Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Beja, an eastern branch of the Hamitic race, occupying nearly the whole of the steppe lands between Upper Egypt and Abyssinia, and extending from the Middle Nile E. to the Red Sea. The Bejas are an historic people, the true aborigines of East Nubia, probably the Begas of early Arab writers (tenth century), the Bugas of Greek and Axumite (Abyssinian) inscriptions (fourth century), and the Buka of the hieroglyphic records. They are the Magabari and Blemmyes of Strabo (book xvii.), who for centuries harassed the southern frontiers of Egypt, but who were brought under Mohammedan influences soon after the Moslem invasion of the Nile valley (seventh century). All are now Mohammedans; many of their chiefs even claim Arab descent, and some toward Upper Egypt speak Arabic. But the bulk of the nation still retain their primitive Hamitic tongue (To-Bedawiye), which is akin on the one hand to the old Egyptian, on the other to the Dankali, Somal and Galla idioms, south of Abyssinia. They are divided into a great number of tribes, some of which have been several times in collision with the English forces since the British occupation of Sawakin (Suakin) in their territory on the Red Sea coast. The chief tribal divisions are: - 1. The Ababdeh about the frontier of Upper Egypt, largely assimilated to the Arab Bedouins. 2. The Bishari (Bishariab), the Shari of the hieroglyphics, Egbai district, south of the Ababdeh, and generally between Sawakin and the Nile; include the Hadareb, Heljab, Mansurab, Amrar. and several other septs. 3. .The Taqa, of the Khor-Baraka valley, and generally from the Bishari, south to Abyssinia; include the powerful Hadendawas. Halenkas, Homrans, and Beni-Amers. Several of the Arabised Senaar tribes, such as the Sukurieh, Kababish, Jalin and Bagara, appear to be also of Beja stock. The Bejas, already described by Herodotus as "the tallest and finest of men" (book iii.), are physically a magnificent race, with well-shaped muscular frames, regular features, and long black kinky hair, on the dressing of which extraordinary care is bestowed. They are an exceedingly brave, freedom-loving people, chiefly engaged in camel-breeding and as caravan leaders between the Nile and the Red Sea. See Burckhardt's Travels in Nubia (1822); J. Russiger's Reise in Egypten, and Ost. Sudan (1843-44); Col. Grant's Route March from Berber to Korosko (1863); A. H. Keane's Ethnology of Egyptian Sudan (1884).