The Rashaida

rsh1The Rashaida are closely related to the Saudi Arabia Bedouin, who migrated to Sudan from the Arabian Peninsula about 150 years ago. Many Rashaida also live in the neighboring country of Eritrea; in fact, they make up five percent of the population of Eritrea (3.75 million people). In Sudan, they number around 68,000, and live mostly in the northeast part of the country on the outskirts of the city of Kassala, one of the most frequently visited spots in Sudan.

The Rashaida are a nomadic people who live in tents made of goatskins. They are herdsmen, breeding primarily goats and sheep. Since they are largely illiterate, they memorize in great detail the pedigree of their animals, keeping mental records of their herds over seven or eight preceding generations of the flock, although they usually only emphasize the female lines.

rshboysBesides herding, the Rashaida also gain income through jewelry making. It is the veiled Rashaida women who craft much of the silver jewelry sold in the Kassala souq, or market, which is said to beĀ  one of the best in Sudan. Along with the jewelry, the Kassala souq supposedly markets some of the best and juiciest fruits Sudan has to offer.

Kassala, with a population of 150,000, is a popular spot for tourists and Sudanese honeymooners, for it offers cooler temperatures than the rest of Sudan, along with beautiful mountains and tens of thousands of trees.

The Rashaida are primarily Muslim, and very few Christians are known to exist among the group.