## Ancient Africa: Khemetic Mathematics: Herega Dur DuriiJune 28, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Ancient Egyptian, Ancient Rock paintings in Oromia, Meroetic Oromo.
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EGYPTIAN MATHEMATICS

 Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic numerals

The early Egyptians settled along the fertile Nile valley as early as about 6000 BC, and they began to record the patterns of lunar phases and the seasons, both for agricultural and religious reasons. The Pharaoh’s surveyors used measurements based on body parts (a palm was the width of the hand, a cubit the measurement from elbow to fingertips) to measure land and buildings very early in Egyptian history, and a decimal numeric system was developed based on our ten fingers. The oldest mathematical text from ancient Egypt discovered so far, though, is the Moscow Papyrus, which dates from the Egyptian Middle Kingdom around 2000 – 1800 BC.

It is thought that the Egyptians introduced the earliest fully-developed base 10 numeration system at least as early as 2700 BC (and probably much early). Written numbers used a stroke for units, a heel-bone symbol for tens, a coil of rope for hundreds and a lotus plant for thousands, as well as other hieroglyphic symbols for higher powers of ten up to a million. However, there was no concept of place value, so larger numbers were rather unwieldy (although a million required just one character, a million minus one required fifty-four characters).

 Ancient Egyptian method of multiplication

The Rhind Papyrus, dating from around 1650 BC, is a kind of instruction manual in arithmetic and geometry, and it gives us explicit demonstrations of how multiplication and division was carried out at that time. It also contains evidence of other mathematical knowledge, including unit fractions, composite and prime numbers, arithmetic, geometric and harmonic means, and how to solve first order linear equations as well as arithmetic and geometric series. The Berlin Papyrus, which dates from around 1300 BC, shows that ancient Egyptians could solve second-order algebraic (quadratic) equations.

Multiplication, for example, was achieved by a process of repeated doubling of the number to be multiplied on one side and of one on the other, essentially a kind of multiplication of binary factors similar to that used by modern computers (see the example at right). These corresponding blocks of counters could then be used as a kind of multiplication reference table: first, the combination of powers of two which add up to the number to be multiplied by was isolated, and then the corresponding blocks of counters on the other side yielded the answer. This effectively made use of the concept of binary numbers, over 3,000 years before Leibniz introduced it into the west, and many more years before the development of the computer was to fully explore its potential.

Practical problems of trade and the market led to the development of a notation for fractions. The papyri which have come down to us demonstrate the use of unit fractions based on the symbol of the Eye of Horus, where each part of the eye represented a different fraction, each half of the previous one (i.e. half, quarter, eighth, sixteenth, thirty-second, sixty-fourth), so that the total was one-sixty-fourth short of a whole, the first known example of a geometric series.

 Ancient Egyptian method of division

Unit fractions could also be used for simple division sums. For example, if they needed to divide 3 loaves among 5 people, they would first divide two of the loaves into thirds and the third loaf into fifths, then they would divide the left over third from the second loaf into five pieces. Thus, each person would receive one-third plus one-fifth plus one-fifteenth (which totals three-fifths, as we would expect).

The Egyptians approximated the area of a circle by using shapes whose area they did know. They observed that the area of a circle of diameter 9 units, for example, was very close to the area of a square with sides of 8 units, so that the area of circles of other diameters could be obtained by multiplying the diameter by 89 and then squaring it. This gives an effective approximation of π accurate to within less than one percent.

The pyramids themselves are another indication of the sophistication of Egyptian mathematics. Setting aside claims that the pyramids are first known structures to observe the golden ratio of 1 : 1.618 (which may have occurred for purely aesthetic, and not mathematical, reasons), there is certainly evidence that they knew the formula for the volume of a pyramid –13 times the height times the length times the width – as well as of a truncated or clipped pyramid. They were also aware, long before Pythagoras, of the rule that a triangle with sides 3, 4 and 5 units yields a perfect right angle, and Egyptian builders used ropes knotted at intervals of 3, 4 and 5 units in order to ensure exact right angles for their stonework (in fact, the 3-4-5 right triangle is often called “Egyptian”).

See more at : –  http://www.storyofmathematics.com/egyptian.html

Related:-

## Scientific System, Mathematics and Ancient Kemetic Traditions

https://oromianeconomist.wordpress.com/2013/11/17/kemetic-numerology/

## Oromia: The Oromo Heritages: Gadaa, Siiqqee and Irreecha. #Africa.June 13, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Ancient African Direct Democracy, Ancient Egyptian, Ancient Rock paintings in Oromia, Ateetee, Ateetee (Siiqqee Institution), Boran Oromo, Gadaa System, Irreecha, Irreecha Oromo, Oromia, Oromo, Oromo Nation, Oromo Social System, Oromo Wisdom, Oromo women, Oromummaa, Sirna Gadaa, The Goddess of Fecundity, Waaqeffanna (Oromo ancient African Faith System).
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 The Borana Calendar REINTERPRETED by Laurance R. Doyle Physics and Astronomy Department, University of California, Santa Cruz,at NASA Ames Research Center, Space Sciences Division, M.S. 245-7, Moffett Field, Calif. 94035, U.S. 20 XII 85
 The announcement of a possible first archaeoastronomical site (called Namoratunga II) in sub-Saharan Africa by Lynch and Robbins (1978) and its subsequent reappraisal by Soper (1982) have renewed interest in an East African calendrical system, the Borana calendar, first outlined in detail by Legesse (1973:180-88). I shall here reinterpret the calendar as Legesse describes it in the light of astronomical constraints. The Borana calendar is a lunar-stellar calendrical system, relying on astronomical observations of the moon in conjunction with seven particular stars (or star groups). At no time (except indirectly by way of lunar phase) does it rely upon solar observations. The Borana year is twelve lunar synodic months (each 29.5 days long), 354 days. While it will not correspond to the seasons, this may not be of primary importance for people this close to the equator. There are twenty-seven day names (no weeks), and since each month is either 29 or 30 days long, the first two (or three) day names are used twice in the same month starts on a new day name. The day names are listed in Table 1, the month names in Table 2. The first six months can be identified at the beginning of the month with a particular astronomical observation, whereas the last six months can be so identified only around the middle of the month. The first six months begin with the observation of the new-phase moon in conjunction with six positions in the sky marked by seven particular stars or star groups. Thus the phase of the moon is held constant while its position varies. The last six months are identified by a particular-phase moon seen in conjunction with the first star position. Thus, here, the lunar phase changes and the position is held constant. The seven stars or star groups in order are Triangulum (which I take to mean Beta Trianguli), Pleiades, Aldebarran, Belletrix, central Orion (around the sword), Saiph, and Sirius. They are given in Table 2 next to the months they define. The New Year starts with the observation of the new moon in conjunction with Beta Trianguli. (The term “new moon” here will be taken to be within two days of zero phase, although the Borana allow up to three “leap” days’ leeway, the astronomical observation determining the correct day to start on. This is indicated in the day nomenclature by the assignment of like prefixes to two or three day names before the approximate time an important astronomical observation is to take place.) Since the new moon can be seen only just before sunrise or just after sunset, twilight makes the observation of Beta Trianguli (a third-magnitude star) in conjunction with a new moon impossible with the naked eye. Assuming that such an observation, however, was possible, would the next new moon be in conjunction with the next star group. Pleiades? (Conjunction here is taken to mean “rising with” or “setting with,” having the same right ascension. Legesse says (p. 182), “Let us assume that a new moon was sighted last night and that is appeared side by side with the star Sirius, which the Borana call Basa.”) Since the sidereal period of the moon is 27.3 days long, it will arrive back at the Triangulum position more than two days before completing its synodic month. At the sidereal rate of 13.2° per day, the moon will be within 3° of Pleiades when it rises in the new phase again. However, by the time of the third month it rises, not with Aldebarran, the next star, but a little past Belletrix, the fourth star, which is supposed to start the fourth month. By the fourth month the new moon is rising past Sirius, the sixth start, and the calendar is clearly not working as described. It should be added that the right-ascension positions of the stars in the area from Beta Trianguli to Sirius change with time, at the rate of roughly 15° every thousand years. However, the stars stay in approximately the same configuration, and arguments based on their present right-ascension relationships will hold over the past several thousand years as well. What happens if we take the term “conjunction,” or “side by side,” as Legesse has it, to mean not “rising with” but “rising single-file,” that is, at the same horizon position (in other words, having the same declination)? Examining the idea that it is not the proximity of the moon to the star that is important but its horizon rising (or setting) position with respect to that star’s horizon rising (or setting) position, we immediately find that the first necessary observation, the new moon rising at the horizon position of Beta Trianguli, is not currently possible. Beta Trianguli rises (at the equator) about 35° north of the east point (0° declination), while the moon (on the northernmost average) rises at 23.5° north of east, never rising farther north than 28.5° from the East Point. The earth’s rotation axis is known to precess over the centuries, and while this does not change the lunar orbital positions significantly, it does change the apparent position of the stars. We can calculate the positions of the seven Borana stars at a time when Beta Trianguli was well within the moon’s declination limits to see if the calendar would have worked then. In 300 BC, Beta Trianguli was rising at a declination of +23° north of east. The right-ascension positions at the time still do not allow a “rising with” interpretation of the calendrical system. We can begin by defining the start of the Borana year as the new moon rising at the rising position of 300 BC Beta Trianguli. (The date of 300 BC was strongly suggested by the preliminary dating of Namoratunga II, but it was chosen because +23°, Beta Trianguli’s declination at the time, is the northern average of the moon’s monthly motion. I will take the moon’s motion, for the example here, from theNautical Almanacs for 1983 and 1984.) The next new moon rises at 14° north of east, which corresponds precisely to the 300 BC horizon rising position of Pleiades, the next Borana star. The next four new moons (starting the next four Borana months) rise at +9 degrees, +1 degree, –11 degrees, and –17 degrees declination. These positions correspond to the 300 BC horizon rising positions of the Borana stars Aldebarran. Belletrix, central Orion—Saiph (taken together), and Sirius, respectively (Table 3). The seventh month should be identifiable 14 or 15 days from its automatic start (about 29 days after the start of the sixth month) by a full moon rising at the Beta Trianguli position, and this is indeed the case. Each subsequent moon rises at this horizon position 27.3 days later (sidereal month) in a phase (synodic month) about two days less waxes (since it is on its way to the full phase again) each time. (Legesse has a waning moon, but this must mean waning with respect to each subsequent monthly observation, not with respect to the Phase State for that month.) On the thirteenth or first month, the moon is seen rising in the new phase again (“new” meaning within a couple of days of zero phase), and another year begins. Tracing the moon’s motion as it arrives at these positions in the sky (which are, however, no longer directly marked by the seven stars), we can derive the calendar (see Table 4). This outline is still general with respect to what is sometimes called the lunar excursion (regression of the line of nodes of the lunar orbit). The three “leap” days the Borana calendar allows for the starting of some of the months just before an important astronomical observation could account for this declination excursion of the moon (± ca. 5° from 23.5° declination on an 18.6-year basis), but this would certainly require confirmation in the field. The Borana calendrical system as described by Legesse is, therefore, a valid timekeeping system, subject to the astronomical constraints outlined here, and the pillars found in northwestern Kenya by Lynch and Robbins and preliminary dates at 300 BC could, as they suggest, represent a site used to derive that calendar. The calendar does not work in right-ascension sense, but it does work if taken as based on declination. It might have been invented around 300 BC, when the declinations of the seven stars corresponded to lunar motion as the calendar indicates, and the star names would therefore apply to the horizon positions as well. Because the horizon rising positions constitute the important observations (over half of which must be made at twilight), some sort of horizon-marking device would seem to be necessary. Since the calendar is still in use, and the horizon-making pillars can no longer be set up by aligning them with the horizon rising positions of these stars, it would seem that the Borana may be using ancient (or replicas of ancient) horizon markers and this possibility should be investigated. I look forward with great interest to a test of these hypotheses.
 Table 1 Borana Day names (Legesse 1973) Bita Kara Gardaduma Bita Lama Sonsa Sorsa Rurruma Algajima Lumasa Arb Gidada Walla Ruda Basa Dura Areri Dura Basa Ballo Areri Ballo Carra Adula Dura Maganatti Jarra Adula Ballo Maganatti Britti Garba Dura Salban Dura Garba Balla Salban Balla Garda Dullacha Salban Dullacha

 Table 2 Borana Months and Stars/Lunar Phases That Define Them (Legesse 1973) Month Star/Lunar Phase Bittottessa Triangulum Camsa Pleiades Bufa Aldebarran Wacabajjii Belletrix Obora Gudda Central Orion-Saiph Obora Dikka Sirius Birra full moon Cikawa gibbous moon Sadasaa quarter moon Abrasa large crescent Ammaji medium crescent Gurrandala small crescent

 Table 3 Declinations (Degrees) of Borana Stars, 300 BC and Present Star Declination 300 BC Present Beta Trianguli +23 +35 Pleiades +14 +23 Aldebarran +9 +16 Belletrix +1 +6 Central Orion –10 –6 Saiph –13 –10 Sirius –17 –17
 Table 4 Astronomical Borana-Cushitic Calendar (1983-84) Borana-Cushitic Day/Month Gregorian Date Description Bita Kara/ Bittottessa August 7, 1983 New moon rises at Triangulum horizon position Algajima/ Camsa September 6, 1983 New moon rises at Pleiades horizon position Walla/ Bufa October 5, 1983 New moon rises at Aldebarran horizon position Basa Dura/ Wacabajjii November 2, 1983 New moon rises at Belletrix horizon position Maganatti Jarra/ Obora Gudda December 2, 1983 New moon rises at central Orion-Saiph horizon position Salban Dura/ Obora Dikka December 30, 1983 New moon rises at Sirius horizon position Gardaduma/ Birra January 29, 1984 Full moon sets at Triangulum on February 15 Rurruma/Cikawa February 28, 1984 Gibbous moon sets at Triangulum on March 14 Gidada/ Sadasaa March 28, 1984 Quarter moon sets at Triangulum on April 10 Areri Dura/ Abrasa April 26, 1984 Large crescent sets at Triangulum on May 7 Adula Dura/ Ammaji May 25, 1984 Medium crescent sets at Triangulum on June 3 Garba Dura/ Gurrandala June 23, 1984 Small crescent sets at Triangulum on June 30 Bita Kara/ Bittottessa July 28, 1984 “New” moon rises at Triangulum position again, new year starts
 References Cited Legesse, A. 1973. Gada: Three approaches to the study of African Society. New York: Free Press. Lynch, B. M., and L. H. Robbins. 1978. Namoratunga: The first archaeoastronomical evidence in sub-Saharan Africa. Science 200:766-68. Soper, R. 1982. Archaeo-astronomical Cushites: Some comments. Azania 17:145-62

Source:

http://web.archive.org/web/20081029073246/http://www.tusker.com/Archaeo/art.currentanthro.htm

ASTRONOMY IN EAST AFRICA:Borana-Cushitic Calender

ASTRONOMY IN EAST AFRICA
The Borana-Cushitic Calendar and Namoratunga
Laurance Reeve Doyle
Space Sciences Division, N.A.S.A.
Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California

