camel Eritrean website featuring resources relevant to Tigre history and culture



 Few old writings on the history of Keren area 19th century.

English 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 blood.

Sundström collections, Tigre text. Translated by Ato Gebru Kifle to Tigrina.


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.


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.


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 time.

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.


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.


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' and Gebsha.
Taydes is the son of Abraham, who begot Tsenai and Hizbai.


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 married her.


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.


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 married her.

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.


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 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 Gash.

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 rob.

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 Kidane