Explorations in History and Society

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

Archive for June 2009

The Wacdaan tribe between 1896-1908

leave a comment »


Between Afgooye and Muqdisho lay about twenty-five kilometers of thick brush and scrub grass. In the late nineteenth century, the area was inhabited by the camel-keeping Wacdaan clan, who had been close allies of the Geledi for the preceding hundred years.

In the middle of the century, a number of Wacdaan had turned to farming; this helped to reinforce their political union with the Geledi, for the two groups shared land, markets, and credit facilities in the district between the river and the coast.

Two factors bearing heavily on Wacdaan attitudes toward the colonial presence were the internal struggle for leadership, and the economic dislocation brought about by the abolition of slavery and by the famine years of 1889-95. Most Wacdaan farming appears to have been done by slaves imported to Somalia after 1840; there is little evidence that Wacdaan pastoralists had large numbers of traditional client-cultivators typical of such riverine clans as the Geledi.

Thus abolition had more severe consequences for Wacdaan farm labor than it did for Geledi’s. The dry years of the 1890s only exacerbated the economic situation: it was reported in 1898 that one-half of the Wacdaan population had been forced to abandon its home territory for pastures further inland.

Apart from weakening their bonds with the Geledi, these developments, we can surmise, made the Wacdaan extremely fearful of any further threat to their land and well-being. They were, moreover, the first inland Somalis whose territory was actually invaded by colonial soldiers at the time of the Cecchi expedition.

One of the most influential leaders among the Wacdaan was the learned Shaykh Ahmed Haji Mahhadi. He was not a Wacdaan but a member of the Bendabo lineage of Muqdisho. He had lived there most of his life, teaching alongside such renowned Muslim scholars as Shaykh Sufi and Shaykh Mukhdaar.

Like the latter, he found coexistence in a town which housed infidels intolerable, and he chose to retire to the small coastal enclave of Nimow, a little south of Muqdisho. There he set up a small jamaaca —some say it followed the Qadiriya way—which attracted several of the local inhabitants. When Nimow was shelled by an Italian warship in retaliation for the Cecchi ambush, Ahmed Haji fled to Day Suufi (in the heart of Wacdaan territory) where he intensified his preaching against the infidels. As late as 1907, the acting Italian governor considered him “the most listened-to propagandist in this area of the Shabeelle. Even the Geledi turn to him rather than to their own sultan for religious counsel.”

One of the Wacdaan leaders apparently influenced by Ahmed Haji was Hassan Hussein, titular head of the largest subsection of the Wacdaan clan, the Abubakar Moldheere. The Abubakar Moldheere were the most numerous and hence the most militarily powerful section of the Wacdaan in the late nineteenth century. They inhabited the bush country between the river and the coastal dunes, including the villages of Nimow and Day Suufi. Hassan Hussein is remembered as one of the first Wacdaan to oppose the Italians; warriors from his lineage were prominent among the forces that attacked Cecchi at Lafoole.

Likewise, it was spokesmen for the Abubakar Moldheere who most strenuously urged the blockade of caravan routes to Muqdisho.

The other sizable section of the Wacdaan, the Mahad Moldheere, inhabited the clan territory contiguous to Afgooye and the fertile lands around Adadleh. Their interests coincided more with those of the agricultural Geledi. However, their smaller numbers gave them less influence in Wacdaan clan councils, which came to assume greater importance for policymaking as the Wacdaan began to act independently of the Geledi. While the Mahad Moldheere apparently cooperated in the Lafoole siege—at that time, the Wacdaan stood as one, I was told—their leader Abiker Ahmed Hassan subsequently struck an independent diplomatic stance.

In 1899, the Italian authorities sought to persuade the Wacdaan to submit peacefully to the government. They demanded that forty hostages surrender to the authorities in Muqdisho as a sign of Wacdaan submission.

Only the Mahad Moldheere responded. Their leader, Abiker, became a stipended official, which enhanced his standing among those of pacific persuasion. The Abubakar Moldheere refused to send the twenty representatives demanded of them and for some years remained openly defiant of Italian authority. They continued to attack caravans and occasionally to boycott the market of Muqdisho. There is some evidence to suggest that feuding within the Wacdaan increased after this rift between the two major lineages.

Several informants told me that at one time the Wacdaan were more strongly united; and Virginia Luling (personal communication) recorded the comment of an informant to the effect that in the time of the Italians feuding among the Wacdaan increased as traditional diya payments were unable to keep the peace. Cf. Carletti, Attraverso il Benadir, pp. 164-77, passim.

The conciliatory initiatives of the leaders of the Mahad Moldheere toward the colonial government bore some political fruit. For although Hassan Hussein and the Abubakar Moldheere resigned themselves to accommodation with the Italians after 1908, their section received fewer stipended positions than the numerically smaller Mahad Moldheere did. Moreover, the stipends they received were smaller than those of the Mahad Moldheere officials.

In the early 1960s, a man of the Mahad Moldheere was recognized as titular head of all the Wacdaan.

I could not ascertain if this had been true throughout the twentieth century.

While factionalism goes some way toward explaining the dual response of the Wacdaan to colonial occupation, it should not be assumed that anticolonial feeling ran strictly along sectional lines. Individuals from both sections continued to participate in resistance activities and, after their leaders submitted to Italian authority, joined the southern dervishes. The best-remembered dervishes from the Wacdaan were Barghash Yusuf, Muhammad Geedi, Ali Omar Garrarey, and the brothers Muhammad and Mustafa Hussein.

It does not appear that Hassan Hussein, head of the Abubakar Moldheere section, ever become a dervish. Nor did the fiery Bendabo shaykh Ahmed Haji Mahhadi. Ahmed Haji’s son Muhammad, however, was a well-known southern follower of the “Mad Mullah.” He went a step further than his father by interpreting the anticolonial religious message as a call to take up arms against the infidel invaders.

In Sylvia Pankhusrt’s book called “Ex-Italian Somaliland”, the following is mentioned on page 88,

Moreover, the Bimal and Wadan tribes must be conquered and forced to submit to Italian authority. This might be done “gradually, profiting by any favourable conditions which might present themselves,” or “suddenly by a rapidly advancing movement, breaking down all resistance,” as General Baldissera had recommended. Tittoni preferred the gradual method.

Gilib, on the coast, had already been occupied by Italian forces, he told the Chamber; possession would next be taken of Danane and the wells to which the Bimals resorted with their cattle in the dry season. Siezure of the water would give the government the whip hand, above all in a country of that type. Kaitoy, on the Webbi Shebeli, would then be sized, and afterwards towards Afgoy and Gheledi, opposite Mogadishu.

To accomplish these military operations the force of Askaris, which at that time numbered 2,442 with 30 Italian officers, must be increased to 3,400 with 46 Italian officers. Thereby it would be possible to strengthen the garrisons, and to establish a moving column, which could proceed rapidly wherever needed. The occupation of the area from Merka to the Webbi Shebbeli would be easy, for the distance was only 20 kilometres, and no thick forests intervened, but from Mogadishu to the same river the distancewas double, and the region covered with dense woods, “which lend themselves to ambushcades”.

When the Southern clans were conquered by the Fascist Italians in the early 20th century, the rebellious clans were forced to the arduos labour of clearing roads through the jungle and bush.

