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

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Ancient African Direct Democracy, Ancient Egyptian, Ancient Rock paintings in Oromia, Ateetee, Ateetee (Siiqqee Institution), Boran Oromo, Gadaa System, Irreecha, Irreecha Oromo, Oromia, Oromo, Oromo Nation, Oromo Social System, Oromo Wisdom, Oromo women, Oromummaa, Sirna Gadaa, The Goddess of Fecundity, Waaqeffanna (Oromo ancient African Faith System).
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Oromo nation and Gadaa system

Oromo nation and Gadaa system

The Borana Calendar REINTERPRETED

by Laurance R. Doyle

Physics and Astronomy Department, University of California, Santa Cruz,at NASA Ames Research Center, Space Sciences Division, M.S. 245-7,
Moffett Field, Calif. 94035, U.S. 20 XII 85

The announcement of a possible first archaeoastronomical site (called Namoratunga II) in sub-Saharan Africa by Lynch and Robbins (1978) and its subsequent reappraisal by Soper (1982) have renewed interest in an East African calendrical system, the Borana calendar, first outlined in detail by Legesse (1973:180-88). I shall here reinterpret the calendar as Legesse describes it in the light of astronomical constraints.
The Borana calendar is a lunar-stellar calendrical system, relying on astronomical observations of the moon in conjunction with seven particular stars (or star groups). At no time (except indirectly by way of lunar phase) does it rely upon solar observations. The Borana year is twelve lunar synodic months (each 29.5 days long), 354 days. While it will not correspond to the seasons, this may not be of primary importance for people this close to the equator. There are twenty-seven day names (no weeks), and since each month is either 29 or 30 days long, the first two (or three) day names are used twice in the same month starts on a new day name. The day names are listed in Table 1, the month names in Table 2.
The first six months can be identified at the beginning of the month with a particular astronomical observation, whereas the last six months can be so identified only around the middle of the month. The first six months begin with the observation of the new-phase moon in conjunction with six positions in the sky marked by seven particular stars or star groups. Thus the phase of the moon is held constant while its position varies. The last six months are identified by a particular-phase moon seen in conjunction with the first star position. Thus, here, the lunar phase changes and the position is held constant. The seven stars or star groups in order are Triangulum (which I take to mean Beta Trianguli), Pleiades, Aldebarran, Belletrix, central Orion (around the sword), Saiph, and Sirius. They are given in Table 2 next to the months they define.
The New Year starts with the observation of the new moon in conjunction with Beta Trianguli. (The term “new moon” here will be taken to be within two days of zero phase, although the Borana allow up to three “leap” days’ leeway, the astronomical observation determining the correct day to start on. This is indicated in the day nomenclature by the assignment of like prefixes to two or three day names before the approximate time an important astronomical observation is to take place.) Since the new moon can be seen only just before sunrise or just after sunset, twilight makes the observation of Beta Trianguli (a third-magnitude star) in conjunction with a new moon impossible with the naked eye.

Assuming that such an observation, however, was possible, would the next new moon be in conjunction with the next star group. Pleiades? (Conjunction here is taken to mean “rising with” or “setting with,” having the same right ascension. Legesse says (p. 182), “Let us assume that a new moon was sighted last night and that is appeared side by side with the star Sirius, which the Borana call Basa.”) Since the sidereal period of the moon is 27.3 days long, it will arrive back at the Triangulum position more than two days before completing its synodic month. At the sidereal rate of 13.2° per day, the moon will be within 3° of Pleiades when it rises in the new phase again. However, by the time of the third month it rises, not with Aldebarran, the next star, but a little past Belletrix, the fourth star, which is supposed to start the fourth month. By the fourth month the new moon is rising past Sirius, the sixth start, and the calendar is clearly not working as described. It should be added that the right-ascension positions of the stars in the area from Beta Trianguli to Sirius change with time, at the rate of roughly 15° every thousand years. However, the stars stay in approximately the same configuration, and arguments based on their present right-ascension relationships will hold over the past several thousand years as well.
What happens if we take the term “conjunction,” or “side by side,” as Legesse has it, to mean not “rising with” but “rising single-file,” that is, at the same horizon position (in other words, having the same declination)? Examining the idea that it is not the proximity of the moon to the star that is important but its horizon rising (or setting) position with respect to that star’s horizon rising (or setting) position, we immediately find that the first necessary observation, the new moon rising at the horizon position of Beta Trianguli, is not currently possible. Beta Trianguli rises (at the equator) about 35° north of the east point (0° declination), while the moon (on the northernmost average) rises at 23.5° north of east, never rising farther north than 28.5° from the East Point. The earth’s rotation axis is known to precess over the centuries, and while this does not change the lunar orbital positions significantly, it does change the apparent position of the stars. We can calculate the positions of the seven Borana stars at a time when Beta Trianguli was well within the moon’s declination limits to see if the calendar would have worked then. In 300 BC, Beta Trianguli was rising at a declination of +23° north of east. The right-ascension positions at the time still do not allow a “rising with” interpretation of the calendrical system. We can begin by defining the start of the Borana year as the new moon rising at the rising position of 300 BC Beta Trianguli. (The date of 300 BC was strongly suggested by the preliminary dating of Namoratunga II, but it was chosen because +23°, Beta Trianguli’s declination at the time, is the northern average of the moon’s monthly motion. I will take the moon’s motion, for the example here, from theNautical Almanacs for 1983 and 1984.) The next new moon rises at 14° north of east, which corresponds precisely to the 300 BC horizon rising position of Pleiades, the next Borana star. The next four new moons (starting the next four Borana months) rise at +9 degrees, +1 degree, –11 degrees, and –17 degrees declination. These positions correspond to the 300 BC horizon rising positions of the Borana stars Aldebarran. Belletrix, central Orion—Saiph (taken together), and Sirius, respectively (Table 3).
The seventh month should be identifiable 14 or 15 days from its automatic start (about 29 days after the start of the sixth month) by a full moon rising at the Beta Trianguli position, and this is indeed the case. Each subsequent moon rises at this horizon position 27.3 days later (sidereal month) in a phase (synodic month) about two days less waxes (since it is on its way to the full phase again) each time. (Legesse has a waning moon, but this must mean waning with respect to each subsequent monthly observation, not with respect to the Phase State for that month.) On the thirteenth or first month, the moon is seen rising in the new phase again (“new” meaning within a couple of days of zero phase), and another year begins. Tracing the moon’s motion as it arrives at these positions in the sky (which are, however, no longer directly marked by the seven stars), we can derive the calendar (see Table 4).
This outline is still general with respect to what is sometimes called the lunar excursion (regression of the line of nodes of the lunar orbit). The three “leap” days the Borana calendar allows for the starting of some of the months just before an important astronomical observation could account for this declination excursion of the moon (± ca. 5° from 23.5° declination on an 18.6-year basis), but this would certainly require confirmation in the field.
The Borana calendrical system as described by Legesse is, therefore, a valid timekeeping system, subject to the astronomical constraints outlined here, and the pillars found in northwestern Kenya by Lynch and Robbins and preliminary dates at 300 BC could, as they suggest, represent a site used to derive that calendar. The calendar does not work in right-ascension sense, but it does work if taken as based on declination. It might have been invented around 300 BC, when the declinations of the seven stars corresponded to lunar motion as the calendar indicates, and the star names would therefore apply to the horizon positions as well. Because the horizon rising positions constitute the important observations (over half of which must be made at twilight), some sort of horizon-marking device would seem to be necessary. Since the calendar is still in use, and the horizon-making pillars can no longer be set up by aligning them with the horizon rising positions of these stars, it would seem that the Borana may be using ancient (or replicas of ancient) horizon markers and this possibility should be investigated. I look forward with great interest to a test of these hypotheses.

Table 1

Borana Day names (Legesse 1973)

Bita Kara Gardaduma
Bita Lama Sonsa
Sorsa Rurruma
Algajima Lumasa
Arb Gidada
Walla Ruda
Basa Dura Areri Dura
Basa Ballo Areri Ballo
Carra Adula Dura
Maganatti Jarra Adula Ballo
Maganatti Britti Garba Dura
Salban Dura Garba Balla
Salban Balla Garda Dullacha
Salban Dullacha

Table 2

Borana Months and Stars/Lunar Phases That Define Them
(Legesse 1973)


Star/Lunar Phase

Bittottessa Triangulum
Camsa Pleiades
Bufa Aldebarran
Wacabajjii Belletrix
Obora Gudda Central Orion-Saiph
Obora Dikka Sirius
Birra full moon
Cikawa gibbous moon
Sadasaa quarter moon
Abrasa large crescent
Ammaji medium crescent
Gurrandala small crescent

Table 3

Declinations (Degrees) of Borana Stars, 300 BC and Present



300 BC


Beta Trianguli












Central Orion









Table 4

Astronomical Borana-Cushitic Calendar (1983-84)

Borana-Cushitic Day/Month

Gregorian Date


Bita Kara/
August 7, 1983 New moon rises at Triangulum horizon position
September 6, 1983 New moon rises at Pleiades horizon position
October 5, 1983 New moon rises at Aldebarran horizon position
Basa Dura/
November 2, 1983 New moon rises at Belletrix horizon position
Maganatti Jarra/
Obora Gudda
December 2, 1983 New moon rises at central Orion-Saiph horizon position
Salban Dura/
Obora Dikka
December 30, 1983 New moon rises at Sirius horizon position
January 29, 1984 Full moon sets at Triangulum on February 15
Rurruma/Cikawa February 28, 1984 Gibbous moon sets at Triangulum on March 14
March 28, 1984 Quarter moon sets at Triangulum on April 10
Areri Dura/
April 26, 1984 Large crescent sets at Triangulum on May 7
Adula Dura/
May 25, 1984 Medium crescent sets at Triangulum on June 3
Garba Dura/
June 23, 1984 Small crescent sets at Triangulum on June 30
Bita Kara/
July 28, 1984 “New” moon rises at Triangulum position again, new year starts

References Cited

Legesse, A. 1973. Gada: Three approaches to the study of African Society. New York: Free Press.

Lynch, B. M., and L. H. Robbins. 1978. Namoratunga: The first archaeoastronomical evidence in sub-Saharan Africa. Science 200:766-68.

Soper, R. 1982. Archaeo-astronomical Cushites: Some comments. Azania 17:145-62


ASTRONOMY IN EAST AFRICA:Borana-Cushitic Calender

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

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

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

This is a summary of a talk delivered at Caltech for Ned Munger’s African Studies class.;wap2


Ateetee:The divinity for motherhood and fecundity in Oromo mythology December 18, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in Ancient African Direct Democracy, Ateetee (Siiqqee Institution), Culture, Gadaa System, Humanity and Social Civilization, Meroetic Oromo, Nubia, Oromia, Oromia Satelite Radio and TV Channels, Oromian Voices, Oromiyaa, Oromo, Oromo Artists, Oromo Culture, Oromo First, Oromo Identity, Oromo Music, Oromo Nation, Oromo Social System, Oromummaa, Qubee Afaan Oromo, Safuu: the Oromo moral value and doctrine, Sirna Gadaa, State of Oromia, The Goddess of Fecundity, The Oromo Democratic system, The Oromo Governance System, The Oromo Library.
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Yaa Maaraam furootu gahee

Waliin nu Gahee

Emmoo yaa obbolee emmoo




Maaram is believed to be the divinity of women. Maaram was created by Waaqa and
addressed as haadha boor (the mother of ocean). I think this is to indicate that Maaram
came to the Oromo from outside. The Oromo believe that Mooram is the mother of a
child. The Oromo women perform traditional ceremonies in respect of Maaram. It is
believed that Maaram will help barren women to beget a child, and help pregnant
women to give birth to a child. When a woman gives birth to a child Oromo women will
gather and ululate (say ilili ilili). They also prepare porridge, and splash butter. It is
normal for the Oromo to sacrifice an animal during this ceremony. Moreover, Maaram
is worshipped for the health of the environment, animals, human beings and crops.
The Oromo Qoolluu leaders pray to Maaram every two weeks for the continuation of
offspring of humans. Maaram has her own ritual house. Ritual goods include Jaaloo
(earthen caldron), and Qoloo (traditional shirt). It has also madabii (raised platform of
Earth). The dancing ceremony is performed on Tuesdays, Thursdays,. and Saturdays.

Some writers have explained the nature of Ateetee and Maaram. Knutsson states that the  names Ateetee and Maaram are used interchangeably for the same kind of being (Kmitsson 1967,55). Daniel states that  the various songs of Ateetee imply that “[a]teete is a ceremony prepared for Ayyolee, Maaram and Waaqa as thanksgiving by those who have children and a lamentation by the barren women” (Daniel 1984, 111). Bartels, however, questioned this assertion. To the Oromo of Western Matcha, Ateetee is the name of the ritual in which Maaram is invoked (Bartels 1983). Baxter (1979) had similar observation concerning the belief of the Arsi Oromo. For Cerulli, Ateetee is conceived as the goddess of fecundity (Cerulli 1922,127; Harris 1968,50).


In the traditional Oromo society, women played distinct roles through an institution called the Siiqqee (a symbolic decorated stick given to all women by their mothers upon marriage). This is an exclusively women’s solidarity institution sanctioned by tradition and respected by society. It is a sort of sorority that provides women with channels to participate in village councils, and a cultural vehicle to mobilize en masse against violence and abuse. Infringement of certain rights that women enjoy is regarded as an attack on human rights. In the event of violation of their rights, women take out the Siiqqee and mobilize to fight for the respect of rights, and for any perpetrator of abuse to be tried by society. The use of Siiqqee draws an enormous religious, ritual and moral authority and in the pursuit of peace and social tranquility. According to tradition peace is not merely the absence of war, but a constant state of unity and cooperation among the people as well as harmony with God and nature, with the power to bless or curse. Historically, women as a sector of society were designated as strangers and excluded from the Gadaa structures and rituals, but, they stuck together through the Siiqqee counting on one another within this common sorority. –


Weedduu Maaram / Weedduu Ateetee

(Translation: Zelelaem Aberra Tesfa)


In Oromo mythology, the divinity for motherhood and fecundity is Ateetee or Maaram. Maaram or Ateetee is invoked and praised on birth-rituals. In addition, women prepare a feast and invoke Her, praise Her kindness so that they could be fertile, healthy, prosperous, and happy (Bartles, 1990,124; Cerulli 1917, 127, Tilahun Gamta, 2004,101)

Atoomaa hardhoo Maarami!
Maa mukoofna yee!

