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Points to ponder before entering Somalia
ISSUE 263
Front Page
Index
Headlines

SNM Veterans Demand The Release Of Haatuf Journalists

Somaliland: A Pressing Need for Recognition

Amnesty International Declare Haatuf Journalists As “Prisoners Of Conscience”

'A strategy on Somalia' & Somaliland

West ‘backing the wrong horse’ in Mogadishu peace initiatives

Reporters Without Borders issues its 2007 annual press freedom survey

Somalia's parliament elects new speaker

Somali Islamists threaten AU peacekeepers

Somalia to Talk Peace

Regional Affairs

U.N. Pushes Africans To Send Peacekeepers To Somalia

Somaliland Seeks Recognition, Somali Pres Poses Unity Talks

Editorial
Special Report

International News

Somalia needs African solidarity
South Africa: Letter from the President

Somalia is important to America

Merkel, Mubarak address joint conference

Oil, Not Terrorists, The Reason For US Attack On Somalia

The Quiet War in the Horn of Africa

Discussion on changing political situation in Somalia held in London UK

Understanding 7/7: Al-Qaeda and the Real Trinity of Terror

FEATURES & COMMENTARY

Analysis: Ethiopian Intervention In Somalia In Context

A Strategy On Somalia

Rebuild Somalia To Undercut Warlords

Using Insult Laws is an Insult to the Somaliland Media and Public – the detention and trial of Haatuf Journalists

'A Condemned Woman'
Anna Politkovskaya

Meles Winds It Up in Somalia

Food for thought

Opinions

CIA Rendition Flights Are Currently Active In The Horn

The Neu-Siyadist's Attempt To Build Castle In The Air

The Mirage Victory and Euphoria of War Lord Abdillahi Yusuf and His Cohorts Will Be Short-Lived

The Staggering Failures And Arrogance Of The Current Administration & The Ruling Party

Don't Blame Somaliland, But Learn From It...

How Long The People Of Somaliland Be Hostage To Few People For Their Future

The Nonsense Demands Of The Somali Cabbies In Minneapolis

A road map to lasting peace and prosperity in Somalia


By Joshua Muvumb

Kampala, 31st January, 2007 - UGANDA is one of the countries poised to send troops to Somalia. It is, however, important to consider the following factors. All Somalis claim to have a common ancestor – the Arab Abu Taalib.

The Somali are basically divided into two main clan families: The Somaal, which is the largest group (75%) and the Saabare 25%. The Somaal are nomadic and are sub-divided into four sub-clans: the Darod, Isaaq, Hawiye and Dit. The Saab are sedentary farmers and are sub-divided into two sub-clans: The Rahanweyn and the Digil.

The above six sub-clans are further divided into what may be called “sub-sub’ clans, which are in turn demarcated into ‘sub-sub-sub’ clans which are demarcated into a plethora of lineages. These are also divided into primary, secondary and tertiary lineages!

The depth of a primary lineage is 12 to 14 generations. Usually, lineages of the same clans form some perpetual alliances. The cardinal fact is that all these numerous special organisations, at all levels, are active mobile political entities and since 1989, they are armed with modern weapons.

Traditionally, the Somalis never evolved nation-statehood. They have, however, been united by language, religion, history and poetry. Their language, which is classified as ‘lowland Eastern cushitic’, is spoken and understood by all. Only the initiated can detect the slight dialects. It is only recently that they decided to write in the Roman alphabet.

All Somalis are Sunni Muslims of the Shafi sect, claiming ancestry from the Qurayshitic lineage of the prophet himself. Their claim, which is disputed by some scholars, asserts that both the Somaal and Saab were grandsons of Abu Taalib, an Arab of the Quaraysh tribe and uncle to Muhammed and brother of Ali, the husband of the prophet’s daughter Fatima. Below these are several sub-sub-sub clans composed of numerous primary and secondary lineages, all of which are armed political actors. Naturally, some clans are stronger than others.

The key factor is therefore, the clan. ‘Political party’ and other high-sounding group titles like ‘Islamic Courts’, etc, are all clan disguises to hoodwink the gullible international community.

All Somalis in their desire for a “Greater Somalia” are united, whether they are on British or Italian Somaliland; the Ogaden, northern Kenya or Djibouti. Thus, colonial legacy continues to be a factor today.

The current president of transitional government, Abdillahi Yusuf Ahamed, is a Darod and his clan has produced two Somali presidents, Shirmarke and Barre, not to mention its preponderance in the Ogaden and Puntaland.

On the otherhand, the Hawiye are very important because they dominate the capital areas of Mogadishu. They have been dominant in the so-called Islamic courts. Having produced Somalia’s first president, Abdullar Osman, the Hawiye are so strong that they can afford the luxury of inter-sub-clan strife – Aideed’s Hubar Gidir against Ali Madhis Abgal. As for the Isaaq; apart from producing the short-lived legal regime, they are powerful, especially in the former British Somaliland, which seeks autonomy.

Remember, Islam and poetry remain Somali’s comprehensive permeates. After all, Somalis descend from the Prophet’s uncle, Abu Taalib. Besides, Muhammad Adilleh Hassan (the “Mad Mullah”), who led the 20-year resistance against the British, was Somali’s greatest poet of the century.

Do not forget that because of its geographical location, Somalia remains strategically important to the world’s great powers while September 11 attack on US has replaced the ‘Cold War’ as the driving issue of world politics.

It is absolutely imperative and quite an honour that the Pearl of Africa should help restore peace in Somalia. Uganda’s young men will do their God-given duty as always. But as we go, let us remember the Ugandan saying; “If you come across brothers fighting, watch out for your own skin.”

The writer is a former lecturer at Harvard University and now a private consultant in Kampala.

Source: New Vision


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