Thursday, 15 March 2018

ETHIOPIA: Oromo People

The Oromo people are an ethnic group inhabiting Ethiopia and parts of Kenya and Somalia. They are the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia and the wider Horn of Africa.

According to the 2007 census, they represent approximately 34.5% of Ethiopia's population, while others estimate they make up about 40% of the population.

With the total Ethiopian population thought to be over 102 million, the number of Oromo people exceeds 35 million in Ethiopia alone.

Oromos speak the Oromo language as a mother tongue also called Afaan Oromoo and Oromiffa, which is part of the Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic family.

The Oromo people followed their traditional religion and used the gada or gadaa system of governance.

A leader elected by the gadaa system remains in power only for 8 years with an election taking place at the end of that 8 years.

From the 18th century to the 19th century, Oromos were the dominant influence in northern Ethiopia during the Zemene Mesafint period.

Most of the Oromo people became Christians or Muslims over the centuries, while some retained their traditional beliefs. Some have been involved in wars with northern Christians and with southern and eastern Muslims in the Horn of Africa.

The origins and prehistory of the Oromo people is unclear, in part because the Oromo people did not have a written history and instead passed on stories orally prior to the 16th century.

Older and subsequent colonial era documents mention the Oromo people as Galla, but these documents were generally written by members of ethnic groups who were hostile towards them.

Historical linguistics and comparative ethnology studies suggest that the Oromo people probably originated around the lakes Shamo or Chamo and Stephanie Chew Bahir.

They are a Cushitic people who have inhabited the East and Northeast Africa since at least the early 1st millennium.

The aftermath of the sixteenth century Abyssinian-Adal war led to Oromos being able to occupy lands of the Ethiopian Empire and Adal Sultanate. The Harla were assimilated by the Oromo in Ethiopia and Somalia.

Galla was a term for a river and a forest, as well as for the pastoral people established in the highlands of southern Ethiopia.

This historical information, according to Mohammed Hassen, is consistent with the written and oral traditions of the Amhara people which also refer to the Oromo people as Galla.

The historical evidence therefore suggests that the Oromo people were already established in the southern highlands in or before the 15th century.

At least some Oromo people were interacting with other Ethiopian ethnic groups.

While Oromo people have lived in this region for a long time, the ethnic mixture of peoples who have lived here is unclear.

Historically, Afaan Oromo-speaking people used their own Gadaa system of governance. Oromos also had a number of independent kingdoms, which they shared with the Sidama people.

Among these were the Gibe region kingdoms of Gera, Gomma, Garo, Gumma, Jimma, Leeqa-Nekemte and Limmu-Ennarea.

The Oromo were pastoral people in their history, who stayed together. Their animal herds began to expand rapidly and they needed more grazing lands.

They began migrating, not together, but after separating. They lacked kings, and had elected leaders called luba based on a gada system of government instead.

By the late 16th century, two major Oromo confederations emerged: Afre and Sadaqa, which respectively refer to four and three in their language, with Afre emerging from four older clans, and Sadaqa out of three.

These Oromo confederations were originally based on southern parts of Ethiopia, but started moving north in the 16th century in what is termed as the Great Oromo Migration.

The migration was one of the consequences of fierce wars of attrition between Christian and Muslim armies in the Horn of Africa region in the 15th and 16th century.

The wars killed a lot of people and depopulated the regions near the Galla lands, but also probably a result of droughts in their traditional homelands.

Further, they acquired horses and their gada system helped coordinate well equipped Oromo warriors who enabled fellow Oromos to advance and settle into newer regions starting in the 1520s. This expansion continued through the 17th century.

Both peaceful integration and violent competition between Oromos and other neighboring ethnicities such as the Amhara, Sidama, Adal and the Somali affected politics within the Oromo community.

Between 1500 and 1800, there were waves of wars and struggle between highland Christians, coastal Muslim and polytheist population in the Horn of Africa. This caused major redistribution of populations.

The northern, eastern and western movement of the Oromos from the south around 1535 mirrored the large scale expansion by Somalis inland.

The 1500–1800 period also saw relocation of the Amhara people, and helped influence contemporary ethnic politics in Ethiopia.

The Somali expansion from the Ogaden plains west towards the Juba river led to conflicts with the Oromo. This expansion was a part of Jihad by Somalis as a means to control the better fertile land and expand Islam.

As a result, they managed to control most of what is now Ethiopia as far as the Eritrean Red Sea coasts.

