The brief history of Burji Political Culture and the role Of Womma Haburra and Dayina Dirbbo in its development
Dear friends, today I would like to share you a brief history of Burji Political culture and the very important role made by Womma Haburra and Dayina Dirbbo in its development. Enjoy reading.
The people of Burji nationality is among the ancient residents of southern Ethiopia. The Borana Zone of the Oromia regional state and the Segen zone of the SNNP regional state are the main residential areas of the Burji nationality. Burjis also resides in northern Kenia neighbouring with Boranas, Garres, Gabbras and Rendilles.
Burjis have their own Language called Dhashete (Burjigna) and various cultures which are the main identities of them. The history of Burji people is currently being studied by some historians in detail. I hope we will learn more about Burjis when their studies are accomplished and published. But so far there is a lack of information about this nationality. Means its origin, background and its different cultures have not yet been studied and introduced well.
This article is a very brief part of Burjis political culture and does not include other aspects of its culture. As a politician, I am interested in its political aspect, particularly on its transition to democratic governance.
I collected the large part of the information included in this article through my personal observation, from my father, from elders and from my friends. I hope it will provide some hints to the readers about the Burji Political culture.
B-The origin of the Burji nationality and How the country of Burji (Burjenka Gar) came in to being:-
Before the incorporation of Burji nationality to the central government of Ethiopia Burjis had a country called Burjenka Gar. According to some elders at first, the name of this country was called “Biya Ammarro”. This name of the country was originated from the name of a leader of the nationality called Ammarro who led the separation of current Burji nationality from the ancient people called Worra Leaben and establishment of a new country.
According to the elders, Worra Leabens were ancient ancestors of three nationalities namely Orrim (Borana), Burji and Konso, and they had a country b/n a Dawwa river and Gannalle river with its centre around current Negele Borenna. That is why so far Burjis begins telling their history by saying “Nu Warra Warra, Nu Warra Leaben, Akanna Ta’au Betta?” Means “We are from Warra Leaben. Do you know that?”
Accordingly, one can understand that the current Burjis are descendants from the ancient people called Worra Leaben. In addition to that, there was no another name except Worra Leaben that represents Burjis before they crossed the Dawwa river and settled to the western side of the river and established a new separated society and new country.
The state of the ancient country (Warra Leaben) had been disintegrated because of the disagreement created b/n the three societies which had established it. After the separation from the Worra Leaben state Womma Ammarro established a new society, a new sovereign state and country called Biya Ammarro after crossing the Dawwa river to the west with its centre in Abbunno (the place located around current north east of Yaebaleo Woreda and south-east of DudaDawwa Woreda), about 600 years ago.
After Burjis crossed the Dawwa River they found very wide no man land and settled on the western part of the river. They started searching for other people (neighbours) whom they want to establish a new friendly relationship with. They found Gedeos to the north of Jebasire, Gattallo and Tore, and settled in those areas neighbouring with Gedeos. They established a strong friendly relationship with them. Then they continued searching for other people (neighbours) and while they were climbing the mountain b/n two branches of southern rift valley of Ethiopia (b/n Gellana and Segen valise) they found the people called Tsinse Kore, ( ancient Kore.) Burjis established a very strong friendly relationship with these new neighbours too. They called these new neighbours “Ba’ad” means in Dhashate language, “While climbing”. B/c they found them while climbing the mountain currently called Ammarro Highland. Burji are continuing calling Kores with the same name so far.
N.B Dhashate is a language of Burji and its name originated from the name of one of two Burji tribes called Dhash. The other tribe of Burji is called Jiremalo. Currently, Dhashate has three dialects namely Burjete, Gubate, and Wallate within it, and officially today the language is called Burjigna.
The people of Tsinse Kore welcome Burjis with very surprising hospitality and their hospitality highly impressed Burjis. Many Burjis settled around them too and combined with them through settlement and intermarriage.
They shifted the centre of their country from Abbunno to the place called Alliga or Kuku /the current Hageremariam or Bulle Horra/ which is nearer to their new neighbours (Kores and Gedeos) and continued the strong relationship with both of them. Kores also called Burjis by the name of Alliga means the people who came from Alliga, and they are also continuing calling Burjis with the same name so far. B/c of their friendly relationship Burjis and Kores established common state and government and the name of their common state was also called Ammarro.
