The Oromo are a Cushitic ethnic group and nation indigenous to Ethiopia and Kenya who
speak the Oromo language. They are Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, accounting for 34.5
percent of the country’s population. Oromos speak the Oromo language (also known as
Afaan Oromoo and Oromiffa), which is part of the Cushitic branch of the Afroasiatic
language family.
55% – 60% of the Oromo are Muslims, 40% – 45% are Christian, and up to 15% Traditional
religion (Waaqeffanna)
Some Oromo people continue to practice their traditional religion, Waaqeffanna, and use
the gadaa system of governance. A leader elected through the gadaa system is often in
office for eight years, with an election held at the end of that term.
Prior to the 16th century, the Oromo people’s origins and prehistory were based on folk
tales. Older and subsequent colonial-era documents refer to the Oromo people as Galla, a
derogatory term, but these documents were generally written by representatives of other
ethnic groups.
The first verifiable record of the Oromo people being mentioned by a European
cartographer is in a 1460 map by the Italian Fra Mauro, which uses the word “Galla.”

However, until the early twentieth century, Fra Mauro’s word Kush was the most commonly
used. The word coined by Juxon Barton in 1924 was used by Abyssinians and Arabs to refer
to Oromo people. It was a metaphor for a river, a forest, and a pastoral people who lived in
the highlands of southern Ethiopia.
According to Mohammed Hassen, this historical knowledge is consistent with Somali
written and oral traditions.
No Cap To What You Can Earn
Work Smarter, Not Harder — Join Or Become An Independent Mortgage
Broker And Earn More.According to an International African Institute journal, it is an Oromo word (adopted by
neighbors), as there is a word galla in their language that means “wandering” or “to go
home.”
The Oromo have never called themselves “Galla” and refuse to use the word because it is
considered negative.

They used to identify themselves by one of their clans (gosas), but now use the generic term
Oromo, which means “free born people.” Oromo is derived from the word Ilm Orma, which
means “children of Oromo,” “sons of Men,” or “person, stranger.” The term Oromo was first
used to refer to an ethnic group in 1893.
Oromoo people heavily contributed to the battle of Adwa which led to the defeat of Italian
troops in 1896.

“As historian Raymond Jonas points out in his book The Battle of Adwa, the
appearance of Oromo cavalrymen at the Battle of Adwa had a “notably
dispiriting effect on the Italian soldiers. The Oromo functioned with such
grim efficiency that they hastened the demoralization of the crumbling
Italian army.” – Aljazeera

Origin

Following Fra Mauro’s statement, there has been a number of literature about the
inhabitants of this area, including the Oromo, specifically mentioning their wars and
resistance to religious conversion, mainly by European explorers and Catholic Christian
missionaries.
The oldest historical report of Oromo ethnography is the 16th-century “History of Galla”
written in Ge’ez by Christian monk Bahrey from the Sidama country of Gammo.
According to D’Abbadie’s book from 1861. In some maps and historical events, the Oromo
are referred to as the Galla. Before the (Oromo expansion), the Oromo led a campaign
against the Sultanate of Ifat, which was called Meeshii Dir Dhabe. The Oromo led an
expedition against the Cisee Dir clan, who occupied the great city.

The Cisse clan would be dominant, bringing the war to a halt. The Cisee would rule the city
for the next two centuries, before the Oromo expanded and migrated. According to an
Oromo inscription from the 14th century, the Oromo were in Ethiopia long before theOromo migration and established several civilisations, including the Wej,Bale,Arsi,Dawaro,
and others.
Sihabudin also stated that the Werra Qallo, who now live in Hararghe, were in Dawaro long
before the Oromo migration.
Historical evidence indicates that the Oromo people were already settled in the southern
highlands in or before the 15th century, and that at least some Oromo people interacted
with other Ethiopian ethnic groups.
According to Alessandro Triulzi The Oromo would make contact with and communicate with
the Nilo Saharan Groups.

According to historical linguistics and comparative ethnology studies, the Oromo people
most likely originated near the lakes Lake Chew Bahir and Lake Chamo.
They are a Cushitic people who have lived in East and Northeast Africa since at least the
early first millennium. The Abyssinian–Adal war of the sixteenth century forced the Oromos
to relocate to the north.
The Harla were assimilated by the Oromo in Ethiopia. While Oromo people have lived in the
area for a long time, the ethnic mix of peoples who have lived here is unknown.
The Oromos expanded their population through Oromization (Meedhicca, Mogasa, and
Gudifacha), assimilation, and forced assimilation of other ethnic groups, as well as the
inclusion of mixed peoples (Gabbaro).