Tittoni recorded the work already accomplished and the programme immediately projected;

“I believe it will interest the chamber to know what has been done. The labour of clearing has been imposed as a punishment upon the rebellious tribes which have been subjugated. At the middle of last march, the clearing had been executed along the paths which adjoin the following localities;-

(1) Mogadishu-Afgoy, with the understanding that the passage already cleared be widened in as brief a space of time as possible, which is already being done on the Afgoy side, the work being executed by the Wadan tribe.

Only the Italians have written the story of their conquest of Somaliland. The agonies suffered by the conquered people in defence of the fertile land they had cultivated from generation to generation, have been been chronicled; their dead and their exiled are unrecorded.


Lee Cassanelli “The Shaping of Somali society”

Sylvia Pankhurst “Ex-Italian Somaliland”


Written by abshir100

June 26, 2009 at 9:51 pm

Rivarly between the Badi ‘Addä and the Mobilen

with one comment

“Once a Badi ‘Addä came out of the Badi ‘Addä territory. In olden times the Badi ‘Addä and the Mobilen were enemies. Then this one (Badi ‘Addä) went to the Mobilen. He went there at night. He entered the hut of a Mobilen. There was no light in the hut. The Badi ‘Addä thus got under the bed without being seen. Then the Mobilen and his wife entered the hut. ‘Bring the polenta!’ the husband said. Then the woman brought the polenta. The husband sat down on the bed. Then she put the polenta on the bed. Then the Badi ‘Addä thrust out an arm there at the edge of the bed. He ate half of the dish. Then the Mobilen thus touched the half of the dish. He said: ‘Here there is nothing.’ He thought that his wife had eaten the half of the dish. ‘But wait!’ and he put his hand thus on the other half of the dish. Then the Badi ‘Addä thrust his arm out straight. The other one took his hand. In the meantime the Badi ‘Addä, in turn, had grasped the woman’s hand. Then the woman screamed. The Mobilen said: ‘Why did you finish my polenta?’ She replied: ‘Dear me! I have not eaten any!’ The husband said: ‘You have eaten it!’ He thought he had seized the person who had eaten his dish. ‘I myself have seized the wife’s hand!’ the Badi ‘Addä said to himself and laughed. Then the Mobilen let go of the hand. ‘All right!’ he said, ‘I have let go of you.’ He thought that it was the wife’s hand. Then the Badi ‘Addä, whose hand was thus released, in turn released the woman’s hand. Then the Mobilen went to sleep. Then the Badi ‘Addä struck him in the belly with the dagger. He died. The Badi ‘Addä fled. “Why ever did that man kill the Mobilen? Because at that time the Mobilen and the Badi ‘Addä were enemies. In olden times the Mobilen used to live in a locality called Tir, which is above Dinlabe. The Mobilen occupied the territory inhabited today by the Hawadlä

The Mobilen tribe has thus reached its present seats (or it has been reduced to its present seats) to the west of the middle valley of the Webi, because of having been pushed out of a more northern territory along the same Webi by the work of the Badi ‘Addä and of the Galgä‘el.

Then the Badi ‘Addä and the Gal-gä‘el chased them away from there. They fled

Evidently, although our tradition (collected from a Badi ‘Addä) does not say it explicitly, the Badi ‘Addä and the Galgä‘el, after having already occupied the territory of the Mobilen around Dinlabe, were in turn driven out by the Hawadlä.

An old man, who in ancient times was the leader of the Mobilen, was called Dino Guled. When his people fled, he remained there

The old Mobilen leader, whose name the tradition has preserved, remains in the country of the ancestors, even when his warriors consent to go away.

 Then the Badi ‘Addä struck him with their lances and killed him. Then a Badi ‘Addä sang a song and said; O leader Dino Guled, like a lid they have entirely pierced you, like a donkey they have loaded you with mats. The ones of my generation did not stop to fight; they skipped away. And so it is.”

The verses of the Badi ‘Addä poet attack the Mobilen for having abandoned their old leader, who, on the other hand, did not find mercy among his conquerors.


Enrico Cerulli ” How a Hawiye tribe use to live”

Taariikhdii Siyaad Qaasim Dheryo Dhoobe

with 7 comments


Maxaad ka taqaan Caaqil Siyaad Qaasim Dheryo-dhoobe? Kumuuse ahaa?

Siyaad Dheryo-dhoobe wuxuu ahaa caaqil Soomaaliyeed oo noolaa muddo dadka taariikheeya ama isaga ka farcamay ay ku qiyaaseen illaa 400 oo sano ka hor ama 12 oday(awoowe) ka hor. Siyaad wuxuu ku dhasay ballida Xamur ee ka mid ah balliyada faraha badan ee ku yaal deegaanka Dooxa ee gobolka Galguduud.

Qaasim wuxuu ahaa nin nabaddoon ah aadna u caqli badan, lana oran karo Siyaad caqliga aabihii ayuu ka dhaxlay. Qaasim wuxuu kaloo ahaa nin xoolo dhaqato ah. Maalin maalmaha ka mid ah ayaa waxaa Qaasim ka lumay awr ka mid ah geeliisii, wuxuuna isla markiiba ku dhaqaaqay in uu baadi goobo inta aanu gabalku dhicin.

Qaasim marna kuma fekerin in baadigoobka awrta ka luntay ay u horseedi doonto helitaanka marwo caqli badan oo hooyo u noqon doonta abwaan xikmaddiisa soomaali meel kasta oo ay joogto lagaga sheekeysto.

Qaasin wuxuu baadidii dabajoogaba, wuxuu goor casirkii ay tahay uu meel kayn horteed ah kaga soo baxay inan ari la joogta, kadib markii uu bariidiyay  ayuu weydiiyay in ay awr baadi ah aragtay iyo in kale? Ma arag bay ugu jawaabtay, hase yeeshee waxay markiiba raacisay tilmaanta awrta oo waxa ay tiri “Awrta mid ma il la’aa? Midna ma dabo go’naa? Mid kalena ma rarnaa?”

Waxa uu weydiiyey halka ay ku aragtay awrta ay tilmaamahooda sheegtay, laakiin waxa ay kaga yaabisay in aysan awrtaasi arag balse ay soo martay meeshii ay awrtaasi mareen. Markii uu weydiiyay sida ay gabadhu ku ogaatay tilmaamaha awrta ka dhumay waxa ay ku jawaabtay “In mid il la’i uu ku jiray waxaan ku ogaaday dhirta hal dhinac buu ka daaqayey kana buurtay, in uu midna dabo go’naa waxaan ku ogaaday saalada meel qura ayuu tuuminayay, in uu mid kalena culays siday waxaan ku ogaaday raadkiisa oo dhulka aad u diisaayay” waxa ayna raacisay in ay astaamahaas ku aragtay meel aan ka fogayn meesha ay goortaa ariga ku ilaashanaysay”.

Qaasim oo markiiba is tusay in uu helay baadi kale oo ka maqnayd baa gabadhii su’aalay halka ay reerahoodu yaallaan iyo arrimo ku saabsan qoyska inanta,  markii uu xogtaas helayna wuxuu u jiheystay halkiii ay gabadhu awrta ugu tilmaantay, nasiib wanaagse meel aan sidaa uga uga fogeyn buu ka soo  helay awrtii. Qaasim wuxuu u tababushaystay in uu Buullo Xuseen(gabadha magaceeda ) u soo geed fariisto.