N.B The name Ammarro was also serving as a common name of Burji and Kore nationalities after the central government of Ethiopia incorporated the two nationalities and formed one woreda which comprises both of them. But after Burjis and Kores separated and established different Woredas about 60 years ago, the name left only for Kores and now it is serving as an alternative name of Kore nationality.
Burjis were also settled to the western parts of Alliga on the places called Chammari, Harraka- koge, Soyamma-Surro, Burguda and up to the current Burji Woreda.
It was not only Burjis who left the country of Worra Leaben b/c of the disagreement created b/n the communities of the ancient state. The Community from Worra Leaben who established the current Konso also separated from Worra Leaben, crossed the Dawwa River and Biya Ammarro to the west and settled on the highland which is located to the south west of Segen river (the current Konso Wereda). Orrims (Borrennas) Stayed for a long period of time in the ancient country of Worra Leaben after the two communities (Burjis and Konsos) left the country. But later many of them (Borrenas) also migrated to the south up to the current northern Kenya and south west up to current Telitele Woreda and shifted their centre to the place called Gayo where the General Assembly of Borrenna (Gummi Gayo) is taking place so far.
After the establishment of Biya Ammarro the leader called Womma Burje came to the leadership of the country about 500 years ago and shifted the center of the country to the current Burji Woreda, specially, to the Burji Killicho. Killicho is the name of the stone on which Womma Burje and his successors as well as their officials (members of the presidium) were sitting on when they presides the public meetings. The stone (Killicho) which was serving as a seat for the higher Officials was highly respected and assumed as holly place by the Burji people. I visited the stone (Killicho) when I was elementary school student (12 years old) and found that the choice of the site made by Womma Burje for the place of the Public meeting was correct, as it was better site comparing it with its surroundings. Currently Killicho became the name of local administration (kebele).
After Womma Burje came to power and shifted the centre of the country to the current Burji Woreda, the name of the country renamed as Burjenka Gar being converted to the name of the new leader. The name of the nationality also named as Burje (Burji). It is since the regime of Womma Burje that the current particular identity of the Burji nationality has been well developed.
Burjenka Gar was one of the three countries established after the disintegration of the ancient country of Worra Leaben. Burjis call those three countries Orriminka Gar, Burjenka Gar and Konsanka Gar, means the country of Orrim (Borrenna), the country of Burji and the country of Konso.
Although, their common ancient country (Worra Leaben) had been disintegrated and divided in to three countries the people of the new three countries established peace full and friendly relationship among themselves through their traditional reconciliation process. They were holding Joint meetings at a place called Yaebaleo and were discussing on the matters concerning all of them.
They made various agreements on political, economic and social aspects. Accordingly, they made an agreement regarding movement and settlement of their citizens in their newly established countries and supporting each other incase of external attack.
On the base of the agreement made b/n the three new states many of their citizens were settled in many places mixed one to another. Accordingly, the first Borenna community settled in the Burjenka Gar in the place called Aridda-Borenna (Olla Bulle) b/n the then Burji villages called
Borennas, Burjis and Konsos had an agreement regarding their common security. Particularly they had military solidarity to defend themselves from outside attack in collaboration. In these regard as Borrennas had very systematic information collecting and transmitting tradition they were doing vital role by providing intelligence information to Burjis and Konsos, which helps them to be alert when any attack is being attempted against them from outside.
That is why Burjis say that, “Orrmid Oris, Oddo Goyish Rik, Bited Biri esi, Kudhod Kuru esi, Gull Gubba Gurbeis Shayishayen Shashas, Gnaphinta Nana Nate” means “Go to Orrim(Boranna), Collect information and come back, Put it in the Bite and Kudho (the daily miles of Burji people) feed all of them and mobilize Gull, Gubba and Shayishaye (three regional states of Burji) and destroy the concentration of your enemy (who is planning to attack you).” As a result, asking and providing assistances b/n them during any emergency situation were common rights and duties to all of them. The Burjis, Borrennas and Konsos who originated from Worra Leaben were doing the same until the recent periods. What about today? I think there are many things that the current generation, need to learn from their traditional reconciliation and cooperation.
For the last about one hundred fifty years many Gujji
C-The Radical Revolutionary Political Transition In Burjenka Gar:-
In the country of Burjenka Gar spontaneous popular revolution against
All Burji clans /except his own clan/which are more than seventy in
As I mentioned above, the revolution was spontaneous and had no genuine (good) leadership. As a result it left Burjenka Gar without central government. Those administrative regions /Ollichos/which took part in the revolutionary disintegration of the central government declared themselves as sovereign states. The Burji state divided in to eight very small states which had no power to protect itself from outside attack. As a result Burjis face very serious problems for their existence. It was that phenomena brought Burji to an era of Tuzanka Ber, means the era in which the country lost its central government.
