Hawecha: The Story of The Oromo Dreamer

Created by Agnes Karuku In History 26 May 2022

Two hundred years ago, a girl called Hawecha was born into the Oromo community. At a time when men ruled the world and young women had no authority over anything, Hawecha became a powerful leader and the greatest prophetess of the Oromo.

The Oromo live in the vast semi-arid expanse of what is today the Kenya-Ethiopia border in East Africa.

Hawecha came from a small Oromo family. Her father died early in her childhood and she was raised by her mother. She had a baby sister, Dhaki, who died while young, robbing her mother and her of happiness. Hawecha’s early life was that of a typical Oromo girl who spent much of her time herding goats. But, thereafter she began to exhibit mystical powers.

She would dream of the future and her dreams would come true, a prophetess who lived up to her nickname, ‘the dreamer.” Through dreams, Hawecha could foresee war, disease, drought, and famine.

She would warn her people, saving them from devastation and death. Hawecha is remembered by the Oromo through their oral history which is passed on from generation to generation through inspirational stories about her, told to the young.

The first school in Marsabit, in Northern Kenya, was named after her. Her legacy lives on.

Hawecha's legacy lives on

Hawecha was able to predict a famine. Today, climate scientists warn us that climate change will mean more droughts and more floods. When food crops can’t grow, there might be famine. We need to prepare for climate change by growing a variety of different crops, including traditional food crops. We must allow forests to grow on hills and steep slopes, and we must protect the banks of rivers and lakes.

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