The 40th Gumii Gayoo Assembly (GGA) has been held , after it has been postponed due to the conflict in Moyale. Despite the tension that had been lingering in the region, Gumii Gayoo had just concluded its meeting successfully.
GGA is the general assembly of Borana people where important social, political and economic decisions are made at the highest level. It is the assembly for justice, equality and democracy. GGA is held once every eight years and the incumbent Abbaa Gaada must organize the gathering in the fourth year of his rule. The purpose is primarily to review the Seera (Law), custom (tradition) and aada. This is mainly done to refresh the Seera and the Adaa to those who are already familiar with these rules and to teach the youth. Because of this reason, the succeeding Abaa Gada, the Hayyus (councilors), the youth in particular and all able Boranas who are old enough to understand the proceeding are expected to participate in this gathering at least once at their prime time of their life.
One of GGA’s duties is to revise existing laws. In Gadaa system, laws are reviewed every eight years during GGA and will be amended or uphold depending on their impact on the society since enacted. In addition to reviewing existing laws, it is possible that GGA could consider and introduces new laws.
During this assembly, GGA had addressed several political, social and economical issues that will have significant impact on the Borana community. After intense discussions and review of various issues, the assembly passed different types of resolutions. These resolutions include the introduction of new laws and amendment on existing ones.
The following are some of several resolutions passed at the 40th GGA.
1. Girls education
After considering the importance of girls education in the advancement of the society, Gumii Gayoo general assembly had passed a resolution that promotes girls education. The resolution calls for each head of family in Borana community to contribute 20 Ethiopian birr (ETB) annually to support girl’s education.
2. Seera Daawwee Goboo
In the past, Gadaa councilors such as the Adulaas and the Hayuus were prohibited from crossing “Golboo”, one of Borana region located between Ethiopia and Kenya. This law was introduced by Daawwe Goboo Yaayyaa, the 31st Abaa Gadaa who led from 1696 to 1704. The law is famously known as seera Daawwe Gobboo ( Daawwe Gobboo law). The justification for passing the law was due to the large territory the Boranas covered at the time and the distance between ceremonial sites and those regions. For the Gaada officials it was impossible to cover all these areas and to return to ceremonial sites for the important gathering as there was no modern transportation at the time and as this need to be done at specific time. However, all that has become history and traveling between these regions is not an issue any more. Therefore, based the above facts and after considering the bill presented by the Kenyan Borana’s delegation lead by Jarso Jilo, the assembly has reversed the law, famously known as “Seera Daawe Goboo,” and declared that any Gadaa official including Abaa Gadaa is free to cross Golboo. The amendment on this law means Abbaga and his officials will travel all areas occupied by Boranas.
3. Construction of Abaa Gadaa Galma or hall at Gaayoo.
Previously, construction of Galma or any other type of building was prohibited at Gaayo to protect the traditional value of the area and its sacredness. However, the current GGA has eased the restriction and declared that any individual, group, or organization that has interest in building assembly hall at the site is welcomed. The GGA requested all stakeholders to donate financial and material resources for the construction of the hall at Gayyoo. The request was extended to the NGO’S, governmental organization, wealthy individuals in the country and Borana community in particular.
4. Creating educated Gadaa leadership
To generate a 21st century compatible Gadaa leadership, Gumii Gayoo has declared that only educated individuals could be elected for the highest office in Gadaa system. The resolution indicates that parents who are looking forward to their child to be nominated for higher office in Gadaa should start by educating him. According to this resolution, uneducated individuals will not be considered for the positions in Gadaa council.
5. Protection of wildlife
To preserve wildlife, which is in the decline in the region, Gumii Gaayoo general assembly has passed a resolution that criminalizes hunting wild life. Under this resolution, any individual who kills a wild animal, how small it might be, shall be fined two heads of cattle. The assembly has highlighted that all community members are obligated to protect the wildlife.
6. Addiction and abuse of influential substances
To eradicate addiction and abuse of major addictive substances in Borana community, Gumii Gaayoo assembly has passed a resolution that criminalizes the sale and consumption of alcohol and caati (miraa) in the region. Under this law any individual found in the position of alcohol or Caati (Mirra) in country side of Borana shall be fined by five head of cattle.
7. Right of underage girls
Early marriage has been associated with several negative outcomes on the life of girls. This act undermines girls ability to decide for their destination eventually hindering their contribution in the society. To protect underage girls from early marriage, the assembly has passed a law that will prohibit the marriage of underage girls. Under this law, a family that forces their daughter to be married before the age of 18 shall be fine by ten head of cattle.
Beside the above resolutions, the assembly has passed other important laws that will play significant role in the life of each Borana and on the region as a general for years to come.
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