The Somali belong to the Eastern (Ethiopic) Hamitic family of tribes, of which the other chief members are the neighbouring Galla and Afar, the Abyssinian Agau and the Beja tribes between the Nubian Nile and the Red Sea.
Their domain then began to be encroached upon from the east by the Blemmyes, who have been identified with the present Beja of the Nubian desert.
Here their most collective name was Bugaitae (Bou-yaaaT at), as appears from the Axumite inscription, whence the forms Buja, Beja, which occur in the oldest Arab records, and by which they are still known.
The chief town of the Majerda basin is Beja (pop. 5000), the ancient Vaga, an important corn market.
The principal mosque at Beja was originally a Christian basilica, and is still dedicated to Sidna Aissa (our Lord Jesus).