Explorations in History and Society

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

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The Hintire between 1880-1910

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The Hintire

Like the nearby Geledi, the Hintire were a clan of mixed pastoralists and farmers. They occupied a compact stretch of territory flanking the Shabeelle River town of Mereerey.

Although the Hintire were considered raaciye (“followers”) of the Geledi sultan from the early nineteenth century and had supported him in the Baardheere campaign of 1843, they themselves claim that their ancestors never accepted the religious supremacy of the Gobroon shaykhs. In the middle of the nineteenth century, the recognized leader of the Hintire was Shaykh Madow Mahad.

According to Hintire traditions, it was this higher education that enabled Madow to surpass even the Gobroon shaykhs in knowledge of the mystical arts. The religious rivalry between Shaykh Madow and Shaykh Ahmed Yusuf of Geledi—who is also said to have studied at Baraawe as a young man—is the subject of numerous anecdotes, some in the form of Sufi stories extolling the superior insight of one or the other.

Although the Hintire could not hope to match the warrior strength of the Geledi, Madow’s religious esteem proved helpful to the Geledi, at least initially. When Ahmed Yusuf became sultan of Geledi in 1848, Madow is said to have given him some land as a sign of friendship and a token of their school days together at Baraawe.

And the Hintire claim that the prestige of their shaykh aided Ahmed in regaining the loyalty of many clans that had defected after the Biimaal victory over his father in 1848.

However, at the same time, Madow was acquiring a religious following of his own, notably among the Hober clan of Daafeed, a district where the Gobroon shaykhs had been dominant for several generations.

Limited political cooperation between these neighboring clans thus did not prevent competition between their leaders for spiritual ascendancy. Without some awareness of this traditional religious rivalry, the particular response of the Hintire to the colonial occupation would be less understandable.

Madow was succeeded as head shaykh of the Hintire by his eldest son Ashir, who from all accounts was every bit as gifted as his father. Ashir was truly a man of religion; where his father had combined the roles of shaykh and islao  (politico-military head), Ashir gave the responsibilities of managing day-to-day affairs to one of his kinsmen, though he continued to be regarded by outsiders as spokesman for the Hintire.

(Until very recently there had existed among the Hintire both an islao and a head shaykh. In 1970 the revolutionary government abolished honorific titles, replacing them with the more egalitarian term Aw, a word signifying “respected elder”.)

Ashir had little sympathy for the military exploits of his Geledi neighbors; when Sultan Ahmed Yusuf tried to mobilize a large army to attack the Biimaal in 1878-79, Ashir refused to allow his people to participate.

This refusal appears to have marked the end of whatever cooperation had existed between the two clans. During the last two decades of the century, there occurred a number of skirmishes between the warriors of the Hintire and Geledi. The verdicts were mixed, although the Hintire won a last-minute victory in a battle in 1903-4, which proved to be the last between these riverine rivals.

The Geledi themselves admit losing the battle of Axad Mereerey (“the Sunday [year] of Mereerey”) because one of their warrior contingents attacked prematurely. The dating of a year by the battle suggests that it was one of the more important events that year (1903)

This background of antagonism toward the Geledi influenced the initial Hintire response to the “Italian problem.” Immediately after the battle of Lafoole in 1896, the Wacdaan sent a courier to Mereerey to solicit Shaykh Ashir’s support in their continuing struggle with the colonials. The courier asked Ashir to use his spiritual influence to help defeat the infidels. The Hintire leader refused on the grounds that the Wacdaan had assisted the Geledi in earlier battles with his clan. Ashir abruptly spurned the Wacdaan’s conciliatory offer of a gift of one hundred cows; the messenger is said to have ridden off without a parting word.

Shaykh Ashir’s position toward the colonials remained consistent throughout his lifetime and gives the lie to all simplistic views of Somali resistance. He felt that the Hintire, as good Muslims, should go to war only if their territory were invaded.

This policy he had applied in his dealings with other Somali clans as well. He had declined to participate in Sultan Ahmed’s aggressive campaigns against the Biimaal. He had counseled patience when his militant son and other kinsmen wanted to raid Geledi herds and seize land in dispute between the two clans. And as late as 1904, when acts of open resistance were becoming commonplace in the Benaadir, a colonial informer reported that Ashir refused to join the resisters: it was claimed that the shaykh would encourage his followers to take up arms only if the Italians moved inland and directly threatened Mereerey.

