Hedareb people

The Hedareb or T'bdawe[note 1] are one of the nine ethnolinguistic groups in Eritrea.[3] They are a Beni-Amer division, a subgroup of the Beja. They are more diverse than the other Eritrean ethics; one subgroup speaks the traditional Beja language, which belongs to the Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic family, while another is more closely related to Sudanese Hadendoa. They are among the least-researched groups in Eritrea.[4]

The world's inhabitants; or, Mankind, animals, and plants; being a popular account of the races and nations of mankind, past and present, and the animals and plants inhabiting the great continents and (14598340307).jpg
An illustration of "Beni Amer" men, from 1888
Regions with significant populations
 Eritrea: 202,000 (2009 Eritrean embassy estimate);[1] 100,000 (2009 ILO estimate),[2]
 Sudan,  Egypt
Sunni Islam
Related ethnic groups
other Beja and other Cushitic peoples.

The Hedareb people live in northwestern Barka in Eritrea, Sudan and Egypt.[5] Nomadic or semi-nomadic pastoralists, they typically migrate seasonally with their herds of camels, goats and sheep.[3]


The Hedareb speak the Beja language as a mother tongue. It belongs to the Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic family. In addition to their variety of Beja, known as Hedareb or T’badwe, most Hedareb people also speak at least one other language, typically either Arabic or Tigre.[6]


Hedareb society is hierarchical, and is traditionally organized into clans and subclans.[5] Hedarebs are a Muslim group,[4] and most are Sunni Muslims.[3] Marriages are typically arranged to maximize alliances between extended families. It is customary for the groom's family to pay a bride price of five to twelve goats, and a varying amount of money,[7] or as much as 70 camels.[8]

Sociologist Abdulkader Saleh Mohammad writes that the Hedareb have been excluded from state conceptions of Eritrean nationhood, and have become a marginalized group with many members who do not feel connected to the Eritrean nation-state.[9]

The status of women in Hedareb society is generally lower than that of men: the birth of female children is celebrated with fewer gifts and ululations than that of male children, and wives who consent to a divorce have no right to family property. Women generally inherit half as much property as men, and their testimony counts half as much in legal proceedings.[8] An Eritrean survey in the early 2000s found that 100% of Hedareb women had undergone some form of female genital mutilation.[4] Most Hedareb women are married by the age of eighteen.[8]


As a Muslim people, the Hedareb follow Sharia law in most matters.[4]

In the nineteenth century, blood feuds marked by chains of revenge killings existed among Hedareb groups; unlike those among neighboring groups, they were rarely resolved by the payment of blood money, possibly because the Hedareb had fewer trading practices.[4] Also distinctively, killing one's wife was traditionally punished by death, while killing one's children went unpunished.[4] Rape of a noblewoman by a serf was punishable by death, while rape of serfs by nobles was tolerated.[4]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Hedareb, t'badwe, to-bedawye and bedawi may refer to the people or their language. Beja is an Arabic name for the language; Hedareb may be a corruption of Hadarma, "people of the Hadhramaut". See Tesfagiorgis G., Mussie (2010). Eritrea. p. 178 and 216. ISBN 9781598842319. and Paul, A. (1959). "THE HADĀREB: A Study in Arab—Beja Relationships". Sudan Notes and Records. University of Khartoum. 40: 75–78. JSTOR 41719580.


  1. ^ "About Eritrea: People". eritreanconsulate-lb.com. Honorary Consulate of The State of Eritrea in Lebanon. Archived from the original on 1 May 2018. Retrieved 28 February 2015.
  2. ^ Mehbratu, S; Habtezion, Zerisenay (2009). Eritrea: Constitutional, Legislative and Administrative Provisions Concerning Indigenous Peoples. International Labour Organization; African Commission’s Working Group on Indigenous Communities/Populations in Africa; Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria; with support from the European Commission. SSRN 1584657. Asserts Hedareb population is 2% of the total population of 4.8 million.
  3. ^ a b c "The People of Eritrea". www.eritrean-embassy.se. Eritrean Embassy in Sweden. Retrieved 27 February 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Favali, L.; Pateman, R. (2003). Blood, Land, and Sex: Legal and Political Pluralism in Eritrea. Blood, Land, and Sex. Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-10984-2. Retrieved Jul 30, 2017.
  5. ^ a b Tesfagiorgis G., Mussie (2010). Eritrea. ABC-CLIO. p. 178. ISBN 978-1598842319.
  6. ^ Killion, Tom (1998). Historical Dictionary of Eritrea. The Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0-8108-3437-5.
  7. ^ Tesfagiorgis G., Mussie (29 October 2010). Eritrea. pp. 194–195. ISBN 9781598842326.
  8. ^ a b c Gebremedhin, T.G. (2002). Women, Tradition and Development: A Case Study of Eritrea. Red Sea Press. ISBN 978-1-56902-153-8. Retrieved Jul 30, 2017.
  9. ^ Mohammad, Abdulkader Saleh (2013). "Competing identities and the emergence of Eritrean Nationalism between 1941 and 1952". “African Dynamics in Multipolar World”. 5th European Conference on African Studies. Lisbon: Centro de Estudos Internacionais do Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (ISCTE-IUL). pp. 1376–1408. 978-989-732-364-5. Retrieved 18 February 2016.

External linksEdit

  • YouTube videos of traditional Hedareb dance: [1], [2]
  • Eritrean Ministry of Information: Traditional Wedding Ceremonies of the Hedareb Part I and Part II

Further readingEdit