GEMECHU REFESO GUYE, Liturgical Space in the Gada System.


Gemechu Refeso Guye, London,
                            Liturgical Space in the Gada System.
     The Gada System of Arsi (Oromo) and the Ghe'ez Rite of Abyssinia

Direttore: P. Philippe Luisier sj.

          In recent times, the academic area known as Oromo studies has experienced a relatively rapid growth. Research papers and books have been published on issues ranging from the environment, political and social structures, religion and culture among others. However, the systematic and analytical study of "Oromo liturgy" remains untouched.

This thesis is an attempt to show how Christian values can be expressed using Oromo liturgical systems or how the Oromo Gada System contributes to the history of salvation. Such a system could enhance the local understanding of the religious procedure and encourage more participation. Here, my purpose is to see side by side and evaluate the traditional Arsi (Oromo) Gada System and the Ghe'ez rite of Abyssinian Orthodox Christianity in particular and the on going religion work in Ethiopia in general.

          Primary source of the study is my field research, interviews and active participation in Oromo rituals and celebrations that took place in Arsi during 2002-2003. The second source is based on the reviews of published and unpublished, anthropological, historical and religious literature. My interest here is not so much the workings or the detailed structure of the Gada as a system in general, but its significance in the life of the Arsi community I belong, as a means of bringing or bridging the "space" between the Gada System and the Ghe'ez Rite. By "space", I mean the existing dichotomy between the "sacred" and the "profane".

             The thesis is made of five chapters and each chapter develops its previous theme. The nature and scope of all five chapters relate to the Oromo "philosophy of life". The first chapter entitled General Introduction deals with the main title of the thesis: Liturgical Space in Gada System. It is a terminological analysis and a brief comparative analysis about other Christian rites, Ghe'ez and Latin. The second chapter, entitled The Religion and History of Oromo in East Africa, mainly discusses themes such as the Oromo Nation and Religion; the Oromo Gada System; the structure of the Gada System and its function, especially with the Arsi Oromo. The third chapter, The Arsi Religious Philosophy, is the heart of the entire thesis. It is concerned with the concept of Waaqa (God) articulated in theme: sacralization of time and space; Arsi religious life and devotion; traditional ornaments and Buna Qala or Coffee Ceremony as a sacrifice.

            The fourth chapter compares The Gada System and Ghe'ez Rite Religions in Ethiopia and attempts to form a rite of the Oromo, probably "an anaphora". The fifth chapter is also a comparative one: The Rites of Passage and Sacraments. It analyses the Christian sacramental initiation and Arsi traditional rites of passage: circumcision, marriage, prayer for the deads. The thesis also attempts to present Oromo genealogy according to Oromo elders, consulted in different time and places. Oromo's traditional "night school" and proverbs close the chapter.