All activities and life of each and every member of the Oromo was guided by an egalitarian socio- economic and political structure of the society called the Gada system. The Gada system is a class system that succeeds each other every eight years in assuming politico- military administration, economic management and other social activities. It was the central institution of the Oromo people that contains complex and extra-ordinary features. It was purely invented by the Oromo and it is one of the most remarkable political systems which was highly democratic with effective legislative and judicial institutions.
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Among other structural elements of Gadaa system is its legislative body commonly known as Gadaa General Assembly. The assembly takes place under a sycamore tree - a symbolic representation of dialogue and consensus. Gadaa is a holistic system of governance encompassing: political, social, cultural, economic and religious affairs of the Oromo people. As a system of governance, the Gadaa operates in stages often ten stages with eight years separation.
Unlike other, Western democratic systems, the Gadaa system has five permanent political parties whose members assume leadership once every eight years. Within forty years, all five parties serve their nation constituting 'One Gadaa'. Although the Gadaa system is no longer widely practised, it remains influential in Oromo society at large.
Amazingly, the Gadaa system is a democratic system of governance in which the community as a whole has the opportunities to participate on an equal basis. Under the Gadaa system, the Oromo people are organized or structured into five grades or strata and assume power in rounds which last for eight years each.
It is difficult to tell when exactly Gadaa system began since is seens as an intrinsic element of the indigenous Oromo's everyday lives and not an 'institution'. However, counting back the Gadaa leaders in power, now at 74th Gadaa leader and multiplying it by eight years, one can reasonably conclude it has been practised since at least the early s. Moreover, gathering under a sycamore tree known as Odaa is part of traditional Oromo culture. Today, the sycamore tree is a symbolic representation of dialogue and consensus, where the local community comes together to make new rules and resolve disputes Sirna Given the vastness of the Oromia , square kilometres and its population 50 million , assemblies take place in several places and assemblies are named after the place of gatherings.
In principle, every person can attend the Gadaa general assembly. Differences in terms of age, status or political affiliation may not bar a person from taking part in the assembly. However, it is mandatory for all living former Abba Gadaas presidents , former and incumbent Gadaa Councilors not less than thirty in number , and clan elders to convene to the assembly.
The assembly was led by a speaker - ex-Abba Gadaa. In a new development, women were allowed to attend the general meeting - something previously not expected of them. Sirna hopes that it is inevitable that women continue to participate and deliberate in Gadaa general assembly. The power of the Gadaa general assembly is to exercise supreme legislative authority. Its functions include but are not limited to reviewing laws at work, proclaiming new laws, impeaching the men in power, and settling major disputes that could not have been resolved at the lower levels of its judicial organ s.
Any decision passed by the general assembly is final and cannot be reversed by any other assembly Asmerom The legislative and adjudicatory supremacy of the general assembly is historically conditioned and culturally deep-rooted.
Historically, the process of enacting laws by the general assembly across central Oromo was quite different, especially before the midth century. Hence it creates the sense of imagining people without law, order and closure of government where an offender goes unpunished and all other laws will be null and void.
The law! We want the law! Following this event all participants burst into joy ibid: Nowadays, among the Guji-Oromo, the adoption of any laws by the Gadaa general assembly follows a strict procedure starting with the speaker ex-Abba Gadaa opening the agenda for deliberation by all. Then, discussion on the proposed agenda takes place in a traditional and orderly manner which privileges those with seniority. Following this, the speaker of recounts the proposed agenda and the main points of discussion.
The speaker requires every assemblyman to take part in the Gadaa general assembly calmly and actively engage in the deliberation. In the middle of the deliberations he intervenes to make sure that a topic is meant to be in the meeting for discussion rather than debate.
Hence, he seeks to balance the individual freedom of expression on the one hand, and the orderly environment of deliberation on the other. Following this, the speaker opens the space for all participants, in particular for the Gadaa councillors, to deliberate on agendas encompassing environmental, social, political, and cultural matters.
Then, the next speaker says kophise! They then voice their opinion on the right course of action the Oromo should take on social, political, economic and environmental issues.