Guurkii Bullo iyo Qaasim waxa ka dhashay Siyaad oo carruurnimadiisiiba ay soo if baxday kaydka caqil iyo xal-abbaarnimada Eebbe ku mannaystay, wuxuu kaga duwanaa ilmaha ay isku da’da yihiin isagoo marnaba aan ku mashquuli jirin waxyaabaha da’ yartu waqtigooda isku dhaafiyaan, taa beddelkeeda waxa uu aad uga fakeri jiray sidii wax faa’iido u leh uu reeraha ugu soo biirin lahaa. Sancooyinkiisa badan bay dadka qaar sheegaan yaraantiisiiba inuu kula baxay magaca “Dheryo-dhoob”.

Siyaad wuxuu kaloo ahaa nin takhtar ah, kuna xeel dheer kabista lafaha, sanceynta dhirta dawada loo isticmaalo iyo waliba daweynta xoolaha iwm. Wuxuu kaloo daaweyn jiray qaniinyada halaqa.

Markii uu hanaqaadayba Siyaad Qaasim ‘dheryo-dhoob’ waxa uu la kowsaday tijaabooyin la mariyay garaadkiisa curdanka ah waxaana u billaabatay taxanihii qisooyinka Soomaali gees illaa gees caan ka noqday.

Qisadii Qaraha

Qisadani waxa ay ka mid tahay qisooyinkii badnaa ee lagala haray Siyaad Dheryo-dhoobe, in kastoo qisooyin badan oo kale ah aan hada lahayn oo ay kala lumeen.

Waxaa ragga qaar caada u ahayd in ay Siyaad su’aalo fara badan loola yimaado, iyadoo la oran karo waxay ahaayeen aqoon kororsi iyo xujeyn intaba. Maalin maalmaha ka mid ah ayaa waxa Siyaad loo keenay haan afka ka daboolan, lana soo niggaxay. Waxaana lagu xujeeyay in uu sheego waxa haanta ku jira, isaga oo aan furin ama haruubka ka qaadin haanta.

Siyaad ma ahayn nin ay xujo ku cusub tahay, iyadoo hore loo soo marsiiyay xujooyin kale oo qalafsan. Waxa uu bilaabay in uu rogrogo haantii oo uu darso waxa ku jira, isaga oo aan furin. Danta laga lahaa ayaa ahayd in lagu fashiliyo aqoonta iyo caqliga uu sheeganayo, waxa ayna dhalisay in haantan daboolan oo xirxiran gudaheeda waxa ku jira la weydiiyo.

Siyaad laguma sheegin taariikhdiisa in uu ahaa nin falfalka isticmaala oo yaqaana. Balse, waxaa lagu sheegay in uu nin caqli badan, una fiirsada hadaladiisa.

Wuxuu hadba dhinac u gadiyo haantaba, oo marba dhinac ka istaago wuxuu yiri:

‘wuxu qoyaan kama taggana, qaleylna kama taggana ee ma xabbad qare ah baa’.

Markii haantii la furayna waxaa laga dhex helay hal xabbo oo qare ah. Dabcan, sida aad hadda ula yaaban tahay sida uu ku gartay waxa ku jira haanta afka ka xiran, ayaa loola yaabay muddo laga joogo afar qarni in ka badan.

Waxaanse hadalkeygii ku soo gabogabeeyay in aan uga harno in ay tahay arrin ‘mucjiso’ ah.

Qisadii Hasha

Maadaama uu Siyaad ahaa nin mudaawaadka yaqaanna, mucjisooyin badanna laga hayo ayaa sida caadada biniaadamku tahayba waxaa jiray dad aan Siyaad u aqoonsaneyn amaba u quuri waayay caqliga Eebe ku maneystay. Raggii iyagu su’aasha ka qabay caqliga lagu sheegay Siyaad ayaa go’aansaday in ay xujeeyaan, waxa ayna soo kaxeeyeen hal isla markaana masaar ayay afka uga soo rideen una soo kaxeeyeen meeshii uu joogay Siyaad.

Heerka ay nimanka hasha watay ka taagnayd in ay ku beeniyaan Siyaad waxa uu sheeganayo meel fagaare ah, waxaad ka garan kartaa, niman reer miyi ah oo go’aansaday in ay neef u qasaariyaan xujo darteed, oo ayna ku xadgudbeen neefka marka ay masaar laqsiiyeen.

Markii ay hashii u keeneen Siyaad ayaa waxa ay ku yiraahdeen “Siyaadoow noo sheeg hashaanu waxa ay qabto, oo ay la cabaadeyso?”

Siyaad waxa uu u yimid hashii, waxa uuna bilaabay in uu fiirfiiriyo, dhan walbana kala wareego. Waxa uu ka waayay wax nabar ah ama jab ka muuqda hasha, waxa kale oo uu ka waayay astaamaha lagu garto cudurada kale ee ku dhaca geela sida shubanka, kudka, cadhada, il qod, saan-reed, dhugato(hargabka) iwm.

Markii uu muddo ku wareegay ayuu yiri “Hashu maankeygay gadaye ma masaar bay laqday”. Waxaa nimankii xujada maleegay argagax ku noqotay in uu Siyaad sheegay waxa ay ku sameeyeen hasha, halkaana uu ku fashilmay shirqoolkodii.

Halkaas ayay dadkii oo dhami ku qireen garaadka Eebe ku manneystay Siyaad Dheryo-dhoobe, hashiina lagu gowracay. Waxaa kale oo halkaas ka hirgalay maahmaahdii uu bixiyay Siyaad ee ahayd “Hashu maankaygay gadaye, ma masaar bay laqday”, oo illaa iyo hadda dhaqan gashay.

 Qisadii Xog warran

Sideedaba waqti kasta waxa uu leeyahay dad u gooni ah oo laga wareysto wixii markaa taagan ama horay u dhacay, Siyaadna xiligiisii wuxuu ka mid ahaa dadka iyagu looga dambeeyo fikradaha iyo oraahyada taariikhiga ah. Dadka caaqiliinta ah waxaa badanaaba la weydiiyaa su’aalo fara badan oo ulajeedaoodu tahay in lagaga faa’iideysto ama lagaga reebo oraahyo, maahmaahyo ama murtiyo taariikhda gala.

Maalin iyada oo goob shir ah la joogo, loona wada dhan yahay ayaa waxa Siyaad la weydiiyay su’aalo si bal looga faa’iideysto caaqilka. Su’aalaha la weydiiyay Waxa ay ahaayen kuwo si toos ah ama si dadban u khuseeya dadka oo dhan. Akhristoow in kastoo sheekadani dhacday in ka badan 400 sano kahor, haddan su’aalaha la weydiiyay iyo jawaabaha uu Siyaad ka bixiyayba waxaa laga yaabaa qaar ka mid ahi in ay ku quseeyaan ama aad la kulantay. Waxayna su’aalihii u dhaceen sidaa:

Dadkii: Siyaad, bal ka warran samaanta iyo xumaanta ragga?

Siyaad: Rag samaantiis waa “waxaada wax ka sii, wixiisana baahi u cun. Xumaantiisana ninkii ka abaal dhaca wax ka weydiiya, isagaa iiga aqoon badane”.

Dadkii: Ka warran samaanta iyo xumaanta dumarka?

