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Title:Religious beliefs among the Oromo: Waaqeffannaa, Christianity and Islam in the context of ethnic identity, citizenship and integration
Author:Ta'a, Tesema
Periodical:Ethiopian Journal of the Social Sciences and Humanities (ISSN 1810-4487)
Geographic term:Ethiopia
African religions
ethnic identity
Abstract:The Oromo of Ethiopia are the largest single ethnic group speaking the Oromo language as a mother tongue, which is part of the Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic family. Historic sources reveal that the Oromo religion was neither Christianity nor Islam but an indigenous religion known as Waaqeffanna. Before the introduction of Christianity and Islam, the Oromo people practiced their own religion. They believed in one Waaqayoo, which approximates to the English word God. Adherence to traditional practices and rituals is common for the Oromo, which could be an important asset for democratization creating harmony, understanding and better integration among the population. Among the Oromo there are 'priests' called Qaallu (male) and/or Qaafitti (female) and he or she is a religious and ritual expert. The Qaallu institution is one of the most important in the Oromo culture and has political importance even though the Qaallu himself does not possess political power as such. But they play a spiritual and political role in the Gadaa system of governance.The Waaqeffanna practice is closely linked with the Gadaa system. Using the paradigm established by L. Bartels in his work on Oromo religion, this paper discusses continuity and change in the Oromo religious beliefs, the tolerance they have developed, and the impact of Christianity and Islam on Waaqeffanna. Whether the Oromo are Christians or Muslims, a true belief in one God remains the basic tenet of Oromo identity. The paper also discusses the extent to which religious freedom is enshrined in the country's constitution. Conflicting identities and the State's intervention in religious affairs are very likely to hamper peaceful co-existence, democracy and integration. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract, edited]