These geo-political developments created a competitive conflict between the Oromos and Somalis, in competition for fertile territory and water resources.

According to oral and literary evidence, Borana Oromo and Somali clans mutually victimized each other in seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, particularly near their eastern borders, but there were also periods of relative peace.

The Muslim Somali replaced the Borana Oromo as the dominant ethnic group in this region.

The Borana violence against their neighbors was unusual and unlike their behavior inside their community where violence was considered deviant.

As they moved into earlier Islamic hubs, the Oromos increasingly adopted Islam, and in the process markedly grew their Muslim adherent base to become one of the larger such populations in the Horn region.

Pastoralist Oromos also took slaves from their own community's urban areas, as well as from other communities.

Slavery was at this time an important aspect of the social, political and economic structure of parts of Ethiopia.

The slaves were classified into two groups: red slaves who spoke Afroasiatic languages, and black or Negroid slaves called Shanqalla who spoke Nilo-Saharan languages.

The red slaves were primarily courtesans and were more expensive; they were given light duties so as to preserve their looks.

The black"slaves were much less expensive, and toiled in the fields and in Christian Abyssinian households.

The red slaves, among which were Galla individuals, formed the bulk of captives who were exported from Abyssinian territory to the Arabian peninsula and Persian Gulf regions, to Ottoman Empire markets, to Egypt and elsewhere.

Young female Oromo slaves served as concubines and household workers, while males were in demand for private armies and servile labor.

Oromos too enslaved other ethnic groups. Oromos during their wars were fierce and cruel, mutilating and enslaving the people in the regions they conquered.

Emperor Galawdewos battled with Oromos without much success and sought Portuguese help. In the era of Imam Ahmad, Oromo Luba tribes made war in Dawaro against Adal Mabraq, devastating the region and occupying it.

They also took over Fatagar and Faj, forcing its previous inhabitants into slavery.

The pagan Galla and animist Sidama or Agew slaves made up the slave caravans coming out of Ethiopia, as slavers avoided Christian or Muslim slaves.

The central Amhara provinces were a part of major Afar slave caravan trade routes from the southern and southwestern Galla, Sidama and Gurage regions to the northern and eastern Ethiopia.

Thousands of slaves were exported every year by Jabarti, Jalaba, Afar, Somali and Arab merchants as the income from this trade was lucrative.

The Ethiopian slave trade benefited the Muslims, and increased the Islamization of the Oromo people.

In the first decades of the 19th century, three Oromo monarchies, Enarya, Goma and Guma, rose to prominence.

The collective area was known as Galla-land and comprised most of central and southern Ethiopia, including lands now held by other ethnic regions.

In the general view of Oromo people's role in Ethiopia, one of the Oromo leaders named Ras Gobana Dacche led the development of modern Ethiopia and the political and military incorporation of more territories into Ethiopian borders.

Gobana, under the authority of Amhara ruler Emperor Menelik II, incorporated several and brought large sections of the Horn of Africa into a centralized Ethiopian state.

The inter-clan relationships within the Oromo people, as well as their relationship with the Amhara people who are the second largest ethnic group, have been historically complicated.

There was inter-clan fighting within Oromo. Over 450 years, the warfare between Amhara and Oromo had been more or less continuous.

In the southern and western regions, the Oromo-Amhara wars have been as terribly destructive as those between Amhara and Muslim Sultanates in the east.

In certain regions, some Oromo groups formed an alliance and cooperated with Amhara-Tirgrean authorities.

The inter-relationship between Oromo and Amhara peoples has been a subject of dispute, some suggesting evidence of integration while others suggesting on-going abuse that continued through the 20th century.

From one perspective, ethnically mixed Ethiopians with Oromo background made up a small percentage of Ethiopian generals and leaders.

The Wollo Oromo, particularly the Raya Oromo and Yejju Oromo were early Oromo holders of power among the increasingly mixed Ethiopian state.

The later north-to-south movement of central power in Ethiopia led to Oromos in Shewa holding power in Ethiopia together with the Shewan Amhara

The accounts of integration of Oromo people into a united Ethiopian nation vary widely.[81] By one account it was violent and forced.

The neftenya-gabbar system brutally subordinated the Oromos, Menelik's Army carried out mass atrocities during the conquest against civilians and combatants including torture, mass killings and large-scale slavery.

