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The Oromo are a cultural group that has lived for centuries in the area today known as Ethiopia. Historically defined by their unique democratic caste system, each age group within the Oromo was assigned to a specific position within society. As an Oromo citizen aged, they progressed through these age groupings to assume different positions within the Oromo hierarchy. Young men between the ages of sixteen and thirty-two were traditionally assigned to the warrior caste. Young Oromo men were not fully considered men until they had killed a man or, in times of peace, a fierce animal.
Bravery in combat was paramount among Oromo culture, and many of their customs required retelling the histories of great warriors. These storytelling traditions reinforced the warlike attitude prevalent throughout Oromo society. In addition to this focus on military achievement, the Oromo also heavily stressed the importance of harmony and peace amongst their people. This unifying ideal ensured that if any outside military force attacked an Oromo tribe, they could expect a united Oromo counterattack.
The traditional gadaa system of the Oromo was weakened by the geographical expansion and influence of foreign culture, which eventually led to their defeat and the colonization of their lands by the northern Abyssinians. When the Oromo stopped practicing their ancient tradition, they became like lions without teeth.