“While Western thought has always prided itself on scientific objectivity, it has often been found unprepared for such surprises as an intellectually advanced yet seemingly illiterate society. In the face of apparent primitiveness, the possibility of significant intellectual development may not be fully investigated.
This was certainly the case when, in the early 1970’s, Dr. A. Legesse first found that the Borana people of southern Ethiopia were indeed using a sophisticated calendrical system based on the conjunction of seven stars with certain lunar phases. Previous calendrical investigations into the area up to this time had superficially stated that the Borana “attach magical significance to the stars and constellations,” incorrectly concluding that their calendar was based, as ours is, on solar motion.
What Dr. Legesse found was an amazing cyclical calendar similar to those of the Mayans, Chinese, and Hindu, but unique in that it seemed to ignore the sun completely (except indirectly by way of the phases of the moon). The workings were described to him by the Borana ayyantu (timekeepers) as follows.
There are twelve months to a year, each month being identifiable with a unique (once a year) astronomical observation. The length of each month is either 29 or 30 days – that is, the time it takes the moon to go through all its phases. (This time is actually 291/2 days and is called a synodic month, but the Borana only keep track of whole days). Instead of weeks, there are 27 day names. Since each month is 29 or 30 days long we will run out of day names about two or three days early in the same month. The day names can therefore be recycled and for day 28 we use the first day name again, the second day name for day 29, and start the next month using the third day name. Thus each month will start on a different day name. Whether the particular month is to be 29 or 30 days long would depend on the astronomical observations, which are quite ingeniously defined.
The seven stars (or star groups) used to derive the calendar are, from northernmost to southernmost, 1) Beta Triangulum – a fairly faint navigation star in the constellation of the Triangle, 2) Pleiades – a beautiful, blue star cluster in the constellation of Taurus the Bull, and sometimes referred to as the seven sisters, 3) Aldebarran – a bright, red star that represents the eye of Taurus, 4) Belletrix – a fairly bright star that represents the right shoulder of the constellation Orion the Hunter, 5)Central Orion – the region around Orion’s sword where the Great Orion Nebula may be found, 6) Saiph – the star representing the right knee of Orion, and finally 7) Sirius – the brightest star in the night sky and the head of the constellation Canis Majoris, the Great Dog.
The New Year begins with the most important astronomical observation of the year – a new moon in conjunction with Beta Triangulum. (this day is called Bitotesa, and the next month is called Bitokara). The next month starts when the new moon is found in conjunction with the Pleiades. The third month starts with the new moon being observed in conjunction with the star Aldebarran, the next with Belletrix, then the area in between Central Orion and Saiph, and finally with the star Sirius. So the first six months of the calendar are started by the astronomical observations of the new phase moon found in conjunction with six specific locations in the sky marked by seven stars of star groups.
The method is now switched and the final six months are identified by six different phases of the moon (from full to crescent) being found in conjunction with only one position in the sky – the one marked by Beta Triangulum. Thus the whole Borana year is identified astronomically and when the new phase moon is again finally seen in conjunction with Beta Triangulum the New Year will start again. Since there are 12 such synodic months of 29 ½ days each, the Borana year is only 354 days long.
Now, in the latter part of the 1970’s another interesting development was to take place regarding the astronomy of this region. In 1977 Drs. B.M. Lynch and L.H. Robbins, who were working in the Lake Turkana area of northwestern Kenya, came upon what they believed was the first archaeoastronomical site ever found in sub-Saharan Africa. At Namoratunga, it consisted of 19 stone pillars, apparently man-made, that seemed to align toward the rising positions of the seven Borana calendar stars as they had appeared quite some time ago. (their suggested date from the various archaeological considerations, which still requires corroboration, was about 300 BC). Due to precession (the slow, wobbling of the pointing direction of the rotation axis of the Earth), the stars will seem to move from their positions over the centuries, although the moon’s position would not vary on this time scale. (Such an example is the alignment of certain features of the Egyptian pyramids with the star Thuban in the constellation Draco the Dragon, which was the north polar star about 5000 year ago; today it is Polaris and in several thousand years it will be Vega). If the date that Drs. Lynch and Robbins suggested was correct, the site would then correspond to the time of the extensive kingdom of Cush, referred to as Ethiopia in the Bible but actually centered about present day Sudan. One would then conclude that the Borana calendrical system was old indeed, having been developed by the Cushitic peoples in this area about 1800 years before the development of our present day Western Gregorian calendrical system.
In 1982, a number of significant questions arose concerning the site, the calendar, and archaeoastronomy of East Africa in general. The pillars were remeasured by an anthropologist in Kenya (Mr. Robert Soper) and found to be magnetic in nature. The original measurements had to be modified but, again, alignments with the seven Borana stars were found. However, this brought up the question of whether pillar alignments are significant at all, since the Borana ayyantu certainly can recognize the phases of the moon and when it is in conjunction with the appropriate seven stars. It was time to approach the question astronomically, and ask the moon and the stars how the calendar worked.
First, we could take the New Year’s observations, a new moon in conjunction with the faint star Beta Triangulum. What is meant by the term “conjunction” which is astronomically defined as the closest approach between two celestial objects? A new moon means that the moon is very close to the sun, being at best only a very small crescent, and therefore can only be seen just before sunrise or just after sunset. Interestingly enough, it turns out that during this twilight time the sky is too bright to be able to see the star Beta Triangulum so that seeing the new moon next to Beta Triangulum, the most important observation of the Borana calendar, was impossible!
In addition, assuming that the new moon and Beta Triangulum could be somehow seen rising together, the next month’s new moon rises significantly behind Pleiades, the newt conjunction star group. The third new moon rises with Belletrix, having skipped the third star, Aldebarran, completely. This is certainly not how the Borana described their calendar. If we were to continue to try to work the calendar in this way, by the start of the sixth month the new moon would be rising almost four hours after Sirius.
How could the calendar work then? Suppose (as we did), that one takes the term “conjunction” to mean “rising at the same horizon position” instead of “rising horizontally next to at the same time.” Thus one could mark the horizon rising position of Beta Triangulum, with pillars for instance, and once a year a new moon will rise at that position on the horizon. Let us suppose that this astronomical event marks the start of the New Year. We must add that we are taking the horizon rising position of these seven stars as they were in or around 300 BC, since present day Beta Triangulum has precessed too far to the north over the centuries and the moon will never rise there. However, the position of 300 BC Beta Triangulum, as well as the other Borana stars, was quite within the realm of the moon’s orbit.
Now where will the next new moon rise? It turns out to rise at precisely the rising position of Pleiades! The next new moon, marking the start of the third month, rises at the Aldebarran horizon position, the next at Belletrix, the next in between Central Orion and Saiph, and finally the sixth new moon rises at the horizon position that Sirius rose at during the night. During the next six months one can tell what month it is only in the middle of the month, since one has to wait to see what phase the moon is in when it appears at the Beta Triangulum horizon position. During the seventh month, as described, a full moon will be observed at the Beta Triangulum position. The next month a gibbous waxing moon, then a quarter moon, and successively smaller crescents will be seen there until, at the time when the 13th or first month should start the new year again (exactly 354 days later), a new moon is again seen rising at the Beta Triangulum position on the horizon.
It is interesting that one can draw some significant anthropological results from the astronomical derivation of this calendrical system. It would appear that the calendar would have had to have been invented (to use the stars correctly) sometime within a few hundred years of 300 BC, a time when the Cushitic peoples were dominant in this part of the world. Hence we would call it the Borana-Cushitic calendar. In addition, although the seven Borana-Cushitic stars no longer rise in the correct horizon positions to be correctly marked by pillars for observing the monthly rising position of the new moon, the present day Borana people nevertheless use this system of timekeeping. The implication is that the Borana require ancient horizon markers in their present derivation of the calendar.
Concerning the site at Namoratunga, and considering that the use of pillars is apparently necessary to the derivation of the calendar, such horizon markers as are found there may, indeed, have been an ancient observatory. Petroglyphs on the pillars at Namoratunga may also hold the possibility of being ancient and, if Cushitic, may represent the alignment stars or moon. Cushitic script has never been deciphered and any hints as to the meaning of tits symbols could be significant clues with very exciting prospects indeed!

Thus, archaeoastronomy in East Africa is still quite new and many discoveries await. From coming to understand, even in a small way, the calendrical reckoning and observational abilities of the ancient and modern astronomer-timekeepers of this region, Western thought should certainly not again underestimate the ingenuity and intellect present there. As for this Western thinker, this study continues to be a welcome lesson in perspective and humility, taught to him by his astronomical colleagues of long ago.”

This is a summary of a talk delivered at Caltech for Ned Munger’s African Studies class.

http://www.africaspeaks.com/reasoning/index.php?topic=2194.0;wap2

## Voices: Traveling to Africa? Think twice about using the word ‘tribe’ By McKenzie Powell, Ohio UniversityMay 7, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, African American, Ancient African Direct Democracy, Ancient Rock paintings in Oromia, Chiekh Anta Diop, Muscians and the Performance Of Oromo Nationalism, Oromo, Oromo Nation.
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Oromo culture from ancient to present, Irrechaa time

Please do not call the Oromo people (the Oromians) a tribe and by extension all African  nations and nationalities:

You know Why?

Read the following: What Achebe wrote referring to his Igbo people is equally applicable to the Oromo.

Chinua Achebe the renowned African novelist and poet, the author of Things fall apart, the best known and best selling novel ever in his book Home and exile (Oxford University Press, 2000, pp.3-5) says the following:

“The Igbo people of south eastern Nigeria are more than ten million and must be accounted one of the major peoples of Africa. Conventional practice would call them a tribe, but I no longer follow that convention. I call them a nation. ‘Here we go again!,’ You may be thinking. Well, let me explain. My Pocket Oxford Dictionary defines tribe as follows: ‘group of people (esp. primitive) families or communities linked by social , religious or blood ties and usually having a common culture and dialect and a recognized leader.’ If we apply the different criteria of this definition to Igbo people we will come up with the following results:

a. Igbo people are not primitive; if we were I would not be offering this distinguished lecture, or would I?;

b. Igbo people are not linked by blood ties, although they may share many cultural traits;

c. Igbo people do not speak one dialect; they speak one language which has scores of major and minor dialects;

d. and as for having one recognized leader, Igbo people would regard the absence of such a recognized leader as the very defining principle of their social and political identity.

Therefore, all in all, Igbo people would score very poorly indeed on the Oxford dictionary test for tribe.

My little Oxford dictionary defines nation as, ‘ a community of people of mainly of common descent, history or language, etc, forming a state or inhabiting a territory. This may not be a perfect fit for the Igbo, but it is close. In addition I like it because, unlike the word tribe, which was given to me, nation is not loaded or derogatory, and there is really no good reason to continue answering a derogatory name simply because somebody has given it to you.”

https://oromianeconomist.wordpress.com/2015/01/04/decolonising-developmentthe-political-and-cultural-locations-of-nationalism-and-national-self-determination/

# Voices: Traveling to Africa? Think twice about using the word ‘tribe’

We see the word everywhere: throughout news reports of African struggles, in old films and on the latest television shows. You’ve probably even heard it used in a recent class covering topics related to history or anthropology.

“Tribe” has become a well-known, frequently used word to describe a particular group of people, specifically within a non-Western nation. The word seems to predominantly flood media outlets when an African ethnic group is involved in conflict or famine.

According to the Oxford Dictionaries’ newest definition of the word, a tribe is described as, “A social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader.”

But what exactly are we implying when we use the word “tribe?” In an African context, when did this word originate and what words can we use as alternates?

Assan Sarr, assistant professor of history at Ohio University, says the word tribe first began spreading throughout Africa during the Scramble for Africa, or the period of European colonization of the continent.

“For much of Africa it seems that the word tribe became associated with the continent more during the 19th century, which means that it coincided with European imperialism,” Sarr says. “So, for Africans, the use of the word is really wrapped up in colonialism and that is one of the major reasons why Africans, or scholars who work on Africa, do not prefer the use of the term tribe to describe Africans.”

With a powerful history and past, the word “tribe” reflects social theories of the 19th century regarding stages of evolution and primitivism.

Even today, many negative connotations and falsities have continued with the use of the term to describe certain peoples within continents like Africa. The fallacies provoked by this pejorative language can include visuals of ethnic groups as clusters of half naked, barbarous, uncivilized and uneducated individuals with long feathers in their hair or spears in hand.

Definitions of the word also seem to point toward a society that exists outside of the state, one that is simple, small and static, and without the same structure as that which may be found in other complex societies and civilizations.

Sarr says the discrepancies are easily noticeable when comparing a commonly labeled tribal group, such as the Igbo, with that of Flemings, or the Flemish. The Igbo and Flemings are similarly categorized by their language and culture, and the Igbo are actually drastically greater in size — yet only the Igbo are considered a tribe.

“You don’t hear of the Irish tribe, or the Italian tribe, or the Spanish tribe. It’s always the various Arab tribes, or the Indian tribes, or the African tribes and that, for me, is one of the most potent issues that we need to be aware of. Here we are essentializing these people, we’re making them look distinctive,” Sarr says. “You are using it to refer to a group of people that share a certain historical experience, certain cultural traits, a language. This seems to me to be the perfect definition of an ethnic group, so why use the word tribe?”

Americans and Westerners are not the only people using this term, as some Africans refer to themselves as a part of a tribe. However, Sarr says that Africans do not use this word with the same assumptions and implications as those who brought it to the continent in the 19th century, or as those who may use it today in Westernized states.

In fact, as mentioned in Talking About Tribe by Africa Action, when some Africans are taught English, they are told that the correct, recognizable word to describe their ethnic group is “tribe.” In their own language, such as Zulu, the word used to describe their ethnic group actually translates to “people” or “nation.”

People and nation are two alternatives of tribe that can also be used in English to portray these multifaceted groups. Using the term “ethnic group” is also acceptable, or just simply calling them by their names – the Mende, the Wolof, the Hausa and so on.

“If they call themselves Igbo that means that word itself has a cultural meaning that the people themselves can associate with, rather than this foreign concept, this idea, that is used by others to describe them that does not capture all of their complex sets of ideas and histories and relationships,” Sarr says.

Using words like tribe and continuing to view places such as Africa as one place with one culture and one type of people is common, yet very detrimental. It is vital to be conscious of the history of the language we are using, and what our words may be negatively implying or stereotyping.

“How do we talk about Africa in a more intelligent, culturally sensitive, and helpful way? It’s this idea of unpacking all of the things that one acquired and grew up with,” Sarr says. “You have all these assumptions, these Eurocentric views, but once you start unpacking that and seeing that this is not true, then you begin to see some real interesting facts about the world.”

## The Sumerians, Kemetic and OromoApril 9, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, African American, African Literature, Ancient African Direct Democracy, Ancient Egyptian, Ancient Rock paintings in Oromia, Chiekh Anta Diop, Language and Development, Meroe, Meroetic Oromo, Oromo, Oromo Culture, Qubee Afaan Oromo.
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” “Assyrians themselves are shown to have been of a very pure type of Semites, but in the Babylonians there is a sign of Kushite blood. … There is one portrait of an Elmite king on a vase found at Susa; he is painted black and thus belongs to the Kushite race.” The myths, legends, and traditions of the Sumerians point to the African Cushite as the original home of these people (see. Perry, 1923, pp. 60-61). They were also the makers of the first great civilisation in the Indus valley. Hincks, Oppert, unearthed the first Sumerian remains and Rawlinson called these people Kushites. Rawlinson in his essay on the early history of Babylonian presents that without pretending to trace up these early Babylonians to their original ethnic sources, there are certainly strong reasons for supposing them to have passed from Cushite Africa to the valley of the Euphrates shortly before the opening of the historic period: He is based on the following strong points: 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.”
https://oromianeconomist.wordpress.com/…/oromia-untwist-th…/

The Sumerians were one of the earliest urban societies to emerge in the world, in Southern Mesopotamia more than 5000 years ago. They developed a writing system whose wedge-shaped strokes would influence the style of scripts in the same geographical area for the next 3000 years. Eventually, all of these diverse writing systems, which encompass both logophonetic, consonantal alphabetic, and syllabic systems, became known as cuneiform.

It is actually possible to trace the long road of the invention of the Sumerian writing system. For 5000 years before the appearance of writing in Mesopotamia, there were small clay objects in abstract shapes, called clay tokens, that were apparently used for counting agricultural and manufactured goods. As time went by, the ancient Mesopotamians realized that they needed a way to keep all the clay tokens securely together (to prevent loss, theft, etc), so they started putting multiple clay tokens into a large, hollow clay container which they then sealed up. However, once sealed, the problem of remembering how many tokens were inside the container arose. To solve this problem, the Mesopotamians started impressing pictures of the clay tokens on the surface of the clay container with a stylus. Also, if there were five clay tokens inside, they would impress the picture of the token five times, and so problem of what and how many inside the container was solved.

Subsequently, the ancient Mesopotamians stopped using clay tokens altogether, and simply impressed the symbol of the clay tokens on wet clay surfaces. In addition to symbols derived from clay tokens, they also added other symbols that were more pictographic in nature, i.e. they resemble the natural object they represent. Moreover, instead of repeating the same picture over and over again to represent multiple objects of the same type, they used diferent kinds of small marks to “count” the number of objects, thus adding a system for enumerating objects to their incipient system of symbols. Examples of this early system represents some of the earliest texts found in the Sumerian cities of Uruk and Jamdat Nasr around 3300 BCE, such as the one below. http://www.ancientscripts.com/sumerian.html

## A Glorious Past Before Colonialism: The world’s first civilizations arose from the spiritual, economic and social efforts of African women and African women in turn went on to lead those Matriarchal societies.March 9, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Ancient African Direct Democracy, Ancient Egyptian, Ancient Rock paintings in Oromia, Colonizing Structure.
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Historian Cheikh Anta Diop illustrates how as early as 10,000 BC women in Africa pioneered organized cultivation, thereby creating the pre-conditions for surplus, wealth and trade. African women are responsible for the greatest invention for the well being of human kind, namely, food security. It is the practice of organized agriculture that made population expansion, food surpluses and the emergence civilization possible.   http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/03/06/the-capitalist-origins-of-the-oppression-of-african-women/
A Glorious Past Before Colonialism

# The Capitalist Origins of the Oppression of African Women

by GARIKAI CHENGU,  CounterPunch

Sunday marks International Women’s Day, which was founded in 1908 by the Socialist party of America in order to promote the struggle for women’s equality. Unbeknown to many, for the vast majority of human history, which took place in Africa, women have been equal if not superior to men.

