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Democracy without State: Egalitarianism, Justice, and Leadership in an Oromo Polity

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines the functioning of the traditional Arsi Oromo society and institutional mechanisms on which its socio-political culture is founded. Some of these institutions, if not all, ceased to exist colonization and the subsequent Islamization and Christianization as well as other forms of cultural contacts and internal socio-cultural mutations. The chapter addresses egalitarianism, justice and democracy. It examines to what extent the Oromo were egalitarians. The Oromo social system is based on elaborated egalitarian ideologies, values and social practices despite the manifestation of some minimal hierarchy in different forms. The chapter argues that the concept of justice is central to the Oromo cosmology, Gadaa and political culture in general. Equality and justice form the bedrock of Oromo democratic ideals/principles, as in the case of western democracies. In the Oromo culture, egalitarianism and justice reside in the myth of foundation/ creation, which mystifies or gives them religious and temporal dimensions.

Keywords: Arsi Oromo; Christianization; democracy; egalitarianism; justice; socio-political culture



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