Large-scale atrocities were also committed against the Dizi people and the people of the Kaficho kingdom.
Some estimates for the number of Southern people Oromos, Dizi people, Kaffa, Shanqella killed as a result of the conquest from war, famine and atrocities go into the millions.

Menelik's armies dreadfully annihilated more than half of the Oromo (Galla) population down to 5 million people, which took away from the Galla all possibility of thinking about any sort of uprising.

Some of these deaths as a consequence of many factors such as famine and diseases that ravaged this period of Ethiopian history.

In some accounts, the relationship between the two largest ethnic groups of Ethiopia, Oromo and Amhara, was Abyssinian feudal colonialism.

Oromo were colonized by Amhara just like European colonialists in the pre-20th century period. The Abyssinian general Ras Darge, according to these accounts, ordered Arsi mutilation.

Oromo populations who resisted Amhara occupation were subject to amputations and disfigurement. Villages were decimated.

By 1901, parts of the Oromo territory were reduced to a third or half of their original population.

In the 1960s, political disputes emerged with reports of discrimination in educational opportunities for Oromo by Amhara leaders.

Amhara and Oromo have shared same geographical and historical space; both are intertwined culturally, economically and politically; millions of people trace their origin from both groups.

Elite Oromos were the regional kingmakers such as in Gondar and Shewa; and intermarriage between Amhara and Oromo ruling elites was and is extensive.

Thousands of Amharas from nobles to peasants and from educated to illiterate served loyally under Oromo ministers and generals.

Oromo became part of the Ethiopian nobility without losing their identity. While marginalization of the Oromos during Amhara rule led many to change their names to blend in with the Amhara population.

There was large-scale cruel exploitation of Oromo peasants in the 19th and 20th centuries, but the situation has been more complex because some Oromos crossed ethnic lines and collaborated with the Abyssinian forces.

This period also marked individual Oromos reaching high ranks in Ethiopian military, and several royal family members of this era were partially of Oromo descent.

For example, Iyasu V was the designated but uncrowned Emperor of Ethiopia (1913–1916), while Haile Selassie I was the crowned and generally acknowledged Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974.

Other Oromo people reached high positions in the emerging Ethiopia.

The Oromo traditionalists state that those who rose to powerful positions did so by rejecting their Oromo-ness, by rejecting their culture and adopting the other culture.

Some in Ethiopia see Oromo as integral architects and a part of one nation, others see a long history of denigration, treatment as primitive barbarians by Amhara and other ethnic groups, and a need to resurrect Oromo culture and history.

The Oromo people are the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia, estimated to be over 35 million people in 2016.

Their population is dispersed over a large region. They speak 74 ethnically diverse language groups.

About 95% are settled agriculturalists and nomadic pastoralists, practising archaic farming methods and living at subsistence level. A few live in the urban centres.

Oromos today are concentrated in the Oromia region in central Ethiopia, which is the largest region in the country in terms of both population and size.

They are present in large numbers in other central, western and southern provinces of Ethiopia. Group members also have a notable presence in northern Kenya in the Marsabit County, and in the Welo and Tigre regions of Eritrea.

The Oromo are divided into two major branches that break down into an assortment of clan families. From west to east. The Borana Oromo, also called the Boran, are a pastoralist group living in southern Ethiopia (Oromia) and northern Kenya.

The Boran inhabit the former provinces of Shewa, Welega, Illubabor, Kafa, Jimma, Sidamo, northern and northeastern Kenya, and a small refugee population in some parts of Somalia.

Barentu/Barentoo or older Baraytuma is the other moiety of the Oromo people. The Barentu Oromo inhabit the eastern parts of the Oromia Region in the Zones of Mirab Hararghe or West Hararghe, Arsi Zone, Bale Zone, Debub Mirab Shewa Zone or South West Shewa, Dire Dawa region, the Jijiga Zone of the Somali Region, Administrative Zone 3 of the Afar Region, Oromia Zone of the Amhara Region, and are also found in the Raya Azebo woreda in the Tigray Region.

The Oromo speak the Oromo language as a mother tongue also known as Afaan Oromoo and Oromiffa. It belongs to the Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic family.

According to Ethnologue, there are around 17,465,900 Oromo speakers worldwide.

The Oromo language is divided into four main linguistic varieties: Borana-Arsi-Guji Oromo, Eastern Oromo, Orma and West Central Oromo. Onesimos Nesib was a founder of the Oromo modern literature.

Christianity was adopted in Ethiopia early in 340 CE by the Kingdom of Axum. Ethiopia was an early Christian kingdom that remained in power through the modern era.