Yaa Maaram yaa Maaramii,
Wallaalaaf araarami.
Yaa Maaram, yaa kuullee koo,
Kottu taa’i fuullee koo.

Ciniinsuu afaa butuu
Miixuu dagalee butuu
Da’anii mucaa butuu
Iddoo ciniinsuu kee tii
Guddeen kun kan kee ti.

Yaa deessuu waalluu kobe,
Maaramtu boroo gonfe,
Dhirsatu balbalaa kolfe.
Yaa dhabduu waalluu moojoo
Dhirsatu aaree guungume,
Maaramtu boroo sokkee.

Utuun Balasiin ta’e,
Balas Boongaa ta’e,
Dhabaadhaaf mirgan kenna;
ittiin haa doorsifatu.
Utuun Maaramiin ta’e,
Maaram giiftii ta’e,
Dhabduudhaaf ilman kenna,
Dhirsa haadoorsifattu.

Yaa Maaram, yaa Maaramee
Dhabduudhaaf araarami mee.
Yaa Maaram godeettii koo
Yaa dhiiga toleettii koo
Yaa Maaram marmaartuu koo
Yaa hiika gargaartuu koo.
Aayyoleen walii lama
Tokkoo ishee carii gamaa
Tokko ishee asii kana.

Akka abbaa fardaa beeka
Irraangadee kaachisa
Akka abbaa warraa beeka
Niiti deessuu caalchisa
Gaangoo jedhee na cabsee
Gindoo saa nabaachisa
Yaa maaram hundaaf giiftii
Rakkoo kiyya naaf hiiki
Yookaan ilmaa naa kennii,
Beekaattan moggaafadha
Yookaan durba naa kennii
Beektuuttin moggaafadha
Yookaan dua naa kennii
Waayeekoon obbaafadhaa.

Get-together, for today is Maaram
Let us rejoice, throw away the boredom!

O Maaram, O dear Maaram,
Reconcile, with us who lack wisdom.
Maaram with beautiful eyes, O Maaram,
Have a sit, in front of me, please come!

When in pain, the mattress one clutches
When in labour, the wall one clutches
After delivery, a baby one snatches!
In return for your labour pain
Here, the little one is your gain.

O prolific woman, your clothes smell bad,
But Maaram has adorned your backyard,
The husband laughs from the front yard.
O sterile woman, with beautiful dress
Your husband furiously grumbles,
For your backyard, Maaram avoids.

If I were Balas,
That Balas of Boongaa,
To a bad-shooter his trophies I give;
So he could boast about it with relief.
If I were Maaram,
Our great lady Maaram,
A son I would give to the sterile woman,
So she could intimidate her man.

O Maaram, my dear Maaram
Be merciful to the childless.
O Maaram, with beauty and grace
You have revered blood in your face
O Maaram, you are my commuter [between me and God]
My parturifacient mother.
Two kinds of mothers are there
One is far across the river [The biological one]
The other one is the one here. [Maaram]

I know a rider’s thought and will
He gallops down the hill
I know a husband’s thought
He loves the prolific wife the most;
He equates me to a mule, dry and bare
and makes me carry his ploughshare.
O Maaram every women’s’ queen
Resolve this problem for me
Either grant me a baby boy
I call him “he the wise”
Either grant me a baby girl
I call her “she the wise”
Or either give me death
So I could get done with my worries.


The following stanza is taken from a birth song:

Odoshaa gofaa ka’u
Sareen agartee laata?
Agartee nyaattee laata?
Dhabduu ishee mucaaf boossu,
Yeelalaa fayyaaf boowu,
Adeemsa mirgaa boowuu
Maareen agartee laata?
Agartee laattee laata?

Ililleen Waaqa akka
Ililcheen Waaqiin kadha;
Gabaa shaqaxxuu faaqi
Anoo sagadduu Waaqi!

Loome qoraan karaa
Yomiree wal agarraa?
Bor guyyaa afaan waaree
Loonee wal agarra.

Garbuu kaballaa tokko
Manteessuun akaawwatte
Kan maseente ittiin horte
Kan deesse lakkaawwatte.

Deessuun akka naan jette
Mucaa koo hinargin jette
Diinqa koo hindarbin jette.
Maali yoon diinqa shee darbee?
Maali yoon mucaa shees argee?
Mucaa sheef argaan laadha
Garaa koof marqaan nyaadha
Jabbisheetu gola miti
Mucasaheen dhora miti.

Yaa dhabduu anaa nyaatu
Ulfooftee gumaa hin nyaannee
Deesse gumaata hindhugne.
Dhagaa kakatta guutuu
Rarra’etu wal baachise
Dhabduun dawuu hinjibbine
Maaramtu wal caalchise

Yaa deessuu waalluu qobe
Ayyaanni boroo gonfe.
Yaa dhabduu waalluu moojoo
Ayyaanni boroo sokke.

Yaa dhabduu masoo dhirsa
Dhirsatu dhaanu hawwee.
Yaa saree eegee dabbasaa
Kan quufee Waaqiin darbata
Kan Maaram namaa gootu
Haati ofii namaa hingootu.
Sibiila mutaa gootee
Kan djiiga mucaa gootee.

Baddaan qullubbii hinqabu
Muree laga dhaabbata
Kan kee dhukkubbii hinqabu
Turtee nama yaadattaa.
Araarfanne yaa maaram
Sirraa deenyee.
Gadi jedheen xaafii haamaa
Ol jedheen Waaqiin waama

An old horse’s rise from the stable,
I wonder if dogs have seen it and been able?
To have eaten it, and then did settle?
Cry of a baby-longing childles
Lament of a health-longing patient
A trophy-longing hunter’s plight
I wonder if Maaree have seen?
If She has seen and granted!

Ululation for Waaqa is a must
I ululate and beseech Waaqa;
Market of the taxing tanner
I am Waaqa’s earnest prayer!

The Loomee firewood of the street
When do you think we could meet?
Tomorrow, around mid-day
We will meet slipping away.

A handful of barley
That a widow parched and eat
the sterile prospered with it
the prolific counted it. [To equally divide.]

You know what the prolific said?
“Do not see my baby.” she said
“Do not enter my inner-room” she said.
What if I enter her inner-room?
What if I see her baby?
To her baby, I give a gift
To my stomach, porridge I eat.
No calf is kept in her inner-room,
She thinks I pine her child, I presume.

What a pity for the sterile lady
She could not get pregnant and eat a hunk of meat
She could not deliver and have showers of gift.
Abundance of rock and escarpment
Is hanging and piling up
The sterile did not hate giving birth
It is Maaram that un equalizes.

The prolific with smelly skirt
Her backyard is full of spirit.
But, the childless in a pretty skirt
Her backyard is devoid of spirit.

The sterile, the husband’s name-sake
The husband wishes to punish her.
O dog with a hairy tail
The over-fed hurls at Waaqa
The favour Maaram does for one
One’s own mother would not do.
She turned iron to needles
She turned blood to a baby that toddles.

The high land does not have onion
They cut and plant in the valley;
Your delay is not offensive
for you compensate gradually.
Reconciliation with you, O Maaram
You gave us deliverance.
I bow down and harvest xaafi [food plant]
I rise up and invoke Waaqi

Iyya Siiqqee

Hoga iyya Siiqqee

Ilmaan hidda Horoo,

Guchuma baattee siida Ateetee
Siiqqeen iyyite seenaaf godaante

Safuuf nagaa waaqa tokkichaan dursa
Na ofkolchaa iyya Siiqqeefan tumsaa
Godaana siiqqeefan imimman robsa!

Safuu! Hoga iyya Siiqqeef
kan mandiisu akka bakakkaa
Safuu! Godaana faana Siiqqeef
Seenaa hin duune, kan hin qabne fakkii fi akka!

Uggum! Hoga iyya Siiqqeef
Iyya eenyummaa – diroon fufe gumaaf birmatu
Uggum! Godaana faana Siiqqeef
Adeemsa seenaa – qaraan-qara hin dhaabbatu

Hoo dhommoqxes Siiqqeen hin cabdu
Harooressa hin haanxoftu – gogdee hin baddu

Ni latti akka coqorsaa – jilbeeffattee dhukaan riqxee
Ni lalisti akka saardoo – margee leensa diroon cobxee
Ni daraarti akka keelloo – kuusaa aadaan booka naqxee

Sarara ulumaa Siiqqeen hareeroo
Hormata eenyummaa seenaa iyya Horoo
Duudhaa ganamaa irkoo fi utubaa boroo
Jandoo baaxii galma suuqa sororoo
Siiqqeen hin baddu dagaleen Gadaa
Kanaaf iyyatti – qabattee guchuuma aadaa!

Kan Waaqni mildhate Ayyaantuun eebbaa
Eenyummaaf birmadhu jamaan kaabaa fi kibbaa
Hoga dabarsaa, bahaa fi lixaa seenaa utubaa
Seenaa iyya Siiqqeef goonni dhiiga roobaa!

Kuusaa Oromummaa fi Hooda Ayyaantuu
Bir’uu eenyummaaf Siiqqeef birmatu!
Gadaan quufaa fi gabbina
Gabbisi ya Waaq, keenniif humna!

Humna Siiqqee kan hin cabne
Humna Gadaa kan hin dabne
Humna Oromummaa kan hin banne
Dilbii- Kuusaa kan hin dhumne
Seenaa boonsaa eenyummaa abdanne!

Gadaan gabbina Siiqqeen hareeroo
Gabbisi yaa waaq nurraa cabsi roorroo!


Oromo and Greek based Democracies

By Ibsaa Guutama

This article is for those who did not have the opportunity to know how democracy evolved in human society. Democracy is only one type of government supposedly based on the will of the masses. There had been other types of government like monarchy or aristocracy, dictatorship or autocracy and totalitarian. One can find overlapping characters in all these. So what ever form we may talk about we have to expect element of one in the other. For much, democracy is an ideal type of government but not all proclaimed democracies are fully pro-people. Here the writer is trying to introduce the essence of both Western and Oromo democracy in an easy way.  For those who are well versed in theory and practice of democracy this is an opportunity to enrich this work for the benefit of the youth. In particular the young generation that is showing pride in its historic past from oral tradition if armed with the facts may show more interest and start to inquire about it. To prepare the following information in addition to oral tradition and experience this writer was exposed to, the books: Gadaa and Oromo Demokrasii by Asmirom Laggasaa, The Oromo by De Salviac as translated by  Qannoon, Folk Litrature by Ceruuli, Aadaa Booranaa by Ton Leus, Ethiopia through Russian Eyes by Bulatovich and Wikiipedia from internet  were refered to.

Short note on Western Democracy 
Democracy is a term frequently heard from lips of everyone to express equality, justice and liberty in one word. There are no governments that do not claim to follow democratic principles in their governance. Even totalitarian states call themselves “democratic republics” (probably with exception of fascism) in spite of flagrant violation of their subjects’ rights. Just like true democrats they talk about the inviolability of people’s and human rights and respect for the rule of law and fair and free election.  They claim that it is to protect these rights on behalf of the masses when they take what are inhuman actions for others. Their founding documents are full of borrowed phrases from ideal democracies. Democratic governmental structures are adopted minus their functions from different countries.

Democratic models many emulate are American governmental structure with its system of separation of powers. The functions of legislature, executive and judiciary are separated into three branches in such a way that one can check on excesses of the other to maintain the balance of power. The executive or President and the legislative or members of Congress are elected directly by the people. Members of the Supreme Court are nominated by the president and endorsed by the legislature for life. The other models are Parliamentary Democracy where the executive is elected by the legislature. Those can be its members or non elected persons that are answerable to it. Britain and European governments fall under this. They have mainly different styles of organization. Still others are traditional rulers blended with modern jargons.

All these claim their objective to be safeguarding peoples’ democratic interests. The term democracy is a legacy of ancient Greek city state, Athens. It is derived from Greek demokratia which means government of the people (“demos”, people, and “kratos”, power).  In this aspect “people” for Athens includes only male citizens above 20 years of age. That does not include women, children under 20, those not born in the city state and slaves.

In the city state all those qualified had the right to be present at meetings and participate in deliberations directly. That is why it is now referred to as direct democracy. After many modifications it has reached the present level of modern Western democracy. Here people elect representatives that participate in deliberations on its behalf. The two methods of electing representatives are plurality and proportional voting systems. In the first one with the highest vote is elected even if one represents minority of voters. The second shares votes in proportion of the votes parties got in overall election. Those are the features of modern indirect democracy. In both not all electorates are represented.

Now in most cases men and women above certain age have the right to vote depending on the law of each democratic country. The right to vote for women was achieved, for example, for Switzerland in 1971 on federal level and 1990 at Canton levels. It took a long time and a relentless struggle to attain universal suffrage. Though all accept these basics of democracy the structure and function of elected offices are not yet standardized and methods of elections fall short of including every voter’s voices. For example if hundred people vote for three persons and two of them got thirty votes each and the third one gets forty he/she wins the whole thing. That leaves 60 persons unrepresented. Proportional representation may improve this but cannot totally correct it. Here seats are divided in proportion to votes parties got overall.

For African countries democracy was imposed on them by departing colonial masters that keep on insisting to this day not to abandon it even if it was a fake one. Africans did not participate to construct a government relevant to their culture and tradition. Even those who later wanted to introduce amendments tried to mix the various world systems instead of looking into their own history and tradition and make it reflect national personality or psyche.  As copy and eclectic as it is, it is understood only by elites who themselves are copies of colonial culture.