While Ashir sought to avoid endangering the lives of his kinsmen, he nonetheless wanted nothing to do with the infidels. He consistently rebuffed messengers sent to him by the Italian authorities.

Even his Somali enemies praised his nonaccommodating stance. A poet of Afgooye, recording the attitudes of the various southern clans toward the foreign invaders, said

Ashir Madow Alin Mahad refused to take the road to damnation [By receiving the infidels].

Yet Ashir was aging, and his sons had begun jockeying for succession to his position of authority. At his death in May 1907, the three sons of his youngest wife decided to take a stance that was openly hostile to the Italians.

These three sons did not enjoy as much influence in Hintire clan councils as did Ashir’s older children. It is also possible that they had been excluded from Ashir’s political inheritance, for his eldest son, Muhyeddin, had become head shaykh of Mereerey while the second oldest, Isma’il, had assumed the leadership of the Hober at Daafeed. As a result, the three junior sons may have sought increased prestige and power by taking an independent stand on the colonial issue. The three began cooperating actively with the ever-growing group of Benaadir resisters, and Mereerey soon became a major center for the gethering of dervish recruits. Those Hintire who chose to fight still invoked the name of their deceased leader: oral accounts recall how one warrior rose during a shir   and vowed that he would never offer an infidel the hand he had used to greet Shaykh Ashir.

At the news of his father’s death, another son, Abokor—soon to become the most famous—returned to Mereerey from the upper Shabeelle, where he had been assisting some kinsmen in their struggle against Ethiopia’s imperial armies. Already at this time Abokor was a declared dervish; nonetheless, he counseled his kinsmen to observe his late father’s dictum and refrain from following the example of the three younger brothers. Only when the Italians began to march inland in August 1908 did Abokor and his brothers reach an accord: they decided to oppose the occupation with arms. The town of Mereerey was one of the few places along the Shabeelle which met the Italians with a united show of force. More than seventy Hintire perished in a field outside the town, which was later burned to the ground. Several of those involved in the fighting were self-proclaimed supporters of the northern dervish leader Sayyid Muhammad Abdullah Hassan, among them Hussein Muhammad Yahiyow, nephew of Abokor Ashir, and Ibrahim Sha’ayb, who fired the first shot with a newly acquired musket.

A local poet recalled the battle some years later:

Abokor Ashir Madow said, I will not hoist the [infidels’]   flag;   The Hintire preferred death to disgrace.   When the infidels came thundering into Mereerey,   We saw many young men confront the barrels of guns;   They were fired upon and silenced forever.   We saw many people wearing mourning cloths,   And many children who became orphans.


Lee Cassanelli “The shaping of Somali society”



Taariikh kooban ee ku saabsan Warsheikh

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Warsheekh waa degmo ka tirsan Gobolka Shabeelaha Dhexe, waxayna ilaa 90-Km dhinaca Waqooyi uga beegan tahay magaalada Muqdisho, waxay ku taalaa Xeebta Badweynta Hindiya waana magaalo qadiimi ah.
Magaca magaaladani leedahay ee Warsheekh wuxuu iska saaran yahay labo eray oo kala ah “War” iyo “Sheekh”, waxaana loo la jeedaa hadalkii Sheekha iyadoo Soomaalidu Sheekh u taqaano qofkii barta Cilmiga gaar ahaan Diinta Islaamka.Sababta magacaan uu ugu baxay degmada Warsheekh ayaa lagu sheegay in ay ka dhalatay arrin dhexmartay Wadaaddo Suufiyaal ahaa iyo boqor xilligaas xukumi jiray magaalada Muqdisho.
Wadaaddan oo ka koobnaa afar magacyadoodana lagu kala sheegay Sheekh Sacad Daawuud, Sheekh Cakwaaq, Sheekh Isxaj Waaq iyo Sheekh Muuse Ileey ayaa waxay khalwo cibaado ah oo ay dadka uga foganayaan ku galeen meel u dhaxaysa deegaanada Jaziira iyo Dhannaane, goobtaas oo saarneyd Xeebta Badda.

Culimadaan afarta ah ayaa waxay halkaas ku cibaadeysanayeen in ka badan 30 sano, waxayna khalwadii ka soo baxeen sanadkii 1034-tii Hijriyada, waxayna u soo dhaqaaqeen dhinaca magaalada Muqdisho.
Markii ay Muqdisho yimaadeen ayaa dad iyaga xaasid ku ahaa waxay Boqorkii xilligaa xukumayey magaalada si bara-bagaando ah ugu sheegeen in wadaadani ay yihiin dad saaxiriin ah oo doonaya in ay sixir soo geliyaan magaalada Muqdisho ee uu xukumayey.

Boqorkii wuxu amar ku bixiyey in afartaas wadaad la soo qabto jeelkana la dhigo, sidaas ayaana Xabsiga loogu taxaabay, markii habeen la gaaray ayey waxay ku fekereen qaab ay uga baxaan xabsiga mugdiga ahaa ee maamulka Boqorku uu geliyey.

Maadaama ay sanado badan soo cibaadeysanayeen waxay isku raaceen in ay Alle baryaan si uu dhibaatada ay ku jiraan uga saaro, mid kasta oo ka mid ah afartoodii waxaa loo dhiibay howl.

Mid ka mid ah waxay u xilsaareen in uu Alle baryo si albaabka Xabsigu uga furmo, mid kale ayaa isagana loo xilsaaray inuu Alle baryo si waardiyuhu u arki waayaan marka ay sii baxayaan, kan saddexaad ayaa isna loo xilsaaray inuu Alle ka baryo sidii uu wadada ugu fududeyn lahaa oo intii habeenimo meel fog ay u gaari lahaayeen, midka afaraad ayaa waxaa loo xilsaaray in uu Alle ka baryo in meeshii ay ku waabariistaan aysan ka waayin biyo ay ku weeseystaan.

Waxay ku dhaqaaqeen waxyaabihii ay ka showreen, waxaana ka furantay iriddii, waardiyihii ilaalinayey ma uusan arkin, waxayna u dhaqaaqeen dhulka Waqooyi ka jira magaalada Muqdisho, xilligii salaadda subax ayey gaareen halka ay hadda Warsheekh ku taalo oo ahayd meel aan magaalo ahayn oo ay dagan yihiin dad xoolaaleey ah.

Sheekhii loo xilsaaray inaan Salaadda subax la waayin biyo lagu weyseysto ayaa la gaaray doorkiisii, wuxuu qoday goob Badda cirifkeeda ah, waxaana ka soo baxay biyo, weyna ku weyso qaateen salaaddii subaxna sidaas ayey ku tukadeen.

Markii ay dhameysteen Salaadda ayey waxay raadiyeen cid uun martiqaadda maadaama ay yihiin safar qariib ah, waxay arkeen dad reer miyi ah oo si teel teel ah u daganaa dhulka baadiyaha ah, qofkii ugu horreysay ee ay u yimaadaan waxay ahayd haweeney magaceeda lagu sheegay Caasha, waxayna u sheegeen in ay yihiin culimo Xabsi ka soo baxday, waxayna ka dalbadeen in ay martiqaad u fidiso.

Haweeneydii waxay culimadii u sheegtay in reerku haysto raashin, balse aysan wax biyo ah haysan, waxay culimadii u sheegeen Haweeneydii in ay meel biyo ku ogyihiin, waxayna siiyeen tilmaan si ay biyo uga soo qaadato goobtii badda cirifkeeda ahayd ee ay xilligii salaadda subax ka weeseysteen, Haweeneydii waxay qaadatay weelashii xilligaas biyaha lagu doonan jiray, waxayna u dhaqaaqday goobtii culimadu u tilmaameen.
Dadkii reer miyiga ahaa ee meesha la deganaa Haweeneyda ayaa weydiiyey halka ay u socoto, waxayna Haweeneydii ku tiri “Waxaan ku socdaa War-sheekh” oo ay ula jeedday waxaan ku socdaa hadal uu ii sheegay Sheekh oo ah in meel ku dhow Badda biyo laga helayo, sidaas ayeyna Warsheekh magacaas ku qaadatay.

Xilligaas kaddib waxay Warsheekh noqotay meel magaalo ah oo dad fara badan dagan yihiin, dhowr jeer ayey magaaladaasi baaba’day haddana dib u dhisantay, waxaa deegaan ahaan u soo maray dadyow kala geddisan oo Ujuuraan ay ka mid ahaayeen, balse xilliga ay culimadani halkaasi tagayeen iyadoo aan meeshu magaalo ahayn ayaa Haweeneyda ay la kulmeen waxaa Shariif Caydaruus oo taariikhda Soomaalida wax ka qoray uu ku sheegay inay ahayd Wacdaan.

