Shinasha people

The Shinasha, also known as Bworo or Boro, are an ethnic group of Ethiopia. Their language belongs to the North Omotic family (see Omotic languages). They live north of the Blue Nile in the Metekel Zone of the Benishangul-Gumuz Region and number around 33,000 individuals. Their neighbors in the area include Gumuz and Oromo peoples.

Oscar T. Crosby encountered a group of 600 Shinasha in 1901, living in "a few villages between the Durra and Wombera [rivers]." He described their houses and dress, and claimed that they made their living through "claiming great powers of necromancy, by menace of rain or drought, they force the Shankalis to yield up to them a part of their scanty store of grain, or meat, or honey."[1]

They may be identical with the Sientjo people, who are the subject of an article in the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition of 1911. If this identification is correct, then according to Juan Maria Schuver (who visited the Sientjo in 1882), they are a people with a lighter complexion "than Europeans would soon become in this climate" Schuver noted, which he described as a "yellow skin".[2] Their unusual complexion led him to speculate that "all the region to the North of the Blue Nile was once inhabited by a white or yellow race and that the blacks, who have penetrated it, did so at the time they were fleeing their country from the Galla invasions?"[3]

The Sientjo lived in villages perched on the top of rocks in what is now western Wenbera woreda for protection from slave raids from Sudan; while Schuver was allowed access into one settlement, the inhabitants were obviously uncomfortable with his presence and repeatedly asked him "to remain content with my first visit to their mountain, as they were afraid of the Arabs following my example." Their women never intermarry with the neighboring peoples, who were of darker complexion. The Sientjo in Schuver's time were an industrious people, skillful weavers and smiths.[4]


  1. Oscar T. Crosby, "Notes on a Journey from Zeila to Khartum", Geographical Journal, 18 (1901), pp. 54f
  2. Gerd Baumann, Douglas H. Johnson and Wendy James (editors), Juan Maria Schuver's Travels in North East Africa 1880-1883 (London: Hakluyt Society, 1996), p. 180
  3. Juan Maria Schuver's Travels, p. 211
  4. Juan Maria Schuver's Travels, pp. 180-185

External links

Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Sienetjo.
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