These days Americans are seen when buying gifts, sending cards and saying “Happy Mothers’ day” to all women passing by them. It is a day mothers look forward eagerly to open their gifts and celebrate in a way suiting their taste. The day will occur on May 11. But it has been a while since warming up its eve started. What would that bring to our memory?
In olden days the month of May was a month Oromo women perform the rituals of fecundity to their mothers’ Ateetee. Literally they are said to “spray or host Ateetee”. Since alien invasion created crisis in their country every thing started to fall apart. Alien faith invaded them. Be it as it may the alien that conquered them started to worship the month of May as its own, naming it “Ginboot Lidataa” trying to substitute “Mary” for Ateetee. That seems a mixture of Oromo fathers “Wadaaja”, Ateetee and idol worship. Their practice was foreign to traditional Oromo monotheist worship. Ateetee is a traditional holiday where one Waaqaa was worshipped.
Something that reminds them of Ateetee awaited Oromo who came to foreign land as exilee. And that is “Mothers’ Day” which they celebrate in that same month. For one who investigates It could indicate the influence the world had on Oromoo and ancient Oromo had on the world.
Ateetee is Ayyaanaa (a deity or spirit?) of women. “Ayyaanaa” is a particularly Oromo phenomenon that has no equivalent in English. Her symbol is especially arranged beads called Callee. A woman’s Callee passes to the wife of elder son from generation to generation. A bare woman has no one to pass her Callee to. That is why when a woman gives birth to a son the ululation is five times as opposed to girl’s three. It means she brought forth some one she passes her mothers Callee to. That is why woman pray to Waaq to give her a child. Though a son is preferred for passing the family legacy down to generations any child is liked for it saves of woman from being barren. A dhabduu (barren) woman is the most depressed in Oromo society.
Ateetee is an Ayyaanaa of fecundity. What are prayed for are fertility, health and tranquility. With the coming of Ateetee one’s mother is remembered. All children, relatives and neighbors bring her what she could use for the “spraying and hosting”. Big feast is prepared. Hydromel and buqurii (traditional beer) are drunk. The home of those who host Ateetee will be flushed with excitement. Ateetee is celebrated over a period. It has no fixed date. But Tuesday and Wednesday seem the preferred days.
This writer was brought up during a time and in an area where the celebration of Ateetee was phasing out. What was celebrated in towns as Ateetee by aliens that prophesy the Christian religion is a fake one. Their Ateetee hosts are possessed ones. They enter trance and make strange movements and talk to spirits. Oromo women’s Ateetee is hosted differently. Woman come together, pray and dance. No one is possessed. Songs of praise to Ateetiyyoo and fertility is sung. Ateetee is referred to as Ateetiyyoo and Aayyolee or “my Ateetee and mommy” when endearing. It is a day of laughter and joy.
When they celebrate Mothers’ Day and give gifts to mothers in the lands where we are in exile, let us also remember Oromo mothers’ Ateetee, their facaafannaa and Callee.
This writer has not researched on Ateetee. His knowledge is also limited. For this reason if knowledgeable could inform us on how Ateetee is celebrated, what the one who performs the facafannaa ritual does and says, how children and the family head as well as relatives and neighbors welcome would be helpful to raise our self-consciousness.
The coming generation will also have own alternative to be proud of. We heard when women’s is called Ateetee and that of men “Wadaaja”. If we educate each other about all we will have some additional to be proud of. It will help us not to be a have not while we have. Knowing its underlying philosophy may indicate certain things we lost as a people.
We wish a healthy, tranquil and happy month of Ateetee for all women and peace to Ayyaanaa of past mothers. To honor our past mothers and cheer up those who assure our future let us continue to remember their Ateetee. Much is expected from modern Oromtittii towards it.
Let mothers’ Ateetee be fulfilled with success!