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Oromia: Ethiopia must end its political, economic and social exclusion and marginalization of Afaan Oromo speakers from federal institutions and the Addis Ababa city administration August 26, 2018

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There is no law or policy that prohibits the Federal Government from conducting its business in Afaan Oromo!

Ethiopia must end its political, economic and social exclusion and marginalization of Afaan Oromo speakers from federal institutions and the Addis Ababa city administration claiming non-existing language laws and language policies as the basis of these exclusions.

Ethiopia never had formal language laws and language policy in its history to exclude the use of Afaan Oromo. The so-called language related provision in the federal constitution is not self-executing law. It needs language policy and language law for it to be legally enforced in the court of law or followed by any government institutions.

Alternatively, even if one claims that there is constitutional self-executing law, it does not bar the use of Afaan Oromo by federal institutions and Addis Ababa City Administration.

More importantly, Addis Ababa city administration does not need any federal authorization to adopt right away Afaan Oromo as its working language on equal footing with Amharic.

There are many Ethiopia’s own language use practices that will enable the federal government to adopt Afaan Oromo as its working language without needing any law or policy.

For instance, there is no law or language policy that says Ethiopia will use English in its international communication. Yet, the country is using English in its international communication in spite of the absence of language law or language policy.

Similarly, if we look at Ethiopia’s medium of instruction both at secondary and university levels, there is no language law or language policy issued to mandate Ethiopian academic institutions to teach in English.

If we look at the past practices of the Ministry of Education, there is no law that mandated the inclusion of Geez, a language used in church liturgy with zero living speakers, on Ethiopian School Leaving Certificate Exam(ESLCE) while willfully excluding Afaan Oromo or other languages with tens of millions of speakers from ESLCE.

If there is any legal basis for all these unregulated language uses, the only document one may find is the educational curriculum prepared by the Ethiopian Ministry of Education. That means, all these messes were done at the free will of unelected and unauthorized experts at the Ministry of Education whom the Ethiopian people have zero knowledge even about their existence.

Similarly, there is no clearly drawn language use policy that regulates the Ethiopian federal media outlets to broadcast in any given languages including in Afaan Oromo. It is pretty much the discretionary decision of these entities.

If unelected, unauthorized and obscure curriculum developing experts at the Ministry of Education or media companies were given so much power in deciding on what languages our educational system or media uses or not uses; we expect our elected, legally authorized and publically known officials including the Ethiopian federal parliament, the federal judicial and executive organs to use Afaan Oromo in conducting their business.

Afaan Oromo speakers who constitute more than 50% of the Ethiopian population cannot wait until the constitution is amended or language use laws or policies are issued to get services from the federal government and Addis Ababa city administration.

The degree of exclusion and marginalization of the Oromo people in Ethiopia is unbearable. The Oromo people cannot remain excluded from their own country. All cities, religious institutions, media outlets and federal government entities in Oromia, including in Addis Ababa, must serve the Oromo people in Afaan Oromo.

Furthermore, since both the federal government institutions and Addis Ababa City Administration are exclusively located in the Oromia National Regional Government where the working language is legally Afaan Oromo, there is no federal law or policy that prohibits the federal government and the Addis Ababa City Administration from conducting their Business in Afaan Oromo.

In fact, both the federal institutions and the Addis Ababa City Administration must use Afaan Oromo, the official working language in Oromia, to conduct their business in Oromia Region according to the Ethiopian federal constitution which recognizes the rights of regional governments to use the language of their choosing as their working language.

ጠ/ሚ ዶ/ር አብይ አህመድ በዛሬው መግለጫቸው የኦሮሞ ህዝብን ቅስም ሰብረውታል ::

በኦሮሞ ህዝብ ዘንድ አንደኛ ደረጃ የሚባለው የህዝብ ጥያቄ የቋንቋ ጥያቄ ነው :: ኦሮምኛ ቋንቋ የፌደራሉ የስራ ቋንቋ እስካልሆነ ድረስ የኦሮሞ ህዝብ በዕውቀት በኢኮኖሚ እና በማንኛውም የማህበራዊ ህይወቱ ዝቅተኛ ነው :: እንዲህ ያፈጠጠ የኦሮሞ ህዝብ ችግርን ጠ/ሚ ዶ/ር አብይ ኦሮምኛ ቋንቋ የፌደራል የስራ ቋንቋ አሁኑኑ ይሁን ማለት አግባብ አይደለም ማለታቸው ደሙን የገበረውን የኦሮሞን ህዝብ ቅስም የሰበረ ሆኖ አግኝቼዋለው :: ጠቅላይ ሚንስተሩ ኦሮምኛ ቋንቋ የፌደራሉ የስራ ቋንቋ አሁኑኑ ይሁን የሚለውን ጥያቄ አግባብ አይደለም ብለው ያስቀመጡበት ምክንያት የህግ ማሻሻያ የሚፈልግ ስለሆነ ብለዋል :: ነገር ግን ኦሮምኛ ቋንቋ የፌደራሉ የስራ ቋንቋ ለማድረግ የህግ ማሻሻያ ሳይሆን ተጨማሪ ህግ ብቻ ነው የሚያስፈልገው ::
በአጠቃላይ በመግለጫቸው ኦሮምኛ ቋንቋ የፌደራሉ የስራ ቋንቋ እንደማይሆን ነው እጅግ በጣም ያሳዝናል ::

ጠ/ሚ ዶ/ር አብይ አህመድ አሁንም የኦሮሞን ህዝብ ሊሰሙት እና ጥይቄዎቹን በአፋጣኝ ሊመልሱለት ይገባል ::

አሁንም ታስረናል

Brief and informative speech about the history of the development of Qubee Afaan Oromoo by the renowned scholar Dr. Gemechu Megersa, at Wollega University April 16, 2018

Posted by OromianEconomist in Afaan Oromoo, Gamachuu Magarsaa, Qubee Afaan Oromo, Uncategorized.
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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomistkemetic alphabet (Qubee)Afaan Oromoo pioneersThe six widely spoken languages in Africa

Brief and informative speech about the history of Qubee Afaan Oromoo by the renowned  scholar Dr. Gemechu Megersa on the third international conference of Oromo language,culture,arts and customs organized by Wollega university, 13 April 2018.



