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Blin Culture and language ...

Our Heritage

Blin History
—The Blin people live in what used to be called Senhit province in Eritrea, in and around the town of Keren. Since 1990s, the area has been incorporated into the Ansaba region. In some studies and traditions, the people and the area were also referred to as Bogos. The language of the Blin people is also called Blin which belongs to the Cushitic branch of the Afro-asiatic family.

Internally, the whole Blin people are comprised of different families or patriarchal based groups. In spite of the claim to different family or ancestral origins, the Blin people are linguistically and culturally quite homogeneous and united. They are mixed with intermarriages, and they live together intermingled mostly on villages and urban environs. The common language, Blin, has become one of the strongest factors for ethnicity and consciousness for internal homogeneity among the people. In most cases, the Blin people are also bilingual or even trilingual with Tigre or Tigrigna. There has not been any reliable census, but the Blin population is variously estimated to range from 150,000 to 200,000.

Until the 19th century, all the Blin people were Christians, probably belonging to the Tewahdo (nowadays Orthodox) Christianity. Since the early 19th century, however, Christianity was weakened in the western lowlands, and gradually, the people were converting to either Islam or Catholicism. Consequently, nowadays, the majority of current Blin speaking people are either Catholics or Muslims (The Sunni), with some families still belonging to the Tewahdo Orthodox Church and a few who belong to the Protestants.

Historically, the Blin had internally a decentralised system of governance. The different major families or groups had their senior chiefs, called Sim (seyem, for plural) and local chiefs called chiqqa. The sim was hereditary to all groups until 1960s. However, starting from the mid 1960s, the chieftains were gradually replaced by elected or appointed village councils, mainly by the liberation movements. After Eritrea’s independence in 1991, the local administrative bodies are appointed by the Eritrean government.

Previously, the majority of the Blin people were agriculturalists, who conducted mixed farming and breeding of cattle, goats and sheep. Land ownership system has been private and shared within a certain patriarchal group, and not shifting. Those who live on the rural areas totally depend on their agriculture and livestock for their livelihood. Those who live in the town of Keren and other growing small towns like Hagaz, Elabered and Halhal are also more or less depend on the plot of land they own on the rural areas, and participate in commercial and agro-industrial activities. Thus, their economy basically reflects the national economic profile of Eritrea.

By the Blin Language Forum

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Blin Culture

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Habitat of the Blin People
The Blin area is generally known as Bogos. It is also called Senhit . Senhit lies between the lowlands of Barka, Sahel and the Highlands of Hamasien. The Blin land is surrounded by the lands of Maria, Habab and Bet-Juk on the north and Mensa’e on the east, Beni-Amir on the west lowland and Hamasien (Tigrigna) on the south. It is a strategic place between the highlands and lowlands of Eritrea. The Bogos land is known by its hills and mountain masses. The altitude ranges from 400 to 2200m above sea level. Highest peaks in this region include such as Emba-Selassie, EnjeHay, Lalimba, Sala, Senkil, Shaluku, Sordim and Tiru, whose peaks reach about 2000m. The Anseba River dissects the Bogos land flowing from the Hamasien highlands to lower areas of the Bogos land and other territories of Sahel and Barka and further to Sudan. The Anseba river waters have been flowing without any use, except some few seasonal plantations by the farmers living beside the river.

The region can be divided into seven sub-regions traditionally by the Blin themselves.

1. ElaberEd and Seleba. This is the mountainous region that borders with the Tigrigna speakers in the South East part of Senhit. It is well known with its orange fruits and dairy products. Debre-sina shrine is famous located in the plateau of Seleba mountains. The centre of this region is Eden. The villages and towns include: Atkom, Eden, ElaberEd (Chindiq), Gush, Hadishadi, Hamedey, Jenbereq, Robto, Shekha, Shieb, Terenkwa, Wasdenba.

2. Demat. This is that boarder with ElbaberEd in South East and other Tigrigna speakers in South. The Anseba River is the source of their water for this region. Halibmentel is the centre of the region. The villages in this region include: Adefa, Bambi, Dermush, Deroqw, Dighi, Gelu, Guba-Legedre, Guba- Raki, Gurarikhw, Halibmentel, Hager-Beklakhw, Hager-Qidakhw, Hager-Shigwakhw, Hashela, Himeray, Jufa, Qunie, Sharki, Shawsh, Tsilale, Wesbensirekhw, and Yiqear.