They rule the way they wanted, constitutions are only window dressings. On the other hand the West had modified the concept of democracy in such a way that it fits their particular national needs not as it was practiced by Athenians or any other pioneer democracies. Therefore there is no one common blueprint for it.

Had it not excluded a segment of the population Athenian democracy could have been an ideal one where the concern of every member is taken care of. Much has been tried to approximate that but the world did not yet achieve flawless democracy. Abraham Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address “Government of the people, by the people for the people shall not perish from the earth.” reflects that aspiration. The question to be answered is who are the people that influence decisions, are they really the people or oligarchs?  Though the ideal is not yet achieved there are those that had come nearer and worth emulating. Had Oromo democracy been able to answer that question?

Be as it may there are certain basics that underlie every governance of those that claim to be democratic. Principles like equality, freedom, fair and free election; rule of law and respect for people’s and individual rights run through all of them. Even dictators and totalitarian government claim to apply these principles in their own way.   Thus these are universally accepted principles of governance though malpractice is rampant in so many countries. Ethiopian rulers had tried to adopt constitutionalism under pressure against their established tradition.  The emperor had instituted a semblance of Westminster parliament without political parties. His successor (Darg) had one party state. The next (Wayyaanee) is a pseudo multiparty system but only its party is destined to win.

Be him the last emperor or the two dictators after him used democratic phraseology to cover up their core authoritarian values. Their inherited autocratic practices could not go away. The Habashaa in most part of their own history were ruled by forces that come through coup d’états violently or outlaws overthrowing the preceding government. That was so before they formed the empire and remained so even after it.  All the three came to power overthrowing their predecessors. The first two staged coup d’états the third was an outlaw.

It was not consensus but brut force that kept that highland kingdom together under one crown. Democracy assumes one man one vote in a fair and free election that should be carried out periodically. Democracy is the rule of majority. Who ever gets most of the votes comes to power. In numbers they are the minority in the empire and are scared of others outnumbering them at the ballot box. They have no confidence of winning an election by strength of their platform and performance. Therefore they believe that many opportunities would be at stake if they really change from the old ways bowing down for democratic principles. The situation makes the rulers greedy, self centered, chauvinistic and paranoid that they believe only in their own ways and wisdom and are not permeable to new possibilities.  They do not believe that even their own people would elect them in a democratic election.  That is why human right abuse became their trade mark.

Brief note on Gadaa Democracy 
When one discusses Gadaa it would be preposterous to claim understanding its depth and breadth. It was a highly complicated and sophisticated societal system to be attributed only to few generations. That it has a background of ancient civilizations can be deduced from organization of society, its legal system and patterns of knowledge it emanates. For this reason what this article presents is only a simplistic superficial aspect of it, which yet could give a clue to its democratic legacy. Leaving aside procedures, rituals and the regalia what interests us here is the legal and democratic principles enshrined in it. To discover the truth of it much effort is needed from nationals that so far considered it to be just one among the age grade initiation systems found in so many societies. They have to erase all they learned about the Oromo in colonial schools and start unraveling the truth about this so far neglected great African nation.

Gadaa was an all encompassing national system where by every male of all ages had roles to play in groups based on peerage.  Accordinglly all institutions in society were managed by elected bodies that decide in counsel. Though all activities in general fall under the Gadaa system, it was more visible in its political aspect.  Major divisions to be considered are the temporal and the spiritual institutions and within the temporal one the social and the political functions.  Gadaa is temporal while Qaalluu is spiritual. It is said that the Qaalluu office used to assist in Gadaa operations like elections. But sovereignty is vested in Gadaa Assembly. Therefore Qaalluu as an institution does not interfere in running political affairs of the country.  That means Gadaa was secular. Here we are more interested in Gadaa secular democracy. The social and political aspect of the spiritual institution may worth following for its historical and academic significance.  There are several Oromoo that follow traditional religion to this day.

Gadaa was practiced by the Oromo people from time immemorial. In social aspect male members of society are grouped into age grade “hiriyaa” (peer) system. To simplify, these were Dabbalee from 1-8 years, Foollee or Gaammee 9-24 and Qondaala or Kuusaa 25-33, Raaba didiqqaa 30-38, Raaba Doorii, 38-46 Luba 46-54 and Yuba 55-78 and gadamoojjii or jaarsa above 78 (taken from different regions practice for convenience). Each member of a society had rites to pass through. At each grade there were roles to be played and training to go through.

Activity of a hiriyaa group starts from cradle to calf herding, to different hurdles of fitness that include military training to ruling and counseling the country. It is from these hiriyaa groups that members of national leadership evolve and gradually become Luba, members of the Gadaa ruling group. These leaders in most cases had been leaders of hiriyaa group from the beginning. Women, non naturalized aliens (kan luba hin bahin) and artisans were not included in Gadaa power sharing process.

One Gadaa period is eight years. At the end of that period there used to be great feast. That ceremonial feast was called “Buttaa”. Buttaa also served as measurement of time. To know someone’s age one asks “how many Buttaa did you eat?”  All those who were born during the eight years tell the same age, one, two, three etc.  Buttaa. From that a wise man could tell to which hiriyaa group or Gadaa party one belonged. Five buttaa are slain in one Gadaa cycle of forty years. Those born into each Gadaa are hiriyaa (peers) irrespective of up to eight years possible differences. A boy born at the beginning of the eight years and one born on Buttaa day after eight years are considered to have eaten one Buttaa.

On the political side society is divided into Gadaa of five parties. Members in each Gadaa party were recruited from their own generational age grades. Each Gadaa has a role to play in the political life of the nation depending on the time and level in the Gadaa tier. The oldest group is the Yuba. It is composed of person whose members were in power in previous times. Next is Luba, the ruling party. Below that is the Itmakoo or Raba Doorii (these may have other names with different tribes) juniors that lead in defense and nation building. The next group follows the foot steps of their seniors and engages in different aspects of society appropriate for their ages. Each hiriyaa group maintains close relationship and prepare themselves for the next stage of partisan responsibility. They all elect their leaders. Those at the bottom of the ladder are the dabbalee to whose raising society gives much attention. It is there that the basis of Oromummaa is laid down and hunting for generational leaders start.

At any one period there are three Gadaa levels that engage is serious party work and has conventions or yaa’a. The bottom one is Raabaa Doorii a group that is preparing to take power after eight years (from), the middle one is the Gadaa in power Luba and the last one is the one that leaves office, Yuba. Each Gadaa comes to power after a cycle of forty years. Since there is a party in waiting to replace the other no party can stay in power for more than eight years. No crisis can be obstacle to transfer Baallii for there is a ready made leadership. To transfer Baallii means to transfer authority. As symbol of authority the old Abbaa Gada hands over to the incoming ostrich feather that was in his custody. Each Gadaa proclaims its own constitution and laws. Therefore there is no stagnation in waiting for cumbersome methods of amendments. Even if there is no article to be changed the past law is formally made null and void and proclaimed again as new. The five Gadaa had set names or are called after their leaders.

The highest Assembly of the nation is Caffee or Gumii. The Caffee sits under shade of an Odaa tree. The General Assembly includes all members of the ruling party and any such persons that want to attend it. In this way it is a representative indirect democracy with some elements of direct democracy. Living Abbaa Gadaas and the Yuba can also participate in the assembly. Abbaa Gadaa or Abbaa Bokkuu is the head of the Caffee and the chief executive as well. There is a case where their were two heads of Caffee, one ritual head called Abbaa Bokkuu and another elected head, Abbaa Gadaa. The Luba usually consults “raagaa” wise man or philosopher on the future or consequences of certain decisions. But the raagaa has no power to avert a decision.

In addition to mentioned institutions there are several others that should not escape our attention. For example the institution of clan elders which are hereditary have no place in the Gadaa structure but has important role in organizing and guiding the tribe. Members of Gadaa were recruited (nominated) from tribes they lead. They have ritual symbols and roles to play in cursing and blessing. When Gadaa is the national leadership these ones are tribal ones. It was from among these ones that the colonizers embraced and recruited as agents for all their grassroots activities. In tribal protocol the eldest of the clans is called or seated first. Since tribal structures have already been rendered obsolete it has no nationwide political relevance in modern setting. There is also the Siiqqee institution that gives women social and political authority to some degree. In principle this can be integrated into any modern adaptations.

For the Oromo rights like equality, freedom, fair and free election; rule of law and respect for people’s and individual rights, respect and protection for environment and wild life are inbuilt qualities of Gadaa democracy. All human beings are equal; no one is above the law; discrimination because of origin, color or economic status etc is unjust. Respect for human rights, freedom of expression that are not safuu or morally repulsive, freedom of movement and association are protected by law. Elected officials are loved and respected as long as they serve the people whole heartedly and with the highest morale standard.  An incompetent and corrupt official can be removed from office by the assembly before the expiry of his term of office. In meetings it was preferred if decisions were reached by consensus. Each member of a meeting or assembly has the right of veto to halt a discussion. Once decisions were reached all are required to acclaim and the law becomes sacred.
Gadaa Assembly combines executive, legislative and judiciary powers. Gadaa here is to mean the ruling class as well as the eight years of their rule. Leaders of current Gadaa are called Luba. The outgoing Gadaa which participates as advisors and judges are called Yuba. The Yuba group includes two previous Yuba. Though all powers and responsibility lie with the Luba, Yuba and all living Abbaa Gadaas had also roles to play in matters of law and checking on excesses of Luba and had great influence on all political matters. Full retirement comes three Gadaa after they leave office. From thence they are called gadamoojjii or jarsaa. Another hiriyaa group that is active during a Gadaa period is the Itmakoo or Raaba Doorii with defense as their major activity with their eye on the bokkuu when the time comes.

In Oromo society there was a tendency of the weak to form alliance against the strong. For example grandparents and grandchildren ally against parents. In the same way it is logical for Raabaa Doorii to ally against the strongest institution of the land, Luba. In that way power of Luba can be checked before it gets corrupted and become abusive.

The chief Luba is the Abbaa Bokkuu or Abbaa Gadaa (Hayyuu Fiixee). In places he has two deputies one having greater power than the other. The executive power is held by Salgee, the top nine Luba or six in some places. Those were elites elected by the people for eight years with Abbaa Gadaa as their leader. Committees were usually formed at different levels for different functions. Prerogatives of decision making at each level is known. There will always be consultation before decisions are taken. They were it is believed, those frequent meetings to make seera (law, legislation) that gave rise to Amaara legal term “seeraa” to mean conspiracy.

Abbaa Bokkuu implements what is decided by Salgee. Abbaa Bokkuu’s role as a chief is defined by law. Thus he has internal constraint imposed on him by peers and external ones by Yuba and Raaba Doorii and Caffee periodic assembly that is chaired by Abbaa Seera who is a well respected past Abbaa Gadaa.  The limitation of office term of only eight years for a party is by it self a reason not to get corrupted lest face humiliation with no chance of reelection. Thus Gadaa democratic system was a well balanced system with inbuilt checks and balance mechanism. The Abbaa Gadaa and Luba had assistances called makala (Makkala). Makala kan be compulsory service to Gadaa offices.

Military functions are assigned to Raaba Doorii by law and tradition. But Abbaa Gadaa was commander in chief and only Caffee can declare war. Commanders are appointed by Abbaa Gadaa for each engagement. After a campaign is over the person went back to his normal duties.

But lack of efficient communication and contingent law enforcement mechanism had given rise for Abbaa Duulaas to defy tradition starting in the course of the 16th century.

Some cardinal points of Gadaa system

  1. Gadaa is equal: There should be no one to be denied passing through Gadaa process, elect and be elected when ones turn comes. There should not be partiality or discrimination in services and protections Gadaa provides. Every member has the right to directly or through elected representative be heard in all affairs that affect people’s life; to be equally treated in matters of administration of justice. No one is above the law. No one may be prohibited to attend Gadaa deliberations.
  2. Odaa is equal: Odaa is a national symbol for people’s government, demokratia. It represents freedom of speech and expression, freedom of assembly, equality of all participants that meet there, freedom of worship, peace and araaraa (reconciliation) and liberty to rest for persons and animals under its shade without worry of being disturbed.
  3. Malkaa is equal: Ford or river crossing (confluence) is open to all for crossing; perform rituals; using water for drinking, washing etc for humans and animals. No one for any one reason can bar any one from using it. Malkaa is a symbol of transiting from status quo to something new.
  4. Market is equal: every one has equal rights to take ones produce to the market and exchange with goods and services that it provides. Every one is free to participate in such exchanges and any trade of ones liking that the market provides
  5. Road is equal: every one is entitled to the right of way; no one can be denied an access from his home to outer world or restricted from using of existing roads like all others; there will not be restriction to the right of travel; no one has the right to close an existing road for own use.

Is there any point that modern society discard from these? So far we have tried simplistic approach to uncover old Gadaa practice. Gadaa was more inclusive in its membership than Greek City state democracy. It involves every member of society to equally participate in all activity of the nation according to generations. All male nationals are grouped into generational hiriyaa and play roles society assigned for them. For this reason the Gadaa system involves all in the process of managing a society. Each division stays in the age grade for eight years before it is initiated into the next level. Probably except kids under nine all elect their leaders through electoral process. Gadaa was a representative democracy with some elements of direct democracy. Anyone that can travel to Caffee Assembly can participate in its deliberations and express ones opinion. That gives it semblance of direct democracy. Gadaa was practiced when Qaalluu institution had significant role in Oromo society and the nation was at a different level of economic and technological development than the present. Taking these variations into account let us see if there are principles that we could salvage for new democratic Oromiyaa.

