writings on the history of Keren area 19th century.
translation of a few old writings in Tigre, collected by the Swedish
missionary Richard Sundström on the history of Keren area 19th century.
Hakin son of Medin was a famous hero from Blin tribe. Many stories are
attributed to him. He died in battle defending his ground from the
raiding Dejach Wibe of Semien in about 1847 near Keren. He gathered
seventy braves and fought bravely killing many of the enemy. He and his
soldiers all died in the battle. The battle place was then called Dem
JuluT and after some time the people changed the name of the battle
ground as Halib JuluT, spilling of milk than the previous spilling of
Sundström collections, Tigre text. Translated by Ato Gebru Kifle to
QUARREL BETWEEN AD ZEMAT AND ADI SHEHAI
Hakin had come to Balwa with his cattle. He was told that a raid was
nearing and he had to flee. He said, "I Hakin wed Medin, an Adi flees
from me, not I from it", and refused to leave.
The raiders came closer and Hakin said he will meet them where the
others did not take the chance. They said it was better to be buried in
their own villages. Hakin took six men with him and went to meet the
raiders at Habrem Gaka. When they confronted each other, his men began
to flee and Hakin started fighting.
Then, one of his men, Ekuba Mikel started running backwards with one of
the raiders following him. Hakin saw this looking sideways and saw the
two. He called to the man and said "Intestines can be gutted out from
the behind, not only from the front" and this made the fleeing man turn
around and killed the raider, and went up a hill.
Hakin fighting for a long while had received many wounds. The raiders
fled back and Hakin then fell down. Those from his side who had fled
returned and picked up Hakin taking him to a shade. Then a man called
Lijam wedi Welde Giorgis from Wara village came to help Hakin, and told
him he wanted to take him Hakin to Wara. Hakin refused and decided to be
healed (te-tentinu) beside his cattle and was healed.
QUARREL BETWEEN ADI SHEHAI AND ADI IDEKEL
Adi Shehai raided Ad Idekel. Then Semera wedi Hidri Mariam said to his
people, "He, who does not come out of his Dembe today, is a woman" and
all men of the village came out. The Adi Shehai had started taking away
the cattle. Semera and his men went ahead and sat in the road. When the
raiders came, he got up and killed a man from them. Then Semera said
"Temes-hu, temesi-hey" Then Ad Idekel rose up and finished off the
raiders and returned home with the taken cattle.
QUARREL BETWEEN ADI ZEMAT AND ADI BEYNU
Ad Zemat and Ad Beynu quarrelled with each other. Ad Beynu then went up
to Kebessa and settled there. They came down from Kebessa and raided the
Ad Zemat and slaughtered the cattle and ate them. At that time, Ashed
son of Naib had married a girl from Adi Beynu.
Making it look like a raid, they took Ashed wedi Naib´s cow, ate it and
took the Hakele (soft bone) to their daughter. (The girl of Adi Beynu).
She got angry and asked why they ate her cow. They answered "let alone
yours, we ate of others as well", and continued doing this for a long
Then a man called Mender wedi Tiraj of Adi Beynu (Zaul) fell sick. He
told his sons to bury him in Megarih, not where they were. They answered
him that they and the Megarih people were in bad terms. He said that if
Hakin wedi Medin was not in tenkol, he will let me be buried there, and
died. The sons obeyed his wish and started the journey to Megarih. They
sent mourning message to Hakin.
Hakin gathered the Ad Idekel and Ad Zemat and receiving the corpse had
it buried in Megarih. Cattle were brought from all villages and
slaughtered to eat (as custom in funeral).
While the buriers sat in the shade and ate, Hakin got up and said, "The
Ad Beynu were raiding, killing and eating. Now that their man has died,
they returned to their land to bury him. They raided and ate not only of
yours, but of mine too. Now because of this man’s death, they have
stopped doing this, and let them return to their land. Any man claiming
his cattle killed and takes revenge, beware. He will hurt himself only",
he told the audience.
Because of the body of Mender wedi Tiraj of Adi Beynu, they all
reconciled and the Ad Beynu returned to their own land.
RAID ON BET TAWKE
The Hedarib raided Bet Tawke and kidnapped Awelbeb wedi Ali Nor. The Bet
Tawke to retaliate asked Nesur wedi Beyed to return them the kidnapped
son. He refused this and they returned empty handed. The son was related
to Hakin wedi Medin, as a nephew. After two months, they decided to ask
Hakin to help them.
Bet Tawke went to Hakin wed Medin and spent the night eating and
drinking. At sunrise, they told Hakin how the Hedarib had kidnapped his
nephew. Hakin asked why they delayed so long. You should have told me at
that hot moment.
Hakin sent five men to Nesur wedi Beyed, saying you have had my nephew
for a long time and return him now. Nesur had not known their
relationship that with the cattle, returned the son back to Bet Tawke.
