UNESCO declares Oromo politics system heritage

(Irreechaa, 1 December 2016) The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has approved Ethiopia government’s application for the inscription of Gada system, an indigenous democratic socio-political system of the Oromo people, as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Irreechaa 2The announcement was made Wednesday at the eleventh session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, in Addis Ababa.

The Gada system is a traditional social stratification system of the Oromo people in Ethiopia and northern Kenya. Each of its five classes consists of sons whose fathers are members of a particular class.

Each class progresses through a series of grades with different duties. At the age of between 40 to 50 years, the men enter the luba class assuming leadership role of the community which is rotational every eight years.

The Gada system governs the political, economic, social and religious activities of the Oromo.

In Ethiopia, the Oromo represent about one third of the total 94 million population.

In their comment, the Intergovernmental Committee urged on the need to safeguard the Gada system with the participation of the communities.

Other cultural practices inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity during the meeting in Addis Ababa include Egypt Tahteeb’s stick game, Cuba’s rumba – a festive combination of music and dances, South Korea’s culture of Jeju Haenyeo (women divers), and India’s yoga.

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