Professor Asmerom Legesse, the pioneer of Gadaa studies

Gadaa studies: Professor Asmerom Legesse, the pioneer of Gadaa studies, in Asmara, Eritrea in 2008. I also feel proud to be the first Oromo person to interview him


It is with great honor and privilege that I remember the time I sat down with Professor Asmerom Legesse, the pioneer of Gadaa studies, in Asmara, Eritrea in 2008. I also feel proud to be the first Oromo person to interview him in his historical birth place Geza Kenisha (the same area in Asmara where Onesmos Nesib sought refuge and translated the Holly Bible into Afan Oromo more than a century ago). Today, in the moment when we all are celebrating the UNESCO’s decision to adopt Gadaa as one of the world intangible heritages, I would like to congratulate not only the Oromo people, but also Professor Asmerom for his relentless efforts he has done to introduce Gadaa system to the world. I am really happy to witness Professor Asmerom seeing the fruits of his hard work and enjoying intimacy to Oromo people in his life time.

Gadaa studies - professor asmerom legesse

What is Gada?

Gada is a political, economic and social system which the Oromo people have been following in governing themselves. The Gada system is a democratic system of governance in which the community as a whole has the opportunities to participate on equal basis. The Gada system of the Oromo people is a system of governance in which people are grouped and organized into five Gada grades or strata and govern themselves in rounds. Gada is a system in which the groups of Oromo people who are organized or structured into five grades or strata assume power in rounds which last for eight years each.

Among the Borana, Gada is graded into Mogiissa, Sabaka, Darara, Fullasa, and Makula. On the other hand, among the Karayu Oromo, the strata are referred to as: Robale , Melba, Birmaji, Michille, and Halchisa. Among the Macha and Tulama, these strata are known as: Horata, Michille, Dulo, Robale and Birmaji.

The children of adults who are on political power form a cohort which is the first grade or stratum. In the process, they gradually grow stronger physically and become more self-reliant. Members of the fourth stratum are recruited and supported to acquire leadership knowledge and skills. To this end, mentors are appointed to assist these recruits. Members of the earlier Gada grade who were on power now assume the roles of advising those who are on power.

For more detail about Gadaa system click here