Dhulbahante

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Dhulbahante
البهانتة
Regions with significant populations
Languages
Somali and Arabic
Religion
Islam
Related ethnic groups
Majeerteen, Dishiishe, Warsangali and other Harti and Darod groups

The Dhulbahante (Somali: Dhulbahante, Arabic: دلبةنتئ‎) is a Somali clan family, part of the Harti clan which itself belongs to the largest Somali clan-family — the Darod.[1][2][3] In Somalia, the Dhulbahante primarily settle in the three northern regions of Sool, Sanaag, and Togdheer,[4] but they also have a significant presences in Jubaland, particularly in the city of Kismayo.[5][6] In Ethiopia, they settle in the Dollo Zone specifically in the woredas of Boh, Danot and Werder.[7]

The clan is known for its armed resistance against the British Empire and the historic role it assumed in support of the Dervish Movement which waged a bloody war against colonial powers from 1899 to 1920.[8] Due to this legacy, the name Darawiish has almost become synonymous with this clan's name.[9]

Overview[edit]

Grassland located in the Nugaal Valley.

The extended formal name of the Dhulbahante clan is Said Saleh Abdi Mohamed Abdirahman bin Isma'il al-Jabarti. The primary homeland of the clan straddles the Haud region and the Nugaal Valley,[10] hence segments of the clan who settle in either plateau are colloquially referred to as the Reer Hawd and Reer Nugaaled. Currently, the clan has 13 active Garaads (clan chiefs).[11] The most senior Garaad of these traditional leaders is Garad Jama Garad Ali who succeeded his uncle Garad Abdiqani Garad Jama.[12][13] The use of the traditional hereditary title of Garad (which is most widespread among the Dhulbahante),[14] was first inaugurated by the great ancestor Garad Shirshore who previously served as a Ugaas.[15] Politically, all of the clan chiefs are anti-Somaliland except Garad Jama Garad Ismail who is tolerant of the presences of the Somaliland forces in Dhulbahante territory.

The clan boasts a heroic history of anti-colonial resistance. In a bloody war against the British Empire the Dhulbahante propelled the Dervish movement to defeat the empire in a series of military expeditions.[8] To honor the Dervish freedom fighters, the name Daraawiish is now given to almost all regional paramilitaries in Somalia.[16] This rebellion which caused the death of one-third of the population of the Somaliland protectorate,[17] devastated the Dhulbahante population in the most intense form.

During Mohamed Siad Barre's regime, the clan was one of a collision of Darod clans that were presumed to have seized all government authority in the country. This clan alliance was well known by the acronym 'MOD' - they were the Marehan, Ogaden and Dhulbahante.[18] The vast majority of Dhulbahante today are pro Somali unity and against Somaliland’s secessionist endeavour.[19] In 1998, they established the State of Puntland with other Harti clans due the common kinship.[20][21][22] It is based on the ethnic composition and clan ties to Puntland, that voters in Sanaag and especially Sool were decidedly less supportive of Somaliland’s 2001 referendum on the constitution and independence.[20][23][24] Although the Dhulbahante community was split over the 2007 conflict, with some aligning with Somaliland and its troops in the area of Las Anod, in the Bo'ame Declaration of 2007 all Dhulbahante clan chiefs rejected Somaliland's secessionist agenda and demanded the withdrawal of its militia from the clans traditional territory.[25][19]

In aftermath of the occupation of Las Anod in 2007, the clan became disillusioned with Puntland, consequently a new unionist movement which aimed to remove Somaliland from Dhulbahante territories emerged. The movement called the Unity and Salvation Authority of the SSC Regions of Somalia (Somali: Hogaanka Badbaadada iyo midaynta SSC (HBM-SSC)) was spearheaded by Saleban Essa Ahmed and founded in 2009.[26] The most important traditional leaders who lent their support to the SSC Movement were Garad Jama Garad Ali, Garad Jama Garad Ismail, and Garad Ali Burale Hassan.[27] In the Kalshale Conflict, Somaliland forces and SSC militia clashed in the Ayn region in 2011,[28] whilst more clashes were reported to have occurred in 2012.[28] In 2012, the SSC movement was replaced by Khatumo State after the Khaatumo II conference held at Taleh.[29][30]

Under the leadership of Ali Khalif Galaydh, Khaatumo state commenced peace talks with Somaliland and subsequently the two entities reached an agreement at the town of Aynabo in October 2017.[31]

Distribution[edit]

In Somalia, the Dhulbahante almost exclusively inhabit the Sool region.[32][33][34][35] Michael Walls on the Dhulbahante and Sool says:

"The residents of Sool overwhelmingly hail from a single clan grouping in the form of the Dhulbahante [...]. Sool boasts a degree of kinship homogeneity that is rare even in the Somali Horn".[36]

The clan inhabits Taleh, most of Hudun and most of Las Anod districts.[37] In a survey conducted in 2011 of Las Anod District 92.5% of the respondents identified as Dhulbahante whilst 2.5%, 1.5% and 1.3% identified as Hawiye, Bantu and Isaaq respectively.[38] In the Sanaag region the clan is only present in the Erigavo district along with the Habr Yonis clan,[39] whilst well represented in the regional capital of Erigavo.[40] Similarly in Togdheer, the clan solely lives in the district of Buuhoodle.[41] The district of Buuhoodle was made a region by the state of Puntland and its name was changed to Cayn in 2004.[42] Hence, the popular abbreviation SSC which denotes the traditional Dhulbahante territories within Somalia. In Jubaland there is a long settled Dhulbahante trading community in the port city of Kismayo and its surrounding district.[5][6]

In Ethiopia, the Dhulbahante clan settle in the Somali Regional State. They are present in the Dollo Zone, specifically in the woredas of Boh, Danot and Werder.[7] In Kenya, there is a small but notable Dhulbahante community in the North Eastern Province.[43]

The Dhulbahante exclusively settle in the northern Somali cities of Las Anod and Buuhoodle.[44] Moreover they are well represented in the cities of Erigavo and Garowe.

History[edit]

19th century[edit]

19th-century explorer C.J Cruttenden on the Dhulbahante and their horse breed:

"The Dulbahanta are a nation who fight chiefly on horseback, their arms being two spears and a shield. Their horses are powerful and courageous; the breed descended, according to Somali tradition, from the stud of Suleiman, the son Of David, and consequently is highly valued. The Dulbahanta, as far as I have seen of them, are a fine martial race of men, second to none...either in conduct or appearance".[45]

Dervish Period[edit]

Taleh, the Dervish capital.

Dervish forces mostly hailed from the Dhulbahante, similarly the majority of the movements followers belonged to this clan and to a lesser extent the Ogaden clan.[16][8] The Dhulbahante in Buuhodle were particularly the first and most persistent supporters of the Dervish Movement.[46] The Dervish Movement resisted colonial occupation, especially the British who were aided by certain Somali clans (including segments of the Dhulbahante).[47] The Achilles heel of the British empire in the Somaliland Protectorate was the un-administered east, inhabited by the Dhubahante, Warsangali and a few sections of the Isaaq.[48] In this light Douglas Jardine explains that British priority was to keep the former two clans neutral, as the British administration and its allied clans would not be able to resist them without outside aid.[49]

Despite this, the Chief of the Dhulbahante clan, Garad Ali Garad Mohamoud, did not want to be under British occupation nor under Dervish authority, instead he wanted to retain his autonomy as clan chief. The Garad and Sayyid Mohamed Abdullah Hassan had a heated altercation which concluded with Garad Ali supposedly saying:

"I am the Ruler of Nugaal and its people, their management is mine and i expect everybody to respect it".[50]

Subsequently, Hassan ordered the successful assassination of the Garad.[51] As Douglas Jardine reports, Hassan took this action after the Garad reassured the British that their relations remained unchanged, although owing to the influence of Hassan his clan no longer obeyed his orders.[52] Issa-Salwe says news of the assassination stunned the Somali clans, consequently Hassan was only left with his maternal clan, the Ali Geri of the Dhulbahante.[53] According to John William Carnegie Kirk, all Dhulbahante clans sided with Sayyid Mohamed Abdullah Hassan, expect the three small sub-clans of Rer Hagar, Rer Wais Adan and Ba Idris who were considered friendly by the British.[54] In his poem Hanfi iyo Hungri, Hassan acknowledged the Dhulbahante as the true Dervish warriors:

Hawa beena Soomaalidaa, hadafka raacdaa leh.

Hadal ruma Daraawiishta iyo, weli hanoonaa leh.

Raggii diinta hooyga u noqdiyo, hanad shirshooraa leh.[55]

In 1904 Hassan attacked the Jama Siad clan[56] and in 1908 the Dhulbahante raided the Dervish and looted their camels. Hassan sent a letter to the British Commissioner Cordeaux, requesting his camels be returned and Blood money be paid.

