Reexamining Our Past to Brighten Our Future

We are on the threshold of Bilisummaa to grasp our destiny in our hands. We had our lessons not to turn back before taking the struggle we started to the finish. There is a saying, “The feces will never again go back to rectum for it had lessons in the hard way”. For something of no use for them and the nation goobanaas are derailing us from our line of victory and handing us over to the enemy. The empire is finally travailing to enter into Nafxanyaa hands. Certainly, that will be aborted. Today also Goobanaa and Aluulaa are contesting on us in different setting. Would the empire become piles of solanum berries as a learned Goojjamee once said, if those two (Aluulaa ka Tigree, Goobana ka Gaallaa) did not agree? For racist Minilik his colonies are composed of “Gaallaa” and “Shaanqillaa” (Light black and coal black peoples).Both degrading names. Could it mean if Tigrean and those could agree the federation may be saved? After all the Oromo are not interested in what belongs to others; they will also not turn back until they get what is their own. Collaboration of hundreds of goobanaas and Nafxanyaa system hopefuls cannot deny them this. They will always agree with those that are not transgressors and believe in peace, equality and freedom. Independence is decided. Now what is left is how to organize ourselves. For this rather than adopting foreign practices as it is we have the opportunity to enquire from wisdom of our fathers and world practices. Let us consider some points from our fathers’, Gadaa system.

The Gadaa system was not stagnant or dogmatic but progressed according to the time and human development. It developed in parallel to democratic systems in the world not a copy of them. For this reason, it has originality. It was so securely organized that it could avoid modern ills of right abuses, nepotism, corruption and rent seeking. Protecting peace, equality of human beings and freedom is culture for the Oromo. Incoming Luba kan retain laws the previous one proclaimed or can void and replace them by its own. However, influence of alien thoughts and colonization disrupted the normal natural growth. Therefore, what it would have looked like today has to be projected. Many have written on the Gadaa system social and political aspects. But not much on its administrative layouts.

We have our Oral tradition, experience of elders and writing of foreign travelers as sources. Take Alexander Bulatovich, he was among Oromo at the end of the 19th century. He emphasized Oromo love of independence and freedom (Bulatovich p.65-68). This truth has also come passing from our fathers, in addition to character individuals show at home and among each other. The question is how was individual freedom harmonized with group freedom. From the legendary (mythic?) founder Horo or Orma, Oromo nation is structured into moieties, tribes, clans, balbalaa, warra, etc. Each are like cells with in each other with independent individuals and interwoven dependent connections.

The two senior moieties are Booran and Barentuma. These are further divided into junior moieties. Divisions under moieties could have divisions into further moieties. After junior moieties our interest is with tribes. A tribe had clans which are divided up to homestead. All had their own internal autonomous organization, a brick from which the nation is built. There were two practices observed by all nationals “Safuu” and “Laguu”. Safuu are forbidden ethical relations and practices. The punishment is reprimand or ostracization. Laguu is abstaining from doing something breaking of which can be punishment of human judgement or Waaqa’s rage. This was regulated by law which is superior to any one. These I think are the elements that that enforce authority. One that legislated the laws is a messenger for the law belongs to the people and Waaq for this reason it is fully respected by all children of the nation. All who are able can be present on General National Assembly (Kora Sabaa) and make one’s voice heard. Elements that make authority respected I think are the two, Safuu and Laguu. Otherwise in free Oromiyaa to quote Bulatovich’s observation after occupation, “And the freedom-loving Gaallaa/Oromo who didn’t recognize any authority other than the speed of his horse, the strength of his hand, and the accuracy of his spear now goes through the hard school of obedience.” What a pity? The unsung for Gadaa civilization were destroyed by barbarians from the North.

Each echelon above the other have defined authority on those below that does not jeopardize autonomy of each. In short decentralization of authority was to the extreme. If we have understood each other, each vertical structure on lower level have similar structure as one above it. For example, family and clan. Let us take Arsii. Its moieties Sikkoo and Mando have several divisions under them. They elect each other and reach Arsii’s Bokkuu. It is Arsii Bokkuu that represent them in Caffee Oromiyaa. Though their size may differ below Arsii excluding those of Sikkoo and Mandoo there could be many tribal Caffee. It is with this structure that Oromo built a formidable army that defeated two empires, Abyssinia and Adal in 16th century.

Another separate structure from this was that of Abbaa Muudaa. He has served as the rallying point of all Oromo. It is also said that his branches used to serve as “Election Board”. His was the only authority that was not contested for it was pure and spiritual. How can that function served in modern setting. There is no reason why we should not reexamine principles of the old way for it might help strengthening our unity of this century. That means not only external federation, we have to try internal one as well. Probably social tiers could have changed in many communities because of change in mode of production. All tribes seem to settle now. Therefore, administrative division will be geographical. Representation has also to follow that to practical. If we take jimmaa, it is in shaman Gibee, it is in Arjoo it is also in Qellem far apart. So, following affinity like is made obsolete by migration and mode of production. So, the Ganda, Lag/Burqa, Qoroo, Konya, Godina structure will be practical. Anyways, each division below represented in the upper echelon. Individual, family, ganda, county, region and nation’s relation to be reexamined to consider how to give each enough space. That may keep narrow regionalism from rising to national level.

In the above-mentioned structure what would gadaa organization look like? Society is divided into five peer groups. What is in one lamooyyee is present in the other. Electing each other for where they are, they also send representatives to their party in higher administrative echelon. Peer groups organized with eight years apart have the same name everywhere. It means Roobalee is Roobalee everywhere and is found on the same level. this Brainwashed by alien political thought we may get stunned. But that was our way of the Gadaa fathers. Let Oromo hayyuus with political, social and economic expertise ponder about it. Renaissance of Gadaa democracy could save the world. Oromiyaan haa jiraattu!

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

August 2020

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