  1. Societal development takes place on two lines. One is the social age grade system and the other is the party system. One follows the gradual mental and physical development of a child, while the other handles its political development. At stage of adult hood both overlap. In the political aspect society is grouped into five hiriyaa category and a party name is attached to them. Each party takes turn in governing every eight years. A party has to wait for forty years to reign again. All five parties exist at the same time with different roles to play.
  2. In Gadaa executive and legislative functions are combined. Bokkuu and Caffee (Gumii) are the highest authority of the land. Sovereignty lies with the people but expressed through Caffee and Bokkuu.
  3. Decisions are reached by consensus how ever long it may take. That means minority opinion is never neglected.
  4. Abbaa Bokkuu is the commander in chief of the fighting force. Caffee is the only power that can declare war. People love and respect the leaders because of their valor and uprightness not out of fear and threat.
  5. Yuba is the highest advisory body and also heads the supreme court of the land. Its head is the most respected among the living retired Abbaa Gadaas and usually taken as the Supreme Judge (Chief Justice).
  6. Itmakoo/Raaba Doorii is a power in waiting to replace the incumbent Luba. It is responsible for recruiting, training military personnel and conducting war.
  7. Qaalluu is the spiritual leader with some functions concerning elections but never interferes in secular affairs of the Gadaa. Gadaa was a temporal institution.
  8. Women were recognized as subjects of rights through Siiqqee institution. There were also rituals that cannot be performed without them. But full equality was not guaranteed.
  9. The top Gadaa counselors were nine ( Salgee) or Six
  10. The Luba are assisted by unelected official called makala (Aide de camp)
  11. Each Gadaa general assembly convenes at the beginning of its term to declare laws. Then it will assemble in its mid term to make progress report. Then members can be criticized, condemned or uprooted for wrong doings if any. That means electors had the right to recall their representatives for corruptions and abuses. Caffee meetings are open for citizens that can attend.
  12. Raagaa is a wise usually old man or philosopher that can advise on the future
  13. Hayyuu were notables (elites) that can give decisions and counseling on several issues. They were knowledgeable members of the society without any flaw in character.

To summarize, the people are sovereign; representative system mixed with direct democracy were practiced; rulers were elected for a limited term of only eight years; citizens had the right to elect and be elected according to their ages; no one was above the law; people can recall their representative; humans, animals and nature are protected by law; the welfare of children was concern of all members of society; their was majority rule but by making decision by consensus minority views were protected; all human being were equal, ill treatment was abhorred; right to assemble and freedom of expression were protected; right to engage in any trade was protected; right to travel were granted; right to worship was recognized and discrimination based on race, age, gender and economic status are forbidden. There was inbuilt check and balance system in the political process but not so spelled out.

Now, that we have seen a brief introduction to western and ancient Oromo Gadaa democracy, let us try if we can come out with a fitting system for reorganizing modern Oromiya. The system of dividing and managing society into generations is not different from modern world school systems. Children learn what is assigned them according to peerage, “preschool, kindergarten, primary, secondary, college”. This is not far from what they call “dabbalee, Foollee, Gaammee, Raaba etc.” Existing political parties recruit members from this school system. But the Oromo as different as they are, had something to add and their own outlook. Oromo see the system in interrelation with all other societal activities. To pass from one stage to the other are rights of all citizens not of particular classes.

Probably it would be essential to revise certain things and see how they may serve modern society better.  Instead of collectively saying Oromo youth association if one says association of Foollee, Gaammee, Raaba etc it will help to mobilize in unison generation that under stand each other better. It may also give better opportunity to develop future leadership for society. In the past stages in the Gadaa were seen from fathers’ point. For this reason the age at which one has to produce a child was determined. If one is born before that it was bad omen. Now all children should be treated equally and age has to be considered from childrens point. So, age should not be calculated by butta and father’s Gadaa grade, but the exact date of a child’s birth. All those excluded to participate in gadaa activities and elections must now be included to make true that all humanbeing are eqal. This is only the skeleton otherwise social functions require deeper research. During the period of Abbaa Gadaa there was only one Qaalluu, now they are numerous (in addition to those of other religions). In the past we go for pilgrimage only to Abbaa Muudaa now we crossed the sea and added Mecca and Jerusalem etc. After all, what do you think?  This is a big challenge for Oromoo intellectuals. It may require liberating ones mind from the shackles of foreign influences to appreciate what we had. Gadaa is never obsolete but may need refurbishing. Go and make research before responding.

Let us get prepared to be ourselves and show the world that Gadaa still dwells in our minds and body.  This will not be difficult for one who has pride in Oromummaa.

Honor and glory for the fallen heroines and heroes; liberty equality and freedom for the living and nagaa and araaraa for the Ayyaanaa of our fore parents!
Ibsaa Guutama
July  2011

…The presence of the aged, both men and women who attired in traditional costumes, and carrying ritual sticks—bokkuu and siiqqee—the symbols of power and justice of the gadaa system decorated the march which reflected the authentic Oromo tradition. This authenticity is articulated not only in the words spoken by the elders and sung by the artists but also expressed in the peacefulness of the gathering of millions of people. Oromo nationalism is reviving and thriving in the fertile soil of rich symbolic cultural resources that have come to the open since the 1990s. The array of national symbols such as the odaa tree which decorate the costumes worn by men, women and children, the siiqqee, the bokkuu and other pre-colonial pan-Oromo symbols carried by men and women at the festival represent and reinforce the pride of the nation and unite the multitude gathered for the festival through a common imagery of shared memories, myths and values—in other words the shared structures of feeling.


Related Article:

Safuu, the Oromo moral value and doctrine

by Rundaasaa Asheetee Hundee 

is the principle of deep moral honor and accountability that was fostered by Waaqayyo fearing people of Oromia. “Yoon maqe, Waaqni na arga” is the principle rooted in each Oromo proven to be worthy of wholesomeness, to have virtue, and love other. These type of people have a desire to understand and live by traditional values.

Young Oromo children often spoke about the fundamental principle that telling the truth, respecting nature, being trustworthy, and standing for the right thing is natural to human beings. As an Oromo, we were taught these values and it made us women and men of such noble character.

Not only our characters were shaped by Safuu Oromo, even the process of Seera tumu (law making) was inspired by this principle and the Gadaa system was framed on the basis of Safuu. Basically then, Safuu is the principle of restoration of human dignity in a significant way. Because of Safuu, Birmadummaa and honesty is expected from each Oromo so that we all can live virtuous life of divine purposes.

When the Oromo people lived according to the Gadaa system, they dominated the horn of Africa and established their republic, and the Oromoo Foollee turned into statesmen and defended the norm of Gadaa governance. Because they believed in being honest, true, benevolent and virtuous in doing good to humanity, they demanded no money for their work and time. They worked on their farms but served their country as abbaa Seeraa, abbaa Alangaa, abbaa Caffee, abbaa Bokku and as Hadha sinqee etc..

Because of Safuu, the Oromos are inspired to respect nature and committed to deal justly with humankind! That’s why we are indebted to freedom-loving individuals everywhere who had the integrity necessary to build the foundations of human societies upon safuu’s fundamental moral values. Only in an atmosphere of freedom and trust could values like honesty and integrity truly flourish.

Safuu Oromo therefore is an expectation that people must rise above self-interest and act in the public interest with wisdom and courage both on the national and the local political scene.

One reason for the decline of Safuu in Oromia to day is that people invented new standards that constantly changes and undependable moral conduct. As a result, individuals define good and evil as being adjustable according to each situation but doing so is in direct contrast to the Safuu standard.

The vast majority of so called educated Oromos speak or think based on this mindset where right and wrong are calculated to either remain neutral or to be liked by others at the expenses of own value, the Safuu. In the process, our people lost their ancestral knowledge of what is right and what is wrong and went astray by longings for luxury and leisure that they think will be found in the western world style of living and thinking.

The devastation that comes from such fraudulent life style and self misrepresentation is immeasurable. It leads to a false belief that they can worship anything they want following the rules they set for themselves.

However, the continued survival of a free and open society is dependent upon a high degree of divinely inspired values and moral conduct (safuu), as stated by the Oromo Ayaantus. People must have trust in their institutions and in their leaders. Hence, a great need today is for leadership that exemplifies truth, honesty, and decency in both public and private life.

Honesty is not only the best policy, it is the only policy according to Safuu Oromo.
There are several things we can do to develop SAFUU.

Desire It (Fedhii Safuu horadhu)

Live honest life (hin Maqin)

Be Humble (Fayaalessa ta’i)

Study (Qu’adhu)

Search and ponder on ideas (Yaada xiinxali)
Love nature ( Umaa jaaladhu)


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OTHEORIZING WAAQEFFANNAA: OROMIA’S INDIGENOUS AFRICAN RELIGION AND ITS CAPACITY AND POTENTIAL IN PEACEMAKINGThe article is Originally published by OromoPress @  also Fulbaana/September 18, 2014 · Finfinne Tribune | Gadaa.com

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.


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.



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.



[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.”

[45] IPI Ethiopia.

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

Seenaa Gabaabaa Aadde Faaxumaa Galmoo (Haadha Abdii) 1930-2014 September 11, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in Aadde Faaxumaa Galmoo, Black History, Inspirational Oromo Women, Oromia, Oromiyaa, Oromo, Oromo Identity, Oromo Nation, Oromo Wisdom, Oromummaa, The Goddess of Fecundity.
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Seenaa Gabaabaa Aadde Faaxumaa Galmoo (Haadha Abdii) 1930-2014


Qabsoo ummanni Oromoo gabrummaa jalaa bahuuf godhaa jiru keessatti injifannoon hamma yoonaa galmaawan heddu. Injifannoolee tana galmeeysuuf, biyya keessa qofa odoo hin taane, biyyoota alaa keessattiis wal’aansoo cimtuu tu adeemsifame. Akkuma kan biyya keessaatti, wal’aansooleen biyya alaatti godhamaniis seenaa if dandaye qabu.

Biyyoota sabni Oromoo maalummaa isaanii falmachuuf qabsoo cimtuu itti adeemsisan keessaa takka Somaalee dha. Tan lamadaa Jabuuti. Biyya Jabuutii keessatti maalummaa ifii beeysisuuf wal’aansoon Oromootaan godhamte, tan biyya Soomaalee tiin waldhabbii qabaattullee haala walfakkiitiis guddo qabdi. Kan biraa yo hanqate, hawaasa biyya sanii Oromummaa fudhachiisuuf qabsoon godamtee fii wareegamni saniif bahe tan biyya Soomaalee irraa gadii miti.

Akkuma kan biyya keessaatti, wal’aansoolee biyyoota alaatti godhaman keessattiis namoota seena qabeessa tahan tu jira. Haala kanaan, qabsoo Oromummaa beeysisuuf biyya Jabuutii keessatti adeemsifamte keessatti, warri maqaan isaanii alagaa fii lammii biratti sadarkaa duraatti beekkame keessaa tokko kan Aadde Faaxumaa Galmoo ti. Aadde Faaxumaa Galmoo, abbaa isii Obbo Aammad Muummad Galmoo fii haadha isii Aadde Aaminaa Alii irraa Bitooteessa 15, bara 1930-tti magaalaa Dirree Dhawaatti dhalatte. Abbaa fii haati aadde Faaxumaa, isii malees, ilmaan dhiiraa sadihii fii tan dubartii afur horan. Warri aadde Faaxumaa, Warri Galmoo, warra guddaa Dirree Dhawaa fii naannoo isiitti haalaan beekkame.

Gaafa umrin aadde Faaxumaa heerumaaf gaye, hireen bultii, Obbo Aammad Sheekh Usmaan Qawwee, nama dhaloonni Yakkaa, kan barnoota amantii tiif qe’eerraa fagaatee odoo daddeemuu Dirree dhawaa qubate, waliin walitti hiite.

Obbo Aammad akka aaddee Faaxuma fuudheen, bara 1964 keessa, hujii baabura gubbaa tan hojjachaa tureen haala walqabateen, gama Jabuutii deemuu mudate. Akka achi seeneen, warra aadde Sa’iidaa Abdallaa Kaamil, haadha warra Usmaail Galmootti dhihaate. Haati warra Usmaa’il Galmoo nama saba Affar irraa dhalate. Soddoonni obbo Aammad Jabuutii keessatti arkate gargaarsa barbaaduun itti dirmatanii, akka xiqqo tureen, hujii mootummaatti galmeeysan. Inniniis akka qubachuu isaa mirkaneeffateen, bara 1968 keessa, maatii isaa Dirree Dhawaa irraa if biratti godaansise.

Yaroon aadde Faaxuma biyya Jabuutii itti seente, yaroo warri biyyaa bulchiinsa Faransaayii ifirraa kaasuuf qabsaawaa turani. Aadde Faaxuma, nama sossoohinsi Afran Qalloo Dirree Dhawaa keessatti duruu onnee danfise waan taateef, dhibdee warra biyyaa hubachuuf yaroo irraa hin fuune. Falmaa abbaa biyyummaa fii fincilli sirna koloneeffataa ifirraa buqqaasuuf biyya Jabuutii keessatti godhamaa jiru, haala biyya abbaa isii tiin waan itti walfaakateef, guututti bira dhaabachuun barbaachisa tahuu daftee hubatte.

Aadde Faaxuma, sossoohinsa ummanni biyya Jabuutii godhaa jiran, kan ija isii tiin agarterraa hiis hubannootaa fii dammaqiinsa gudda arkatte. Kuni dammaqiinsa sossooha Afran Qalloo irraa arkatte daranuu keessatti cimse. If bira tartee, dubartoota Oromoo kanneen dammaqiinsa akka isii qaban, warra akka aadde Zeeynabaa Ibraahimii fii Halloo Sheekhaa (Habo Halloo) waliin tahanii, sossooha warra biyyaa maddii dhaabbachaa, ifiifiis wal gurmeeysuu jalqaban.

Haalli kuni, mootummaa Hayle sillaasee tan Jabuuti falmachaa jirtuu fii aadde Faaxumaa Galmoo walitti buuse. Embaasiin Xoophiyaa haala kanarraa isii qophuuf, waan itti jirtu dhiiftee, jaarmaya Waldaya Gargaarsa Dubartoota Iteege Manan kan ja’amu, kan maqaa niitii Hayle Sillaasee tan xiqqo dura duuteen moggaafametti akka makamtu ajajan. Saniifiis xalayaa miseensummaa dhaaba isaanii manatti erganiif. Garuu, onneen aadde Faaxumaa jibba gabroomsaa tiin guutamtee waan turteef, amrii gabroomfataa gurrattuu hin-qicanne. Inumaatuu, gochi jaraa, haala itti jirtutti daran akka cimtu godhe.