Siyaad: dumar samaantiisa waa “u samir ama ka samir. Xumaantiisana ninkii labada cir-guduud la tirsada wax ka weydiiya, isagaa iiga aqoon badane”.

Dadkii: Ka warran geela samaantiisa iyo xumaantiisa?

Siyaad: Geel samaantiisa “waa korkiisu hakaa qarsanaado, koortiisuna hakuu yeerto. Xumaantiisana ninkii sadex jir ka rartay, lix jirna raaciyay wax ka weydiiya, isagaa iiga aqoon badane”.

Dadkii: Ka warran lo’da samaanteeda iyo xumaanteeda?

Siyaad: Lo’da samaanteedu waa “labada hore biyo ha kula jirto, labada dambena cows. Xumaanteedana ninkii sadex qadiyay, eregna u dhiibtay wax ka weydiiya, isagaa iiga aqoon badane”.

Dadkii: Ka warran ariga samaantiisa iyo xumaantiisa?

Siyaad: Ariga samaantiisa waa “meel il bannaan leh ha daaqo, arad wanaagsanina ha xanaaneyso. Xumaantiisana berrin ood cas leh ninkii ku furay wax ka weydiiya, isagaa iiga aqoon badane.

Dadkii oo dhan waxaa halkaa uga caddaatay in uu Siyaad yahay nin xikmad badan oo laa faa’iideysto Eebe ku mannestay. Maalintaana su’aalihii uu jawaabta ka bixiyay waxaa laga heli karaa nolosha bini’aadamka meel kasta oo ay jogaanba.

Qisadii Mag ari

Waxaa jirtay in uu dagaal dhex maray beesha uu Siyaad ka dhashay ee Duduble iyo beel kale, dad badan oo laba dhinacba ah ay ku dhinteen kuna dhaawacmeen. Sida caadada Soomaalidu ahayd ama hadda tahayba markii gogoshii heshiisiinta la isugu yimid ayaa la xisaabtamay oo dhimashadii la isu tirsaday. Beeshii Siyaad ayaa laba nin la dheeraaday oo diyadoodii lagu yeeshay.

In kastoo waqtiga hadda la joogo diyada lacag lagu bixiyo, xilligii qisadani dhacday geel ayaa lagu bixin jiray diyada, lacagna lama aqoon. Subixii dambe ayaa Siyaad diyadii ari u keenay, dadkii oo dhamina ay wada fajaceen, filanwaana ku noqotay falka uu ku kacay Siyaad Dheryo-dhoobe.

Sida la wada ogsoon yahay garta Soomaalidu waa mid furan oo waxaa ka soo qeybgala dadka oo dhan, si loo ogaado waxa lagu heshiiyay iyo in ay raali ka yihiin labada dhinac ee la dhexdhexaadinayo. Maalintaana waxaa gogosha joogay qabiilo kale oo Soomaali ah, si ay uga marqaati noqdaan heshiiskaas.

Dadkii oo dhan ayaa weydiiyay Siyaad sababta uu ari diyada ugu bixinayo, maadaama uu dhaqanku ahaa geel in lagu bixiyo. Siyaad oo ku adkeystay in uu arigu geela ka wanaagsan yahay, kana manaafacaad badan yahay ayaa waxa uu ku qeexay arigii sidan “Labo ragga ayay la wadaagtaa, labana dumarka, labana geela, labana fardaha, labana lo’da, labana wey sii dheertahay”. Dadkii ayaa weydiistay Siyaad in uu faahfaahiyo wixii uu tiriyay oo dhan.

Siyaad sida la sheegayba dan ayuu ka lahaa diyada ariga lagu bixiyay, waxaana ka go’nayd in uu ka qanciyo reerihii diyada ku lahaa iyo beeshii uu ka dhashay oo aan ku faraxsaneyn ficilka uu muujiyay. Siyaad wuxuu ku bilaabay faahfaahintiisa sidan:

Labo ragga ayay la wadaagtaa, oo waa ‘garka iyo xuurada’

labo dumarka ayay la wadaagtaa, oo waa ‘labaca iyo laab-nugeylka’

labo geela ayay lawadaagtaa oo waa ‘qatinka iyo qajaajufka’

labo fardaha ayay la wadaagtaa oo waa ‘gurdanka iyo gaalibka’

labo lo’da ayay la wadaagtaa oo waa ‘qoobabka iyo geesaha’

Siyaad wuxuu ku soo gabogabeeyay labadii uu danta ka lahaa oo wuxuu yiri:

‘labana waa ay dheertahoo, iyadoo labo jir ah ayay laba qooxood dhexdood iska seeddaa, oo ay laba jirna kaa seexisaa(kaa dherjisaa).

Dadkii oo dhami waa ay garowsadeen hadaladii Siyaad, reerihii diyada ariga lagu siiyayna waa ay aqbaleen, halkaas ayaana lagu heshiiyay oo gartii ku xirantay. Ninkii reerka diyada qaatay u ahaa madaxda ayaa markuu u adkeysan waayay hadalii Siyaad, una arkay in laga gar helay, inkaar la beegsaday Siyaad, oo yiri ‘Labo labo badanaa, labo aan is-geyn ha kaa harto’.

Siyaad intaa kuma ekeyne wuxuu yiri hadal kale oo taariikhda galay illaa iyo maantana maahmaahda Soomaalida ku jira. Wuxuuna yiri:

‘Geel iyo wixii gooyaa, waxba isma gaado dhaamaan’

Inkastoo dadka geela dhaqda ay ku culus tahay in arigu geela ka wanaagsan yahay, haddana waxaa halkaan ku cad in ay beeshii Siyaad ari ku bixiyeen diyadii, iyagoo awood u lahaa in ay geel ku bixiyaan.

Maalintaa waxaa taariikhda dhaqanka Soomaalida galay hadalo ama arrimo dhowr ah oo ka dhacay gogoshaas. Waxaa goobtii ama geedkii garta loo bixiyay illaa iyo haddana loo yaqaan ‘Mag Ariile’. Reerihii iyagu diyada ku qaatay arigana waxaa loo bixiyay illaa iyo maantana loo yaqaan ‘Ciise Riyoole’, waxayna degaan gobolada bari ee Soomaaliya. Inkaartii Siyaad lagu riday oo ahayd ‘labo labo badanaa, labo aan is geyn ha kaa harto’ waa ay haleeshay Siyaad, oo dad badani kama farcamin.

Qisadii koore-dadab

Sida la ogyahay nolosha reer miyigii hore ee soomaalida aad ayay u adkeyd marka loo eego xilliyada colaadaha iyo abaaraha. Xilliyada colaadda waxaa dhici jiray duullaamo beelaha soomaalidu isku qaadi jireen oo marka ay taasi dhacdana xoolo(Geel),iyo xarrago(Fardo) lagu kala qaadi jiray.

Haddaba waxaa dhacay in beri reerihii Siyaad col galay, dagaal lagu riiqdayna uu ka dhacay halkaa, kadib waxaa colkii duullaanka soo qaaday u suurto gashay in ay hore u sii taxaabtaan geenyo beesha Duduble dhexdeeda caan ka ahayd, Ugaaskeeduna lahaa in kastoo uu Siyaad si gaar ah u dhaqaaleyn jiray geenyadaas. Markii dagaalka lagu kala dareeray, dhaawaciina la kala fogeystay ayaa waxaa la ogaaday in ay geenyadii Ugaaska ay colkii u gacan gashay.