Islam arrived from the coastal region during the medieval era, across the Gulf of Aden, and led to the creation of warring Islamic sultanates such as Hadiya, Bali, Fatagar, Dawaro and Adal.

These kingdoms and sultanates ruled or influenced the history of Oromo people. The influential 30-year war from 1529 to 1559 between the three parties – the Oromo, the Christians and the Muslims – dissipated the political strengths of all three.

The religious beliefs of the Oromo people evolved in this socio-political environment. In the 19th century and first half of the 20th century, neither the Muslim-controlled areas, nor the areas where the Ethiopian Orthodox Church was dominant, would allow Protestant or Catholic missionaries to proselytize among them.

These missions focussed their efforts in the southern provinces of Greater Ethiopia where Oromo people following the traditional religions lived.

In the 2007 Ethiopian census for Oromia region, which included both Oromo and non-Oromo residents, there was a total of 13,107,963 followers of Christianity, 8,204,908 Orthodox, 4,780,917 Protestant.

122,138 Catholic, 12,835,410 followers of Islam, 887,773 followers of traditional religions, and 162,787 followers of other religions.

About half of the Oromo people are Sunni Muslim, a third are Ethiopian Orthodox, and the rest are mostly Protestants or follow their traditional religious beliefs.

The traditional religion is more common in southern Oromo populations, Christianity more common in and near the urban centers, while Muslims are more common near the Somalian border and in the north.

Adherence to traditional practices and rituals is still common among many Oromo people regardless of religious background.

Waaq also Waq or Waaqa is the name of God in the traditional Oromo religion, which only about 3% of the population of Oromia follows today; many of those who do live in the Borena Zone.

Oromo people were traditionally a culturally homogeneous society with genealogical ties. They governed themselves in accordance with Gadaa, a limited democratic socio-political system long before the 16th century.

Major three party wars commenced between them and the Christian kingdom to their north and Islamic sultanates to their east and south.

The Gadaa system elected males from five Oromo miseensa or groups, for a period of eight years, for various judicial, political, ritual and religious roles.

Retirement was compulsory after the eight year term, and each major clan followed the same Gadaa system. Women and people belonging to the lower Oromo castes were excluded.

A male born in the upper Oromo society went through five stages of eight years, where his life established his role and status for consideration to a Gadaa office.

Under Gadaa, every eight years, the Oromo would choose by consensus an Abbaa Bokkuu responsible for justice, peace, judicial and ritual processes, an Abbaa Duulaa responsible as the war leader, an Abbaa Sa'aa responsible as the leader for cows, and other positions.

Like other ethnic groups in the Horn of Africa and East Africa, Oromo people regionally developed social stratification consisting of four hierarchical strata.

The highest strata were the nobles called the Borana, below them were the Gabbaro some 17th to 19th century Ethiopian texts refer them as the dhalatta.

Below these two upper castes were the despised castes of artisans, and at the lowest level were the slaves.

In the Islamic Kingdom of Jimma, the Oromo society's caste strata predominantly consisted of endogamous, inherited artisanal occupations.

Each caste group has specialized in a particular occupation such as iron working, carpentry, weapon making, pottery, weaving, leather working and hunting.

Each caste in the Oromo society had a designated name. For example, Tumtu were smiths, Fuga were potters, Faqi were tanners and leatherworkers, Semmano were weavers, Gagurtu were bee keepers and honey makers, and Watta were hunters and foragers.

While slaves were a strata within the society, many Oromos, regardless of caste, were sold into slavery elsewhere.

By the 19th century, Oromo slaves were sought after and a major part of slaves sold in Gondar and Gallabat slave markets at Ethiopia-Sudan border, as well as the Massawa and Tajura markets on the Red Sea.

The Oromo people developed a luni-solar calendar, which likely dates from a pre-16th century period and before the great migration because different geographically and religiously distinct Oromo communities use the same calendar.

This calendar is sophisticated and similar to ones found among the Chinese, the Hindus and the Mayans.

It was tied to the traditional religion of the Oromos, and used to schedule the Gadda system of elections and power transfer.

The Borana Oromo calendar system was once thought to be based upon an earlier Cushitic calendar developed around 300 BC found at Namoratunga.

Reconsideration of the Namoratunga site led astronomer and archaeologist Clive Ruggles to conclude that there is no relationship.

