The plight of the Agro-pastoral Society of Somalia

By Mohamed Haji Mukhtar

 

Despite advances in modern communication and the proliferation of Information, there remain areas of the world about which little is known. One such place is Somalia. The informed public is aware of a political 'meltdown' and consequent chaos there, but few comprehend the causes Of this tragic crisis. Unless and until there is greater understanding of the basic issue involved, Somalia will continue to suffer mayhem and chronic disorder. This Article assesses some of the factors involved in the current civil war in Somlia, especially as they pertain to the to the inter-riverine region of south. Particular emphasis is placed on the Digil/Mirifle clans in that region

In contrast to the single causes analysis that attributes all to Siad Barre's dictatorship, which is adopted by nearly every Somali scholar and politician, the article investigates the social causes of the worst civil war in the modern history of the country. The single causes analyses is inadequate because it is not so much scientific as ideological, and represents the desire of nomadic groups to impose cultural and political hegemony on the settled agro-pastor list groups in and around the inter-riverine region in the south. The basic tenet of this hegemonic ambition is an invented homogeneity, Which presents Somalia as one of the few culturally homogeneous countries in Africa, if not the world. The Somalia people are said to have a single language and to share a mono-cultural. In fact, Somalia has always been divided into southern agro-pastoral clans and northern nomadic clans, which have distinctively different cultural, linguistic, and social structures.

The mono-cultural about which most students of Somalia speak is extrapolated mainly from study of the northern part of the country, where most of the research into Somali culture was undertaken. The assumptions and extrapolations of these northern-based studies were later applied to other parts of the country without any scientific basis. The myth of Somali homogeneity played a major role in the rise of nomadic clans to political predominance, and the appropriation of resources from the less warlike and Intensely religious agro-pastoral groups in and around the inter-riverine region. A major factor in the Somali conflict is the struggle among clans for control of limited and increasingly scare resources, especially land and water. More specifically, it is a violent competition between the Darood and Hawiye clan families for political and economic dominance of the inter-riverine region