Oromo make up the largest ethno-linguistic group in Ethiopia (Bulcha, 1994; Asefa, 1996); so is Oromia (the home of Oromo) the largest regional state. The diverse culture, political economy, natural resources conservation, cultural values, indigenous knowledge, healthcare system, educating youth and technological innovations can contribute a lot to the world peace and economic growth in general and to Ethiopian community in particular. The Oromo’s contribution to human knowledge across all areas of scholarship is also vitally important. Oromo studies are significant pillars in the national development and transformation of Ethiopia. If well studied and analyzed the case in point is the traditional governance system of Gadaa democracy. Legesse’s apt description of Gadaa as “one of those remarkable creations of the human mind” underscores its versatility as a complex system that regulates political, social, economic, and religious life and an indigenous mechanism of socialization, education, peacemaking, conflict resolution and conflict transformation, judicial administration, religious expression, economic organization, and social harmony (1973).
Oromo people and its culture, language, folklore, literature and its indigenous knowledge and governance system have inspired many scholars throughout the world. Indeed much has been done to expand knowledge about the Oromo with the goal of promoting justice and knowledge for the Oromo people. Nonetheless, scientific and objective Oromo studies are missing to draw lessons from its rich cultural and natural resources for Ethiopia’s growth and transformation plan to assume a position among middle income countries. There seems to be a great spatial and temporal chasm that needs to be bridged.
Bringing together these disparate bodies of knowledge about the Oromo is a worthy goal that must be pursued zealously. The acute shortage of a well-organized research centre on Oromo studies and lack of Oromo focused research output for policy decision and further research to understand Oromo peoples, history, Gada system and indigenous knowledge in different fields necessitate the establishment of an Institute for Oromo studies. The Institute of Oromo Studies can play such a significant role in making Oromo studies open to public debates through publishing, organizing conferences, seminars and public lecture series.
Institute of Oromo Studies at Jimma University will create conducive environment to integrate teachers and students at JU. In addition, it will collaborate with other universities and regional colleges in Oromia in the fields of Oromo studies as there are similar departments that are spread across different universities and colleges in Oromia. Oromo studies will amalgamate various disciplines; the Institute of Oromo Studies will essentially provide a platform for interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary collaborations across diverse departments and professional schools at JU and other universities in the country. It will also ensure a sustainable and responsible form of Oromo Studies that considers cultural, social, environmental, political and economic and natural resources dimensions.
Organizing Oromo studies and documenting and preserving earlier publications on Oromo at a one centre facilitates to use review of literature and references to do scientific researches on Oromo scholarship. It will also help to avoid fragmented research and evade a tendency of duplication of efforts that are being made with meager resources. Within the existing climate of resource constraints, the Institute will create conducive forum for the best use of human, technological and knowledge management and construction system through the wise utilization of interdisciplinary expertise. It is strongly believed that the coordinated effort will quickly fulfill the trained human power needs of the Oromia Regional State. With all the scholars involved in Oromo studies from across the colleges and departments working together at Jimma University, the Institute will be able to contribute more efficiently to successful, sustainable and responsible Oromo scholarship which contribute a lot to the social, cultural, political and economic development of Oromia. Hence, the Institute would ensure the requests and needs of the region dealing with effective interdisciplinary research. Researches on Oromo people that intend to produce qualified human power for the region and to organize and coordinate scholarship on Oromo studies for regional, national and international scholars and researchers will also be conducted.