Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Proud Somali Dir clan: what Western Scholars say about Dir

In the 1890 when the Majeerteen Boqor Cismaan and Keynadiid submitted to the Italian colonial powers and the British in the North the proud Bimaal Dir clan commenced their 25 year struggle against the Italian powers who bought the Banadir coast from the Omanis.

A proud Dir poet of the Isaaq Arap clan Farah Nuur was shocked when the Majeerten, Warsangali and Isaaq all signed treaties of submission to the British and Italian colonial powers respectively and he said:

The British, the Amhara and the Italians are conniving
The country is snatched, divided by whomever is strong
The country is sold without our knowledge

Ingiriis Axmaariyo Talyaan wey akeekimiye
Arligaa la kala boobayaa nin u itaal roone
Anse ila ah aakhiru Sabaan iligyadiisiiye

Orgigaa riyaha taadaxoo oodda faaliga e
Waa duni hablihii loo ogaa aqalka diideene
Anse ila ah aakhiru sabaan iligyadiisiiye

Waa duni la kala iibsaday oon nala ogeysiine
Waa duni akhyaartii go'day oo aaran soo hadhaye
Waa duni ninkaad aamintaa kuu abees yahaye
Anse ila ah aakhiro sabaan iligyadiisiiye

Waa duni xaqii la arkayaa la arjumayaaye
Waa duni Akhyaartii lahayd iib ku doon tahaye
Anse ila ah aakhiro sabaan iligyadiisiiye

Afka iyo adduunkaa hadloo oodan? sadarkiiye
Ninka gacanta midig oodan tahay laga ilroonaaye
Anse ila ah aakhiro sabaan iligyadiisiiye

Nimanyahow bal daya xaajada lala aguugaayo
Odayaashan loo yeedhay ee la anfac siinaayo
Asxaabihii bayna yidhi gaal ha aaminine

Haddaa niman Islaamiyo tihiin aadan faracdiisa
Oo aydnaan Ilaahay ka go'in hayna oodina'e
Hadduu Awrka dooxada ku furo eel kalaa xigiye
Inaga Daaya yaynaan ku dhicin bahal Afkiisiiye

The Biyomaal Dir clan's reaction was to these events was both defience and a call of Jihad against the infidel colonizers.

I M Lewis on the Isaaq

Already in 1961, IM Lewis described the Isaaq as a clan family in its own right, because the Isaaq so regard themselves despite other Somalis group them with the Dir. Furthermore, they do act as a separate clan-family. According to IM Lewis (1961) the Isaaq claim to descend from Ali Bin Abi-Talib and not his brother Aqiil as the other clans claim. However, this is a contentious issue which also plays into the present perceptions of the right of the Isaaq to claim independence in Somaliland versus the ‘others’ perception of belonging to the Dir and hence duty to join the family of a greater Somali union.


10 Lieut. Cruttenden applies the term Edoor (Aydur) to the descendants of Ishak, the children of Gerhajis, Awal, and Jailah. His informants and mine differ, therefore, toto coelo. According to some, Dirr was the father of Aydur; .

The old and pagan genealogies still known to the Somal, are Dirr, Aydur, Darud, and, according to some, Hawiyah. Dirr and Aydur, of whom nothing is certainly known but the name10, are the progenitors of the northern Somal, the Eesa, Gudabirsi, Ishak, and Bursuk tribes. Darud Jabarti 11 bin Ismail bin Akil (or Ukayl) is supposed by his descendants to have been a noble Arab from El Hejaz, who, obliged to flee his country, was wrecked on the north-east coast of Africa, where he married a daughter of the Hawiyah tribe: rival races declare him to have been a Galla slave, who, stealing the Prophet’s slippers12, was dismissed with the words, Inna-tarad-na-hu (verily we have rejected him): hence his name Tarud ([Arabic]) or Darud, the Rejected.13 The etymological part of the story is, doubtless, fabulous; it expresses, however, the popular belief that the founder of the eastward or windward tribes, now extending over the seaboard from Bunder Jedid to Ras Hafun, and southward from the sea to the Webbes14, was a man of ignoble origin. The children of Darud are now divided into two great bodies: “Harti” is the family name of the Dulbahanta, Ogadayn, Warsangali and Mijjarthayn, who call themselves sons of Harti bin Kombo bin Kabl Ullah bin Darud: the other Darud tribes not included under that appellation are the Girhi, Berteri, Marayhan, and Bahabr Ali. The Hawiyah are doubtless of ancient and pagan origin; they call all Somal except themselves Hashiyah, and thus claim to be equivalent to the rest of the nation. Some attempt, as usual, to establish a holy origin, deriving themselves like the Shaykhash from the Caliph Abubekr: the antiquity, and consequently the Pagan origin of the Hawiyah are proved by its present widely scattered state; it is a powerful tribe in the Mijjarthayn country, and yet is found in the hills of Harar.

The Somal, therefore, by their own traditions, as well as their strongly marked physical peculiarities, their customs, and their geographical position, may be determined to be a half-caste tribe, an offshoot of the great Galla race, approximated, like the originally Negro-Egyptian, to the Caucasian type by a steady influx of pure Asiatic blood.

10 Lieut. Cruttenden applies the term Edoor (Aydur) to the descendants of Ishak, the children of Gerhajis, Awal, and Jailah. His informants and mine differ, therefore, toto coelo. According to some, Dirr was the father of Aydur; .

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