Korma Ayyaanaa (Ayyaanaa Bull)

Abbaa Ollaa dressed up and went out to see what was happening. The Sacred Bull and a heifer had left the kraal without any other cattle following. It was unusual for a heifer on heat to have only one chaser. They headed north one chasing the other. Abbaa Ollaa didn’t want to interfere with the episode. He decided that the bull has to be followed to its final destination undisturbed. So he told Abbaa Karraa to select five of his best men and set them for the mission under the leader ship of abbaa saglii. Then chosen five warriors from the cibraa saddled their horses and left after the two rutting cattle.

The bull was one already designated as a sacrificial bull for Ayyaanaa of the nation. It was known as Korma Ayyaanaa (Sacred Bull). Animals vowed for Ayyaana are designated as sacred and known by the whole community that revered them. To go into a kraal or not is the sacred animals own choice.

Such animals were well-fed and so were exceptionally strong that no rival or predator could be spared if challenged. They roam the land freely and no one should drive them away forcefully. If defeated in a fight it was considered portent and rituals had to be performed to avert an inevitable mishap. 

Coming back to the strange episode; the mate kept on moving north, even after the rutting was over. The men also continued following them from a distance to see where they might end. During the night the bull took shelter in a cave or under a big tree where it could defend against wild animals. First it would bellow with thunderous sound as if announcing its presence before going down for rest. The men then put up fire at a reasonable distance and kept watching in turns throughout the journey.

There was a belief that Waaqaa communicated with men through signs. This behavior of the bull was taken as a sign of something to come. The bull being designated for the nation’s Ayyaanaa, was taken as a medium of communication with the sprits until it is sacrificed. On their way the cattle used to stop for grazing and searching for drinking water. For this reason their travel some times takes them into the jungles and down cliffs. Predatory animals turned at distance and never tried to attack the couple. That also makes it portent.

As the days passed the belly of the heifer started to bulge showing pregnancy. The distance daily covered started to become lesser and lesser. Around the ninth month they crossed Hawaas River and reached at the foot of mount Gujii in Tuulamaa land. Hawaas is a river that starts from around Ambo deep in Nabee hinter land and ends in Afar desert before reaching the Red Sea.

Bulls in the land started to bellow and cows to low as if welcoming the two harbinger of national reunion and victorious return of the dispersed tribes. But when is it going to happen? No body could tell but it certainly will happen for this trip was a harbinger for that.

After crossing the Awash they went up hill until they reached an open land with cluster of odaas. The bull stopped at the foot of the biggest odaa circled once as if performing a ritual. He bellowed with majestic roaring sound and marked a spot with its horn. The local bulls reverberated the roaring at the top of their voice. The cow lied down in agreement at the marked spot under the great odaa. All in all there were five odaas including this one. Near each odaa was a garbii, one type of acacia tree. No other tree or cultivation taller than the odaa was seen in the vicinity. It was a sacred ground protected by the people and the spirits.

People came out and greeted the men and invited them to their homes. They declined for they should not take their eyes away from their animals. But asked the country men if the tree under which the animals rested had any significance. The men informed them that the whole surrounding was a sacred shrine. And that it has come being retold that the biggest odaa sprouted in the goorannoo (crib) of a calf in a house of a man called Nabee. 

Nabee tended the sprout and it grew into a promising tree after which he asked his country men to name it after him for he didn’t have a child to be called by. His will was fulfilled by the people and it is called Odaa Nabee since then. The wondrous thing is the sprouting of four other odaas not far away from this one. They are like siblings to Odaa Nabee. Now the five Gadaas have their own odaa to assemble under. Odaa Nabee was assigned for Birmajii, the senior party. 

Since its growth the odaa became a center of attraction. It is said Nabee lived to see many generations after him. He lived to be “raagaa”, as persons who grew wise and gifted with special ability of foretelling events were called. It was told that people came to the odaa and consult Nabee on important personal and societal issues. The odaa didn’t become a shade then but had started to serve as a land mark.

