Gadaa

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Gadaa (older spelling: Gada; literally: era) is the traditional democratic system of governance used by the Oromos in Ethiopia and northern Kenya.[1] It is also practiced by the Konso and Gedeo people of southern Ethiopia. The system regulates political, economic, social and religious activities of the community.[2]

Under Gadaa, every eight years, the Oromo would choose by consensus nine leaders known as Salgan ya’ii Borana (the nine Borana assemblies).[3][4] A leader elected by the gadaa system remains in power only for 8 years, with an election taking place at the end of those 8 years.[5][6][7] Whenever an Abbaa Gadaa dies while exercising his functions, the bokkuu (the symbol of power) passes to his wife and she keeps the bokkuu and proclaims the laws.[8]

Gada System has been inscribed by UNESCO as Intangible World Heritage since 2016.[9] It is the brainchild of Oromo born in Madda Walabu, Oromia.[10][11] Oromo people regarded the system as their common heritage and as one of their major identity makers.[12] It is the system with which the Oromo People have been governing themselves in a democratic way for centuries.[13][14] As of 1990, Gadaa had active adherents among the Borana and Guji groups near the Ethiopian-Kenyan border. In 2018, The Gadaa Center at Odaa Hullee has been reinstalled after two centuries of interruption.[15] Though the Gadaa system itself is no longer widely practiced, it remains influential in Oromo society at large.

Characteristic[edit]

Luba[edit]

Luba is the Gadaa class in which the society was structured into the peer group based on chronological age or genealogical generation. Each luba consists of all of the sons in another particular class. The entire class progresses through eleven different grades, each based on an eight-year cycle, and each with its own set of rights and responsibilities.[16]

Gadaa classes[17]
Luba Age Characters Responsibility
Daballe 0-8 Don't have real name. Cosidered as holy children and a source of blessing. No physical punishment. Identified with their hairstyle guduruu. No responsibility
Junior Gaammee 9-16 Naming ceromany called maqbaas. No political obligation. Provided with instruction in Oromo ethics and societal values. Study Oromo myth, riddles, stories of different types, geerersa, cultural songs, the family lineage and historical events.
Foollee /senior Gaammee 17-24 Learn law of Gadaa system. Hunts wild animals. Engage in military training that includes the use of horse in fighting, spear throwing, handling of shields, wrestling and defending the group to be fought. Guards leaders in power.
Kuusaa /Raabaa /Qondaala 25-32 Learn the importance of Gadaa leadership, organization, and warfare. Votes the their leader. Gives military service.
Raabaa Doorii 33-40 Attend their meetings. Prepare to take over power. Serve as senior warrior. Serve as apprentices to the ruling council.
Gadaa 41-48 Considered as significant stage in the political life. Its leaders exercise full decision-making power. Responsibile regarding military and civil matters.
Yuuba I 49-56 receive a great deal of respect. Advisors of the gadaa government and educators. Serve as repositories of law.
Yuuba II 57-64 receive a great deal of respect. Advisors of the gadaa government and educators. Serve as repositories of law.
Yuuba III 65-72 receive a great deal of respect. Advisors of the gadaa government and educators. Serve as repositories of law.
Gadaamoojjii 73-80 Conducts series of sociocultural ceremonies and rites. Senior advisor
Jaarsa >80 Considered as holy like the Daballe No responsibliity

The class passes from one stage of development to the next every eight years.

Baallii[edit]

Baallii is a process of transferring power from one Gadaa party to the next Gadaa party.

Research[edit]

A number of scholars have studied Gadaa. Legesse[18] has written that Gadaa is "one of the most astonishing and instructive turns the evolution of human society has taken". In addition to his Harvard PhD dissertation, Legesse has published a book[19] positioning Gadaa as an African democracy that could inform constitutional thinkers. The late Donald Levine has said[20] that Gadaa is "one of the most complex systems of social organization ever devised by the human imagination". For Jalata, Gadaa represents "the totality of Oromo civilization".

Current status[edit]

Considering the symbolic significance of Gadaa for the Oromo, as well as its structural innovations, researchers in law, indigenous studies, and pan-Africanism are exploring how the system could be utilized in the 21st century. For example, a thesis by Z. Sirna[21] entitled "Ethiopia: When the Gadaa Democracy Rules in a Federal State" explores how the system could be integrated with the contemporary federal structure of Ethiopia, serving as a governance mechanism for the Oromia Regional National State. Sirna has analysed the Gadaa system in relation to deliberative forms of political participation used in Western contexts. He concludes that the Gadaa systems' technique of 'consensus through dialogue' is unique but firmly rooted in Western democratic norms, and thus well suited to adoption within Ethiopia's federally structured democracy.[22] A political party known as GSAP (Gadaa System Advancement Party) bases its ideology on the principles of Gadaa. A futuristic, governance 2.0 project called BitGadaa[23] draws inspiration from the principles and structure of Gadaa.

Criticisms[edit]

The sixteenth century migration of the Oromo people has been known for capturing indigenous people and making them slaves. Part of the Gadaa system, Mogassa, has been criticized for erasing the culture and language of these indigenous people. Gadaa has also been criticized for being patriarchal, as it excludes women from political affairs. This, according to Legesse,[24] is the main shortcoming of Oromo Democracy. Other shortcomings include rigidity of rules, and the question of scaling Gadaa to millions of people.

