The Oromo people are an ethnic group inhabiting Ethiopia. They are the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia representing 35 percent of Ethiopia’s population. Oromo speak the Oromo language as their mother tongue. Oromo language is part of the Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family.
The Oromo people occupied all of southern Ethiopia, with some settling along the Tana River in Kenya. In Ethiopia they settled most of the central and western Ethiopian provinces, including the southern parts of the Amhara region, farther north, the Welo and Tigre regions near Eritrea. They assimilated local customs and intermarried with local community wherever they settled, to such an extent that much of their original cultural was lost.
The Oromo people are predominantly pastoralist, crop farmers, skilled artisans such as weavers, goldsmiths potters, and woodworkers. The artisans specialize in making music instruments, tools for farming, furniture, household utensils and jewelry.
The Oromo are divided into two major branches that even break down to an assortment of clan families. The Boran Oromo, also called the Boran, are pastoralist group living in southern Ethiopia (Oromia) and northern Kenya. There are also small refugee population in some parts of Somalia.
Barentu/Barentoo or older Baraytuma is the other branch of the Oromo people. They inhabit the eastern parts of the Oromia Region in the zones of Mrab Hararghe or West Hararghe, Arsi Zone, Bale Zone, Debub Mirab Shewa Zone or South West Shewa, Dire Dawa region, the Jijiga zone of the Somali Region, Administrative zone 3 of the Afar Region, Oromia Zone of the Amhara Region. They are also found in the Raya Azebo woreda in the Tigray Region.
In Ethiopia, Oromo are about 30 million, and 60 thousand in Kenya. A number of them are also found in Australia.
The Oromo group according to 2009 publication of Association of Muslim Social Scientists and International Institute of Islamic Thought, over 60 percent of the Oromos follows Islam, over 30 percent follow Christianity and less than 3 percent follows traditional religion. The tradition religion is more common in southern Oromo populations, Christianity more common in and near the urban centres, while Muslims near the Somalian border and in the north.
The Oromo people governed themselves in accordance with Gadaa, a social politic system it can be translated as “era”. The Gadaa system elected males from five Oromo groups for a period of eight years, for various judicial, political, rituals, and religious roles. Retirement was compulsory after eight years term, and each major clan followed the same Gadaa system.
The Oromo people developed a luni-solar calendar, which likely dates from pre-16th century. This calendar is so sophisticated and is similar to that of the Chinese, the Hindus and the Mayans .It was tied to the traditional religion of the Oromo, and used to schedule the Gadda system of elections and power transfer.