Oromo, Gabra in Ethiopia

Oromo, Gabra
Photo Source:  Cosi von Lauppert 
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People Name: Oromo, Gabra
Country: Ethiopia
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 54,000
World Population: 205,000
Primary Language: Oromo, Borana-Arsi-Guji
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Oromo
Affinity Bloc: Horn of Africa Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The various Oromo people groups are the largest, most widely dispersed groups in Ethiopia. They also reside in Kenya, Somalia and Egypt. Composed of approximately a dozen tribal clusters, these peoples prefer just the term "Oromo" when speaking of themselves. Nearly all of these peoples speak mutually intelligible dialects of a language called "Oromo, Borana-Arsi-Guji". Although they retain similarities in their descent system, they differ considerably in religion, lifestyle and political organization. The Oromo have various clans, including the Gabra. Most likely they were pushed westward from the Horn of Africa by the Somali during the tenth century. Together with the Amhara and the Tigrai, they dominated the government and military classes of the Ethiopian Empire. In the 1700s and 1800s, these peoples became a prominent force in Abyssinian (Ethiopian) politics.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Gabra Oromo are herdsmen with a warrior tradition. They determine a man's status by the number of livestock he owns. Virility and male attributes are considered desirable, especially bravery and war skills. Although they honor fighting enemies from outside, they demand peace within their own community. Oromo boys may begin training at an early age to become warriors, but one basic value of the Oromo is tokuma, which is identification with the group. The religious, social, political and economic life of the Oromo revolves around this. Cooperation is central to this system, especially in work arrangements. The Gabra Oromo live in rural areas where they make a living primarily from raising animals along with some farming. Their staple diet includes durra (a cereal grain), maize, beans, rice, milk, meat, and wild fruits. Coffee and tea are both popular beverages. The Gabra Oromo family is headed by an authoritarian father who has the right to expect total obedience. Men usually have only one wife, and children are considered a necessity. The more children and grandchildren a man has, the greater his prestige.

What Are Their Beliefs?

During the nineteenth century, they converted to Islam. However, they blend Islam with their traditional religion. These ethnic religionists worship a supreme being named Waqa. Wadaja feasts are organized on various occasions, and they sacrifice livestock in Waqa's honor. Today, these feasts reflect a Muslim influence. Many Kereyu Oromo believe that objects such as trees, springs, and rocks have spirits. They also believe that spirits called jinn may take possession of people. Adults fast during Ramadan (the Muslim holy month), but few celebrate other Muslim festivals.

What Are Their Needs?

The Gabra Oromo people need the opportunity to learn of and follow Jesus Christ. Most likely Oromo subgroups who have a gospel witness can take Christ to them.

Prayer Points

Pray for the Lord to show himself powerful and loving by providing abundance to the Gabra Oromo people. Pray for spiritual hunger among the Gabra Oromo people, especially their leaders. Pray for Oromo disciples to make other disciples who will make even more disciples!

Text Source:   Joshua Project