3. Sekwina. ThisistheregionacrosstheAnsebaRiverfromKerentoEast.OnEast it boarders with the Mensae region of Tigre speakers. The centre of this region is Feladareb. Mt. Enjehay and Mt. Tiru are the peaks of this region.Rivers like Meket and Terekhbe are found in this region. The longest seasonal river runs from Mensae through MaHabar and Shakat before it becomes a contributory to Ansaba. The villages include: Ajerbeb, Aybaba, Beskdira, Dengurjiba, Feladareb, Ferhen, Fesorukhw, Hangwel, Sanqa, Musha-Ayig, and Musha-ShebaH.

4. Keren and Megarih. This is the central part of the Senhit region. Keren is the big- gest town and located at coordinates of 15°47′N 38°27′E / 15.783°N 38.45°E. The town is founded in South-eastern part of the plains of Megarih. The region is surrounded by chain of mountains. Mt. Lalimba is one of the peak mountains in
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(1 It was the Italians who gave this name to the whole area including Blin, Betjuk, Maria, and Mensae and also Anseba taHtai)

this region. Others include, Mt. Senkil, Mt. Emba and Mt. Eta-Abir, Mt. Zeban and the Medeka chain mountains. River DeAri is the river that starts from the North-western end of the region, Medeka, through the plains of MegariH and floods to River Anseba. There are three main natural gates of communicating with other regions of the country. Tsebab in the North East is the gateway to the Sahil region, Hashela in the South East is the gateway to the capital city, Asmara, whereas Tinqulihas in South West is an outlet to the west region of the country to Barka and Gash. The DeAri Shrine is one of the famous places of the region, which is found in the Northern outskirts of Keren. The villages and towns include: Gebrqurid-Erora, Gebsi, Hasheldikew, Keren, Lebeda, Medeka, Megarih, Ona, and Shinnara.

5. Berakha (area bounded within Keren west area to DaErotya, Qebre Deamt (west of Ashera, and adjacent to the gebruqur to the north). The centre of this region is Hagad. It is the widest part of the Blin region. It is located in South west of Keren. It borders with the Beni-Amir, Tigre speakers. Tinqulehas is very steep escarpments, which is strategically important. It is the lifeline to Keren from Western lowlands. Mt. Shaluku is highest in this region, from which one can control most parts of Western Lowlands. Gonday and Shitel rivers are found in this region.
This region can be divided into four main parts: Begu, Ashera, Glas and Hagad.

Begu Includes the vilages: AmUt, AshAla, Ashekirakhw, Ashidira, Behaymanotko- Dige, Bosa, Enkmetri, Firdighi, GeAb, Gubene, Mahrekodighe.

Ashera includes the villages: Andelay, Chietet, Gelay-reqot, Meblatakhw, Qherot- nejar, Sabrbejuk, Seqwar, Shaftakhw, Shekshafie, Akit, Chindogay, Gerbeshikh and Qush.

Glas includes the villages: Abengulet, Enchinaq, Dob-At, Etesyoni-Himed, Fareleba, Gidana, Glas, Lenshiya, and Tilu. Hagad includes the villages: Aderde, Fana, Hagad, Idamer, Qushting, Janaterkhw, and Sheqloti.

6. Jengeren. The centre of this region is Libena. This region is mostly inhabited by the Taqur (Tawke). Like Mt. Emba are known in this region. Beyan River that crosses the plains of Jengeren through Shitamu and to River Anseba is one of the Known Rivers in the region. The region boarders with Bet-Juk in East and Halahal and Habero in North. The villages in this subregion include: Abdera, Aribira, Afchiruqw, Brikentiya, Chaeda-kirakhw, Dolokida, Forto, Gebeylekum, Gelejiba, Gesew, Hibub, Jingula, Kikhin-angeb, Kurbabered, Libena, Shigulurtela, Serewa, and Tringo.

7. Halhal (Deka). This region is the far north part of the Blin areas. Halhal means plateau in Blin. The centre of this region is Halhal. It is very fertile region. Mt. Sala is known in this region. The main crops of this region are Barely unlike other region of Blin area. This is due to its high altitude and cold climate. It boarders with the Maria, Habab and Bina-Amir people of Tigre speakers. The villages in this sub region include: Ad-eyay, Areda, Er-es, Fenshabeku, Gebey-alebu, Halahal, Hizbayko-dige, Jinenayt, MeArki, Metkelabet, and Shesha.

Blin Language Forum, daberi.org
Blin Language

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