Introduction / History In the mountainous highlands of northern Ethiopia lives a small group of people known as the Xamir. These people live in the North Amhara Regional State about 150 km northwest of Lake T'and, near the Simien mountains. The three main towns in that area are Sekota, Tsizika, and Dehana.
What are their lives like? The language the Xamir people speak is called Xamtanga although their language is also known as Agawinya, Khamtanga, Simt'anga, Xamta or Xamir. Languages in the surrounding area are Amharic, Afar and Tigrigna.
Xamtanga is used in schools and is known by most of the people, although some also speak Amharic. They have a strong desire for Scripture and literature in their language. The Government is also favorable to translation of the Scriptures, since it will inspire a greater interest in reading and literacy.
The Xamir people are agriculturalists and produce primarily wheat and sorghum but poverty wracks families trying to grow what they need in the powdery, draught-ridden soil.
What are their beliefs? About 100% of the people would say they are Christians (mostly Orthodox) but extremely few are evangelical.
What are their needs? Despite their Christian heritage, the Xamir society staggers under a heavy burden of HIV/AIDS. Because they have never had access to God's Word in their own language, Xamir family relationships hinge on unfortunate traditions, including child marriage and female circumcision.