Although the era of Tuzanka Ber had some aspects like the era of Themene Messafint in the history of northern Ethiopia, it had a number of differences too. It had similarity in case of losing central government, but unlike Themene Messafint it’s duration was very short /not more than two or three decades/ and many administrative regions of them were being ruled by the democratically elected leaders.
After the prevalence of the Tuzanka Ber the revolutionaries who demolished the central government of Burjenka Gar started to understand the side effects of losing the central government and regretted on what they did in this regard. It is at that time that the two friends namely Haburra and Dirbbo took an initiative to coordinate the process of the reunification of Burjenka Gar.
During such serious
1-Taking lot of their time, the two friends discussed seriously
2-In order to realize their vision, they understood that the disintegration of the country must be ended, and their country and people must reunite. But not in the way of dictatorial regime and concentrated power as it was during Womma Gonna’s regime. It must be through democratic order and decentralization of power.
3-In order to realize this vision through peaceful means, they also understood that they must get support from all Ollichos who already declared themselves as sovereign states.
4-By visiting all Ollichos they explained their plan of reunification to the Ollicho leaders and clan leaders and tried their best to convince them.
5-The political philosophy introduced by two friends to reunite the country under democratic order and their
6-After they convinced the Ollicho and clan leaders and when they became sure that their idea of the reunification of their country has been supported by the people, they started to organize Constitutional Assembly which can provide
7-The Constitutional Assembly and legislative body of central government that organized by two friends is called Gorissomma. Gorissomma constitutes all clan leaders and representatives of clans, Leaders of autonomic regions and administrative regions as well as those who has already resigned after accomplishing their term of service at different political position levels and acquired good administrative work experiences.
8-The session of the Gorissomma/constitutional assembly/ which organized by the two friends held in the place called Haraka Kouge which is located in eastern part of the Gull autonomic region and preside by two friends (Haburra & Dirbbo).
9- The session of Gorissomma /constitutional assembly/ lasted for more than a month and ratified an unwritten new constitution and the constitution also named Haburraya Dirbbota Hirba by the assembly.
D-The main provisions included in the new constitution /Haburraya Dirbbota Hirba /:-
1.1-All members of clans of Burji in born shall be the citizen of Burjenka Gar.
1.2-A citizenship of Burjenka Gar can be granted to any human being who requested to be a member of one of the clans of Burji and adopted by the clan.
1.3- Formal procedure of granting citizenship shall be made on the assembly of the given clan and submitted to
2- Structure of Government:-
2.1-Unlike the unitary government which was before the revolution, there shall be three regional states with vast autonomy which includes eight administrative regions of the country
2.2-Accordingly three regional states namely Gull, Gubba and Shaishaye have been established with vast autonomies.
N.B Before the new constitution the word Gull & Gubba was being used only to express the south and north directions respectively. But after the ratification of Haburraya Dirbbota Hirba (the new constitution) it was being used to express two regional states too, in addition to directions based on the context it is being used.
2.3-The title of the head of the Gull regional government shall be Womma and he also shall be leader of Burjenka Gar/the country of Burji/. The position of Womma shall be taken in turn by turn b/n the clan candidates residing in the regional state and as he is a leader of the country shall be approved by the legislative body of the country/Burjenka Gar/ so called Gorissomma.
2.4-Womma shall not stay on power after his term elapsed, and need to hand over his position to the newly elected one as soon as the election approved by the legislative body.
2.5-The title of the head of Gubba regional government shall be Dayina/ this regional state is the largest in the country/Burjenka Gar/ both in number of administrative regions /Ollichos/ and population/. The position of Dayina shall be taken turn by turn b/n both the administrative regions and different clans in the regional state.
2.6-Shaishaye shall be special regional state with special autonomy which has different political system, led by Shaishayenika Dayina. The leader of this special regional state shall be assigned in line with special tradition of the region from the family of the previous leaders without formal election by the people.
2.7-Although the regional states and administrative regions granted vast autonomy secession from the country is not acceptable.
N.B the people of Shaishaye located in border area with Kore nationality and is bilingual /speaks two languages Dhashate & Korate/. Dhashate (Burjigna) is the language of Burji people while korate is the language of the Kore or Ammarro people. As a result /having two combined cultures/ the people of Shaishaye has some its own special cultural aspects. That was why the special autonomy allowed to them in the Burjenka Gar.
