Today from Hiiraan Online:  _
Fallacies and Myths in the Nobility of Somali Clans (Irir, Dir, Darood)

by Ahmed Bashir
Saturday May 6, 2023

In this piece I want to reference and also recommend to the enlightened reader two books that I read years ago.

1.      1.  Abyssinian Conquest: 1935-1936, by Philip Jowett

2.      2.  Grammar of the Somali Language: Cambridge University Press Warehouse, 1905, by J.W.C. Kirk. See APPENDIX III, pages 139-142

These two books shed light on the myth ridden Somali Klan structure which shifts Klan allegiance and alliance as conveniently as the circumstances warrant, especially when under imminent danger.

In this first book, very few of the present-day Clans are mentioned. This can mean, the Clans we presently have formed after new alliances were created many years ago, due to some unknown circumstances.

For example, nowadays we hear Isaaq and Biyo-Maal are related; Warsangali and Abgaal are blood brothers; Ogaden and Sacad, ditto, Xawadle and Leelkase belong to each other, and to cap it off, these days we hear that DIR belongs to IRIR, and the new IRIR alliance nowadays lumps together all non-Darood folks, to fend off perceived Darood hegemony.

In the second book, representative of the United Kingdom in the British Somaliland asked the Chiefs of the Isaaq Clan who among Somali Clans are considered Nobel (GOB in Somali) or Outcast (GUN/SAB, in Somali).

Keep in mind that the British came to Northern Somali coast in 1884, and the second book that I referenced was published in 1905, 21 years after the British came to Somalia.

The Chiefs complied and promulgated as shown in Appendix III, Pages 139-142 of second book referenced above.

Nobles are:

a.       ISHHAQ /ISAAQ),



Outcasts are:

d.      HAWIYA,

e.       TOMAL,

f.        MIDGAN, and

g.      YIBIR

Today, the presumed Outcasts of yesteryears (albeit 118 years ago) are ruling over the supposedly Noble Ones. And certain so-called Nobles (ISAAQs) are seeking TOL alliance with clans they considered outcast in 1905, the print date of the referenced book, and the date they taught the British the inferiority of Hawiya, their chosen savors of today.

In other words, 118 years ago, Somaliland chiefs considered the HAWIYA Clan as an outcast, but today they both belong to the imaginary IRIR Super Clan. Does that make sense? It doesn’t make sense to me but if it makes sense to you then I guess that is how long it takes to become a brand new Noble or Outcast.

The very Somali language word for Clan (Tol) actually signifies this fallacy/myth which of the ever-shifting Clan alliances. The word TOL means to stitch together separate pieces of something which may or may not be of the same kind, stitching together disparate Clans in this case.

In early days, when a Somali was faced with an imminent danger that he/she could not handle alone, s/he would invoke in Somali (War Yaa Tol ah or War Yaa Toleey”, are there any of my alliance in presence” so as to seek help from his allies to fend off whatever danger s/he faced.

It was in mid 2000s in Atlanta, Georgia, when someone that I was having a conversation enlightened my understanding to this least understood meaning of the word “TOL”, and it made sense. From that meaning I surmised that fallacies and myths of Somali Clans are merely opportunistic folklore, and are far from being genuine.

The Prime Minister U.K Rishi Sunak is Hindu, and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is Muslim. They did not achieve success through Clannish loyalty, allegiance and alliance. Their success came through hardwork, discipline, shared national values.

If Somalis want to achieve similar achievements, they would have to completely change and overcome their Clannish fervor and disease, and do at least the following:

1.      Come out clean of the Clan Closet, i.e. ditch Clannish culture.

2.      Minimize or eliminate close-relative marriages (incest marriages)

3.      Sedentarize (permanently settle down) marauding camel herders/Clans

4.      Let people chose leaders and form of government through people’s will

In conclusion, I personally do not believe in Clan nobility of any sort. I believe Somalis are not different Tribes or ethnicities such as prevalent elsewhere in Africa. Somalis are different Clans within one Tribe called Somali.

The cure for the Clan disease is unite under the banner of the Somali nationality.

 Dugsi Ma Leh Qabyaaladi Waxay Dumiso Mooyane.

Ahmed Bashir
[email protected]


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