Burji Online

Some people argue that the Burji are Bantus because they are farmers and not pastoralists like the other Cushites that we know

They belong to the Highland East Cushitic-speaking people. Cushites comprise of around 47 tribes divided into five categories based on their linguistic characteristics and geographical location.

The categories are; Highland East, Lowland East, Central, Southern, and mixed Cushitic speakers.

The Burji belongs to the Highland East Cushitic (HEC) branch of Cushitic speakers alongside Kambaata/T’imbaaro/Alaaba/K’abeena, Hadiyya/Libido, Sidaama, and Gedeo.

Highland East Cushitic Speakers in Ethiopia Map Source – Yvonne Treis

Based on the geographical distribution, the Highland East Cushitic speakers are further divided into Southern Highland East Cushitic Speakers (sHEC) comprising of Sidaama, Gedeo, and Burji and Northern Highland East Cushitic (nHEC) consisting of the Hadiyya and Kambaata subgroups.

That, by extension, means that the tribe closest to the Burji are the Sidaama and Gedeo. Then the Hadiyya and Kambaata subgroups. Burji and Sidaama language, for instance, have over 47% similarity.

The tribes neighbouring burji in Kenya, Such as the Borana, belong to the Lowland East Cushitic speakers alongside other Oromo tribes, Gabra, Sakuye, Munyo, Yaaku, Rendille, Boni, and Somali to mention a few.

Interestingly, Burji is lumped alongside other Cushites as Eastern Cushitic speakers in Kenya.

Some people wrongly classify the Burji as Bantus because of their agricultural activities. If that were the case, then 75% of Ethiopia would be Bantus. Classification is mainly done based on linguistic characteristics.

Today, approximately 75% of activities undertaken by the Burji is trading, will that make them Asians?

Adopted from ‘We the Burji’

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