Waxabajjii 27, bara 1977, ummanni Jabuutii bulciinsa Faransaayii jalaa walaba akka tahaniin, Oromoonni biyya san keessa jiran, waldaya wal-gargaarsa Oromootaa kan Caayaa Oromoo-tti beekkamuuf jiraatu heeraan galmeeyfatan. Mootummaan Jabuutii, Maabara Xoophiyaa biratti Caayaa Oromoo galmeeysuun faallaa fedhii mootummaa Xophiyaa ti ture. Garuu murtii akkasii akka fudhattu an dirqe, tin’sa aadde Faaxumaa fii Oromoonni biyya san keessa turan qabsoo bilisummaa isaanii tiif godhani.

Caayaan Oromoo Jabuutii dhaabota biyya alaa keessatti maqaa Oromoo tiin jaaramanii heeraan galmeeffamaniif kan angafaa ti. Caayaan dhaabbatte, lammii Oromoo biyya san keessa qubatan gurmeeysuu malees, sossooha qabsoo bilisummaa Oromiya kan biyya keessatti jalqabameef dugugguuruu (lafee duuydaa) taate. Caayaan Oromoo Jabuutii damee lama qabdi. Dameen tokko kan Dhiiraa yaroo tahu kaan han Duartootaa ti. Damee lameen keessaa kan dubartoota haalaan cimaa ture. Kanaafiis sababni aadde Faaxuma. Gaafa Caayaan dhaabbaterraa, aadde Faaxumaa Galmoo, hooggantuu Caayaan Oromoo damee dubartootaa taate.

Caayaan Oromoo Jabuutitti dhaabbachun, yaroo mootummaan Soomaalee lafa Oromiyaa irraa hamma tokko kutachuuf, Dargii, warra Hayle Sillaasee iraa aangoo fudhatan waliin lola cimaa adeemsisaa turani. Lolli kuni, ummata Oromoo jalaa gubbaan ibiddaaf saaxile. Soomaaleen jalaan, Dargiin gubbaan, madaafa ijaa-gurra hin qabne waliti haruun, namaa-sa’a Oromoo qe’ee gugachiisuu jalqaban. San malees, yaroo sanitti, Dargiin Oromoota magaalota keeysa jiran Soomaalee gargartaniin araraasutti seente. Haalii kun Oromoota magaalotaa fii baadiyyoota lollii keessatti deemaa jiru, baqaaf qaadhime. Xiqqaa fi guddaan hawaasaa, Sheekkotiin, hayyoonni, manguddoon, waliigalatti, qarayyoon lammii odoo hin feene, qe’ee itti dhalatanii guddatan irraa biyyaa fii hawaasa hin beeyne, kan Somaalee fii Jabuutiitti, koluu bahuu jalqaban.

Aadde Faaxumaa Galmoo, tan yaroo tanatti Haadha Abdii taate, haala Oromoota mudate kanarraa akkaan gaddite. Isii fii aabban warraa tiis, ummata yakka tokko malee, qabeenyaa fii biyya isaanii irraa arihaman duratti jiruu sadoo jiraachuu maganfatanii, qabeenyaa fii onnee isaanii lammii isaanii tiif banan. Manaa fii mooraan isaanii kan baqattootaa tahee, Beet-Refuujii, ja’amutti seene.

Haadha Abdii tii fii mieensoonni Caayaa Oromoo Jabuutii, odoo dhibdee haalli armaa olii hawaasa Oromoo mudeef rakkatanuu, haalli qabsoo Oromoo biyya keessatti babal’atee, inniniis gama isaa tiin baqattoota alatti yaasuu jalqabe. Kuni Oromoota Jabuutii keeysa jiran kanneen ifiifuu jiruu jiraa gadii jiraachaa jiranitti ba’aa biraa dabale.

Yaroo tana, aadde Faaxumaa, yaroo hujii xixiqqoo cinatti hojjattee maatiif galii ittiin argaamsiiftu baqattoota gargaaruu irratti fuulleeysite. Baqattoota ummatarratti hiruun, warra ugummaa adda addaa qabanii hujii soquun, warra afaan hinbeeyneef simaa-baloo tahuun, kanneen dhukbsataniif qoricha barbaaduu fii mana yaalaa geeysuun hujii isii tahe.

Gama biraa iin, yo namni Oromoo toko du’e, khafana barbaaduun, lafa qabrii qotuu fii tajaajila reeyfaaf barbaachisu godhanii heeraan awwaaluun hujii abbaa Abdii yo tahu, awwaalchaa fii taaziyaa galte gurra namaatiin geeyuun hujii haadha Abdii tahe. Kana godhuuf, oowwa biyya Jabuutii kan halkanii fii guyya adda hin filanne keeysa, fooxaa isii mataarra kaayyattee, haga tokko lafarraa harkisaa, akka nama maratetti gandarra daddeemti. Haala isii kanarraa qalbiin fayyaa miti warri jechaa turan heddu. Awwaala boodaas, gaddi nama fira hin qabnee bakki itti taa’amu, yaroo baayyee, mana haadha Abdii ti. Akkasiin haati Abdii kan du’e awwaaltee, kan awwalcha dhuufe nyaachifte, addaan galchiti.

Haati Abdii, oggaa nama Oromoo tokkorra rakkoo tu gayee jachuu dhageeyse, gargaarsaaf yaroo itti lafaa kaatu if quba hin qabdu. Akkuma yaroo gaddaatti, fooxaa lafarra harkisaa, gandarra kaatti. Warra hojii qaburraa maallaqa hamma danda’an irraa funaantee kan rakkate rakkoo baafti. Waliigalatti, magaalaa Jabuutii keessatti yo namni Oromoo tokko hidhame kan gargaarsaaf yaammatu ykn himatu aadde Faaxuma . Kan dura dirmatuus isuma tahe.

Rakkoon baqataa Oromoo tii fii Oromiyan gabrummaa Habashaa jala jiraachuu haadha Abdii tiif takkaa hiriiba hin laanne. Dhuma bara torbaatamootaa, obboleeysi isii sab-boonaan, sossooha Afran Qallootiif utubaa ture, Obbo Usmaa’il Galmoo, manguddoota sossooha san tin’isaa turan waliin qabamee mootummaa Dargiitiin hidhame. Dargiin, isaa fii warra kaaniis hamma tokkoo eega mana hidhaa keessatti eega araraasan booda, galgala Waxabajjii 07a, bara 1979ii, mana hidhaa keessaa dhooysaan baasanii hiraataaf rasaasa nyaachisan. Kan kana godhaniif, firoottanii fii Oromoota biraa ittiin doorsisuu fi. Haa tahu malee, kuni, garaa aadde Faaxumaa daranuu jabeeysee, murannoo qabsoo bilisummaa tiif qabdu caalaa godhe.

Haati Abdii, guyyaan hunda caalaa isitti hammaate, kan isiin iraanfachu hindandeenye, bara 1991 keeysa, gaafa ummanni Issaa baqattoota Oromoorrati duula bananiin lammii isii bayyinaan qaqqalan tahuu mararfattee dubatti. Gaafana, baqattoota dhibba lamaa olii tu mana isiitti dhokote. Guyyaan kun guyya dukkanawaa jireenya isii tahee hafe.

Aadde Faaxuma, haala armaa olii tiin, jireenya sii guutuu, manaa fii maatii isii hadiyyeessitee, hara-galfii malee, arjummaa hambaa hinqabneen, baqataa Oromo tii fii qabsoo bilisummaa Oromoo gargaaraa akka turte, Oromoota haala baqattummaa tiin Jabuutii keeysa dabran, saboontaa fii qabsaawota bira dabree alagaanilleen ragaa bahaniif.

Haati Abdii, nama faxina dafee waa hubatuu fii baratu. Nama yaroo waa’ee saba isii haasawutti kaate, yaanni akka galaanaati qoma keessaa burqu dhagayamee hin quufamne. Nama odoo mana barnootaa hin dhaqin, afaan Oromoo malees, kan Arabaa, Soomaalee, Affaar, Amaara, Adaree fii Faransaayii sirritti dubbatu.

Jaalalti haati Abdii bilisumaa ummata Oromo tiif qabdu hoonga hin qabdu. Haa tahu malee, dhibdee dadarkaa umrii fii if tajaajiluu dhabarraa itti dhufteen, baroota as aanaa kana dhukubsattee siree mudatte. Yaroo hamma tokkoof, maatii isii tiin odoo tajaajilamaa jirtuu, bilisummaa saba isii tiif hawwitu odoo ijaan hin arkin, Fulbaana 09, bara 2014, biyyuma baqattoota Oromoo kumaatama gargaaraa turtetti, gara fuula Rabbitti deebite.

Haati Abdii, Abdi malees, haadha Fooziya (Hiddii), Usmaan, Sa’iida, Aniisaa fii Aaminaa ti. Aadde Faaxumaa Galmoo, seena fincila diiddaa gabrummaa kan bara dheeraaf deemaa jiru keeysati qoodni laatte haalaan gudda. Qooda qabsoo saba Oromootifi gumaachite, seenaan qabsoo bilisummaa Oromiyaa bara baraan yaadata.

Rabbi jannataan haa qanani’u.


Qabsaawaan ni kufa, qabsoon itti fufa!

Oromiyaan ni bilisoomti!


Abbaa Faayoo / Abbaa Urjii

Caalaatti dirree kana irraa dubbisaa (


Seenaa Gabaabaa  Sabboontuu Oromoo Aadde Faaxumaa Galmoo     OMN  irraa caqasaa:


Meroe, Oromo and Old Nubian: Solving the Mystery of Meroitic Language July 23, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in Afaan Publication, Ancient African Direct Democracy, Ancient Egyptian, Ateetee (Siiqqee Institution), Black History, Chiekh Anta Diop, Cushtic, Gadaa System, Irreecha, Kemetic Ancient African Culture, Language and Development, Meroe, Meroetic Oromo, Oromia, Oromo Culture, Oromo Identity, Oromo Nation, Oromummaa, Prof. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis, Sidama, State of Oromia, The Goddess of Fecundity, The Oromo Democratic system, The Oromo Governance System.
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Meroe, Oromo and Old Nubian: Solving the Mystery of Meroitic Language
By Dereje Tadesse Birbirso (PhD),  College of Social Science and HumanitiesHaramaya University, Ethiopia
 Meroitic language is one of the most controversial ancient languages but one of the few having advanced writing systems. Some classify it Asian, European, non-African, Semitic,or ‘unclassified’. This paper contends Meroe, similar to their Cushitic friends, are left victims of preconceived ideas based on an entirely argument from silence, an hegemonic epistemology that elevates a single perspective and silences other(s). This paper, thus,comparatively analyzes Meroitic and Old Nubian lexical and grammatical items with corresponding Oromo, a Cushitic family which, 
a Cushitic family which,vocabulary possibly the Ancientlanguage of the Nile Valley and/or Horn of Africa. Meroitic and Old Nubian lexical, grammatical and epigraphic data were collected from secondary sources by Meroitic researchers. Oromo corpora are obtained both from classical and modern descriptions and native-speakers. Results indicate Oromo lexemes show significant level of cognates with not only Meroitic and Old Nubian, but also with the Ancient Egyptian to their northern part.
Keywords:  Oromo, Meroe, Nubian, Ancient Egyptian, Cushitic, Chiekh Anta Diop
 Related Reference:
The Meroitic Ethiopian Origins of the Modern Oromo NationBy Prof. Dr. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis

This paper deals, among others, with the development of Meroitic studies, the Meroitic civilization, the destruction of the city of Meroe, the dispersal of the Meroitic people after the collapse of their state, the Christianization of the post Meroitic states, the migration of the remnants of the Meroitic people in the direction of the Blue Nile and their possible relation of ancestry with the modern Cushitic language speaking Oromo nation. It must be stated clearly at the outset that the issue of Meroitic ancestry of the Oromo nation has not been considered, much less published in an academic journal or scholarly books. The paper was first presented in an academic conference organized by the Oromo Studies Association. Footnotes have been added recently.

1. The Development of the Meroitic Studies, the History of Kush and Meroe, and the Efforts to Decipher the Meroitic Scripture

Interest in what was Ethiopia for the Ancient Greeks and Romans, i.e. the Northern territory of present day Sudan from Khartoum to the Egyptian border1, led to the gradual development of the modern discipline of the Humanities that long stood in the shadow of

Egyptology: the Meroitic Studies.

Considerable advances had been made in academic research and knowledge as the result of the exploratory trips of the Prussian pioneering Egyptologist Richard Lepsius2 (1842 – 1844) that bestowed upon modern scholarship the voluminous ‘Denkmäler aus Aegypten und Aethiopien’ (Monuments from Egypt and Ethiopia), and the series of excavations by E. A. Wallis Budge3 and John Garstang4 at Meroe (modern Bagrawiyah) in the first years of the twentieth century, Francis Llewellyn Griffith5 at Kawa (ancient Gematon, near modern Dongola, 1929 – 1931), Fritz Hintze6 at Musawwarat es Sufra, Jean Leclant7 at Sulb (Soleb), Sadinga (Sedeinga), and Djebel Barkal (ancient Napata, modern Karima) in the 1950s and the 1960s, D. Wildung8 at Naqah, and Charles Bonnet at Kerma. . The pertinent explorations and contributions of scholars like A. J. Arkell9, P. L. Shinnie10 and Laszlo Torok11 that cover a span of 80 years reconstituted a large part of the greatness and splendor of this four-millennia long African civilization.

