African Journal of
History and Culture

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Hist. Cult.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-6672
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJHC
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 187

Full Length Research Paper

A historical glimpse of Hiriyoo: Rethinking the indigenous defense system and military mobilization of the Kingdom of Kafa prior to 1897, Southwest Ethiopia

Zegeye Woldemariam Ambo
  • Zegeye Woldemariam Ambo
  • Department of History and Cultural Study, College of Social Science and Languages, Mekelle University, Ethiopia.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 06 November 2020
  •  Accepted: 09 December 2020
  •  Published: 31 January 2021


The present article attempts to reconstruct the fascinating nature of the indigenous defense system and means of military mobilization of the kingdom of Kafa prior to 1897. Kafa, located in today’s South-western Ethiopia, was historically one of the powerful and independent kingdoms prior to its subjugation in 1897. In this study, the researcher relied on available previous multiple sources which include oral testimonies, travel lore, scientific materials and ethnographic data. The researcher employed ethnographic qualitative analysis method comparing them with historical narratives, which is naturalistic approach that helps to understand historic processes and human experiences in a specific historical setting. The findings of the study portray that the kingdom of Kafa had its own distinct defense system and traditional military mobilization for longer years. Among these untold traditional defense system, Hiriyoo (long ditch) was one of the manmade defensive systems dug deep, long and wide around the border areas where enemies might intrude the kingdom. In addition, the kingdom dug Kotino and Kuripo as another supplementary defense system; different insects and natural landscapes; Hokko (drum) used for communication during military mobilization and Kelloo (land gate) system in all corners of the boundary until the final collapse of the kingdom in 1897.


Key words: Kafa, Hiriyoo, Hokko, Mikerecho, Kuripo.