Waxaa loo saaray rag jilib culus ah sidii lagu soo celin lahaa geenyadaas oo astaan iyo sharafba u ahayd beesha laga qaaday. Siyaad Dheryodhoob ayaa noqday qofkii loo xulay in uu geenyadii ku soo celiyo xerada laga taxaabay, wuxuuna weysada u biyeystay sidii uu himiladaas u gaari lahaa.

Siyaad wuxuu soo socdaba, wuxuu goor barqo ah soo galay reerihii geenyada ay xeradooda ku jirtay, isagoo iska dhigaya doqon aan waxba garaneyn. Gabar uu dhalay boqorka reerahaa oo ari la joogtay baa aragtay, markii ay u aqoonsatay nin dhimman in uu yahay, ayaa waxa ay u soo kaxaysay xaggii reerka, una keentay aabaheed iyo odayaashii kale. Boqorka reerka oo ahaa nin shaki badan, ileyn waa nin dakano qaba oo nin kale geenyadiisna soo xareystaye, ayaa waxa uu Siyaad mariyay tijaabooyin badan si uu u hubiyo bal in ninku yahay nacas reerka agahiisa looga tagi karo iyo in uu yahay halyey isa soo dhammaagaya. Markii ay boqorkii u caddaatay in ninkani yahay nacas aan dhaqanka adduun waxba kala socon ayaa la soo dhoweeyay oo adeegaha reer boqor laga dhigay, iyadoo loo bixiyay magaca ah “dambas jiif” maadaama meelaha dabka lagu shido uu iska seexan jiray oo aanu nadaafadiisa dan ka lahayn.

Siyaad waxa uu soo xareyn jiray oo uu la joogi jiray fardaha boqorka Beesha oo ay ku jirto geenyadii uu daraadeed safarka dheer u soo maray, waxana uu noqday ninka kaliya ee xerada gammaanka iyo xoodaamiskoodaba uu boqorku u dirsan jiray, maadaama uusan boqorku u aamini jirin cid kale oo garanaysa waxtarkooda.

Maalin maalmaha ka mid ah ayaa waxa si kadis ah isaga oo aan filayn u daawanaysaysay gabadha boqorka beesha xilli uu laxawsanayay geenyadii uu soo dhaqaaleyn jiray oo marka ay aqoonsatay gurxan kala joojin waysay, arrintaas oo shaki ku dhalisay gabadhii boqorka. Shakigii ay qaadday bay aabaheed u sheegtay waxaana la go’aansaday in la hubiyo bal in ninkani fardofuul yahay iyo in kale. Meel fagaare ah baa looga yeeray waxaana la faray in uu faras geed ku xiran ka soo furo oo uuna soo heenseeyo. Hase yeeshee mar qura ayaa dadkii meesha isugu yimid qosol la kala dareereen, inantii shakiga kicisayna yaxyax la sii jeesatay markii uu Siyaad koorihii faraska dhankii qaldanaa u rogay kuna soo xiray faraskii. Dabadeedna waxaa halkaas uga baxay Siyaad magacii labaad oo ah “koorodadab”.

Boqorkii sidaa ugama uusan harine wuxuu gabadhiisii ku yiri ‘Nin kaan waa ka shakiyaye, orodoo u fadhi xumme’. Gabadhii boqorka ayaa maalintii dambe u timid Siyaad ee meel iska fadhiya, soona hor kadan-koodsatay iyadoo u fadhi xumeyneysa, oo aan cowradeeda ka qarsaneyn. Siyaad ma uusan gaagixine, inta farta uu ku fiiqay gabadha alaabteeda ayuu yiri “Naa ma dagaal baad gashay, oo meeshaas ma waran baa kaaga dhacay”. Gabadhii uma jawaabine way ka dhaqaaqday, waxayna aabaheed u sheegtay wixii dhacay. Sidaas ayuuna boqorkii reerku ku shaki baxay.

Siyaad waxa uu dhaandhaan iska dhigo, marba si silloon oo lala yaabo u dhaqmaba, waxa ugu dambeyntii u timid fursaddii uu muddada sugayay. Galab ayaa boqorka reerku faray Siyaad in uu soo kaxeeyo geenyadii oo lagu diyaariyey geed hoostii loona qalabeeyey si heer sare ah si loogu dabbaaldego inanta boqorka oo la aroosayay. Waa siduu Siyaad rabaye, intuu geenyadii si xarrago leh u soo fuulay oo madashii shirka ula soo dhowaaday buu markii la weydiiyay “waa kuma ninka geenyada ku joogaa?” wuxuu ku jawaabay “marna waa dambas jiif, marna waa koorodadab, marna waa kii lahaa”. Intaas kuma ekaane wuxuu madashii odayaashu fadhiyeen ku soo sayriyey wasakh uu ula jeeday in uu ku muujiyo sida aanu ugu qanacsanayn habkii ay ula dhaqmeen iyo colaaddii ka horreysay ee ay geenyada ku soo qafaasheen. Siyaad oo awalba aqoon u lahaa geenyada uu saaran yahay orodkeeda in aan faras kale cago ku gaari karin, ayaa la beegsaday jihadii reerkoodu ka jiray isagoo niyada ku haya in uu col soo dabajoogo.

Durbadiiba waxa la agaasimay ciidankii iyo fardaha midba midkii uu ka dheereeyay si ninka geenyada qaaday looga soo reebo, hase yeeshee geenyada oo aan gammaan cago ku barbareeya weli hore loo arag ayaa ka cid gashay colkii ku raad joogay. Halkaasna waxaa beesha Siyaad ay sharaf ku aqoonsadeen qofnimadiisa qaaliga ah, boqorkii is jecleysiiyay geenyo aan isaga u dhalanna wuxuu ogaaday in uu Siyaad ahaa nin caqli badan, doqonnimona ay kala fog yihiin.

Qisadii Garta

Maalin maalmaha ka mid ah Siyaad oo wata rati dhaan ah, ceelkana ujeeda ayaa waxaa uu maqlay dad magaciisa ugu yeeraya oo leh ‘Siyaad…siyaad’, gadaal ayuu u fiiriyay wuxuu arkay labo nin oo xagiisa u soo ordaya, kadibna wuu ka sii jeestay oo socdaalkiisii sii watay.

Labadii nin oo xuurtoonaya oo dhididka seyrinaya ayaa ka daba yimid kuna yiraahdeen ‘Siyaadoow rag ayaa halkaas fadhiya oo gar goyn waayaye, kaalay wax ka dheh’. Siyaad oo lagu yaqaanay murtida iyo garta aan eexda lahayn, lagana filayay in uu ragga garta u fadhiya kala qeybqaato ayaa wuxuu ku yiri raggii “Nin hoggaan hayaa, howraar ma toosiyo” wuuna iska sii socday oo dhaankiisii kaxeystay.