The structure of Burji government established in line with the new constitution had its own special character. In some of its aspects it looks like Federal State, eg. by having autonomic regional state with in it and in some of its aspects it looks like Confederation, eg. by having different political systems with in it.
3.1- The process of the elections of regional and local leaders was not uniform in all regional states. It had some differences.
3.2-In the Gull and Gubba regional states elections shall be mostly held within two years terms. Accordingly elections shall be held at two levels, /at Ollicho and at Regional state levels/.
3.3-At the Ollicho level clans residing in the Ollicho submits their candidates turn by turn in different terms and the competency of each candidate shall be verified by the election administrators called Bitanach, on the bases of criteria set for the position.
3.4-The process of submitting candidates by the clans is called Anna Gagara. Each candidate of the clan shall have its own activists called
3.5- The title of the administrator of the Ollicho is called Masha and during his term of work he shall have additional title called Aella. After he resigned, throughout his life time, leaving the title of Aella he shall stay with the title of Masha. The leaders of the regional states shall officially ceremonially approve the election of the position of leaders of Ollichos.
3.6-The processes and the ceremonies of taking power, after the elections approved by the relevant bodies is called Basha Goya.
3.7- At the level of Gubba regional state the candidates for the position of Dayina, shall be submitted first by clans residing in the Ollicho which is going to take the position on the bases of the turn and then approved by Ollicho assembly. There after the candidate submitted to the General Assembly of the regional state as a candidate of the Ollicho.
3.8-If the candidate endorsed by assembly of the regional state he shall go to Womma (the leader of the country) for official and ceremonial approval.
3.9-The processes of submitting candidates and Taking power at the regional state level are called Anna Gagara & Basha Goya /the same with that of at Ollicho level/. Election administrators are called Bitanach and election activists are called Millame, similarly with Ollichos.
3.10-Until Dayina (the leader of Gubba Regional state) is on power he shall have the title of Dayina and Aella. But after he resigned, throughout his life time he shall be left with the title of Dayina.
4-The power and responsibilities of Ollichos/Administrative Regions:-
4.1-All Olichos shall have equal vote in the constitutional and legislative body of the country. Decisions shall be made by consensus and each Ollicho shall have veto power.
4.2-All Ollichos shall be equally represented on the national emblem of the Burjenka Gar so called Aiessa. /Each Ollicho represented by one Timber and Shayishaye Special Regional State by Bamboo/.
4.3-In line with the constitutions of the country Ollichos shall have power to promulgate different rules by which they administer their internal affairs. Accordingly, they shall have their own civil laws, eg. the laws of marriage and divorce.
4.4-They shall have their own judiciary system and handle both civil and criminal cases in their territory.
4.6-They shall establish their own police force called Loob, and administer it. /Loobs are security force which are responsible for observance and implementation of the constitution, laws, rules, and decisions of the government bodies at different levels/.
4.7-Ollichos shall be responsible for the enforcement of the national constitution and laws in their territory.
4.8-They shall work in collaboration with the structure and power of the national defense force in their territory in case of emergency and attack from outside.
5-The Power and responsibilities of the regional government:-
5.1-The autonomy of the Regional States shall extend to having their own election system through which they elect or assign political leaders and administer their internal affairs. Accordingly, they shall have their own election administrators and election laws.
5.2- Regional governments shall have their own executive and judiciary bodies.
5.3- They shall establish their own police force (Loob).
5.4-They shall work in collaboration with the defense force in their territory
5.5-They are responsible for the enforcement of the national constitution and laws in their territories.
5.6-They shall be represented in the national constitutional assembly and legislative body.
5.7-They shall work in collaboration with the central government regarding the security, unity and integrity of the country and the people.
6- The power and responsibility of the Central Government;-
6.1-The central government shall promulgate and enforce national constitution and laws and amends them when it is necessary.
6.2- Shall assure the unity and security of the country and the people.
6.3- Shall be represented in the national emblem (Aiessa) by the steam of the tree called Utuba, which stands at the middle of eight timbers from the
6.4-Shall assure that the national defense force is properly organized, trained through its age groups and be ready for its duties.
6.5-Shall establish its own executive body, judiciary and police force (Loob) at
6.6-Shall handle and manage foreign affairs and relations of the country.
