Originally named Hirmata, the city owed its importance in the 19th century to being located on the caravan route between Shewa and the Kingdom of Kaffa, as well as being only six miles from the palace of the King of the Kingdom of Jimma. According to Donald Levine, in the early 19th century the market attracted thousands of people from neighboring regions: "Amhara from Gojjam and Shoa, Oromo from all the Gibe Kingdoms and numerous representatives of the Lacustrine and Omotic groups, including Timbaro, Qabena, Kefa, Janjero, Welamo, Konta and several others".
- Donald N. Levine, Greater Ethiopia, second edition (Chicago: University Press, 1974)
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