Yet, due to the lack of direct access to original sources and genuine understanding of the ancient history of Sudan, the legendary Ethiopia of the Greeks and Romans, which also corresponds to what was ‘Kush’ of the Hebrews Bible and ultimately ‘Kas’ of the ancient Egyptians12, we face a serious problem of terminology. We are confined to such terms as Period (or Group) A (3100 – 2700 BCE),13 Period B14 (2700 – 2300 BCE that starts with Pharaoh Snefru’s expedition,15 and the beginning of time-honored enmity between Egypt and Kush), Period C16 (2300 – 2100 BCE, when we have no idea to what specific ethnic or state structures the various Egyptian names Wawat, Irtet, Setjiu,Yam, Zetjau, and Medjay refer)17, Period Kerma18 (2100 – 1500 BCE, named after the modern city and archeological site, 500 km in the south of the present Sudanese – Egyptian border). What we know for sure is that, when the first Pharaohs of the New Empire invaded and colonized the entire area down to Kurgus19 (more than 1000 km alongside the Nile in the south of the present Sudanese – Egyptian border), they established two top Egyptian administrative positions, namely ‘Viceroy of Wawat’ and ‘Viceroy of Kush/Kas’. Wawat is the area between Aswan and Abu Simbel or properly speaking, the area between the first and the second cataracts whereas Kas is all the land that lies beyond. With the collapse of the Kerma culture comes to end a first high-level culture and state in the area of Kush.

We employ the term ‘Kushitic Period’20 to refer to the subsequent period: a) the Egyptian annexation (1500 – 950 BCE) that was followed by a permanent effort to egyptianize Kush and the ceaseless Kushitic revolutions against the Pharaohs;

b) the Kushitic independence (950 – 800 BCE, when a state is formed around Napata21, present day Karima, 750 km in the south of the Sudanese – Egyptian border);

c) the Kushitic expansion and involvement in Egypt (800 – 670 BCE, which corresponds mostly to the XXVth – ‘Ethiopian’ according to Manetho22 – dynasty of Egypt, when the Theban clergy of Amun made an alliance with the Kushitic ‘Qore’ – Kings of Napata, who had two capitals, Napata and Thebes);23 and d) the Kushitic expulsion from Egypt (following the three successive invasions of Egypt by Emperors Assarhaddon24 in 671 BCE, and Assurbanipal25in 669 and 666 BCE, and of Assyria, who made an alliance with the Heliopolitan26 priesthood and Libyan princes against the Theban clergy and the Kushitic kings), and gradual decline (following the invasions by Psamtik/Psammetichus II27 in 591 BCE, and the Achaemedian28 Persian Shah Kambudjiyah/Cambyses29 in 525 BCE) until the transfer of the capital far in the south at Meroe, at the area of present day Bagrawiyah (at the end of the reign of Qore Nastasen30between335 and 315 BCE).

We call ‘Meroitic’ the entire period that covers almost 700 years beginning around 260 BCE with the reign of the successors of Nastasen (Arkamaniqo / Ergamenes31 (the most illustrious among the earliest ones and the first to be buried at Meroe / Bagrawiyah), down to the end of Meroe and the destruction of the Meroitic royal cities by the Axumite Abyssinian Negus Ezana32 (370 CE). It is easily understood that ‘Kushitic’ antedates ‘Meroitic’, but the appellations are quite conventional.

The Ancient people of Kush (or Ethiopia) entered into a period of cultural and scriptural radiation and authenticity relatively late, around the third century BCE, which means that the development took place when Meroe replaced Napata as capital of the Kushites / Meroites. Before that moment, they used Egyptian Hieroglyphic scripture for all purposes of writing, administrative, economic, religious and/or royal. The introduction of the Meroitic alphabetic hieroglyphic writing spearheaded the development of a Meroitic cursive alphabetic scripture that was used for less magnificent purposes than palatial and sacred relief inscriptions. The first person to publish Meroitic inscriptions was the French architect Gau33, who visited Northern Sudan in 1819. Quite unfortunately, almost two centuries after the discovery, we risk being left in mysteries with regard to the contents of the epigraphic evidence collected in both scriptural systems.

The earliest dated Meroitic hieroglyphic inscriptions belong to the reign of the ruling queen Shanakdakheto34 (about 177-155 BCE), but archaeologists believe that this scripture represents the later phase of a language spoken by Kushites / Meroites at least as far back as 750 BCE and possibly many centuries before that (hinting at a Kushitic continuity from the earliest Kerma days). The earliest examples of Meroitic cursive inscriptions, recently found by Charles Bonnet in Dukki Gel (REM 1377-78)35, can be dated from the early second century BCE. The latest text is still probably the famous inscription from Kalabsha mentioning King Kharamadoye (REM 0094)36 and dated from the beginning of the fifth century AD, although some funeral texts from Ballana37 could be contemporary if not posterior.

Despite the fact that F. L. Griffith has identified the 23 Meroitic alphabetic scripture’s signs already in 1909, not much progress has been made towards an ultimate decipherment of the Meroitic38. Scarcity of epigraphic evidence plays a certain role in this regard, since as late as the year 2000 we were not able to accumulate more than 1278 texts. If we now add to that the lack of lengthy texts, the lack of any bilingual text (not necessarily Egyptian /Meroitic, it could be Ancient Greek / Meroitic, if we take into consideration that Arkamaniqo / Ergamenes39 was well versed in Greek), and a certain lack of academic vision, we understand why the state of our knowledge about the history of the Meroites is still so limited.

Linguistics and parallels from other languages have been repeatedly set in motion in order to help the academic research. Griffith and Haycock40 tried to read Meroitic using (modern) Nubian. K.H. Priese41 tried to read the Meroitic text using Eastern Sudanese (Beja42 or Hadendawa43); and F. Hintze44, attempted to compare Meroitic with the Ural-Altaic group. Recently Siegbert Hummel45, compared the “known” Meroitic words to words in the Altaic family which he believed was a substrate language of Meroitic. At times, scholars (like Clyde Winters46) were driven to farfetched interpretations, attempting to equate Meroitic with Tokharian, after assuming a possible relationship between the name Kush and the name Kushan47 of an Eastern Iranian state (of the late Arsacid48, 250 BCE – 224 CE, and early Sassanid49, 224 – 651 CE, times)! However, one must state that the bulk of the researchers working on the Meroitic language do not believe that it was a member of the Afro-Asiatic group.

So far, the only Meroitic words for which a solid translation had been given by Griffith and his successors are the following: man, woman, meat, bread, water, give, big, abundant, good, sister, brother, wife, mother, child, begotten, born, feet. The eventual equivalence between Egyptian and Meroitic texts was a strong motivation for any interpretational approach, recent or not. More recent, but still dubious, suggestions are the following: arohe- «protect», hr- «eat», pwrite «life», yer «milk», ar «boy», are- or dm- «take, receive», dime «cow», hlbi «bull», ns(e) «sacrifice, sdk «journey», tke- «love, revere», we «dog». It is clear that vocalization remains a real problem50.

Through the aforementioned we realize why collective works, like Fontes Historiae Nubiorum. Textual Sources for the History of the Middle Nile Region (vols. I – IV, edited by T. Eide, T. Hägg, R.H. Pierce, and L. Török, University of Bergen, Bergen 1994, 1996. 1998 and 2000), are still seminal for our – unfortunately indirect, as based on Ancient Egyptian, Greek, Latin and Coptic texts – knowledge of Meroe.

2. The End of Meroe

Amidst numerous unclear points of the Kushitic / Meroitic history, the end of Meroe, and the consequences of this event remain a most controversial point among scholars. Quite indicatively, we may mention here the main efforts of historical reconstitution.

A. Arkell, Sayce and others asserted that Meroe was captured and destroyed, following one military expedition led by Ezana of Axum.

B. Reisner insisted that, after Ezana’s invasion and victory, Meroe remained a state with another dynasty tributary to Axum.

C. Monneret de Villard and Hintze affirmed that Meroe was totally destroyed before Ezana’s invasion, due to an earlier Axumite Abyssinian raid.

D. Torok, Shinnie, Kirwan, Haegg and others concluded that Meroe was defeated by a predecessor of Ezana, and continued existing as a vassal state.

E. Bechhaus- Gerst specified that Meroe was invaded prior to Ezana’s raid, and that the Axumite invasion did not reach lands further in the north of Meroe51

With two fragmentary inscriptions from Meroe, one from Axum, two graffitos from Kawa and Meroe, and one coin being all the evidence we have so far, , we have little to reconstruct the details that led to the collapse of Meroe. One relevant source, the Inscription of Ezana (DAE 11, the ‘monotheistic’ inscription in vocalized Ge’eze),52 remains a somewhat controversial historical source to be useful in this regard. The legendary Monumentum Adulitanum53, lost but copied in a confused way by Cosmas Indicopleustes54, may not shed light at all on this event. One point is sure, however: there was never a generalized massacre of the Meroitic inhabitants of the lands conquered by Ezana. The aforementioned DAE 11 inscription mentions just 758 Meroites killed by the Axumite forces.

What is even more difficult to comprehend is the reason behind the scarcity of population attested on Meroitic lands in the aftermath of Ezana’s raid. The post-Meroitic and pre-Christian, transitional phase of Sudan’s history is called X-Group55 or period, or Ballana Period and this is again due to lack to historical insight. Contrary to what happened for many centuries of Meroitic history, when the Meroitic South (the area between Shendi56 and Atbara57 in modern Sudan with the entire hinterland of Butana that was called Insula Meroe / Nesos Meroe, i.e. Island Meroe in the Antiquity) was overpopulated, compared to the Meroitic North (from Napata / Karima to the area between Aswan58 and Abu Simbel59, which was called Triakontaschoinos60 and was divided between Meroe and the Roman Empire), during the X-Group times, the previously under-populated area gives us the impression of a more densely peopled region, if compared to the previous center of Meroitic power and population density. The new situation contradicts earlier descriptions and narrations by Dio Cassius 61 and Strabo.62

Furthermore, the name ‘Ballana period’ is quite indicative in this regard, Ballana being on Egyptian soil, whereas not far in the south of the present Sudanese – Egyptian border lies Karanog with its famous tumuli that bear evidence of Nubian upper hand in terms of social anthropology. The southernmost counterpart of Karanog culture can be found in Tangassi (nearby Karima, which represented the ‘North’ for what was the center of earlier Meroitic power gravitation)

In addition, in terms of culture, X-Group heralds a total break with the Meroitic tradition, with the Nubians and the Blemmyes/Beja outnumbering the Meroitic remnants and imposing a completely different cultural and socio-anthropological milieu out of which would later emanate the first and single Nubian state in the World History: Nobatia.

Much confusion characterized modern scholars when referring to Kush or Meroe by using the modern term ‘Nubia’. By now it is clear that the Nubians lived since times immemorial in both Egypt and the Sudan, being part of the history of these two lands. But Nubians are a Nilo-Saharan ethnic / linguistic group different from the Khammitic Kushites / Meroites. At the times of X-Group and during the long centuries of Christian Sudan, we have the opportunity to attest the differences and divergence between the Nubians and the Meroitic remnants. The epicenter of Nubian center, the area between the first (Aswan) and the third (Kerma) cataracts, rose to independence and prominence first, with capital at Faras, nearby the present day Sudanese – Egyptian border, around 450 CE. Nobatia institutionalized Coptic as religious (Christian) and administrative language, and Nubian language remained an oral only vehicle of communication. The Nobatian control in the south of the third cataract was vague, nominal and precarious. Nobatia was linked with the Coptic – Monophysitic Patriarchate of Alexandria.

The Meroitic remnants underscored their difference from the Nubians / Nobatians, and the depopulated central part of the defunct state of Meroe rose to independence in the first decades of the sixth century. Its name, Makkuria, is in this regard a linguistic resemblance of the name ‘Meroe’ but we know nothing more. The Meroitic remnants inhabited the northern circumference of Makkuria more densely, and the gravitation center turned around Old Dongola (580 km in the south of Wadi Halfa), capital of this Christian Orthodox state that extended from Kerma to Shendi (the area of the sixth cataract), so for more than 1000 km alongside the Nile. But beyond the area of Karima (750 km in the south of Wadi Halfa) and the nearby famous Al Ghazali monastery we have very scarce evidence of Christian antiquities. The old African metropolis Meroe remained at the periphery of Makkuria, Alodia and Axumite Abyssinia.

Makkurians highlighted their ideological – religious divergence from the Nubians, by adopting Greek as religious language. They even introduced a new scripture for their Makkurian language that seems to be a later phase of Meroitic. Makkurian was written in alphabetic Greek signs, and the Makkurians preferred to attach themselves to Christian Orthodoxy, and more particularly to the Greek Patriarchate of Alexandria.

Alodia has long been called the ‘third Christian state’ in Sudan, but recent discoveries in Soba, its capital (15 km at the east of Khartoum), suggest that Alodia rose first to independence (around 500 CE) and later adhered to Christianity (around 580 – 600 CE) following evangelization efforts deployed by missionary Nobatian priests (possibly in a sort of anti-Makkurian religious diplomacy). We know nothing of an Alodian scripture so far.

The later phases of the Christian history of Sudan encompass the Nobatian – Makkurian merge (around 1000 CE), the islamization of Makkuria in 1317, and finally the late collapse of Christian Alodia in 1505. The question remains unanswered until today:

What happened to the bulk of the Meroitic population, i.e. the inhabitants of the Insula Meroe, the present day Butana? What occurred to the Meroites living between the fourth and the sixth cataracts after the presumably brief raid of Ezana of Axum, and the subsequent destruction of Meroe, Mussawarat es Sufra, Naqah, Wad ben Naqah and Basa?

3. Reconstruction of the Post-Meroitic History of the Kushitic Oromo Nation

Certainly, the motives of Ezana’s raid have not yet been properly studied and assessed by modern scholarship. The reasons for the raid may vary from a simple nationalistic usurpation of the name of ‘Ethiopia’ (Kush), which would give Christian eschatological legitimacy to the Axumite Abyssinian kingdom, to the needs of international politics (at the end of 4th century) and the eventuality of an Iranian – Meroitic alliance at the times of Shapur II (310 – 379), aimed at outweighing the Roman – Abyssinian bond. Yet, this alliance could have been the later phase of a time honored Meroitic diplomatic tradition (diffusion of Mithraism as attested on the Jebel Qeili reliefs of Shorakaror). What we can be sure of are the absence of a large-scale massacre, and the characteristic scarcity of population in the central Meroitic provinces during the period that follows Ezana’s raid and the destruction of Meroe.

The only plausible explanation is that the scarcity of population in Meroe mainland after Meroe’s destruction was due to the fact that the Meroites in their outright majority (at least for the inhabitants of Meroe’s southern provinces) fled and migrated to areas where they would stay independent from the Semitic Christian kingdom of Axumite Abyssinia. This explanation may sound quite fresh in approach, but it actually is not, since it constitutes the best utilization of the already existing historical data.

From archeological evidence, it becomes clear that during X-Group phase and throughout the Makkurian period the former heartland of Meroe remained mostly uninhabited. The end of Meroe is definitely abrupt, and it is obvious that Meroe’s driving force had gone elsewhere. The correct question would be “where to?”

There is no evidence of Meroites sailing the Nile downwards to the area of the 4th (Karima) and the 3rd (Kerma) cataracts, which was earlier the northern circumference of Meroe and remained untouched by Ezana. There is no textual evidence in Greek, Latin and/or Coptic to testify to such a migratory movement or to hint at an even more incredible direction, i.e. Christian Roman Egypt. If we add to this the impossibility of marching to the heartland of the invading Axumites (an act that would mean a new war), we reduce the options to relatively few.

The migrating Meroites could go either to the vast areas of the Eastern and the Western deserts or enter the African jungle or ultimately search a possibly free land that, being arable and good for pasture, would keep them far from the sphere of the Christian Axumites. It would be very erroneous to expect settled people to move to the desert. Such an eventuality would be a unique oxymoron in the history of the mankind. Nomadic peoples move from the steppes, the savannas and the deserts to fertile lands, and they settle there, or cross long distances through steppes and deserts. However, settled people, if under pressure, move to other fertile lands that offer them the possibility of cultivation and pasture. When dispersed by the invading Sea Peoples, the Hittites moved from Anatolia to Northwestern Mesopotamia; they did not cross and stay in the small part of Anatolia that is desert. The few scholars who think that Meroitic continuity could be found among the present day Beja and Hadendawa are oblivious to the aforementioned reality of the world history that was never contravened. In addition, the Blemmyes were never friendly to the Meroites. Every now and then, they had attacked parts of the Nile valley and the Meroites had had to repulse them thence. It would rather be inconceivable for the Meroitic population, after seeing Meroe sacked by Ezana, to move to a land where life would be difficult and enemies would wait them!

Modern technologies help historians and archeologists reconstruct better the ancient world; paleo-botanists, geologists, geo-chemists, paleoentomologists, and other specialized natural scientists are of great help in this regard. It is essential to stress here that the entire environmental milieu of Sudan was very different during the times of the Late Antiquity we examine in our approach. Butana may look like a wasteland nowadays, and the Pyramids of Bagrawiyah may be sunk in the sand, whereas Mussawarat es Sufra and Naqah demand a real effort in crossing the desert. But in the first centuries of Christian era, the entire landscape was dramatically different.

The Butana was not a desert but a fertile cultivated land; we have actually found remains of reservoirs, aqueducts, various hydraulic installations, irrigation systems and canals in Meroe and elsewhere. Not far from Mussawarat es Sufra there must have been an enclosure where captive elephants were trained before being transported to Ptolemais Theron (present day Suakin, 50 km in the south of Port Sudan) and then further on to Alexandria. Desert was in the vicinity, certainly, but not that close.

We should not imagine that Ezana crossed desert areas, moving from the whereabouts (vicinities?) of Agordat, Tesseney and Kessala to Atbarah and Bagrawiyah, as we would do today. And we should not imagine the lands in the south of present day Khartoum, alongside the White Nile, were easy to cross in the antiquity. In ancient times, impenetrable jungle started immediately in the south of Khartoum, and cities like Kosti and Jabalayn lie today on deforested soil. At the southernmost confines of the Meroitic state, pasturelands and arable land could be found alongside the Blue Nile Valley.

Since jungle signified death in the antiquity, and even armies feared to stay overnight in a forest or even more so in the thick African forest, we have good reason to believe that, following the Ezana’s raid, the Meroites, rejecting the perspective of forced christening, migrated southwestwards up to Khartoum. From there, they proceeded southeastwards alongside the Blue Nile in a direction that would keep them safe and far from the Axumite Abyssinians whose state did not expand as far in the south as Gondar and Tana lake. Proceeding in this way and crossing successively areas of modern cities, such as Wad Madani, Sennar, Damazin, and Asosa, and from there on, they expanded in later times over the various parts of Biyya Oromo.

We do not imply that the migration was completed in the span of one lifetime; quite contrarily, we have reasons to believe that the establishment of Alodia (or Alwa) is due to the progressive waves of Meroitic migrants who settled first in the area of Khartoum that was out of the westernmost confines of the Meroitic state. Only when Christianization became a matter of concern for the evangelizing Nobatians, and the two Christian Sudanese states were already strong, the chances of preserving the pre-Christian Meroitic cultural heritage in the area around Soba (capital of Alodia) were truly poor; then another wave of migrations took place, with early Alodian Meroites proceeding as far in the south as Damazin and Asosa, areas that remained always beyond the southern border of Alodia (presumably around Sennar). Like this, the second migratory Meroitic (Makkurian) wave may have entered around 600 CE in the area where the Oromos, descendents of the migrated Meroites, still live today.

A great number of changes at the cultural – behavioral levels are to be expected, when a settled people migrates to faraway lands. The Phoenicians had kings in Tyre, Byblos and their other cities – states, but introduced a democratic system when they sailed faraway and colonized various parts of the Mediterranean. The collapse of the Meroitic royalty was a shock for the Nile valley; the Christian kingdoms of Nobatia, Makkuria and Alodia were ruled by kings whose power was to great extent counterbalanced by that of the Christian clergy. With the Meroitic royal family decimated by Ezana, it is quite possible that high priests of Apedemak and Amani (Amun) took much of the administrative responsibility in their hands, inciting people to migrate and establishing a form of collective and representative authority among the Meroitic Elders. They may even have preserved the royal title of Qore within completely different socio-anthropological context.

4. Call for Comparative Meroitic-Oromo Studies

How can this approach, interpretation, and conclusion be corroborated up to the point of becoming a generally accepted historical reconstitution at the academic level? On what axes should one group of researchers work to collect detailed documentation in support of the Meroitic ancestry of the Oromos?

Quite strangely, I would not give priority to the linguistic approach. The continuity of a language can prove many things and can prove nothing. The Bulgarians are of Uralo-Altaic Turco-Mongolian origin, but, after they settled in Eastern Balkans, they were linguistically slavicized. Most of the Greeks are Albanians, Slavs, and Vlachians, who were hellenized linguistically. Most of the Turks in Turkey are Greeks and Anatolians, who were turkicized linguistically. A people can preserve its own language in various degrees and forms. For the case of languages preserved throughout millennia, we notice tremendous changes and differences. If you had picked up Plato and ‘transferred’ him at the times of Linear B (that was written in Mycenae 800 years before the Greek philosopher lived), you should be sure that Plato would not have understood the language of his ancestors with the exception of some words. Egyptian hieroglyphics was a scripture that favored archaism and linguistic puritanism. But we can be sure that for later Pharaohs, like Taharqa the Kushite (the most illustrious ruler of the ‘Ethiopian’ dynasty), Psamtik, Nechao, Ptolemy II and Cleopatra VII, a Pyramid text (that antedated them by 1700 to 2300 years) would almost be incomprehensible.

A. National diachronic continuity is better attested and more markedly noticed in terms of Culture, Religion and Philosophical – Behavioral system. The first circle of comparative research would encompass the world of the Kushitic – Meroitic and Oromo concepts, anything that relates to the Weltanschauung of the two cultural units/groups under study. A common view of basic themes of life and a common perception of the world would bring a significant corroboration of the Meroitic ancestry of the Oromos. So, first it is a matter of history of religions, African philosophy, social anthropology, ethnography and culture history.

B. Archeological research can help tremendously too. At this point one has to stress the reality that the critical area for the reconstruction suggested has been totally indifferent for Egyptologists, Meroitic and Axumite archeologists so far. The Blue Nile valley in Sudan and Abyssinia was never the subject of an archeological survey, and the same concerns the Oromo highlands. Certainly modern archeologists prefer something concrete that would lead them to a great discovery, being therefore very different from the pioneering nineteenth century archeologists. An archeological study would be necessary in the Blue Nile valley and the Oromo highlands in the years to come.

C. A linguistic – epigraphic approach may bring forth even more spectacular results. It could eventually end up with a complete decipherment of the Meroitic and the Makkurian. An effort must be made to read the Meroitic texts, hieroglyphic and cursive, with the help of Oromo language. Meroitic personal names and toponymics must be studied in the light of a potential Oromo interpretation. Comparative linguistics may unveil affinities that will lead to reconsideration of the work done so far in the Meroitic decipherment.

D. Last but not least, another dimension would be added to the project with the initiation of comparative anthropological studies. Data extracted from findings in the Meroitic cemeteries must be compared with data provided by the anthropological study of present day Oromos. The research must encompass pictorial documentation from the various Meroitic temples’ bas-reliefs.

To all these I would add a better reassessment of the existing historical sources, but this is not a critical dimension of this research project.

I believe my call for Comparative Meroitic – Oromo Studies reached the correct audience that can truly evaluate the significance of the ultimate corroboration of the Meroitic Ancestry of the Oromos, as well as the magnificent consequences such corroboration would have in view of

a) the forthcoming Kushitic Palingenesia – Renaissance if you want – in Africa,

b) the establishment of a Post – Colonial African Historiography, and – last but not least –

c) the Question of the Most Genuine and Authoritative Representation of Africa in the United Nations Security Council.



1. To those having the slightest doubt, trying purely for political reasons and speculation to include territories of the modern state of Abyssinia into what they Ancient Greeks and Romans called “Aethiopia”, the entry Aethiopia in Pauly-Wissowa, Realenzyklopadie der klassischen Altertumwissenschaft consists in the best and irrevocable answer.

2. … karl.html;; parts of the Denkmaeler are already available online: … start.html. Also: … 1884_.html. The fact that the furthermost point of ‘Ethiopia’ he reached was Khartoum is of course quite telling.

3.; he wrote among the rest a book on his Meroe excavations’ results, The Egyptian Sudan: its History and Monuments (London, 1907).

4. Mythical figure of the British Orientalism, Garstang excavated in England, Turkey, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and the Sudan; Albright, William Foxwell: “John Garstang in Memoriam”, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, No. 144. (Dec., 1956), pp. 7–8. Garstang’s major articles on his Meroe excavations are the following: ‘Preliminary Note on an Expedition to Meroë in Ethiopia’, Annals of Archaeology and Anthropology 3 (1911 – a), ‘Second Interim Report on the Excavations at Meroë in Ethiopia, I. Excavations’, Annals of Archaeology and Anthropology 4 (1911 – b), ‘Third Interim Report on the Excavations at Meroë in Ethiopia’, Annals of Archaeology and Anthropology 5 (1912), ‘Forth Interim Report on the Excavations at Meroë in Ethiopia’, Annals of Archaeology and Anthropology 6 (1913), and ‘Fifth Interim Report on the Excavations at Meroë in Ethiopia’, Annals of Archaeology and Anthropology 7 (1914). His major contribution was published in the same year under the title ‘Meroë, the City of Ethiopians’ (Oxford). A leading Meroitologist, Laszlo Torok wrote an entire volume on Garstang’s excavations at Meroe: Meroe City, an Ancient African Capital: John Garstang’s Excavations in the Sudan.

5. Griffith was the epigraphist of Grastand and had already published the epigraphic evidence unearthed at Meroe in the chapter entitled ‘the Inscriptions from Meroë’ in Garstang’s ‘Meroë, the City of Ethiopians’. After many pioneering researches and excavations in various parts of Egypt and Northern Sudan, Faras, Karanog, Napata and Philae to name a few, he concentrated on Kerma: ‘Excavations at Kawa’, Sudan Notes and Records 14.

6. Basically:; among other contributions: Die Inschriften des Löwentempels von Musawwarat es Sufra, Berlin (1962); Vorbericht über die Ausgrabungen des Instituts für Ägyptologie der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin in Musawwarat es Sufra, 1960-1961 (1962); ‘Musawwarat es Sufra. Preliminary Report on the Excavations of the Institute of Egyptology, Humboldt University, Berlin, 1961-1962(Third Season)’, Kush 11 (1963); ‘Preliminary Note on the Epigraphic Expedition to Sudanese Nubia, 1962’, Kush 11 (1963); ‘Preliminary note on the Epigraphic Expedition to Sudanese Nubia, 1963’, Kush 13 (1965).

7. As regards my French professor’s publications focused on his excavations at Sudan: Soleb and Sedeinga in Lexikon der Ägyptologie 5, Wiesbaden 1984 (entries contributed by J. Leclant himself); also J. Leclant, Les reconnaissances archéologiques au Soudan, in: Études nubiennes I, 57-60.

8. His recent volume Sudan: Ancient Kingdoms of the Nile, Paris/New York (1997) contains earlier bibliography.

9. Some of his most authoritative publications: ‘A History of the Sudan from the Earliest Times to 1821’, 1961 (2nd Ed.), London; ‘’The Valley of the Nile’, in: The Dawn of African History, R. Oliver (ed.), London. Arkell is mostly renowned for his monumental ‘The Royal Cemeteries of Kush’ in many volumes.

10. Presentation of his ‘Ancient Nubia’ in: … cts_id=33; for a non exhaustive list of Shinnie’s publications: … ia2.htm#S; see also a presentation of a volume on Meroe, edited by Shinnie et alii: … 1163879905{haupt_harrassowitz=

11. Many of his publications are listed here: … ia2.htm#S; also here: … ypt4.htm#T. In the Eighth International Conference for Meroitic Studies, Torok spoke about ‘The End of Meroe’; the speech will be included in the arkamani online project, here: … -meroe.htm.