6.7- Shall declare war and peace (the regional states and administrative regions shall have a duty to observe what declared by central government).
6.8- Shall formally and ceremonially approve elections of leaders of regional states.
7.1-The defense force shall be established on the base of national military serves rule at
7.2-The structure of the defense force is based on the age group called Hag. The age groups shall be organized on the base of their age (
7.3-According to the rule of national military serves all male have duty to provide military serves through his age group at least for seven years.
7.4-In case of emergence, every citizen shall have obligation to provide military serves.
7.5-The democratically elected leaders of the age groups called Haginta Hayo are the commanders of the defense force at different levels.
7.6-The age group which is to take the responsibility of providing national military serves for seven years term is called Balleka Hag and their commander is called Balleka Hag Hayo.
7.7-The processes and ceremonies through which one age group take the responsibility of providing military service
7.8-To take the responsibility of military service the members of the relevant age group shall be mostly b/n 21 and 28 years old and shall assure their readiness for the duty through military exercise.
7.9-The commander in chief of the defense force of the country (Burjenka Gar) is the head of the state (Womma). He is the one who has
8-Religion and Government
8.1-The main (dominant) Cultural religion of Burji is a belief on only one heavenly God called Dhet Hilaaley Wonto.
8.2- Unlike what was before the revolution, government and religion shall be separate and have their own leaders who shall never interfere in the responsibilities and duties of one another. Religious leaders shall not take political power throughout their life, and political leaders shall not take the power of religious leaders throughout their life too.
8.3- The religious leaders of the main religion (Dhet Hilaaley Wonto) are called
8.4-There shall be seniority in the hierarchy of religious leaders. There shall be religious leaders who have responsibility
8.5-Religious leaders are believed that they are elect of God and have spiritual power granted to them by God. They shall stay away from
8.6- The citizens of Burjenka Gar are not obliged to believe
8.7-The main responsibilities and duties of religious leaders are praying God to bless people and central and regional governments of Burjenka Gar and to protect and save them from various man-made and natural disasters as well as to maintain health, peace
After the ratification of the new constitution, Haburra elected as head of both the Gull regional government and the head of the state for the country (Burjenka Gar) with the title of Womma, and Dirbbo elected as a head of Gobba regional government with the title of Dayina.
They both hand over their positions when their terms elapsed to next democratically elected leaders in line with the constitution and practically materialized the rule of law and democracy as well as democratic unity in Burji. The system established by these two friends was in place until the central government of Ethiopia controlled Burji and imposed administration of
N.B After the ratification of the new constitution and prevalence of peace and democratic order in the country a national reconciliation has been made b/n the Burji clans who were in disagreement during the revolution. Particularly forgiveness has been granted to
As one may understand from this article the Burji nationality originated from ancient Warra Leaben Society. After separation from Warra
Burjis had a well-developed and well organized political culture. As it is mentioned above the three regional states of Gull, Gubba and Shayishaye had vast autonomy and they were united autonomic regions of Burjenka Gar. The development of the political culture made through popular revolution and reunification led by Womma Haburra and
When I was about 10 years old, I went to the assembly of our Ollicho called Wariddaya, with my father and attend the meeting surprisingly. The meeting was held on the hill called Kululite under the tree called
-When we arrived at the place of the meeting we saw people disusing about different things by one to one discussions informally. By then they were waiting for the formal opening of the meeting.
-After a while, a man with the title of
-Masha opened the meeting by
N.B in this context the meaning of the word Waach is an alternative name for Wonto(God), it is not an evil sprite as it is in some context./ The Masha (leader of the Ollicho) repeated the same praying at the wound up of the meeting too.
It was the first time for me to hear such praying and I had no idea about the way of Haburra and Dirbbo (Haburraya Dirbbota Hirba) before that time. As a
As soon as we arrived at home I asked my father and he explained the meaning and brief history of Burji political culture and its development through the leadership of Womma Haburra and
Dear friends, how do you see what has happened in Burji before 250 years ago? As you may understand from the history Burjis demolished dictatorial regime and established
So what can we learn from the way of Womma Haburra and Dayina Dirbbo? Is it right to say that Womma Haburra and Dayina Dirbbo were the two friends born ahead of their time? I think so. What is your opinion?
Compare and contrast the Way of Womma Haburra and Dayina Dirbbo with the efforts made to reunite Northern Ethiopia by Emperor Tewodros the second during Themene Mesafint.
Source: Tilahun Endeshaw