Ancient Grave of Kunama

ኩናማ ኣንዴኣታ ናቡሌ (Ancient Grave of Kunama): the Kunama has a long-rooted tradition of respect to graves and they show this with annual spiritual feast held on the graves.

The Kunama tribe are one of rare indigenous dwellers of Tigrai and the Eritrea’s Gash Barka area. They have their own language, life style, history, culture and tradition. Although, unluckily, their history is not well written, they have many qualities to show, many stories to tell, many treasures to share. Its believed that their most common settlement was on both sides of the lower Mereb river. Continuous conflicts with existing and new comers have resulted in non-stop resettlement and finally to lower Adiabo, parts of Qafta, Wolqait and Gash Barka area, their current, that seemed final, settlement.
In their tradition, when a person dies, the Kunamas bury them in a carefully built underground compartmental grave for many reasons. The first Tegaru Kunama grave remembered to-date is located in a remote village of what is known as Biyara today, a small village in the northwestern border of Tigrai and Eritrea. As their elders say, there are many other historic landmarks in that place, other than the grave.
They have been running of other human interactions for long time in history, until finally they came into unavoidable close contact with other Tegaru. In search of secure environment, they moved to different places and live scattered from Adiabo to Wolqait, and from Humera to Gash Barka of Eritrea. Majority of them moved to Sheraro and its surroundings long time ago. They claim the names Axum, Shire, and Sheraro were adopted from notable Kunama men of the first dwellers in those areas. Shire from a man known by Shirela, whose three sons Danso, Tezu and Kentibay have made it to other local places names of Emba Danso, Emba Tezu and Adi Kentibay respectively.
According to their oral accounts, those bitter battles fought with other tribes and new arrivals have caused the Kunamas to several displacements long time ago. They abandoned their first grave yard at Biyara and established a new one in the eastern outskirt of Sheraro. Every year the Kunamas gather in these grave yards, butcher an ox or two, toast it in stones heated by a campfire and make some prayers.
The Kunamas have a dedicated ethnographic Museum in the town of Sheraro. It is worth visiting.