Excerpt from Hassan's letter to Cordeaux :

Your people, the Dolbahanta tribe, have killed fifteen of our men and looted eighty-four camels. I do not know if Abdulla Shahari reported this to you: if he did the fault lies with you; if not, I do hereby acquaint you of it. You are requested to restore to us our camels and the blood shed by your people [57]

Somaliland Camel Corps

In 1912 the Dervish army compelled friendly segments of the Dhulbahante clan to retire to the British controlled territory to gain protection, Horace Byatt reported that 800 dhulbahante arrived in Berbera, stating that only 300 native infantry and 200 King's African Rifles were in Berbera and insufficient to hold off a Dervish attack.[58]

In 1913 at the battle of Dul Madoba the Dervishes defeated the British. The Dervish forces under the leadership of Dhulbahante military commander Ismail Mire were attacked by the British expeditionary forces under the command of Richard Corfield.[59] It is reported that the Dervishes previously looted herds from the Jama Siad, who subsequently agreed to assist the British in their attack.[60] Thus, 300 Jama Siad warriors along with the Somaliland Camel Corps commanded by Corfield pursued and attacked the Dervishes at Dul Madoba. The British sustained heavy causalities and Corfeild was killed in battle, whilst the 300 Jama Siad warriors fled unscathed.[61][59]

Aerial bombardment of Dervish forts in Taleh

After the 1920 Bombing campaign of the Taleh fort and the Dervish retreat into Ethiopia, Tribal Chief Haji Mohammad Bullaleh (Haji the Hyena), commanded a 3000 strong army that consisted of Dhulbahante (Rer Hagar), Habr Yoonis and Habar Jeclo horsemen and pursued the fleeing Dervishes. They attacked Muhammad Abdallah Hassan and his army in the Ogaden region and swiftly defeated them, causing Muhammad to flee to the town of Imi. Haji and his army looted 60,000 livestock and 700 rifles from the dervishes, which dealt a severe blow to them economically, a blow from which they did not recover.[62]

Dulbahante traditional clan chiefs declaration[edit]

An historic summit was convened in Boocame from November 15 – November 23 of 2007, by the traditional leaders of the Dulbahante (Dhulbahante) sub-clan of the clan. The Dulbahante traditional chiefs issued an official communiqué on October 15, 2007 regarding the secessionist Somaliland region's militias’ aggression and occupation of Laascaanood (LasAnod), the regional capital of Sool, Sanaag and Cayn regions of Somaliland.[25][63][64]

All 14 major traditional chiefs of the Dulbahante clan attended this summit. In addition to the traditional chiefs, there were many intellectuals (women & men), students and civic organizations from outside and inside of the country attending the summit. All chiefs unanimously signed declaration communiqué on November 22, 2007.

The communiqué states that the Dulbahante clan is not part of (and was never part of) and does not recognize the administration that calls itself "Somaliland" and that there are no agreements between Dulbahante clan and "Somaliland", in the past or the present. The communiqué also calls for an immediate end of hostility, return of customary peaceful co-existences among clans and an unconditional removal of the Somaliland militia from their territory. Finally, chiefs declared that the Dulbahante clan stands for the Somali unity.

In the anniversary of their historic summit in Boocame in November 2007, the Dulbahante Traditional Chiefs (SSC Traditional Leaders Council) reiterated their previous declaration (above) that they are not part of the Somaliland separatist movement. The council sent its pronouncement to the European Union, United Nations Agencies and all NGOs that operate within Somalia.

Clan tree[edit]

There is no clear agreement on the clan and sub-clan structures and many lineages are omitted. Within the Dhulbahante clan, according to the anthropologist I.M. Lewis, the Dhulbahante are divided into 50 groups which pay diyya (or blood money for their members). These are gathered into four lineages of unequal size: the Muuse Si'iid, who made up the majority of the clan circa 1960, and in turn is highly segmented into numerous lineages; the Ahmed Si'id also known as Hayaag, which Lewis estimated to number 1,000 male members at the time, and the Mohamed Si'iid, and the Yuunis Si'iid, which he described as "small, insignificant, and incapable of independent political action."[65] The following summarized clan tree presented below is taken from John Hunt's A general survey of the Somaliland Protectorate (1944-1950):[66]

Notable Dhulbahante people[edit]

Rulers[edit]

Royalty[edit]

Inventors and founders[edit]

Writers and musicians[edit]

Military personnel[edit]

Politicians[edit]

Athletes[edit]

  • Abdi Bile, Somalia's most decorated athlete with the most Somali national records
  • Mohamed Suleiman, first ethnic Somali to win an Olympic medal

References[edit]

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