Is Somali Clan Mentality Dying?

Posted in the Somalia Forum

SomaliFutureProg ress

New York, NY

#1 Apr 26, 2013

From a few million at the turn of the last century, the number of ethnic Somalis in the world is now approximately 20 million. This is primarily due to the Somali culture’s preference for big families. Even having moved to the west many families continue the practice and have 4 or more children, which is more than enough to double the population.

Ethnic Somalis that live outside Somali-majority-countries, are now more than those that live inside them. For example a million live in Yemen, close to two million in Kenya, 5 million in Ethiopia and the over a million in the remaining middle east and western countries.

Over 22 years of civil war has created a whole generation of young Somalis born and bred outside of the unity that was called Somalia. These children have for the most part adopted the mannerism and culture of their host countries. Somalis in Sweden behave and act Swedish, Somalis in the UK act British, Somalis in Kenya act like Kenyans, etc..

To explain my point better, the cultural norms and acceptabilities of their given country start to take hold on the average youngster. Considering the Somali populations are usually housed in crime ridden and run down areas in many western countries, in the refugee camps of Yemen, Kenya and Ethiopia. Some youngsters have turned to the vices that the host country has to offer, however that is not true for all children who have grown up under such tough circumstances.

There are many in the young generation who have broken free from the shackles of poverty and managed to build a life for themselves. These professionals in order to do so have had to accept the culture of the society. Their attitudes towards many things are completely the opposite of more traditional views held by their parents.

For both sets of young people there is marked apathy and disinterest in clan related issues. This is mostly due to the fact that clan and family loyalties have so little to do with the environment they inhabit. Far from clan playing a major role in their lives, many youngsters often find entertainment in it by trolling each other online using ridiculous phrases and rhetoric heard from their elders.

With the war coming to a somewhat hopeful end, it is interesting to note the experience of regions such as Somaliland and Puntland with their growing young population. It seems even in these areas the conversation has shifted from one of clan loyalty to questions about jobs and future prospects. An educated young population now demands more than lip service about being from the same clan, when they see the few jobs and positions available going to the sons and daughters of politicians.

To stress the ever weakening ebb of clan loyalties in the youth, we can look at the Somali youngsters who “go back”(sic) to Somalia/Somaliland. One example are the children who are sent there because they have become mentally unstable, unruly, or just simply being teenagers. This in itself requires a whole new thread, however for now what is important is the impressions the country leaves on those children.

In short, from having grown up with the luxuries of the west, they find themselves in what can only be termed to them as a large prison. And their captors are none other than their own family members. This experience of family and clan has a negative impact on them. From horror stories of girls being sent there to be forced into marriage to gangster wannabe boys becoming even wilder then they were ‘back home’ where they were born (the west).
SomaliFutureProg ress

New York, NY

#2 Apr 26, 2013

The second are young adults who go for a visit and end up having actual first-hand experience of the disgusting culture and praising of ignorant people as leaders of the clan, many of whom have the educational aptitude and ability of a 10 year old. These youngsters see how pathetic their mentality seems compared to men of equal age in more developed countries. And having witnessed the mental savagery of these old men who spend day and night talking about clan politics, have found the personified answer to the question of why the Somali regions have become the worst areas on earth.

If the youth are moving away from clan identity, the question is what are they moving towards?

The answer is I believe, first people who are in the media spotlight, and second people who look like them, and have experienced many of the problems they have also experienced. Considering there are not many who tick all these boxes, let’s take a look at the few that do. Knaan, Mo Farah, Iman, Ayaan Hirsi and Rageh Omar come to my mind.

These are for me an indicator of the attitudes and aspirations that exist among many young Somalis. When they see the likes of Knaan singing a song of hope repeated throughout the whole world at the world cup, while Alshabab decide to ban football and even kill innocent people watching the same tournament. When they see a Mo Farah an ethnic Somali man becoming the first British man to win 2 long distance gold medals. When they see Iman a model turned successful business woman. When they see Ayaan Hirsi Ali the first Somali MP in the Netherlands. When they see Rageh Omar being one of the highest profile journalist in the world. The Somali youth are seeing with their own eyes the future they can have without wasting their time on the clan battles of old ignorant men.

The other interesting feature about 4 of the five mentioned above is that they are all married and have children with a non-somali spouse. This raises a very interesting further setback for clan identity and Somali people. There is no doubting that these children are ethnically Somali, albeit at least half. These children have as much right to the Somali identity as anybody else. There will be an increasing number of mixed race Somali children in the future generations, and that in my eyes can only be a benefit to Somali attitude and worldview on the whole.