THE WELEDO OF BET TAWKE.
Hatsei Dawit came from Bahri and settled in Gonder. And there he begot
Hasei Tedros, who begot Hasei Gebre Dengil, who begot Hasei Menelik, who
begot Hasei Fasil.
Hasei Fasil begot Hasei Tekle Giorgis, who begot Hasei Iyasu who begot
KaluK. KaluK begat CHaluK who begat MaluK. MaluK begot Tsenai and
Hizbai. Hizbai begot Ker Medaf who begot Shashe-FeTin, who begot Zanoi,
who begot Yohannes.
Yohannes begot Fre MeHaKun who begot Jimegan and TewKejan. TewKejan
begot Abraham who went up to Halhal and Tes’en was born there. Tes'en
begot Menkerios who begot Tes'en, who begot Gergis, who begot Blenai.
Blenai Begot Zafi' who begat Gaim, who begot Dere', who begot Raka. Raka
begot Hidad, who begot Mohammed who begot Fikak.
Gebre Kristos is the son of Abraham. He begot Ya'Kob, who begot Tsefa'
Taydes is the son of Abraham, who begot Tsenai and Hizbai.
HOW ABRAHAM CAME TO HALHAL
This is how Abraham came to Halhal. Semere-en son of TawKe entered
Halhal from Adi Teklezan. While he lived there, his father TawKe came to
him. At that time the Bet Musi of Anseba were strong and many. TawKe
went to them to be friends and know them more, together with his son.
After a whole day with the Bet Musi, they started returning home to
Halhal at sunset. On their way some Bet Musi youths stopped them and
killed TawKe, but his son fled away. Adi ShesheKe are TawKe's clan on
his mother side. They carried his body and reached Satifa, who carried
him further to GibCHu.
The GibCHu carried him to Begedai who carried him further to the
Lemechelli people, who carried him to his place of burial. When they
started to take up the body, the bed he lied on seemed stuck to the
ground and however they tried to raise it, it was impossible that he was
buried right there.
The brothers of Semere-en gave him a sack of pebbles. He was to throw
one pebble every morning and when finished, to meet them at his father's
burial place. He did as told and when the pebbles were finished, went to
his father's grave and waited for his brothers.
The Bet Musi were as many as having seven chiefs. Then, all Hamassien
and TawKe people went to the Bet Musi country and started a battle and
fought for three days. There was no man from the Bet Musi who escaped
death. The TawKe then gathered the Bet Musi cattle and took them.
That day, Semere-en asked who of his brothers shall stay behind with
him. Abraham said if he is given seven werazut, he would stay. The seven
given to him were one from Dengen, one from Lagon, Galey, Sekhrenai,
Hamassenai, wedi Gabul, Nehabai, Sehartai, and WaTai.
Abraham took all these and entered Halhal. There were Barya people
living there and the new comers killed them. One girl was left and they
QUARREL BETWEEN ADKOLOM AND AD ZEMAT
Hakin and his brother Melekin had taken their cattle to Chindiq (Ela
Bered). The Adkolom decided to raid them. They wanted to make sure
whether Hakin and Melekin were there, and had earlier sent a scout. If
Hakin and Melekin were surely in Chindiq, the plan was to be aborted.
But if not, raiding it was the wish.
Unexpectedly, Hakin and Melekin had gone back home, and the scouts
reported that they were not there. The Adkolom got ready to raid. Hakin
and Melekin said their cattle were alone and walking the whole night,
entered Chindiq at dawn. As the cattle were out in the pasture, the
Adkolom stole them away.
Melekin said to Hakin to let the raiders take the cattle away, to wait
until the raiders fever has cooled down. Hakin refused and Melekin held
him back saying let these dung smelling Adkolom go on the dangerous
slopes and they will have a very hard time, and let go of Hakin.
When both sides met and clashed, Idris wedi Medin, their brother by
their father, killed a man and said "Misah is on Ber'ed". Then Hakin
scolded him saying " son of Alarad bastard, it is I or Melekin who shall
mesah on Bered, not you".
Idris became angry and hid up on a mountain and observed them from
there. Hakin and Melekin encircled them and started slaughtering them.
The Adkolom were then divided into two, and both men took a side.
Hakin went on wounding men with his sword. Melekin killed few with
chimara, but killed most of them by taking hold of their necks and
crushed them to boulders. The side fighting Hakin wounded him with
spears throwing stones at him that he fell.
Sitting down, he held his sword and continued his fekera, and when he
stopped the fekera, they thought he was dead and came near him. He
shouted his fekera and they backed away.
