Irob, Saho in Eritrea





Largest Religion

Main Language


Saho People Video

Source:  LinkUp Africa      Download
Introduction / History

The Saho homeland stretches south from the Red Sea in Eritrea into Ethiopia. Its western border is flanked by the Tigre and Tigrinya people groups and its eastern border by the Afar. It was my privilege to personally interact with the Saho in the city of Foro near the Red Sea, as well as at Adi Keyh and Sen'afe near the Ethiopian border.

Foro is a 30-minute drive from Massawa on the road to Tio. The road is good, and Saho villages have sprung up along it to have access to schools and clinics. The Saho comprise more than 50 percent of Foro's inhabitants.

The Saho are farmers. Foro is located in the middle of a valley at a former reservoir built by the Italians during their colonial rule. Irrigation provides Saho farmers with beautiful fields of maize that extend toward the mountains as far as the eye can see. Looking north toward the Red Sea, a person cannot help but marvel at the hundreds of acres of maize.

A village of 250 homes is on the eastern outskirts of Foro. The houses are well-built and the village is clean. The residents' civic pride is evident. This village seems ideal for language learning, even for those living in Foro, a ten-minute walk away.

I visited Adi Keyh on Wednesday, a full-blown market day. A wood market is operated primarily by Saho. Camels were lying down with two racks of wood beside them.

Next to the wood market is a row of shops. Many of them are operated by Saho merchants. An outgoing, aggressive businessman sold me some popcorn and a prayer hat. Another shop owner, who specializes in selling honey, spoke excellent English and seemed comfortable with a stranger. It appears these two men are open to a gospel witness.

Saho make up about 25 percent of Adi Keyh's population. However, many small Saho villages are located east and south toward Sen'afe. Sen'afe is about 45 percent Saho, but the number grows to 60 percent when surrounding villages are included. Five mosques are in Sen'afe, and most Muslims are Saho. A large valley stretches to the northwest, all the way to Tsorona, and approximately nine out of 10 farmers are Saho.

Prayer Points

* The Saho community is fertile soil for sowing the seed of the Gospel. Pray for a move of the Holy Spirit among the Saho people.
* By contextualizing his message, a Christian worker could live among the Saho and provide them with an adequate witness of the Gospel. Pray for the Lord to raise up laborers.

Prayer Links
Global Prayer Digest: 2009-01-01
Global Prayer Digest: 2012-01-18
People Name General Irob, Saho
People Name in Country Irob, Saho
Population in Eritrea 277,000
World Population 324,000
Countries 2
Progress Scale 2.2
Least-Reached No
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Irob, Minifere, Sao, Shaho, Shiho, Shoho
Affinity Bloc Horn of Africa Peoples
People Cluster Afar
People Name General Irob, Saho
Ethnic Code CMT33d
People ID 14641
Country Eritrea
Region East and Southern Africa
Continent Africa
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 9  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country South.   Source:  Ethnologue 2010
Languages & Dialects on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Saho (277,000)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Saho 277,000
For Primary Language: Saho

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions Yes   (1964)
New Testament No
Complete Bible No
Resource Format
Audio Bible teaching (GRN) Audio Recordings
Primary Religion: Islam

Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.25 %)
30.00 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
0.00 %
65.00 %
5.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %

Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
10.0 %
65.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
25.0 %
Roman Catholic
0.0 %
Photo Source: Eduardo Araia  
Map Source: Omid / Joshua Project / Global Mapping Intl  
Video Source: LinkUp Africa
Profile Source: Link Up Africa 
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more

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