The new year of the Oromo people, according to this calendar, falls in the month of October. The calendar has no weeks but a name for each day of the month. It is a lunar-stellar calendar system.

The Oromo people, depending on their geographical location and historical events, have variously converted to Islam, Christianity or remained with their traditional religion.

The subjective reality is that neither traditional Oromo rituals nor traditional Oromo beliefs function any longer as a cohesive and integral symbol system for the Oromo people, not just regionally but even locally.

The cultural and ideological divergence within the Oromo people, in part from their religious differences, is apparent from the constant impetus for negotiations between broader Oromo spokespersons and those Oromo who are Ahl al-Sunna followers.

In 1973, Oromo discontent with their position led to the formation of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), which began political agitation in the Oromo areas.

That year there was also a catastrophic famine in which over one quarter of a million people died from starvation before the government recognised the disaster and permitted relief measures.

The majority who died were Oromos and Amharas from Wollo, Afars and Tigrayans. There were strikes and demonstrations in Addis Ababa in 1974.

In February of that year, Haile Selassie’s government was replaced by the Derg, a military junta led by Mengistu Haile Mariam, a mixed Ethiopian with ethnic Konso heritage.

The Council was still Amhara-dominated, with only 25 non-Amhara members out of 125. In 1975 the government declared all rural land State-owned, and announced the end of the tenancy system.

However, much of the benefit of this reform was counteracted by compulsive collectivization, State farms and forced resettlement programmes.

In 1991, the Derg was replaced by the EPRDF. Initially, Oromo intellectuals and the OLF joined the transitional government alongside EPRDF.

However, the TPLF branch of EPRDF created an Oromo party (OPDO) to marginalized the OLF and eventually expel it from the country.

Despite increased harassment on Oromos, the OPDO presided over the advancement of Oromo language and culture over the last two decades.

The TPLF is widely known to use this progress in Oromo cultural and linguistic empowerment as an achievement and a mandate for EPRDF rule the nation.

However, most Oromos still do not believe they have political rights and many of them support the OLF and other opposition parties including the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC).

In December 2009, a 96-page report titled Human Rights in Ethiopia: Through the Eyes of the Oromo Diaspora, compiled by the Advocates for Human Rights, documented human rights violations against the Oromo in Ethiopia under three successive regimes.

The Ethiopian Empire under Haile Selassie, the Marxist Derg and the current Ethiopian government of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), dominated by members of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and which was accused to have arrested approximately 20,000 suspected OLF members, to have driven most OLF leadership into exile, and to have effectively neutralized the OLF as a political force in Ethiopia.

According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Oromia Support Group (OSG) recorded 594 extra-judicial killings of Oromos by Ethiopian government security forces and 43 disappearances in custody between 2005 and August 2008.

Starting in November 2015, during a wave of mass protests, mainly by Oromos, over the expansion of the municipal boundary of the capital, Addis Ababa, into Oromia.

Over 500 people have been killed and many more have been injured, according to human-rights advocates and independent monitors.

The protests have since spread to other ethnic groups and encompass wider social grievances. Ethiopia declared a state of emergency in response to Oromo and Amhara protests in October 2016.

Most Oromos do not have political unity today due to their historical roles in the Ethiopian state and the region, the spread out movement of different Oromo clans, and the differing religions inside the Oromo nation.

Accordingly, Oromos played major roles in all three main political movements in Ethiopia centralist, federalist and secessionist during the 19th and 20th century.

In addition to holding high powers during the centralist government and the monarchy, the Raya Oromos in the Tigray regional state played a major role in the Weyane revolt, challenging Emperor Haile Selassie I's rule in the 1940s.

Simultaneously, both federalist and secessionist political forces developed inside the Oromo community.

Presently, a number of ethnic-based political organizations have been formed to promote the interests of the Oromo.

The first was the Mecha and Tulama Self-Help Association founded in January 1963, but disbanded by the government after several increasingly tense confrontations in November, 1966.

Later groups include the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM), the United Liberation Forces of Oromia (ULFO), the Islamic Front for the Liberation of Oromia (IFLO), the Oromia Liberation Council (OLC), the Oromo National Congress (ONC, recently changed to OPC) and others.

Another group, the Oromo People's Democratic Organization (OPDO), is one of the four parties that form the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition.

However, these Oromo groups do not act in unity: the ONC, for example, was part of the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces coalition that challenged the EPRDF in the Ethiopian general elections of 2005.

A number of these groups seek to create an independent Oromo nation, some using armed force.