The world’s first civilizations arose from the spiritual, economic and social efforts of African women and African women in turn went on to lead those Matriarchal societies.

Matriarchy in ancient Africa was not a mirror image of patriarchy today, as it was not based on appropriation and violence. The rituals and culture of matriarchy did not celebrate violence; rather, they had a lot to do with fecundity, exchange and redistribution.

Early man was unaware of the link between intercourse and birth, therefore it was thought that new life was created by the woman alone. This belief created the first concept of God as a caring, compassionate, generous, all loving and all powerful Mother, which is the basis of the African matriarchal ideology.

Historian Cheikh Anta Diop illustrates how as early as 10,000 BC women in Africa pioneered organized cultivation, thereby creating the pre-conditions for surplus, wealth and trade. African women are responsible for the greatest invention for the well being of human kind, namely, food security. It is the practice of organized agriculture that made population expansion, food surpluses and the emergence civilization possible.

Pre-capitalist matriarchal civilizations in Africa included the Nigerian Zazzau, Sudanese Kandake, Angolan Nzinga, and Ashanti of Ghana, to name but a few. The quintessential African matriarchal system was most evident and most enduring in black Ancient Egypt.

Women in Ancient Egypt owned and had complete control over both movable and immovable property such as real estate in 3000 BC. As late as the 1960s, this right could not be claimed by women in some parts of the United States.

A closer look at ancient Egyptian papyrus’ reveals that society was strictly matrilineal and inheritance and descent was through the female line. The Egyptian woman enjoyed the same legal and economic rights as the Egyptian man, and the proof of this is reflected in Egyptian art and historical inscriptions. Egypt was an unequal society but the inequality was based much more upon differences in the social classes, rather than differences in gender.

From ancient legal documents, we know that women were able to manage and dispose of private property, including: land, portable goods, servants, slaves, livestock, and financial instruments such as endowments and annuities. A woman could administer all her property independently and according to her free will and in several excavated cemeteries the richest tombs were those of women.

The independence and leadership roles of ancient Egyptian women are part of an African cultural pattern that began millennia ago and continued into recent times, until Europeans brought capitalism and Christianity to Africa.

In the 1860s, the colonial explorer Dr. David Livingstone wrote of meeting female chiefs in the Congo, and in most of the monarchical systems of traditional Africa there were either one or two women of the highest rank who occupied a position on a par with that of the king or complementary to it.

Professor of Ancient African History, Barbara Lesko illustrates how anthropologists who have studied African history and records of early travelers and missionaries tell us “everywhere in Africa that one scrapes the surface one finds ethno-historical data on the authority once shared by women.”

Under colonial misrule, black women suffered double-edged discrimination and dis-empowerment both as women and as black people.

It is difficult for many people to accept that racial discrimination and antagonism, which is such a pervasive phenomenon in the world today, has not been a permanent historical feature of humanity. In fact, the very notion of “race” and the ideology and practice of racism is a relatively modern concept.

For instance, historians recount how the Romans and Greeks attached no particular stigma to the colour of a person’s skin and there were no theories about the inferiority of darker skin. Slavery in ancient societies was not defined by color, but primarily by military fortune: conquered peoples, irrespective of their color, were enslaved.

Just before colonisation, African women were largely equal to men. The significant value of African women’s productive labour in producing and processing food created and maintained their rights in domestic, political, cultural, economic, religious and social spheres, among others. Because women were central to production in these pre-class societies, systematic inequality between the sexes was nonexistent, and elder women in particular enjoyed relatively high status.

With the creation of the capitalist colonial economy, the marginalization of women came in several ways:

Firstly, the advent of title deeds, made men the sole owners of land. Consequently, as women lost access and control of land, they became increasingly economically dependent on men. This in turn led to an intensification of domestic patriarchy, reinforced by colonial social institutions.

Secondly, as colonialism continued to entrench itself on African soil, the perceived importance of women’s agricultural contribution to the household was greatly reduced, as their vital role in food production was overshadowed by the more lucrative male-dominated cash crop cultivation for the international market. Prior to colonialism, women dominated trade. Markets were not governed by pure profit values; but rather, by the basic need to exchange, redistribute and socialize. Traditional African economic systems were not capitalist in nature.

Thirdly, colonialism brought with it Christianity and a masculine fundamentalism, which is now prevalent across Africa today. The imported patriarchal religion does not allow women to play the leading roles they have in the indigenous African religion.

In Ancient African religions it is not only God who is female, but also the main guardian spirits and sacred principles. Rosalind Jeffries, a historian, documents the concept of the Supreme Mother. In a paper entitled, “The Image of Woman in African Cave Art”, she shows how African Creation stories focused on the Primordial Mother, creating woman first, then man.

Christianity brought the monogamous nuclear family unit to Africa. Its sole purpose was to pass on private property, in the form of inheritance, from one generation of men to the next. Under capitalism, the modern family unit is founded on concealed, domestic slavery of the wife; and, the modern capitalist society is a compound made up of many individual families as its molecules.

A glance at the dictionary will reveal that the word family, has rather telling Latin origins. Famulus literally means domestic slave; andfamilia, which is also the Italian word for family, signified the total number of slaves belonging to one man. Karl Marx lays it bare: “The modern family contains in germ not only slavery (servitus) but also serfdom, since from the beginning it is related to agricultural services. It contains in miniature all the contradictions which later extend throughout society and its state.”

Finally, the introduction of wage labour affected women by uprooting men from villages to work in urban areas, causing profound, negative economic impacts on women. Colonial authorities routinely used native African males to impose taxes on women, thereby entrenching male dominance in the Native’s psyche. After all, colonialists brought to Africa the concept of the Victorian woman: a woman who should stay in the private domain and leave “real work” to the men. Due to the Victorian concept of women held by all colonialists, African women were excluded from the new political and administrative system, whose sole purpose was to extract raw materials and labour from the colony.

Colonialism replaced the role and status of the pre-colonial, African woman with a landless and disenfranchised domestic slave.

The United Nations Development Program notes that nowadays, African women perform sixty-six percent of the world’s work, produce fifty percent of the food, but earn only ten percent of the income and own only one percent of the property.

The greatest threat towards the African woman’s glorious future is her ignorance of her glorious past. Armed with knowledge, Africans must now fight to restore women to a position of respect and of economic freedom that exceeds that which she enjoyed before colonialism.

Garikai Chengu is a scholar at Harvard University. Contact him ongarikai.chengu@gmail.com

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/03/06/the-capitalist-origins-of-the-oppression-of-african-women/

## Oromia: Celebrate Qubee & Afan Oromo: 23 Years of Success Since the Nov. 3, 1991 Adoption of QubeeOctober 26, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in African Literature, Ancient Rock paintings in Oromia, Language and Development, Mammaaksa Oromoo, Oromia, Oromo Literature, Qubee Afaan Oromo.
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# Celebrate Qubee & Afan Oromo: 23 Years of Success Since the Nov. 3, 1991 Adoption of Qubee

As November 3 (Qubee Day) is fast approaching, it’s important to celebrate and understand the significance of November 3, 1991 – the day Qubee was adopted as the alphabet of Afan Oromo, after being endorsed by Oromo as well as other international linguists. WithQubee, Afan Oromo, the language so many fought and died to keep alive and legal, was sprung into its current revival period.

Afan Oromo is Africa’s fourth most widely “spoken” language, and since the November 3, 1991 adoption of Qubee, it’s also becoming one of the top “written” languages in Africa.

The history of Oromo shows that the Abyssinian successive ruling classes, emboldened by ignorance and arrogance, had the mission to wipe out this language; and their mission failed by the relentless national struggle of many Oromo generations before 1991 and after 1991.

When November comes, we are also reminded of the sacrifices paid by the Oromo youth during the 2005 FDG, which broke out on November 9, 2005 to fight against the subjugation of the Oromo people by the Tigrean TPLF regime.

The sacrifices of the Oromo youth have been seared into the Nation’s memory forever. Kabada Badhassa, Jagama Badhane, Alemayehu Garba, Gaddisa Hirphasaa, Morkata Idosa, Gemechu Benesa Bula, Lelisa Waqgari Bula, Yaasiin Muhaammad, Dirribee Jifaar, Simee Tarrafaa, Shibbiruu Damisee and many many others – died for Oromo’s national liberation and national pride, and to uphold Oromo’s national heritage, such as Qubee, the Gadaa System, Aaddaa Oromoo, to mention just a few of the Oromo national heritage.

See more @  Gadaa.com & Ayyaantuu.com

## THEORIZING WAAQEFFANNAA: OROMIA’S INDIGENOUS AFRICAN RELIGION AND ITS CAPACITY AND POTENTIAL IN PEACEMAKINGSeptember 21, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, African Literature, Ancient African Direct Democracy, Ancient Egyptian, Ancient Rock paintings in Oromia, Ateetee, Ateetee (Siiqqee Institution), Black History, Chiekh Anta Diop, Culture, Cushtic, Humanity and Social Civilization, Irreecha, Irreecha (Irreesa) 2014, Irreecha (Irreessa) 2014, Irreecha Birraa, Kemetic Ancient African Culture, Meroetic Oromo, Oromia, Oromiyaa, Oromo, Oromo Culture, Oromo Identity, Oromo Nation, Oromo Social System, Oromo Wisdom, Oromummaa, Qaallu Institution, The Goddess of Fecundity, Waaqeffanna (Oromo ancient African Faith System).
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THEORIZING WAAQEFFANNAA: OROMIA’S INDIGENOUS AFRICAN RELIGION AND ITS CAPACITY AND POTENTIAL IN PEACEMAKINGThe article is Originally published by OromoPress @http://oromopress.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/theorizing-waaqeffannaa-oromias.htmlSee  also Fulbaana/September 18, 2014 · Finfinne Tribune | Gadaa.comhttp://gadaa.net/FinfinneTribune/2014/09/oromopress-theorizing-waaqeffannaa-oromias-indigenous-african-religion-and-its-capacity-and-potential-in-peacemaking/

In most of Africa, indigenous African religions have been pushed to the margin because of a number of factors. The implied and open relegation of indigenous African religions to the levels of inferiority and inconsequentiality in world affairs by colonial powers and post-colonial contemporary African states not only undermines and stereotypes the examination of the unique contributions of these religions to peacemaking, but also discards with them unique mythologies, values, laws, cultures and meaning-making systems. I argue that applying North American conflict resolution models, without considering African religious values that existed for many millennia before the arrival of world religions, will be an enormous hindrance to building lasting peace from the bottom-up in the vastly rural and agrarian Africa that is still steeped in traditions and rituals.

Contributing to a range of negative stereotypes about African religions (example, uncivilized, barbaric and conflict-generating) is the fact that many of them have been orally transmitted from generation to generation and lack written major holy books unlike the world religions. The purpose of this paper is to shift attention from common misconceptions about African religions to a productive examination of the constructive roles they can be made to play.

I will focus on the case of Waaqeffannaa, an Oromo indigenous religion of East Africa, and its core values and laws. It will be significant to examine Waaqeffannaa’s complex concepts, such as concept and view of Waaqaa (God), Eebba (prayers and blessings), safuu (the place of all things and beings in the cosmic and social order), issues related to cubbuu (sin) and other religious and ritual practices. Although there is no holy book forWaaqeffannaa thus far, I will obtain my data from published ethnographic books, journal articles, periodicals, relevant reports and press releases. The interactions between Waaqeffannaa and other organized religions, such as Christianity and Islam, will be examined in context.

The paper will seek answers to three related questions:

What are the contributions or lack thereof orally transmitted values and laws of Waaqeffannaa to peacemaking and relationship-building? If there are any contributions, how can they be compared to other forms of conflict resolution? What will be the role of Waaqeffannaa in peacemaking in the ever changing global and local contexts of religious diversity and difference?

The Concept of God in Waaqeffannaa’s Monotheistic System

In order to examine the hermeneutic advantages and disadvantages of Waaqeffannaa and compare it to modern or Western conflict resolution methods, it is essential to examine the concept of God (Waaqaa) in the religion in its own right. There is a consensus among researchers and observers of Waaqeffannaa—the most prominent of whom are pre-colonial European missionaries, explorers and anthropologists and local religious leaders and scholars—that Waaqeffannaa is one of the ancient indigenous African monotheistic religions.[1] The Oromo, the Cushitic African people of Ethiopia, among whom this religion emerged and developed, call their one God Waaqaa or more intimately and endearingly Waaqayyoo (good God). It is difficult to capture with one definition the complexity of the ways in which the followers of this religion (Waaqeffataas) relate to God and make sense of God (not gendered) is hard to capture just with one definition. The question of ways of understanding and relating to God is a question of Waaqeffannaa’s worldview that is indigenous and unique, in some ways, and thus, different from ways in which followers of major world religions understand and relate to God.

While monotheism is a key similarity it shares with Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Waaqeffannaa has the following worldview of its own:

We believe in God who created us. We believe in Him (sic) in a natural way … We believe in God because we can see what God has done and what he does: he makes rains and the rains grow greenery, and crops that we consume. He lets the sun shine. So believing in him is instinctive and inbuilt. It is as natural as the desire we have for food and drink, and as natural as the reproduction of living things. We go to the nature, the nature that He created: mountains and rivers to praise and appreciate Him impressed by His works … [2]

This contemporary declaration of the faith centers on nature and creation that can be pragmatically seen and experienced in daily life. There is no mention of “heaven” and “hell” here. Concerning the followers’ perceptions of the residence of God, Bartels writes, “They do not visualize Waaqaa(sic) existing outside this world in time or space … In this sense Waaqaa is as much of this world as the vault of the sky.”[3] Bokku concurs with Bartels findings that God exists among people on earth, but Bokku makes a radically different claim as follows: “Waaqeffataas don’t [sic] believe in after life. They don’t believe that God would come in the future to judge people and send the righteous to heaven and the sinful to hell. God is with us always.”[4] Bokku’s claims can be controversial because in much of the literature I reviewed, I found that the question of “after life” is either overlooked or ambiguously treated, except in the work of Father De Salviac whose much older field research (1901) explicitly states the existence of the belief in life after death among Waaqeffataas in eastern Oromia as follows:

They acknowledge three places destined to receive the souls after death. The paradise, which they call: the ‘Happiness of God’,Ayyaana Waaqaa; or the: ‘Response of God’, Bayanacha Waaqaa; or even Jenneta Waaqaa; ‘Paradise of God’, is reserved for the just who go there to enjoy the company and infinite blessings of the Lord … they say of death ‘That he passed on to Waaqaa;’ – ‘That he entered into Waaqaa,’ – ‘That he went to his eternal house with Waaqaa’.[5]

Reference to life after death, punishments and rewards in hell and heaven respectively are very rare features of the religion. Nonetheless, the argument that De Salviac makes about the existence of the belief in life after death in Oromo society is enough to make Bokku and other writers’ denial of the existence of “life after death” contested and curious. The issue of justice and how people relate to each other may hold for every writer. The question of relationships between peoples, and nature and justice will be treated in later sections for safuu.

Waaqeffataas generally view and worship Waaqaa based on their amazement with the ingenious works of Waaqaa’s hands that they experience and find them overwhelming to comprehend and explain. Even family prayers around the hearth contains many such instances: “UNIQUE AND SO GREAT GOD SUPPORT WITHOUT PILLAR THE DOME OF THE BLUE SKY.”[6]

Waaqeffataas view the earth as one of the major ingenious works of God. The earth is viewed inseparably from God. The image that followers of this religion have of the relationship between Waaqaa and the Earth “comes close to that of a human couple”[7]: ‘the earth is Waaqaa’s wife—Lafa niti Waaqaa,’[8] According to Bartels, there are four manifestations of the close connection between Waaqaa and the earth in four spheres of theWaaqeffannaa religious life:[9]

1. Blessings

May Waaqaa and the earth cause you to grow up (a blessing for children.) …

1. Curses

Be not blessed either by Waaqaa or the earth.

May Waaqaa and the earth burn [make dry] your kidneys and your womb (the curse is addressed to a woman).

1. Oaths

The man who takes the oath breaks a dry stick, saying:

‘May the earth on which I walk and Waaqaa beneath whom I walk do the same to me, if I have done such and such a thing.’

1. Rituals

There are rituals of slaughtering a bull or sheep for Waaqaa and making libation (dhibayyuu) under a tree for the earth.[10]

Waaqeffannaa rituals honor both God and the earth. Followers of the religion seem to take cue from God Himself, who created the earth, to inform their ways of relating to Waaqaa and earth (lafa). Evidence that suggests a relationship based on fears, intimidations or punishment between God and persons is less prevalent than those that are mostly based on respect for God, one another and for the earth. Waaqeffataas embrace and celebrate the egalitarian view of God and the diversity of names people call God. Despite some differences among people, research points to followers’ similar attitudes towards God. “… it has become clear that their attitude towards him [sic] is not only inspired by awe but also marked by familiarity and even, from time to time, by lack of respect. In his despair, a man may claim: ‘Waaqaa does not exist!’”[11] This just showsWaaqeffataas have a more liberal relationship with God. It does not mean that they are less pious as there is enough evidence to suggest many magnificent examples of humility, piety and obedience.