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For Immediate Release
June 9, 2017
The Oromo Studies Association (OSA) believes the Ethiopian government’s decision to rearrange the order of the Qubee Afaan Oromoo which has been in official use for a quarter century is misguided.
On June 3, 2017, the state-owned TV Oromiyaa (TVO) reported that the Oromia regional state, apparently at the behest of the Federal Ministry of Education of Ethiopia, had decided to alter the order of the qubee (alphabet) used in written Afaan Oromoo (the Oromo language). According to the TVO report, the Oromia Education Bureau made the decision over a year ago and introduced a new primary school curriculum in which the order of Qubee Afaan Oromoo was altered. New textbooks were distributed and early grade teachers were trained to implement the curriculum. Surprisingly, this changes were implemented quietly without consultation or input from the public and experts in the field.
The news report also stated that the changes were prompted by a finding of a USAID-funded study, the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA). The study was conducted in 2010 in eight regions and six languages by an American consultancy firm, RTI International. The critical finding of the study that ostensibly occasioned the curricular change was: “by the end of the second grade, a third of students were unable to read at all and about half read at much lower level than the proficiency benchmarked for that grade.”
OSA scholars and experts have scrutinized the EGRA document and several other studies conducted with the support of the USAID-funded Reading for Ethiopia’s Achievement Developed Technical Assistance (READ TA) Project. The EGRA researchers did inquire if the scripts and writing systems used in the various regional states had any differential impact on reading skills. The report found no direct link between the two variables and made no recommendation that altering the order of alphabets would improve early grade reading skills. In fact, the study posits that children learn to read faster in their mother-tongue. Accordingly, the USAID project mentioned above supported mother tongue instruction to improve early grade reading. In light of this, OSA maintains that the Oromia regional state’s attempt to leverage external support to implement its ill-advised scheme is a disgraceful act that should not be allowed to stand.
In addition to the EGRA study, officials of the Oromia Education Bureau and its associated experts offered an additional justification for the alteration of the qubee order. They claimed that a “word frequency test” they administered showed the Oromo language had more words whose first letter is the alphabet “L.” This was offered as the rationale for rearranging the qubee order. That means, early grade students will henceforth learn alphabets begin with L, A, G, M, rather than the customary A, B, C, D. If this were in the US, Big Bird and Barney will have to relearn their A, B, C, D, and their alphabet songs.
OSA members and other experts have run similar tests and found that by far the most frequent word in the Oromo language has “A” as the first letter. In fact, “L” is ranked as 13th in one of the tests, 19thwhen the letter is followed by the vowel “a” and 42nd when the upper case “L” is used in the test.
Viewed from the technical vantage point, there is no linguistic or pedagogical basis for altering the qubee order.  In the absence of any study that shows the qubee alphabet as a drag on reading skills or word frequency test results that shows “L” to be the most frequent occurrence,  nothing warrants the Oromia Education Bureau’s decision to change the order of the qubee alphabet and secretly implementing a structural curriculum change. OSA rejects the justifications given by the Oromia regional state officials and the experts as reasons for the ill-conceived scheme.
In fact, the OSA leadership believes that this scheme has a strategic objective. To implement curricular changes that are so radical and disruptive can have no constructive purpose. There is only a political goal to the unjustified changes. Given that the use of the qubee alphabet has gone on for a quarter century, the change to the order of qubee could only create resentment and frustration with the use of the qubee alphabet. OSA believes that tinkering with the Qubee Afaan Oromoo is a slippery slope that shouldn’t be embarked on. It must be opposed.
OSA reaffirms its unflinching support for the use of the Latin alphabet as the sole means of written Afaan Oromoo. The studies that the government has cited as the basis for its action identifies inadequacy of textbooks, reading materials, low student-teacher ratio, truancy and teacher absenteeism as factors for the low level of reading fluency throughout the country. The tried-and-true means for improving reading proficiency is more reading and reading more. The Oromia Education Bureau should focus on what works and turn away from the meaningless proposition to alter the sequence of the Latin alphabet which has almost nothing to do with improving reading fluency.
OSA believes that the decision to change the order of Qubee Afaan Oromoo constitutes violence against the long and bitter struggle Oromo struggle for written Oromo language.  In the 1840s, Oromo slaves began to use Latin alphabets to write in the Oromo language. In the 1870s, Emperor Menelik’s conquest precipitated the adoption of the Ge’ez script for written Oromo literature. For the next century, the Oromo language languished under the clutches of the ill-fitting Geez script.  The use of the Latin alphabet in Oromo transcription re-emerged later in the 20th century, exactly a century later. It was adopted as the official alphabet of written Afaan Oromoo on November 3, 1991 when over 1,000 Oromo intellectuals assembled in the Ethiopian parliament and made a historic and momentous decision to adopt the Latin alphabet in writing in Afaan Oromoo. In light of this history, the Oromia Education Bureau has a choice to make: either stand with the Oromo struggle for written Afaan Oromoo or take the side of those that seek to continue the violence against written Afaan Oromoo that commenced with Menelik’s conquest.
When qubee was adopted as the sole means of written Afaan Oromo, ABCD was the order of the alphabets. This order is synonymous with the Oromoo qubee. What was adopted in a solemn occasion cannot be undone surreptitiously and in such a nonchalant manner as Oromia officials have done.  It is bewildering why the Oromia government officials even contemplated changing by an administrative fiat the sequencing of the Latin alphabet that evolved over several millennia. The order of the qubeealphabets is what unifies the Oromo nation with the rest of the world that uses Latin alphabets. There is no justification for changing this relationship.

