Kunama live in southwestern Eritrea around the town of barentu and close
to the border with ethiopia. some are chrsistian, some Muslim, but many
follow their own faith, centered aroun worship of the creator, Anna,
and veneration of ancestral heroes. Their society is strongly egalitarian
with distinctive matrilineal elements. historically, most were hunters
and farmers, tilling the soil with hand-held hoes to grow a variety
of grains and vegetables. Today, they tend to be farmers and herders,whose
cattle are also important sources of wealth and prestige.
Kunama, thought to be among the aboriginal inhabitants of the region,
were one of eritrea's largest nationalities until the late 1800s, when
repeated assaults and slave-reiding by Tigrayan warlords sharply reduced
thier population and impoverished the socity. Many of their dances are
erenactments of historical events.