Burji Online

by Tego Wolasa

The Burji people, residing in the Burji Zone since roughly the 17th century, are known by a variety of names. “Burji” itself refers to the people, their Language and their place of residence.

The Burji

The origin of this ethnonym, has several competing explanations. One theory suggests it derives from “Burjie,” a leader who guided the Burji people during their southward migration from Ethiopia’s northern highlands.

Another theory, similar to the first, attributes the name to Woma Burje, a leader who led the Burji from Barguda to their current homeland. In this context, “Woma” stands for a king/executive leader of the Burji people.

A third viewpoint proposes that “Burji” simply refers to those who speak the Burji language. Finally, some believe the tribe was named after their homeland, Burjenga Gaar (Burji Country). This country is today’s Burji Zone located in Southern Ethiopia.

Unlike many believe, Gaar doesn’t mean mountain; it means “country” in the Burji language. It is the Oromo-speaking neighbors who refer to a mountain as Gaar.


Alternatively, they are called D’aashi. The other widely used name for the Burji. The origin of this ethnonym, also, has several explanations.

The name D’aashi might have its roots in one of the Burji moieties. These moieties, D’aashicha and Jire Malo, encompass all Burji clans. Clans within D’aashicha include Yaabbi, Gooda, and K’ad’aad’o, among others. Jire Malo includes Annabura, Woteysh, and Gamayo among others.

Another theory proposes a connection to a specific sorghum species called d’aashicha. During their exodus from Liban, the Burji are said to have carried various plants, including Shalk’eda (Moringa stenopetala) and d’aashicha sorghum.

Interestingly, the term D’aashi takes on the meaning of “people” when used in sentences. Examples include “D’aashuh miyaaddi yed’aa” (how are the people fairing) and “D’aashinga hamme eegane” (protect people’s farms from your livestock).

Bambal, Amar, Koyira, and Alga

It’s worth noting that “Bambal” is used in some old texts, Bambal refers to one specific clan within the D’aashicha moiety of the Burji Tribe.

Historically, some neighbors used different names for the Burji. The Borana people, for instance, once called them “Amar,” likely referencing a Burji leader named Amaro from their time in Liban (the Kore people are now called Amaro).

Some Konso people refer to the Burji as “Koyira.” This name, according to oral history, arose from the route the Burji took when separating from the Konso at Barguda. While the Konso went west, the Burji headed north towards Kore land, prompting the Konso to refer to them as “Koyira.”

The Kore people traditionally called the Burji “Alga.” This name originated from a group of Burji who entered Burji Country through Duda Kuku, Alga, and Kore.


While “Burji” and “D’aashi” have coexisted for a long time, there’s currently raging debate regarding the preferred name for the tribe.

Those from the central and northern regions (Gubba and Shayshaye) tend to favor “D’aashi,” while those from the south (Gul) prefer “Burji.” The final word on this topic is best left to historians, anthropologists, and Burji elders.

Regardless of the preferred term, the hardworking spirit of the Burji people remains their defining characteristic.


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