Advertisements
jump to navigation

Waaqa Garaa Gurraachaa. #Oromia #Oromo December 25, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in 10 best Youtube videos, Africa, African Beat, African Literature, Culture, Mammaaksa Oromoo, Oromo Culture, Qaallu Institution, Safuu: the Oromo moral value and doctrine, Seera Yaayyaa Shananii, The Oromo Theory of Knowledge, Waaqeffanna (Oromo ancient African Faith System).
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

O

 

Waaqa Garaa Gurraachaa

Dhufeeraa Birraasaa irra

@ Finfinne Tribune,  Gadaa.com

Waaqa garaa gurraachaa, tokkicha maqaa dhibbaa jechuun abbootii fi haadholii keenya taranii fi jiran gidduutti beekamaadha. Garuu Oromoon keenya heedduun baroottan dhihoon asitti ‘Waaqa garaa gurraachaa’ jecha jedhu lagatee akka Waaqa tolfamaatti utuu abaaruu nidhageenya.

Waaqayyo tokkichuma, maqaansaa garuu heedduudha. Oromoof ‘Waaqa garaa gurraachaa’ jechuun ‘Waaqa garaa qulqulluu’ jechuu waliin walqixxeedha. Fakkeenyaaf:

1. Ani bishaan gurraacha malee wanta tokkollee hindhugne
2. Irra deebi’een ija gurraachaan ilaala
3. Daa’ima garaa gurraachaa hinsookka’in

Kanaafuu ‘Waaqa garaa gurraachaa’ keessatti ‘garaa gurraachaa’ kan jedhu eenyummaa Waaqayyoo kan ibsuudha malee Waaqa tolfamaa miti.

Waaqa Garaa Gurraachaa

Gaaffii sammuu namaa Waaqa dhibdee furu
Kan sooressaaf deegaan itti hirkatee bulu
Hiyyeessi fala dhabe kan itti kufee ‘ncabne
Waaqa garaa gurraachaa qulqulluu dhibee ‘nqabne

Waaqa ‘bbaa kootii, abbaa Qajeelaaf Margaa
Abbaa Tulluuwwanii, abbaa Malkaa
Qulqulluu ta’uu kee kaanaafan faarfadhe
Ibsa maqummaa kees kaanaafan jaalladhe

Warra hinbeeknetu haxxummaa nacaalee
Ija beekumsa koo ukkaamsee awwaale
Hinbeektu jennaanan barnoota eegale
Gowwummaa jaraatu natti galagale

Yemmuu hongeen horii koo akka malee qunciste
Bokkaa kee naaroobsitee daa’imakoo guddiste
Waaqa ‘nbeektu jedhanii maaliif sammuu najeequ
Tokkicha maqaa dhibbaa akkamittan sihinbeeku?

Aannan, itittuu, cuukkoo fi caccabsaa
Ancootee, marqaa, cumboo fi burqumsaa
Akkuman warra koorraa Waaqummaa kee baradhe
Gaarummaa keen raja kanan qabu qabadhee

Mana koorraa deebisi awwaaldiigessaaf fuutuu
Karaa kee maalan dhabe yaabbaa hundumaan guutuu
Kan ati biqilchite hojii harka kee keessaa
Irreessa koo qabadheen galata siidhiheessa

Abjuu gadhee baqii hirkatanii mugu
Garaa ofii shakkii heexoo itti dhugu
Garaa koo caalaayyuu angaraa kee fedhee
Waaqa garaa qulqulluu kanaafan siin jedhe

………………………………………………………………………………….

………………………………………………………………………………………..

Dhufeeraa Birraasaa irra

@ Finfinne Tribune,  Gadaa.com

http://finfinnetribune.com/Gadaa/2014/12/dhufeeraa-birraasaa-waaqa-garaa-gurraachaa/

 

 

Advertisements

THEORIZING WAAQEFFANNAA: OROMIA’S INDIGENOUS AFRICAN RELIGION AND ITS CAPACITY AND POTENTIAL IN PEACEMAKING September 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).
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment
OTHEORIZING 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 the Waaqaa and the earth help you.

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.

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

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.

[39] Megerssa, 1996:98; Aguilar, 2009:5.

[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

[45] IPI Ethiopia. http://www.ipiethiopia.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=111&Itemid=110

[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

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Ancient African Direct Democracy, Ancient Rock paintings in Oromia, Ateetee, Ateetee (Siiqqee Institution), Black History, Chiekh Anta Diop, Culture, Irreecha, Kemetic Ancient African Culture, Meroe, Meroetic Oromo, Oromia, Oromiyaa, Oromo, Oromo Culture, Oromo Identity, Oromo Nation, Oromo Wisdom, Oromummaa, Philosophy and Knowledge, Qaallu Institution, Qubee Afaan Oromo, Sirna Gadaa, State of Oromia, The Oromo Democratic system, The Oromo Governance System, The Oromo Library.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

O

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

Dereje Tadesse Birbirso (PhD)*

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).

