Afar People Group

The Afar are a people group originating in the rocky dessert area of Ethiopia and Djibouti. They number about 1,500,000 in population. A nomadic, poorer people, the Afar live on bread and milk. Almost all water must be shipped in because of the lack of natural water in the area. They are able to trade for products they cannot get by salt which they dig from the dessert.  Currently there are many government programs aimed at trying to transform the lifestyle of the Afar people so they are better able to settle into a less nomadic lifestyle so they can have better access to education and modernization.


Traditionally the Afar have accumulated cattle and livestock for prestige, similar to a bank account, however now the government is strongly encouraging the Afar to learn to become agriculturalists and to breed their cattle and sell. Many of the Afar people have anemia and malaria, because of their inadequate diet.

The Afar typically have a very flexible dwelling space made with sticks and leather mats as shown above. This makes the structure easy to assemble and transport as they move.


Traditionally marriages are arranged by the men of the family; the above picture shows a girl in her wedding attire.

The Afar are strict Muslims with a base in their traditional religious beliefs, which include worship of a dominant sky god.

Even though education is minimal, religion is very important and Afar are very careful to instruct their children in the Koran and Muslim orthodoxy. Prior to the 19th Century the Afar had a very well developed governmental system with an extensive set of poems, stories, and proverbs as well as extraordinary records of plants and animals. Currently they struggle for government recognition and independence as many do not feel like they should be under Ethiopian rule.

Religion, and intense pride in Ethiopias past, resonates loudly within most people. To them, Ethiopia has stood out from all African nations and proved itself utterly unique- home to its own culture, language, script, calendar and history. Ethiopian orthodox Christians and Muslims alike celebrate that Ethiopia was the only African nation to thwart European colonial aspirations.


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