The question of Waaqeffataas’ acknowledgement of the oneness of God and the multiple names various religions call Him does not only show the openness of the concept of God to various interpretations, but it also shows the religion’s acceptance of religious diversity. It is easier to engage in interfaith or other conflict resolution activities when such an acknowledgement is extant than when religions claim “my way or the highway.” The ways some prayers are rendered testify to this progressive values of Waaqeffannaa: “O Black God who created the dark sky and the clean waters, who is one but called by multitudes of names, who has no competitor, the omniscient, the omnipotent, the omnipresent, who is eternal and ever powerful, whose power can never decline.”[12] Because of the view of God described here, Waaqeffataas believe that God is patient and that it is not in His nature to become angry if people believe in other things abandoning Him. Bokku holds the Waaqeffannaa God is too self-confident to be angered into punishing people who do not obey or defect to other religions.[13]

Prayers and Blessings

Boran society sometimes appears to float on a river of prayers and blessings…

Paul T. Baxter.[14]

Common to private, collective and family prayers is the focus of Oromo/Waaqeffataas’ prayers on the material conditions and well-beings of the self, the family and the group. Prayers mediate conditions of people to God so he can intervene and alter their current conditions.[15] The faithful pray for peace, health, deliverance from wrongdoing and harmful sprits and things, human and livestock fertility, growth of babies (little ones), long life for adults, for the goodness of the inside and the outside, rain, harvest and development, inter alia.

The Waaqeffannaa prayer is barely about inheriting the kingdom of heaven nor is it about seeking the help of God in a battle against Satan and sin. Evidence suggests that the concept of Devil/Satan does not exist in Waaqeffannaa while spirits that cause all kinds of suffering and misfortune or harm (ayyaana hamaa) are believed to exist.[16] Instances of talk about Devils by Waaqeffataas are generally understood as the borrowing of a religious vocabulary from the adjacent/co-existing major faiths, such as Christianity and Islam. For instance, Waaqeffataa pray to God to prevent them from wrongdoing and errors committed in ignorance. The religion has no room for addressing anxieties and fears arising from the imaginary realm of the devil/evil. For instance, words used in prayers include, “Prevent us from wrongdoing …” (dogogora nu oolchi). In terms of how people experience and understand misfortunes and fortunes (good things) Oromo proverbs capture the peoples’ dependence on Waaqaa. Indeed, the proverbs below indicate how Waaqaa is perceived as the source of good and bad things that happen in real life:[17]

A house that is built by Waaqaa will be completed.

It is Waaqaa who brings hunger;

It is Waaqaa who brings a full stomach.

The one Waaqaa clothes will not go naked.

Who trusts on Waaqaa will not lack anything.

Man wishes, Waaqaa fulfills.

Waaqaa is there [therefore] the sun rises.

It is Waaqaa who makes a person sick;

It is Waaqaa who restores him to health.

Waaqaa is never in a hurry;

But he is always there at the proper time.

There are standard prayers that have been codified in oral tradition and bequeathed down to generations. The codification of prayers, rituals and ceremonies in oral traditions serve the purpose of making Oromo worships definite and unarbitrary. The question of precise transmissions of spoken messages are always up for debates as there are obviously some room for improvisation and modification as the word of mouth (message) travels through time and space. I believe that the improvisation aspect of oral narratives will add an interesting dimension of dynamism to the hermeneutics of Waaqeffannaa.

De Salviac praises the endurance of Waaqeffannaa for many millennia in spite of the oral mode of transmission. De Salviac aptly critiques the West for generally believing that the sole sources of “valid” or “authentic” knowledge are written texts (books) as follows: “We, accustomed to the cycle of knowledge by turning pale over the books, our careless memory resting on the permanence of typography, we hardly take into account the power of tradition, which sufficed, for centuries, for the civilization of many peoples. With the Oromo, religious and secular traditions are formulated in thousands of short sentences …”[18]

What I understand from De Salviac is that Western or modern industrialized societies privilege written knowledge. His critique is on tangent because preference for written and formal communication in the West will certainly shape intervention policy-making, official diplomacy and the attitudes of interveners towards indigenous cultures. Third party interveners with fixed or rigid approaches are not only likely to disrespect and shun local knowledge systems, but they are also likely to impose rigid and unproductive conflict resolution processes developed in the context of limited civilizations.

One can only anticipate the stiff resistance that locals are likely to put up against Western models in today’s Africa where there is an increasing awareness about the importance of self-reliance and going back to the roots in order to solve indigenous problems. The true superficiality of strict Western models of dialogue, mediation, problem-solving workshop can be revealed by observing how in most of Africa’s peripheries cut of modern laws, bureaucracies and infrastructures, people thrive on the strong indigenous knowledge systems. This is how most conflicts are resolved and how people do communal work in either irrigating the land or protecting the environment. In the contexts of corrupt and partisan politics, these efforts by local people to overcome the daily challenges must be given credit because some of them are providing themselves important social services that that their governments have failed to provide them. In any effort of conflict resolution or peacemaking in such dire circumstances, it is imperative to bring local knowers (the wise men and women) into the sphere of diplomacy and peacemaking.

Prayers, sometimes synonymously called blessings or benedictions, in the form of litany and chants are integral parts of indigenous communities. Every communal activity whether it is weddings, funerals or dances and music begins with blessings or prayers. Eebba is aimed moderating the way people relate to each other at certain venues and beyond. They are about building constructive relationships even in times of wars. Here are some examples of Oromo prayers/blessings of different periods and crowds’ responses.

Pre-colonial prayers[19]:

Ya Waaq, have pity on us;              Yes, yes, have pity on us

Ya Waaq, bless us;                          Yes, yes, bless us.

Ya Waaq give us happy days;             Yes, yes, happy days.

Ya Waaq in our discussions inspire us;  Yes, yes, inspire us.

Ya Waaq in our counsel give us light;            Yes, yes, give us light.

Ya Waaq bring back rebellious son to his father; Yes, yes, bring back.

Ya Waaq bring back unruly son to his mother;   Yes, yes, bring back.

Ya Waaq to good man give cows;                  Yes, yes, give.

Ya Waaq preserve our house from ruin;                     Yes, yes preserve.

Contemporary prayers:[20]

Yes! Yes! Yes!

God of Nature and of Creations;

Waaqaa who created the Haroo Walaabuu (lake)[21];

Waaqaa who let us spend the night in peace;

Let us spend the day in peace;

Prevent us from entering into fatal errors;

Guard us against straying from the right path;

Guard us against mistakes/wrongdoings;

May the Creator we pray to hear us!

May Waaqaa guard us against the harmful!

May Waaqaa bring good things our way!

May children (the little ones) grow up!

May the grown-ups live longer!

May the ignorant know!

May experts/the wise last!

May Kormaa (uncustrated bull) reproduce!

May pregnancies stay healthy and hold!

Let Him keep away harmful things!

Gadaa (social system) is the system of rain and peace!

The year is the year of abundance/development and full stomach.

These contemporary prayers cited from the Waaqeffannaa magazine are powerful. They are usually used in order to open any public/communal gatherings secular and spiritual. This is how things are called to order. The religious prayers give authority or credibility to whatever event that is to take place. At the center of this messaging is reaching the hearts and minds of parties to an event by cleansing the air of any hard feelings and ensuring that the heart and minds are softened and ready for the secular or non secular events and exchanges that will proceed from that.

Historically, Oromos made ecumenical pilgrimages to holy sites of Abbaa Muudaa, Spiritual Father,[22] in order to receive blessings for them and to bring back blessings into their communities with them. Blessings are still considered serious religious activities that serve as glues of social life. Spiritual Fathers can give blessings to people on a range of personal and communal matters: such as long life, being alive, more property and wealth, peace in the household, on productions (calves, children, crops).

I have not come across modern mediation, negotiation or other third party intervention processes that start with prayers. Obviously, if blessings are not built into the processes, an attempt at conflict resolution in African societies, such as the Oromo, will be in vain. In the first place, people will not recognize what is not authorized and endorsed by their own knowledge system. Most importantly, empowering and funding Abbaa Mudaas or elders to engage in conflict resolution is likely to be accepted and bear fruit because of the tremendous reputations these people wield in society. They are highly regarded in society and leaving them out of official processes simply works against peace.

In Waaqeffannaa, one sees from the content of the payers and blessings above that most of them take on the nature of what Gopin succinctly characterizes as “Premordial prosocial moral/spiritual values.”[23] Although many of the conflicts in Ethiopia (Africa) are not religiously driven, the application of religious values will have a huge impact on conflicts driven by ethnicity, nationalisms and competition over resources and power. People listen when one reaches out and talks to them at their own level. Gopin provides a detailed critique of why current modern conflict resolution approaches fail to understand the importance of using prosocial religious values in the context of the Arab/Israel conflict in the Middle East, but his appraisal also holds true for the Horn of Africa region, where the volatility and intractability of conflicts are comparable to the ones in the Middle East. Among the important reasons Gopin cites are the West’s refusal to recognize non-Western models and knowledge systems. Gopin articulates the consequences of modern cultures failure to reckon with indigenous religious and cultural systems as follows:

As religion becomes more important in the lives of hundreds of millions of people, the political power generated by this commitment will either lead to a more peaceful world or to a more violent world, depending on how that power is utilized … Methods of peacemaking that continue to focus only on political and intellectual elites or that fail to address the broadest possible range of religious believers are leading to systematic and potentially catastrophic diplomatic failures in key areas of the world … [24]

Survival through Religious Diversification and Rituals

It is accurate that Waaqeffannaa and similar Africa indigenous religions are being reincarnated and are slowly starting to become explicitly important in the lives of so many people. Religious traditions, including those from indigenous religions, form the bedrock of the values of those Africans who converted to Christianity and Islam. Often these values moderate the foreign values associated with the cultures from which these major religions originated. It is not just the Waaqeffataas who only follow the indigenous religion, but a swathe peoples seem to have accepted double or triple religious lives. They shuttle between various religious and cultural values in their daily decision-makings so as to adapt to changing socio-economic circumstances. Pointing to the loose nature of individual’s and group’s negotiations between multiple religious identities, Aguilar[25] presents a case of the importance of “religious diversification for survival” among the Kenyan Boran/Oromo in northern Kenya. Aguilar provides the best illustration for survival and adaptation by accepting diverse religious values. He cites how Muslim and Waaqeffaannaa parents send their children to Catholic schools in northern Kenya and that the children do perfectly well shuttling between religious worldviews without facing physical dangers.[26] The same religious rituals performed by followers of Waaqeffannaa form the cores of the rituals and daily cultural practices of the followers of Islam and Christianity, as a mechanism of preserving and transmitting their identity. For instance, some of the religious traditions and rituals kept by Oromo communities who converted to major religions in north Kenya include similar types of blessings, prayers, and peacemaking through rituals of coffee beans-slaughtering and symbolic prayers.[27] These subtle practices of syncretism not only form the core identity of Oromo in north Kenya and connect them to the mainland (Oromia-Ethiopia), but they also play stabilizing roles in a families and communities there.[28]

The phenomenon of syncretism/ “religious diversification” serves as a survival strategy where minority communities cut off into another country from the mainstream because of colonial map-making try to cope with the alien majority they are swallowed up by. The case of Kenyan Oromos imitating the Waaqeffannaa values of the mainland is an example of such an essential survival strategy. Aguilar puts this as, “It is clear that the strategy of diversification provides the household (and a manyatta [place of settlement]) with security should something happen to either of the herds.”[29]

It is no accident that somebody whom an outsider may perceive as a follower of one religion is actually found at the crossroads of multiple religious values. It takes a deeper look to discern such subtle and significant dynamics. For an intervener who has no interest or who is not patient to take time and learn, the subtlety of the power of tradition will ever remain inaccessible. Because one has no access to the right cultural tools, the very people he/she trying to reach and help will become inaccessible and unresponsive, especially if one attempts to impose some ivory-tower (imported) conflict resolution framework or process on local situations. People have been handling their affairs everyday for centuries independently of outsiders. To assume that they somehow do not or their methods are not in par with modern approaches will defeat the purpose of thinking to help others in the first place.

Safuu in Peacemaking and Social Harmony

This section analyzes the role of Safuu as one of the key elements of Waaqeffannaa. Safuu is a prosocial variable that needs a deeper analysis to see its roles in indigenous peacebuilding. Safuu is a broad concept that governs relationship in and between families, communities, national groups and relationship between people and nature and things.

Bartels provides a nuanced anthropological definition of the term Safuu:[30]

Saffu is a fundamental and all-pervading concept in the Matcha’s [Oromo] life. It implies that all things have a place of their own in the cosmic and social order, and that they should keep this place. Their place is conditioned by the specific ayana [good spirit] each of them has received from Waaqaa. Every creature, and especially man, has to act according to its own ayana and to respect the others’ ayana. Saffu implies both rights and duties. In the people’s eyes wisdom is ‘knowing saffu and abide [sic] by it.’

Gemetchu Megerssa, a leading Oromo anthropologist and former research assistant to Lambert Bartels, probably influenced by Bartels himself, states that safuu is one of the key founding concepts in Oromo culture and Waaqeffannaa tradition.[31] Bartels’ definition is more encapsulating, while it shares one central common feature with Megerssa’s definition, “… the concept of saffu(mutual relationship between elements of the social and cosmic orders) which maintains practice obligatory [sic] through ethical conduct.” They both agree that safuu governs relationships between people and people, and people and nature, but Megersa introduces a newer and more specific idea of safuu as “an ethical conduct.”

Another leading expert on Waaqeffannaa, Bokku quotes Bartels directly and extends the concept of Safuu to broad areas of “morality”, “norm” and “laws” that govern social and ecological order.[32] Bokku states his extended definition building on Bartels: “Safuu is the understanding of differences and appreciation of differences for the peaceful coexistence of all natural things.” For Bokkuu, as opposed to man-made laws “safuu is not subject to change.” He concludes that safuu as laws of nature is necessary for the “smooth operation of life”, which is harmony. Everyone invokes the notions that Safuu owes its authority over social relationship because it derives from the will or the spirit of God (ayyaanaa). Thus, experts agree that Safuuis one of the fundamental principles of Oromo culture that governs relationships and keeps society together.

In Waaqeffannaa in particular and Oromo culture in general, it is believed that “breaking safuu would cause some sort of trouble.”[33] Breaking safuulaws is seen as committing sin. The consequences of breaking various categories of safuu are understood as generating unhappy reactions from God. In Waaqeffannaa when someone sins, God turns His back on him/her. The meaning behind this is that if one misses the face of God, it means that one lacks ayyana (a guardian, blessings or will of God). This core law encourages people to maintain friendly relationships between themselves and with nature. Safuu is a law of rights and obligations. Since Safuu is not something in people, but something between them, it is assumed to promote collective harmony. Paying attention to the concept of “sin” in the meaning system of Waaqeffannaa is important because it comes from the Oromo word, “‘balleessuu’, which actually means ‘to destroy, to damage, to spoil’”[34]

When one engages in destructive activities one is considered to be destroying, damaging, and spoiling relationships between at least three parties: God, creation (nature) and other human beings. In Oromo life, not damaging relationship between oneself and creations is given more importance than not damaging relationship between human and God.[35]

The Dynamisms of the Indigenous Faith System

It is hard to understand how one can be effective in conflict resolution in Africa without having at least the working knowledge of important key principles governing all-rounded relationships, such as safuu. Religious values of Waaqeffannaa may not require so much hermeneutic transformation because they already exist in pro-social form. Keeping natural and social orders is already a stringent requirement on top of acceptance for differences of any sort.

In Waaqeffannaa, destroying (for example killing humans in conflict) is prohibited by the religion’s laws. Those who violate traditional laws and destroy anything will face alienation and banning from God as well as from fellows humans. They are denied opportunities to sit and eat at a table with family members and others; they become social outcasts. My evidence does not suggest any anti-social principles/laws in the Waaqeffannaaworldview so far. Even some of the curses that are put on people have the goal of ensuring social harmony and can be viewed positively. If I had come across anything that says, “if you kill your enemy or someone, God will reward you with heaven or sainthood or some other rewards,” I would have paused and thought, this is a justification for war and destruction that needs to be hermetically transformed. Transformation may be due if violence is made into something sacred. In my opinion the values of this religion particularly those about safuu are poised to play important peacebuilding and relationship-building roles at least in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa.