While they were doing this, Melekin returned to Hakin who asked why he
was late. Melekin answered he was with his side of fighting men. Hakin
said the Adkolom wounded me and Melekin asked which man. Hakin said it
is the man with white cloths. Melekin dragged the man from among the men
and crushed his skull on a boulder.
This angered the Adkolom who rushed on him but Melekin hit many the
whole day and got very tired. The Adkolom said they had killed Hakin
being worth their loss. Are you in loss of even fekera? Then Hakin
shouted "the renowned wedi Medin" that the Adkolom started fleeing.
Melekin followed and hit them. Hakin got weak and fell that the Adkolom
again returned thinking he has finally died. Melekin told Hakin the
raiders are coming again on us. Hakin told him to change his bloodied
cloths for him and got up making fekera.
THE PLUNDER OF THE BILEN
In the old times, the people of Magareh used to tax any camel load of
cereal with two kufalo, and from donkey load one kufalo.
Then Wibe came to the land of Bilen and devastated it to nothing (ona).
After him, the Barka people came and raided Megareh. Then came Abuna
Yohannes (Lazarist priest Giovanni Stella) to Keren. The Ad Hadembes
threatened what white man was coming on them armed themselves and
ordered him to go away.
He then went past them and came to Gelawdios son of Shekai. Gelawdios
received him well and slaughtered a cow for him (1850 or 1). When the
cow was finished, Gelawdios slaughtered another cow for the Abuna.
After this, Abuna Yohannes blessed Gelawdios, "You Gelawdios son of
Shekai have done me so good, and you shall be repaid by God. But now I
want to go to Keren and beg for me permission to travel." And so he
entered Keren and settled there.
At that time, because of the raids of the Barka people, many people were
kidnapped and taken to Barka. Abuna Yohannes sent message to the people
of Barka, "Return to me the people you kidnapped." And he wrote down the
names of the kidnapped with the message.
The Barka people returned all the kidnapped. Even women taken while
pregnant were returned with babies in their arms. Because Abuna Yohannes
accomplished this mission was he highly praised.
After this, Abuna Yohannes married the daughter of Tekleab. The pope
came and said "You are no more Abuna, go away from my sight. Go
somewhere where I shall not see you." and he banished him. So the Abuna
went to Shebek and had three sons there and died.
Mestenger Basha (Werner Munzinger) had come with Abuna Yohannes as his
aide. When the Abuna was gone, he stayed with the pope. He then came to
visit Gelawdios and saw his girl servant and loved her. He asked
Gelawdios to oblige to what he would beg of him.
Gelawdios said ask anything, and Mestenger said he wanted to be given
the woman. Gelawdios said if he wished her take her, and Mestenger
When Mestenger Basha was taking his wife, on the way, at Jar Gendini
(Kum Jar Gendini), Tekleab's son waited for him there and shot him,
wounding him. Mestenger was then carried to Keren and was taken care
for. (mitintan, or letting of blood)
Then Mestenger sent message to Emperor Tedros, who answered, "by this
day, meet me at Base’ (Massawa). Those who wounded (killed) you shall I
bring to you." and made a certain day they would meet.
Mestenger waited at Base' and the criminal...............text ends here.
RAID OF THE KELEW AND THE FUNJ
In the old times, there were the Barya and Kelew people in Megareh,
Keren. They became repeatedly attacked by the Funj that these people
were forced to retreat as they were unendingly ravaged. Then the Kelew
and Barya sat in council and decided as the Funj rode on horses and
could not climb mountains, they themselves shall live up mountains.
Some settled at Lalimba Mountain in Keren and some went to Rora Bet
Gebru plateau and some climbed the great mountain Hager in Sahel and
found sanctuary there.
As the Funj could not climb these mountains, they came upon idea on
controlling the water posts, by putting guards there. They attacked
people coming to the rivers, destroying them. After this, the surviving
Barya migrated to where they presently abide. The Kelew dispersed in
different directions that they disappeared.
THE IMPRISONMENT OF HAMED HAJIR AND AREI SON OF BEYED
The Diglel Musa had Hamed Hajir and Arei wed Beyed imprisoned by Alula.
As they sat in prison, Arei died by Lemsi (Jedri). And Hamed Hajir was
set free. But he left and became a bandit (Shifta) and camped in the
He used to go hunting and lived by robbing in all directions. After
this, the Italians arrived and the Amhara crossed to their country. The
Italians were then told that Zemat, son of Kukut and Hamed Hajir were to
The Italians caught them and they were taken to prison in Naqra Island.
In Massawa, a boat accidently towed near them that Hamed Hajir stole
himself into the boat and escaped. The boatman and Hamed Hajir succeeded
to reach the Amhara territory. They were well received and they still
live in Amhara country. Zemat died while in prison.
(Fn. Ato Gebru states that this Hamed Hajir came to Keren as an old man
in the 70s.)
Contributed by Aida