The Oromo are a native East African ethnic group where over 95% of them live in present day Ethiopia of Oromia region and to a smaller extent in Kenya and Somalia. Their population is estimated to be around 45 million which makes it the largest ethnic group in Eastern Africa. These Cushitic speakers have inhabited the land of Cush, ancient Nubia and ancient Ethiopia for as long as recorded history and subsequently dispersed into separate linguistic and cultural groups, occupying large part of the Horn of Africa blessed with natural resources and hospitable weather. The Oromos are the single largest ethnic group living in Ethiopia (34.5% of the population), clearly outnumbering the politically and culturally dominant Amhara (26.9%) and Tigray (6.0%) peoples. The Oromos of Ethiopia were absorbed in to the Ethiopian empire mainly by the Abyssinian king Menelik II between 1886 -1889. During this time, some Oromos were incorporated in to the Abyssinian Empire through conquest by an outright bitter wars where atrocities were committed. Some were unified through political and cultural assimilation, while for others it was through paying of tributes and taxation. For the last 150 years, Oromos carried out a continuous struggle to achieve self-governance and a genuine democratic equality within the now federated country of Ethiopia.
(Lewis, 2013; Prouty et al, 1981; Bates, 1979; https://scholar.harvard.edu/erena/oromo).
As their mother tongue, Oromos speak the language called Afaan Oromo from the Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic family and use a Latin alphabet called Qube for writing. It is the most widely spoken language of the Cushitic languages and the fourth most widely spoken language of Africa after Arabic, Hausa, and Swahili. Over 95% of Oromo speakers live in Ethiopia, mainly in the Oromia region. There are also native speakers of Afaan Oromo in Somalia, Kenya and possibly other countries. In Kenya alone, there are an estimated over 750,000 native speakers of the Oromo language, that of Borana and Orma variety.
The Oromo people used their own system of governance called Gadaa system. Under Gadaa, every eight years, the Oromo would hold a popular assembly called Gummi Gayo, where laws were enacted and adopted for the following eight years. A democratically elected leader called Abba Gada or Abba Bokku assumed the leadership role for an eight-year term.
The 2007 Census also reported that 47% of the Oromos are Muslims, 30.5% Coptic Orthodox Christians, 17.7% Protestant or Pentecostal Christians, and 3.3% traditional believers. The Oromos are known throughout history for being people whose behaviors are guided by their belief system shaped by their holistic principle known as Safuu. They are also knowing for giving utmost value to their fellow humans and nature as well as respecting others as equal and treating strangers like one of their own. These noble value system is often taken advantage by those that want to rule and dominate them.
Social Responsibilities and Traditional Practices
Older family and community members have a responsibility to teach children about Oromo culture, history, tradition, and values. Oromo parents have very high expectations for education. Knowledge of history and culture is also admired. Oromos can count their family trees through ten generations or more. Since children are seen as having great value, most Oromo families are large. The birth of a child is celebrated because each newborn child will someday become a worker. Marriage is celebrated since it is the time when boys and girls enter adulthood. Death is marked as an important event; it brings members of the community together to say goodbye.
The Oromo Community Organization of PA (OCOPA)
There are hundreds of thousands of Oromo people living in diaspora, largely residing in the United States, Canada, Norway, England, Sweden, Australia, etc. An estimated 2500 Oromo people call the State of Pennsylvania in America home, most of them reside in Philadelphia and Lancaster counties, of which many of them are eligible to vote. The Oromo Community Organization of PA (OCOP) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization registered in Pennsylvania as of 1995, and is a member of Oromo Communities’ Association of North America (OCA-NA), an umbrella organization serving Oromo nationals in the US and Canada.
There are also 501(c)(3) registered Oromo churches, missions and other faith groups in the State of Pennsylvania including the Oromo Christian Church of Philadelphia, the Oromo Evangelical Church of Lancaster, Rehobot Afaan Oromoo Church of Philadelphia, Lancaster Light Gospel Church and Pennsylvania’s Oromo Community Mutual Assistance Association. The Pennsylvania Oromo churches are also members of the United Oromo Evangelical Churches (UOEC), international umbrella organization, headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with over two million members worldwide.
The Oromo Community Organization of Pennsylvania was established in 1994 for an advocacy, charity and educational purpose. The Oromo Community Organization in Pennsylvania is a nonpolitical non-religious organization that promotes the Oromo culture among Oromos and their non-Oromo friends from in and around the state of Pennsylvania. It is also the mission of the organization to disseminate awareness about the human right abuse against Oromos anywhere and advocate against any human right violations. The goal of this organization is to inspire hope, provide service and be part of a force that establishes stable communities in our area and the Oromo community in particular.
Its major objectives are:
Ø To encourage Oromo community in Pennsylvania and its neighboring states through education, sports and other social activities to appreciate their culture, language and heritage.
Ø To provide counseling to newly arriving and existing Oromo people and other help seeking immigrants, to enable them to be self-supporting and productive citizens.
Ø To create and develop mutual understanding and cooperation among other communities in Diaspora.
Ø To advocate, educate and inform the plight of our Oromo nation and Oromo land to the American people and government.
Ø To expose and advocate human rights violation and injustice on the Oromo people in Oromia.
Ø To coordinate and provide voluntary community services as required to the cities and townships across our state.
Ø To promote mutual understanding and cooperation between cultural diversities here in Pennsylvania and other places in the USA.
Ø To promote and teach the Oromo language and culture.
Summary Facts-Sheet About Oromo People: The Oromo People of the Horn of Africa
PA Oromo Community Mission Statememnt
Copyright © 2018 The Oromo Community Organization Of Pennsylvania.
Oromo Community Organization of Pennsylvania
Dhaabbata Hawaasa Oromoo Peensilvaaniyaa
Get to know the current Oromo Community of Pennsylvania's Public Servants
Current Board Members:
Mr. Abel Dessalegn.... Chairman
Mrs. Hirut Amante (Titi)... Public Relations
Mr. Shimellis Bedane...Auditor
Mr. Seyoum Mengesha... the Secretary
Mr. Bati Ayana
Current Executive Committee Members:
Mr. Diriba Gonfa...... the President
Mr. Sintayehu Garoma.... the Vice President
Mrs. Chaltu Guja ..... the Treasurer
Mr. Fikiru Gari ....... Public Relations
Mr. Napol Dhufera.... the Secretary