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Gelemso is located in Ethiopia
Location within Ethiopia
Coordinates: 8°49′N 40°31′E / 8.817°N 40.517°E / 8.817; 40.517
Country Ethiopia
Region Oromia
Zone Mirab (West) Hararghe
Population (2005)
 - Total 19,419
Time zone EAT (UTC+3)

Gelemso is a town in eastern Ethiopia. The name of the town is said to come from the Oromo phrase Galma Usso, or "Hall of Usso", named for a man who sponsored the new year festival. Located in the Ahmar Mountains of the Mirab Hararghe Zone, it has a latitude and longitude of 8°49′N 40°31′E / 8.817°N 40.517°E / 8.817; 40.517Coordinates: 8°49′N 40°31′E / 8.817°N 40.517°E / 8.817; 40.517.

Based on figures from the Central Statistical Agency, in 2005 Gelemso has an estimated total population of 19,419 of whom 9,994 were males and 9,425 were females.[1] The 1994 national census reported this town had a total population of 10,849 of whom 5,420 were males and 5,429 were females. It is currently the capital of Habro woreda. In addition to the principal Oromo language, Amharic and Arabic are widely spoken. The town is best known for its product of khat which is known by the name of the town.


Locations of Interest

Locations of interest around Gelemso include: the Oda Bultum, one of the five Oda or traditional meeting places where the Oromo met to end one luba or 8-year period of the Gadaa system and begin a new one; Halaya Buchuro Gorge, 20 kilometers from Gelemso, where the Oromos executed criminals by throwing them into the chasm. Christian sites include the Medihane Alem Bete Kristiyan church. Muslim sites include the Shiekh Omar mosque and Sufi compound; the 14th-century Aw-Seid mosque and Sufi compound; and Aw-Sherif Hill, where the muslim saint Aw-Sherif lived.

Notable Persons From Gelemso

The town is the birth place of Ahmad Taqi. Other notable persons connected with Gelemso include: Sheikh Mohammed Rashad Abdulle , Shiek Mohammed Rashid Bilal , Ahmad Zakir Meyra, also known as the "lion of Habro"; Dr. Bayan Asoba ( off course he is from Mechara, not Gelemso); Dr. Ashagre Yigletu, former minister of the Derg; Hordofa Guysa, Warriors; Mohamed Gilo, Mohamed Sa'idi, Mohamed Jawwe, the Great; Haamidoo and General Gezahgn Worke ( he is from Micheta, and not General).



Early History

The town of Gelemso started as a market centre called "Qabri Lukku". Here, there were small inns for caravan traders. In the 15th century, a scholar called Aw-Seid and his family came from the city of Harar and settled at Gelemso. He built the first mosque of the town, but had little success in converting the local Oromo to Islam.

In 1886, Emperor Minilik II had arrived at the bottom of the town. He saw it attractive and assigned governor for it. In 1908, Gelemso was one of the 50 communitiess that the government recognized as "town".

In 1935, Italian army occupied Gelemso and all of the country. The mosque of Shiekh Omar was built during this era. The Italians constructed the first gravel road, and St. Michael Catholic Church (the oldest and tallest building in the town) among others.

After Italian Occupation

In 1944, the Christian missionary group of American Adventist Church constructed the first school of the town.

Gelemso was made a municipal town in 1946. It progressively exhibited rapid change by the efforts of Yemeni and European traders. In 1968, it became the capital of Habro awraja. After this, it equipped with electric lights for 6 hours a night (later improved to 24 hours a day) and tap water. Here General Taddese Birru, an Oromo nationalist, was kept under house arrest in the 1960s and 1970s.

When the Derg came to power, more attention was given to Gelemso as it was the center of Oromo rebellion and unrest. The Derg era was a prosperous time in the town's history, seeing the construction of many buildings and other improvements. This includes, the health centre, high school, the multi purpose city assembly hall etc. In 1985, the former President Mengistu Haile-Mariam visited Gelemso and the surrounding villages.

In May 1991, the town came under the control of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), who made it the administrative center of the OLF-held areas in the former provinces of Hararghe, Arsi and Bale, until the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front ejected them from Gelemso and other towns in Mirab Harerghe in June 1992.

Notable Administrators

  1. Dejene Gizaw
  2. Fitawrari Tesfaye Wondimagenyehu
  3. Colonel Tedla Ayele
  4. Mekonnin Maru
  5. Allagaw Gule
  6. Alemu Belachew
  7. Alemu Mengesha
  8. Selamu Tegenye
  9. Birhanu Bekama
  10. Aleye Umare (The long-time administrator in history of the town)
  11. Abdella Hashim

Important Data

  1. Mosques:- Seven
  2. Churches:- Three (One Orthodox, two Protestant Churches. St Michael Catholic Church has changed to school, although it is the first Church in the town)
  3. Languages;- Oromo
  4. Schools:- Four Elementary, One High School and one Technical School
  5. Health Facility:- Gelemso Hospital, five private clinics, and four drug shops.
  6. NGOs:- CARE-Ethiopia, Goal, IMC, IRC, Harerghe Catholic Church
  7. High Market Commodities:- Khat, Coffee, Cereals, Hararghe bull (Senga)
  8. Banks:- Two
  9. Hotels: Rocket, Apollo 11, Metasebia, Bayu, Selam, National, Bilen Etc.



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