Status, Role, Prestige

A4Oromo History & Culture Aug 17, 2021


Oromos view advance in age with great respect. The "Gadaa system", an Oromo traditional government, is based on age grade system. For instance, to take full responsibility for a nation or society "Abbaa Gadaa" (the leader/President) reaches full leadership only at age 40 or on eighth Gadaa. Oromos have a tradition of viewing long age as accumulation of wisdom gained from experience. Therefore, Oromos approach elders as students would professors, ready to learn. The elder of the village or the household is a leader of a given domain and perhaps beyond.

Responsibilities, light or heavy, are assigned to persons according to how old the person is. The older the person, the less physical responsibilities, such as farming, heavy lifting, etc. are given. Physical responsibilities are usually assigned to the young, physically strong and able. Elders are given the task of thinking, conveying and radiating wisdom as needed. When issues such as weddings, death, or disputes arise, the most able and senior of elders are assembled. Issues can be won or lost on the credibility and ability of the elders, much like the quality of counsel defending or prosecuting legal cases in Western cultures.

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