Identify and synthesise studies on networks in Somalia, focusing on the structures of Somali clan and society, and including transnational as well as national networks.
This annotated bibliography focuses on issues of power, participation
and governance in relation to Somali networks. The Somali majority
belong to four patrilineal clan families: the Darod, Hawiye, Dir, and
Rahanweyn. These are divided into sub-clans, which can be divided
further, illustrating the complexity of the clan system. Minorities are
comprised of three distinct social groups: the Bantu, Benadiri, and
‘occupational groups’. The latter can be classified into a further three
groups: Midgan or Gaboye, who are traditionally hunters and
leatherworkers; Tumal, traditionally blacksmiths; and Tibro>,
traditionally ‘ritual specialists’.
Specific details on power, participation and governance identified in
the literature include the following:
- Majority clans have exerted dominance over minority groups. Particular
aspects of minority exclusion and abuse include: limited access to
justice; denial of rights to education and livelihoods; hate speech;
and the prevention and punishment of intermarriage with members of
- Clan chiefdom can be hereditary, or chiefs can be elected by a council
comprised of heads of tribal sections. Chiefs can have religious or
- All adult men are classed as elders and given the right to speak at
council. Respect is attached to age and seniority in lineage.
- The minority Reewin and Bantu were disproportionally affected during
the 2011 Somali famine. Their vulnerability to fluctuations in
agricultural production was increased due to violence and targeted
looting by majority clans, and their inability to tap into
internationalised clan networks.
- Men of religion, or Wadaad, have a role in resolving conflict between
different clan groups. Their task is to encourage parties to resolve
issues, rather than settle disputes themselves or judge between
- Somali transnational networks have been effective in supporting relief
and development activities. Examples include clan-based associations,
women’s groups, mosques, and professional associations.
Hinds, R. Somali networks - structures of clan and society (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 949). Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (2013) 9 pp.