Meanwhile, the ruling OPDO and several opposition political parties in the Ethiopian parliament believe in the unity of the country which has 80 different ethnicities.

But most Oromo opposition parties in Ethiopia condemn the economic and political inequalities in the country.

Progress has been very slow, with the Oromia International Bank just recently established in 2008, though Oromo-owned Awash International Bank started early in the 1990s.

The first private Afaan Oromoo newspaper in Ethiopia, Jimma Times, also known as Yeroo, was recently established, but it has faced a lot of harassment and persecution from the Ethiopian government since its beginning.

Abuse of Oromo media is widespread in Ethiopia and reflective of the general oppression Oromos face in the country.

University departments in Ethiopia did not establish a curriculum in Afaan Oromo until the late 1990s because they lacked the technical expertise and resources.

Various human rights organizations have publicized the government persecution of Oromos in Ethiopia for decades. In 2008, OFDM opposition party condemned the government's indirect role in the death of hundreds of Oromos in western Ethiopia..

According to Amnesty International, between 2011 and 2014, at least 5000 Oromos have been arrested based on their actual or suspected peaceful opposition to the government.

These include thousands of peaceful protestors and hundreds of opposition political party members.

The government anticipates a high level of opposition in Oromia, and signs of dissent are sought out and regularly, sometimes pre-emptively, suppressed.

In numerous cases, actual or suspected dissenters have been detained without charge or trial, killed by security services during protests, arrests and in detention.

According to Amnesty international, there is a sweeping repression in the Oromo region of Ethiopia.

On December 12, 2015, the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported violent protests in the Oromo region of Ethiopia in which more than 20 students were killed.

According to the report, the students were protesting against the government's re-zoning plan named Addis Ababa Master5 Plan.

On October 2, 2016, nearly 700 festival goers were massacred at the most sacred and largest event among the Oromo, the Irreecha cultural thanksgiving festival.

In just one day, hundreds were killed and many more injured in what will go down in history as one of the darkest days for the Oromo people.

Every year, millions of Oromos, the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia, gather in Bishoftu for this annual celebration.

However this year, the festive mood quickly turned chaotic after Ethiopian security forces responded to peaceful protests by firing tear gas and live bullets at over two million people surrounded by a lake and cliffs.

Important Oromo people

Haile Selassie – Emperor of the Ethiopian Empire.

Ras Gobana Dacche – Top general in Shewan Kingdom.

HabteGiyorgis Dinagde Botera – War minister and first person to take the prime-minister position.

Lij Iyasu Mikael Ali – He is Menelik's grandson and Ras Mikael Ali Aba Bula's son whom was officially designated heir to the throne.

Sultan Aba Jifar – Governor of Jimma until 1932

Fatuma Roba – first African woman to win the Olympic gold medal in a marathon

Ras Ali I – Founder of Yejju dynasty

Ras Gugsa Merso – From Yejju dynasty who founded Debre Tabor city as the seat of imperial regents

Ras Ali II – The last member of the Yejju-Waraseek family to rule Ethiopian Empire as regent to the powerless emperors.

Abebe Bikila – The first Ethiopian to win a gold medal in the Olympics

Kenenisa Bekele – Athlete

Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin – Poet Laureate of Ethiopia

Dr. Haile Fida Kuma– Leader of All-Ethiopia Socialist Movement

Malik Ambar – Statesman and warrior in India, where he was brought as a slave in the 16th century

Feyisa Lilesa - Olympic silver medal winning marathon runner

Tirunesh Dibaba – Athlete

Almaz Ayana – Athlete

Ali Birra – Singer, poet, and Oromo nationalist.

Sheik Bakri Sapalo – Historian and poet who developed an alphabet for Oromo language.

Derartu Tulu – Athlete.

Nigus Mikael Ali – Previously called Imam Mohamed Ali, his son Lij Iyasu appointed Mikael as king of north Ethiopia to rule over the northern provinces including Tigray

Balcha Aba Nefso – Governor of Sidamo and Harar provinces. He fought in the first Italo-Ethiopian war and died while fighting the second one.

Empress Tewabech Ali – From the Yejju ruling class, daughter of Ras Ali II, who was wife of Emperor Tewodros

Girma Wolde-Giorgis – Former President of Ethiopia

Mulatu Teshome – President of Ethiopia.

Tadesse Birru – Father of Oromo nationalism

Elemo Qiltu – First commander of the Oromo Liberation Army

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