whereas the whole Oromo nationals at the community level should re-name the whole country as Great Oromia because of the reasons given till now in my hitherto opinions. May Rabbi/Waaqa help the Oromo to differentiate the game at the political level from the move at the community level!
* Fayyis Oromia can be reached at email@example.com.