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Sarine Arslanian - Shutterstock All rights reserved. Used with permission
Map Source: People Group location: Joshua Project. Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.
|People Name:||Oromo, Yejju|
|Primary Language:||Oromo, West Central|
|Christian Adherents:||1.30 %|
|Online Audio NT:||No|
|Affinity Bloc:||Horn of Africa Peoples|
Unlike other Oromo's who trace their lineage to Borana or Bareentu, the 2 patriarchs of the Oromo Nation; The Yejju are a Semitic people that were assimilated into the Oromo people. According to accounts from Ethiopian Orthodox historians, A large Yemeni tribe migrated to the Sultanate of Adal, which was based in Eastern Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somaliland. They became a key part of the advancement of the Adalite army that conquered all but the Christian Highlands of Western Ethiopia. This became fatal, as the Christian Ethiopians regrouped and annihilated all Muslims in the surrounding lowlands, pushing them back to Harar, their capital. The Yejju on the other hand, fled south into Oromo territory, where they were adopted into the ethnic group and converted many to Islam. They lost their language and adopted Afaan Oromo, though traces of their original culture are prevalent still today.
The Yejju are the most northern dwelling Oromos. They live in the state of Gojjam (Western Ethiopia) just south of Lake Tana. Lowland Yejju live around north Shewa (Central Ethiopia) and Wello (North Eastern Ethiopia).
The Yejju have very different lifestyles depending on their location. The Yejju of Gojjam live as farmers and pastoralists. They are predominantly Orthodox Christian and many are Amharic speaking and are usually mixed with Amhara's blood. The lowland Yejju of Shewa and Wello are almost wholly Sunni Muslim. They live either as urban city dwellers or nomadic herders and traders. They speak Afaan Oromo or other languages to make trade easier with neighbors (Arabic, Afar, Somali, Harari, Agrobba).
The Yejju are mostly Sunni Muslim but there are Orthodox Christian majorities within the Yejju residing in Gojjam or cities with predominant Amharas/Tigrais populations like Addis Abeba.
The Yejju and the Oromo in general, have been heavily persecuted by both Christian and Muslim peoples. They are called strangers of the land due to not orginially being from Ethiopia but migrating from Northern Kenya around the 16th Century. Though present day, the Oromo's are not mistreated like older times and in fact Ethiopia's largest ethnic group.