In addition to serving as assembly shade for the Gadaas, various tribal meetings also took place there occasionally. Peace and reconciliation conferences were conducted under it. Travelers rested there. It also served as a ciibsaa (cattle rest) for cattle of the surrounding. Now Korma Ayyaanaa has taken shelter under it, fulfilling an event foretold.

The Abbaa Gandaa (neighborhood chief) was informed about the arrival of strangers who spoke the same language as theirs. He came and with first sight recognized from their insignia, that they were from Booran, the land of the elders. He greeted them with due reverence and love. Then he ordered for a ram to be brought and sacrificed. He put the meedhicha, a band from the skin of the ram, on the wrists of the leader of the travelers. This was a ritual performed for men of honor. He asked the group for their blessing. They blessed him, the people and the land, in the name of the Ayyaana Boorantichaa.

They updated their host on the life of the vanguard people, the Booran. They told all that need to be told including about Abbaa Muudaa and the pilgrimage, which the people of the north had long discontinued because of conditions beyond their control. They also told them how they are being led by the Korma Ayyaanaa.  That was raajii (portent). The local people started to inquire if there was any prophesy in their records?

People were sent to the raagaa (prophet) with the news. But before they returned, the bull nudged the cow to move. She was in labor. They again moved north and reached a place called Dhaga Sadee (The Three Stones). The animal rested there till the morning. The bull led the cow and they again headed north. The heifer had already dropped amnion fluid at Odaa Nabee. The men followed them meekly.

Finally the bull stopped and lay down at a place called Handoodee, which was called Handoodee Tumaa after this event. Tumaa means pounding or finalizing. The heifer delivered the long awaited calf. The surrounding community had already heard about the event and has come to thank Waaqaa for his mercy on their land.

The prophet at Odaa Nabee had sent the people of Handoodee the message that the coming of the bull signifies the return of kaawoo (victory and grace). He said long, long ago, war and draught and other causes had forced tribes of the Kuusaa nation to migrate southward. That is how they are dispersed over the area from Nuubbiyaa to the great manyaa (ocean) and areas bordering Baantuu land. Each tribe had since developed its own administration and way of life; so each of them is now a nation by its own right. At present they are only talked of as a language group, the Cushitic language group.

From this region said the raagaa, which is now called Odaa Nabee, an expedition consisting of able bodied men and women from Booran and Barintuma, the two great moieties of the Oromo nation, was sent south ward on surveying mission. That expedition didn’t return to inform the authority that sent it. Individuals may meet at occasional pilgrimage to Abbaa Muudaa, the sacred shrine of the Ilmoo Ormaa (Oromo), but officially the vanguard was disconnected with the rear.

Since then war has devastated our land, continued the raagaa. Our numbers had been reduced to insignificance. Yet we stood our ground and survived so far. We have been on waiting for centuries for the fulfillment of a raajii revealed to our raagaas of the past. Now, Waaq is sending us a message that the time for unification was coming. He sent to the men from Booranaa to pass by him on there return journey.

Delegates of tribes from as far as Abbayyaa and Gibee and borders of Affar and Agawu in the north came to pay respect to the Booran travelers and the sacred bull. They all slew animals and put meedhicha on the wrists of the guests. There was bon fire for five nights. People feasted and danced. Many asked for personal blessing from the men who followed the cattle. The vanguards of the southern migration were the elders and so their curse and blessings stick according to Oromo ethos and tradition. Others brought food for the Bull and the cow mother. On the seventh day those who stayed behind thanked Waaq together under the guidance of Qaalluu of the neighborhood and the crowd dispersed. 

On their way home the Booran travelers visited the raagaa at Odaa Nabee. From him they heard about the version of the raajii of the bull as told in this part of Biyya Ormaa. He thanked Waaq for giving him longevity and made him see this raajii fulfilled. Believe it my people, said the raagaa, the indication of Korma Ayyaanaa has never failed. The raagaa told them to go home and tell their people that Waaq has started to fulfill his promise. You are returning to where you belonged and establish our government at Odaa Nabee.

