Kambaata people

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Kambaata people also spelt as Kambata or Kembata (Amharic: ከምባታ) are a Cushitic ethnic group that inhabits the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region of Ethiopia. They speak the Kambaata language. It was a province of Ethiopia beginning in the early 15th century through to the mid-17th century; Ethiopian rule was once again established in the late 19th century under Emperor Menelik II. During this first period, Kambaata province was largely Christianized.[1] The former province is contained within the contemporary Kembata Tembaro Zone of SNNPR.

Kambaata mother with her children in front of their tukul in the Kembata Tembaro Zone, Ethiopia



The Kambata tribe is one of the indigenous tribes in Ethiopia. Scientists categorize the Kambata as a highland east Cushitic tribe. In a broader sense, the term Kambata people, is used to describe the various clans and groups of Kambata [Kambata, Alaba, Tambaro]. More specifically, it refers to inhabitants around the heartland of Hambaricho massif. These three autonomous groups speaking dialects of the same language are collectively referred to as the Kambata people. The differences between the various groups of Kambata are not very strict. People are astonishingly mingled, intermarried and spoke one another’s languages. It is, herefore, difficult to specify clear boundaries of these groups


Traditional dressing and dancing of Kambaata culture

According to Ethiopian statistics, the population of the Kambaata people was 5, 627,565,[2] of which 90.89% live in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Region. Almost one in five – 18.5% – live in urban areas.[3]

The Kambaata people speak the Kambaata language, a Cushitic language.



The Kingdom of Kembata was ruled by long line of its own kings known as down. King Dagoye, from the Oyeta clan, was one of the famous kings known for expanding Kambata territories. The last independent king of Kambaata was king (Woma) Delbato Degoye.

An important landmark for the Kambaata people is Mount Hambaricho, where their king, Woma, used to live and the people used to celebrate annual festivities in the past. The king and the god of Kambaata lived there.[clarification needed]



Kambata language [self‐name Kambaatissa], [also Kambatigna in Amharic] is one of the working languages of Ethiopia[citation needed]. It is a moreknown language, spoken by around 4 million speakers. It includes a number of dialects, such as Tembaaro, Alaba, and Qabeena. It is closely related also to the Hadiyya and Sidama languages, spoken in the neighboring regions. All of these are classified in the group of Highland East Cushitic languages. They are further a part of the Cushitic group of the Afroasiatic language family.

Both the Latin script and Ge'ez script are used for writing. For example, the Bible (full New Testament and part of the Old Testament) has been published in Ge’ez script. The official established spelling usage [orthography] taught currently in primary schools in the region deviates from the International Phonetic Alphabet convention. For example, in the word Kambaata, the double letters aa indicate length.

The language of inter‐ethnic communication is Amharic, the national language of Ethiopia. Kambatas have Amharic names, and some even speak Amharic as their first language. These days, traditional Kambata names are hardly given to children. English is the only spoken foreign language, and is the language of teaching in secondary schools.



They have various indigenous traditional cuisines, the most important of which is kocho, which is made from ensete. They also cultivate a variety of tubers, spices, coffee, crops, and vegetables.

Other clans in Kembata province, such as Tembaro, Alaba, and others, live together and form the Kambaata. Tanners Shekla Seriwoch is the most secluded clan in Kembata province; this clan is unable to participate in any socioeconomic activity with Kambaata. Tanners clan and Kambaata people could never marry.

Kambaata is one of the most densely populated regions in Ethiopia. Due to overpopulation and lack of economic opportunities in their region, they migrate to large cities, industrial areas, and large plantation farms. In recent years they experienced a large influx of migration to South Africa and Middle Eastern countries.

Notable Kambata

  • Biruk Lambiso – Professor of Orthopedics Surgery at Addis Ababa University
  • Aklilu Tizaz – Professor of Emergency Medicine at Addis Ababa University
  • Adane Girma – Ethiopian National Team Football Player
  • Shimelis Bekele – Ethiopian National Team Football Player
  • Loza Abera – Ethiopian National Team Football Player
  • Belachew Girma – A laughter king (Ethiopian Celebrity)
  • Adane Girma-Ethiopia National Team Football player
  • [[Yacob Arsano]] – Professor of Political Science at Addis Ababa University


  1. ^ Ulrich Braukämper, "Aspects of Religious Syncretism in Southern Ethiopia", in Journal of Religion in Africa, 1992, p.197.
  2. ^ Summary and Statistical Report of the 2007 Population and Housing Census
  3. ^ 2007 Ethiopian census, first draft Archived 14 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Ethiopian Central Statistics Agency (accessed 6 May 2009)

Further reading

  • Arsano, Yacob, "A traditional Institution of Kambata" (2002). In: Bahru Zewde and Siegfried Pausewang(eds.), Ethiopia. The Challenge of Democracy from below. Uppsala
  • Braukämper, Ulrich. 1983. Die Kambata: Geschichte und Gesellschaft eines süd-äthiopischen Bauernvolkes. Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner.
  • Gebrewold-Tochalo, Belachew (2002), The Impact of the Socio-Cultural Structures of the Kambata/Ethiopia on their Economic Development. Vienna.
  • Gebrewold, Belachew, "An introduction to the political and social philosophy of the Kambata" (Kambata Development Network website)
  • Daniel Yoseph Baiso, Occupational Minorities in Kambata Ethnic Group, Nairobi, 2007
  • Ashenafi Yonas Abebe, "Resignificacion de algunos valores culturales del pueblo Kambata-Etiope esde el mensaje evangélico", Bogota, 2008.