12. Useful reading: … souda.htm; also:; see also the entry ‘Kush’ in Lexikon der Aegyptologie and the Encyclopedia Judaica. More specifically bout the Egyptian Hieroglyphic and the Hebrew writings of the name of Kush: For more recent bibliography: Also:

13. Basic bibliography in: … y_a_b.htm; … chure.html.

More particularly on Qustul, and the local Group A Cemetery that was discovered in the 60s by Dr. Keith Seele: (by Bruce Beyer Williams). Quite interesting approach by Clyde Winters as regards an eventual use of Egyptian Hieroglyphics in Group A Nubia, 200 years before the system was introduced in… Egypt:

14. Brief info:; see also:; more recently several scholars consider Group B as an extension of Group A (GRATIEN, Brigitte, La Basse Nubie à l’Ancien Empire: Égyptiens et autochtones, JEA 81 (1995), 43-56).

15.Readings:;;ht … %20Snefrue),%201st%20King%20of%20Egypt’s%204th%20Dynasty.htm (with bibliography);; for the Palermo stone inscription where we have the Nubia expedition narrative:; (click on the Palermo Stone); (with related bibliography).

16. Readings:;; (with designs and pictures); focus on Group C burials and burial architecture). See also:;;

17. References in the Lexikon der Aegyptologie. See also:; one of the related sources: The Story of an Egyptian Politician, published by T. G. Allen, in: American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures, Vol. 38, No. 1 (Oct., 1921), pp. 55-62; Texts relating to Egyptian expeditions in Yam and Irtet: … rkouf.htm;; more in ‘Ancient Nubia: Egypt’s Rival in Africa’(Paperback) by David O’ Connor, … 67-0196731.

18. Brief description: … erma.html; … htm#French (with several interesting links); (brief but with recent bibliography containing some of Bonnet’s publications).

19. Vivian Davies, ‘La frontière méridionale de l’Empire : Les Egyptiens à Kurgus,’ Bulletin de la Société française d’égyptologie, 2003, no157, pp. 23-37 (; about the ongoing British excavations:; about the inscription of Thutmosis I:; also:, and … 0514112733.

20. In brief and with images:; also: (with selected recent bibliography) and … kage=26155 (for art visualization). The period is also called Napatan, out of the Kushitic state capital’s name:

21. To start with:;; … apata.html (including references); most authoritative presentation by Timothy Kendall ‘Gebel Barkal and Ancient Napata’ in: … nubia.htm; also: ‘the Rise of the Kushitic kingdom’ by Brian Yare, in: … Napata.htm. For Karima, notice the interesting itinerary: … /sudan.htm, and

22. Introductory reading: (click on Manetho); (with selected bibliography). Among the aforementioned, the entries Manethon (Realenzyklopaedie) and Manetho (Lexikon der Aegyptologie) are essential.

23. For the Ethiopian dynasty, all the related entries in the Lexikon and the Realenzyklopaedie (Piankhi, Shabaka, Shabataka, Taharqa, Tanutamon) are the basic bibliography; see also:; the last edition (1996) of Kenneth Kitchen’s ‘The Third Intermediate Period in Egypt (1100–650 BC)’, Warminster: Aris & Phillips Ltd, remains the best reassessment of the period and the related sources. Introductory information:;;; and Also:; critical bibliography for understanding the perplex period is J. Leclant lectureship thesis (these d’ Etat) ‘Montouemhat, Quatrieme Prophete D’Amon, (1961)

24. Basics:; the edition of the Assyrian emperor’s annals by R. Borger (Die Inschriften Assarhaddons, Königs von Assyrien, AfO 9, Graz, 1956) remain our basic reference to formal sources. More recently, F. Reynolds shed light on private sources, publishing ‘The Babylonian correspondence of Esarhaddon, and letters to Assurbanipal and Sin-Sarru-Iskun from Northern and Central Babylonia’ (SAA 18, 2004).

25. For the Greater Emperor of the Oriental Antiquity:;;; until today we have to rely mostly on the voluminous edition of Assurbanipal’s Annals by Maximilian Streck (Assurbanipal und die letzten assyrischen. Könige bis zum Untergang Niniveh, Leipzig,1916); see also M. W. Waters’ Te’umman in the neo-Assyrian correspondence (Journal of the American Oriental Society, 1999, vol. 119, no3, pp. 473-477)

26. Heliopolis (Iwnw in Egyptian Hieroglyphic – literally the place of the pillars –, On in Hebrew and in Septuaginta Greek) was the center of Egyptian monotheism, the holiest religious center throughout Ancient Egypt; it is from Heliopolis that emanated the Isiac ideology and the Atum Ennead. Basic readings: the entry Heliopolis in Realenzyklopaedie and in Lexikon der Aegyptologie; more recently:

27. Basic readings: … tiki.html;; … tik1.html; (with pictorial documentation). See also:

28. Hakhamaneshian is the first Persian dynasty; it got momentum whenCyrus II invaded successively Media and Babylon. Readings: (with selected bibliography); the 2nd volume of the Cambridge History of Iran is dedicated to Achaemenid history (contents: … 0521200911.

29. Readings: (with bibliographya nd sources). Cambyses invaded Kush and destroyed Napata at the times of Amani-natake-lebte, and his embattled army was decimated according to the famous narratives of Herodotus that still need to be corroborated. What seems more plausible is that, having reached in an unfriendly milieu of the Saharan desert where they had no earlier experience, the Persians soldiers, at a distance of no less than 4000 km from their capital, faced guerilla undertaken by the Kushitic army remnants and their nomadic allies.

30. Nastasen was the last to be buried in Nuri, in the whereabouts of Napata. Contemporary with Alexander the Great, Nastasen fought against an invader originating from Egypt whose name was recorded as Kambasawden. This led many to confuse the invader with Cambyses, who ruled 200 years earlier (!). The small inscription on the Letti stela does not allow great speculation; was it an attempt of Alexander the Great to proceed to the south of which we never heard anything? Impossible to conclude. For photographical documentation: … 00017&ord=. Another interpretation: … 94e6349d8b.

31. Arkamaniqo was the first to have his pyramid built at Meroe, not at Napata. See: … 0018&ord=;, He inaugurated the architectural works at Dakka, the famous ancient Egyptian Pa Serqet, known in Greek literature as Pselkhis (, in veneration of God Thot, an endeavour that brought the Ptolemies and the Meroites in alliance.

32. For Abyssinia’s conversion to Christianity:, and The Wikipedia entry ( is written by ignorant and chauvinist people, and is full of mistakes, ascribing provocatively and irrelevantly to Ezanas following territories (using modern names): “present-day Eritrea, northern Ethiopia, Yemen, southern Saudi Arabia, northern Somalia, Djibouti, northern Sudan, and southern Egypt”. All this shows how misleading this encyclopedia can be. Neither southern Egypt, northern Sudan, northern Somalia and Djibouti nor Yemen and southern Saudi Arabia ever belonged to Ezana’s small kingdom that extended from Adulis to Axum, and following the king’s victory over Meroe, it included modern Sudan’s territories between Kessala and Atbara. Nothing more!

33. Richard A. Lobban, ‘The Nubian Dynasty of Kush and Egypt: Continuing Research on Dynasty XXV’: … clnk&cd=2; these inscriptions were published as early as 1821: E. F. Gau, Nubische Denkmaeler (Stuttgart). Other early publications on Meroitic antiquities: E. Riippell, Reisen in Nubien, Kordofan, &c. (Frankfort a. M., 1829); F. Caillaud, Voyage a Me’roe (Paris, 1826); J. L. Burckhardt, Travels in Nubia, e5fc. (London, 1819); G. Waddington and B. Hanbury, Journal of a Visit to some ‘parts of Ethiopia (London, 1822); L. Reinisch, Die Nuba-Sprache (Vienna, 1879); Memoirs of the Societe khediviale de Geographic, Cairo.

34. Readings:;; more analytically: … graphy.htm. The only inscription giving her name comes from Temple F in Naga (REM 0039A-B). The name appears in Meroitic hieroglyphics in the middle of an Egyptian text. See also: Laszlo Török, in: Fontes Historiae Nubiorum, Vol. II, Bergen 1996, 660-662. The first attempts to render full Meroitic phrases into hieroglyphs (not only personal names, as it was common earlier) can be dated from the turn of the 3rd / 2nd century BCE, but they reflect the earlier stage of the development.

35. C. Rilly, ‘Les graffiti archaïques de Doukki Gel et l’apparition de l’écriture méroïtique’. Meroitic Newsletter, 2003, No 30 : 41-55, pl. IX-XIII (fig. 41-48).

36. Michael H. Zach, ‘Aksum and the end of Meroe’, in: … s/Zach.htm. See also: … rowan2.pdf. Also: Clyde A. Winters, ‘Meroitic evidence for a Blemmy empire in the Dodekaschoins’ in: … labsha.htm. Kharamadoye was a Blemmyan / Beja king who lived around the year 330 CE, and his inscription was curved on the Nubian/Blemmyan temple at Kalabsha (ancient Talmis) in the south of Aswan; more: M. S. Megalommatis, ‘Sudan’s Beja / Blemmyes, and their Right to Freedom and Statehood’, in:, and in: More general:

37. For Ballana:; … p_Numb=13;; … ndex.html; for the excavations carried out there: Farid Shafiq, ‘Excavations at Ballana, 1958-1959’, Cairo, 1963:

38. His publications encompass the following:

‘Karanog: the Meroitic Inscriptions of Karanog and Shablul’, (The Eckley B. Coxe Junior Expedition to Nubia VI), Philadelphia, 1911; ‘Meroitic Inscriptions, I, Sôbâ Dangûl’, Oxford, 1911; ‘Meroitic Inscriptions part II, Napata to Philae and Miscellaneous’, Egypt Exploration Society, Archaeological Survey of Egypt, Memoirs, London, 1912; ‘Meroitic Studies II’, in: Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, vol. 3 (1916).

39. Readings:;; list of sources concerning Ergamenes II: Laszlo Török, ’Fontes Historiae Nubiorum’, vol. II, Bergen 1996, S. 566-567; further: … tei.xml_1;; an insightful view: Laszlo Torok, ‘Amasis and Ergamenes’, in: The Intellectual Heritage of Egypt. Studies Kákosy, 555-561. An English translation of Diodorus’ text on Ergamenes (III. 6) is here:

40. B. G. Haycock, ‘The Problem of the Meroitic Language’, Occasional Papers in Linguistics and Language Learning, no.5 (1978), p. 50-81; see also: … nology.htm. Another significant contribution by B.G.Haycock, ‘Towards a Data for King Ergamenes’, Kush 13 (1965).41. See: K.H.Priese, ‘Die Statue des napatanischen Königs Aramatelqo (Amtelqa) Berlin, Ägyptisches Museum Inv.-Nr. 2249’ in: Festschrift zum 150 jährigen Bestehen des Berliner Ägyptischen Museums, Berlin; of the same author, ’Matrilineare Erbfolge im Reich von Napata’, Zeitschrift für ägyptische Sprache und Altertumskunde, 108 (1981).

42. Readings: … /beja.htm;;

43. Basic reading: Egeimi, Omer Abdalla, ‘From Adaptation to Marginalization: The Political Ecology of Subsistence Crisis among the Hadendawa Pastoralists of Sudan’, in: Managing Scarcity: Human Adaptation in East African Drylands, edited by Abdel Ghaffar M. Ahmed and Hassan Abdel Ati, 30-49. Proceedings of a regional workshop, Addis Ababa, 24-26 August 1995. Addis Ababa: OSSREA, 1996 (

44. F. Hintze, ‘Some problems of Meroitic philology”, in: Studies in

Ancient Languages of the Sudan, pp. 73-78; see discussions:, and … rowan2.pdf.

45. In various publications; see indicatively: ‘Die meroitische Sprache und das protoaltaische Sprachsubstrat als Medium zu ihrer Deutung (I): Mit _quivalenten von grammatikalischen Partikeln und Wortgleichungen’, Ulm/Donau (1992).

46. See: … ersc2.html (with extensive list of publications).

47. Readings: (with further bibliography);;; (with pictorial documentation); (with references).

48. Readings:;; authoritative presentation in Cambridge History of Iran.

49. Readings: (with further bibliography); authoritative presentation in Cambridge History of Iran.

50. See: … oitic.htm; … rilly.htm; … graphy.htm.

51. … s/Zach.htm (with reference to epigraphic sources).

52. More recently: R.Voigt, The Royal Inscriptions of King Ezana, in the Second International Littmann Conference: Aksum 7-11 January 2006 (see: … Report.pdf); also:; Read also: Manfred Kropp, Die traditionellen äthiopischen Königslisten und ihre Quellen, in: … listen.pdf (with bibliography).

53. Readings:;; … 3290.html;;; further: Yuzo Shitomi, ‘A New Interpretation of the Monumentum Adulitanum’, in: Memoirs of the Research Department of the Toyo Bunko, 55 (1997). French translation is available online here: … hiopie.asp.

54. Readings:;; text and translation can be found online: (with bibliography and earlier text/translation publications; … opleustes; and … copleustes. Also:; … eintro.htm.

55. Readings: … oyalty.pdf

56. See:; N. I. Nooter, The Gates of Shendi, Los Angeles, 1999 (

57. See:; … ples.html;

58. Syene (Aswan): see the entries of Realenzyklopaedie and Lexikon der Aegyptologie; also:;

59. Readings:;;

60.; … zymski.doc. Dodekaschoinos was the northern part of Triakontaschoinos; the area was essential for Roman border security: … al_code=AS. More recently: … f.dijkstra.

61.; see details of the early Roman rule over Egypt here: Timo Stickler, ‘Cornelius Gallus and the Beginnings of the Augustan Rule in Egypt’,

62. (particularly in his 17th book); English translation available here: … 17A1*.html.

Archaeological Sites of the Island of Meroe