Ethiopia: Nilo-Saharan Language Groups

Posted: February 24, 2008 in History
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Nilo-Saharan Language Groups

In the far southwest and along the country’s western border live several peoples speaking Nilo-Saharan languages. The most numerous of these are the Nuer and Anuak, both members of the East Sudanic family. Most Nuer are found in Sudan, whereas the Anuak live almost entirely in Ethiopia. Most of these people are hoe cultivators of grains, but many have cattle. A few, such as the Nuer, are seminomadic.

The Kunema are found in western Tigray. Perhaps because of the long Italian influence in Eritrea, they have been most affected by foreign religious influences. Although Orthodox Christianity had little or no impact on them, the Kunema often accepted the teachings of Protestant and Roman Catholic missionaries. Two other groups, the Berta and the Nara, have been influenced by Islam. Otherwise, these peoples have retained their traditional religious systems. Koman speakers consist of several groups who live along the Ethio-Sudan border in western Welega. Among these littleknown peoples are the Gumuz, who, along with the Berta, are also called Bani Shangul. In the past, these peoples were often the object of slave raids by their neighbors in Ethiopia and Sudan.

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