Clans in Somalia
“Now Somalia is a bit, is unique, unique in the sense that this, we have people who speak the same language, practice the same religion, so it’s not about ethnicity. When it comes to Somalia, it’s more about clans. We do have mainly six main clans in Somalia. We have the Saab and we have the Samaal. The Samaal are the majority and they’re made up of four clans. The Saab are the minority, made up of two clans. So we do have six clans. And of the six clans, underneath the six clans we do have the sub-clans, and under the sub-clans we do have the sub-sub-clans. So they, in Somalia, identify themselves, their identity is not really ethnicity or region-based, but it’s more to do with a clan. In Somalia, the way you’d ask someone where they’re from, the way that question is put, it literally translates, ‘From whom are you?’ Meaning, these family lineage, lineage, you have the… To know whether somebody’s from a certain clan, you kind of ask them, ‘What clan are you?’ But you kind of ask that question indirectly. It’s as if you are asking someone, ‘Whom are you from? Whom did you descend from?’ Because, ideally [these] clans, the six clans, they all started as, say, two clans from the same family, two brothers [Saab and Samaal]. So they all consider themselves really as a family, as a one nation, one people. But then what divides them is the clans.”
In this video, a Somali expert discusses clans in Somalia.