At Odaa Nabee the Oromoo shall be one and shall re-conquer the lost territory, asserted the raagaa. Biyya Ormaa shall have one law. The Gumii shall start legislating in the procedure the beacon, Korma Ayyaanaa had directed. All debates shall be completed at Odaa Nabee and recited from memory and reviewed at Dhaga Sadee and the bill finalized. Tumaa (Proclamation) shall be given at Handoodee for all consequent constitutional deliberations.  Only the diligent and most intelligent shall memorize the law for it shall be proclaimed at waarii (mid night), a time when the lazy is slumbering. That was the time when the heifer delivered her calf.

At the end the cattle were given to the custody of Abbaa Gandaa of Odaa Nabee. He was to keep them until their future maintenance is decided by the yaa’ii (assembly) of the surrounding. Later it was told that the Bull dominated all the cattle of the surrounding and several calves were borne for it. For generations of cattle to come its seeds were going to cover the whole land. Its breed, designated as Boorana cattle, is the most valued to this day. 
The travelers were given gifts for themselves and for Abbaa Bokkuu of Booran and Abbaa Muudaa. They included among others, horses, coffee, tobacco, golden amulets, togas and turbans. All put on pack animals, which were parts of the gifts were seen of.

A throng followed them up to river Hawaas and with wish of good luck saw them off. On return the throng cut and carried branches of birbirsa tree and with song and dances of hope and jubilation took it back to Odaa Nabee. Since then people go down to Hawaas and bring back birbirsa branches for Gadaa celebrations.

By the side of each odaa was a garbii tree. They put the birbirsa branches against the garbii trees. From then until the return of the Southern Expedition, the birth of the new calf was celebrated every year. Animals were sacrificed at the three places marked by Korma Ayyaanaa.

On their way back the travelers visited the shrine of Abbaa Muudaa before crossing to the eastern side of Nageelle River. They thanked Waaq for his mercy during their long journey forth and back. They also delivered the vow gift sent by the people of Odaa Nabee. They spent a night at the shrine before leaving for home. The shrine was being prepared for coming Gadaa celebration.

Then the proceeded towards home filled with spirit of fulfillment. News had already reached their people that they came and met them halfway home. They carried green lives of trees and reeds and sang songs of praise to Waaq and valor to their returning pilgrims. They put wreaths of kalaalaa around heads of the travelers. They also blessed the Kormaa that led the cow to fulfill a historic mission.

Reaching home they told their story to the crowed that was assembled to welcome them. They told them about the Promised Land that the beaconing of the Kormaa took them. Then they handed over the message of the raagaa of Odaa Nabee and the gifts sent by the people to the Luba of the land. The delivery was made to Abbaa Olla who in later days traveled to Gaayyoo to forward it to reigning Luba.  He took the leader of the Korma Ayyaanaa mission with him.

For the reception Laduu and Kallacha (sacred ritual gears) were out; the whole Ollaa was gathered to hear the story. Abbaa Luba started by hoo qubaa (thanks) to Waaq and by blessing the multitude. He then told the audience about the message of the raagaa of Odaa Nabee he received. He then asked Abbaa Ollaa to narrate the story. The Abbaa Ollaa told how it started and gave turn to the leader of mission to give eye witness account. The leader of mission gave detailed report covering their round trip journey. Abbaa Luba then opened the floor for discussion.

A Yuba asked to speak and was given the first chance. He reminded the gathering that they were also aware of such a raajii and were waiting as to when it would be realized. The Chair thanked him and asked for questions and comments from members of the gathering. Some asked questions others gave information on what they have heard on the subject on hand. After the issue was exhaustively discussed the abbaa Gadaa started to give his summery. Now he said that the beacon of Waaq has come through the journey of Korma Ayyaanaa we have to make up our minds for the great exodus.

He will guide us again as to which Gadaa shall be blessed to under take the task. He again blessed the gathering and the meeting was over. Before they dispersed, all vowed never to give up until the raajii of Korma Ayyaanaa were fulfilled.

