The Development of Written Afan Oromo and the Appropriateness of Qubee, Latin Script, for Afan Oromo Writing

Wondimu Tegegne


Afan Oromo is the second widely speared indigenous language in Africa south of the Sahara (Mekuria,1994; Mohammed,1994). It is one of the major indigenous African languages that is widely spoken and used in most parts of Ethiopia and some parts of the neighboring countries (Mekuria, 1994). Besides, Afan Oromo has long history of and well developed oral tradition (Feyisa, 1996). Despite of this and the size of its speakers as well as its value as widely spoken language in the Horn of Africa, it remained as unwritten language for long period of time. As Tilahun (2006:113) stated “Until recently, Afan Oromo remained an oral rather than literary language.”  This article attempted to explore the development of written Afan Oromo and the appropriateness of Qubee, Latin script for Afan Oromo writing. Specifically, the article contains five major parts. The first part introduces Afan Oromo and its dialects. The second section presents the factors that delayed the development of written Afan Oromo . In the third section the early attempts to made by Oromo and foreign scholars to write in Afan Oromo is described.  The contribution of Onesmosi Nasib to the development of Afan Oromo writing is presented in the fourth section. Besides, the fifth part explores the contribution of Sheik Bakri Sapalo to the development of Afan Oromo writing. The attempts made by Oromos in 1960s until 1990s to develop the Afan Oromo writing system is presented in the sixhh section. Furthermore, the adoption of Latin script, qubee, as formal orthography of Afan Oromo is described in the last part.

Keywords: Afan Oromo, Arabic Script, Ethiopic Script, Latin Script, Oromo People, Qubee, Roman Script, Sabean Script

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ISSN (Paper)2224-3178 ISSN (Online)2225-0964

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