You are on page 1of 4

Afar people

The Afar (Afar: Qafár), also known as the Danakil, Adali and Odali, are an ethnic
group inhabiting the Horn of Africa. They primarily live in the Afar Region of
Ethiopia and in northern Djibouti, although some also inhabit the southern point of
Eritrea. Afars speak the Afar language, which is part of the Cushitic branch of the
Afroasiatic family.

The Afar ethnic flag
Early history Total population
Aussa Sultanate c. 2,644,002
Afar Liberation Front
Regions with significant
Demographics populations
Geographical distribution
Language Ethiopia 1,812,002[1]
Religion Eritrea 526,000[2]
Culture Djibouti 306,000[2]
See also
Further reading
External links
Related ethnic groups
Agaw · Amhara · Beja · Oromo ·
History Saho · Somali · Harari ·
Tigrayans-Tigrinyas · Tigre,[3]
other Afroasiatic-speaking
Early history peoples (Arabian,[4] Egyptian,[5]
Afar society has traditionally been organized into independent kingdoms, each ruled Ethiopian Semitic,[4] Horn
by its own Sultan. Among these were the Sultanate of Aussa, Sultanate of Girrifo, Cushitic,[4] Maghrebi[4])
Sultanate of Dawe, Sultanate of Tadjourah, Sultanate of Rahaito, and Sultanate of

The earliest surviving written mention of the Afar is from the 13th-century Andalusian writer Ibn Sa'id, who reported that they
inhabited the area around the port of Suakin, as far south as Mandeb, near Zeila.[7] They are mentioned intermittently in Ethiopian
records, first as helping Emperor Amda Seyon in a campaign beyond the Awash River, then over a century later when they assisted
Emperor Baeda Maryam when he campaigned against their neighbors theDobe'a.[8]

Along with the closely relatedSomali and other adjacent Afro-Asiatic-speaking Muslim peoples, the Afar are also associated with the
medieval Adal Sultanate that controlled large parts of the northern Horn of Africa. During its existence, Adal had relations and
engaged in trade with other polities in Northeast Africa, theNear East, Europe and South Asia. Many of the historic cities in the Horn
region, such as Maduna, Abasa, Berbera, Zeila and Harar, flourished with courtyard houses, mosques, shrines, walled enclosures and
cisterns during the kingdom'sGolden Age.
Aussa Sultanate
The Afar Sultanate (Aussa Sultanate) succeeded
the earlier Imamate of Aussa. The latter polity had
come into existence in 1577, when Muhammed
Jasa moved his capital from Harar to Aussa with
the split of the Adal Sultanate into Aussa and the
Harari city-state. At some point after 1672, Aussa
declined and temporarily came to an end in State flag of the Aussa
conjunction with Imam Umar Din bin Adam's Sultanate.
Territory of the Adal Sultanate recorded ascension to the throne.[9]
and its vassal states (ca.
1500). The Sultanate was subsequently re-established by Kedafu around the year 1734, and was
thereafter ruled by his Mudaito Dynasty.[10] The primary symbol of the Sultan was a silver
baton, which was considered to have magical properties.

Afar Liberation Front

Following an unsuccessful rebellion led by the Afar Sultan, Alimirah Hanfare, the Afar
Liberation Front was founded in 1975 to promote the interests of the Afar people. Sultan
Hanfadhe was shortly afterwards exiled to Saudi Arabia. Ethiopia's then-ruling communist
Derg regime later established the Autonomous Region of Assab (now called Aseb and
located in Eritrea), although low level insurrection continued until the early 1990s. In
Djibouti, a similar movement simmered throughout the 1980s, eventually culminating in the
Afar Insurgency in 1991. After the fall of the Derg that same year, Sultan Hanfadhe returned Official flag of the Afar
from exile. Revolutionary Democratic
Unity Front.
In March 1993, the Afar Revolutionary Democratic Front (ARDUF) was established. It
constituted a coalition of three Afar organizations: the Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unity
Union (ARDUU), founded in 1991 and led by Mohamooda Gaas (or Gaaz); the Afar Ummatah Demokrasiyyoh Focca (AUDF); and
the Afar Revolutionary Forces(ARF). A political party, it aims to protect Afar interests. As of 2012, the ARDUF is part of the United
Ethiopian Democratic Forces(UEDF) coalition opposition party.[12]


Geographical distribution
The Afar principally reside in the Danakil Desert in the Afar Region of Ethiopia, as
well as in Eritrea and Djibouti. They number 1,276,867 people in Ethiopia (or 1.73%
of the total population), of whom 105,551 are urban inhabitants, according to the
most recent census (2007).[13] The Afar make up over a third of the population of
Djibouti, and are one of the nine recognized ethnic divisions (kililoch) of

Afars speak the Afar language as a mother tongue. It is part of the Cushitic branch of Approximate area inhabited by the
the Afroasiatic language family. Afar ethnic group.
The Afar language is spoken by ethnic Afars in the Afar Region of Ethiopia, as well
as in southern Eritrea and northern Djibouti. However, since the Afar are
traditionally nomadic herders, Afar speakers may be found further afield.