Today qubee is the identity of a new generation of Oromo, it is a monument to the triumph of Oromo nationalism, and a symbol of the bitter sacrifice the Oromo have paid to be free from oppression, domination and marginalization.  It is engrained in the minds of the new generation of Oromo and entwined with the Oromo struggle for self-determination. A violence against qubee amounts to a violence against the Oromo struggle for freedom and justice and freedom from violence.  OSA asserts that the order of the alphabet used in written Afaan Oromoo is sacrosanct. It is inalterable.

Ezekiel Gebissa, President, Studies Association

Mekuria Bulcha, Chair, OSA Board of Directors

UNPO: Oromo: Alterations of Afan Alphabet Raise Concerns About Community’s Cultural Rights June 10, 2017

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Oromo: Alterations of Afan Alphabet Raise Concerns About Community’s Cultural Rights

UNPO, 9 June 2017

Photo courtesy of USAID Ethiopia@flickr

Authorities in Oromia changed the order of the Roman alphabet used for the Afan Oromo language on the grounds that the old alphabet order is allegedly an obstacle to the reading skills of Oromo school children. According to Oromo intellectuals, however, this change is aiming at diminishing the cultural rights of the Oromo people who have been subject to a marginalisation process for years. This issue is occupying the center of Ethiopia’s political news cycle, even though this regulation had been silently carried out in 2016. Therefore, there are doubts as to whether the regime uses this debate to divert public attention from large-scale Oromo protests. In the past months, the Ethiopian government has been in the world’s spotlight due to massive human rights violations in the country.



This article has been published by Global Voices


Authorities in Oromia, Ethiopia’s largest state, have infuriated language experts and Oromo nationalists with their decision to re-arrange the order of the alphabet of the region’s language, Afan Oromo.

In multilingual and multiethnic Ethiopia, orthographic choices are complex linguistic and political decisions that have great socio-political consequences.

Among Ethiopia’s written languages, most write their language in either the Ge’ez or Ethiopic alphabet, known as “Fidel,” or the Roman alphabet. Afan Oromo officially adopted the Roman alphabet — in its usual order of ABCD and so on — after the current government come to power in 1991.

However, more than a quarter century later, the regional educational authorities of Oromia announced they were reshuffling the “Qubee Afan Oromo” (as the alphabet is called). The first seven letters are:

L A G I M Aa S


Justifying the change, authorities blamed the old alphabet order as the reason why reading skills among primary school children in Oromia remain poor. They even cited a research to back up their claim.

There is, however, a problem with their argument. It was based on a misrepresentation of the findings of the research. In fact, the research, which was funded by US Agency for International Development (USAID) in 2010, revealed a broader problem of reading skills not only among Afan Oromo-speaking primary school students, but also students whose mother tongue was Amharic, Hararigna, Sidaamu Afoo, Somali and Tigrinya.

In the study, pedagogic and logistical difficulties were identified as factors for poor reading skills in Ethiopia’s six major regions. However, the order of alphabet was not cited as a factor for the dismal reality. In a post on the citizen journalism site OPride.com, one blogger agreed with the findings of the research but questioned the connection it had to the alphabet order, writing:

There is little disagreement on the core problem here: The education quality crisis in Ethiopia needs fixing. The disagreement here though is on the proposed solutions. This is underscored by a key question that everyone is asking: JUST HOW DOES REORDERING THE AFAAN OROMO ALPHABET IMPROVE READING AND LEARNING OUTCOMES?

‘Yet another fraud perpetrated on the Oromo people’

The change actually took effect in 2016 and school textbooks already reflect the reshuffling, but it was done so quietly. So much so that the news of the letter order change only made it into Ethiopia’s political news cycle after government affiliate Oromia Broadcasting Service reported about it. Over last two years, a series of political events with far-reaching repercussions such as protests and internet outages has dominated the country’s news cycle.

As soon as the change was reported, concerned Oromo intellectuals started raising questions.

For them, this is the latest attempt in a series of steps intended to diminish the cultural rights of the Oromo people, who have historically been marginalized in Ethiopia. On Facebook Awol Kassim Allo, wrote:

“The casual change/disfiguring of the Alphabet of a language spoken by more than 40 million people without any debate and discussion is appalling. The excuse given to justify it – improving the ability of children to read at early stages of instruction – is lame and cannot stuck up to scrutiny. …This is yet another fraud perpetrated on the Oromo people and it must be rejected.”

The circumstance of the change also stoked another fear: that the decision to alter the order of the letters might be a plot by people who were disgruntled when the Oromos opted to adopt the Roman alphabet over the Ge’ez alphabet in 1991.

Prior to 1991, Afan Oromo was written in different alphabets. The first Oromo Bible was printed in Ge’ez letters in the 19th century. During the reign of emperor Haile Selassie (1930-1974), Afan Oromo was not a written language.

When Ethiopia’s military regime came to power in 1974, it decreed that all Ethiopian languages must be written exclusively in Ge’ez alphabet— a draconian policy intended to promote unity among Ethiopia’s diverse ethnic groups.

