The Muka-Laafaa: The Image of Oromo Women under the Gadaa System and Its Implications for Peace
This article aims at addressing the image of Oromo women under the Gadaa system and its implications for societal peace. Women were referred to as Muka-laafaa (softwood) in Oromo society and this term or concept is the centre of focus in this article. Descriptive and narrative research designs were employed for the research and primary data were collected through key informant interviews while relevant secondary data were collected from secondary sources. The collected data were carefully analyzed and interpreted after crosschecking and classifying them into themes. The study revealed that the Oromo women (the muka-laafaas) were fairly treated socially, politically, and economically under the Gadaa system; particularly during its golden age which disproves the view that the Gadaa system is a patriarchal system that has never entertained issues of gender balance. The Gadaa system faced internal and external challenges beginning from the second half of the 19th century. With this, the fate of the Oromo women entered a gloomy phase as the harmful changes loaded the existing patriarchal tendencies with total energy. Therefore, the study recommends that lessons need to be learned from models of societal life used during the golden age of the Gadaa system to improve today’s gender relations in the Oromo society for peaceful coexistence between men and women.