In the coming decades there will be an increase in availability of the internet even to people in rural areas. This democratization of knowledge and increased communication will lead to a much smaller world. In a world in which Somalis outside Somalia/somaliland will have a much more interconnected approach than before, the mannerisms, culture and attitudes of those outside will effect those in that region, for good or ill.

Without a doubt the internet has created a great deal of pluralism, and this is a trend that effects all countries opening up to its power. I believe people in the Somali region will be no different. With this pluralism comes a halt to the radicalization and extremism both tribal and religious that has all too often become a tool used by those who want the Somali people to fail.

The East African region has been a place beset with war and difficult over the past decades, however things seem to be on the up in the region. And with that so will the fortunes of the Somali people. Just this week we have heard that Somalis have joined the Kenyan cabinet as ministers, one of whom is a woman. This should be seen as a positive move in the right direction.

If there can be peace in the region Somalis living outside can come to build a better society in all countries in the horn of Africa. And One Somali identity can emerge free from deceptive clan loyalties.

Who knows one day there might be an ethnic Somali president in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia at the same time. When such a day comes the clan obsession is surely to end.

Since: Mar 13

Location hidden

#3 Apr 26, 2013
Very interesting read, but sadly when a western Somali visits Somalia with a hopeful 'no qabiil' attitude he or she will be forced into qabiilism when he or she realises that people (ones who have stayed in Somalia) do not like them based on their qabiil or even when they say "we don't believe in qabiil". They will simply be greeted with hostile remarks.


#4 Apr 26, 2013
Very interesting text. I've never really understood why clan is so important to somalis. When I said to my mom that clans are useless and that they've only brought war and tension she replied that the clans are usefull in so many different ways (I don't remember the details).
I was born in a western country and I've never visited Somalia so basically I grew up without a clan since I have no other relatives here. The only time I use clans is when I'm joking with my somali friends. I've never really had no addition use for them. clan
Magnus Cerebrum

London, UK

#6 Apr 26, 2013
this Quote sums up the whole thing pretty well -

"Qabyaalad dugsi malaho waxay dumiso mooyaane"

Doha, Qatar

#7 Apr 27, 2013
now in Somalia,every body protected by his qabiil.
and those who you are telling that they travelled from the west went there to visit their native who are protecting them till they will be back.there is no strong gov to protect the citizens.
if you people want to get ride of the current QABIIL,then support your government.

Helsinki, Finland

#9 Apr 27, 2013
Qabil and radical islam has no place in our future . Qabil is our history and major part of our culture , we should study it not use it as an tool to gain political power or oppress others . We have whole generations who have grown up in a warzone and this generations needs help ,sadly they are targeted by al-shabaabs brainwashing groups . Our somali diaspora is facing difficulty's , specially in a western world . We somalis are refugees ,

black and a muslims with a muslim name ,thats 3 too many , this has hurt us bad and many somalis are having difficulty's to get high paying jobs . I do believe in a bright future for us somalis , i know that day will come , but when it comes i hope i'm alive to see it whit my own eyes .

“I am me! ”

Since: Jan 13

Location hidden

#10 Apr 27, 2013
Magnus Cerebrum wrote:
this Quote sums up the whole thing pretty well -
"Qabyaalad dugsi malaho waxay dumiso mooyaane"
True :)
Inquisitive Farax

Amsterdam, Netherlands

#11 Apr 27, 2013
Genetic research which Somalis have done privately in the past 4 years have killed many clan myths.

People are realizing how fake clans are and are moving towards a pan-Somali identity.

However, I predict in the future there will be more and more hatred and stigmatization towards Bantus and Banadiris as they are biologically not Somali and can be proven scientifically that they are not Somali.

Since: Mar 13

Location hidden

#12 Apr 27, 2013
Inquisitive Farax wrote:
I predict in the future there will be more and more hatred and stigmatization towards Bantus
Your post redeemed itself here.
Perfect Answer

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

#13 Jun 12, 2013
Well I don't think so
Did you hear about 4.5

West Bromwich, UK

#14 Jun 12, 2013
What a crap! Any western born somali knows his/her Clan! You are NOT somali if you do NOT belong to a certain clan! End of chapter!

Since: Jun 13

Location hidden

#15 Dec 30, 2013
Great blog, but that is looking at the things in a to rosy way. Somali is just a people. But the core of being a Somali is and always will be your clan. You can look at it from a negative or a postive view. For example in America there are 50 states. All have autonomy and their own laws. And yet are one nation. This way of setting things is the only hope for Somalia.
What fucked up Somalia is the fact that the Darod had the most power. And were shoving their power on the threat of the Isaak. But If Somalia has boundaries and autonomous regions based on clan. Then we would have the united states of somalia.

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