By Fayyis Oromia*
It is a fact on the ground that Raayyaa Oromo are the inhabitants of the presently distant northern tip of Oromia. We can leave the history of those, who are further north to Raayyaa, to the interested historians to study and help us know, whether they are really non-Oromo. But, we are sure that the Raayyaa and the Azebuu are part and parcel of the Oromo nation even though they seem to have lost their language, Afaan Oromo, and adopted Tigrinya or Amharic. Their history is well recorded, at least since the late nineteenth century, at which time they were, for the first time, compelled by the Abyssinian warlord, Yohannes-IV, to leave their own and learn alien culture and language.
The Raayyaa Oromo, with the Yejju Oromo, are the northernmost groups of the Oromo people, and they are part of the Wallo Oromo clan. Despite their historic resistance against the dominance, as we can read in any literature on Ethiopian history, in which the Raayyaa Oromo’s revolt is mentioned as the first revolt against Emperor H-Sillasie’s rule as early as the late 1920’s, and as the predecessor of the Bale Oromo revolt, Raayyaa Oromo’s ties with the rest of the Oromo have weakened due to years of wars in that part of the region.
To my understanding of the history of that region, the pre-Axumite inhabitants of the area were Kushites; even people around Axum were Waaqeffataa; and today we do see certain elements of these ancient traditions in the culture and music of the Abyssinians. Just as an example, the rhythm of the Tigrinya drum beat is from the rhythm of the Dibbee Qaalluu, which is still used in some Galma of Waaqeffannaa in some parts of Oromia. This same drum beat is a little bit modified and further used in the Orthodox church, the Christian denomination, which is full of many elements from the Qaalluu institution. There are many other things which do show that Raayyaa and Azebuu people were also part and parcel of the Oromo liberation movement. We can read a summary of the resistance or that of the revolt exercised by these people in short as chronologically reported here: http://gadaa.com/oduu/2644/2010/02/28/documentary-on-the-raya-azebo-oromo-of-oromias-northernmost-territory/ [Read below also]
I decided to write this short opinion, not to elaborate the history of Raayyaa people, but to encourage our artists to revive the music of this Oromo clan, which needs our attention at this particular moment. We have heard other parts of Wallo Afaan Oromo music with the “Amharinya rhythm;” we also heard few Afaan Oromo music with the “Soddoo Gurage rhythm, Somali rhythm, Afar rhythm, Harari rhythm, Sidama rhythm and even with Sudan rhythm.” Why not yet Afaan Oromo music with “Tigirnya rhythm”? As I said, some of us used to hear such music of this rhythm with “Tigrinya drum beat” in some Galma of Waaqeffannaa in Oromia.
I would like to encourage our artists to concentrate on Raayyaa Oromo music in order to help this Oromo clan culturally survive. As already mentioned above, we know the Raayyaa and the Azebuu people are simply the Tigrinya-speaking clan/gosa from Wallo Oromo, who need our support to re-learn their language of origin (Afaan Oromo). So, Oromo artists, please accept my call and start to sing Raayyaa music with “Tigrinya rhythm, including their way of dance.” I know that the present crime done by the Weyane fascists to the Oromo and the current dominance of the Tigrean elites over the Oromo people are very big inhibitions since we do associate the “Tigrinya rhythm” with the Tigrean colonizers. But, I am almost sure that the musical beat, melody and rhythm are not from Tigrean origin, but from Oromo’s root, from the Galma Waaqeffannaa in Oromia, which our forefathers used to enjoy for thousands of years and which the Axumites just could keep for themselves.
So, I want to motivate our artists to break the taboo, just as Obbo Dawite Mekonnen recently did by breaking the taboo of our Sabboontota (patriotic) Oromo artists, as he sang in Amharainya. The main thing is the message of the song to hit its purpose, not only the package (only the type of dance or the language) used to convey the message. The same is true for the step to be taken in starting to sing Afaan Oromo music in Raayyaa rhythm, which we, until now, left for Tigreans, as if it belongs to only them. Just as the Soddoo Oromo music was ours and now became an additional blessing to the Oromo nation, so do the Raayyaa Oromo music belongs to us. I hope Obbo Dawite will break the taboo again, or someone else from our artists will take over this duty. Come on friends, if singing in Afaan Oromo with North American rap rhythm is not a cultural hindrance, how can singing with North Oromian drum beat be a taboo? Just imagine how more an enrichment it would have been for the Oromo people, if the following music was in Afaan Oromo:
May Rabbi/Waaqa help our artists take this initiative and help the Raayyaa Oromo music revive and survive!
* Fayyis Oromia can be reached at email@example.com.
RELATED: The Raya Oromo Revolt and the Rise of Tafari Makonnen
|1928||Oromo peasants and nomads in Yejju, Raya or Wajerat districts of present southern Tigray and northern Wallo revolted against the rule of Haile Selassie and refused to pay the heavy taxes imposed on them. The government dispatched troops to put down the revolt. The peasants with few arms they possessed were able to defeat the troops and capture a large quantity of arms and ammunition. Additional arms were obtained by the nomads from the Red Sea coast in Tajura.|
|1929||The Oromo fighters of the revolt in Yejju and Raya controlled a large part of their area and closed the trade route that connected Dasee, the capital of Wallo, to the south. In a battle with the government forces in October 1929, the Oromo fighters captured 2,000 rifles and 12,000 cartridges.|
|1930||Tafari Makonnen, throne name Haile Sellassie I, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, Elect of God and Emperor of Ethiopia, succeeded Zawditu to the throne.|
|1930||A large government force, led by the war minister, Mulugeta, arrived in Yejju and Raya regions. The Oromo fighters put up stiff resistance. The Oromo resistance was finally put down, although temporarily, mainly by the use of airplanes. It was the first time airplanes were ever used in a war in the Empire.|
|1931||The first constitution of Ethiopia was introduced. In this document the term "Abyssinia" was dropped in favor of "Ethiopia," thereby defining Abyssinians and all the colonized peoples as "Ethiopians."|
|1935/1936||Oromo of Raya and Qobbo were fighting Haile Selassie’s army. At one point, on April 3, 1936 near Ashange Lake, they almost trapped Haile Selassie himself fleeing from the Italians. He never put his feet in this area again after that. During the same period, the Oromo guerrillas attacked the retreating Ethiopian army led by Ras Mulugeta and inflicted heavy casualties. They revenged his earlier (1930) aerial attack on them by killing his son; he himself narrowly escaped. One of the reasons for the attack was, the Ethiopian army on its way to the war had looted the property of the Oromo communities.|
|1943||The Oromo uprising in Raya was temporarily suppressed with the assistance of the British Royal Air Force stationed in Aden. Many of the leaders of the Oromo movement were also implicated in the Woyane revolt in Tigray in 1943.|
|1947/1948||The Raya Oromo rose up in arms again. Again after they had liberated a large area of their land, the movement was stopped when the British Royal Air Force in Aden, at the request of the Ethiopian regime, bombed the Oromo guerrilla positions.|