The Gada is Complex, but it is Oromo isdemocratic system – Inscribed in 2016 (11.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity


Film ‘Gada system, an indigenous democratic socio-political system of the Oromo’ © UNESCO

Oromo Gada system: indigenous democratic socio-political system

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(UNESCO) — Gada is a traditional system of governance used among the Oromo people in Ethiopia. It was developed from knowledge gained through community experience over generations. The system regulates political, economic, social and religious activities of the community. It deals with issues such as conflict resolution, reparation and protecting women’s rights. It serves as a mechanism for enforcing moral conduct, building social cohesion, and expressing forms of community culture.  The Gada system is organized into five classes with one of these functioning as the ruling class consisting of a chairperson, officials and an assembly. Each class progresses through a series of grades before it can function in authority with the leadership changing on a rotational basis every eight years. Class membership is open to men, whose fathers are already members, while women are consulted for decision-making on protecting women’s rights. The classes are taught by oral historians . They cover history, laws, rituals, time reckoning, cosmology, myths, rules of conduct, and the function of the Gada system. Meetings and ceremonies take place under a sycamore tree (considered the Gada symbol) while major clans have established Gada centres and ceremonial spaces according to territory. Knowledge about the Gada system is transmitted to children in the home and at school.

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Oromo cultural heritage

Oromo cultural heritage borana

Oromo cultural heritage

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Eleventh session of the Committee

(UNESCO) — The eleventh session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage takes place in the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa Conference Centre in Addis Ababa, from 28 November to 2 December 2016.

Committee Members

Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Austria, Bulgaria, Colombia, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Lebanon, Mauritius, Mongolia, Palestine, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Saint Lucia, Senegal, Turkey and Zambia

Files presented for this session

The Ethiopian authorities provided Video
Let’s meet in Ethiopia
  • 6 periodic reports on the implementation of the Convention (item 9.a)
  • 6 reports on an element inscribed on the Urgent Safeguarding List (item 9.b)
  • 6 nominations to the Urgent Safeguarding List (item 10.a)
  • 37 nominations to the Representative List (item 10.b)
  • 7 proposals to the Register of Good Safeguarding Practices (item 10.
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