Taariikh kooban ee ku saabsan Cadale

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Degmada Cadale qarniyadii lasoo dhaafay waxey ka mid eheed furdooyinka ey dadka Soomaalida ah wax uga soo degijireen kuwaas oo kakala imaajiray wadamada Carabta iyo kuwa Afrikada Bari, waxaana laga rarijiray waxyaalaha ey wadamadaas u baahanyihiin sida xoolaha malaayga iwm.Badda Cadale waxaa laga helaa noocyo badan oo malaay ah oo weliba si dhibyar aad ku soo dabo kartid.dhica berriga geed gaab waxaana soomaalidu u taqaanaa deex. Waxaad meeshaas ku arkeysaa meel xoogaa tilaabo ah u jirto xeebta iney joogaan xoola duurta dadku ugaarsaso oo noocyo badan leh. Dadka deegaankaas ku dhaqan waxey kala yihiin xoolo dhaqato iyo malaay gadato. Xoolaha ey dadkaasu dhaqdaan waxey isugu jiraan: Geel, Lo’ iyo Iri, Iriga oo u kala baxo Iricad iyo Ido, waxowna degaankaasu caan ku yahay dhaqashada Idaha oo markii qof marti ah ow tago lagu martiqaado wan jar ah taasoo micnaheedu tahay wan aad u cayilan, dhinaca kale waxey Soomaalidu ku maahmaahdaa “lax iyo laxaw meel islama galaan” laxdaas aad maqashay waa midda ku dhaqan deegaankaa ee daaqdo cowska gumxirka loo yaqaano ee degmadaas iyo ruumanka ku yaalo ey caanka ku yihiin.Dhinaca kale gumeysigii talyaaniga waxow qabsashadii degmadaas kala kulmay halgan dheer oo dadkii degaankaasu lagaleen, makii dambe oo ow qabsadayna waxow u bixiyay magaca ah Italo oo ow kaweday Itaaliyadii yareed taasoo ku timid markii ow layaabay quruxda degmadaas.Kedib xurnimadii degmadaasu wexey kamid naqatay degmooyinkii la ilaabay ahmiyadii eylahaayeen.

Halkee ka yimid magaca Cadale?

Cadale waa degmo ka tirsan Gobolka Shabeelaha Dhexe, waxay ku taalaa Xeebta Badweynta Hindiya, waxayna Muqdisho dhinaca Waqooyi uga beegan tahay ilaa 180Km.

Cadale waxay ka mid tahay degmooyinka caanka ka ah Xeebaha Soomaaliya, waxayna aas aasantay xilli hore oo aan si sax ah taariikhdeeda loo hayn.

Magaca ay leedahay degmadani ee Cadale wuxuu iska saaran yahay labo eray oo gaagaaban, iyadoo midka hore yahay “Caday” iyo “Leh”, waxaana loo jeedaa goob Caday leh oo ay ka buuxaan geedaha lagu rumeysto.
Cadale ka hor intii aan la aasaasin waxay ahayd goob ay ku yaalaan teendhooyin yar yar oo ay leeyihiin dadka Kalluumeysato ah oo ka shaqeysan jiray Xeebaha ku dhow dhow degmada Cadale.
Cadale waxay caasimad u ahaan jirtay dadka ku nool deegaanada ku dhow dhow maadaama ay ahayd magaalo weyn tan iyaga ugu dhow.
Sanadkii 1307 ee Hijriyada ayaa waxaa deegaanadaas ciidamadii Talyaaniga ee gumeystaha kula dagaalamay dadka deegaanka, inkastoo haddana jabhad halkaas laga aas aasay oo ka horjeedday Talyaaniga aysan muddo dheer shaqeyn oo ay mar dambe burburtay.
Degmada Cadale waxay horey u ahaan jirtay magaalo ay deggan yihiin waddaado fara badan, iyadoo ka mid ah magaalooyinkii ugu masaajidyada badnaa xilliyadii hore.

Dadka deegaankaasi deganaan jiray waxaa ka mid ahaa Sheekh Axmed Sheekh Abiikar Xasan (Sh. Axmed Wacdiyow), wuxuuna Sheekhaasi ahaa wadaad aad uga soo horjeeday imaanshihii Talyaaniga ee dalka Soomaaliya, wuxuuna isku dayey in uu si awood ah uga hortago gumeystihii Talyaaniga.

Sheekh Axmed Wacdiyow oo reer Cadale ahaa waxaa jira Gabayo fara badan oo uu ka tiriyey gumeystihii Talyaaniga iyo sida uu uga soo horjeedday, waxaana ka mid ahaa gabayadiisii:

Soomaaliyaan u dagaalamaynaa,
dalkeena ballaaran u daafacaynaa,
kuwa dulmaaya la dood galaynaa,
dabeylka mowdku intuu I daadihin,
hilibka duud cunin deebna uu noqon,
duruyadaada dab looma aasee,
kuwa dambaan u dariiq falaynaa,
kufriga soo dagay diidda leenahay.

Written by abshir100

July 27, 2009 at 1:00 am

The Ajuran; a theocratic polity

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About 1500, there rose to power in the Benaadir interior a group known as the Ajuran. Traditions say that the Ajuran governed from Qallafo on the upper Shebelle river, to the Indian ocean coast, and from Mareg, in the extreme north of the Benaadir, to the Jubba river in the south. To this legendary people are attributed a great variety of technological marvels; large stone wells, many of which still are used throughout the Southern Somali interior; systems of dikes and dams for irrigation along the Shebelle and huge houses and fortifications of stone. It is said that the Ajuran leaders were the first to impose a regular system of tribute on the surrounding population. The Ajuran had a powerful army and may have employed firearms toward the close of their period of domination.

Evidence to be published elsewhere suggests that the Ajuran were in fact a group of allied Hawiyya clans. Moving from the southern Ogaden into the inter-riverine area, these Hawiyya groups gained control of several important chains of wells. They also occupied stretches of the alluvial plains along the lower and middle Shebelle, plains previously cultivated by Bantu-speaking farmers. By dominating the critical watering sites and river crossings, the Ajuran controlled the trade routes which ran from the Jubba and Shebelle basins to the Benaadir coast. Taxes collected from nomads, farmers, and caravan traders provided the bases of Ajuran wealth and power.

For our present purpose, what should be noted is the terminology employed in oral accounts (predominately Hawiyya) to describe the leadership of the Ajuran. The key figure was the Imam, who was chosen from the family of the Garen within the Jambelle section of the Hawiyya. This is one of the rare instances where a leader in southern Somalia is recalled with the title of Imam, rather than a Somali title (ugas, waber, islao) or with the more amorphous suldaan. The Garen Imam apparently fulfilled the traditional Islamic role, for one account says that “the Imam of Ajuran was in the mosque, preaching the khudba, when the war began.”

Traditions dealing with the Ajuran also refer to wazirs, amirs, and naibs who held various positions in the Ajuran administration. (Such titles sometimes are preserved in Benaadir place-names such as Awal-el-amir, “tomb of the emir.”) Most of my informants asserted that the law of the Ajuran was the Shari’a. What this admittedly fragmentary evidence suggests is the existence in the sixteenth-century Benaadir of a theocratic conception of government and its identification with a specific clan confederation. Even if the Ajuran “state” consisted solely of those territories held by Hawiyya clans, and even if the confederation’s underlying cohesion rested on agnatic ties, the idiom of rulership was Islamic and the central focus of authority- the Imam- was a theocratic one.

Available evidence further suggests that the emergence of a theocratic tradition in the Benaadir was linked to events in the northern parts of the horn of Africa, rather than with developments along the nearby Indian ocean coast. It is known that some sections of the Hawiyya participated in the sixteenth-century jihaad of Ahmed Gran against Abyssinia. The Garen, who provided the Imam of the Ajuran, appeared to have ruled a kingdom of sorts in the Ogaden prior to their appearance in the Benaadir. Then too, the ancestors of Amir ‘Umar, a governor of Merka in the Ajuran era, supposedly came from the Sudan and (more immediately) passed through Darandolle (Hawiyya) country in the eastern Ogaden. Since sections of the Hawiyya were migrating southward both before and during Gran’s jihaad, it is not inconcievable that they brought certain theocratic notions with them. Indeed, the Ajuran maintained a wakil (governor) in the region around Qallafo. This area not only was the traditional Hawiyya homeland, but also stood midway geographically between the emirate of Harar and Benaadir, an ideal link for the transmission of political and religious ideas.

B.G Martin has shown how immigrants from Southern Arabia provided inspiration and manpower throughout the years of Muslim-Christian warfare in the Horn. He has further suggested that, particularly after the collapse of Ahmed Gran’s offensive, many Hadrami sharifs and sayyids drifted southward in the hope of carving out new spheres of authority for themselves.  In a few cases these immigrants can be identified with those families known in Somalia as gibil’aad (“white skins,”) several of whom have traditions of arriving along the Benaadir in the sixteenth and seventeenth century. It is not difficult to imagine the gibil’aad serving as religious counselors, legal experts, and tax collectors in the Ajuran administration. Their zeal for formal Islamic authority may have reionforced the confederation’s tendency towards theocratizisation.

Also, on an another case, Borana Galla traditions recall continual fighting with the sagal (the “nine”, almost certainly that division of the Rahanweyn known as Alemo Sagal). While Somali-Galla warfare is particularly associated in Borana tradition with the gada of Abbayi Babbo (1667-1674). It probably flared intermittently throughout the century. Infact the Ajuran are said to have sent periodic military expeditions against Galla forces which were threatening the frontiers of their domain. It is interesting to speculate whether the Galla would have made significantly greater inroads into southern Somalia if their earliest (in the third quarter of the sixteenth-century) had not occured during the peak of Ajuran power in the inter-river area. It is equally possible that Galla pressures acted as a catalyst for the further consolidation of the Ajuran confederacy.

Briefly, to complete the saga of the Ajuran, traditions agree that they ruled for about 150 years. By the middle of the seventeenth-century, other militant Hawiyya clans were challenging the hegemony of the Garen in various districts of the Benaadir. These challenges led to the fragmentation of Ajuran unity; the Abgal (Gurgate Hawiyya) took control of the hinterland of Mogadishu and eventually the town itself; the El-Amir (probably Hirab Hawiyya) assumed power in Merka, the Sil’is (Gurgate) near Afgoy, and the Galjaal and Badi Ado (Guggundabe Hawiyya) along the mid-Shebelle. Each of these groups had traditions of battling and ultimately defeating the Ajuran. Such shifts in power no doubt were linked to the arrival of new groups of Hawiyya and to the growing numerical superiority of certain of them who then forcibly could occupy wells and pasture previously held by the Ajuran. Traditions variously point to arrogance, tyranny, religious latitude, and economic oppressions as causes for the Ajuran decline. By 1700, there is virtually no trace of the Ajuran polity in the Benaadir.


“Migrations, Islam and Politics in the Somali Benaadir 1500-1843”

By Lee Cassanelli

Beautiful appearance & ugly substance, beautiful substance & ugly appearance.

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“There are three things of beautiful appearance and ugly afterwards; and three things of ugly appearance and beautiful afterwards. What are the three things of beautiful appearance and ugly afterwards? The young Guggundabo, the cow with large shoulders, the mature woman: they have a beautiful appearance and are ugly afterwards. — The young Guggundabo carries the shield, a beautiful lance with threads wrapped around, and a mat for prayers. Then he comes to the tree under which they throng for the assembly. Then it would be necessary that he speak. He finds nothing to say. It is said: ‘Let us go to spend the night in the house of this clever young man.’ Then he says: ‘No! No! I have nothing!’ He cries out. The man of handsome appearance is ugly afterwards, so it is-

The young Guggun-dabo is perhaps elegant in appearance, but he is neither eloquent nor hospitable.

-What is the cow with large shoulders? When it is pregnant and in its belly there is milk and it is pregnant, it is said: ‘This is a cow of great beauty.’ Then this cow that had been called nice delivers a little one. Then for two days it does not drink water; it becomes empty (of milk). Then it looks like a dog. It leaves its offspring. Then it is ugly afterwards.

The cow with large shoulders produces little milk, contrary to its appearance.

“A woman who has given birth to three or four children and who is neither young nor old is called mature. When she is free and is not married, she wears an elegant veil, a beautiful kerchief on her head, a double gown. Whoever sees her says: ‘Who will take her [in marriage]? She is elegant.’ Then one marries her. She becomes pregnant. The excrement and the urine of the child spread over her. Then you say: ‘Oh! This one stinks! Is she a slave?’ Once she was elegant, here is one who is ugly afterwards.

