My ten days stay in Borena comes to a conclusion today leaving me with unforgettable memories. Truly speaking, I have had a wonderful time in Yabello, Borena’s capital and other small towns nearby. I have primarily come here for gathering data for a research that I am doing ; however, I also used the opportunity to learn about the Borena as much as I can. Borena’s culture is very rich and very deep and no one can finish learning about it in decades let alone in ten days. I have learnt a little (superficially) about the Borena Oromo and hope I will keep on learning more as I will repeatedly come here for research work for the next two years.
During my stay, I talked to the Borena elders, particularly, Borbor Bulle, the man who is known in the whole Borena for his knowledge of history, culture and values of the Borena Oromo. Many researchers, particularly, in the area of social anthropology, such as Professor Asmerom Legesse, Dr. Gemechu Megersa and many others have used this man as a key informant for writing their PhD theses and other researches on the Borena Oromo. Some people say he is a living book. He knows every details about the Borena Oromo and its institutions. Ask him about the Gada System, and he will narrate it to you beautifully. Speak to him about marriage, and he will tell you about it more than what you need. What about traditional conflict resolution? He will explain it to you in an amazing way.
Everybody knows him. Mention Borbor Bule to an ordinary Borena guy and he will say, ” Borbor Bule you are asking? He is the the Hayyu Duree (expert) of the history and culture of the Borena Oromo.” Even children as young as Naabeek (my four year old son) knows about Borbor Bulle. He has never been to a formal school, but he can read and write. He is never tired of talking about Borena and its culture. Any person/scholar who wants to conduct his study on the Borena Oromo, the first thing s/he needs to do is speaking to Borbor Bule. Any research on Borena that doesn’t incorporate Obbo Borbor Bule’s narration is not worth reading. Obbo Borbor Bule is in his early 70’s, has seven children and lives in Dubuluk, a small town, about 60kms far from the capital, Yabello. He is physically huge and you can spot him from anywhere.
I am so happy that I have had the privilege to speak to Obbo Borbor Bule with whom I talked for more than two hours. Let Waaqaa give him more years to live so that he will share his endless knowledge to the young generation.
As you know, the Borena Oromo are known for raising cattles, goats, sheep and camels. When you come here, you are recommended to drink milk (that of cows or goats or camels) and eat beef and goats’ meat. That is what you commonly find here in Borena. During my stay, I enjoyed most of these things. I don’t exactly remember when I ate other than goat’s meat in Yabello, particularly, when stayed in the villages. The Borena’s love eating goats meat as it is very delicious. You can have the goats meat in Shekila Tibs ( meat fried on a clay cooker) or you can have it as a raw meat or you can have it as shifinfin (minced and roasted goat’s meat that is served covered with injera). This is common in the town, Yabello.
However, the special meal prepared from goat’s meat is what the Borena’s locally call wosla. This is the meal that anyone who comes here should try. Once you taste it, you will demand for more. It is very delicious. It is like, “when you go to Hawassa, you should eat roasted fish; when you go to Yabello (Borena) you should eat Wosla.” If you don’t do that, you will regret when somebody tells you later how delicious wosla is and say,” I should have eaten wosla when I was in Yabelo.”
To prepare Wosla (as I heard it from a friend who lives in Yabello), what you actually do is, you slaughter a goat, remove its skin and after that you put it on a big metal pan and put it in a fire that is made in a dome like small house made of mud. Then, the wosla gets roasted with the heat of the fire in that small house. After that you serve the wosla after making it into manageable size. Then, with small knife you remove the meat from its bone, cut it into pieces and dip it into mitmita (spicy pepper) and enjoy it. It works best if you enjoy it with some kind of beer (It worked best that way for me). In case, you go to Borena, try Wosla. One Wosla (costs thirty birr) will be enough for you, but if you have a voracious appetite like me three or four is perfect; you can calculate the price of the wosla for yourself.
Ask me about the Borena milk? It is matchless: it is fresh; it is thick and it has a special taste. It is not watery like the one we have in Hawassa. If you are in Yabello, you can get the boiled milk in cafes or if you want the one that is not boiled you can get it from Borena women who are selling it at different corners of the town. Ayyo (the women) will give you a mug of milk, you drink it and just pay five birr. It really tastes wonderful. By the way, as you travel by bus, you may notice a Borena woman or man who seats next to you drinking milk from a plastic bottle. During a long journey, you can buy milk in a plastic bottle (one litter) for 12 birr from girls who sell milk on the roadside to quench your thirst. You can just drink the milk without having it boiled. It is clean and it has special odor (kan qoraasame dha).
You can also try Camel’s milk. It is very delicious. I tried it and it worked well. People warned me not to drink it because they said it will disturb me inside and make me have diarrhea. I drank, but saw no sign of diarrhea. Some religion may not allow drinking camel’s milk. I have enjoyed drinking it as I am not too religious. The Borena’s say that camel’s milk is more nutritious than cow’s milk and it makes you stronger and healthier. You see, I have been drinking camel’s milk and I have become stronger than I used to be. Is there anyone out there who wants to contest wrestling with me? Hope you will not dare to do that because I have got the power to dump you in seconds.
I also visited animals market where hundreds of goats, cows and camels are kept for sale in a fence. By the way, one camel costs about 30,000 Ethiopian birr. Isn’t it awesome? There are scores of lorries lining up to load off the animals that don’t have the intelligence to know where they are taken to. Of course, these animals are taken to Hawassa, Adama and Addis Ababa. The camels are exported to the Middle east countries, especially to Saudi Arabia.
My first journey to Borena has given me the opportunity to experience how life is like in this land of rich and indigenous culture. I also lived it though for a very short spell. Warri Booranaa hanga deebi’ee dhufee isin argutti fayyaa naa ta’aa!