Oromo (Boorana) Religion

Doctrines The Boorana, as indeed any Oromo in East Africa, believe that the world was created by the Oromo God (Waqqa). He lives in the skies (waqqa), and sends rain to the earth so that grass can grow, and water can be available for the animals to drink. Therefore, an abundance of water and grazing, and of animals and food, conveys the blessings of God, and his care for the Boorana flocks.
The Peace of the Boorana (nagaa Boorana) however, constitutes the most treasured state of affairs. If there is peace between the Boorana themselves, and between humans, animals and the environment in general, Waqqa will send constant and abundant blessings. If there is no peace, the fertility of women and animals will decrease and as a consequence, the Boorana will cease to exist.

History The Oromo originated in southern Ethiopia, together with the Somali, around the tenth Century, and lived in southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya till their migrations began about 1530. In 1537 they entered the south-eastern province of Bali, following campaigns against the Ethiopian kings, 500 miles away from their homeland.
The Oromo trace their places of origin to Boorana in southern Ethiopia, where places such as Dirre and Liban are considered their homelands. However, several expansions took place in the last 300 years, due to their pastoral movements, and their constant interaction with Somali over resources, that not only affected movements in Ethiopia itself, but also in regions of Kenya such as the Tana river, and regions of Somalia such as Juba.
During the 1800s and due to the arrival of Europeans in Ethiopia, migrations assumed a different nature and became more localized. By 1896, the Oromo were by force made subjects of the Abyssinian king Menelik II, after he defeated the Italian army at the battle of Adwa. Therefore, and already by 1904, treatises between Britain and Ethiopia assured the fixity of the borders, and therefore created a self-contained territory where Oromo lived on both sides of the border (Ethiopia/Kenya).

Symbols The myth of origin of the Boorana, considered the first Oromo, stresses the importance of coffee-beans during every religious ceremony. The Boorana remember that when they were already living in Ethiopia, God sent a messenger to them. As they found him on a hill, coffee-beans were picked from the trees and offered to him. A coffee-bean is also compared to a vagina, that when speared and opened produces human life. Fertility is therefore symbolized by the daily opening of coffee-beans that are fried during the communal ritual of buna qalla.
Another powerful symbol is grass, that in itself symbolizes life and prosperity, and it is an element present in all their public rituals, including funerals and prayers of remembrance, during which grass is spread on the grave.

Adherents Oromo peoples are present in central and southern Ethiopia, and north (eastern) Kenya, and they amount to several million people (Baxter, Hultin & Triulzi, 1996). While most of them would practice their Oromo religion, they also combine traditional practices with Islamic and Christian religious practices.

Main Centre
 Their main ritual sites are located in Dirre and Liban in southern Ethiopia. General information about the Oromo can be obtained from The Oromo Studies Association, Department of History, Georgia State University, University Plaza, Atlanta, Georgia 30303-3083, U.S.A.