One can think of the lack of written scriptures (there are oral ‘scriptures’) for African religion as both advantages and disadvantages. In terms of the creativity and improvisation of transmissions of oral values/laws, the lack of written scriptures is an advantage because followers or leaders of indigenous religions will have the ability to interpret the concepts in ways that meet the physical and spiritual needs of their time. But that can also be a disadvantage since some lament that African could not have converted to Christianity and Islam if they had written scriptures and transformed their religions into organized faith systems.[36]

The question of whether Africans had concepts of God or not or whether they were ‘pagan hordes’ as the colonialists viewed them is now an outdated and irrelevant question because a number of scholars have produced research revealing that indeed Africans had believed in one God even before the advent of Middle Eastern religions.[37] Mbiti’s findings are credible because he stayed in Africa for 15 years and conducted studies on about 300 African communities and their belief systems.

Because indigenous African religions, including Waaqeffannaa, lack written scriptures, culturally biased scholars who judge everything according to Western standards may think religions, such as Waaqeffannaa, are inferior, static and things of the past. In rebuttal, one can respond to that arguing that oral mode of transmission makes African religions dynamic, ever-changing and ever-adapting to social changes even after some converted to other faiths. This happens because African religions do not punish defections and because their religious leaders are less likely to make claims to the permanence of specific oral texts or think of the values/traditions of their religion as the only “Truth” to die for.

About the locus of the existence of African religions, Mbiti writes, “Religion in African societies is written not on paper but in people’s heart, minds, oral history, rituals, and religious personages like the priests, rainmakers, official elders … African religions have neither founders nor reformers.”[38]Mbiti’s notion of the lack of founders and reformers can be contested because it could be that founders and reformers might have existed millennia ago and simply no written records were kept about them. The key point here is that words of mouth are dynamic. The best way to reach the hearts and minds of the vast peoples of rural Africa should be through oral traditions and spoken language. The prevalent practice by third party interveners shows an opposite tendency of bureaucratizing everything and transmitting messages via the written medium (forms and documents) through the agency of “rational professionals”.

Authors caution against viewing Waaqeffannaa religious traditions as part of a static tradition of the past[39], and encourage us to view them as dynamic traditions that are continually changing based on wider experiences that are part of their present. Aguilar is succinct about the advantages of the dynamism of Waaqeffannaa’s hermeneutics: “… traditions are transmitted, never as static forms but as changeable manifestations of an Oromo religion [Waaqeffannaa] that interacts [sic] with other traditions and other ethnic groups, and therefore becomes capable of reshaping society itself.”[40]

Lessons for Conflict Resolution

The values and laws of Waaqeffannaa identified and analyzed in this research suggest the importance of recognizing African indigenous religious systems and the prosocial contributions of their values and laws to conflict resolution.

I deliberately tried not to impose a theoretical framework over my analysis although my approach was influenced by hermeneutics.[41] Engaging in peacemaking in indigenous African communities requires the use of what Gopin, drawing on Lederach, calls “elicitive and cross-cultural methods.”[42] Concepts such as safuu, the Waaqeffannaa worldview, prayers, blessings, harmony are predominantly about building relationships between people and people, and them and nature. The most effective way of arriving at these principles and using them in interventions is to do one’s best to involve indigenous peoples, religious leaders, elders and parties to conflict and to elicit from them the best practices they have evolved over centuries in peacemaking.

Indigenous African religions are caught up in multipronged challenges, such as lack of recognition from interveners, states and richer and more organized religions despite their prevalence and appeal to many African communities. Established conflict resolution methods, such as mediation, negotiation, facilitation, problem-solving workshop and dialogue, are often too Western, rationalistic, elitist and foreign to accommodate other grassroots approaches to peacemaking, such as obeying safuu. If we look at official mediation, for instance, we find the reliance on rigid processes and professionals as its main features. Such formal stages may include collecting data, building hypothesis about a conflict, searching for theories, selecting theory, making intervention, and verifying and nullifying hypothesis.[43] It is not necessarily bad to prepare for mediation in stages, but when everything is prefigured, there is a danger of learning very little on the field while doing the intervention itself. In most rationalistic conflict resolution methods listed above, the immediate settlement of conflict is desired. This may turn out to be a shortcoming because long-term relationship-building and peacemaking, which is the hallmark of indigenous systems, are and sidelined.

Limitation of the Indigenous Religion

The most important limitation of many African indigenous religious values and traditions, including Waaqeffannaa, is that the practice of peacemaking is inbound to groups in which these traditions originated. There are also perceptions and tendencies to associate the good prosocial aspects of religious principles this religion with ethno-nationalist competitions of the day, and therefore, to readily dismiss them as unrepresentative of the whole. A much productive approach, however, is to see the commonalities of multiple African religious traditions and to take key principles from each of them and combine them in order to make everyone feel good about their faiths. There is so much to learn from this culture if one is willing to follow the elicitive path to conflict resolution.

The second obvious limitation is the lack of written scriptures and the challenges of accessing oral scriptures for outsiders due to language barriers, but which can still be overcome with translators and interpreters.

Thirdly, African indigenous religions have not been given the places they deserve in some continental interfaith organizations whose member religions tend to be organized and rich major religions. For instances, the United Religious Initiative (URI) Africa chapter, an international faith network that operates in 25 African countries, professes that it aims to look for solutions to Africa’s challenges at community levels in the areas of corruption, human rights violation, poverty and HIV/AIDs[44], but unfortunately no indigenous African religious tradition from any community is represented by such an important organization. The network carries it activities in Africa through major faiths, such as Christianity and Islam. Another domestic (Ethiopian) interfaith network, Interfaith Peace-building Initiative (IPI), a member of the URI, has no indigenous Ethiopian religions (Waaqeffannaaincluded) as its members.

The problem with URI and IPI is not only a simplistic and envious question of who is represented or who is not, but it appears that the mentioned interfaith networks have been systematically coopted and used to advance the interests of the Ethiopian state since Ambassador Mussie Hailu is serving simultaneously as the Regional Director of URI and the Board Chair of IPI.[45] The more intractable and absurd aspect of IPI is that it is an interfaith organization as far as the major religions are concerned, but the founders and its leaders are members of a single ethno-national group who are publicly known to lean toward the ruling party from the same group. This is a clear negative messaging to others in Ethiopia where the issues of ethnicity are sensitive. To be sure, it is possible to have an interfaith organization with wonderful goals like IPI, but with ethno-nationalist ideological agenda at same time. That will do more to keep peoples apart than bring them together.

Despite its growing popularity in Oromiya regional state, the most populous in Ethiopia, Waaqeffannaa’s attempts to transform itself into an organized religion have failed many times so far because the Ethiopian state has first denied and then revoked the license of the group citing that its leaders sympathize with the Oromo Liberation Front[46], a secular rebel group in conflict with the government on the question of autonomy and self- determination for Oromiya.

Conclusion

Waaqeffannaa’s pro-social principles, laws and values did and will contribute to building constructive relationships between communities. In addition to improving human relations, laws, such as safuu, that emphasize the need to maintain good relationship with nature, can be extended and used in areas of environmental conflict resolution, specially where climate change is threatening pastoralist and agrarian communities in many observable ways today.

I explored and discussed the ways in which the egalitarian but respectful views of God by Waaqeffataas can be helpful in curbing extremist tendencies. Neither oral scriptures of the religion nor its leaders condone acts of violence as something leading to rewards or sainthood. Prayers and blessings function as authoritative moderators and they can be used in opening and closing any intervention efforts. Waaqeffannaa is a very pragmatic religion whose most themes are linked to and earthbound to the material conditions of people. Therefore, people in conflict may have the same questions they want answered through prayers to be answered through interventions.

The potential and capacity of the religion in national or regional peacemaking is promising if it be recognized and the multi-pronged obstacles in its way are removed.

=======================================

References

Abu-Nimer, Mohammed. Nonviolence and Peace Building in Islam: Theory and Practice. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2003.

Aguilar, Mario I. The Politics of God in East Africa: Oromo Ritual and Religion. Trenton, N.J.: The Red Sea Press, 2009.

Appleby, Scott R. “Retrieving the Missing Dimension of Statecraft: Religious Faith in the Service of Peacebuilding.” In Faith-Based Diplomacy: Trumping Realpolitik, ed. Douglas Johnston, 2003. Oxford: OUP.

____ The Ambivalence of the Sacred: Religion, Violence and Reconciliation. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2000.

Bartels, Lambert. Oromo Religion: Myths and Rites of the Western Oromo of Ethiopia-An Attempt to Understand. Berlin: Dietrich Reamer Verlag, 1983.

Bokku, Dirribi Demissie. Oromo Wisdom in Black Civilization. Finfinne, Ethiopia: Finfinne Printing & Publishing S.C., 2011.

De Salviac, Martial. An Ancient People: Great African Nation: the Oromo. Translation from the 1901 original French edition by Ayalew Kanno. Paris, the French Academy, 2005.

Douglas, Johnston. Faith-Based Diplomacy: Trumping Realpolitik. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Gopin, Marc. Between Eden and Armageddon: The Future of World Religions, Violence and Peacemaking. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

____ Holy War, Holy Peace: How Religion Can Bring Peace to the Middle East. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Megerssa, Gemetchu. “Oromumma: Tradition, Consciousness and Identity.” In Being and Becoming Oromo: Historical and Anthropological Enquiries, Edited by P.T.W. Baxter, Jan Hultin and Alessandro Triulzi. Lawrenceville, N.J.: The Red Sea Press, 1996.

Montville, Joseph V. “Psychoanalytic Enlightenment and the Greening of Diplomacy.” In The Psychodynamics of International Relationships, Eds. Vamik D. Volkan, Demetrios A. Julius, and Joseph V. Montville. Lexington Mass.: Lexington Books (1990-1991): 177-192.

Moore, Christopher W. The Mediation Process: Practical Strategies for Resolving Conflict. 3rd Ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003.

MTA. Waaqeffannaa: Ayyaana Irreechaa Birraa, 2010.Vol. V. No. 1. Finfinnee: MTA, 2010. (trans. Waaqeffannaa: Thanksgiving Holiday of Fall 2010.)

Sandole, Dennis J.D. “Paradigm, Theories, and Metaphors in Conflict and Conflict Resolution: Coherence or Confusion?” In Conflict Resolution Theory and Practice, Ed., Dennis Sandole. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, (1993): 3-24.

Stenger, Mary Ann. “Gadamer’s Hermeneutics as a Model for Cross-Cultural Understanding and Truth in Religion.” In Religious Pluralism and Truth: Essays on Cross-Cultural Philosophy of Religion, Ed., Thomas Dean. New York: State University of New York Press, (1995): 151-168.

Volkan, Vamik D. “Psychological Processes in Unofficial Diplomacy Meetings.” In The Psychodynamics of International Relationships, Eds. Vamik D. Volkan, Demetrios A. Julius, and Joseph V. Montville. Lexington Mass.: Lexington Books (1990-1991): 207-219.

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Footnotes

[1] De Salviac, 1901:43; Bartels, 1983:89; Bokku, 2011: 54). The two previous books on Oromo religion (now named Waaqeffannaa) by European missionaries are widely regarded as authoritative secular scholarly sources closest to the source ever to be published on an indigenous African religion of antiquity. Bokku adds his own recent perspectives on the religion and revises his predecessors’ perspectives without altering the essence of their work.

[2] Bokku, 2011:54.

[3] Bartels, 1983:91.

[4] Bokku,2011:73.

[5] De Selviac, 1901;155.

[6] De Selviac, 1901:173, emphasis in the original.

[7] Bartels, 1983:108

[8] Haberland 1963 in Bartels, 1983:108.

[9] Bartels, 1983:108-109.

[10] Bartels, 1983: 109.

[11] Bartels, 1983;107

[12] Bokku, 2011: 66. The quote was an English translation the author provides from the Afaan Oromoo (Oromo language) version, which runs:“Gurraacha garaa garbaa, leemmoo garaa taliilaa, tokkicha maqaa dhibbaa, guddicha hiriyaa hinqabne, kan waan hundaa beeku, kan waan hundaa gochuu danda’u, kan bakka maraa jiru, kan hinkufine, kan hinduuneefi kan hincabne.”

[13] see footnote number 11.

[14] P.T.W. Baxter, Age, Generation and Time, 155 in Aguilar, 2009:13).

[15] De Salviac, 1901:153, 163; Bartels, 1983:96; Bokku, 2011:66-67; Megerssa, 1996:92-103.

[16] De Salviac, 1983:120; Bokku, 2011: 67.

[17] Bartels, 1983:95.

[18] De Salviac

[19] De Salviac, 1901:163.

[20] Translated by me from Afaan Oromoo into English from the Waaqeffannaa magazine, p i.

[21] Haroo Walaabuu is considered the origin of Oromo community and the source of all walking humans on earth. It plays an important symbolic/mythic role in standard prayers. Water bodies are considered sources of life.

[22] De Salviac, 1901:177.

[23] Gopin, 2000:84.

[24] Gopin, 2000:35.

[25] Aguilar, 2009:13-32.

[26] Aguilar, 2009:28.

[27] See footnote 24

[28] Augilar, 2009:

[29] Ibid., p.27.

[30] Bartels, 1983:170.

[31] Megersa, 1996:96-97.

[32] Bokku, 2011:75.

[33] See footnote 31.

[34] Bartels, 1983:339, Bokku, 2011:76.

[35] Bartels, 1983:339.

[36] Bokku, 2011: 61.

[37] Mbiti, 1992:29.

[38] Mbiti, 1992:4.

[40] Aguilar, 2009:5

[41] Stenger, 1995.

[42] Gopin, 2000:60-61.

[43] Moore,2003:66

[44] URI. “Purposes and Activities.” http://www.uri.org/cooperation_circles/explore_cooperation_circles/region/africa

[46] U.S. Department of State on Religious Freedom in Ethiopia, 2010: 4.

## Qaallu Institution: A theme in the ancient rock-paintings of Hararqee—implications for social semiosis and history of the Oromo (#Oromia)September 11, 2014

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Qaallu Institution: A theme in the ancient rock-paintings
of Hararqee—implications for social semiosis and
history of Ethiopia

International Journal of Archaeology Cultural Studies Vol. 1 (1), pp. 001-018, September, 2013. Available online at http://www.internationalscholarsjournals.org © International Scholars Journals
This article critically analysed some of the ancient rock paintings of Hararqee of Eastern Oromia/Ethiopia with the intention to understand and explain the social epistemological and rhetorical structures that underlie beneath these social ‘texts’. It did so through using sub-themes in the ancient Qaallu Institution of the Oromo as analytical devices. Multi-disciplinary approach that combined concepts from various disciples was adopted as a guiding theoretical framework, while the Eurocentric approach that de-Ethiopinizes these historic heritages was rejected. Field data was collected from various sites of ancient rock paintings in Hararqee. Archival data
were also collected. Two informants expert with wisdom literature were selected in order to consolidate the multi-disciplinary approach adopted with the interpretive framework of the traditional, local social epistemology. The results of the analysis revealed both substantive and methodological insights. Substantively, it suggests that the Oromo Qaallu Institution fundamentally underlies the social semiotic, linguistic and epistemological structures communicated by means of the rock painting signs or motifs. Some of these are the Oromo pre-Christian belief in Black Sky-God, pastoral festival in the praise of the cattle and the
fecundity divinity and genealogico-politico-identification structures. Methodologically, the unique Oromo social semiotical and stylystical rhetorics which could be referred as ‘metaplasmic witticism’ and the role of Qaallu Institution sub-themes as sensitizing devices and the emergent directions for future research are all presented in this report.

INTRODUCTION

Hararqee, the vast land in Eastern Ethiopia, is where over 50% of Ethiopia’s (possibly including Horn of Africa)
rock paintings are found (Bravo 2007:137). Among these is the famous Laga Oda Site “dating to at least 16,000
BP” (Shaw and Jameson 1999:349) and comprising depictions of bovines and many different types of  animals. This vast land of Hararqee is settled by the Oromo, the largest tribe of the Cushitic stock, and hence it is part of the Oromia National State. The Oromo people, one of the richest in ancient (oral) cosmogonal- social history , literature and especial owners of the unique socio-philosophico-political institution known as Gada or Gada System, consistently insist that theirs as well as human being’s origin is in the Horn of Africa specifically a place known as Horra βalabu/Ŵolabu ‘the Place of Spring-Water of Genesis of Humanity’ (Dahl and Megerssa 1990).

