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Silt'e people

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Title: Silt'e people  
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Subject: Addis Ababa, Oromia Region, Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region, Dire Dawa, Adama, Moyale, Asosa, Silt'e language, Gedeo Zone, Gurage Zone
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Silt'e people

The Silt'e people (ስልጤ; simplified form: Silte) are an ethnic group in southern Ethiopia. They inhabit today's Silt'e Zone which is part of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region. A considerable number of Silt'e live in Addis Ababa, Adama and other cities and smaller urban centres of southern Ethiopia where they make a living, e.g., as merchants or keepers of petty shops. In the countryside the Silt'e practise mixed farming and cultivate ensete.

The term Silt'e is the modern ethnonym of the speakers of the Silt'e language. Today's Silt'e comprise the following major historical sub-groups: Azernet, Berbere, Alichcho, Wuriro, Melga (or Ulbareg) and Silt'i (or Summusilt'i). The name Silt'i (for the subgroup) is derived from the alleged ancestor Gen Silt'i. The modern ethnonym Silt'e was chosen in memory of this ancestor and as a reminiscence of the old Islamic sultanate of Hadiyya the Silte people claim a historical relation to.

The great majority of the Silt'e population is Muslim. Until the second half of the twentieth century the Silt'e were considered as being part of the Gurage (but called Adiyya or Hadiyya by the Sebat Bet Gurage). Other designations were Islam or East Gurage (after their language which forms part of the East Gurage language area). After the fall of the Derg regime in 1991 a political movement formed to establish an independent ethnic identity for the Silt'e, as they now called themselves. Ten years later, the Silt'e were successful in obtaining an administrative independence from the Gurage Zone in the creation of the Silt'e Zone.


  • Abdulfetah Huldar 2000 (A.D.): Islam be-Ityopya inna ye-Silte hizb tarikinna bahil. Addis Ababa (in Amharic).
  • Abdulfetah Huldar 2002 (A.D.): Yesilt'ennat beherawi magalach'awochchinna la-Ityopyawinet hilwinanna idiget yabarekketut asitewas'o. Addis Ababa (in Amharic).
  • Abraham Hussen and Habtamu Wandimmo 1983 (E.C.): Ba-Silt'iñña qwanqwa tanagari hizb ye-Azernet Berbere hibratasab bahilinna tarik. Addis Ababa (in Amharic).
  • Ulrich Braukämper 1980: Die Geschichte der Hadiyya Süd-Äthiopiens. Wiesbaden. Franz-Steiner Verlag.
  • Dirk Bustorf 2005: "Ennäqor ethnography". In: Siegbert Uhlig (ed.): Encyclopaedia Aethiopica. vol. 2: D-Ha. Wiesbaden. p. 309-10
  • Dirk Bustorf 2006: "Ase Zä'ra Ya'ǝqobs Kinder. Spuren der Vorbevölkerung von Selte-Land". Aethiopica 9. pp. 23–48.
  • Dirk Bustorf 2010: "Sǝlṭi ethnography". In: Siegbert Uhlig (ed.): Encyclopaedia Aethiopica. vol. 4: O-X. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. pp. 607–608.
  • Dirk Bustorf 2010: "Wǝlbaräg". In: Siegbert Uhlig (ed.): Encyclopaedia Aethiopica. vol. 4: O-X. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. pp. 1178–1179.
  • Dirk Bustorf 2011: Lebendige Überlieferung: Geschichte und Erinnerung der muslimischen Silt’e Äthiopiens. With an English Summary. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz (Aethiopistische Forschungen 74).
  • Nishi Makoto 2005: Making and Unmaking of the National-State and Ethnicity in Modern Ethiopia: a Study on the History of the Silte People. African Study Monographs. Supplementary Issue 29. pp. 157–68 online version
  • Dinberu Alamu et al. 1987 (E.C.): Gogot. Yegurage biherasab tarik, bahilinna qwanqwa, Walqite (in Amharic).
  • Rahmeto Hussein 1984: "The History of Azernet-Berbere until the Expansion of Shoa During Menelik II", Senior Essay, Department of History, Addis Ababa University .

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