What became of the aboriginal peoples of Kaffa?
Hearing stories told by the former peoples of Kaffa, passed through generations, particularly told in a language commonly spoken among the aboriginal peoples of the region, the language called, “Kaffi Nono”, old as it could get. This language speaks of the former peoples of Kaffa their rituals, their ceremonies, their songs, their kings and their chronicles, “Kaffi Nono”, source of oral tales, medium and instrument that connected, the past to the present, the story of the former peoples, how they lived, how they organized their communities, how they wed, worshipped and how they defended themselves against aggressors, how they governed their lives and their land, oral stories about their kings of great stature and character. The kingsʼ councils and the representatives of various clan groups, from north, south, east and west.
Oral stories told in Kaffi Nono, in rhymes and riddles (“Turito” or “inkokilish”) , testaments to the customs and traditions of good people, their rituals, birth places, burial dances, marches of mothers, ( called “hillo”) , drama witnessed by the hills and valleys of Kaffa, imaginary eyes and ears of the river banks where mothers cast off the evil spirits, by throwing away their garments into the river, so to drown the evil spirits, ill births and endemic diseases. Cleanse the souls, the bodies and their communities from harmful elements.
These and many more stories told in Kaffi language, detailing passages of time, from childhood to manhood to motherhood, the union among peoples, their faith and loyalty, families and friends, communion among common folks and custodianship of those charged with it, speaks of the the time when, children of Kaffa felt free and god like.
Kaffa language offers plenty of life lessons, it is wise and deep, remains unexplored, unscripted, yet to be discovered by future generations.
For centuries, the aboriginal peoples of Kaffa moved across the vast landscape centered near the belt buckles of the African continent. The Kaffa were not an isolated tribe. They travelled under the shimmering African sky from south to north,Bonga to Maji, possibly to Kaffia Kinji. They journeyed the old caravan
routes from Kaffa to Basso Liben to the Red Sea port of Massawa. To the southeast, they knew the passages to the ports of the Indian Ocean.
Here is the proof: In early 1600s, Portuguese expedition team, accompanied by an ambassador, from Emperor Susniosʼs court, travelled from Gorgora to the southern kingdom of Hinaria. The Portuguese explorers already knew enough about the region called Kaffa and they insisted on being allowed to travel through Kaffa to get to the port of Malindi, located at the Northern coast of Kenya.
The ruler of Hinaria at the time, denied Portuguese travelers the passage through Kaffa. but encouraged them to go through Yemisa via Kambata, then continue to their final destination. (We will explore in future articles why the ruler of Hinaria denied the Portuguese travelers, the passage through Kaffa.
The aboriginal peoples of Kaffa knew there existed a trade route from Kaffa to the eastern coastal towns of Indian Ocean and beyond it. We know, from history of coffee, since coffee originated in the southwestern highlands of Ethiopia, late, introduced to the Arab world, as early as 1500s Arabian traders had come in contact with the highland peoples of the southwest. Coffee was brought to the Sufi Muslims in Yemen who made drinking coffee as part of their night time chanting rituals. Only in later years Yemen took up coffee farming as its cash crop under the Ottoman rule. Arabica beans, Mocha coffee as it is called grown in Yemen.
Long before the reach of Transatlantic Slave Trade, the aboriginal peoples of East Africa including Kaffa had already learned to get along with migrants from the Arabian Peninsula.
After the scourge of Mongol invasions, and subsequent wars of brutality among Central Asians, Persians, Middle Easterners and, Arabs, massive population displacement. People of Indo-European decendents from Central Asia and Persia had fled to East African Coast.
Lamentations in Kaffa language known as “giraro” often speaks of sheltering people from far away land, those who were stranded, giving them home, lamentation go on to say, “oh! What became of our lost social norms, human bonds, getting along with women and men, families and villagers, folks across rivers and beyond mountains”. Every theme in Kaffi Nono, every tale, every song and its accompanied lyrics, about past kings and their burial place, the royal cemetery at “ Shosha hills” (Hills of sorrow, where kings were buried) The stories of Kaffa people, all woven into one simple expression, in the aboriginal language, “Kaffi Nono,”
“life from cradle to coffin would be worthless without your fellow men and women”. He who eats alone dies alone.
Thank you for reading about Kaffa
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