The Kunama live in southwestern Eritrea around the town of barentu and close to the border with ethiopia. some are chrsistian, some Muslim, but many follow their own faith, centered aroun worship of the creator, Anna, and veneration of ancestral heroes. Their society is strongly egalitarian with distinctive matrilineal elements. historically, most were hunters and farmers, tilling the soil with hand-held hoes to grow a variety of grains and vegetables. Today, they tend to be farmers and herders,whose cattle are also important sources of wealth and prestige.

The Kunama, thought to be among the aboriginal inhabitants of the region, were one of eritrea's largest nationalities until the late 1800s, when repeated assaults and slave-reiding by Tigrayan warlords sharply reduced thier population and impoverished the socity. Many of their dances are erenactments of historical events.