The native ancient names of the territories were replaced by the names of the Oromo clans
who conquered them, and the inhabitants were renamed Gabbaros.
History
Pre-19th century

Afaan Oromo-speaking people have traditionally used their own Gadaa system of
governance. The Oromos also had a number of autonomous kingdoms that they shared
with the Sidama. The Gibe region kingdoms of Kaffa, Gera, Gomma, Garo, Gumma, Jimma,
Leeqa-Nekemte, and Limmu-Ennarea were among them.
The Ethiopian monk Abba Bahrey wrote Zenahu le Galla in 1593, the earliest known written
and comprehensive history of the Oromo people, though the synonymous word Gallas was
recorded in maps or elsewhere much earlier.
They are mentioned more frequently after the 16th century, such as in the records left by
Abba Pawlos, Joao Bermudes, Jerorimo Lobo, Galawdewos, Sarsa Dengel, and others.According to these documents, the Oromo were a pastoral people who lived together in the
past. Their animal herds started to grow exponentially, necessitating the need for more
grazing lands. They started migrating individually, rather than together.
Instead of kings, they had elected leaders known as luba who were governed by a gada
structure. By the late 16th century, two major Oromo confederations had emerged: Afre
and Sadaqa, which refer to four and three in their language, respectively, with Afre
emerging from four older clans and Sadaqa emerging from three.
These Oromo confederations were originally based in south-central Ethiopia, specifically the
northwest of the Borena Zone near Lake Abaya, but began migrating north in the 16th
century, coinciding with the “Great Oromo Migration.”
According to Richard Pankhurst, an Ethiopian scholar, this migration is related to Imam
Ahmad ibn Ibrahim’s first incursions into inland Horn of Africa.
According to historian Marianne Bechhaus-Gerst, the migration was one of the
consequences of fierce attrition wars between Christian and Muslim armies in the Horn of
Africa area in the 15th and 16th centuries, which killed many people and depopulated the
regions near the Galla lands, but it was also most likely a result of droughts in their
traditional homelands.
Furthermore, they captured horses, and their gada system assisted in the organization of
well-equipped Oromo warriors, enabling fellow Oromos to advance and settle into newer
regions beginning in the 1520s. This expansion lasted until the 17th century.
Both peaceful integration and violent competition between Oromos and other neighboring
ethnicities such as the Amhara, Sidama, Afar, and Somali influenced Oromo politics.
Between 1500 and 1800, there were waves of wars and conflict in the Horn of Africa
between highland Christians, coastal Muslims, and polytheists. This resulted in substantial
population displacement. Around 1535, the Oromos marched north, east, and west from
the south, mirroring the Somalis’ large-scale inland expansion. The Amhara people were
also displaced during the 1500–1800 period, which influenced contemporary ethnic politics
in Ethiopia.
According to oral and written evidence, the Borana Oromo clan and the Garre Somali clan
victimized each other in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, particularly near their
eastern borders. There were also times of relative tranquillity.According to Günther Schlee, the Garre Somali clan has displaced the Borana Oromo clan as
the region’s dominant ethnic group. According to Schlee, the Borana violence against their
neighbors was unprecedented and unlike their actions within their culture, where violence
was considered deviant.
Demographics
The Oromos are Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group (34.9 percent of the population), numbering
about 37 million people. They are primarily concentrated in the Oromia Region of central
Ethiopia, the country’s largest region in terms of both population and territory. They
communicate in Afaan Oromoo, Oromia’s official language. Oromos are the third most
populous ethnic group among Africans in general, and the most populous among Horners
in particular.
The Oromo also have a significant presence in northern Kenya, especially in Marsabit
County, Isiolo County, and Tana River County.
Totaling approximately 470,700: 210,000 Borana, 110,500 Gabra, 85,000 Orma, 45,200
Sakuye, and 20,000 Waata. There are also Oromo in Ethiopia’s former Wollo and Tigray
provinces.
Subgroups
Main article: List of Oromo subgroups and clans
The Oromo are divided into two main branches, which are further subdivided into a variety
of clan families. From west to east. The Borana Oromo, also known as the Booranaa, are a
semi-pastoralist tribe that live in southern Oromia and northern Kenya. The Borana live in
the Borena Zone of Ethiopia’s Oromia Region and the former Northern Frontier District
(now northern Kenya) of Northern Kenya.
They communicate in an Afaan Oromo dialect. The Oromo language. The Oromo people’s
other moiety is the Barentu/Barentoo or (older) Baraytuma. The Barentu Oromo are located
in the eastern parts of the Oromia Region in the Zones of West Hararghe, Arsi Zone, Bale
Zone, Dire Dawa Region, the Jijiga Zone of the Somali Region, Administrative Zone 3 of the
Afar Region, the Oromia Zone of the Amhara Region, and the Raya Azebo Aanaas in the
Tigray Region.

Source: theafricanhistory.com