The aim of this paper is to use the ancient Qaallu Institution of Oromo as analytical ‘devices’ in order to  understand and explain the underlying social  epistemological, semiotical and rhetorical structures, i.e., expressed in all forms of linguistic and non-linguistic structures. In sharp contrast to the aforementioned  positivist, narrow, colonial semiotics, in this analysis,
Theo van Leeuwen’s postmodern and advanced approach to social semiotics is adopted. Primarily, Van  Leeuwen (2005: 3) expands “semiotic resource” as  involving “the actions and artefacts we use to communicate, whether they are produced physiologically – with our vocal apparatus…muscles…facial expressions  and gestures, etc. – or by means of technologies – with pen, ink and paper…computer hardware and software…with fabrics, scissors and sewing machines.”
Van Leeuven (2005: xi) introduces the changing  semiosphere of social semiotics:

 Just as in linguistics the focus changed from the ‘sentence’ to the ‘text’ and its ‘context’, and from
‘grammar’ to ‘discourse’, so in social semiotics the focus changed from the ‘sign’ to the way people use semiotic
‘resources’ both to produce communicative artefacts and  events and to interpret them;

 Rather than constructing separate accounts of  the various semiotic modes – the ‘semiotics of the  image’, the ‘semiotics of music’, and so on – social semiotics compares and contrasts semiotic modes, exploring what they have in common as well as how they differ, and investigating how they can be integrated in multimodal artefacts and events.

Indeed, the Classical Western dualism which separates the linguistic from the non-linguistic, the literary from the
non-literary, the painting from the engraved, the notional from the artefactual must be eschewed, especially when
we build evolutionary  perspective to analyzing pre-historic arts.

CLEARING SOME CONFUSIONS

Scholars have already explicated and explained away the old de-Ethiopianization historiographies in social sciences
(Bekerie 1997; Smith 1997; Gusarova 2009; Vaughan 2003), humanities (Ehret 1979) and archaeology
(Finneran 2007). Therefore, there is no need to repeat this here. But, it is necessary to briefly show disclose some

veils pertaining to Hararqee pre-historic paintings. As  usual, the ‘social’ origin of ‘pre-historic’, Classical or Medieval era Hararqee rock paintings is either mystified or hailed as agentry “Harla” or “Arla” (Cervicek and  Braukämper 1975:49), an imaginary community:
According to popular beliefs Harla generally refers to a mysterious, wealthy and mighty people, (frequently even
imagined as giants!), who had once occupied large  stretches of the Harar Province before they were  destroyed by the supernatural powers through natural  catastrophies as punishment for their inordinate pride. This occurred prior to the Galla (Oromo) incursions into  these areas during the 16th and 17th centuries” (Cervicek  and Braukämper 1975: 49; emphasis added).

In footnote, Cervicek and Braukämper (1975:49) quote Huntingford (1965:74) to on the identity of the Harla: “The
name “Harla” is first mentioned, as far as we know, in the  chronicle of the Ethiopian Emperor ‘Amda Seyon in the
14th century (Huntingford 1965:74).” It is clear that this mystification prefigures in the usual  gesture of de-Africanizing civilization of Black Africans to justify the so-called Hamitic myths, as explained well in  the works of the aforementioned post-modern scholars. Thanks to Professor Claude Sumner (Sumner 1996: 26), today we know the fact of the matter, that it was not Huntingford who composed about the imaginary “Harla”. It was the French Catholic missionaries by the name
François Azais and Roger Chambard who reconstructed to fit it to their interest the imaginary ‘Harla’ (spelling it
rather as “Arla”) from an oral history told to them by an Oromo old man from Alla clan of Barentuu.The story itself
is about a “wealthy” Oromo man called “Barento” who was “very rich but very proud farmer” (Sumner 1996: 26).
For it is both vital and complex (in its ironic message, which cannot however be analyzed here) we have to
quote it in full:

(literally the Quadruplets, from ancient sub-moiety) who “provide[d] a basis for…construct[ing] models for
prehistoric land and resource use” (Clark and Williams:

Social semiosis, language and reality in the ancient ‘texts’ Social semiosis might be considered as old as homo
sapiens sapiens. But, for our analytical purpose, it is logical to begin from the Ancient Black Africans that some
19th century European missionaries and researchers  referred to as ‘Ancient Egyptians’ (although still others
refer to them by Ancient Cushites, Ancient Ethiopians, Ancient Nubians or Meroes), who are the originators of
the first writing systems known as ‘hieroglyphics’. Chiekh Anta Diop (Diop 2000), Geral Massey (Massey 1907)
and other scholars have illuminated to us a lot about  hieroglyphics. Initially, hieroglyphics was pictogram or semagram. That is, pictures of real world were ‘painted’ to communicate a  sememe or motif, the smallest meaningful structure or concept, for instance, a picture of sitting man for their  word equivalent to the English ‘sit’; a picture of man stretching his/her arms to the sky for ‘pray’; a lion for ‘great man’, etc., all or some of which is determined by
the lexical structures (phonological, syllabic, semantic, imagery they arise, etc) of their respective words. Based
on their social philosophy/paradigm, literary/figurative  symbolism, and/or their word’s/language’s phonology/syntax, for instance, equivalent to the English ‘woman’, they might have also depicted a picture of a pigeon, or an owl or a cow. This zoomorphic mode of representation as the ‘Sign-Language of Totemism and Mythology’ was the first and early writing system in human history. The Ancient Egyptians used the principles of, among others, sound-meaning association, semantic and ontologic (what something/somebody can cause) similarization, physical resemblance, grouping (duplication or triplication of the same pictograms to represent meaning), aggregation (pictograms are combined in or around a spot or a pictogram is duplicated as many as necessary and congregated in or around a spot), sequencing vertically or horizontally (representing lexico-grammatic, syntactic, semotactic or stylistic structure) and so forth.

Some of these or similar principles or ‘stylistic features’ are observed, particularly, in the Laga Oda painting styles. Cervicek (1971:132-133 122-123), for instance, observed in Laga Oda paintings such stylized ‘discourse’ as ‘group of horseshoe-like headless bovine motifs’, ‘paired ‘soles of feet’ from Bake Khallo [Bakkee Qaallu ‘Sacred Place for Qaallu Ritual]’, ‘oval symbo accompanied as a rule by a stroke on their left side’, sun-like symbol, in the centre with animal and anthropomorphic representations grouped around it’, paired ‘soles of feet’, carefully profiled styles (overhead, side, back point-of-view of bovines), zooming (large  versus small size of bovine motifs), headless versus headed bovines, H-shaped anthropomorphic
representations with raised hands’, superimposition and so forth. Any interpretation that renders these as isolated
case, arbitrary or pointless marks can be rejected outright. Some of these ‘early spelling’ are found not only across the whole Horn of Africa but also in Ancient Meroitic-Egyptian rock paintings, hieroglyphics and, generally, organized social semiosis.By the same token, Oromo social semiotical ‘texts’, like any ancient texts, textures “intimate link…between form,
content and concrete situation in life” (Sumner 1996:17-18). Professor Claude Sumner, who produced three volume analysis of Oromo wisdom literature (Sumner 1995, 1996, 1997), sees that like any “ancient texts”, in Oromo wisdom literature, “a same unit of formal characters, namely of expressions, of syntactic forms, of vocabulary, of metaphors, etc., which recur over and over again, and finally a vital situation…that is a same original function in the life of [the people]” (Sumner 1996:19). An elderly Oromo skilled in Oromo wisdom speaks, to use the appropriate Marxian term, ‘historical materialism’, or he speaks “in ritual language, as it was used in old times at the proclamation of the law” (Bartels 1983:309).
Moreover, he speaks in rhythmatic verses, full of “sound parallelism” (Cerulli 1922), “parallelism of sounds” or
“image” or “vocalic harmony” (Bartels 1975: 898ff). Even Gada Laws used to be “issued in verse” (Cotter 1990:
70), in “the long string of rhyme, which consists of  repeating the same verse at the end of each couplet” or  “series of short sententious phrases” that are “disposed  to help memory” (De Salviac 2005 [1901]: 285). The  highly experienced researchers on the ancient Oromo system of thought, which is now kept intact mainly by the Booran Gada System, emphasize that “‘the philosophical concepts that underlie the gadaa system’…utilize a  symbolic code much of which is common to all Oromo” (Baxter, Hultin and Triulzi 1996: 21). Long ago, one scholar emphatically stated, this is a feature “surely has developed within the [Oromo] language” and “is also only imaginable in a sonorous language such as Oromo” which “as a prerequisite, [has] a formally highly developed poetical technique” (Littmann 1925:25 cited in Bartels 1975:899).

Claude Sumner formulates a “double analogy” tactic as prototypical feature of Oromo wisdom literature, i.e., “vertical” and “horizontal” parallelism style (Sumner 1996:25), known for the most part to linguists, respectively, as ‘paradigmatic’ (‘content’ or ‘material’) and ‘syntagmatic’ (‘form’ or ‘substance’) relations or in both literature and linguistics, as contextual-diachronic and textual-synchronic, relations. Oromo social epistemological concepts/words/signs offers important data for historical and evolutionary social sciences for they recycle and, consequently, are resistant to change  both in form and meaning (Legesse 1973). In the same way, in this analysis of the ancient rock paintings of Hararqee, an evolutionary and multidisciplinary analysis of the interrelationship among the traditional ‘semiotic triangle’—the sign (sound or phonon, word or lexon, symbol or image), the signified (the social meaning, ‘semon’, episteme or theme) and the referent (cultural-historical objects and ritual-symbolic actions)——and among the metonymic complex (referring here to layers and clusters of semiotic triangles in their social-natural contexts) is assumed as vital meta-theoretical framework.

METHODS AND THE SEMIOTIC RESOURCES

For this analysis, both archival and field data or semiotic resources are collected. In 2012 visits were made to the
some of the popular (in literature) ancient rock painting sites in Hararqee (Laga Oda, Goda Agawa, Ganda Biiftu,
etc.; comprehensive list of Ethiopian rock painting sites is presented by Bravo 2007). Also, field visits were made to
less known (in literature) ancient to medieval era painting sites were made in the same year (e.g., Goda Rorris,
Huursoo, Goda K’arree Ǧalɖeessa, Goda Ummataa, Goda Daassa, etc). Huge audiovisual data (still and
motion) of both paintings and engravings were collected, only very few of which are used in this paper. On the one
hand, the previously captured data (as photos, sketches or traces) from some of the popular sites, for instance
Laga Oda and Laga Gafra (as in Cervicek 1971; Cervicek and Braukamper 1975), are sometimes found to be
preferably clearer due to wear-off or other factors. On the other hand, from the same sites, some previously
unrevealed or undetected motifs (painted or engraved) were collected. Therefore, both field and archival data are
equally important for this analysis. However, since the Qaallu Institution , and its sub-themes, is used as sensitizing device or a means rather than end— hence is capitalization upon social semiotic and linguistic aspects–there is an inevitable risk of undermining these complex philosophical notions. Yet, for the pertinent (to Qaallu Institution) anthropological-ethnological archivals used as additional secondary data or, to use Theo van Leeuwen’s term, as “semiotic resource”, original and influential references are indicated for further reading. More importantly, two old men skilled in Oromo social epistemology, customarily referred to as ‘walking libraries’, are used as informants. Taaddasaa Birbirsoo Mootii, 87, from Wallagga, Western Oromia (Ethiopia) and Said Soddom Muummee, 85, from Hararqee Eastern Oromia (Ethiopia). Mootii, Addoo Catholic Church Priest (‘Catechist’ is the word they use), was one of the infor- mants and personal colleagues of Father Lambert Bartels, who studied in-depth and wrote widely on Oromo religion, rituals and social philosophy. His scholarly and
comparative (with Biblical) analysis of Oromo religion and world view, child birth custom, praise song for the cow,
Qaallu Institution, Gada system geneaological-social hierarchy are among his seminal works. Although Bartels
only indicated Mootii as “one priest”, he and his colleague Shagirdi Boko (one of the Jaarsa Mana Sagadaa ‘Old
Men of Church’) were among his informant colleagues. Muummee, is not only well seasoned wiseman, but he
still celebrates and identify himself as Waaqeeffata—believer, observer and practitioner of the pre-Christian
Oromo religion founded on Waaqa, the Black Sky-God.

ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION

Qaallu Institution and the praise to the cattle Above, under Introduction section, we briefly touched upon the mythical-social origin of the Qaallu Institution and its relation with genesis and cow-milk. Qaallu comes from the gerundive qull (qul’qullu, intensive) ‘pure, holy, sacred, blameless; being black, pretty, neat’, pointing to the color and quality of Waaqa (see Bartels 1983; Hassen 1990 for detail).. The “ancient” Qaallu Institution of Oromo (Baxter 1987: 168 quoted and elaborated in Gidada 2005: 146-147) had been widely practiced in Eastern, Hararqee Oromo until the first half of the 20th century. It is as much cosmogonal, cosmological and ideological (identificational) as it is theo-political to the Oromo nation, in particular, and, at large, the pre-colonial (pre-Christian, pre-Islam) Cushite who uniformly believed in Water, as a source of life and on which life is unilaterally dependent, and in Waaqa–a concept/word that means, on the one hand, the abstract ‘Supreme Being, God, Devine, Heave’ and, on the other, the ‘concrete’ ‘Sky, Divinely Water (rain)’. For Oromo, the first Qaallu “a high priest”, the “spiritual leader” was of “divine origin”, as the myth tells us, “ ‘fell from the sky itself’…with the first black cow” and he was the “‘eldest son of Ilma Orma’” and in its “dual nature”, Waaqa, the black Sky-God “controlled fertility, peace, and lifegiving rains…[hence] prayers for peace, fertility, and rain” are the core recursive themes in Oromo religion (Hassen 1990: 6-7). For more on Oromo genealogical tree and history, see Gidada (2006), Bartels (1983), BATO (1998), to mention a few.

The Booran Oromo, who still retains the Qaallu
Institution ‘unspoiled’:

The Booran view of cosmology, ecology and ontology is  one of a flow of life emanating from God. For them, the benignancy of divinity is expressed in rain and other conditions necessary for pastoralism. The stream of life flows through the sprouting grass and the mineral waters [hoora] of the wells, into the fecund wombs and generous udders of the cows [ɢurrʔ
ú]. The milk from the latter then promotes human satisfaction and fertility (Dahl and Megerssa 1990: 26).

In this worldview, the giant bull (hanɡafa, hancaffa) is a symbol of angaftitti “seniority of moieties: stratification
and imbalance” (Legesse 2000: 134). Hence, the separation of the most senior or ancient moieties or the cradle land imitates hariera ‘lumbar and sacral vertebrae’ (other meaning ‘queue, line, suture’) or horroo ‘cervical vertebrae’ of the bull.

The primogenitors (horroo) of the Oromo nations (mainly known as Horroo, Raya, Booro) set the first ßala ‘moiety, split (from baɮ ‘to flame, impel, fly; to split, have bilateral symmetry’) or Ẃalaßu ‘freedom, bailing, springing’. The formation of moieties, sub-sub-moieties grew into baɭbaɭa‘sub-sub-sub-etc…lineages’ (also means ‘door, gate’; the reduplication showing repetitiveness). Jan Hultin, an influential anthropologist and writer on Oromo, states “Among the Oromo, descent is a cultural construct by which people conceive of their relations to each other and to livestock and land; it is an
ideology for representing property relations” (Hultin 1995: 168-169). The left hand and right hand of the bovine always represent, in rituals, the “sub-sections of the phratry” (Kassam 2005:105). That is, as the tradition sustains,
when the ancient matrilineal-patrilineal moieties sowed, dissevered (fač’á) from the original East (Boora), the
Booreettúma (designating matrilineality, feminine soul) took or went towards the left hand side, while the Hoorroo
(also for unclear reason βooroo, designating patrilineality, masculine soul) took the right hand side. Both correspond, respectively, to the directions of sunrise and sunset, which configure in the way house is constructed: Baa, Bor ‘the front door’ (literally ‘Origin, Beam, morning twilight’) always faces east, while the back wall (Hooroo) towards west (also Hooroo means ‘Horus, evening twilight’). This still governs the praxis that the backwall “is the place of the marriage negotiations and of the first sexual intercourse of sons and their bride [i.e., behind the stage]” (Bartels 1983: 296). For this reason, Qaallu Institution has had a special Law of the Bovine as well as Holiday of the Cattle/Bovine, Ǧaarrii Looni (Legesse 1973:96; Dahl and Megerssa 1990). On Ǧaarrii Loonii, cattle pen are renovated and embellished, and festivities and dances with praise songs to cattle was chanted (for more, Bartels 1975; Wako 2011; Kassam 2005). An excerpt from the praise song ‘talks’ about them with admiration (See also Bartels 1975: 911):

Chorus: Ahee-ee
Soloist: Sawa, sawilee koo–Cows, o my cows,
Bira watilee koo–and also you, my calves.
Ǧeɗ’e malee maali–Could I say otherwise?
Yá saa, yá saa—o cattle, o cattle!
saa Humbikooti–cattle of my Humbiland,
Saa eessa ǧibbu?–What part of cattle is useless?
Saa qeensa qičču–Our cattle with soft hoofs,
koṱṱeen šínii ta’e—from their hoofs, we make coffee-cups
gogaan wallu ta’e—from their skins, we make wallu
[leather cloth]
gaafi wanč’a ta’ee, — from their horns, we make wáɳč’a
[large beer cup]

faɭ
ʔ
anas ta’a!—as well as spoons! [See Fig.1A, B, C, D,
E]

Chorus: Ahee-ee

Lambert Bartels, a Catholic Father and scholar lived with  the Oromo, writes “When they bless, they say: ɡurrači
ɡaraa ǧ’abbii siif ha kenu ‘May the dark one [God] with hail under his abdomen give you all (good things)’
(Bartels 1983:90-91). Cervicek (1971:124 Fig.10) wonders about the unexplained but recurrent “oval
representations… painted black [and] white-dotted” and consistently painted “below” the cow udder (see Fig.2B).
This can be compared with wáɳč’a ‘drinking horn-cup’ or č’óč’oo, č’iič’oo ‘milking (horn-)cup’ (see Fig.1D). On
Irreečča ritual of Thanking Waaqa the Black Sky-God, a line of the doxology mentions, among others, “Waaqa

č’iič’oo gurraattii” ‘God of the dark č’iič’oo milking-cup’ (Sabaa 2006:312). The deadjectival č’óč’orree means ‘white dotted (black background); turkey or similar white dotted bird’, while Waaɳč’ee is a proper name for white-dotted cow.

