Saho people

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Eritrean Women.jpeg
Saho women in traditional attire.
Total population
(213,800 (2006 est.))
Regions with significant populations
 Eritrea 191,000
 Ethiopia 22,800
Related ethnic groups
AfarAgawAmharaBejaOromoSomaliTigrayTigre and other Cushitic peoples.[1]

The Saho (Arabic: ساهو‎‎), sometimes called Soho,[2] are an ethnic group inhabiting the Horn of Africa. They are principally concentrated in Eritrea, with some also living in adjacent parts of Ethiopia. They speak Saho as a mother tongue, which belongs to the Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic family.


According to Ethnologue, there were approximately 213,800 Saho speakers in 2006. Most are concentrated in Eritrea (191,000 speakers), with the remainder inhabiting Ethiopia (22,800 speakers). Within Eritrea, the Saho primarily reside in the Southern and Northern Red Sea regions.[3]

The Saho have a system of clans (11 at present), which are in turn divided into kinship groups. Clan loyalty is an important factor in Saho politics.


The Saho people speak the Saho language as a mother tongue. It is part of the Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic family and is quite similar to Afar.[3]

The Irob dialect is only spoken in Ethiopia.[3]


The Saho are predominantly Muslim. A few Christians, who are also known as the Irob, live in the Tigray region of Ethiopia and the Debub Region of Eritrea.[4]


1. Dabri-Mela (Dabrimela)

  • Alades Are
  • Labhalet Are

2. Assa-Awurta (Asaworta)

  • Fokroti Are
  • Lelish Are
  • Assa- Kare
  • Asa-Lesan
  • Sarma Are
  • Faqih Dik
  • Urus Abusa

3. Gaaso Arabic قعسو

  • Shum Abdalla Gaisha
  • Yofish Gaisha
  • Shum Ahmad Gaisha
  • Hassan Gaisha
  • Silyan Gaisha
  • Asa-Ushmaal
  • Oni - Maal
  • Salmunta
  • Gadafur

4. Dasamo

  • Abdallah Harak
  • Naefie Harak
  • Mosat Harak
  • Subakum Are
  • Daili Are
  • Kundes
  • Illaishe
  • Asa Bora

5. Faqat Harak

  • Faqih Abubakar
  • Faqih Omar
  • Faqih Ahmad

6. Silaita

  • Hakatti Are
  • Qomma Are
  • Zella Are
  • Halato
  • Abbarior

7. Idda (Ge'ez እዳ, Arabic إِدًّا, alternatively ادة or ادى), one of the earliest known Saho communities in Eritrea, also known as “Bado Ambalish” (Ge'ez ባዶ አምባልሽ, Arabic اصحاب الأرض, "friends of the land [Earth]") or "bearers of land".

8. Irob (Ge'ez: ኢሮብ ʾirōb, also spelled Erob), a Christian community in the highlands of the Tigray Region.

9. Torra(طروعه : ): Serrah Aria( سرح عرى ) & Mussa Aria (موسى عرى )


  1. Joireman, Sandra F. (1997). Institutional Change in the Horn of Africa: The Allocation of Property Rights and Implications for Development. Universal-Publishers. p. 1. ISBN 1581120001. The Horn of Africa encompasses the countries of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia. These countries share similar peoples, languages, and geographical endowments. 
  2. Through an artist's eyes
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Ethnologue - Saho
  4. Saho: Land & People

External links