The Spirituality of the Oromos and the Somalis

An Oromo woman
An Oromo woman

The Somali people represent 85% of the inhabitants of the country which bears the same name. As for the Oromos, they are also a people from the horn of Kama (Africa), representing more than one third of the Ethiopian population.

Both peoples belong with the Afars, the Sidamos and the Bejas, to the great Cushitic people, hence the fact that we write this article jointly dedicated to their spirituality. Kush is the ancient name of Sudan even mentionned by pharaoh Akhenaten. The Cushitics are therefore related to the original Sudanese.

Although the Oromos are mostly muslims and orthodox Christians and Somalia is generally a Muslim country nowadays, those peoples have a traditional spirituality that shares strong similarities with that of the peoples of the rest Africa.

Only one God

Hommes Somali portant la plume de la Maât
Somali men bearing the feather of Ma’at

For the Cushitic people, there is only one God whose name is Waaq or Waaqa, again called Eebe by the Somali people and who came out on His own, like Amon/Imana came out on his own in Ancient Egypt. We therefore talk about the Uncreated. Waaqa is Dhuughaa’s source and love, it means the truth, and He does not like injustice and crime. Dhuughaa is obviously Ma’at (truth and justice) in Ancient Egypt, again called Mbongi in the baKongo people or Mbok by the Wolof people in Senegal.

The primordial Ancestor has different attributes

Waaqa is in the form of different attributes called Ayaanle by the Somalis, Ayyanya by the Oromos, Vodun/Voodoo by the Fon people of Benin, Orisha by the Yorubas of Nigeria, Ntjeru by the ancient Egyptians or Loa by Haitians. Actually according to Kamits (Blacks), the primordial Ancestor/God is like a multiple faced diamond. He takes different names and appearances according to the fields he takes care of in this life. When He represents fertility, He is Aisata (Isis) in Ancient Egypt or Aisatu or Aisata for the Cushitic people also and Asaase for the Akan people of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.

It is also important to mention that Horo (Horus) from Ancient Egypt is an attribute representing God’s power, and whose totemic animal is a falcon. Horo is also put in charge of introducing the defunct in the room of the Last Judgment. In the Somali people, Huur is an Ayaanle considered as the death messenger and which appears as a big bird. Huur is therefore Horus here. The same way, according to the Fangs of Central Africa, an owl that comes to shout near a house in the evening announces death.

According to the Somali researcher Mohamed Diriye Abdullahi, we also have to see in Awzaar the Somali cosmogony’s father, the equivalent of Usire (Osiris) who is considered as the father of Ancient Egyptians. The name Usire in the Akan people is Osoro. Therefore, we find the complete Kamit holy family with ancient Egyptians and with Somali people.

The divine couple Aisata/Asaase/Aisitu on the right side and her husband Usire/Osoro/Awzaar in the middle. Their son Horo/Horus is on the left side of the picture.
The divine couple Aisata/Aisitu/Asaase on the right side and her husband Usire/Awzaar/Osoro in the middle. Their son Horo/Huur is on the left side of the picture.

The Oromo people consider Earth as an attribute of the primordial Ancestor, Earth would be the sky’s spouse. Actually, sky and earth are equally Ayyanyas. In ancient Egypt, Nute (the sky) and Geb (the earth) is a couple. Inversely, according to ancient Egyptians the sky is a man and the earth, a woman. Through the rain and the sun, the sky fertilizes the earth so that vegetation grows from the latter; therefore it is a couple. Before the conquest of the Oromo country by the orthodox Christian kings, land used not to belong to anybody like in the ancient empires of West Africa. Land ownership does not exist in traditional Africa. Everyone can cultivate the land. It would be impossible to own an attribute of the primordial Ancestor.

The dead Ancestors are deified

A woman from the Oromo tribe participates in a cultural dance during celebrations to mark Ethiopia's Nations, Nationalities Peoples’ Day at the Mascel square in Addis Ababa, December 9, 2008. REUTERS/Irada Humbatova (ETHIOPIA)
A woman from the Oromo tribe participates in a cultural dance during in Addis Ababa, December 9, 2008. REUTERS/Irada Humbatova (ETHIOPIA)

The Cushitic people also venerate ancestors. For Kamit people, God is this indestructible Energy at the origin of the world’s creation. Everything is alive thanks to the energy given in the beginning by the primordial Ancestor. Human beings live thanks to that divine energy through which they are animated. Therefore, for Oromos and Egyptians, when one dies there is a separation between material body and energy. Therefore, the dead ancestor never dies.

That energy joins Waaqa and like in Ancient Egypt, at someone’s death, they describe it as “an emergence in the divine light”. The fusion of the dead’s energy with the divine energy is fully doable at midday when the sun which is the main manifestation of God is at its zenith.

The sun at its zenith is the biggest energetic entity surrounding humanity. It is therefore considered as the messenger of God. The sun at its zenith point was called Ra/Rè in ancient Egypt. That is why Nelson Mandela who was a Xhosa of South Africa and introduced to the African spirituality went through the ascension rite exactly at noon. The same way, the ancestors are called Razana by Malagasies or Mudzimu by the Shonas of Zimbabwe. The ancestors veneration is general in authentic Africa.

Jeune homme Somali
Young Somali man

Equality between men and women

For the Oromo people, a man as well as a woman can be traditional priests. We therefore talk about Qaallu. Contrary to the so called revealed religions, the African spirituality does not forbid a woman to lead spiritual movements.

That is the reason why there are Mambos (priestesses) in Vodun, priestesses in the Zulu tribe and great priestesses in Egypt and in the black Republic of Carthage. The Ayaanles express themselves by possessing a Qaallu the same way attributes express themselves by possessing a Mphimazi (priest) in Malagasy people.

Other similarity with the rest of Africa

In Gabon and Cameroon, in a hopeless case people exclaim “Weeke”, “Wooko”, “Waaka”. Obviously, it is from there that derive expressions like “Aaka”, “Aakié”, “Eekié” that are said under the same circumstances. When one is desperate in Cameroon and Gabon, we get back to his or north east African origins to call on God in His Cushitic appellation.

Oromo men with the pharaonic hairdress representing the head of a cobra
Oromo men with the pharaonic hairdress representing the head of a cobra

Unsurprisingly, Oromo/Somali spirituality – Cushitic in general – takes up foundations of the African spirituality: God who is the single and multiple energy. God is accessed through a dead ancestor; Equality between men and women in the practice of the priesthood.

Hotep!

By: Lisapo ya Kama © (All rights reserved. Any copying or translation of the text of this article is strictly forbbiden without the written approval of Lisapo ya Kama)

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