Qaallu as ecotheological concept

Qaallu is also an ontological concept referring to the spirit that resides in sacred realities, the mountain hills, seas, river
beds, pasture land, etc. As an important place for ritual place for immortalizing (primogenitors, ancestors), blessing
(children, the young), initiations (to Gada classes, power take-over), praying (for fertility, abundance, fortune, rain),
and praising (God, nature, cattle), the sacred land of spirituality must be mountain foot (goda) where there must
be, naturally, laga ‘lagoon, river’, č’affee ‘marshy area with green grasses’ (symbol of the parliamentary assembly),
χaɭoo ‘pasture land’, and the evergreen oɖaa fig sycamores. Oɖaa serves not only as “a depiction of a political power”,
but “is also a centre of social and economic activities” and “symbolizes the entire corpus of their activities, history,
culture and tradition” (Gutamaa 1997:14). Five Qaallu centres are known in Booran sub-moiety: (1) Qaallu Odiituu, (2) Qaallu Karrayyuu, (3) Qaallu Matťarii, (4) Qaallu Karaar, (5) Qaallu Kuukuu, (10) Qaallu Arsii (Nicolas 2010). These centers are like cities of (con-)federal states and simultaneously are (sub-)clan names. These names are codes and decoders of not only genealogical and landscapes, but also of ancient (sub)-moieties and settlement patterns. Since they are cyclical, based on the principles of Gada System’s name-giving principle, they are widespread across Oromia and resistant to change. Werner (1915:2) observed that in Booran Oromo, “every clan has its own mark for cattle, usually a brand (ɢuʋa [ɡuƀá ], which is the name of the instrument used, is an iron spike fixed into a wooden handle)”, a fact which is
significated in other parts of Oromia with different signifiers, for instance, pattern of settlement, which is determined by a
korma karbaʑaa ‘bull that bulldozes jungles’ or korma qallaččaa ‘kindling bull’ (Gidada 2006: 99-100) or bull’s
anatomy (BATO 1998). For instance, quoting Makko Billii, the ancient Gada System law maker, the Wallaga Oromo
recite their settlement pattern in the anatomy of Korma the virile ‘buffalo-bull’ or ‘macho man’: Sibuun garaača. Haruu č’inaacha, Leeqaan dirra sangaati, ‘The Sibuu [Sabboo] clan is the abdomen, the Haruu [Hooroo] is the ribs, and Leeqaa is the chuck of the bull’ (BATO 1998:164).

Qallačča bull as a kindler is related defined qallačča “a white patch between the horns of a cow running back down the
two sides of the neck; a charm” (Foot 1913:33). See Fig.2 A, B, C and D . It is the symbol of a Qaallu’s qallačča, here
meaning, an inherited, from ancestors, spiritual and intellectual grace or sublimity. This is quite related to of
book’a ‘a black cow or bull or ram that has a white mark upon the forehead’ (Tutschek 1844:135-136), a natural
phenomenon considered as a good omen. Adda isá book’aa qaba ‘his forehead has a blaze’ is an idiom appropriately
meaning the person has the natural capacity, inherited from ancestors, to prophesize, foreknow. For this reason, “white-headedness” or wearing white turban is a symbol of (passage to) seniority or superordinate moiety (Kassam 1999). As usual, there is “intimate link…between form, content and concrete situation in life” (Sumner 1996:17-18).

Qallačča as a mysterious metal

Qallačča is a key concept in Qaallu Institution. One instantiation of this complex concept is that it is a mysterious
sacred material culture (Fig.3). Informants tell us that true. qallačča worn on the forehead by the Qaallu was made of

iron that fell from sky as qorsa (comet, metorite); it was only  recovered after pouring milk of a black cow on the specific
spot it dropped. For some ethnologists/anthropologists, it is a “white metal horn which is worn on the forehead” and is
“horn-symbolism” for “every man is a bull”, a symbol of virility (Bartels 1983: 146). For others it is just a ‘white
metal horn’ which is a symbol of fertility or just is “phallic ornament” (Haberland 1963:51 quoted in Bartels
1983:146). These argumentations share the root qaɾa ‘horn (sharp and tall), acute; graining fruit, granulate,
shoot’ and the inavariable qaɾ-ɳî ‘sex (characteristics)’. The very Oromo word for ‘sex (intercourse)’, namely
saala, also designates ‘horn, oryx, penis; awe, honor, esteem; shame, shameful’. But, these notions are only
part of the polysemantic and complex concept of qallačča. Amborn (2009: 401) might be wrong when he completely
rejects the “phallisphication” of qallačča by “some anthropologists”. He is right that qallačča is also a symbol
of “socio-religious mediator which is able to bundle positive and negative “cosmic” (for want of a better word)
energies” and rather “symbolizes a link between the human and the supernatural world; its function is to open
up this connection between different spheres.” Knutsson (1967:88-90 quoted in Bartels 1983:145) describes
qallačča as “a conically formed ‘lump’ of black iron…brought from the heaven by the lightening.” Plowman (1918:114), who took a sketch of qallačča (Fig.3 D), described it as “emblem” of the Qaallu “Chief  Priest” or of the retired Abba Gadaa ‘the president’. Plowman fleshes out the components of qallačča: (1) “seven bosses superimposed on a raised rim running
round the emblem”; (2) “upright portion made of polished lead”; (3) “circular base of white polished shell-like substance resembling ivory”; (4) “leather straps for  fastening emblem to forehead of weaver” (Plowman 1918:114). This mysterious cultural object has multifunction. Taaddasa Birbirsso Mootii, who is not only an informant, but, in the expression of the locals, ‘a man who has sipped mouthful’ (of Oromo traditional wisdom) explains the social epistemological structure underlying qallačča: During the time of Gada System, government by the people’s justice, the Waaqeeffataa used to pour out milk of black cow on Dibayyuu ritual and discover/see their qallačča [truth and abundance]. For it is a sacred object,
qallačča never moved [transported, communicated] withoutsacrificial blood of bulls. It must be smeared on
the forehead [See Fig.3A and P7B on the forehead]. How can urine/semen without water, child without blood, milk
without udder/teats be discovered [gotten]? In the aftermath of lengthy drought, too, they used to take
qallačča to depression/ford and hill-top to pray with one stomach [unanimously] to God with Qaallu the Spiritual
Father. Immediately, qallačča [God’s riposte] reconciled streaming milk from the sky [rains]. Hence, qallačča was
used for collective welfare. Qallačča is God’s qali ‘alethic truth, promise’. Note that from Laga Oda Cave, archaeologists (Brandt 1984:177) have found “‘sickle sheen’ gloss and polish”, which helped archaeologists to recover “possible
indications of intensive harvesting of wild grasses as early as 15, 000 B. P.”; “one awl”, “one endscraper” and
“one curved-backed flake” all “dated 1560 B.C.”; and, “a few microliths that show evidence of mastic adhering
close to the backed edges” which “strongly suggests” that by “1560 B.C…stone tools were being used (probably as components of knives and sickles).”

sociopolitical system

Baxter (1979:73, 80) calls it “phallic” or “ritual paraphernalia”, which is worn on the head “by men at crucial stage in the gaada [gadaa] cycle of rituals”. Informants make distinction between two types of qallačča: qallačča laafa (of the soft, acuminous), which is worn by the Qaallu or Abba Gadaa; and qallačča korma  (of the virile man or bull, macho). Viterbo (1892) defines “kallaéccia”, qallačča as ‘disciple, pupil’, which cuts para-llel with the anthropologist Baxter (1979: 82-84) who
states that, in Oromo Gada System, a young man’s grown tuft (ɡuuɗuu; see Fig.3D; we shall come back to Fig.3A in the final part of the discussion) is “associated symbolically with an erect penis” and discourses that he is “guutu diira”, which means a “successful warrior”, the one who has reached a class of “member of political adulthood”, for he has “become responsible for the nation”. At this age, Baxter adds, “each of its members puts up a phallic Kalaacha”, a “symbol of firm but
responsible manliness.” The feminine counterpart to  ɡuuɗuu hairstyle is “ɡuɖeya” (Werner 1914a: 141), guʈʈiya (literally go-away bird or its tonsure) or qarré ‘tonsure’ (literally, ‘kite’ or similar bird of prey) (Bartels 1983:262), while of the masculine qallačča head-gear is the feminine qárma (literally ‘sharpened, civilized’). In Gada System, this age-class is called Gaammee  Gúɖ’ɡuɖá (reduplication ɡuɖá ‘big’) ‘Senior Gamme III’, the age of at which the boys elect their six leaders to

Bokkuu: Insignia of power, balance and light of
freedom

Hassen (1990:15) discusses that bokkuu has “two meanings”. One is “the wooden scepter kept by the Abba
Gada in his belt during all the assembly meetings”, an “emblem of authority…the independence of a tribe,
and…a symbol of unity, common law and common government” (Fig.4). De Salviac describes it “has the
shape of a voluminous aspergillum (a container with a handle that is used for sprinkling holy water) or of a mace
of gold of the speaker of the English parliament, but in iron and at the early beginning in hard wood” (De Salviac
2005 [1901]: 216). Legesse (2006: 104) describes it as “a specially curved baton”, which shows that there are two
types in use. The second meaning of bokkuu is, “it refers to the keeper of the bokkuu—Abba Bokkuu” (Hassen
1990:15), or in plural Warra Bokku “people of the scepter” (Legesse 2006: 104). Hence, after serving for full eight year, Abba Bokkuu must celebrate Bokkuu Walira Fuud’a (literally to exchange the scepter bokkuu), a Gada system concept
that refers to two socio-political “events as a single act of “exchange”” (Legesse 1973:81): (1) the event of power
“take over ceremony”, i.e., the symbolic act of “the incoming class” and (2) the event of power “handover
ceremony”, i.e., the symbolic act of “the outgoing class”. This power-exchange ceremony is also called Baalli
Walira Fud’a “Power Exchange” or “transfer of ostrich feathers” (Legesse 1973: 81-82; 2006: 125). Here, baalli
refers not only ‘power, authority, responsibility’ (Stegman 2011: 5, 68), but also ‘ostrich feather’ and ‘twig
(leaved)’, both of which are used as symbolic object on the Baalli power transfer ceremony. De Salviac (2005 [1901]: 216) witnessed “the power is transferred to the successor by remittance of the scepter or bokkuu.” After power exchange ceremony, the ‘neophyte’ Abba Bokkuu: “falls in his knees and raising in his hands the scepter towards the sky, he exclaims, with a majestic and soft voice: Yaa Waaq, Yaa Waaq [Behold! O, God!] Be on my side…make me rule over the
Doorii…over the Qaallu…make me form the morals of the youth!!!…” (De Salviac 2005 [1901]: 213). See Fig.4B.
Then, the new Abba Bokkuu takes possession of the seat and “immolates a sacrifice and recites prayers to obtain
the assistance of On-High in the government of his people….The entire tribe assembled there, out of breath
from emotion and from faith” (De Salviac 2005 [1901]: 212). Above we raised that two symmetrical acts/concepts are
enfolded “as a single act [or word] of “exchange”” is performed by exchanging the Bokkuu scepter during
Baalli ceremony (Legesse 1973:81). That is, when the scepter is the one with bokkuu ‘knobs’ on each edge, it
suffices to enfold it ‘Bokkuu Baalli’ since the symmetricality principle of the act of reciprocal remittance
or power exchange is as adequately abstracted in the phrase as in the iconicity of the balanced bokkuu. Besides, the horooroo stick with a knob (bokkuu) on one side and a v-/y-shape (baalli) on the other side is a semagram and semotactic for the same concept of symmetricality principle, i.e., Bokkuu Baalli.

Ateetee in Qaallu Institution: Fertility symbolism

Cerulli (1922:15, 126-127) “Atētê …the goddess of fecundity, worshipped by the Oromo” and adds that “the
greatest holiday of the [Oromo] pagans is the feast of Atetê”; she is “venerated” by “even the Mussulmen”; she
is referred to “in the songs ayô, ‘the mother,’ often with the diminutive ayoliê, ‘the little mother’”. Women sing

“songs asking the goddess to grant them fecundity and lamenting the woes which are caused by sterility.” Long
before Cerulli, Harris (1844:50) wrote as follow: “when sacrificing to Ateti, the goddess of fecundity, exclaiming
frequently, “Lady, we commit ourselves unto thee; stay thou with us always”.”
The symbolic material cultures pertaining to Aɖeetee are important for our purpose in this paper. Bompiani
(1891:78) saw the Oromo on their “long journeys to visit  Abba Múdā” who, “as a sign of peace they make a sheep
go before them on entering the village… and instead of a lance carry a stick, upon the top of which is fixed the horn
of an antelope” (this is well known Ancient Egyptian hieroglyph). Indeed, sheep (ḫooɭaa), common in ancient
rock paintings of Hararqee, is also the favorite for sacrificial animal for Qaallu institution of “peacemaking
and reconciliation”, particularly black sheep, “a sheep of peace” (hoolaa araaraa)” (Gidada 2001: 103). In fact, the
word ḫooɭaa for ‘sheep’ and rêeé, re’ee for ‘goat’ (re’oṱa, rooɖa, plural) have meronymic relationship. The semantic

structure underlying both is ‘high fertility rate’ (arareessá, from ɾaɾí ‘ball, matrix; pool, rivulet’). The “antelope” that Bompaini names is in fact the beautifully speckled ʂiiqqee ‘klipspringer’ (Stegman 2011:45, 35), common in Laga Oda and other paintings along with ‘fat-tailed’ sheep. At the same time, ʂiiqqee (literally, ‘splendid, lustrous, graceful’) is, according to the
Aṱeetee Institution, a sacred, usually tall and speckled, “stick signifying the honor of Oromo women…a blessing… a ceremonial marriage stick given to a girl…a religious stick Oromo women used for prayer” (Kumsaa 1997:118). Kumsa observed that “the very old, the very young and all women, in the Gadaa system, are considered innocent and peace-loving” and quoted the renowned anthropologist Gemetchu Megerssa who expressed that in Oromo Gada tradition women “were also regarded as muka laaftuu (soft wood–a depiction of their liminality) and the law for those categorized as such
protected them” (Kumsa 1997:119). Concentric or circular or ‘sun-burst’ geometric motifs are as abundant as ‘udder chaos’ in the Hararqee and Horn of African ancient rock paintings (Fig.5C from Qunnii or Goda Ummataa; A and B Goda Roorris traditionally known as ‘Errer Kimiet’; G from Goda K’arree Ğaldeesaa or Weybar in Č’elenqoo; E Laga Oda from Cervicek
1971). Bartels (1983) studied well about another symbolic object in Aɖeetee Institution, namely ɡuɳɖo, a grass-plate, made from highly propagative grasses, plaited in a series of concentric-circles (see Fig.5D). It is used to keep bîddeena ‘pizza-like circular bread’ and fruits. Bartels (1983: 261) documented that, on her wedding day: [T]he girl has with her a grass-plate (gundo), which she made herself. This gundo is a symbol of her womb [ɡaɖāmeʑa]. Since…she is expected to be a virgin
[ɡuɳɖúɖa],  nothing should have been put in in this grass plate beforehand. Gundo are plaited [with an awl] from
outside inwards, leaving a little hole in the centre [ɡuɖé, qaa]…this little hole is not filled in by the girls themselves,
but they ask a mother of a child to do it for them. If they do it themselves, they fear they will close their womb to
child-bearing (Square brackets added).While, ɡuɳɖó stands for a woman’s gadameʑa ‘womb’ (from gadá ‘temple; generation, time-in-flow), the concentricity of the plaits (marsaa, massaraa, metathesis) is a symbol of the ‘recyclers’ of generations, namely mûssirró ‘the bride-woman’ and marii ‘bride-man’ (marii also means ‘cycle, inwrap, plait’). A bigger
cylindrical ɡuɳɖó with cover called suuba is particularly given as hooda ‘a regard’ to the couples (on their good
ethos, virginity) and is a symbol of súboo ‘the newly married gentlemen, the prudential gentlemen’. Father Lambert Bartels (Bartels 1983: 268) wrote that a buffalo-killer would bring a special gift for his mother or wife from the wilderness: namely, elellee (elellaan, plural) from his buffalo skin” Elellee and č’aačč’u refer to a string of cowries (of snail shells, obsidian rocks or fruits of certain plant called illilii) and festooned to a sinew cut from a sacrificial animal (Fig.5F). They are worn only by
women on the breastplate or forehead or worn to č’ooč’oo, č’iič’oo milk-pots, symbol of “a woman’s sexual and reproductive organ” (Østebø 2009: 1053). See also Fig.5F and G.
We need to add here a praise song to a beauty of woman, which symbolizes her by élé ‘circular cooking pot or oven made of clay’ and bede smaller than élé (Sumner  1996: 68): Admiration is for you, o <ele>… <But> I take out of <bede>…
Admiration is for you, moon shaped beauty. Rightly, Sumner (1996:68) states élé symbolizes “the mother, of woman” while bedé symbolizes “daughters” or the “moon [báṱí] shaped beauty”, i.e., her virginity (ɡuɳɖuɖa), uncorruptedness (baʤí) combined with ethos of chastity (aɖeetee). Woman is expressed arkiftu idda mačč’araa literally ‘puller of the root of one-body/-person’,a paraonomastic way to say circulator, recycler or propagator of the genealogy of Oromo moieties, namely
Mačč’a and Raya/Raã. Here, it is fascinating to observe the unique social semiosis at work—selecting and stitching (qora) the language and world according to the semblance and image the reality (world) offers as a cognitive possibility to operate upon. cowries of “giant snail shells…kept with a string made.

