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Main article: Somali people
Total population
(9,000 (1960s estimate))
Regions with significant populations

The Madhiban (Somali: Madhibaan), also known as the Midgaan (an appellation which is sometimes used pejoratively[1]), is a Somali clan.


The Madhiban are principally concentrated in northern Somalia. They are few, numbering only around 9,000 individuals (1960's estimate).[2]

The Madhiban trace descent from a patriarch named Musa Deriyeh. They were historically hunters, but now engage in occupations like leather work (shoemaking). Since such activities were traditionally considered menial by the larger Somali Bedouin culture, the Madhiban are said to belong to the sab or lower castes as opposed to the aji or mainstream castes.[3]

Under Somalia's military administration, some Madhiban were appointed to positions within the government. As Gabboye, the Madhiban along with the Yibir and Tumaal (collectively referred to as sab) have since obtained wider political representation. Their general social status has also improved with the expansion of urban centers.[4]

Description from 1890[edit]

In 1890 Élisée Reclus, in his extensive work "The Earth and its Inhabitants: AFRICA" (Vol. IV, South and East Africa) described the Madhiban (Midgan) as follows: In still greater contempt are held the Midgans, called also Rami, that is to say "Archers," who are universally regarded as the lowest of the low. They worship trees and snakes, and eat all the prohibited food, such as fish, fowl, eggs, hares, and gazelles. They are also daring hunters, fearlessly attacking the lion and the elephant, whom they pierce with their poisoned arrows. Like the Yebirs, the Midgans also practise medicine, and have the reputation of being extremely clever charlatans. According to the Somali legends, the lower castes are the issue of crossings between Abyssinian women and maleficent genii, while the Midgans are of still more degraded origin, their ancestors having been the slaves of these Abyssinian women.[5]

Notable Madhiban[edit]


  1. ^ The Middle East, Issue 4, (Northumberland Press: 2007), p.196
  2. ^ Lewis, I.M. (1999). A Pastoral Democracy: A Study of Pastoralism and Politics Among the Northern Somali of the Horn of Africa. LIT Verlag Münster. p. 14. ISBN 3825830845. Retrieved 23 September 2014. 
  3. ^ Jama, Hassan Ali (2005). Who Cares about Somalia: Hassan's Ordeal ; Reflections on a Nation's Future. Verlag Hans Schiler. pp. 97–98. ISBN 3899300750. Retrieved 23 September 2014. 
  4. ^ Lewis, I.M. (2008). Understanding Somalia and Somaliland: Culture, History, Society. Columbia University Press. p. 8. ISBN 0231700849. 
  5. ^ See: "The Earth and its Inhabitants: AFRICA", Vol. IV, South and East Africa. By Élysée Reclus. Edited by A.H. Keane B.A., New York, D. Appleton and Company., 1890 (page 399).


  • Hassan Ali Jama, Who cares about Somalia, (Verlag Hans Schiler: 2005)
  • I.M. Lewis, A pastoral democracy, (James Currey Publishers: 1999)