Explorations in History and Society

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

The former course of the Webbi

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This Webi is thus at present, but in olden times the Webi did not pass through this territory, from here to Gälädi and more. At that time the Aguran and the Garrä used to live here. The ones who lived toward Gälädi used to drink at the wells. The people of Walamoy used to drink at Mogadiscio. Until today the village of Walamoy has been called Walamoy Hamar-däy (‘Look toward Mogadiscio’). And even today the place in which they stopped in the woodland of Däh is called: Hariri Walamoy (‘the stop of Walamoy’).

“It was (the saint) Au Hiltir who brought the Webi here. This was obtained through his prayers. When the waters (of the Webi) were thus seen to come down, Au Hiltir said: ‘These waters have been obtained from God. Do not wash your uncleanness in these waters!’ Thus it was forbidden to people to wash unclean things in these waters (of the Webi). But once a freed went into the water of the Webi, being all unclean, and he washed himself. From his uncleanness a crocodile was born. Thus the crocodiles began.”

This tradition also adumbrates a historical reality. Actually even now a depression starts from the W]ebi in the upper part of the zone of the Sidlä, crosses the territory now inhabited by the Mobilen, and returns to the present course of the river upstream from Gälädi. Locally this depression is usually explained as one of the far of the Webi. The defluents of the Webi in the sections where it has a pensile course are called by the name of far (‘finger’), but the same name also designates the biggest canals taking the irrigation water from the river. The tradition published here proves how the great depression of which we have spoken rather represents an ancient bed of the river. The Webi, because of the slight slope of its middle course in Somalia, may in fact, without any difficulty, have changed its bed in some part of its path.

The circumstance mentioned in the tradition, that the Garrä and the Aguran lived in the zone of the depression, now held by the Mobilen and the Híllibi, relates the event of the change of the course of the river to at least the XV century.

This geographical situation that the tradition attests to is then further confirmed by recent events, of which we have been witnesses. During a very great flood in 1916 the Webi entered the old bed with its waters and thus caused very serious damage to the villages and to the farming of the Mobilen. Subsequently, during another menacing flood in 1922, in order to avoid damage which would have been irreparable in the zone of the Villaggio Duca degli Abruzzi, the cutting of the stoppage of the old depression was undertaken, utilizing it, with all caution and without any harmful consequences, in order to reduce the level of the flood water.


Enrico Cerulli “How a Hawiye tribe use to live”


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