Parallel to the Ge’ez letters, however, Oromo language experts and Oromo nationalists were also using the Roman alphabet. Paul Baxter, a social anthropologist, wrote that the Roman alphabet was used to transcribe the Afan Oromo language among Kenyan Oromos in the 1940s.

Proponents of the Ge’ez alphabet believe that Ge’ez signifies the rich liturgic and literary tradition of Ethiopia. For them, preserving Ge’ez in the age of the Roman alphabet’s domination is a sign of resistance to cultural globalization and a symbol of identity. Responding to Awol Kassim Allo’s post on Facebook, Abeba Teshale wrote:

“Simple, structured, logical, Ethiopian, African, Amharic/Tigregna alphabet is there for any one interested to adopt. 26 vs 338 syllables! There is an alphabet for each sound and for the ones that don’t have one, we could crate a symbole. Just a thought”

For many Oromos, though, adopting the Roman alphabet is a matter of selecting an alphabet that best fits the Afan Oromo sound system.

According to academic Teferi Degeneh Bijiga, who wrote his doctoral dissertation on the topic of Afan Oromo writing system, complex historical, cultural and linguistic forces were at play when Oromo intellectuals decided to adopt the Roman alphabet in 1991.

Over the next few weeks, this issue will be front and center in Ethiopian politics, where the Ethiopian government is operating under a state of emergency because of the protests that began over land use as well as political and economic marginalization in Oromia in November 2015.

Early History of Written Oromo Language up to 1900 November 11, 2015

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???????????kemetic alphabet (Qubee)qubee durii fi ammaa

Early History of Written Oromo Language up to 1900

By Tesfaye Tolessa, Department of History and Heritage Management, College of social sciences, Wollega University,

Post Box No: 395, Nekemte,  Oromia



The purpose of this paper is to make known historical development of written Afaan Oromo to 1900. The study draws upon primary and secondary sources. The primary data are drawn from oral and archival sources. Books and articles in Afaan Oromo and in other languages about Afaan Oromo were consulted. Many of these sources are not only indicators of the status of written Oromo but also of situations that the Oromo people have endured over decades and centuries. The paper reveals how the assimilation activity targets above all the language of the society to be assimilated and how Afaan Oromo had been able to survive such assimilation policy of successive Ethiopian regimes. In addition, it puts an overview on how the missionaries, foreign travelers, religious personalities and some Ethiopians attempted to reduce Afaan Oromo into written language. It gives an idea about the beginning of writing Afaan Oromo in the early 17th century. The study also indicates the school founded in those problematic periods to teach in Afaan Oromo and the translations of many books into Afaan Oromo.


Literature is linguistically documented facts and ideas through which people used to preserve their deeds and worldviews from one generation to the other (Owamoyala, 1993). It is also important to note that one cannot separate language and culture from literature that define them. Language is therefore, a pedestal in the evolution of literature as it is one of the typical ingredients in one’s awareness of her/his culture, identity, custom and history. The sources to study the historical movements of human beings have come from the study of languages that were spoken by the preceding generations as a proto language. This is because, language harbors human culture, knowledge, arts, history and others (Isichei, 1995; Yule, 1996; Ehret, 2008). This is also true for Oromo language what the Oromo prefer to call Afaan Oromo (henceforth Afaan Oromo). Among the Cushitic language families to which it belongs, Afaan Oromo ranks first by the number of its speakers. It is the third among the widely spoken languages in Africa next to Swahili and Hausa Languages. It is a common language among many nationalities, like the Harare, Bartha, Shinahsa, Anuak, Sidama, Gurage (Mekuria, 1994), Koma, Yam, Kaficho, Dawuro, Gedeo, Konso, Somali, Afar, Amhara, and others (Feyisa, 1996). The indigenous speakers are uninterruptedly distributed from Southern Tigray in the North to Northern Kenya in the South, and from Harar in the East to Gidaamii in the West (Gada, 1998; Richard, 1995; Baxter, 1978). They form the largest homogenous culture sharing common descent, history and psychological makeup (Baxter, 1978). Geographically, except in the Northern, Afaan Oromo is found in Eastern, Southern, Central and Western Cushitic Language families by retaining its homogeneity. The Oromo of all these areas could communicate in this language without dialectical barriers (Ibid.). Despite these facts, it is denied official status and no comprehensive scholarly study conducted on it.

Some Facts as a Precursor to Written Oromo Language

Recent sources are reveal the neglected history of Afaan Oromo under its past consecutive Ethiopian rulers. The attempts of the rulers to lock up Afaan Oromo’s outlets where they had been are now being wearied away by discovering of the sources which were masked by the scholars of Ethiopian history under the influences of her rulers. Jackson who made anthropological and historical studies of the civilizations of the Middle East and Northeast African states that Afaan Oromo is the purest living specimen of primitive Babylonian languages. He asserts that when the other languages have since been mixed up with other languages, Afaan Oromo in Ethiopia and Mahra in South Arabia have been able to maintain their purity without significant changes. As he put it:

In regard to the language of the primitive Babylonians, the vocabulary is undoubtedly Cushite (Cush Ethiopia), belong to that of tongue which in the sequel were everywhere more or less mixed up with the Semetic languages, but of which we have probably the purest modern specimens is the Mahra of South Arabia and the [Oromo] of Ethiopia (John G. Jackson, 1974)

