Origins of Cushitic

Origins of Cushitic

  • The Galla are of Cushitic origin.
  • They are a branch of the plain Nilotics who migrated from southern Ethiopia.
  • They are thought to have originated from Ethiopia then moved to Somalia and finally entered East Africa.
  • They are a nomadic pastoral tribe that occupies the Eastern parts of Kenya.

Political organisation

  • The Galla traditional structure was connected to the age set system based on ten groups.
  •  Every male belonged to a single group throughout his life.
  • Each age set was headed by a leader called Abba-Boku for 8 years.
  • Abba-Boku presided over meetings and formulated laws governing his age set.
  • Abba-Boku was seen as a ritual and natural affairs expert.
  • Abba-Boku was assisted by 3 other elders all from distinguished families.
  • From the age of ten, boys were supposed to train as warriors.
  • The Galla thus became a fierce warrior society respected over a wide area.
  • They carried spears and shields into the battle fields.
  • Each age group came up for promotion every eight years and when this happened, its leader had to take his people to a new territory.
  • This would eventually lead to the expansion of the Galla territory.

Social organisation

  • The Galla believed in a supreme being called Waqa.
  • Waqa was believed to be the controller of everyone’s destiny.
  • He always granted favours and protection especially in times of battle.
  • There existed both good and bad spirits living in lakes, rivers, mountains and trees.
  • Later on, some became Muslims due to interaction with the Muslims from Ethiopia.
  • They had the age set system where every male belonged to a particular group throughout his life.
  • Hunting of animals was carried out as a test of manhood.

Economic organisation

  • They were a pastoral society who moved from place to place in search of water and pasture.
  • They kept animals such as cattle, goats, sheep, camels and donkeys.
  • Their constant movements in search of water and pastures brought them into conflicts with other tribes like the Masai and Somali.
  • They carried out small scale agriculture and grew grains, peas, beans, vegetables and pepper.
  • Limited fishing and hunting were also carried out.
  • Traded with their neighbours like the Somali, Ethiopians and Swahili Arabs.