Koore in Ethiopia

Photo Source:  Tarekegn Yohannis Chaffa 
Map Source:  UN
People Name: Koore
Country: Ethiopia
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 282,000
World Population: 282,000
Primary Language: Koorete
Primary Religion: Christianity
Christian Adherents: 94.00 %
Evangelicals: 86.17 %
Scripture: New Testament
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Omotic
Affinity Bloc: Horn of Africa Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

Koore oral tradition says they might have emigrated from Gamo highlands sometime in the middle of the 14th century. Some informants also say a group of people emigrated, as Christian missionaries from Manz, Shewa to Amaro (also called Koorso by the Koore) via Dawuro and Gamo between the middle of the 14th century and the beginning of the 15th century (Awoke, 1985).

There were many dispersed and unified indigenous Oma in Koorso when these emigrants came to Amaro (Koorso). The new emigrants fought with these indigenous tribes and eventually forced some of them to fly to Burji, Konso and Derashe. The remaining indigenous tribes were intermingled with the newcomers to form a people of new identity: the Koore.

The emigrants who were assimilated with indigenous tribes were said to have carried with them Tabots (Arc of the Covenant) and are believed to have founded some Orthodox churches including Yero Medhane Alem, Icha Giorgis and Derba Menena Michael. Eventually the Kingdom of Amaro was established at about the end of the 14th century with 23 administrative units or districts called daynete. Since its establishment, the Kingdom of Amaro was ruled by Kaates, kings (Awoke, 1985). As oral informants say, Ahmed Gran invaded the Kingdom of Amaro (Koorso) in the 16th century, thereby burning its churches and persecuting the Christians.

Generally there were 19 kings from three dynasties in Koorso from the middle of the 14th century to the incorporation of the kingdom into the Ethiopian Empire by Ras Lul Seged, general of Menelik II, in 1896. After its incorporation into the Ethiopian Empire, Amaro (Koorso) became a Wereda administration first based at Qerchele, later at Dano and finally at Kele. This Wereda structure lasted until 1981 a time when Amaro Wereda was dissolved and partitioned between Gedeo and Gamo Gofa. After the military regime of Derg was toppled down in 1991 by the struggle of the Ethiopia people led by EPRDF, Amaro Special Wereda Administration was reestablished as one national administrative unit of SNNPRS.

Where Are they Located?

The Koore Nation is found in Amaro Special Wereda, east of Abaya and Chamo Lakes, Oromia Regional State in the north, northeast and east, Burji Spesial Wereda in the south, Konso and Derashe Special Weredas in the southwest, and Gamo Gofa Zone in the northwest border of Amaro Special Wereda. Amaro Special Wereda has a total land area of 1,597 square kilometers.

Amaro Special Wereda is divided into west and east by a mountain range, the Amaro horst, which reaches 3,602 meters at Mount Dello. The mountain range is highly rugged.

Amaro Special Woreda is totally inhabited by Koore. However, there are other ethnic groups who came for government work and business and these are limited to Kele Town. In northern Burji, four Kebeles (counties) are also Koore.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Currently the Koore are predominantly Christians (Protestant and Orthodox, but very few Catholics) and Muslim. Christianity has a long history among the Amaro. The first Orthodox Churches, established at about the 14th century, were the Yero Mednalne Monastery and the Icha Giorgis and Derba Michael churches. As Koore oral tradition says, Christian immigrants who were believed to have come from Menz through Kafa, Dawaro and Gamo to Amaro were responsible for establishing these Churches. However, during the wars of Ahmed Gran the churches were burned and the Christians were persecuted recklessly. The remaining few Christians and priests were forced to flee to Birbir Mariam, in Gamo and other places. It is said that after this historical incidence the Koore people relapsed to their old traditional religion and remained so until the Ethiopian Empire builders re-introduced Christianity in the 19th century.

But Protestant Christianity rapidly spread after the first Sudan Interior Mission entered to Burji and Amaro in 1948. Although there was persecution during the military regime against Protestant Christians, they survived the repressive regime. After 1991 there was a rapid expansion of Charismatic-Pentecostals. Although there is no exact figure currently, currently the Koore are by and large Charismatic-Pentecostal Christians.

What Are Their Needs?

Koore land (Koorso or Amaro) is highly rugged and mountainous. So the basic need of the Koore now is road accessibility. Elementary education is in Koore language; however, there is no literature and this may be a crucial area some NGOs have to intervene.

Text Source:   Anonymous