Guyyoo Gobbaa, 36, was named “Abba Gadaa” on Tuesday to maintain a 500-year-old system of governance for more than one million Borana. His rule extends from southern Ethiopian into Kenya. Guyyoo was chosen at birth, trained for 30 years, and will be replaced in eight years by a member of another Borana sub-clan.
A 36-year-old cattle herder became Gadaa leader of all of the Borana sub-clans in a private ceremony in Badhaasaa, Arero district of Borana zone, last Friday.
Guyyoo Gobbaa began his eight-year stewardship as “Abba Gadaa” of the cultural heritage of an estimated 1.5 million Borana living in Ethiopia’s Oromiya and the Southern Nations regions and as many as a million who live across the border in Kenya.
While some outsiders have called him a king, he is seen within the Borana clan as a leader who assures the continuance of the traditional Gadaa system.
Gadaa is a highly self-sufficient democratic and egalitarian political system that has guided the religious, social, political and economic life of the Oromo people of the Horn of Africa for many centuries, and also their philosophy, art, history and method of time-keeping. It is a system that organizes the Oromo society into groups or sets (about 7-11 ) that assume different responsibilities in the society every eight years.
Under Gada system the power to administer the affairs of the nation and the power to make laws belong to the people. Every male member of the society who is of age and of Gadaa grade has full rights to elect and to be elected. All the people have the right to air their views in any public gathering without fear.
As Abba Gadaa, Guyyoo is asked to mediate disputes and settle conflicts in the region.He usually travels with members of his cabinet, individuals who were chosen by the sub-clans.
Guyyoo was chosen by clan elders at birth, will rule for eight years in a governance system that has continued for more than five centuries. The position rotates among the clans every eight years.He is the 70th Borana to hold the position.