Šihãb ad Din Ahmad bin Abd al-Qãder, Chronicler of Imam Ahmad bin Ibrahm al-Gahz and an Arab writer, indicates that the Yejjuu Oromo had been well established in Walloo before the war of Imam Ahmad bin Ibrahim alGahz. According to Šihãb ad Din, the Imam ordered his soldiers to speak only Yejjuu (Oromo) language as the area was populated by the Yejjuu Oromo. Even, the Imam recruited more than three thousand Yejjuu Oromo into his soldiers (Lester Stenhouse, 2003). This indicates that Afaan Oromo was a popular language in northern Ethiopia before the alleged Oromo expansion of the sixteenth century began. Similarly, Abbaa Bahrey (1993) who is said to have been the author of “Zenaw Lahula (Oromo)” written in 1593 employed many Oromo names and terminologies like gadaa, malbaa, muudana, Tuulama, Maccaa, Galaan, walaabuu and many cultural concepts. Moreover, the book leads us to raise an argument that there was at least one person who knew both Geez and Oromo languages to have produced the book. Otherwise, as Jan Vansina (1995) states it is difficult for someone to collect oral tradition of the society whose language he/ she did not know. At the very least, it would have been impossible to get oral information embodied in the book without Abbaa Bahrey’s using the services of Oromo with good knowledge of the Geez language. Whether Abbaa Bahrey knew Oromo or used the services of others, the literature of the book written by him is another instance of an indirect entrance of Oromo into written literature. Early Printed Sources of Written Oromo Language In the middle of seventeen century, Hiob Ludolf, in his linguistic production, wrote a few Oromo words with its parallel translation in Geez and Latin. According to Ludolf (1682), the Oromo words were told to him by Abbaa Gregory between 1652 and 1658 which again gives clue that Abbaa Gregory was well versed in Oromo language. This book in which Oromo words were written appeared in 1682. It is the first written words of the Oromo language we have at our disposal. James Bruce, who visited Ethiopia, did some work related to Afaan Oromo. (Jumce Bruce, No year of publication) In his journey to discover the Source of Blue Nile, Bruce had the opportunity to be among the Oromo of Walloo. Bruce was the first traveler and second European writer next to Hiob Ludolf to record the Oromo language in his account as one of the major languages he had come across. According to his report, he had wished to get ready made written literature for the languages; but he points out that he could not get even one because of the traditional law that forbade the translation of any religious documents into any language other than Geez (Ibid.). The act was religiously condemned and became immoral. As he puts it: …there is an old law in this country (Ethiopia), handed down by tradition only, that whoever should attempt to translate the holy scripture into Amharic, or any other language, his throat should be cut after the manner in which they kill sheep, his family sold to slavery, and his house razed to ground…it was great obstacle to me in getting those translations of the song of Solomon made which I intended for specimens of different language of those distinct relations (Ibid.). Daringly breaking that traditional law, he translated Solomon’s alleged praise for the Queen of Sheba into Afaan Oromo by using Geez characters on a page of his work. This is the second early tangible evidence of the beginning of writing in Afaan Oromo. Afaan Oromo was a palace language during the reign of Iyoas who was monolingual in Afaan Oromo (Richard Greenfield, 1965). The employment of 3,000 soldiers as palace guards (Tesfaye Zergaw, 2001; Trimngham, John, 1965) helped to make Afaan Oromo virtually the official language of the palace (Martial De Slavic, 2008).

The occupation of the position of Ras Bitwedid by the Yejjuu lords from the middle of 1770 onwards (Ibid.). Further exalted the use of Oromo language in the state system. On the other hand, many Oromos who were sold into slavery attempted to make Afaan Oromo popular under the opportunities got to be Christian preachers (Ibid.). Although the origin of Alaqa Zannab, Chronicler of emperor Tewodros, there were many freed Oromo slaves participated in the translation of the scripture before the popular Abba Gammachis (Onesmos Nasib), Zannab , Ruufoo, Waaree, Jagaa, Soolaan and Liban (Wolbert Smidt, 2002) are few among many. The translation of the Scriptures into Oromo language continued. On June 30, 1877, Menilek ordered Alaqa Zannab to translate the books of Jeshewa, Judge Ruth, and Samuel to use the translation for himself for revision after Hebrew. However, the works did not see light of the day due to the death of Krapf, who used to publish Alaqa Zannab’s works, in 1881 and the unstable political situation between the interior and the coast. Nevertheless, R. Pankhurst, who has written about these materials, does not explain why Menilek II preferred Afaan Oromo to Amharic for the revision of the Hebrew Bible (Pankhurst, 1976). But the reason is clearly stated by Hudeson “It is a curious fact that, although so many of the great Abyssinian officers are pure [Oromo], and although nearly every Abyssinian know[s] [Oromo] as well as Amharic, yet they do not care to speak [Oromo] in public. This can only be ascribed to a kind of false pride, as in private they will talk it readily” (Hudeson and Walker, 1922). To have indigenous religious scholars who could study Oromo language scientifically and translate the religious scripture into the language, the Catholic missionaries invested lots of their efforts on Afaan Oromo. Abbaa Massaja intensively continued to request the opening of (Oromo) College in France. It was great for Massaja to get land for the construction of (Oromo) College on 18 January 1866 in Marseille. On 15th April, 1866, St. Michael Oromo College was officially inaugurated by Massaja Marseille, France. By February 1869, the college was reported to have enrolled about twenty-nine Oromo students collected especially from ransom slaves (Abba Antonios Alberto, 1998). For the first three years, the Oromo College was functional to teach theology and linguistics with the focus on Oromo language under the direction of Fr. Emanuel and Louis de Gonzangue Lassere. However, it was unfortunate that the Oromo students of the College could not acclimatize well with the weather and many of them died (Ibid.). This forced Massaja to try to establish another College in the homeland of the students in order to fulfill the pastoral missions of the vicariate. Following his requests, the Capuchin of propaganda Fide allowed Massaja to build another (Oromo) College in the Oromo country in 1868. As soon as he received the letter of permission, Massaja left for Shawaa accompanied by his four Marseille Oromo students and instructors. After forty-eight days of tiresome journey, they reached Liche, the king’s court at the time on March 11, 1868 (Ibid.). Based on Menilek’s advice Massaja sent Fr. Tuarin, the vice-perfect of the mission to Finfinnee with some of the Oromo students on 11 September 1868. Immediately they began constructing Catholic Church of St. Marry at Birbirsaa with the assistance of some Oromo people (Ibid.). Birbirsaa (Oromo) College was officially inaugurated on 25 July 1869. The former instructor of the Marseille Oromo College, Fr. Emanuel and Fr. Louis de’ Gonzague were sent to teach at the college but Fr. Emanuel died on the way to Shawa. Louis de’ Gonzague became the director of (Oromo) college of Birbirsaa in 1873 (Ibid.). At this College, Fr. Tuarin prepared religious texts in Oromo language for church and academic services. Attempts were made to produce religious and academic literature both in Oromo language (Ibid.). At the college, many recruits and some freed Oromo slaves, enrolled and became literate. The trained Oromo also participated in productions and translations of Oromo language literature as both writers and assistants to the foreigners. Nonetheless, the progress of Catholic Missionaries’ expansion and its roles in the development of written Oromo literature were impeded by Emperor Yohannes’s suspicious policy of king Menilek’s secrete contact with the Europeans. Yohannes feared that Menilek might have earned ample firearms through the contact.

Consequently, Yohannes ordered Menilek to stop contacting Europeans independently and the two sealed this in one of the articles of the Liche Agreement signed in 1878. The agreement forced Menilek to expel Europeans including all the Catholic missionaries from Shawaa. (Elio Ficquet, 2003) After thirty years of evangelical activity and Oromo language study in Ethiopia, Massaja was expelled (Tewelde Beyene, 2003). The mission station and the (Oromo) College of Birbirsaa had to close down. In 1897, the St. George Church was built on the site of the college by the order of Menilek (Alberto, 1998). Despite these challenges and obstacles, the catholic missionaries had never given up their mission of evangelizing the Oromo and translating books into Oromo language. Mgr. Cahagne, who became Vicariate Apostolic of the Oromo following the resignation of Massaja on 3 October 1879, designed another way to enter the Oromo land. Mgr. Cahagne and his compatriots were able to pass through Zeila and established themselves at Harar in 1881. In Harar, they established two schools; one for freed slaves and the other for missionaries. In both schools Afaan Oromo and Arabic languages were intensively given. Fr. Andre Jarosseau was busy in studying Afaan Oromo and Arabic in Harar during 1882- 1883, which could be a key for his future apostolate among the Oromo. (Kevin, O’Mahone, and Wolbert Smidt, 2003). Parallel with the establishment Oromo College and missionary station, the Catholic Missionaries embarked on collecting Oromo words, studying its grammar. They also translated their religious scriptures into Oromo language. In addition to the 1853 of catechism translation, Abbaa Jacob had translated the gospel of Matthew into Oromo language. He published the book which was 135 pages long at the printing house of Banasfus in Carcassonne in 1900. The main constituent of the translation is 28 chapters of Matthew, Morning and Evening Prayers, Revelation of Sin, and the Ten Commandments. Like his translation of 1853, the book has the problem of precise representation of Oromo sounds which is difficult only for the non-native learners but also for the natives themselves. His orthographical usage is based on the accent of French language. Otherwise, Jacobi had the concept of Oromo words that are long or stressed (Abba Antonios Alberto, 1998). The attempt of translating and composing Oromo language continued. In 1887, Ettore Viterbo an Italian scholar published Afaan Oromo grammar in Italian language under the title Grammatica Della Lingua Oromonica in Ermanno. The grammar consists of about 397 pages majority of which is devoted to the discussion in Italian language. The first hundred pages are devoted to Oromo grammar, from 103- 266 to Oromo-Italian and from 267-397 to ItalianOromo vocabularies where as the rest is left for Kaficho, Yem and the other Southern nations’ grammar. In the book Oromo words, phrases and sentences written in Latin script are cited as an example under each explanation of the grammar with it transcriptions into Italy. As he states in his grammar, his Oromo-Italian and Italian-Oromo bilingual vocabularies were aimed at easing twoway translations that was to benefit both the Oromo and Italian speakers. (Abune Jacobi, 1900) Nonetheless, as his approach of both the grammar and the vocabularies orthographic representation of Oromo sounds are the corruptions of Italian sounding system that it is difficult to pronounce Oromo words correctly for both the Oromo and nonnatives. Similarly, Franz Praetorius a German scholar, published Zur Grammaticka der Gallasparche in 1893 in Berlin. Praetorius’ 130 pages of Oromo grammar in Germany employed Geez script for the Oromo words, phrases and sentences cited in the book to show the practicality of the discussion. (Franz Praetorius, 1993) In this grammar, the focus he made on Oromo language is not worth as most part of the account is left for the German.


Although Oromo nation has been one of the largest ethno nations in Ethiopia, the attention given to study their language particularly from historical aspect is remains minimal. Policy of marginalization was also exercised for the purpose of building a country of one language, religion and culture. Promotion for the language was inspected and strictly forbidden. Therefore, the Oromo language in general and written Oromo literature in particular remained less studied. Until recently, Afaan Oromo lacked developed written literature and has insignificant written and printed materials. In spite of this pressures, some literate Ethiopians, foreigners, religious men and sold Oromo slaves to Europe tried to document some sketches of Afaan Oromo whenever they got any opportunity they came across. These efforts enabled us to take down the origin of written Oromo literature down to 17th century.

