The Baaroo Hymn: A Unique Arsi Oromo Oral Genre and Its Major Features and Functions
This is the study of Baaroo, praise-hymn of the Arsi Oromo. The main function of Baaroo is to praise the Arsi Oromo saint, Sheikh Hussein, who lived in the twelfth-century at Anajina in Bale. Since some of the Arsi Oromo have been Islamized from the middle of the nineteenth-century, the importance of Baaroo hymns has also increased. The Arsi Oromo were originally followers of Waaqeffanna religion. However, gradually Islam spread among them. Consequently, the Arsi Oromo began to follow two religions in a syncretistic manner. It was from this phenomenon that the Baaroo genre developed having diverse functions. This distinctive Baaroo genre developed by the Arsi Oromo was not sufficiently studied by scholars. It is this shortcoming that led the writer of the paper to do more investigations on it. The data which were used to reconstruct the Baaroo history came from interview carried out by the researcher in four places (Amigna, Balee Gasgar, Anajina and Ghinnir) as well as from analysis of collected Baaroo hymns and some written documents. Based on these data, the writer concludes that the functions of Baaroo hymns are diverse. Some of these are historical narration, repository of Arsi music and poetry, and above all expression of the feelings of rage against a political oppression and domination exerted by Gabbar-Naftagna system. Moreover, the Baaroo hymns have played important roles in the development of Arsi Oromo self-consciousness and morale in the resistance against socio-cultural contempt and humiliation they sustained under exploitative systems for many years.