August 3, 2023

The Rich Tapestry of Traditional
Afar Matrimonial Rites in Eritrea

 By: Mussie Efriem

Eritrea is home to nine ethnic groups, each contributing to the richness of the country’s diverse heritage. Among these is the Afar ethnic group, primarily inhabiting the southern shores of the Red Sea. This ethnic group, with its own language and customs, thrives on fishing, livestock rearing, and trade and is renowned for its mesmerizing traditional dances, stirring battle songs, and the ‘jile’ – a distinctive curved knife carried by men. The culture is a captivating blend of the ancient and the modern, the terrestrial and the maritime. This article will delve into the intricate rituals and traditions of Afar matrimonial arrangements in the past, painting a vivid picture of practices, from engagement to marriage, and even through to divorce. As it is broadly the case with the other ethnic communities in Eritrea, betrothal within the Afar community is steeped in tradition.


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