The Land and the People

May 04 23:05 2011 Print This Article

The contested region is the fertile valley that lies between the Shabelle River in the north, the Juba River in the south, the Ethiopian border in the west, and Indian Ocean in the east. The area has over fourteen ecological Regions providing four modes of livelihood; agriculture, pastoralism, agro-pastoralism and trade .

The region is the bread- basked of the whole country, satisfying local food consumption as well as producing the main export goods; fruits livestock, hides and skins. Before 1969 it comprised four regions: namely, Bandir, Upper Jubba, Lower Jubba, Hiiran. After the 1969 Coup d’eatat, these regions, with the exception of Hiiran, were divided into more.

The Upper Jubba was divided into Bay, Bokol and Gedo; the Lower Jubba into Shabelle and middle Jubba; and banadir into Mogadishu, Banadir, Lower shabelle and middle Shabelle regions. The reason for this regional division is not clear; nevertheless, one suspects the government’s intention to create regions for favored clans.

The inter-riverine region is mainly populated by Digil and Mirifle clans, the descendants of the two sons of Mad (Mohamed) Reewin; Digil being the older and Mirifle the younger son. Today the descendants of the Digil inhabit the Banadir, Jubba and Shabelle regions, while the descendants of Mirifle live in the Central and western parts of the region.

The Mirifle are divided into two main groups; the Sagaal (nine’) and the Siyeed (“eight’). The Sagaal, in turn, are subdivided into nine clans, such as the Hadame.Luway, and Garagude to mention a few. The Siyeed are divided into sixteen clans, including the Harin, Haraw, Leysan and Elay. The Digil are divided into seven clans, known as the Toddobada Aw Digil including Geledi, Tuni, Jiido,Grre, and DabaBarre.

In addition, groups of Bantu origin live among the Digil/Mirifle clans. These are the Banadiris, Jareer and Bajunis, who are mostly merchants, fish men, hunters and cultivators, and inhabit the coastal strip bordering the Jubba and Shabelle valleys and the southern islands of the Indian Ocean. They speak languages of their own, but use Mai lingua Franca. Historically they are associated with the Digil and Mirifle clans’ structure.

There are also a significant number of Hawiye groups, mainly in the Hiran region and in a few pockets in Banadir and lower Shabelle.

These people of this region are socio-culturally and linguistically different from the nomadic groups who live in central and northern Somalia. They speak the Reewin language locally known as Mai, as opposed to Maha, which is spoken north of the Shabelle River.

Mai is to Maha as Spanish is to Portuguese; that is, they are not mutually intellingible.they are distinguished from nomads by their agro-pastoral mode of production and their settled mode of life which produced a distinct culture and social organization. Unlike the nomads, the settled communities of the inter- riverine regions have well organized social and political structures based on hierarchical authority.

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Alan Davison
Alan Davison

Alan Davison, internet researcher, full-time writer for 15 years. Writer and publisher of or Follow me on Twitter.

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