The Expansion of Protestantism and Culture Change Among the Sayyoo Oromo, Western Oromia

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Addis Ababa University


The study is about the expansion of Protestantism and culture change among the Sayyoo Oromo. It attempts to document the coming of branches of Christianity and their methods of expansion and the conversion of the people. Special emphasis is given to examine the impacts of expansion of Protestantism on the Oromo traditional culture and explaining the current everyday religion of the people. The research employed qualitative paradigm; primary data were collected by formal and informal interview, observation, document analysis, the use of oral tradition and secondary sources. The research reveals that Christianity arrived among the Sayyoo, before a century ago. Protestantism expanded in the area by convincing method of donations and often by impressive pressures made particularly through attacking the traditional Oromo religion with its rituals. The then general contextual background: political oppression, low economic status, lack of infrastructures, the event of influenza epidemic and other world historical incidents have contributed to the peoples’ active conversion to Protestantism. The mass conversion of the people resulted in creating new spiritual orientations, which brought holistic change, including the missing of indigenous cultural practices. Accordingly, the Sayyoo indigenous culture was changed in many aspects: social customs, material cultures, oral literature and verbal arts, oral performance known as the social drama in anthropological term. Lastly, the study focuses on religion and everyday life of the Sayyoo by looking at how Protestantism penetrated into daily life of the people mainly by using marriage as one of rites of passages. The study discloses that religion is in every activity of the Sayyoo. It is argued that in the last one century, the Sayyoo developed a complex form of marriage ceremony that integrates protestant church principles and omitting many of customary marriage values in favor of taking advantage to fit in to the Protestant Church



Social Anthropology