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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The saga of Makkoo Bilii: a theme in Mac'a Oromoo history
Author:Triulzi, A.ISNI
Geographic term:Ethiopia
caste systems
traditional polities
ethnic groups
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/40732678
Abstract:In 1880 the French 19th-century traveller and 'savant' Antoine d'Abbadie first mentioned the name of Maqo Bili (Makkoo Bilii) as the man who, in 1589, divided the Oromo of Ethiopia into ten castes or 'gadaa', each of which stayed in power during eight years. But the name of Makkoo Bilii and his alleged paternity of the 'gadaa' institution was and still is an obscure reference of difficult interpretation. The present author analyses the available evidence anew, especially focusing on three passages from d'Abbadie's unpublished 'carnets de voyage'. The first one contains the traditional account of how the 'gadaa' system was changed by introducing the strict generational rule of 'afurtama abbaakootii'; the second gives the official motivation for introducing the eight-year rule for each 'gadaa' period; the third concerns Makkoo Bilii's symbolic death at the hands of the 'Sidama', i.e. the local 'gabaro' population. The author concludes that the extent to which Makkoo Bilii may have been individually responsible for any of the repeated changes and innovations brought to the 'gadaa' system in times of stress is not known and after all may be irrelevant. As a culture hero of the western Mac'a, Makkoo Bilii was and still is an ideological symbol, not a historical statement. As such he personifies events and conflicts that are historically relevant and not without consequences for both Oromo and Ethiopian history. Bibliogr.