Oromo, Bale in Ethiopia

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People Name: Oromo, Bale
Country: Ethiopia
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 2,239,000
World Population: 2,239,000
Primary Language: Oromo, Borana-Arsi-Guji
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 1.50 %
Evangelicals: 0.07 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Oromo
Affinity Bloc: Horn of Africa Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Bale Oromo are a subgroup of the large number of Oromo people who live in the Horn of Africa. The Oromo people who live in the Bale region of Oromia in Ethiopia.

There has been much unrest and violence for the Bale Oromo people in the last few decades. Even though the Oromo make up over half of the population of Ethiopia, they have a secondary status beneath the Amharic and Tigrinya peoples who live north of Oromia. The official language of Ethiopia is Amharic even though many more Ethiopians speak an Oromo language. The two main languages for the Bale Oromo are Oromo and Borana-Arsi-Guji. Many Oromo want nothing to do with the central Ethiopian government, which is made up of non-Oromo people. Another factor is religion. The Oromo peoples are primarily Muslim while the Amarhara and Tigray are mainly Orthodox Christians.

Where Are they Located?

The Bale Oromo live in south central Ethiopia and are part of the larger Oromia region of west and south Ethiopia.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Only 11% of the Bale Oromo have electricity according to a recent survey. This fact gives you an idea of the poverty that most Bale Oromo face. They are famers and pastoralists who grow crops like cotton, maize, wheat, peanuts, coffee, and various fruits and vegetables. The region where they live is prone to drought, which leads to famine. Their main form of transportation is the horse. Most Bale Oromo are unable to read and write. A complete Bible is available in Oromo. Another regular problem for the Bale Oromo is the thousands of Somali refugees that have come to live in their land trying to escape violence in Somalia. This taxes their limited resources.

Marriage to one wife is the norm for most Bale Oromo men. A wealthier man may have up to four wives. A man's wealth is frequently measured by how many cattle he owns.

Bale Oromo marry within their Oromo people. Families arrange marriages. The new wife goes to live with her husband's family. Families live in round huts made from juniper and eucalyptus wood with a thatched roof. Couples have many children but many do not live past the age of five due to the lack of modern medicine. The average life span of the Bale Oromo adult is only 54 years. The Bale Oromo eat meat except for pork, since they are Muslims.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The vast majority of the Bale Oromo are Sunni Muslims. Their Islam is mixed with folk religion. Islam is a major world religion that is based on five essential duties or "pillars": (1) A Muslim must affirm that "there is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet." (2) Five times a day one must pray while facing Mecca. (3) One must give an obligatory percentage (very similar to tithes) on an annual basis. (4) One must fast during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim year. (5) One must try to make at least one pilgrimage to Mecca in his or her lifetime. Muslims are also prohibited to drink alcohol, eat pork, gamble, steal, use deceit, slander, and make idols.
The two main holidays for Sunni Muslims are Eid al Fitr, the breaking of the monthly fast and Eid al Adha, the celebration of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son to Allah. There is a tiny group of believers among the Bale Oromo.

What Are Their Needs?

The Bale Oromo have vast needs. They need peace in the land where they live. They need access to schools to educate their children. The need the benefits of modern medicine and electricity. Most of all the Bale Oromo need to hear and understand the life-changing message of Jesus Christ. Only Jesus can give the Bale true peace.

Prayer Points

Pray the Lord sends medical workers and teachers to the Bale Oromo.
Pray that a strong movement to Jesus will bring whole Bale Oromo families and communities into a rich experience of God's blessings.
Pray that God will overthrow spiritual forces of darkness opposing the spread of His Gospel among the Bale Oromo.

Text Source:   Keith Carey