Gadaa is a highly independent democratic and egalitarian political system that has guided the religious, social, political and economic affairs of the Oromo people of the Horn of Africa for many centuries. Sources indicate it is a system that organizes the Oromo society into groups or sets (about 7-11 ) that assume different responsibilities in the society every eight years.
Under Gadaa system the power to administer the affairs of the nation and the power to make laws belong to the people. Every male member of the society who is of age and of Gadaa grade has full rights to elect and to be elected. All the people have the right to air their views in any public gathering without any fear.
Last week is a very unique week for Guji Oromo’s who have finalized preparations for inaugurating their new leader (Aba Gadaa).The new leader will serve an eight year term in a system that rotates power between the tribe’s top clans.
Me’ee Bokkoo located in Guji Zone of Sora Woreda is among the most sacred places in which the Gadaa ritual traditions and ceremonies are conducted. The place is special for various reasons including its a sacred place where law is drafted, ratified amended and officially indoctrinated to the community.
Power transfer in Gadaa system is not like a power transfer in Monarchy. People raise fund to campaign for their sons based on their family legacy. In such campaign, the individual capacity of the son is also seriously scrutinized.
According to sources, Gada system is not a system where authority is simply passed from fathers to sons. Of course, the legacy of one’s family and the past accomplishments of a clan councilor has a great influence in the decision that is made to nominate the would be Aba Gadaa and councilors. They must pass through a rigorous training for years about the laws and the customs and the wisdom of leading a society before they take the position of authority in Gadaa.
According to Guji tradition, celebration begins a week before the actual day of power transfer through conducting different activities. The elders at different hierarchy of the system gathered and dressed in beautiful cultural costume to perform dances and musics. The youths have also a unique fashion of dancing style. During the week, communal issues like protection of the environment, wildlife, laws that have to be amended and if there are new laws to be adopted and similar things will be discussed and pass decision accordingly.
For instance, there was a debate by the Gumii, Gumii is the legislative branch of the Gadaa system, about marriage offer the groom has to bring for the bride family. Accordingly, the Gumii passed a new law that will reduce the amount of the offer to be given for the bride family. Aba Gada Bagaja Ganale said that the offer has become an issue of concern because it has been creating trouble among the youth. “The youth of this generation cannot afford to provide that much offer and they demanded change and we were obliged to amend the law, “he added.
Adola Woreda Culture and Tourism Bereau Deputy Head Mohamed Hesa on his part said that Guji Zone is well known for its immense and beautiful cultural heritages. The Zone has finalized preparations to colorfully celebrate the Gadaa power transfer anniversary. The primay aim is to uphold the Gadaa culture not only for the Oromo’s but for the whole of Ethiopia and efforts are underway to register the Gadaa system in UNESCO, he said.