|20,536 (1994 census)|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Oromo, Jebertis, Argobba, Gurage, Harari, Silte, Afar|
The Werji (Oromo: Warjii, Amharic: ወርጂ, Arabic: ورجي [wɔrdʒi]), fully known as the Tigri-Werji, are an ethnic group inhabiting Ethiopia. The prefix for their traditional name, Tigri, comes from the word Tijaari, which is an adjective in the Arabic language that literally translates to "merchant." Their tribal name Werji is eponymous with the name of their ancestral homeland. Thus, Tigri-Werji essentially means "merchant of Werji."
According to the Werji, their forefathers have two separate origins, one ancestor emerging from Tigray region while the other arrived from Hararghe. Werji are credited for transmitting Harari Semitic influences into modern Amhara region mainly Shewa. The Werji were among the first people in the Horn of Africa to become Muslim, having accepted Islam by the 8th century. Alongside another ancient Muslim group to their west, the Gebel, who would eventually procreate the Argobba people. Worji were under the Sultanate of Showa in the 9th century. The Werji in the following centuries participated in many battles against Christian Abyssinia. They sided with the Ifat in the Middle Ages, and Adal Sultanate during the Ethiopian-Adal War. It was this time of military conflict that opened the door for the northerly expansion of Oromos, and thus began the assimilation of conquered populations, such as the Werji. It is based on this historical tale that some members classify themselves as a separate ethnicity. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that over centuries of living in Oromiyaa, the Werji have well assimilated among the Oromo, with no cultural distinction evident between the two.
The Werji historically populated an area in south-eastern Ethiopia within the Oromiyaa Region. Today, they are found primarily in their modern hometown of Daleti and in numerous pastoral communities scattered throughout the regions of Shewa and Wollo. Some have settled in major cities within these former provinces, most prominently in Addis Ababa and Kemise. Due to their longstanding livelihoods as merchants, members of the Worji community can be found transiently in cities all across Ethiopia
The Werji today primarily speak Afaan Oromoo as their mother tongue (14,066 in 1994) and Amharic as a second language, although this order of primacy may be vice versa depending on where a person lives. Both languages belong to the larger Afro-Asiatic family.
- "Census 2007", Hudson, Table 3.
- "The Tigri Wergi 'Jeberti' People", Chapter 1 pg. 1.
- Ayenachew, Deresse. A historical overview of the Wärğəḥ Muslim community in the Christian highland of Šäwa.
- Mordechai, Abir (2013-10-28). Ethiopia and the Red Sea: The Rise and Decline of the Solomonic Dynasty and Muslim European Rivalry in the Region. Routledge. p. xvii-xviii. ISBN 9781136280900.
- Ayenachew, Deresse. A historical overview of the Wärğə��� Muslim community in the Christian highland of Šäwa.
- "National Electoral Board of Ethiopia: List of Registered Political Parties"
- Grover Hudson, "Linguistic Analysis of the 1994 Ethiopian Census", Northeast African Studies, Volume 6, Number 3, 1999 (New Series), pp. 89 – 107.
- Pankhurst, Richard K.P. The Ethiopian Royal Chronicles. Addis Ababa: Oxford University Press, Inc., 1967
- Pankhurst, Borderlands, p. 79.