Explorations in History and Society

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

The founder of the Abgal

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“The mother of Hirabä was Faduma Karanlä. The mother of Abgal was Faduma Sargellä, who was an Aguran. She was espoused by ‘Isman Darandollä. By him she had a son, who was called by the name ‘Ali ‘Isman. Later one went to Sargellä Garën. A learned old man went to him. He said: ‘O noble Sargellä, I saw in the books that the children of the boy born to your daughter Faduma will chase your children from the earth. I saw it in the books.’ ‘Did you see these things?’ ‘Yes, I saw them,’ he answered. ‘So be it!’ the noble Sargellä replied; and into his heart came the thought: ‘Rather than that your children, whom you have begotten, be killed, the son of your daughter might rather die!’ This came into his heart. After this he prepared two different amulets, one good and one bad. The bad one would kill the one who drank it. The good one would protect from any evil of this world. Then he went to his daughter. ‘My Faduma, I am bringing you these two amulets: this one here — and it was the good one — you drink; and the other one — and it was the bad one — give to your son ‘Ali ‘Isman!’ The girl took the two amulets; but when it came to drinking them, she made a mistake! Faduma Sargellä drank the bad one and died immediately. ‘Ali ‘Ismän drank the good one and survived. Sargellä went back to the hut and saw his daughter dead. And the boy, when he heard his grandfather arrive, ran to the side of a saddle camel and hid behind it. ‘Oh ‘Ali, oh ‘Ali! Come! I am your grandfather!’ Sargellä cried out, looking for the boy. ‘You are not my grandfather ( abkäy  ), my grandfather is the camels.’ The camels ( gel  ) in the language of one time were called gal  . So afterwards he (‘Ali ‘Isman) had the name of Ab-gal (‘Camel-grandfather’).”

The tradition substantially recalls the ancient fights between the Abgal, nomadic pastoralists who from places farther north tried to open a way to the river, and the Aguran, who dominated the region of the Middle WebiThis historical content, of course, has been adapted in popular dress with the theme, so widespread in the folklore of quite different peoples, of the prediction of the unborn child destined to drive the reigning prince from the throne.

In this tradition Abgal has, besides his Somali name, which is explained, also a Mussulman name, ‘Ali ‘Isman. It does not seem necessary to me to suppose that the name ‘Ali replaced the Somali one of Abgal in the genealogies in order to make them more Islamized, as one might say. The custom of several names for one single person, among which names, for the Mussulmans, are found an Arab one and one (or more) in the local language, is common in East Africa, even now.

References; Enrico Cerulli ” How a Hawiye tribe use to live”


Written by daud jimale

May 7, 2009 at 9:45 pm

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