A tour was organized so that members of the Bull mission go around the land and give their eye witness report to all ollaa. Thus the southern men who returned from the voyage told the wondrous story of the Korma Ayyaanaa and the heifer to inquisitive audiences throughout the land. The gatherings celebrated the occasion for it was told by ancient prophets that this would happen. The men returned at a time when the people were preparing for the ceremony of exchange of Baallii (symbol of power), by which the old Gadaa (set of rulers) leaves power for a new generation of leaders. A Gadaa reigns only for eight years after which it takes advisory role.

The Qaalluu told, it was not prophesied that the exodus was to be lead by the current Gadaa. So they had to wait until the Gadaa destined to do it arrives. They had to wait until another sign were given in what ever way the Ayyaanaa see it appropriate.

This story was added to old legend until a time came and a Gadaa decided to organize an expedition. Only the weak, the elderly and few able bodied persons to support them were left behind. There for it was almost a total migration, a going back to land of ancestors. They had to traverse open grass land, deep jungles, acacia forests, valleys and dangerous precipices. In most cases there were no settlements in sight.

After arduous travel they reached a land of several streams and lash grass land in the center of the thickest forest they have never seen. It seemed what was described in legend as a land of human creation, Madda Walaabuu (source of the free).  It was a place where clay became human and where the first Ilmoo Ormaa was fabricated by Uumaa (creator).  This Madda Walaabuu may be name sake or a representation of the original Madda Walaabuu the exact place of which no body could tell for sure.

In the trees were holes full of bees. Honey trickled down freely. They were so much in excess that bees never cared to guard them. The forest was filled with aroma of the tree gums and variety of flowers. The expedition was attracted by the beauty of the surrounding. There was enough grass and water for cattle and many felt no urge to move farther.

The Abbaa Bokkuu called for an all Gadaa meeting to discuss on the next move. The meeting discussed the spiritual and material implications in detail. Majority felt they need some time to recuperate from exhaustion as a result of the long hazardous journey. It was then decided that they settle there at least until the end of the present Gadaa’s term of office. The decision was left to coming Gadaas and the case closed for now. There were those who didn’t like the discontinuation of the search for the trail of the bull that could have taken them to the promised destination.

Individual adventures started to leave the place on their own. Some returned to the same spot by losing the sense of direction in the dark forest. Others came back to tell fantastic stories of people and places they came across. Only few who crossed Hawaas came back. No one of them located Odaa Nabee. The finding of the Hawaas was considered as enough land mark to locate the sacred odaa for future expedition.

It was to take them a long time until they decide another expedition. This happened in fifteenth century. Dooyyaa (scouts) squads were sent towards the identified Hawaas route. After crossing the Hawaas they were to take different directions in search of the sacred odaa. The journey from Hawaas should not be more than half day’s journey as learned from the first travelers. So the scouts were to return to the same spot on the river bank by same time next day to exchange information.

Some identified mount Gujii from far off while others came very near to it. It was one squad which was able to directly go to Odaa Nabee and came back with the news and provision for all. The Dooyyaa went back and gave report on their findings. Based on that a new expedition was organized leaving few families behind. After reaching the destination the Bokkuu camped at Odaa Nabee. Abbaa Duulaas were deployed over strategic heights like Gujii, Erer, Cuqqaalaa, Wacacaa and Dildilaa. Odaa Nabee was to become the national capital of Biyya Ilmoo Ormaa (Orombiyyaa) which later evolved to be known as Oromiyaa, for a long time to come.

From there fresh expeditions were sent out in all directions in search of Oromoo tribes from long forgotten migration. By sixteenth century most territories foretold by raagaas were recovered. On their way they have overrun forces from Portugal that came to help Habashaa army. Their war tactics and formations were superior beyond the imagination of all that encountered them. The bravery of the lafoo (foot soldiers) and agility of the abbaa fardaa (cavalry) were superb. But they fell short of reaching Nuubbiyaa or Merowe, the cradle of Cushitic Civilization of which the Ilmoo Ormaa believed to be a part.

So much was the legend of Odaa Nabee, and the raajii of Korma Ayyaanaa! Would the present expedition keep in touch with its rear or get lost as they did during the southward migration? The story teller dozed; he didn’t even say when he might continue. It seems he left it to history to take over.

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