Explorations in History and Society

Exploring and Collecting the History of the Somali clan of Hawiye.

The Darandole Somalis take possession of Mogadishu

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4. The Darandollä Somalis take possession of Mogadiscio

“In ancient times the Sirasi lived in Mogadiscio. The people called Halaw[unknown]ani succeeded the Sirasi. The Mudaffar succeeded the Halawani. The Mudaffar came from the country of Yemen in Arabia. He had guns. He built the palace that is found under the Governor’s house. He was a friend of the Aguran. At that time the Mudaffar governed the coast; and the Aguran ruled in the woodland. The Hirabe were not nearby them; they lived in the northern places. At that time the people of the woodland could not spend the night in the city of Mogadiscio. At sunset a ban was put on the city: ‘Hawiyya, it is growing dark! Hawiyya, it is growing dark!’ Then they went away toward the woodland.

“Later the Mudaffar had an interpreter who was called ‘Ismankäy Haggi ‘Ali. This ‘Ismankäy had the idea of letting the Darandollä enter the city. A message was sent to the imam Mahmud ‘Umar, who lived at Golol. The imam, guiding his Page: 71 warriors, came south and approached Mogadiscio. Then what did ‘Ismankäy do? He spoke with the Mudaffar: ‘By now the Darandollä are near Mogadiscio, let me be accompanied by some soldiers, and I shall go to them.’ ‘How do you want to do it?’ ‘I shall do it this way. I shall come to an agreement with the leaders and make them return to the places in the north.’ ‘So be it!’ said the Mudaffar. Then ‘Ismänkäy took some soldiers with him, but without weapons: ‘Leave your weapons! We go out to conclude an agreement, not really for war.’ They put down the weaons. They went into the woodland. When they had gone into the woodland, the Darandollä came out and took all the soldiers prisoner. Then they continued the raid and entered Mogadiscio. The Mudaffar was caputred and they wanted to kill him. But he, looking at the people who had come close to him, saw among them ‘Ismankäy Haggi Ali. ‘Stop!’ he said then. ‘Before you kill me, I want to speak. O ‘Ismankäy, you are good for nothing, you are capable of nothing, you will not pass seven!’ he said. Thus was 248 ‘Ismankäy cursed. When the Mudaffar was killed, when seven days passed after his death, ‘Ismankäy died too. It happened exactly as he had been cursed.

“Then the Darandollä, after having entered Mogadiscio, quarreled with the Agurän. They quarreled because of the watering. The Agurän decreed a rule: ‘At the wells that are in my territory the people called Darandollä and the other Hiräbe can not water their flock by day, but only at night.’ They decreed this rule. Then the Darandollä once said: “We should water at the wells, before God and in full daylight, the she-camel of a small and orphan child. Give us permission!’ thus they begged the Agurän. The latter replied: ‘If a she-camel of the Hiräbe should drink at the watering during the day it would be a disgrace for us. Let it be!’ ‘We can not let it be!’ they (the Darandollä) said. ‘If you can not let it be, your imam has a ring on his finger; cut off the finger together with the ring and bring it to us! Otherwise you will not obtain the water.’ Then the Darandollä had a meeting. They consulted. They all said: ‘We can not make such a speech to the imäm . Otherwise he would curse us. Then the Wa’dän stood up: Page: 72 ‘I shall say it to him,’ he said. ‘All right,’ they replied. Then the Wa’dan went to the imäm . ‘O imäm, counsel has been taken concerning you,’ he told him. ‘Oh! What is it?’ ‘It is this: the Aguran want from us that your finger with the ring be cut off and taken to them.’ ‘And would you do that?’ the imäm inquired. ‘You are the imam and I can not hide from you what is happening,’ answered the Wa‘dan. ‘What is it that is happening?’ asked the imam . ‘It is this: the other Darandolä accept the request of the Aguran. Only I have refused and I am rather holding back my brothers,’ said the Wa‘dan. ‘Is this so?’ said the imam . And he, the imam, had long since understood all the discourse. ‘If this is so, my son, I shall pronounce a benediction on you. I thus bless you: I have placed you above; I have had you move south, I have strengthened you with one thousand that your father did not beget!’ thus spoke the imam . The benediction thus pronounced on the Wa‘d[unknown]an came true. He (the Wa‘dan) lives to the south of the Darandolla; it is a small tribe, but people come there from everywhere and have themselves adopted by the tribe. Thus maybe their name is great, but the Wa‘dan born from the Wa‘dan are few.

Subsequently the imam and all the Darandollä met in a locality. These leaders decided to wage war against the Aguran. They went to war. They saw the imam of the Aguran near a well called ‘El ‘Aul. They saw him sitting on the stone. They killed him with the sword. As they struck him with the sword, they cut all his body and the stone on which he was sitting at the same time. He died at once. With him dead, the Aguran emigrated; they emigrated from the country. And the sword with which the imam of the Aguran was killed is still preserved. Until today the Maganwa‘la Mobilen have it.

” The preface of this tradition deals with the succession of the dominant stirpes in the city of Mogadiscio, and we have already taken account of it here above ( 1 . Cf. above, p. 70. ). Page: 73 It should only be added that the tradition attributes to the Mudaffar, thus in the XVI century, the construction of the palace whose ruins are seen still today on the shore below the ancient ‘Garesa,’ seat of the wali of the Sultan of Zanzibar, and the palace of the Italian Governor, who has in part incorporated some houses of the ‘Amüdi of the Singäni quarter. This tradition of ours attributes to the Mudaffar a Yemenite origin.

But the long account refers particularly to the conquest of the city of Mogadiscio on the part of the Darandollä Somalis, a group of tribes making up part of the Abgal and genealogically linked with that founder about whom we have also already seen the tradition ( 2 . Cf. p. 65. ).

All the more, the tradition here attests that the Darandollä Somalis conquered Mogadiscio against the Mudaffar ( 3 . In my other writings (for the present in the first volume of this work) I followed the Arabic spelling “Muzaffar.” Here, in order to avoid contradictions with the Somali text of the tradition, I instead followed for the same name the Somali spelling “Mudaffar.” ). Therefore the succession in Mogadiscio from the Mudaffar to the Darandollä Somalis seems assured. Also this affirmation of the Darandollä Somalis in the city is therefore to be considered, as we have already said for other hegemonies ( 4 . Cf. above, p. 62. ), not really as the constitution of a principality, but instead as the acknowledgment of the supremacy of the hereditary leader of the Darandollä (who had the title of imam ) on the part of the other Arab-Somali and Somali city-dwelling peoples, peoples who, in addition, kept their own leaders and their autonomy.

When did this entry of the Darandollä into Mogadiscio take place? A document dated December, 1700, does not contain any mention of the presence of the imam of the Darandollä in the city. On the contrary, it represents the people of Mogadiscio who, threatened by the arrival of some English ships, turn to the learned faqih Ahmed ibn Abu Bakr of the Rer Faqi for counsel and guidance ( 5 . See Vol. I, pp. 21-24. ). But the document comes from the archive of the Rer Faqi ( 6 . Here, too, faqih is the Arabic spelling; faqi in Somali. ), and thus it is understandable that it would emphasize the authority of that strips. In any case this document dated 1700 does not even mention the Mudaffar and their Sultanate.

However, another element more precise for this chronology is given us by the letter of P. Joao de Velasco of the Company of Jesus ( 7 . Rerum Aethiopicarum Scriptores Occidentales inediti / Unpublished Western Authors on Ethiopian Matters/, ed. C. Beccari, Vol. XII, Rome, 1912, pp. 79-80.

250 In such a letter of July 25, 1624, P. de Velasco ( 1 . I have already cited this letter in the first volume of this work, p. 65 (where “1625” is unfortunately a misprint for “1624”). ) says that Brava and Mogadiscio have two Mussulman kings, who, although not being declared enemies of the Portuguese, nevertheless often do not permit even the supplying of water to the ships of Page: 75 the Portuguese fleet ( 2 . This last piece of information by P. de Velasco, who is a reliable source, having been personally at Pate and Malindi on the African coast of the Indian Ocean, does not coincide with what was said in his “Appunti” /Notes/ (“Apontamentos”) of 1598 by the Ethiopian Takla Maryam in a tone much more optimistic about

“aquelles portos, hum dos quaes he Brava e outro Magadaxô; são abitados de mouros; como vivem tam bem entre elles alguns Portugueses e tem igrejas nas suas terras, estão tão domesticados e dependem tanto delles que farão tudo o que lhe pedirem’’

/ those ports, one of them Brava and the other Magadaxô; some Portuguese live among them as well, and they have churches in their lands, they are so civilized and depend so much on them that they do anything that is asked of them/” ( Rerum Aethiopicarum cit., Vol. X, Rome, 1910, p. 406). ).