Spear piercing coffee bean

According to the Aṱeetee tradition, on her wedding ritual, the bride “hands her gundo to her mother-in-law who puts
some sprouting barley-grains in it. They are (a symbol of) the children Waqa will give her if he will’’ (Bartels 1983:
261). The mother-in-law will, according to the long tradition, adds some coffee-beans (coffee-beans and
cowries are look-alike, Fig.5 F from Cervicek 1971 and H); “coffee-beans are a symbol of the vagina,
representing the girl to be a potential mother. The beans are children in the shell at this moment, protected and
inaccessible as a virgin’s vagina” (Bartels 1983:261). Later on during the ritual, the elderly bless her: “May
Waqa cause the womb [gundo] sprouts children [grains]! Let it sprout girls and boys!” Amid the ceremony, the
bride “gives the gundo to her groom’s mother. She herself now takes his [bridegroom’s] spear and his stool.
She carries the stool with her left hand, holding it against her breast. In her right hand she grasps the spear….”
The spear, a representation of the male organ, is expressed in the Girl’s Song:

O sheath [qollaa] of a spear,
Handsome daughter,
Sister of the qaɽɽee [us colleagues of marriage-age]

Let us weep for your sake
The buna qalaa ‘slaughtering of coffee fruit’, which reflexes, in direct translation, the ‘slaughtering’ (qaɭa) the
virgin is “a symbol of procreation” (Bartels 1975: 901). The bride “puts the coffee-fruits from the gundo in butter
together with others and put them over the fire” (Bartels  1983: 263). Butter (ɗ’aɗ’á) is a symbol of fecundity
(ṯaɗ’āma) while the floor of the fire, or hearth (baɗ’ā) is a  symbol of the nuclear family that is taking shape
(Legesse 1973:39). While, all this was captured by Bartels in the late 20th century in Wallagga, Werner (1914
b: 282) captured similar events a thousand or so kilometers away at Northern Kenya with the Booran:
On the wedding morning, a woman (some friend of the  bride’s mother) hangs a chicho [č’iič’oo, č’ooč’oo] full of
milk over the girl’s shoulder….The bridegroom, carrying  his spear and wearing a new cloth and a red turban, goes
in at the western gate of the cattle-kraal and out at the  eastern, and then walks in a slow and stately way to the
hut of his mother-in-law, where the bride is waiting for him. They sit down side by side just within the door; after
a time they proceed to the cattle-kraal, where his friends are seated. She hands him the chicho and he drinks
some milk, and then passes it on to his friends, who all drink in turn.

In general, matrix-shape, milk-pots, sprouting beans all  symbolizes feminineness quality, the natural power to
‘reproductive faculty’ (ʂaɲɲí), a capacity to generate many that, yet, keep alikeness or identity (ʂaɲɲí).

Woman and a cow and infant and a calf

Cows are “a symbolic representation of women” (Sumner 1997: 193; Bartels 1975: 912) because both are equally
haaɗ’a manaa ‘the flex of the home/house’:
Sawayi, ya sawayi—o my cow, o my cow [too high
hypocorism]
ŉīṱī abbaan gorsatu–a wise man’s wife/a wife of wisest
counselor husband
amali inmulattu–her virtues are hidden;/is virtuous and
has integrity;
saa abbaan tiqsatu–o careful owner’s cow/ similarly, cow
that the owner himself
shepherds/feeds
č’inaači inmuľaṱu–her ribs are hidden/her hook bone is
invisible (full and swollen).
Saa, saa, ya saa–cattle, cattle, o cow,
ya saa marī koo–o cow, my advisor/darling
ţiqē marartu koo–good in the eyes of your herdsman/am
overseeing you spitefully.
(Bartels, 1975: 912)
Likewise, an infant and a young calf are not only congruous, but also sung a lullaby to comfort them:
Sleep, sleep!
My little man slobbers over his breast.

The skin clothes are short.
The groin is dirty
The waist is like the waist of a young wasp
The shepherd with the stick!
Sleep, sleep!
He who milks with the ropes!
Sleep, sleep!
He who takes the milk with the pot!
Sleep, sleep!
The cows of Abba Bone,
They’ve gone out and made the grass crack;
They’ve [come home] again and made the pot.
(Sumner 1997: 181)

Basically, there is no difference between a newborn calf  and an infant; no need of separate lexisboth is élmee—
diminutive-denominative from elma ‘to milk’. Young calves or children are worn kolliʥa ‘collar’, ǧallattii
‘diadem, crown, tiara’ or č’allee ‘jewelry’ wrapping around their necks, all of whose semiotic significance is to
express ǧalla, ǧallačča ‘love’ and protection from ɡaaɖiɗú ‘evil spirit’ that bewitches not only infants and young of
animals, etc (Bartels 1983: 284-285, 196-197). The first meaning of ɡaaɖiɗú, gádíṱú is ‘silhouette’ or ‘human
shadow’ (see also Tutschek 1844: 54), but, in this context it refers to an evil spirit that accompanies or inhabits a
person. The evil spirit comes in a form of shadow and watches with evil-eye, hence it is also called, in some areas, ɮaltu, ilaltu ‘watcher (wicked)’. All these concepts are common motifs in Hararqee rock paintings (Cervicek 197). See
Fig.6 especially the silhouette-like background and in C an evil-eye motif is seen watching from above.
In accordance with the Qaallu Institution, the Qaallu (or Qaalličča, particulative) receives and embraces new
born children, giving them blessings, buttering their  heads and ɡubbisaa ‘giving them names’, literally,
‘incubating’ from ɡubba ‘to be above, over’ or ɡuƀa ‘to brand, heat’ (Knustsson 1967). Women call this process of entrusting children to the Qallu ‘aɖɖaraa ol kaa’, literally ‘Putting/Lifting up oath/children to the topmost (related to the prayer epithet Áɖɖaraa ‘Pray! I beseech you!’). Or, they call it Ők’ubaa ɢalča, literally ‘entering/submitting the Őq’ubaa’, which refers to “the act of kneeling down and raising one’s hands with open fingers towards the sky (Waaqa) and thus submitting oneself to Waaqa” (Gidada 2006:163), from the prayer epithet: Őq’uba ‘Pray!, Prayer!’, literally,
‘Take my fingers!’ A “perfect attitude at prayers in the Oromo’s eyes is to lift the hands towards heaven”
(Bartels 1983: 350). An unfortunate Oromo father/mother has to but say élmee koo ana ǧalaa du’e, literally ‘my offspring/child died from under/underside me’ while an unfortunate child would say abbo/ayyo koo ana’irraa du’e ‘my dear dad/mum died from above/over me’. Some lines from a song for a hero illustrate caressing and kissing the belly of his mother (Cerulli 1922: 48):

The belly which has brought you forth,
How much gold has it brought forth?
Who is the mother who has given birth to you?
If I had seen her with my eyes,
I would have kissed her navel.

These symbolic-actional rhetorical organizations are most probably the underlying ‘grammar’ of the recurrent
anthropomorphic signs, along with a newborn calves, ‘embracing’ the belly, navel of a cow (Fig.6CandD from
Cervicek 1971). Culturally, cows are given as an invaluable gift to an adoptee child, so that she/he never
sleeps a night without a cup of milk. The gift-cow is addressed by hypocoristic aɳɖ’úree ‘navel, umbilical cord’
(aɖɖ’oolee, plural, by play on word ‘good parous ones, the gray/old ones’), which means ‘dear foster-mama’
symbolizing cordiality, wish to long-life and strong bond, protection of the child (see also Hassen 1990: 21).
Earlier in this paper, we saw how matrilineal-patrilineal and moiety phratry are represented partly by bovine
anatomy. As recorded by the Catholic Father Lambert Bartels and others, Waaqa ‘Devine, God, Sky’
symbolizes Abbá, Patriarchic-side of the cosmos or Father or Husband “who goes away” while, Daččee
‘Earth’ symbolizes, the Matriarchic-side, Mother or Wife who “is always with us” (Bartels 1983: 108-111) and
“originally, Heaven and Earth were standing one next to the other on equal terms” (Haberland 1963: 563 quoted in
Bartels 1983: 111). As we observe the Laga Odaa pictures (see Fig.5A), we consistently also find another
interesting analogy–bulls are consistently drawn above the cows. In Oromo worldview, a bull represent ßoo
‘sacred domain of the male’ (vocative form of bâ ‘man, subject, being, masculine 4th person pronoun’), while a
cow (saa, sa’a) represent çâé, îssi ‘sacred domain of the female’ (also ‘feminine 4th person pronoun’) (Kassam
1999:494). From this worldview comes Oromo concept of Ḿootumma ‘rule, government, state, kingdom’:[Ḿootumma comes] from moo’a, autobenefactive: moo’ď/ʈ, is a cattle image. For example, Kormi sun him moo’a, “that bull is in heat” and sa’a sun iti moo’a ‘he is mounting that cow’. With reference to human beings, the implication is not necessarily sexual, but can denote superiority or dominance in general. An moo’a, an mooti is a formula of self praise by a new Abba Gada during his inauguration (Shongolo 1996: 273).

Qallačča and Qaallu: A jigsaw motif
In this last section of this analysis, we must consider the  symbolic significance of what an old man skilled in
Oromo oral history says is tremendously important: The Qaallu did this. For the daughter/girl of Ǧillee
[eponymous clan name] he took a heifer; for the daughter/girl of Elellee [eponymous clan name] he also
took a heifer. Then, for the Elellee girl he erected the  heifer of Elellee in such a way that her (the heifer’s) head
is faced upwards. For the Ǧillee girl, he erected the heifer of Ǧillee in such a way that her (the heifer’s) is faced
downwards. The girl of Ǧillee too siiqqee stick and hit the Mormor River; then, the Mormor River split into two
(BATO 1998:75; My translation).

This story offers us a tremendously important insight.It corresponds with the amazing critical observation and re-interpretation of my informant Muummee. Muummee rotated 90oCW Cervicek’s (1971) Laga Oda Figure 47 (=
Fig.7 A) and got Fig.7B after rotating. In this motif, the Qaallu , with his qallačča headgear, is at the centre. We
can observe one heifer above the Qaallu (perhaps Ǧillee heifer) her head inverted, serving as qallačča headgear,
and behind him to the right handside, two heifers (cattle, one headless), both of whose heads are facing
downwards but in between them and the qallačča cattle is one anthropomorphic motif, unlike on the lefthand
where there are many, possibly a chorus in praise of the sublime black cow and of the reverenced Qaallu. We also
observe, a heifer (cow?) whose head is faced upwards (possibly Elellee heifer).

As usual, it is likely also that this  style is as much for  associal-epistemological as is it for grammatical- semotactical reason.  The downward-faced heifer or Ǧillee (hypocoristic-diminutive from ǧiɭa ‘ritual ceremony, pilgrimage’), which is equivalent to qallačča headgear of the Qaallu anthropomorphic, is a signification of the semantic of ɡaɮa ‘to safely travel away and come home (or ɢaɮma ‘the Sacred Temple of Qaallu’)’ by the help of the Qallačča the providence of God. Thus, the collocation
forming gaɮa-gaɮča gives the polysemous metonymic senses: (1) to invert, make upside down, (2) one who causes safe home-come i.e., Qallačča. The same ‘play on word’ is true of Elellee: (1) reduplication (emphasis) of ēɮ, éla ‘spring up; well (water)’, and (2) őɮ literally ‘go up; upwards; spare the day peacefully, prevail’. “Őɮa!” is a farewell formula for ‘Good day!’ (literally ‘Be upward! Be above! Prevail!’).Yet, the most interesting aspect lies beyond the lexico-syntactic or semotactic motives. If we look carefully at this motif, the head of the Qaallu and the foreparts of the downwards (ɡaɗi) Ǧillee heifer merge, which makes the latter headless (ɡaɗooma). The Elellee heifer apparently with only one horn but full nape (bok’uu)
appears to be another jigsaw making a thorax (ɡûɗeɫča) of the Qaallu, possibly because in the “Barietuma” Gada
System, the Qaallu are “central”, i.e., “occupy a special position, and their members act as “witnesses” (Galech)
on the occasion of weddings or other important transaction” (Werner 1915:17, 1914a: 140; See also Legesse 2006: 104, 182, for “Gada Triumvirate System”). This is not arbitrary, but is stylized so that the notions of seniority are textured simultaneously, in caput mortuum. Pertaining to the “seven bosses” of the qallačča (Plowman 1918:114) ) is possibly equivalent to Cervicek’s (1971:192) description of this same motif: “Seven animal representations, painting of a symbol ((cen-tre) and pictures of H-shaped anthropomorphic figures…Painted in graphite grey, the big cattle picture a
little darker, the smaller one beneath it in caput mortuum red.” While we can consider, following Dr. Gemetchu Megerssa, anthropology professor, that the seven bosses might stand for the seven holes of human body (above the neck) which still stand for some mythical concepts we cannot discuss here, it is also possible to consider the (related) socio-political structure of the democratic Gada System. They must stand for what Legesse (1973: 82, 107) calls “torban baalli” “the seven
assistants” of Abba Gada in “power” (his in-powerness is makes him Abba Bokkuu, ‘Proprietor/Holder of the
Scepter’). Long before Legesse’s critical and erudite study of Gada System, Phillipson (1916) wrote:

The petty chiefs act in conjunction with the king. These  are, however, appointed by election of officers called Toib
[Tor b] or Toibi (= seven councilors or ministers). These are men of standing and character…. They are governed
by, and work in unison with, the head. These officers are appointed by the king, and each of the seven has an
alternative, so that the number is unbroken. Their office is to sit in council with the king, hear cases, administer
justice, and in the king’s absence they can pass sentence  in minor cases; but all they do is done by his authority.
For all that, this may act as a check if the king inclines to  despotism. There is no such thing as favoritism; the Toibi
stands in the order elected: 1, 2, and c (Phillipson 1916:180). These seven high ranking officials (aɡaoɗa) are
purposely represented by forepart of bovine body (agooda), because this is the strongest and most
powerful part. Ól, literally ‘up, upwards, upper’ is a metaphoric expression for those “On-High in the
government of his [Abba Bokkuu] people” (De Salviac 2005 [1901]: 212). Cervicek (1971:130) is accurate when he theorized “anthropomorphic representations do not seem to have been painted for their own sake but in connection with the cattle and symbolic representations only.” Despite the guttural sounds dissimilarization, as in the expression
ɢaɮčaan naaf ɡalé ‘I understood it by profiling. i.e., symbolically (i.e., from the gerundive ɢaɮču, kalču ‘profiling, aligning, allying’, or kaɬaṯṯi ‘perspective, façade’, or the base kala, χala ‘to construct, design’; see Stegman
2011:2, 17), the very word qallača itself is a metasemiotic language, meaning ‘symbolic interpretation’.

*Dereje Tadesse Birbirso (PhD) is Assistant Professor, School of Foreign Language, College of Social Science and Humanities, Haramaya University