When finished, the speaker says toggise! Each speaker may support or oppose the view of their predecessor and, in doing so, the views of the minority are eventually swallowed by the majority consensually.
The place of Africa in the "standard history" of democracy is often overlooked. The conceptualisation of the postcolonial state in Africa is also highly influenced by the present predicaments see: civil wars, famine, corruption and others of the continent. Hence, regard for African indigenous egalitarian institutions and its continuous development has little or no space in academic discussion.
One of such is the Gadaa system of the Oromo People. Some scholars underline that the Gadaa system of governance is genuinely African and provides a potential solution for some of the democratic crises we face today, be it in the global South or global North To name a few, Abdulahi ; Asmarom ; ; Holcomb ; Marco ; Jalata ; Baxter ; Baissa ; Dirribi ; Hallpike ; and Alemayehu In its current political context, the Gadaa system is relegated to local-level practices.
The past regimes as well as the current government are responsible for the demotion and underdevelopment of the Gadaa system. Even though UNESCO recently recognized Gadaa system as intangible cultural heritage, it is not given any official recognition by national or regional constitutions. Instead, Gadaa functions parallel to the state political institutions.
It is perhaps ironic that although the Gadaa system has functioned as an effective method of participatory democracy for the past six centuries, the Ethiopian national government is mired in tyranny and corruption. This is a possible indication that democracy is sustainable where it is socially and culturally grounded, and not simply self-proclaimed democratic republicanism.
For instance, Ethiopia had a constitution since and has never become a democratic state in practice. Nevertheless, every politician and citizen of Ethiopia recognizes that Gadaa is democratic, and often the federal and Oromia Regional State presidents attend the Gadaa power transfer ceremonies.
They do not have a vision to accommodate it or even to learn from Gadaa participatory democracy. On the bright side, however, the enthusiasm and participation of the Oromo youth has been increasing tremendously. From P2P Foundation.
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The Gadaa System is a system of generation segments or Gadaa classes that succeeded each other every eight years in assuming political, military, judicial, legislative and ritual responsibilities. Each Gadaa class remains in power during a specific term Gadaa which begins and ends with a formal transfer ceremony. In this respect, Gadaa is a holistic social, economic, political and religious system in essence and perhaps this fact made it difficult to define unanimously the Gadaa system by simple and clear terms. The Oromo Society is organized into two distinct but cross-cutting systems of peer group structures.
Gada system, an indigenous democratic socio-political system of the Oromo
Gadaa older spelling: Gada ; literally: era is the indigenous democratic system of governance used by the Oromos in Ethiopia and northern Kenya. The system regulates political, economic, social and religious activities of the community. The Oromo governed themselves in accordance with Gadaa system long before the 16th century, when major three party wars commenced between them and the Christian kingdom to their north and Islamic sultanates to their east and south. The result is that Oromo absorbs of the Christian and Islam religions. In 19th century, the Gadaa Center at Odaa Hullee was replaced by monarchy and at the end of the 19th century, Gadaa together with Oromo language was banned. The Borana and Guji groups near the Ethiopian-Kenyan border able to practice Gadaa without interruption. With the creation of the regional state of Oromia under the new system of ethnic federalism in Ethiopia, the Gadaa System across Oromia started renaissance.
Gadaa System of the Oromo People
Your browser is not supported by this application. Inscribed in Gada is a traditional system of governance used by the Oromo people in Ethiopia developed from knowledge gained by community experience over generations. It serves as a mechanism for enforcing moral conduct, building social cohesion, and expressing forms of community culture.
GADAA – Socio-Political & Economic Structure of Oromo People
Among other structural elements of Gadaa system is its legislative body commonly known as Gadaa General Assembly. The assembly takes place under a sycamore tree - a symbolic representation of dialogue and consensus. Gadaa is a holistic system of governance encompassing: political, social, cultural, economic and religious affairs of the Oromo people. As a system of governance, the Gadaa operates in stages often ten stages with eight years separation. Unlike other, Western democratic systems, the Gadaa system has five permanent political parties whose members assume leadership once every eight years. Within forty years, all five parties serve their nation constituting 'One Gadaa'.