The Kunama is a minority ethnic-group living in the western part of Eritrea.This page exposes the unjust and discriminatory activities of the Eritrean government. It also participates in the political dialogues in Eritrea.

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Addalla Udí, a 97-years-old Kunama, gave us this story on  "DUNGGUL",  a prominent Kunama  the birth, the life and the death of this person is full of myths.

The story of  "Dunggul"  in fact, could be considered as part of the Kunama mythology.

The Kunama though recognising Dunggul as a human being, they have a great respect of

and venerate him highly.

      Addalla Udí began his story by stating that, "the Kunama people are divided into four main kinship groups:

1.      GURMA;

2.      KARA;

3.      SERMA  and

4.      SHUA.

We are Dunggul's offspring, he is Gurma.

Dunggul is our uncle; that is to say, he was born from our grand-grand-mothers.

At that time, we did not know any government, nor any other race.

Dunggul was born at the time the Kunama could settle anywhere they had chosen to.

His father's name was Buti.

Dunggul was first born a "lion".

     As he was born, the midwife was so afraid that she immediately tried to hand him over to his relatives but these too were afraid to touch him. They gave the midwife an old piece of straw and told her to lay the new-born there.

Dunggul's relatives then consulted each other and agreed that, even if they had let it grew up an animal would remain always an animal so they decided to bury it.

His father Buti too went into the house, saw and was convinced that it was really an animal.

He then, arguing that (as a father) he had given the new-born only its life but that its relatives

had to decide what to do with it,  he left and went to see his brother-in-law.

As Buti broke the news to his brother-in-law that his sister had given birth to a child, the young man reacted by stating that Buti should have bluntly told him that his sister had died.

Buti then explained that his wife was alive and well but only that the child was born abnormal that was why he had come to invite her brother to go and visit her.

Buti encouraged his brother-in-law that a young man like him should have been strong enough not to weep.

     When they both got home and saw that everyone was silent the young man burst into tears but as he called his sister and got her answer he was relieved.

As Buti's brother-in-law got a closer look he noticed that the child was really born a  "lion".

It was born also with amulets on its both arms.

The child's uncle, after reflecting carefully, he summoned his brother-in-law and told him that, instead of burying it alive, they should lay it in the middle of the cattle-fold, as Buti possessed a lot of cattle.

      The uncle suggested that they lay the new-born among the cattle which would trample on and kill it during the night so that, the next morning they would say it had died and bury it.

As told, Buti opened the cattle-fold and his brother-in-law carried the new-born rapped up in the old piece of straw and laid it there.

While he was carrying the baby the cattle stood up and made way so that the young man could walk through and lay the  new-born in their midst.

Once it had been laid down, the oxen spread about and rested in their own places.

During that whole night, the oxen neither discharged their excrements, urinated nor did they move about and touch the baby.

The next morning, as the father and uncle went there to let the cattle out, they found the baby had turned itself from a lion into a human being. 

Not knowing what else to do, they brought it up.

       Dunggul would drink  "AIFA"  (an alcoholic Kunama beverage) not out of  "SEKENA" (a small vessel) but out of  "BOSA"  (a jar).

Whenever his mother prepared  "aifa ",  filled a jar and left it for him, Dunggul would instead use  "sekena" to scoop "aifa"  and drink out of it.

        One day, their village was attacked.

The enemy came from two fronts.

The ones who had come from the right were defeated. The villagers, uttering their war cries, faced the enemy; these screamed and those who could manage ran away; those who could not were eliminated.

The enemy coming from the left retreated and fled to safety.

During that war, there was a pregnant woman who was just about to flee when Dunggul told her to remain there and he sat at the door-way and drank his  "aifa".

After they had killed all the people and went back to look for those hiding inside the huts, and as they saw Dunggul, they turned back and fled. 

      Afterwards when he went out and seeing there were no enemies around, he summoned the woman to him. He told her that he had eaten his last meal before his death and that she should never go out but hide herself behind her hut; lie down not on the right but on her left side and not get up until all the people who had attacked had left as nothing would happen to her.

Dunggul waited till the woman went behind her hut and lied down. He then went back to his place, took his amulets off, deposited them there to guard the woman and went out without.

As the enemies saw him they began to flee and Dunggul followed them and not knowing their language, he used his own Kunama language to tell them that he himself had brought them there and knowing that was the day of his death, they were not to be afraid and he kept following them.

       Because all those people were afraid, a young shepherd was courageous enough to go back and, as Dunggul had lifted up his hands and waited, the young man killed him.

Afterwards when the people had gone back to have a look at him, he did not have the face of a human being.  

Those people thinking they had killed the Kunama's God, they chopped his head and took it away.

Dunggul  would spend the day with his mother, but he would wander at night.

He grew up in that manner, kept hold of the whole of God's word and ruled over his people.

Whenever he saw bad times, he would better them without asking anybody.

Dunggul was one who gave the people peace and happiness.

Wealth is God's given and no one has become rich by asking and getting from his fellow-men.

One day, three men who hated wealth went to Dunggul and told him that perhaps some people might be in need of a cowherd, a shepherd or a water provider for the livestock so they suggested Dunggul made some people rich and some others poor.

He told them that the whole power was in God's and not in his hands and that he was not a god. He refused their suggestion arguing that God himself would perform all that.

      They returned to him a second time and insisted on but Dunggul categorically refused, making it clear that whatever God had ordered had come into being.

As they had gone back to him a third time, he asked them what they really wanted.

They answered that they wanted nothing else but that he only partitioned the land. 

Dunggul then threatening to utter words of curse, used a strong language which made them leave.

During his life-time, Dunggul had children and these would follow their mother's and not their father's traditions (matriarchal system).

There is no one  (Kunama)  who is not a descendant of Dunggul and does not follow his traditions.

People produce children but, according to our Kunama custom, their children follow the traditions of their mothers and not of their fathers.

A Kunama father gives existence to children but these neither bequeath their father's property nor do their follow the traditions of their father's kinship.

They are only referred to as the children (or child) of such and such but they have nothing else to do with their paternal side.

The ones who inherit Dunggul's property (and follow his traditions) are the children of his sisters (nephews) or those from his near kin.

In our Dunggul's kinship  "fire"  is our  "taboo".

      This has originated from our grand-grand mothers, that is to say that, this  "taboo"  has always existed within our Dunggul's kinship.

Those kinship members who are to take part in the performance of their traditional wedding ceremonies would not accept as pure anything that has a scar from burning  (fire).

They do not accept a one-eared animal either because of the  "fire taboo".

It is on the wedding day that this  "fire taboo"  is observed.

      Whoever breaks this  "taboo"  commits a grave mistake.

At the wedding, we give the bridegroom a good piece of advice if he marries our sister.

After we had advised him should he make a mistake and either verbally insult or hit her with a burning stick, we expect him to pay us a red cow.

On the wedding day, we do not use a real fire in the hut of the bride and bridegroom ,  but the fire produced, in a cattle manure, by striking two pieces of wood".   

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