In addition “o sertao da terra, que responde a este reinos, possuy outro Rej chamado Himao

/the interior of the land, which corresponds to these realms, has another King called Himao/”;

thus in the region of the interior corresponding to the littoral from Mogadiscio to Brava, in the valley of the Webi, another ‘King,’ who has the title of imam, rules. This situation corresponds quite well to the Mudaffar principality in Mogadiscio and to that of the imam of the Aguran or of the Darandollä in the interior, according to the tradition presented above. The entry of the Darandollä into the city and the removal of the Mudaffar from their rule and of the Aguran from the interior can, however, be identified quite well with what P. de Velasco further refers to: the imam, of whom he is speaking,

“avia poucos mezes tinha vindo a Magadaxô e morto muita gente, escapando o Rej que a hunha de cavallo se acolheo a Pate pedindo socorro ao rei daquella ilha, o qual estava bem Page: 76 vagarozo antes n[unknown]ao avia esperancas nem posses pero lho dar’’

/a few months ago had come to Magadaxô and killed many people, the King, escaping, fled on horseback to Pate, asking for aid from the king of that island, who was quite dilatory, since, however, he had neither expectations nor riches to give him/.

Thus, here we see, at a precise date, the ‘King’ of Mogadiscio dethroned by the Imam, who from the interior had invaded the city. The ‘King’ fled directly to Pate, where, besides, P. de Velasco met him and negotiated with him about the possibility of passage from Mogadiscio to the interior as far as Ethiopia, without — of course — having many illusions over these negotiations (“Pello que, vistos estes impossives, perdemos as esperan[unknown]cas de passar por este caminho. Porem, se alguma ora este rej de Magadaxô for restituido e amigo de Imam, parece que por sua via se poderá abrir caminho pera o Preste [Joäo] /Because of this, in view of these impossibilities, we lost any hope of passing by way of this path. However, it at some time this king of Magadaxô were restored and a friend of the Imam, it seems that by his rood might be opened a path for the Priest [Joäo] /”).

If we accept this identification of the invasion of Mogadiscio told by P. de Velasco with the conquest by the Darandollä and the end of the Mudaffar Sultanate — and this seems quite probable to me — we also have to interpret the contrast between the tradition that we published here, which tells of the killing of the Mudaffar Sultan by the invaders, and the reliable testimony of P. de Velasco, who met the ‘King’ of 251 Mogadiscio at Pate ( 1 . This meeting and these negotiations thus give the information about Mogadiscio by P. de Velasco the essential value of a direct documentation; whereas the reference to the ‘King’ of Brava rests only on information collected by him. ). Page: 77 And this is not very difficult, if one thinks about the possibility of an heir or relative of the Sultan who managed to escape from the massacre. The date of the arrival of the Darandollä Somalis, which I have already presumed in the middle of the XVIII century, would thus be, according to such a new hypothesis, changed precisely to 1624.

To the victorious struggle against the Mudaffar citizens the Darandollä Somalis add the full success of their war against the Aguran, a war that also gives them the desired seats near the watering places on the Webi. In the tradition the occasion of this war is a conflict over the watering places, owing to the legendary arrogance of the Aguran ( 2 . Cf. Vol. I, p. 63. ), who wanted to limit the access of the Hirabe (the ethnic group to which the Darandollä belong) to the wells to nighttime only. The war ends with the killing in ambush of the im[unknown]am of the Aguran, who, in addition, had directly offended the imam of the Darandollä.

And here it should be asked if precisely the title of imam was assumed (and kept until in our time) by the hereditary head of the Darandollä Somalis just in antagonism with the title of imam of the head of the Aguran. The latter, who had uninterrupted relations with the city peoples of Mogadiscio and the Mudaffar Sultans, may in turn have adopted that title without, of course, giving it the value that it actually has in history and in Islamic law.

In the most important account of the undertaking against the Aguran, the tradition inserts the episode of the Wa‘dan, a Darandollä tribe now living on the left bank of the Webi in the Afgoy region, immediately to the northwest of Mogadiscio. The Wa‘dan receive from the imam a blessing which is also a prophecy for their future. I do not need to recall the parallels, which easily come to the memory, of these benedictions given to tribes of nomads Page: 78 in mnemonic formulas ( 3 . The ‘blessing’ of the imam of the Darandolla is in hemistichs alliterated with t, according to the rules of Somali metrics. ), and which are then transmitted to justify the historical vicissitudes of these peoples. Because of this too, our Hawiyya historical tradition proves its conservative character.


Cerulli, Enrico: How a Hawiye tribe used to live (1919-1922 )

Written by daud jimale

January 26, 2009 at 10:31 pm

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