Labadii nin oo ka xumaaday goobta uu uga dhaqaajiyay Siyaad iyo xilligii gartu isku cakirnayn ee baahida loo qabay ayaa raggii geedka garta u fadhiyay dib ugu laabtay una sheegay in uu Siyaad diiday in uu galo gartaas. Nin raggii gogosha fadhiyay ka mid ahaa ayaa weydiiyay labadii nin hadalkii uu Siyaad ku jawaabay, waxayna u sheegeen in uu Siyaad yiri “Nin hoggaan hayaa, howraar ma toosiyo”. Ninkii ayaa fahmay ulajeedada uu Siyaad ka lahaa hadalkaas wuxuuna ku yiri raggii intiisii kale ‘Siyaad ma diidin in uu garta galo, wuxuu yiri ninna laba howl ma wada qaban karo hal mar, ee wuu na soo mari doonaa markuu soo dhaansado, waa in aan sugnaa’.

Maalin kadib ayaa Siyaad oo dhaankiisii wata soo maray raggii oo geedkii gartii u fadhiya, dhinac buu ka fariistay gogoshii. isla markaana gartii galay, gabogabadiina waa lagu heshiiyay.

Waxaa halkaas laga qaatay hadalka maahmaahda noqday ee ahaa “Nin hoggaan hayaa howraar ma toosiyo”, oo ka mid ah maahmaahyada badan ee uu Siyaad reebay, macnaheeduna ku saleysan yahay “Ninna labo shaqo hal mar ma wada qaban karo”

 To be continued..

History of Wacdaan and their alliance with the Geledi

leave a comment »

The Wacdaan subclan of Darandole Mudulood have a centuries-old alliance with the Geledi which stands to this day. The history of this subclan and their alliance with the Geledi spans a long time and has withstood the turbulent changes Somalia and Banadir experienced throughout the centuries.

In this article we’ll try to narrate the most important aspects of Wacdaan history and the alliance with the Geledi which was the foundation of the Geledi Sultanate.  

In capter 12 of the book titled: Somali Sultanate, the Geledi City-State over 150 years, the author (Virginia Luling) writes:

The precolonial politics of Somalia, while they were articulated by clan and lineage divisions, also relied on alliances that could cut across the lines of descent. We have seen that Geledi exemplified this principle to a high degree. Their alliance, waransaar (pile of spears), with the Wacdaan carries it even further, and is different from the links within the Geledi community that I have analyzed so far. The Wacdaan regard it not as a client relationship but as an alliance between equal entities, separate and of roughly equivalent size, with each maintaining its own political system but joining in the defense of their common interest. It is notable in that it bridges the divide between the two major branches of the Somali – The Samaale and the Sab, the Maxaa and the Maay speakers. It encapsulates the division between the pastoral-nomadic and the settled agro-pastoral Somali.


On the character of the Wacdaan and their contribution to the succes of the Geledi Sultanate Virginia Lulling writes in chapter 12 of the above mentioned book:

Warriors and Dandies

The league of the Geledi with this vigorous and warlike pastoral clan must have contributed much to their succes in their heyday – indeed in the opinion of the Wacdaan themselves the Geledi would have been helpless without them. They have a strong warrior ethos: their ideal is of the man who is both brave and dandified, dressing in a fine white cloth even if he has to go hungry. Many of the Wacdaan were slow to take up modern schooling, but if the Geledi considered this a sign of backwardness, for some at least of the Wacdaan themselves it showed their independence of spirit. They valued this independence even though i the 1960s it led to their lacking a deputy of their own to send to the National Assembly (their representative came from the Abgaal).


The origins of the Wacdaan are like most subclans of the Darandole Mudulood in Ceeldheer, Mudug region of Somalia. As we have seen in the history of the Darandole conquest of Mogadishu, the Wacdaan played a keyrole and were even blessed by the Darandole Imam for their bravery in the war against the Ajuuraan. After having played a keyrole in the defeat of the Muzzaffar Dynasty in Mogadishu and their Ajuuraan allies in the hinterland the Wacdaan entered into an alliance with the Geledi to defeat the Silcis who were in power of Afgooye region.

Virginia Lulling narrates on the origins of Wacdaan as followes:

History and Migration

According to most accounts the Wacdaan came originally from near Mareeg in Ceel Dheer district in Mudug, where there is a place called Jebed Wacdaan. After long and destructive wars with the Abgaal, the Wacdaan arrived in the Afgooye area, which was then still ruled by the Silcis. The Geledi needed them as allies and – according to the Wacdaan- employed magic, tacdaad, to make them stay. They prepared a feast for the Wacdaan envoys, and meanwhile shoemakers fixed each man a new pair of sandals, with a charm in between the two layets of the sole, which would cause them to come back. The Wacdaan inbsist that they took the lead in the ousting of the Silcis rulers, driving them from the land on the East bank of the river and then taking possesion of it. They maintain that it was only thanks to them that the Gobroon sltans became powerful. (The Geledi however are adamant that it was they who conquered the Silcis, with the Wacdaan either playing a secondary role, or arriving afterwards, and that the Geledi granted the Wacdaan the land.)

In this narration of the migration of Wacdaan Virginia Lulling asserts that the Wacdaan arrived to Afgooye and Banadir as a consequence of wars between them and Abgaal subclans. However, what she means is that the Wacdaan came to Afgooye region from Lafoole and Mogadishu and not from all the way Ceeldheer in Mudug region. As became clear from the history of Mogadishu the Hirab, in which Wacdaan was a subclan of (to be precise subclan of Darandole Mudulood Hiiraab), migrated southwards from Mudug.


“In ancient times the Sirasi lived in Mogadiscio. The people called Halawani 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.

‘After entering Muqdisho, the Darandoolle quarrelled with the Ajuraan. They quarrelled over watering rights. The Ajuraan had decreed: ‘At the wells in our territory, the people known as Darandoolle and the other Hiraab cannot water their herds by day, but only at night’’…Then all the Darandoolle gathered in one place. The leaders decided to make war on the Ajuraan. They found the imam of the Ajuraan seated on a rock near a well called Ceel Cawl. They killed him with a sword. As they struck him with the sword, they split his body together with the rock on which he was seated. He died immediately and the Ajuraan migrated out of the country.’


From the above quotation from the book titled:  How a Hawiye tribed lived written by Enrico Cerulli, we can see that the Darandole Mudulood, Wacdaan been a member of the Darandole, came from Mudug region and conquered Mogadishu and its direct environs from the Muzaffar dynasty and the Ajuuraan rulers in the hinterland.

Wacdaan were pushed eventually out of Mogadishu city and pushed towards Lafoole and Afgooye region, which is in line with the wars Virginia Lulling talks about.




page 207 of the same book, Virginia Luling writes:

Written by daud jimale

June 6, 2009 at 5:02 pm

Somali Clans mentioned in The Conquest of Ethiopia

leave a comment »

Meaningful excerpts from the book  Futuh Al-Habasha: The Conquest of Abyssinia (Futuh Al-Habasa) By Sihab ad-Din Ahmad bin ‘Abd al-Qader. Brief information by the book provided by Amazon.com:

Sihab ad-Din Ahmad bin ‘Abd al-Qader’s account of the early sixteenth century Jihad, or holywar, in Ethiopia, of Imam Ahmad bin Ibrahim, better known as Ahmad Gran, or the Left handed, is an historical classic. The Yamani author was an eyewitness of several of the battles he describes, and is an invaluable source. His book, which is full of human, and at times tragic, drama, makes a major contribution to our knowledge of a crucially important period in the hisoty of Ethiopia and Horn of Africa.