“The three things of ugly appearance and beautiful afterwards, what are they? The young Hawâdlä, the camel with large shoulders, and the virgin girl. — You see the young Hawadlä, he carries an old shield, a rusty lance, and a box of tobacco-

Traditionally the Hawâdlä are known as tobacco chewers

-Tied here near the male organ. When he comes to the tree of the assembly, the people are surprised. They say: ‘What does he want?’ Then he speaks in fine words: ‘It is to be done this way! It is to be done this way! This is how it is!’ Then it is said: ‘He is a clever man! Let us spend the night in his house.’ When they have gone to his house, he says: ‘Sit here.!’ He takes a male camel, slaughters it, and milks a she-camel. Then the people satiate themselves. They are satiated with meat, milk, durra. Then it is said: ‘This man is not as I though yesterday.’ Here is one who is beautiful afterwards-

The young Hawâdlä, careless about his clothing, is, on the other hand, eloquent and hospitable

— The she-camel with 216   large shoulders, when it has its little one in the womb for twelve months, if you take it to pasture, you say: ‘It will not give birth soon.’ It is thin and hungry. When the twelve months have elapsed, it instead will give birth. When it has given birth, you obtain much milk. If you are thirsty and there is dry weather, you will not be disturbed. You squeeze out the milk that it is full of. Then it is beautiful afterwards-

The she-camel with large shoulders, which needs care during the twelve months of gravidity (it also refers to the difficulty of pasturage for the camels during dry weather), on the other hand gives milk in abundance after the delivery.

-What is the virgin girl? She is a girl with the tonsure. Her appearance is ugly when one marries her. When the man spends the night [with her], and he sees her heart troubled, she then, very sad, runs away nto the woods. At night she does not come home-

During the first days of marriage the girl is easily overcome by melancholy and mourns for her free life.

-Then you say: ‘Who is this slave?’ The veil is wrapped around her head in an ugly way. And she wears cotton that is cheap and all dirty-

The very young wife does not yet know how to dress well or to adorn herself

Then when she becomes pregnant, her relations with her husband are good and they are in accord. It is said: ‘She puffs out the sides of her hair. She makes herself elegant. She is a clever woman! Remember how she was before?’ Here is what is beautiful afterwards”

The girl who is not experienced about men does not know how to make her charms appreciated, but once she is accustomed to the new life, she is much more preferable than the mature woman.


Enrico Cerulli “How a Hawiye tribe use to live”

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”

Brief overview of Hawiyya clan settlement pattern

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Between 1300-1600

A notion provided by oral tradition about the circumstances in which the Ajuraan state emerged concerns the role of the pastoral Hawiyya clans. Both the origin story and the scattered references to the components of the Ajuraan confederacy suggest that Hawiyya clans formed the core of the polity. External evidence indicates that the present pattern of Hawiyya settlement along both sides of the middle Shabeelle River took shape between 1300 and 1600. Apart from Hawiyya clan traditions, which provide us with a rough chronology of particular clan movements, we find corroboration in Arabic accounts from the coast, which document the spread of Hawiyya trading settlements along the Indian Ocean littoral, and also in Muqdisho town chronicles, which record the intrusion of Hawiyya pastoralists in town life from the mid-fifteenth century.

Hawiyya pastoral migrations involved the occupation of strategic well sites and trading centers as well as extensive grazing areas on both sides of the Shabeelle River. The process of occupation was almost certainly carried out by successive, small-scale advances of herding units and lineage segments over a period of several generations but the end result was the establishment of Hawiyya territorial dominance over a large region. Their control of key pastoral resources provided the economic foundations for an extensive pastoral polity. Indeed, the places identified in tradition as centers of Ajuraan power are without exception sites of important clusters of wells; and most of the ruins attributed to the Ajuraan era lie near well complexes which were central nodes in the annual grazing cycles of the region’s nomads. The inference is that the Ajuraan ruled as a pastoral aristocracy, with the control of wells being the source and symbol of their power.

These roughly contemporaneous Hawiyya pastoral movements can be seen as contributing to the consolidation of a regional polity that fits well with what we know of the Ajuraan from traditions. While the traditions can do no more than indicate the general circumstances in which Ajuraan power was exercised, they do help us weight the external evidence from the period. By juxtaposing oral sources with other fragmentary evidence, it has been possible to suggest a historical explanation for the appearance of the Ajuraan “state” around 1500.


The Shaping of Somali society

Written by abshir100

July 6, 2009 at 10:50 am