How the Age Set system functioned among the Cushites in the pre-colonial period

the social organization of the Cushites in the pre-colonial period.

  • They were organized into clans, each of which comprised related families with a common ancestor.




  • They had the Age-set system.
  • They believed in one God.
  • By the end of the 16th century, most Cushites had been converted to Islam through interaction with Muslim immigrants and therefore adopted Islamic culture.

how the Age Set system functioned among the Cushites in the pre-colonial period

  • Boys were grouped into age-sets after circumcision (between 10-15 years of age).
  • The Age-set system was based on about ten groups.
  • Once placed in a set, a boy remained in it all his life.
  • Age-sets provided the community with professional warriors.




  • Senior age-sets were retired from active public life and were settled in different territories.
  • A ceremony was performed at the end of every age-set cycle to keep the age-set system strong.

the influence of religion among the Cushites in the pre-colonial period

They believed in one God.
 They referred to God by different names. For instance, the Oromo called him Wak.
 They regarded God as all-powerful and controller of everybody‟s destiny.
 They prayed to God for all their needs.

political organization of the Cushites in the pre-colonial period.




  • Each clan existed and operated independently, except in times of difficulty, e.g. in case of an invasion, when clans formed alliances to face the enemy.
  • Each clan was headed by a council of elders, who were major role players, particularly in the maintenance of law and order.
  • After circumcision, young people formed age sets.
  • With Islam, the political system changed to give way to the new leaders: the Sheikhs and Islamic Law (Sharia)
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