Early History of Written Oromo Language up to 1900

History of Oromo Writing and the Contribution of Dr. Mohammed Reshad November 1, 2015

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???????????Toltu Afaan booksHirmatadubbii afaanoromoAfaan Oromo is the ancient indigenous language of Africajioota Afaan Oromookemetic alphabet (Qubee)qubee durii fi ammaa

Sheik Mohammed Rashad  was a very prominent scholar celebrity among the Oromo people.   The alphabet he prepared  developed from the Latin and is easier to use. One particular advantage his alphabet has, it can be typed using English typewriter.

The second group of students who travelled abroad for studying include all youth who by their own free will decided to travel. They were not sponsored by any government or non governmental organization. They had no scholarship grant. They did not know where to go, what to study, for how long, and what the expense was. The only thing they had  was the desire to learn.  They travelled on foot; crossed  borders and  reached  a neighbouring country. From there, only a few got the oppertunity to reach a destination in the Middle East. A number of those who travelled on foot did not even cross the border. Death was  their fate, because of hunger, disease, or attack from wild animals.  Most who traveled in this way were Muslims  and among them who successfully completed his studies and contributed a lot to his people was Dr. Shek Mohammed Rashaad.

Sheik Mohammed Reshad was born at Laga Arbaa, Carcar district, West Hararge zone in East Oromia. At school age he started learning Islamic education from his father who was his teacher. Rashad was a fast learner who completed basic and intermediate education in a short period of time. He was a nationalist who rejected the suffering of the Oromo under the repressive Neftenya regime. When he grew to be a teen ager, his father allowed him to travel to learn and seek knowledge. One day, he decided to travel with his friend. They started their journey on foot from Laga Arbaa.  Along their way they have travelled through many villages and towns, but he mentions only two i.e. Chiro and Harar. When asked why he mentioned only the two his answer was as follows. “When I reached the town of Chiro I saw Abyssinian soldiers performing their routine parade. I saw a similar thing in Harar too. At that time, I thought the enemy soldiers subjugating the Oromo were encamped only at those two places and one needs to get rid of those soldiers to free the Oromo people. Therefore, I decided that I and my friend should travel abroad, meet with Muslims, explain the situation of our people, ask for arms, get armed with fire arms and hand grenades, return back home, one of us to Harar and the other to Chiro, set an agreed upon date and time, launch a pre-emptive attack, finish the enemy army and liberate our people. That was what I thought to accomplish at that young age.  This makes his purpose of travel abroad a dual one: education and politics.  First he crossed the border and entered Djibouti on foot. From there he crossed the Red sea by boat and reached Yemen. From Yemen he travelled through the Arabian Desert and finally made it the city of Medinah in Saudi Arabia where he settled for some time. During this long travel, he faced many difficulties and obstacles some of which were undoubtedly fatal. Had it not been for the help of Allah he would have not reached his adult hood to tell the story. Following a brief period of stay in Saudi Arabia, he travelled to Syria where he started his studies. Upon completion of his studies he was congratulated but was seen off without a diploma or a certificate. Because of this and the counseling he received from his friends he travelled to Egypt where he got registered at Al Azaar University. He continued his studies and graduated with BA and then MA degrees. His major was religion but he has taken several courses in sociology, psychology and counseling, logic and linguistics.

Dr. Rashad was not only a scholar who proved himself with his knowledge, but a nationalist who showed himself with what he did for the nation. At the University of Al Azaar there was a department where foreign languages were taught. Among the courses one was the Amharic language. He could not believe his ears when he heard it first until he confirmed that it was true. At that time, he prepared an official request and presented it to the department to include Oromo language in their courses. His request was denied and he asked why it was denied. The answer given to him through an indirect body was “Because the Oromo language has no alphabet.” He got the answer from an indirect source. It won’t be difficult to guess what this has triggered in him. He felt very bad and decided that all his efforts so far were for himself the rest should be for his people. He believed that the Oromo language should have an alphabet and must be a written language. He took this responsibility upon himself and began his work towards the goal. First he studied the efforts of Aanniyyi and Danniyyi and the work of Bekri Saphalo. He analyzed both and tried to understand the pros and cons of both alphabets if used for Oromo language. Finally he set three fundamental criteria to fulfill before any alphabet can be chosen. The three criteria are:

1)      The alphabet should completely represent the Oromo phonemes

2)      The people who can teach it should be available easily and everywhere

3)      Typewriters and printing press must be readily available

Both alphabets were found not to fulfill the criteria. The Arabic alphabet could not fulfill all the three. Its symbols do not represent the entire phonemes because it is short by eight symbols. It means it does not have symbols representing eight sounds which are currently represented by: “ /C/, /CH/, /DH/, /G/, /NY/, /PH/, /X/ and /Q/. Because of the Oromo accent and the presence of sounds loosely close to them we can disregard the last two i.e. /X/ and /Q/ To explain the six sounds for which the Arabic alphabet has no symbols nothing is better than the example produced by Dr. Rashad himself. It goes,  ask any Arab to pronounce the following sentence: “Dhagaa caphsii cirracha nyaadhu” and see for yourself that he/she cannot. Similarly you cannot write that sentence using the Arabic alphabet. Symbols can be modified to represent those sounds but no typewriters or printing presses are readily available for use. Because of this reason the Arabic alphabet as it is cannot be chosen for Afaan Oromoo.