This and a plethora of Oromo social epistemology has been studied by the plausible Oromo historians (Gidada 2006, Hassen 1990, to mention a few) and non-biased European theologico-ethnologists (Krapf 1842; De Abbadie 1880; De Salviac 1980, Bartels 1983, to mention a few). Similarly, social semiosis is not new to the Oromo. Although Eurocentric archaeologists rarely acknowledge, “the identification of cultural themes and symbolic interpretation has revealed affinities between contemporary Oromo practices and those of other East African culture groups, both ancient and modern (Grant 2000: np.).In like manner, the Classical Greek philosophers wrote that the Ancient Ethiopians were “inventors of worship, of festivals, of solemn assemblies, of sacrifice, and of every religious practice” (Bekerie, 2004:114). The oral history of the Oromo states that it was Makko Billii, whom Antonio De Abbadie, one of the early European scholars who studied and lived with the Oromo, described as “African Lycurgus” (Werner 1914b: 263; Triulzi and Triulzi  1990:319; De Abbadie 1880) and son of the primogenitor  of the Oromo nation (Raya or Raâ), who hammered out the antique, generation-based social philosophy known as Gada System (Legesse 1973, 2006; Bartels 1983; Gidada 2006). A key ingredient in Gada system is the  For Oromo, the first Qaallu “Hereditary ritual officiant” and “high priest” was of “divine origin” and, as the myth tells us, “‘fell from the sky itself’…with the first black cow” and he was the “‘eldest son of Ilma Orma’” (Hassen 1990:6; Baxter, Hultin and Triulzi 1996:6). In its “dual[ity] 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 1990:7). Hence, the concept/word Qaallu refers at large to “Divinity’s fount of blessings in the world” (Baxter, Hultin and Triulzi 1996: 1996: 21). As De Salviac (2005 [1901]: 285) explicated “The Oromo are not fetishists. They believe in Waaqa took, a unique universal creator and master. They see His manifestations in great forces of nature, without mistaking for Him.” As a result of  this ‘pre-historic’, Spinozaean like social epistemology, but unlike Martin Heideggerean “ancients” who never  dared questioning or confronting ontology but endorsed only veneering it, for the Oromo social semiosis has never been new since time immemorial. Despite all these antique history and tradition, it is  unfortunatel, the so-far few studies made on the  Ethiopian ancient rock paintings and rock arts never consider—sometimes apparently deliberately isolate–the  social history, tradition, culture or language of the Oromo people as a possible explanatory device. What the  available few studies usually do is only positivist  description of the paintings (types, size and/or number of  the signs) rather than inquiry into and explanation of the  social origin and the underlying social meaning, praxis or  worldview. Partly, the reason is the studies are totally  dominated by Eurocentric paradigms that de-Africanize and extrude the native people and their language,  religion, social structure, material cultures and, in general, their interpretive worldview. Besides, some of  the native researchers are no different since they have unconditionally accepted this Eurocentric, hegemonic epistemology (Bekerie 1997; Smith 1997; Gusarova 2009; Vaughan 2003). As a result, we can neither  understand the social origin of these amazing ‘texts’ nor  can we explain the underlying social semiosis.. Equally, under this kind of mystification or possible distortion of  human (past) knowledge, we miss the golden opportunities that these ancient documents offer for  evolutionary, comparative and interdisciplinary social science research and knowledge. Above all, the old Eurocentric view narrowed down the sphere of semiotics  (archaeological, social) to only ‘the sign’, extruding the  human agents or agency and the social context.

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:

There was in the Guirri country, at Tchenassen [Č’enāssan], an Oromo, a very rich but very proud farmer called Barento. A cloth merchant, an Arab who was also very rich, lived a short distance from there at Derbiga. The merchant’s daughter went one day to see the farmer and told him: “I would like to marry your son.”—“Very well, I shall give him to you,” he answered. The merchant in turn, gave his daughter and made under her daughter’s steps a road of cloth, from Derbiga to Tchenassen, residence of the rich farmer. The tailor replied to this act by making a road of dourah and maize under his son’s steps, from Tchenassen to Derbiga. But God was incensed by this double pride and to punish him, shaked Tchenassen Mountain and brought down a rain of stones which destroyed men and houses; it was then that the race of Arla [Alla] was destroyed (Sumner 1996: 26). Confirming the antiquity and unity of this story and the Oromo, similar story is found in Western Oromo as far closer to the Southern Sudan: “in interpreting certain of their [Oromo] myths about the beginning of things, it was because of man’s taking cultivation and pro-creation toomuch into his own hands, that Waqa[Waaqa] withdrew from him–a withdrawal resulting in a diminution of life on earth in all its forms” (Bartels 1975:512). As a part of the general social semiotics adopted in this study, onomasiology (the scientific analysis of toponyms, anthroponyms,ethnonyms as well as of semiotic metalanguages) is considered as important component for evolutionary social semiosis, particularly for any researcher on Oromo since these are coded or they code social epestemes, are cyclical, based on the principles of  Gada System’s name-giving tradition, and, hence, are resistant to change (for detail on this see Legesse 1973). For instance, Cervicek and Braukamper (1965:74) described the Laga Gafra area and its population as: “The area of the site is part of the Gafra Golla Ḍofa village, and the indigenous Ala [Oromo] call it Gada Ba’la (“large shelter”)”, but appropriately, Baalli Gada. Here, let us only remember that Alla and Itťu clans are two of the Hararqee Oromo self-identificating by Afran Qalloo

(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).”

Qallačča and Gadaa—the generation-age-based
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
practice political leadership (Legesse 2006:124-125).

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,
The cows of Dad’i Golge:
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

Read full article @ http://internationalscholarsjournals.org/download.php?id=275978303829134960.pdf&type=application/pdf&op=1