‘Futuh al-Habasa,’ or ‘Conquest of Abyssinia’ – which undoubtedly reflects the situation as it seemed to its Yamani author at the time of its composition. The forces of Imam Ahmad bin Ibrahim had occupied the greater part of Ethiopia. The resistance of Emperor Lebna Dengel had virtually come to an end, and many Christians had chosen to convert to Islam. The victorious Imam’s regime seemed there to stay.

This was, however, far from the end of the story. The Imam was killed in battle on February 21, 1543, whereupon his army almost immediately disintegrated. Those of his soldiers who could do so made their way back to the East. Not a few Muslim converts reverted to their former faith.

The Futuh thus refers to a relatively short, though crucially important, period in Ethiopia’s long history. The book is nevertheless valuable, in that its author was an eye-witness of many of the events he describes, and writes, as far as we can judge, with a degree of objectivity rare for his time.

Here are some of the quotes from the book, we think are significant:

At this moment the companions of the imam screamed out, saying, ‘The infidels have tricked us; they are after the livestock,’ whereupon the imam split his forces into two divisions: one he entrusted to Garad Ahmusa, composed of the Somali spearmen of the Marraihan, the Gorgorah and the Hawiya; around one-thousand of them from among the most famous spearmen. And from the soldiers bearing shields, the same number.

”He sent (another messenger) to the tribe of Marraihan whose chieftain was Hirabu bin Goita Tedros bin Adam*, and he also sent (messengers) to the outlying Provinces to spur them on to the jihad, for God, and in the way of the Most High God.

*: (160) Goita or Goyta, the Tegrenya for ‘master’ or ‘lord’, Francesco da Bassano, Vocabolario tigray-italiano, col.883, seems to have been sometimes used as a title and sometimes as a personal name.

The imam accepted his excuse, and then said to him: ‘But no good will come to you from just wishing (that things will improve). Thereupon Hirabu appointed his nephew to command the Marraihan and they rallied around the imam -ninety cavalry and more than seven-hundred footsoldiers- with Hirabu bringing up the rear. The imam went back to his city of Harar, taking the tribe of Marraihan with him.”

”Then Hirabu the chieftain of the Somali tribe of Marraihan, killed one of the equerries of the sultan ‘Umar Din when he was in Nageb. The imam heard about what Hirabu had done, and he said to the Sultan ‘Umar Din, ‘This Somali has acted treacherously towards you and killed your equerry.’ So the imam, and the sultan with him, prepared himself for an expedition and set out and arrived at the country of the Somalis, as far as Kidad. Hirabu. meantime, had fled and was hiding in his own country.The imam asked the sultan, ‘What shall we do now? I am going to send for him to hand over the horses, and to pay the blood-money. If he does so, then all is well: if he does not, then I shall go against him, while you go back to your country.’ So the imam sent to Hirabu to hand over the horses, and to pay the blood-money to some sharifs of the family of Ba’ Alawi, the Husainites, may God bless us through their means.”
”The army camped around the city (Harar; my own barracks), with each tribe being kept apart from the others. The tribe of the Marraihan was, however, wavering. Their chieftain was a man fond of intrigue and procrastination. Extremely wily, he loved double-dealing and swindles. The imam organised some of his soldiers and went to the Marraihan and confronted Hirabu and his tribe and said to him: ‘Why are you lagging behind in coming on the jihad? Hirabu complained about his plight, and excused himself on the grounds of his poverty-stricken state.

”A tribe called Girri then came to the imam. A dispute had arisen between them and their companions in another tribe called the Marraihan whose emir was called Hirabu, so the imam Ahmed sent a message to Hirabu emir of the Somalis, to make peace between them.”

”Now, having finished this, let us return to the earlier narrative, and look at what happened during the Somali campaign.When news of the imam’s leaving for the outlying provinces of Abyssinia reached them, a certain person, by name Hirabu, a chief of one of the Somali tribes called Marraihan, had arrived half-way along the route to the country of Harar. After verifying the departure of the imam to the land of Abbyssinia, he doubled back and returned to his own country.”
”He also sent (a messenger) to the tribe of Girri which was the tribe whose leader and chieftain was Mattan bin Utman bin Kaled, the Somali, his brother-in-law*
* 158) may also mean ‘the imam’s son-in-law’ See supra note 32. We know that the imam was only twenty-one when he defeated the patrician Degalhan (see p.27 supra) and that Mattan married his sister Fardusa (see p.44 infra).

Written by daud jimale

June 4, 2009 at 12:05 pm

A journey through the Webi Shebeyli

leave a comment »

A Stand off and war between the Hawiyya sultan and the rival subjects

Continued from page 632


The view of the Webbe valley as we descended the hill was very fine, and unlike anything we had seen in the Country before. A green and lightly-wooded plain clotted with Flocks and herds, and relieved here and there by native villages, formed the foreground to a thick belt of grand trees which marked the course of the river. Beyond this a barren expanse of land extended to a high range of mountains, whose summits were lost in the mass of clouds which hung about them. We pitched our tents along the Rer Hamers the first Somali tribe against whom we had no reason to complain. They seemed to be the only Somalis who did not fight with the Shebeyli people, and who were not afraid to live near them.

The Shebeyli sultan came to our camp, and through our abbans informed us that he and his ancestors, all Hawiya Somalis, had for many generations ruled over fifty-six villages of the Adone-as the Shebeyli folk are called-and that latterly half his villages had revolted, and electing another sultan had separated from him. He invited us to accompany him to his principal village, which we accordingly did, and making a strong zariba on the edge of the river prepared to enjoy the luxury of shady trees and of plentiful water. The Webbe” we found to be a rapid and deep river, measuring 50 yards in the broadest place; and we were told that a week before our arrival it had been nearly empty and easily fordable, but that lately, owing to rains having fallen towards Harrar, it had come down in flood. It is a singular fact that this immense volume of water never reaches the sea, but after flowing to within half a degree of the equator loses itself a few miles from the coast.

* Webbe is simply the native name for river, and Siicheyli menns leopard.

Crocodiles and fish were plentiful, and in some places where there mere large marshes, hippopotami abounded, and waterbuck and other antelope were numerous. The natives, who were different in every way from the Somals, cultivate the land, and plant quantities of dourra as well as pumpkins, and a kind of bean. Most of them presented strongly marked negro features, and though they spoke a Somali dialect, it was not their own language, which is the same as that spoken on the coast between Nerka and Zanzibar. They live in permanent and neatly made villages built of durra stalk, and cultivate the ground extensively, digging channels from the river for purposes of irrigation. Durra similar to that grown in Egypt is the staple food, and attains to a height of 15 feet; a heavy camel load costs from two to three tobes-18 to 27 yards of cloth, value at Berbera about 7s. Like the Somal, the Adone have large herds of cattle and flocks of sheep, but all these animals are poor and suffer from the fly in the rain and from the ticks in the dry season; neither camels nor horses are used, for they will only live in the dry season, but the Rer Hamer, who leave the river valley for the plateau in the wet season, bring numbers to graze there in the winter. All small articles are exchanged for beads, but sheep and cattle are paid for in cotton cloth, the former costing one to b and the latter five to eight. ‘Unlike the Somals the Adone eat fowls, and by means of empty tins and bottles we were able to obtain a pleasant change in our diet. All the chief men are Hawiya Somals, but negroes form the mass of the population, and of these the majority are slaves. The Adone detest the Somal, but the latter are obliged to deal with the former for grain, though it rarely happens that their caravans return from the Webbe without being attacked. All are armed either with spears-of a different shape from the Somali spears-or with poisoned arrows, and a man is not looked upon with favor by the women of his tribe till he has killed another, either in fair fight or, what is very much more common, by assassination; this entitles him to paint the boss of his shield red or to wear a feather in his hair.

