Oromo

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Oromo

(ōrō`mō) or

Galla

(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 campaigned against Ethiopian rule from the 1990s without any significant results; they have also mounted occasional raids into Kenya. The Ethiopian government 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. In 2018 Ethiopia signed a peace agreement with the main Oromo separatist group, but a splinter faction continued its attacks, often focusing on non-Oromos.

Bibliography

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

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