Source: gulelepost.com

Oromia: BBC’n Afaan Oromootiinis akka tamsaasu waamichi dhihaate: BBC: Consider Afan Oromo for your new radio-broadcasts to Ethiopia/Eritrea, as a matter of priority September 10, 2015

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???????????kemetic alphabet (Qubee)The six widely spoken languages in Africa

Awash Post: BBC’n Afaan Oromootiinis akka tamsaasu waamichi dhihaate

BBC’n Afaan Oromootiin akka tamsaasuu waamicha kan dhiheessan Dr. Birhaanamasqal Abbabaa Sanyii fi Girmabbaacabsaati

BBC’n tamsaasa Itoophiyaafi Eertiraa irratti fuulleffate akka eegaluuf deemu Fulbaana 7, 2015 labsee jira. Sababni BBC’n barbaachisummaa tamsaasa kanaaf dhiheesse ukkaamamiinsa miidiyaalee wolabaan wolqabatee hir’inni ykn hanqinni dimokraasii biyyoota lamaanuu keessatti bal’inaan mul’ataa jiraachuu isaati. Egaa kallattiin xiyyeeffannaa BBC qaawwala uumame kana cufuufi rakkoo argame kanaaf furmaata barbaaduudha. Ummataa beela odeeffannoo qabu kana odeeffannoo haqaafi madaalawaa ta’e sooruudha, kaayyoon BBC.

BBC’n tamsaasa eegaluuf karoorfachuun alatti afaan tamsaasni isaa ittiin darbu afaan kam kam akka ta’uuf deemu ammatti wanti ibse hinjiru. Kan fuulleffate Itoophiyaafi Eertiraa irratti waan ta’eef Amaariffaafi Tigriffi nihafa jedhee kan yaadu hinjiru. Jidduu kanatti kan dagatamuuf jiru, akkuma ummata isa dubbatuu, Afaan Oromooti.

Rakkoon BBC’n nifura jedhee yaadu kanniin irra jireessatti kan dhadhamaa jiru Oromoodha. Oromoon kan dubbatuufi kan qajeelatti hubatu afaan isaati. Kanaaf BBC’n rakkoo furuu ykn qaawwala cufuuf deemu san qajeelatti cufuu fedha yoo ta’e, bifa kamiinuu Afaan Oromoo dagatuun irra hinjiraatu. Afaan Oromoo afaan BBC’n ittiin tamsaasu ta’uun kan fayyadu Oromoofi kanniin Afaan Oromoo dubbatan qofaa miti. Kaayyoon BBC’s akka salphatti galma gayuu ykn milkaayuu kan danda’au tamsaasnin yaadame kuni Afaan ummanni miliyoona 40 olitti tilmaamamu dubbatutti yoo dhimma baye. Afaan Oromoo dhiisanii afaan lamaan qofaan tamsaasuu jechuun garaacha gara alaa miicanii isa gara keessaa dhiisuu wolfakkaata. Miicuun yoo hinoolle luf godhaniiti.

BBC’n Afaan Oromootiin akka tamsaasuu waamicha kan dhiheessan Dr. Birhaanamasqal Abbabaa Sanyii fi Girmabbaacabsaati. Sodaa ykn shakkii BBC’n Afaan Oromoo nidagata jedhu ta’uu hinoolle kan Dr. Birhaanamasqal faa gara murtii dursanii waamicha dhiheessuutti isaan geesse. Hirmaannaan hunda keenyaa Afaan Oromoo gara BBC’tti fiduu akka danda’u hinshakkinaa. Tamsaasa Afan Oromoo BBC irraa darbu kan dhagayuu hawwu hundi waamicha godhameef kana awwaachuu qofa kan isarraa eeggamu. Waamicha BBC’f godhame irratti hirmaachuu kan feetan as bira cuqaasa.

BBC’n afaan Hawusaa, Kiswaahilii, Somaalee, Kirundiifi Kinyaruwaandaan tamsaasa isaa ummata Afrikaa kallattii adda addaatti argamu biraan akka gayu nibeekama. Afaan Hawusaafi Kiswaahiliin alatti hundi dubbattoota Afaan Oromoo qabuu gadi hedduu xiqqaa ta’e qaban.



Ethiopian Oromo campaign for BBC language service

Emmanuel Igunza

BBC Africa, Addis Ababa

Ethiopian Oromos have started a petition asking the BBC to consider the Afan Oromo language for proposed news services for Ethiopia.

“This language is spoken as a first language by more than 30 million Oromo and neighbouring peoples in Ethiopia and parts of northern Kenya,” it says.

On Monday, the BBC announced it was proposing to introduce a news service for Eritrea and Ethiopia on medium- and short-wave radio – but gave no further details.

It would be ideal if the BBC decided to broadcast in three languages spoken in Ethiopia – Amharic, Tigrigna and Afan Oromo – the campaigners said.


Afaan Oromoo Afaan Saba Guddaa July 21, 2015

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???????????The six widely spoken languages in AfricaHirmatadubbii afaanoromoToltu Afaan bookskemetic alphabet (Qubee)qubee durii fi ammaa https://youtu.be/U3L6yoJoljs

Afaan Oromoo keenya Haa Dursinu March 14, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Afaan Oromoo, Africa, Kemetic Ancient African Culture, Oromo, Oromo First, Oromo Identity, Oromo Literature, Oromummaa, Qubee Afaan Oromo.
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???????????Kan na boonsu OromummaaAfaan Oromo is the ancient indigenous language of Africa

Afaan Oromo is the ancient indigenous language of Africa. Save Afaan Oromo!The six widely spoken languages in Africaqubee durii fi ammaa

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

See more @  Gadaa.com & Ayyaantuu.com