Together, with the Saho language, Afar constitutes the Saho–Afar dialect cluster.

ISO 639 icon for the Afar language

Afar people are predominantly Muslim. They have a long association with Islam
through the various local Muslim polities.[6]

The Afar are traditionally pastoralists, raisinggoats, sheep, and cattle in the desert.[6]

Socially, they are organized into clan families and two main classes: the asaimara ('reds') who
are the dominant class politically, and the adoimara ('whites') who are a working class and are
found in the Mabla Mountains.[15]

In addition, the Afar are reputed for their martial prowess. Men traditionally sport the jile, a
famous curved knife. They also have an extensive repertoire of battle songs.

See also
Afar Depression
Aussa Sultanate
Mudaito Dynasty Afar man in traditional
nomadic attire.

1. "Central Statistical Agency of Ethiopia (CSA) - 2017"(
1-cpi-2017.html). Central Statistical Agency of Ethiopia (CSA). Retrieved 2017. Check date values in: |access-
date= (help)
2. "Afar" ( Ethnologue. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
3. Joireman, Sandra F. (1997). Institutional Change in the Horn of Africa: The Allocation of Property Rights and
Implications for Development. Universal-Publishers. p. 1.ISBN 1581120001.
4. Hodgson, Jason A.; Mulligan, Connie J.; Al-Meeri, Ali; Raaum, Ryan L. (2014-06-12). "Early Back-to-Africa Migration
into the Horn of Africa"( PLOS
Genetics. 10 (6): e1004393. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004393( .
ISSN 1553-7404 ( PMC 4055572 (
s/PMC4055572) . PMID 24921250 ( "We find that most of the
non-African ancestry in the HOA can be assigned to a distinct non-African origin Ethio-Somali ancestry component,
which is found at its highest frequencies in Cushitic and Semitic speaking HOA populations.[…] The most recent
divergence date estimates for the Ethio-Somali ancestral population are with the Maghrebi and Arabian ancestral
populations at 23 and 25 ka."
5. Fulvio Cruciani; et al. (June 2007). "Tracing past human male movements in northern/eastern Africa and western
Eurasia: new clues from Y-chromosomal haplogroups E-M78 and J-M12".Molecular Biology and Evolution. 24 (6):
1300–1311. doi:10.1093/molbev/msm049( . ISSN 0737-4038 (http
s:// PMID 17351267 ( "the
presence of E-M78 chromosomes in eastern Africa can be only explained through a back migration of chromosomes
that had acquired the M78 mutation in northeastern Africa. The nested arrangement of haplogroups E-V12 and E-
V32 defines an upper and lower bound for this episode, that is, 18.0 ky and 5.9 ky
, respectively."
6. Matt Phillips, Jean-Bernard Carillet,Lonely Planet Ethiopia and Eritrea, (Lonely Planet: 2006), p. 301.
7. Richard Pankhurst, The Ethiopian Borderlands(Lawrenceville: Red Sea Press, 1997), p. 60
8. Pankhurst, Borderlands, pp. 61-67, 106f.
9. Abir, p. 23 n.1.
10. Abir, pp. 23-26.
11. Trimingham, p. 262.
12. Ethiopia - Political Parties(, Accessed: 1-07-2006.
13. "Country level" ( 521)
Archived (
ew=category&id=72&Itemid=521)16 August 2010 at theWayback Machine., Table 3.1, p.73.
14. CIA - Ethiopia - Ethnic groups(
15. Uhlig, Siegbert (2003).Encyclopaedia Aethiopica: A-C(
103). Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. pp. 103–. ISBN 978-3-447-04746-3. Retrieved 30 May 2011.

Mordechai Abir, The era of the princes: the challenge of Islam and the re-unification of the Christian empire, 1769-
1855 (London: Longmans, 1968).
J. Spencer Trimingham, Islam in Ethiopia (Oxford: Geoffrey Cumberlege for the University Press, 1952).

Further reading
Jeangene Vilmer, Jean-Baptiste; Gouery, Franck (2011). Les Afars d'Éthiopie. Dans l'enfer du Danakil.
ISBN 9782352701088. Archived from the original on 31 July 2013.

External links
Omniglot - Afar language
Ethnologue - Afar - A Language of Ethiopia

Retrieved from "


This page was last edited on 24 February 2018, at 20:25.

Text is available under theCreative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License ; additional terms may apply. By using this
site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of theWikimedia
Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization.