(redirected from Oromo people)
Also found in: Dictionary.


(ōrō`mō) or


(găl`ə), traditionally pastoral tribes who live in W and S Ethiopia and N Kenya. They number more than 25 million. About half are Muslim, about a third Ethiopian Orthodox, and about a sixth Protestant. Most live in Ethiopia, mainly in the ethnically based state of Oromia; they constitute roughly a third of all Ethiopians.

Originally from N Somalia, they later migrated to the region of Lake Turkana (Lake Rudolf). In the mid-16th cent. they began to move into the Ethiopian highlands. Never a united group, they were not a serious threat to the Ethiopian state. Their raids, however, were a considerable nuisance, and they were able to establish small states in many areas nominally controlled by the Ethiopian emperor. They were used as mercenary soldiers by the Ethiopians.

Oromo separatist guerrillas have campaigned against Ethiopian rule since the 1990s without any significant results; they have also mounted occassional raids into Kenya. The Ethiopian government has typically responded by repressing its opponents, occasionally prompting antigovernment demonstrations. Plans to transfer areas of Oromia neighboring Addis Ababa to the latter's administration led to protests beginning in 2014. The plan was abandoned in 2016, but protests continued in response to thousands of arrests and hundreds of deaths in a government crackdown; protests were also fueled by resentments against foreign-owned factories.


See G. W. B. Huntingford, The Galla of Ethiopia (1955, repr. 1969); H. S. Lewis, A Galla Monarchy (1965).

References in periodicals archive ?
Amnesty International said thousands of Oromo people had been systematically subjected to unlawful killings, torture and enforced disappearance.
Since the colonization of the Oromo people, one of the goals of the Ethiopian state has been the destruction and underdevelopment of the Oromo elites and their leadership; the Amhara-Tigrayan state has used both violent and institutional mechanisms to ensure that the Oromo people remain leaderless.
However, the Oromo people are being denied the right to develop their own literature (Bulcha, 1997).
Prior to their colonization during the European Scramble for Africa by the alliance of European imperialism and Ethiopian colonialism (Holcomb and Ibssa, 1990; Jalata, 2005), the Oromo people were independent and organized both culturally and politically using the gadaa system (Oromo democracy) to promote their wellbeing and to maintain their security and sovereignty.
It should be remembered that in the 1880s during the conquest and colonization of Oromo territory, a large number of the Oromo people, together with their leaders, were decimated.
While promoting the Tigrayan ethnonational interest, the same American ideologue dismissed the political significance of the Oromo people, the largest ethnonational group, by arguing that Oromo grievance "is both territorially and politically diffuse and unlikely to coalesce into a coherent ethnic resistance movement" (Henze, 1985: 65).
Since the colonization of Oromia, the Ethiopian colonial ruling class has consistently used the Oromo collaborative class it created against the interests of the Oromo people (Jalata, 1993).
The present domination of the Oromo people and the non-sustainable use of the land that has resulted from colonization by Abyssinians represent a loss of safuu and violate the precepts of Waqaa.
Ethiopian and Ethiopianist scholars had distorted Oromo history by referring to the Oromo people as the Galla and degraded them as slaves, pagans, savages, etc.
The OLF have vowed to work for unity and freedom for the whole of Ethiopia, not just the Oromo people.
Founded in 1973, the OLF is an organisation established by Oromo nationalists to promote self-determination for the Oromo people, the largest single ethnic group in Ethiopia.