“The Oromo are not fetishists. They believe in Waaqa toko, unique universal creator and master. They see His manifestations in the great forces of nature, without mistaking them for Him. The Oromo abhor idolatory. Even more, they have not raised any temple to Waaqa, nor to awulia; they repudiate all anthropomorphic representation of the Divinity. Their temple, that is the universe with the star-studded arch; their altar, the surface of the earth; their sacrifices are always innocent, even the ones which we see to sanctify the cradle of humanity, that is to say the first fruits of the fields and the primes of the herd. They ask only of the giants of the forest or of the most beautiful neighboring tree of their village to shade, with its luxuriant trees their prayers and their immolations.” – Father Martial de Salviac
“The general traits of the history and the destinies of a people have intimate connections with the structure of the country that is at the same time itrs cradle and the theatre of its action. Let us first take a quick glance at the geography.
In this massive Africa, with reliefs a bit accentuated, the ranges of Ethiopian mountains surpasses in dimension all of the other orographic systems of the continent. It is the mightiest redoubt of this rampart of mountains along the coast, parallel to the Indian Ocean, and the Red Sea, which begins in the regions of the Cape, goes narrowing and lowering toward Nubia and ends in the thin eastern embankment of Egypt which is called the Arabian chain. Facing those of Yemen, the Ethiopian heights are flanked, below the equitorial zone, by the plateau of the Upper Nile, which has the interior sea of Nyanza for a central hollow, and by the two highest peaks of Africa, the Kilimanjaro and the Kenya, – perhaps the summits which the ancients call the “Mountains of the Moon”.”
I shall be quoting a lot from this book, published in 1901 and translated in 2005 in Ethiopia. I will later tell the story of how I came to acquire it, for that story itself is part of the fascinating lifelong journey to Know The Real Ethiopia, as diverse as that land and its people are.
The conscientious reader will discern the levels of Eurocentric prejudice or even racism in the tone and turns of phrase use by the author, yet one will also confess that there is so much to learn from the revelations in this book. The teller of this story reveals many of the inter-social or ethnic prejudices and challenges faced by the Oromo people from all sides, it also highlights their resilience and valor.
We shall discuss all of this in later essays and hopefully find out more about the author Martial De Salviac …
“The Oromo perpetuate their institutions and customs, tainted by some superstitious and abuse, from the remotest ages. Their worship, directed to God creator and legislator, which they call Waaqa; the subdivision of their nation into familial tribes, are survivors from a patriarchal period. They sustain themselves against the Muslims, outlawed by their customary law, hatred as alive as that of the Abyssinians, and crush them on the way of their victorious armies. They have been seen shedding their blood in anguish rather than adhere to the law of Mohammed and desert the Waaqa.”
Soon after the translated book was launched this was published on :https://amharic.voanews.com/a/a-53-2007-04-12-voa1-93030544/1459011.html
“In 1901, Martial de Salviac, a French missionary, published Ancient Oromo: Great African Nation. The book gives an account of Oromo history, the flora and fauna of their land, their system of self governance, their religious beliefs and how their people were captured and sod into slavery. For the past century it has been considered a classic of Oromo history. Since last year, the book has been available in English, translated from the French by Dr. Ayalew Kanno of the African Studies Center at Michigan State University.
Interviewed for the VOA Afan Oromo program, by Jalene Gemeda, Dr. Ayalew said: “The purpose of revisiting how one’s ancestors lived over a hundred years ago does not and must not imply a desire to relive the past. However, disregarding the past complicates the vicious circle of misunderstanding and perpetuates divergence of opinion. An unbiased self-realization is a necessary condition for a lasting stability and progress.” (click the link above to hear the interview in Afan Oromo)”