Historically, Gadaa has been seen as a better method of governing than other forms in the region. In regions where the Oromo invaded and conquered, including around the Sidama and Somali, the Gadaa system was oppressive in practice, though proclaimed as democratic and just in Oromo oral tradition. According to ethnohistorian Ulrich Braukämper, minorities and those who assimilated, like the Hadiyya, were "considered to be of a lower social status than the 'pure' Oromo and did not possess equal rights in the Gadaa system."[25]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Gada system, an indigenous democratic socio-political system of the Oromo". unesco.org.
  2. ^ "Gada system, an indigenous democratic socio-political system of the Oromo". unesco.org.
  3. ^ Galla, Candace (2012). "Sustaining generations of Indigenous voices: Reclaiming language and integrating multimedia technology". {World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium Journal: 46–48.
  4. ^ Tesema Ta'a (2006). The Political Economy of an African Society in Transformation: the Case of Macca Oromo (Ethiopia). Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. pp. 26–27. ISBN 978-3-447-05419-5.
  5. ^ John Ralph Willis (2005). Slaves and Slavery in Africa: Volume Two: The Servile Estate. Routledge. pp. 122–127, 129–134, 137. ISBN 978-1-135-78017-3.
  6. ^ John Ralph Willis (2005). Slaves and Slavery in Africa: Volume Two: The Servile Estate. Routledge. pp. 128–134. ISBN 978-1-135-78016-6.
  7. ^ Ira M. Lapidus (2014). A History of Islamic Societies. Cambridge University Press. p. 483. ISBN 978-1-139-99150-6.
  8. ^ "The Gadaa System and Some of Its Institutions among the Booranaa: A Historical Perspective". ajol.info. pp. 91–92.
  9. ^ "Gada system, an indigenous democratic socio-political system of the Oromo". unesco.org.
  10. ^ "A heroic send-off for Aliyi Cirri, a pioneer Oromo freedom fighter whose courage and bravery inspired generations". www.opride.com.
  11. ^ "Historical Background". mwu.edu.et.
  12. ^ "The Gada sysytem; full Dimocratical politics of Oromo;71stBorana BalliHand overing Day Febrawary 2009/20017:The Gada of Kura Jarso" (PDF). oromiatourism.gov.et.
  13. ^ "Gada System inscribed in UNESCO as Intangible World Heritage". ethiopianembassy.be.
  14. ^ "Briefing: What is Oromo's Gada system?". hornaffairs.com.
  15. ^ "A Journey to Revitalizing Gadaa at Odaa Hullee: Tracing Jimma University's Unwavering Commitment". ju.edu.et.
  16. ^ Participedia Contributors. "The Gadaa System of the Oromo People". Participedia.net. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  17. ^ "Gadaa Grades". addisherald.com.
  18. ^ Asmarom Legesse, "Gadaa: Three Approaches to the Study of African Society", 1973
  19. ^ Asmarom Legesse, "Oromo Democracy: an Indigenous African Political System", 2006
  20. ^ Donald Levine, "Greater Ethiopia: The Evolution of a Multiethnic Society", 1974
  21. ^ Z. Sirna, "Ethiopia: When the Gadaa Democracy Rules in a Federal State", 2012
  22. ^ Participedia Contributors. "The Gadaa System of the Oromo People". Participedia.net. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  23. ^ "BitGadaa | Futuristic African Democracy". web.archive.org. 2015-09-09. Retrieved 2019-10-30.
  24. ^ Asmarom Legesse, "Oromo Democracy: an Indigenous African Political System", 2006
  25. ^ Braukämper, Ulrich. Layers Islamic8 History and Culture in Southern Ethiopia (2003)

Bibliography[edit]

  • Beckwith, Carol; Fisher, Angela; & Hancock, Graham. "Chapter 9: Spirit Worlds." African Ark. New York: Henry N. Abrams, Inc., 1990. ISBN 0-8109-1902-8
  • Ulrich Braukämper, Layers Islamic History and Culture in Southern Ethiopia (2003)
  • Joseph Van de Loo, "Guji Oromo Culture in Southern Ethiopia." Berlin: Reimer, 1991.
  • Asmarom Legesse, "Gadaa: Three Approaches to the Study of African Society", 1973
  • Donald Levine, "Greater Ethiopia: The Evolution of a Multiethnic Society", 1974
  • Asmarom Legesse, "Oromo Democracy: an Indigenous African Political System", 2006
  • Asafa Jalata, Gadaa (Oromo Democracy): An Example of Classical African Civilization, Journal of Pan-African Studies (2012)
  • Tenna Dewo. 2008. The Concept of Peace in the Oromo Gadaa System: Its Mechanisms and Moral Dimension. Journal of Oromo Studies 15.1: 139-180. Web access
  • Z. Sirna, "Ethiopia: When the Gadaa Democracy Rules in a Federal State", 2012
  • Participedia Contributors, "The Gadaa System of the Oromo People," last modified September 7, 2018, Retrieved from https://participedia.xyz/method/4865