Joseph Van de Loo: Guji Oromo Culture in Southern Ethiopia

Collectanea Instituti Anthropos 39

The Guji, a subgroup of the Oromo pastoralists, are located in the highlands of Central Sidamo. They consider their own homeland to be the very ancestral cradle of Oromo culture. Only the Borana and Guji seem to have kept alive the splendid Gada age-group system. Its initiation ceremonies and the abundant lore which accompanies them, particularly as expressed in the Gada songs, are described and analyzed in the present work. The study of rituals and songs related to kinship, marriage, birth, and funerals is complemented by an insightful portrayal of the practical side of daily life in work on the homestead, cattle breeding, beer brewing, crop cultivation, food preparation, and so on. This description sets the scene for a more thematic analysis of the core religious and ethical concepts related to nagea, "peace,” and ayaana, "divine grace or manifestation of Waaqa-deity's generative power in both man and generative forces in the world. The analysis of the calendar, feasts, and oracular practices reveals the great extent to which time, with its favourable and ominous moments or days, discloses ayaana and regulates Guji activities.

Joesph Van de Loo, S.J., carried out pastoral work in Zaïre, mainly among the Yaka, for seventeen years and carried out linguistic research. In 1982 he volunteered for a humanitarian mission in Ethiopia. Extended study of the Guji language allowed him to discover the riches of Guji songs and oral literature.

Joseph Van de Loo: Guji Oromo Culture in Southern Ethiopia. Religious Capabilities in Rituals and Songs. 376 pp., 1991. ISBN 3-88345-391-9. € 40,–