The Oromo and the Christian Kingdom of Ethiopia

The Oromo and the Christian Kingdom of Ethiopia


Mohammed Hassen


James Currey



First full-length history of the Oromo 1300-1700; explains their key part in the medieval Christian kingdom and demonstrates their importance in shaping Ethiopian history.

This revisionary account of the Oromo people and the Christian kingdom of Ethiopia transforms our perception of the country's development, rebutting the common depiction of the Oromo as no more than a destructive force and demonstrating their significant role in shaping the course of Ethiopian history.
Tracing the early history of the Oromo as part of the Cushitic language speaking family of peoples, it establishes that they were neither foreigners nor newcomers to Ethiopia, but have been an integral part of the indigenous population since at least the first half of the 14th century. The massive 16th-century pastoral Oromo population movement revolutionized relations between the Christians and the Oromo. During the long process of assimilation that followed, with periods of both war and peace in central and southern Ethiopia, Oromo society was able to absorb and assimilate Cushitic and Semitic language speakers and Oromize them through the open, democratic and egalitarian Gada system; while in northern Ethiopia the Oromo themselves were absorbed into Christian Amhara society.

Mohammed Hassen is Associate Professor in the Department of History, Georgia State University. His books include The Oromo of Ethiopia: A History, 1570 to 1860 (Cambridge University Press, 1990). He is a Contributing Editor of The Journal of Oromo Studies and The Horn of Africa journal.


14 line illustrations
400 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Eastern Africa Series
Hardback, 9781847011176, August 2015
Paperback, 9781847011619, May 2017
Library eBook
James Currey
BISAC HIS001020, HIS037040, POL053000
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Table of Contents

Early Interactions among the Oromo, Christian and Muslim Peoples: Traditions and Institutions
Oromo Peoples in the Medieval Christian Kingdom of Ethiopia before 1500
The Homelands of the Pastoral Oromo before 1500
The Pastoral Oromo Confront the Christian Kingdom c.1440s-1559
Movements of Pastoral Oromo into the Christian Kingdom 1559-1600
Abba Bahrey's Zenahu Le Galla and its Impact on Emperor Za-Dengel's War against the Oromo 1603-1604
The Oromo and the Christian Kingdom 1600-1618
Oromo Christianization, Conflict and Identity 1618-1700


Hassen offers a history of Ethiopia that has a far different point of view than what other historians, both contemporary and modern, have presented. It is one seen through the eyes of the Oromo. CHOICE

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