Introduction / History The Gurage ethnic group has usually been said to consist of three distinct subgroups, Northern, Eastern and Western. The largest grouping within the Eastern subgroup, known as the Silt'e, did not consider themselves to be Gurage, and in a referendum in 2000 they voted unanimously to form their own administrative unit, the Silte Zone, within the SNNPR (Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Region).
The term Silt'e is the modern ethnonym of the speakers of the Silt'e language. Today's Silt'e comprise the following major historical sub-groups: Azernet, Berbere, Alichcho, Wuriro, Melga (or Ulbareg) and Silt'i (or Summusilt'i). The name Silt'i (for the subgroup) is derived from the alleged ancestor Gen Silt'i. The modern ethnonym Silt'e was chosen in memory of this ancestor and as a reminiscence of the old Islamic sultanate of Hadiyya the Silte people claim a historical relation to.
Until the second half of the twentieth century the Silt'e were considered to be part of the Gurage (but called Adiyya or Hadiyya by the Sebat Bet Gurage). Other designations were Islam or East Gurage (after their language which forms part of the East Gurage language area). After the fall of the Derg regime in 1991 a political movement formed to establish an independent ethnic identity for the Silt'e, as they now called themselves. Ten years later, the Silt'e were successful in obtaining an administrative independence from the Gurage Zone in the creation of the Silt'e Zone.
Where are they located? The Silt'e people are an ethic group in southern Ethiopia. They inhabit today's Silt'e Zone which is part of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region. A considerable number of Silt'e live in Addis Ababa, Adama and other cities and smaller urban centres of southern Ethiopia where they make a living as merchants or keepers of petty shops. In the countryside the Silt'e practice mixed farming and cultivate ensete.
What are their beliefs? The great majority of the Silt'e population is Muslim.
What are their needs? There is a need for addressing poverty, human development, rural development, food security, capacity building, greater commercialization of agriculture, enhancement of private sector development, and industrial development.
There are wonderful opportunities to show the love of Christ to the people of silti especially in areas of health and education.
There are many local resources that the church can use or give one time support for the indigenous people who can be a insider leader so that he can support him/her self in tent-making ministry. There are many opportunities to work with the youth of Silt'e because they gather together often. The only recreation for them is to gather and play. Ministries such as football friends, water aid and the like can be helpful. There are opportunities to help the local people with sustainability and independence.
Prayer Points "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?" Romans 10:14 * Pray for completion of Bible translation in this people group's primary language.