Arrived at the sultan’s village, Bari, we were hospitably entertained, but we had not been there many hours before we found that we were the central figures of a political crisis, and expected to take part in what the sultan intended to be a brilliant coup detat.

Within three miles of the sultan’s village was that of his rival. This man, once a subject, was now a formidable foe, for he had gathered round him a following which far exceeded in numbers and in fighting strength that of our host. No sooner, therefore, did the Sultan of Bari hear of our approach, than he determined to place us in a position from which, in order to save ourselves, we should be forced to act as his ally. His first step, as I have shown, was an invitation to his village with the promise of a hospitable welcome. His second was to send a message to his rival, saying that unless he at once tendered his submission, he would level his village and destroy his following, and that with this object he had obtained an army from Europe furnished with weapons which no mortal could resist. Until we arrived, the Sultan of Bari had been in daily fear lest his rival should be the first to indulge in acts of open hostility, in which case, by his own confession, he would have been powerless to defend himself, for many of his own people mere wavering in their allegiance, and prepared at the first opportunity to go over to the stronger side. It is needless to say that this maneuver on the part of the sultan was unknown to us until we had established ourselves by the side of his village, and we were surrounded by some 1500 of his people, and from their attitude it appeared more than probable that if we declined to give them the assistance they desired, their first act of hostility ~would be towards ourselves. Once possessed of our arms, they could easily frighten their neighbors into subjection; and the loot offered by our camels, horses, and camp equipment, was tempting to people who covet all they see. However, we flatly declined to fight any battles but our own, and endeavored to make it clear to the sultan and to his people that if they wished to interfere with their neighbors, they would have to do so without receiving any assistance from us or from our men. It was not long before new of our decision reached the rival village, who, attributing our attitude to fear, at once expressed their intention to attack the Sultan of Bari and his European army too. This increased the difficulty of our position, for, on the one hand, if we left, we should have been at once attacked by the people of the sultan, while on the other hand, if we acted as their allies, me were to be overwhelmed by their wore powerful rivals. The middle course, which was to remain neutral, seemed likely to end in the probability of the two hostile village’s combining their forces against us; and though this might have been a peaceful solution of the quarrel between the Adones, it was not one which commended itself to us as at all convenient. The united strength of the two villages amounted to some 4000 warriors, a number which we, with our little band of sixty, could scarcely expect to defeat. However, we adhered to our first resolution, and strengthening our zariba with such lateral as we could obtain, prepares to await events. Our rear had a natural protection from the river, which was some 50 yards in width, and well guarded by crocodiles; therefore from that side we had only to fear the poisoned arrows of the archers, who had good cover in the thick jungle on the opposite bank. The erection of a low traverse, however, enabled us to feel secure against this weapon, and our main efforts were directed towards our front and flanks, which were exposed to direct assault. Fortunately the country here was too open to afford much cover to any enemy by day, but a large force might have crept up to within a hundred yards of us at night.

For the first five days we were kept in a condition of tension which was as irritating as it was wearisome. The blowing of the war-shells, the yells of the women, the continuous reports that the enemy was coming, and the demonstrations of the sultan’s warriors, made night and day one long and tedious watch, in which sleep or rest in any form was impossible. During these days we allowed our men to fire frequent volleys in the air, while we made short shooting excursions. And succeeded in slaughtering a number of crocodiles and many of the larger antelopes. This produced an excellent effect on the sultan’s people, and gave them so much respect for our rifles that we soon felt sure we should have little to fear in the way of a surprise from them; and the sense of security from at least this danger induced us to cross the river on a rough raft and explore a few miles of the country on the opposite side, where game was abundant. At the end of the fifth day the sultan came to us with a very cunning proposal. He said the enemy was so much afraid of our rifles that though they had made frequent feints, they had never dared to approach within a mile of our zariba, and he now saw his way to reconquer his revolted subjects without bloodshed. His scheme was that we should advance with all the circumstance of war upon the enemy, while he and his people followed behind. That on reaching the village we should arrange our men as though we were about to attack, but that before we fired he should rush forward and implore us to desist from the slaughter of men who once had been his loved and faithful subjects.

Thus those now in revolt would look upon him as their savior, and at once return to their former state of allegiance. This was very ingenious, and doubtless an excellent programme as far as the sultan was concerned, but it did not suit us to leave ourselves and our camp equipment exposed to his people who were to form our rear, nor did we at all share the sultan’s professed certainty as to the peaceful results. We, therefore, again declined to interfere in any way, and again expressed our determination to do nothing but defend ourselves. The following days were repetitions of the preceding ones-alarms by day and alarms by night, all accompanied by shrieks and yells, by wild war-dances, and great parades of warriors, who rushed about, and showed in pantomime how great and terrible they were, and how a thousand phantom foes were falling beneath their spears. It now seemed hopeless to expect to leave the Webbe without a fight, and we all felt a sense of relief when a crisis arrived, and the enemy came out in their full strength to attack. When, however, they were within a few hundred yards of us, the discretion of their leaders suggested a halt and a consultation. During this we sent an advance guard headed by our chief man Dualla, who challenged the enemy when he got within bowshot. The answer was a volley of imprecations, and in return our men replied by a few shots, fired high, and then they galloped back to us. 

Upon this the enemy retired, and spent the remainder of that day in consultation. We also took counsel together, and decided to go straight up to the enemy’s village on the following day and settle the question one way or another. We were weary of everlasting alarms and feints of attack; all efforts at conciliation had failed, and it seemed that we had either to remain indefinitely in a state of blockade on the Shebeyli, or to fight our way out against serious odds and great disadvantages. Next day, while we were preparing for our exodus amid the usual cries of alarm and warlike demonstrations of the villagers, some sixty of the enemy appeared in sight, with their spears reversed in token of submission. Among their number was the sultan’s rival, who was received with yells of welcome on all sides, and carried on a platform of raised shields into the presence of his now acknowledged sovereign. Thus peace was declared between these two claimants to the royalty of the river, but we learnt from our spies during the night that it was probably only the first more towards a combined attack upon us. Therefore before daybreak we gave the order to load the camels in silence and with the first streaks of dawn left the rival sultans in possession of our empty zariba, and by a rapid march reached the neighborhood of our old friends, the Rer Hamer. We were much disappointed at having to return northwards, but we were quite unable to persuade any of our men to accompany us further south. Fear of the Adones worked strongly upon them, and they urged with great reason that the rains, which might be expected to commence any day, would render traveling impossible with camels, both on account of the mud and also on account of the fly. We offered them every inducement to proceed, but nothing would make them alter their minds.

River Crossings: nineteenth century engraving; Krapf, upper Shebbeyli, by Dr Johann Lewis



 , New Monthly

By F. L. James


Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society and Monthly Record of Geography

Series, Vol. 7, No. 10. (Oct., 1885), pp. 625-646.

Written by abshir100

June 2, 2009 at 4:52 pm