Afrika Kolloquium: Indigenous African Political Philosophy: The Oromo Gadaa System

31.05.2022 17:15

by Bekele Gutema, Addis Ababa University

Dienstag, 31. Mai 2022, 17.15 Uhr

The lecture starts by outlining the understanding of philosophy that is wide and rich. On the basis of the understanding of contemporary philosophers who assume that philosophy emerged in different places at different times, I will explore a robust and wide understanding of philosophy whose sources could be both written and oral and whose forms are different. On the basis of this assumption I will discuss the Oromo Gadaa system which is complex and embraces different aspects of Oromo life: politics, economy, social matters, belief and so on. Here I will introduce to the audience a system of the Oromo people that is at least five centuries old. The focus of the lecture will be what is termed Oromo democracy by many authors. Hence I will discuss the system’s approach to political power, namely how male members of the community are grouped into age sets and grow learning different activities useful to the community and the individual. By grouping young persons in age groups of 0-8, 8-16, 16-24, 24-32, 32-40, etc. every grade passes through these phases preparing for future tasks. By the time the group reaches the fifth grade namely 32-40 it is ready to take the responsibility of the leadership of its community in political leadership, economy, defense and the like. The Gadaa system has elaborate laws on peaceful transfer of power from one Gadaa grade to the other and limits of term of power. The legislation accords the supreme authority to the general assembly and the laws stand above all men.

Bekele Gutema is  Professor of philosophy at Addis Ababa University. After graduating with a PhD degree from the University of Vienna he is teaching philosophy at Addis Ababa University. His teaching and research interests are in the areas of African philosophy, intercultural philosophy and social and political philosophy. He also served as the Chair of the Department of Philosophy, Dean of the College of Social Sciences and Director of Graduate Programs of Addis Ababa University. 

In Präsenz: Seminarraum 1, Institut für Afrikawissenschaften, Spitalgasse 2, Hof 5, 1090 Wien
und online: im Moodle des Instituts für Afrikawissenschaften
Online Link wird zugeschickt nach Anmeldung: