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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Invisible matter: 'Galla' in Ethiopian and European imaginations
Author:Yates, Brian J.
Periodical:The journal of Oromo studies
Geographic terms:Northeast Africa
ethnic identity
social history
Abstract:There is no interpretation of the term 'Galla' in the Oromo language. Its use by others displays the invisibility of the Oromo in the highlands of the Horn of Africa in both the Häbäsha chronicles and travellers' narratives from the sixteenth to the early twentieth century. 'Galla' is generally understood to mean individuals who were rejected by God. The present author argues that interpretations of the term 'Galla' stemmed from both Häbäsha and European travellers' perception that the Oromo were uncivilized barbarous usurpers of Ethiopian authority due to the fact that historically they did not practise Christianity or settled agriculture. This perception led to two distinct approaches towards the Oromo which reinforced previously conceived notions of the Ethiopian State. These notions of the State rendered the 'Galla' invisible in that either their presence was believed to be the cause of the decline of the Christian State or their condition exemplified Häbäsha oppression and provided a justification for European involvement in the domestic affairs of Ethiopia. In sum, the ambiguity in the term 'Galla' is due more to the changing representations of the Oromo people by outsiders than changes within Oromo societies. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]